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

* In addition to the 340 ml. of virulent Ames shipped to USAMRIID on June 27, 2001, Dugway shipped 175 ml. of Ames anthrax strain in late August 2000.  That was when Dr. Ezzell, the FBI’s scientist at USAMRIID, made a dried powder out of Ames anthrax strain from Ivins’ Flask 1029 for the DARPA JHU-APL mass spec. project.

Posted by Lew Weinstein on October 28, 2015

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8 Responses to “* In addition to the 340 ml. of virulent Ames shipped to USAMRIID on June 27, 2001, Dugway shipped 175 ml. of Ames anthrax strain in late August 2000.  That was when Dr. Ezzell, the FBI’s scientist at USAMRIID, made a dried powder out of Ames anthrax strain from Ivins’ Flask 1029 for the DARPA JHU-APL mass spec. project.”

  1. DXer said

    https://www.emptywheel.net/tag/drones/?print=print

    July 30, 2018
    10 Years of emptywheel: Jim’s Dimestore

    DETAILS OF SILICON-TIN CHEMISTRY OF ANTHRAX ATTACK SPORES PUBLISHED; WILLMAN TUT-TUTS

    Sandia National Laboratories image of attack spore. In the upper frame, silicon, in green, is found exclusively on the spore coat and not on the exosporium (outer pink border).

    Perhaps my favorite topic over the years has been a technical analysis of the evidence presented by the FBI in its Amerithrax investigation. It is absolutely clear from this analysis of the anthrax attacks of 2001 that the FBI failed to demonstrate how Bruce Ivins could have carried out the attacks on his own. This post goes deep into the technical weeds of how the spores in the attack material were treated so that they would disperse easily and seem to float on air. The bottom line is that high amounts of silicon are found inside these spores. The silicon could not have gotten there naturally, and it took very sophisticated chemistry to get it there and treat it to make sure it stayed. Ivins had neither the expertise nor the equipment to achieve this highly advanced bioweaponization. Earlier work I did in this series showed that Ivins also could not have grown the anthrax used in the attacks. My favorite candidate for where it was produced is an isolated lab built by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency on what is now called the Nevada National Security Site (formerly the Nevada Test Site) that Judy Miller described on September 4, 2001. That article by Miller has always stood out to me as the ultimate limited hangout presented by DoD before the fact, where we see a facility of the perfect size for producing the amount of material used in the anthrax attacks. Those attacks occurred just a short time after the article was published. Miller’s assurance in the article that the site only was used for production of harmless bacteria sharing some characteristics with anthrax just never smelled right to me.

  2. DXer said

    Ivins’ first submission (which showed the 4 morphs) was on or about February 2, 2002.

    The subpoena was issued February 15, 2002.

    http://mrmc.amedd.army.mil/content/foia_reading_room/FBI%20Repository/FBI%20Repository%20subpoena%20redacted.pdf

    The first slant by a laboratory was entered into the FBI repository on March 26, 2002.

    http://mrmc.amedd.army.mil/content/foia_reading_room/FBI%20Repository/FBIR001.pdf

    The second slant from a different laboratory was entered into the FBI repository on April 3, 2002

    http://mrmc.amedd.army.mil/content/foia_reading_room/FBI%20Repository/FBIR002.pdf

    Here is a slant being entered into the FBI Repository in November 2006.

    http://mrmc.amedd.army.mil/content/foia_reading_room/FBI%20Repository/FBIR068.pdf

    Even before the time the FBI had collected all the samples, R. Scott Decker was gunning for Ivins based on his gut feeling and dislike of Bruce. (He had had the gut feeling long before he collected the first sample from abroad, such as from Porton Down).

    But Bruce never made a dried powder out of Flask 1029. It was the scientist in Decker’s FBI haz mat unit who made a dried powder out of Flask 1029.

    Agents Decker and Stanley should never have arranged or allowed for Ivins submission to be thrown out — because it would have led to dried powder anthrax leading back to the key anthrax expert who since 1996 had been working closely with the scientists investigating the Fall 2001 mailing.

    The inquiry could then have followed to where that dried powder was distributed — perhaps, for example, to the FBI lab CBI where Decker then came to work or the Ames DARPA researchers in the suite shared by the convicted seditionist and “anthrax weapons suspect” (to borrow his defense counsel’s phrase) Ali Al-Timimi.

    The conflict of interest — still never acknowledged by Decker or Stanley — is breathtaking.

    To try to address such issues, former FBI Director Robert Mueller compartmentalized the investigation but that led to Decker not knowing of the evidence being collected by AMX-3.

    And that led to the greatest counterintelligence analysis failure in history.

  3. DXer said

    You can compare former FBI Agent’s R. Scott Decker’s description of Ezzell’s observations at the time with Ezzell’s observations at the conference moderated by Lew.

    “Ezzell used terms like puff of smoke describe how the powder behaved in his sealed glovebox. Ezzell then said, “I’ve never been this scared in my life,” and the call’s participants became quiet for a few seconds before talk resumed.

    ***

    “Yes, definitely. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

    “Ezzell’s voice sounded frightened, but calm — more like stunned, almost speechless astonishment.”

  4. DXer said

    At anthrax base, ‘space suits’ and haze of suspicion
    By Faye Bowers | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor, July 25, 2002

    FT. DETRICK, MD. – Col. Erik Henchal can’t wait to begin. Before he’s even finished striding from his desk to a conference table, he launches into a tirade – without provocation – on his lab’s mission.

    That mission, he says, is defensive. Henchal and his fellow scientists at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases — known by the ungainly acronym USAMRIID — have long been the nation’s chief line of defense against anthrax and other, more deadly viruses. For 32 years, USAMRIID has delved into the secrets of the deadliest bugs known to humankind, all in the name of developing vaccines, detection methods, and other countermeasures

    But then came last year’s deadly string of anthrax letters in the US — just the sort of attack this lab aims to prevent. Worse, it turns out that the bugs used in the envelopes were derived from a strain developed here in the 1980s.

    In fact, the FBI is now focusing its search for the anthrax culprit among past and current USAMRIID workers.

    Once they were silent heroes. Now, they’re possibly dangerous saboteurs. No one here is immune from scrutiny — not even the commander.

    “Oh yes, I’ve been questioned,” says the red-faced Col. Henchal, seated in his office during a rare interview.

    The FBI has questioned all of the scientists here at this huge, low tan building about a hour north of Washington. Some have been interrogated more than once. Several have been polygraphed. And at least one, sometimes two, FBI agents are on the premises every day.

    Henchal was interrogated like everyone else because he had access to the lab rooms where anthrax was present.

    “No one wants the perpetrator to be caught more than USAMRIID…. The best thing for the FBI to do is to remove all reasonable doubt,” he says, “We have gotten used to the enhanced oversight.” …

    The work they do here, Henchal says, is critical to America’s national security. He says more than 20 countries already have biological warfare capabilities, and are working on methods of disbursing them. At least 10 other countries are developing them. Then there’s the threat from terror groups.

    A dangerous line of work

    When the scientists at this lab worked to identify the anthrax bacteria from the letters mailed last fall, scientists here put in 100-hour weeks. Some slept in their cars, others in their labs.

    “Between 11 Sept. and May, USAMRIID processed over 31,000 samples and 260,000 assays in our forensic-based lab.” Henchal says. Under normal conditions, they process four to six samples per month.

    Many others agree with this assessment. David Franz, former commander of USAMRIID says he left four years ago “with tears running down my chin.”

    He, as well as many others in the scientific community, say the scientists at USAMRIID are unfairly taking heat. They point out that the Ames strain of the anthrax virus was developed and worked on here. But it’s also been sent out to at least five other laboratories.

    “If some scientist wanted to work on anthrax in a university, they could get it,” Dr. Franz says.

    See also

    USAMRIID Meets the Demand for Anthrax Sample Evaluation
    https://www.hdiac.org/islandora/object/hdjournal%3A26/datastream/OBJ/view

  5. DXer said

    Dr. Ezzell: when you appeared at the DC conference that Lew moderated, and you so impressively answered all the questions I asked, I understood us to be talking about the 40 ml. withdrawn from Flask 1029 on August 28, 2001.

    What was done with the 175 ml. shipped from Dugway on August 30, 2001?

    And what was done with the 340 ml. shipped from Dugway on June 27, 2001?

    I’ve never seen any document associating Ivins with the August 28, 2001 and June 27, 2001 shipments of large amounts of virulent Ames from Dugway on those dates.

    Instead, throughout the summer and early Fall 2001, Ivins was busy prodding Bruce Harper to turn to producing replacement for Flask 1029 and they had paid Dugway for that production.

    The former lead investigator of Amerithrax says that the FBI is intentionally concealing evidence in Amerithrax. The FBI’s half-baked responses to legitimate FOIA requests can be viewed in the context of the charge by its former lead investigator that it is intentionally concealing evidence.

    Ex-FBI official: Agency is hiding evidence in anthrax case

    RICK BOWMER / ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Dr. Steven J. Hatfill, a bioweapons expert under scrutiny for the anthrax attacks, looks on after defending himself during a news conference outside his attorney’s office Sunday, Aug. 11, 2002, in Alexandria, Va.

    Tribune wire reports
    5:02 pm, April 15, 2015

    http://my.chicagotribune.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-83306483/

    • DXer said

      We won’t know what the Ames was used for until someone asks the right person — who I believe would be Dr. Ezzell.

      Dr. Ezzell, for example, used the Ames strain (supplied by Terry Abshire) in “A Procedure For Preparing PCR-Amplifiable DNA from Bacillus Anthracis Spores in Soil Samples,” by Susan R. COyne, Phiip D. Craw, Jeff D. Teska, John W. Ezzell, Erik A. Henchal and Fred K. Knauert, at p. 377 of these proceedings.

      I’m impressed by the work of all these scientists. I’m lucky if I can figure out how to turn off a smoke alarm.

      http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a395447.pdf

      “The proceedings contain 75 unclassified papers at the First Joint Conference on Point Detection for Chemical and Biological Defense (1JCPD), held at Williamsburg Hospitality House, WIlliamsburg, Virginia 23-27 Oct 2000.”

    • DXer said

      errata –

      August 28, 2001 —> August 28, 2000

      August 30, 2001 —/ August 30, 2000

      Earlier post with wrong date:

      DXer said

      October 28, 2015 at 6:25 am
      Dr. Ezzell: when you appeared at the DC conference that Lew moderated, and you so impressively answered all the questions I asked, I understood us to be talking about the 40 ml. withdrawn from Flask 1029 on August 28, 2001.

      What was done with the 175 ml. shipped from Dugway on August 30, 2001?

  6. DXer said

    FBI scientist John Ezzell has explained in writing and on film that the dried Ames and Sterne spores went to studies for DARPA at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Labs in Columbia, MD.

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