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

* Was the 340 ml. of genetically matching virulent Ames shipped from Dugway to USAMRIID in June 2001 tested for the genetically distinctive subtilis contaminant — Or did it go missing?

Posted by Lew Weinstein on October 9, 2015

Dugwaysubtilis

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8 Responses to “* Was the 340 ml. of genetically matching virulent Ames shipped from Dugway to USAMRIID in June 2001 tested for the genetically distinctive subtilis contaminant — Or did it go missing?”

  1. DXer said

  2. DXer said

    “She said Dugway did make one- pound quantities of Bacillus subtilis, a benign germ sometimes used to simulate anthrax. Mr. Patrick could not be reached for comment on this point.”

    Was Dugway checked for the B. subtilis variant in the first set of letters?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2001/12/13/national/13ANTH.html?pagewanted=2

  3. DXer said

    Dr. James P. Burans became director of the NBFAC and was overseeing the subtilis testing in Fall of 2008 — after Dr. Ivins suicide.

    Was powder from the joint NAVY/DTRA program tested for subtilis?

  4. DXer said

    If post-fermentation subtilis contamination of the 340 ml. involved the same genetically matching subtilis, it would be difficult to locate in the event the 340 ml. was used in the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings and was not available to be submitted to the FBI repository.

    Indeed, why would the perp (whoever it was) retain part of his Ames supply and submit it to the FBI? When the murder weapon is a gun, doesn’t the perp throw it into the river? In the Law and Order episode last night, the perp threw it into a garbage bin that then gets emptied onto a barge and shipped to Virginia.

    Ironically, it was the FBI’s own scientists — the ones collecting the samples — who threw out the sample Ivins submitted in February.

    Who in Dr. Ezzell’s lab threw out Ivins’ February 2002 sample which contained the 4 morphs?
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 22, 2011
    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2011/03/22/who-in-dr-ezzells-lab-threw-out-ivins-february-2002-sample-which-contained-the-4-morphs/

    And the scientist, TA, then did not even submit her own sample from Flask 1029 — reasoning, she says, that Ivins had already submitted it. (This makes no sense given that she or her supervisor, JE, then threw out Ivins’ sample.)

    Terry Abshire in a document produced this week under FOIA explains that the genetically matching sample she had in her lab was not submitted in the initial set ; instead, wasn’t her lab provided genetically matching material in August 2000 for DARPA research in which Dr. Ezzell made a dried powder out of the Ames and gave it to the DARPA researchers?
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on October 6, 2011
    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2011/10/06/terry-abshire-in-a-document-produced-this-week-under-foia-explains-that-the-genetically-matching-sample-she-had-in-her-lab-was-not-submitted-in-the-initial-set-instead-wasnt-her-lab-provided-ge/

    David Wilson, the FBI scientist who kept things classified until long after Ivins’ suicide, worked closely with JE for years. USAMRIID scientist JE was part of an FBI unit since 1996.

    Compartmentalization due to this classification interfered with sound analysis and prevented investigators from connecting the dots.

    Veteran McClatchy journalist Greg Gordon famously did important Pulitzer-nominated work bringing the issue of subtilis contamination to the forefront.

    APRIL 20, 2011
    Was FBI too quick to judge anthrax suspect the killer?, by Greg Gordon (McClatchy) {Greg did also did a video).

    Scouring the anthrax-laced mail that took five lives and terrorized the East Coast in 2001, laboratory scientists discovered a unique contaminant — a tiny scientific fingerprint that they hoped would help unmask the killer. Yet once FBI agents concluded that the likely culprit was Bruce Ivins, they stopped looking for the contaminant. That decision could reignite the debate over whether its agents found the real killer.

    Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/article24624502.html#storylink=cpy
    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/article24624502.html

    Dugway’s use of subtilis as a simulate occasionally makes the news.

    Dugway finds old germ-war bomblets
    Army says agent in casings is harmless, but critics disagree

    By Lee Davidson Deseret News Washington correspondent
    Published: Saturday, March 6 1999 12:00 a.m. MST

    Crews searching for possible contamination at an old dump at Dugway Proving Ground found 25 buried germ warfare bomblets this week.

    ***
    The Army used Bacillus subtilis because it shares many characteristics of deadly anthrax bacteria. Both may exist in spore form — where they take on a natural armor-like coat and may survive for years. When they later contact a warm, moist environment (like lungs or an open wound), they transform into a vegetative and active stage.

    • DXer said

      http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/military/keim-anthrax.html

      “Did the process of self-submission of anthrax samples by labs and individuals (per the FBI methodology) result in a reliable representation of the Ames samples that may or may not have existed prior to 2001?”

      Lew Weinstein, Collioure, France

      “Presumably, the 1,070 collection represents all the Ames cultures in the U.S. plus some from around the world. First, the Department of Justice subpoenaed all the U.S. anthrax labs for our inventory records with special attention to the Ames strain cultures. Next, the DOJ subpoenaed all U.S. laboratories that had the Ames strain to provide a sampling (a portion) of their Ames cultures. For example, my lab had only seven different Ames stocks, which we sampled and sent in duplicate to the FBI.”

      Paul Keim

      Dr. Paul Keim is mistaken in making such a presumption. He should spend more time watching “Law and Order.” Criminals or terrorists, especially those who have surreptitiously obtained a weapon, have no reason to submit it.

      Dr. Keim’s entire genetic analysis rested on this false presumption. Indeed, the FBI Director expressly said that they did not have the cooperation of some foreign countries. (Russia, for example, had Ames, according to the former director of its illegal program, Kenneth Alibek).

    • DXer said

      4) Was the Bacillus subtilis contaminant found in the first batch of letters genetically identical to any forensic evidence collected from any lab? Also, was that contaminant tested against strains from Dugway Proving Grounds?
      Lew Weinstein, Collioure, France

      4) Disclaimer:My lab did not work on the B. subtilis contaminant, so what I am relating is secondhand knowledge. However, it is based upon my conversations with government experts and my participation in the press conferences and the public ASM symposium. Details of the contaminant were discussed in these forums.

      Background:The question refers to the non-hemolytic (B. anthracis is hemolytic) bacterial contaminant found in some of the letters. It proved to be a spore forming Bacillus subtilis bacterium. As the name implies, this is somewhat related to Bacillus anthracis and shares many biological properties. But it is not a disease causing organism, and there are many, many different types found in the environment. It would not be surprise to me to find a novel B. subtilis on my computer keyboard.

      Answer:The government investigators thought that perhaps this contaminant could be used to trace back the spore preps to a particular laboratory. If the contaminant was a common laboratory strain of B. subtilis, this might have been possible. In the end, this apparently proved impossible because this contaminant was different from any known lab strains. Likewise, Dugway Proving Grounds labs were intensely investigated, and I would assume that any Bacillus strains at that facility would have been investigated. Again, no lab strains matched the contaminant using DNA analysis.

      Paul Keim

      Comment:

      Again, Dr. Keim is relying on assumptions. We know that Dr. Vahid Majidi expressly said that not all suspect labs were swabbed for the subtilis contaminant. Was Dugway? (I don’t know).

      Was the 340 ml. tested? (I don’t know). Where was the 340 ml. shipped? (I don’t know).

      Is it the anthrax that went missing? (I don’t know).

      Let’s stop making assumptions and turn to the documentary evidence.

      For a start, let’s have USAMRIID produce the documents relating to the Dugway shipment of the 340 ml. to USAMRIID on June 27, 2001.

      • DXer said

        “The federal investigator would not answer how many researchers’ work spaces were analyzed.”

        FBI Discounted Contaminant Clue in Anthrax Case

        April 21, 2011
        As the FBI built its case for U.S. Army microbiologist Bruce Ivins being the sole culprit behind the 2001 anthrax mailings, investigators did not pursue a potentially key piece of bacterial evidence that might have pointed them in another direction, McClatchy Newspapers reported on Wednesday (see GSN, March 25).

        A close examination by scientists of the anthrax letters that killed five people in 2001 turned up a trace amount of an innocuous bacterial contaminant called bacillus subtilis, whose uniqueness was hoped to serve as a tool in identifying the perpetrator of the biological attacks.

        In March 2007, a high-ranking FBI official said the contaminant “may be the most resolving signature found in the evidence to date,” according to a now-public memo from the investigation.
        ***
        “This was not an incidental finding,” leading anthrax expert Martin Hugh-Jones said. “The FBI had what I would call an institutional fingerprint. Whoever had that strain of (bacteria) has to answer to the investigators.”

        In the 12,000 pages of declassified FBI documents on the case, there is little indication of testing conducted on other anthrax scientists’ laboratory areas or their caches of the bacillus subtilis material. The federal investigator would not answer how many researchers’ work spaces were analyzed.
        “They’ve got thousands of samples, but were they thousands of the right samples?” Hugh-Jones said.

        – See more at: http://www.nti.org/gsn/article/fbi-discounted-contaminant-clue-in-anthrax-case/#sthash.BfCmNQBT.dpuf

  5. DXer said

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