CASE CLOSED … what really happened in the 2001 anthrax attacks?

* Interview of Battelle scientist about subtilis contaminant in Ames sample at Battelle that had incorrectly been claimed in 2004 email to Ivins to have been all used up

Posted by Lew Weinstein on May 27, 2015

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12 Responses to “* Interview of Battelle scientist about subtilis contaminant in Ames sample at Battelle that had incorrectly been claimed in 2004 email to Ivins to have been all used up”

  1. DXer said

    In a 2013 litigation, as I understand it, the former chief Amerithrax investigator alleged that he had been terminated because of his allegation that Battelle had obstructed counterintelligence investigations:

    “Respondent UT-Battelle also chides that “[t]he federal claims Mr. Lambert purports to assert are so frivolous as to deprive the court ofjurisdiction over any federal question.” Webster’s dictionary defines “frivolous” as: “of little weight or importance,” “lacking in seriousness,” and “marked by unbecoming levity.” Petitioner is at a loss to understand how Petitioner’s termination from Respondent’s employment for reporting substantial contractor time card fraud, contractor obstruction ofcounterintelligence investigations, and contractor abuse of authority and self-dealing falls within the ambit of Respondent’s “frivolous” characterization. It is doubtful the American taxpayer views these issues with Respondent’s cavalier perspective.”

    Underscoring the need for a preliminary injunction is the troubling fierceness of Respondent’s opposition to Petitioner’s reasonable, narrowly tailored, and fundamentally fair request for an order directing UT-Battelle to preserve key documents relevant to an upcoming investigation and hearing on these retaliation issues.”

    Case 3:13-cv-00352-TAV-CCS Document 5 Filed 06/26/13 Page 5 of 7 PageID #: 37

    In his suit in 2013, Attorney Lambert seems to recognize UT-Battelle as his employer. Given Battelle was a lead potential suspect in the Amerithrax investigation — given it had the genetically matching virulent Ames — shouldn’t Attorney Lambert have obtained an official opinion clearing his employment by UT-Battelle before taking the position? Wasn’t this problem entirely foreseeable?

    • DXer said

      Note that the communications relating to former Amerithrax head Richard Lambert were subject to a request that they be preserved in anticipation of litigation. Are the communications now subject to FOIA?

      “From: Porter, Nicole Elizabeth
      Sent: Tuesday, June 11, 2013 3:05 PM
      To: ‘Karen Lambert’
      Subject: RE: Electronic Communications To/From/Concerning SCIO Richard Lambert

      Rick,

      I acknowledge receipt of your request to preserve all electronic communications to/from and concerning you and we will do so in accordance with our normal practices.

      Nicole

      Nicole Porter
      General Counsel and Secretary UT-Battelle, LLC
      Managing Contractor of ORNL For the Department of Energy

      (865)574-2227

      From: Karen Lambert [mailto:karenandricklambert@gmail.com]
      Sent: Tuesday, June 11, 2013 8:03 AM
      To: Porter, Nicole Elizabeth
      Subject: Fwd: Electronic Communications To/From/Concerning SCIO Richard Lambert

      ———- Forwarded message ———-
      From: Karen Lambert
      Date: Mon, Jun 10, 2013 at 9:36 PM
      Subject: Electronic Communications To/From/Concerning SCIO Richard Lambert To: porterne@ornl.gov

      Nicole, please ensure that ORNL preserves all electronic communications to/from and concerning SCIO Richard L. Lambert in anticipation of litigation.
      Please advise if ORNL is not amenable to the preservation of these records and I will apply for a TRO/Injunction.

      Thank you. Richard Lambert “

    • DXer said

      This Affidavit filed by the former lead Amerithrax investigator Richard L. Lambert sort of makes you curious what is Battelle’s policy of destroying documents.

      What was the counterintelligence investigation that Agent Lambert accused Battelle of obstructing?

      SECOND DECLARATION OF RICHARD L. LAMBERT

      1. In the days following the dismissal and termination of UT-Battelle Counterintelligence Officer Matt Breeden in late February 2013, UT-Battelle Secretary/General Counsel Nicole Porter informed me of the nature and extent of UT-Battelle’s document destruction policy.

      2. I did not elicit, solicit, seek, inquire or ask for legal advice from UT-Battelle Secretary/General Counsel Nicole Porter before she disclosed to me the nature and extent of UT-Battelle’s document destruction policy.

      3. In disclosing to me the nature and extent of UT-Battelle’s document destruction policy, UT-Battelle Secretary/General Counsel Nicole Porter did not advise me that such policy or its disclosure was privileged, confidential, sensitive or otherwise protected from disclosure in any way.

      4. When UT-Battelle Secretary/General Counsel Nicole Porter advised me of UT-Battelle’s document destruction policy, she did not specify whether her disclosure was made in her capacity as the UT-Battelle Secretary or as the UT-Battelle General Counsel.

      5. As the Senior Counterintelligence Officer for the Oak Ridge Field Office, I was not an officer or director of UT-Battelle nor was I a member of UT-Battelle’s top management echelon – a “Level 1 Manager.” I was not asked, directed or tasked by UT-Battelle General Counsel Nicole Porter to promulgate, implement, or carry out a document destruction policy on behalf of UT-Battelle.

      I declare under penalty of perjury

      Case 3:13-cv-00352-TAV-CCS Document 18-1 Filed 07/15/13 Page 1 of 2 PageID #: 174

      • DXer said

        In connection with the anticipated lawsuit brought by Richard L. Lambert against UT-Battelle, Para. 10 of the litigation hold sent out by the General Counsel’s office to dozens of recipients stated:

        “If you need to comply with an e-mail space quota, do not delete potentially relevant e-mail or move it from the e-mail system. You may move the potentially relevant information to an existing archive within the e-mail system if that archive exists on a networks hard drive and will not be subject to accidental deletion.”

      • DXer said

        The former Amerithrax lead investigator, in challenging his termination by UT-Battelle, notes in an Affidavit:

        “Upon completing this written analysis, I forwarded it to Mr. Park and to UT-Battelle General Counsel Nicole Porter via e-mail.

        Almost immediately following her receipt of this document, Ms. Porter contacted me by telephone in a state of emotional hysteria.”

        Source:

        Case 3:13-cv-00352-TAV-CCS Document 14-2 Filed 07/10/13 Page 2 of 3 PageID #: 139

        What did former Agent Lambert perceive the UT-Battelle General Counsel to be “in a state of emotional hysteria” about? What obstruction of a counterintelligence investigation was he alleging?

        Separately, why has the former FBI Lab person Christian Hassell and former WMD Director Vahid Majidi not recommend to FBI Director Comey that Amerithrax be reopened on the grounds that Battelle distributed irradiated anthrax to third parties. The science shows that irradiated Ames may not have been killed and thus was potentially the source of the anthrax mailed in 2001. Isn’t the conflict of interest that Dr. Hassell and Dr. Majidi have as great as any that former FBI Special Agent Lambert had when he went to work for UT-Battelle?

        If Dr. Ayman Zawahiri attacks the US with anthrax, won’t Christan Hassell and Vahid Majidi be morally responsible for failing to be open to the implications of the ineffective radiation of Ames anthrax distributed prior to 2001?

  2. DXer said

    http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/national_world/2011/04/21/was-anthrax-clue-forgotten.html

    By Greg Gordon
    McCLATCHY NEWSPAPERS • Thursday April 21, 2011 7:03 AM

    Was anthrax clue forgotten? –
    WASHINGTON – Scouring the anthrax-laced mail that took five lives and terrorized the East Coast in 2001, laboratory scientists discovered a unique contaminant – a microscopic fingerprint that they hoped would help unmask the killer.

    One senior FBI official wrote in March 2007, in a recently declassified memo, that the potential clue “may be the most resolving signature found in the evidence to date.”

    Yet, once FBI agents concluded that the likely culprit was Bruce Ivins – a mentally troubled but highly regarded Army microbiologist – they stopped looking for the contaminant, after testing only a few work spaces of the scores of researchers using the anthrax strain found in the letters. They quit searching, despite finding no traces of the substance in hundreds of samples from Ivins’ lab, office, car and home.

    It’s been 21/2 years since Ivins committed suicide in the face of prosecutors’ threats to charge him with five murders, each carrying a potential death sentence. It’s been more than a year since the Justice Department, despite lacking hard proof, formally declared that Ivins “perpetrated the anthrax letter attacks.”

    But the FBI’s decision not to fully test for the distinct bacterial contaminant, pieced together by McClatchy Newspapers in interviews with scientists, federal law-enforcement officials and in a review of recently declassified bureau records, could reignite the debate over whether its agents found the real killer.

    The Justice Department closed the eight-year investigation, said to cost as much as $100 million. However, none of the circumstantial evidence it found showed that Ivins prepared the deadly powder, scrawled “Death to America” in a seeming mimic of al-Qaida, or twice sneaked away on 61/2-hour roundtrip drives to drop them in a Princeton, N.J., mailbox.

    If the FBI got the right man, then there is no consequence to its decision to stop hunting for bacillus subtilis, a harmless bacterial contaminant that resembles anthrax. But if Ivins was innocent, then the killer is at large, and the bureau might have missed a big opportunity.

    Some scientists and ex-colleagues of Ivins’, who spent 27 years studying anthrax at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Md., remain convinced of his innocence and think the FBI erred in limiting the testing.

    “This was not an incidental finding,” said Martin Hugh-Jones, a retired professor of veterinary medicine at Louisiana State University and one of the world’s foremost anthrax experts. “The FBI had what I would call an institutional fingerprint. Whoever had that strain of (bacteria) has to answer to the investigators.”

    Hugh-Jones, who knew Ivins, thinks he lacked the expertise to make the anthrax powder. He says the bureau “dismissed” the importance of the contaminant, but concedes that “a bit of housekeeping” could have made it untraceable by the time testing began years later.

    One of four federal anthrax investigators, made available to McClatchy on the condition of anonymity, described the contaminant as a clue that “didn’t pan out.” The official said that the bureau tested “thousands” of samples, but that included 1,057 anthrax samples submitted by various labs. He wouldn’t say how many researchers’ work areas were tested.

    The mysterious mailing of five anthrax-filled letters to media firms and politicians in New York, Washington and Boca Raton, Fla., killed five people, sickened another 17, and forced 32,000 others to take antibiotics for weeks.

    Letters sent to Democratic U.S. Sens. Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Tom Daschle of South Dakota contained a purer, especially deadly anthrax powder, causing lengthy shutdowns of a Senate office building and a major postal facility.

    Occurring shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, the mailings ignited fears that Osama bin Laden or Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had loosed a deadly biological weapon.

    Lab tests, however, soon showed that the anthrax in the letters was a strain used solely at 18 U.S., Canadian and European bio-weapons facilities.

    • DXer said

      U.S.’s former top germ warfare warrior raises questions on anthrax
      By Seth Borenstein INQUIRER WASHINGTON BUREAU
      POSTED: December 25, 2001

      WASHINGTON — For the man who spent decades cooking up anthrax and other biological weapons for the U.S. military, the biggest unanswered questions in the anthrax investigation loom as large as the deadly bacteria do under a microscope.

      “How did they dry it and how did it get to that particle size?” William C. Patrick 3d asked in a recent interview.

      Until 1969, when President Richard M. Nixon renounced biological weapons, Patrick was the nation’s top germ warrior; he is now a bioterrorism consultant. Patrick once taught scientists at the Dugway Proving Ground Army research center in Utah a new “good procedure” to dry anthrax and put it into a highly concentrated form.

      FOR THE RECORD – CLEARING THE RECORD, PUBLISHED DECEMBER 26, 2001, FOLLOWS: The full name of a scientist quoted at the end of an Inquirer article yesterday about the anthrax investigation was inadvertently omitted. He is Ronald Atlas, a University of Louisville microbiologist and incoming president of the American Society of Microbiology.

      It is those methods, and perhaps the genetic fingerprint of the anthrax spores found at a Florida tabloid-publishing company, that have investigators focusing on the Utah desert research center.

      Can foreign anthrax really be ruled out? Can ultralethal, sophisticated anthrax be produced outside of a well-equipped lab such as Dugway? Why have the anthrax attacks apparently stopped? Can a prime suspect be identified?

      Battelle Memorial Institute is a research firm in Columbus, Ohio, that received anthrax from Dugway.

      Patrick said it was possible to produce potent, concentrated, powdered anthrax outside of a lab. “Anybody who knows how to use a lab centrifuge” could do it, he said.

      There are four qualities of the anthrax used in the letters that Patrick believes are telling: highly concentrated, dried, electrostatically charged to stay airborne longer, and minute in size – making it easier to adhere to a person’s body if contact is made.

      Drying and concentrating anthrax is not as difficult as some experts have made it out to be, Patrick said. Because it is so stable, he said, anthrax “is the only agent that you can dry by so many different ways.”

      He theorized that the attacks stopped only when the source of anthrax ran out.

      Investigators said they had not identified a prime suspect. Months ago, they searched the house of a Milwaukee microbiologist who formerly worked at Battelle. Although investigators said they had not ruled him out, they have not charged him with anything and apparently have been unable to link him to the attacks.

      The man told The Inquirer Washington Bureau that “this is complete nonsense – I have never been a researcher of anthrax.”

      For the source of the anthrax, or the source of knowledge needed to produce it, investigators are looking at two pieces of evidence: the precise genetic fingerprints of the anthrax mailed to Florida, Washington and New York, and its highly concentrated physical qualities, according to law enforcement officials and scientists.

      The anthrax in the letters was the Ames strain, used by the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Md., which sent the strain to five places: Porton Down, a secret military research center in England; Dugway Proving Ground; Defence Research Establishment in Suffield, Canada; Battelle, a private Ohio research facility; and the University of New Mexico.

      While Fort Detrick used the anthrax strain, it always used it in liquid form, spokeswoman Caree Vander-Linden said. “Neither the skills nor the laboratory equipment required to make finely milled dry powdered anthrax are available” there, she said in a written statement.

      While Fort Detrick used the anthrax strain, it always used it in liquid form, spokeswoman Caree Vander-Linden said. “Neither the skills nor the laboratory equipment required to make finely milled dry powdered anthrax are available” there, she said in a written statement.

  3. DXer said

  4. DXer said

    a recent article by Greg Gordon raises the potentially critical importance of b. subtilis contaminant found in the Brokaw and New York Post anthrax letters … not connected to Dr. Ivins … and substantially ignored by the FBI
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 21, 2011
    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2011/04/21/greg-gordon-raises-importance-of-b-subtilis-contaminant-in-the-brokaw-and-new-york-post-anthrax-letters-not-connected-to-dr-ivins-substantially-ignored-by-the-fbi/

    Why are the so-called “Iraq sample” and Battelle discussed under the heading about IVINS’ knowledge of reported proposals to start conducting animal challenges at USAMRIID with dried Ames anthrax powder? What consulting did the DARPA-funded researchers at GMU’s Center for Biodefense who came to share a suite with Ali Al-Timimi do for Battelle in 1999? What work with virulent Ames did SRI in Frederick, MD do for those researchers?
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 14, 2011
    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2011/12/14/gao-why-are-the-so-called-iraq-sample-and-battelle-discussed-under-the-heading-about-ivins-knowledge-of-reported-proposals-to-start-conducting-animal-challenges-at-usamriid-with-dried-ames-a/

    September 2001 Battelle Arlington report by Dr. DeBell on “Particle Size and Organism Number: Impact on Bioaerosols”
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 22, 2011
    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2011/08/22/september-2001-battelle-arlington-report-by-dr-de-bell-on-particle-size-and-organism-number-impact-on-bioaerosols/

    October 2001 BATTELLE REPORT TO DIA ON LETHAL INHALATION DOSE (provided to DXer today under FOIA)
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 19, 2011
    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2011/08/19/october-2001-battelle-report-to-dia-on-lethal-inhalation-dose-provided-to-dxer-today-under-foia/

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