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

* Did USAMRIID’s John Ezzell and Terry Abshire, through no fault of their own, turn out to have a massive conflict of interest?

Posted by Lew Weinstein on November 14, 2015

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4 Responses to “* Did USAMRIID’s John Ezzell and Terry Abshire, through no fault of their own, turn out to have a massive conflict of interest?”

  1. DXer said

    Why was the FBI Laboratory dragging its feet?

    Was it because it knew that its hazardous materials unit consulting scientist USAMRIID (Ezzell) had made a dried powder out of Ames from Ivins’ Flask 1029?

    And that the scientist working in the unit had thrown out Ivins’ sample? And had not submitted a sample?

    Lambert in recent interview:

    “[A sense of urgency] was not prevalent in the lower levels of the FBI which really hampered the investigation significantly.” (38.30)

    Questioner:

    “Could you go to them and say ‘guys I need help… could you put the heat on them? You got Dick Cheney on the phone. Say, ‘Dick’ I need help over here.’ You know, put some heat on these guys.”

    Lambert:

    “Right, um. I had too much respect for the Director to bring that sort of scrutiny and criticism to him at that point of time.… I tried to deal with his subordinates as he instructed me to do.”

  2. DXer said

    OFFICIAL use ONLY

    United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious
    Diseases (USAMRIID) provided analytical services to the FBI
    Laboratory since 1998.

    Initial examination of the letter spore preparations for
    physical characteristics (microscopy and electron
    microscopy) and spore viability studies.

    18 oct 2001 SPS02.57(Daschle) CFU Report
    21 Oct 2001 EM Report of Daschle Letter
    24 Oct 2001 Post) CFU Report
    25 oct 2001 EM. Daschle “si” ‘Report
    25 Oct 2001 Simons Letter re NY Post
    1 28 Oct 2001 Report of NY Post
    27 Nov 2001 Report on Isolates from Daschle and NY
    POSE Letters
    Special Pathogens Sample Test Laboratory Analytical Test
    Reports: Results of Analysis-of Letter Material
    sPs.o2.sa
    SPS.O2.
    NY Post l’O/22/2001
    44 Brokaw Envelope 11/4/2001
    SPS.02.57 Daschle Letters and Powders 11/9/2001
    Leahy Powder
    Microbiological examinations and identification of
    phenotypic variants which appeared different
    than the predominant “Ames” phenotype.
    Report #1 Analysis of Evidentiary Material
    Report #2 Analysis of Repository Samples
    Report #3 Analysis of Environmental Samples AMI
    Report #4 Examination of Repository Spore
    Preparations: Screening for the Hemolytic
    B. subtilis Contaminant
    Report
    #5 Analysis of Repository Samples
    Isolation of Morphological Variants from FBI Repository
    Samples FBIR 049 004 (Leahy) Powerpoint Photos
    “These documents are the _property of the FBI and are loaned to your
    organization pursuant to contract dated ~Apri1 23, 2009 between the
    FBI and the NAS. These documents and their contents are not to be distributed
    outside ‘of your organization without the express permission -of the As FBI
    records, they may be released only with permission and only in accordance
    with the provisions of federal statutes and regulations, including but not
    limited to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552; the Privacy
    Act of 1974, 5 552a; applicable civil and criminal discovery
    privileges; and any other applicable federal statutory and regulatory
    authorities .
    OFFICIAL USE ONLY

  3. DXer said

    The FBI scientists have publicly emphasized that Terry Abshire played the key role in the entire case.

    Trail of Odd Anthrax Cells Led FBI to Army Scientist
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/26/AR2008102602522.html

    “In late October 2001, lab technician Terry Abshire placed a tray of anthrax cells under a microscope and spotted something so peculiar she had to look twice. It was two weeks after the country’s worst bioterrorism attack, and Abshire, like others at the Army’s Fort Detrick biodefense lab, was caught up in a frenzied search for clues that could help lead to the culprit.

    Abshire focused her lens on a moldlike clump. Anthrax bacteria were growing here, but some of the cells were odd: strange shapes, strange textures, strange colors. These were mutants, or “morphs,” genetic deviants scattered among the ordinary anthrax cells like chocolate chips in a cookie batter.

    Unknowingly, Abshire had discovered a key to solving the anthrax case. ”

    __________
    Comment: When in late October 2001, and Terry Abshire noticed that the mailed anthrax looked like her spores, hadn’t she perhaps found the key to solving the anthrax case?
    But when it pointed to the FBI’s Hazardous Materials Response Unit and the FBI’s Special Pathogens Branch, might her observations been lost to history?
    Look how the FBI investigator spun her observation:

    “[Ivins] wasn’t an expert. He was the expert,” said a senior FBI investigator, who answered questions about the still-open case on the condition of anonymity.”

    Really? Terry Abshire had told the FBI that it looked like HER spores and the FBI was spinning things in the still-open investigation away from the spores of the FBI HMRU’s unit? This does not seem transparent and accountable at all.
    __________

    “Many outside experts and some lawmakers dismiss the government’s case against Ivins as circumstantial, while Ivins’s former colleagues and friends argue that he was incapable, technically and constitutionally, of committing an act of mass murder. “Bruce Ivins was a victim of a vicious plot,” said Ayaad Assaad, a toxicologist who once worked with Ivins at Fort Detrick, in Maryland.”

    ***

    “The finished product, a muddy, off-white liquid in a glass flask the size of a small coffee pot, was the greatest single concentration of deadly anthrax bacteria in the country, FBI investigators said.”
    Really? Ivins had what — about 333 ml. of virulent Ames. The scientist working for the FBI’s Special Pathogens Branch had just been shipped 340 ml. — on top of the 175 ml. previously shipped.
    “Top FBI officials hoped that science could provide a link to the bioterrorist, but they soon grasped the difficulty of the task. They searched for traces of human DNA in the anthrax powder, and in the envelopes, but found none.”

    __________
    Comment: Oops! Nowis that a big fat lie? According to the former lead Amerithrax investigator in a Complaint filed in federal district court, the FBI Laboratory DID find human DNA. But that it was someone who worked for the FBI. But the lead investigator alleges that FBI Laboratory (incredibly) did not tell the investigators — did not tell the lead Amerithrax investigator Rick Lambert. I guess the advantage of spinning a perp’s guilt in an open case — while speaking anonymously — is that you are not bound by what the documents being wrongfully withheld by the FBI in fact establish. The human DNA was from a female technician working for the FBI, wasn’t it? (Yes). Whose DNA was it? (I don’t know; it has never been disclosed).
    __________

    “The breakthrough the FBI sought came not from a big-name scientist but from a technician who had spent years studying anthrax bacteria under a microscope.”

    “Terry Abshire had been tasked with growing colonies of anthrax bacteria from spores recovered from one of the mailings. When the 56-year-old Frederick resident studied the cells, she noticed that a few colonies were different in subtle ways, so she allowed the bacteria to grow for a longer period so as to check again.”

    “They looked different — different colors, different textures,” said Richard Langham, an FBI scientist who was assigned to work at the Fort Detrick lab. He said it was Abshire’s 20 years of experience that allowed her to spot the subtleties.”

    “A new postdoc working with anthrax probably would not have noticed,” he said.

    “The FBI was fortunate: Not only were there multiple mutations among the attack strain, but they also were the kinds that led to easily detectable physical changes.”

    Comment: Yes, and what Terry Abshire told the FBI was that it looked like HER spores. Or did these learned investigators not know that.

    Was the missing 340 ml. of virulent Ames sent in June 2001 ever irradiated? Or, instead, was it used by someone in the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings?

  4. DXer said

    The Videotaped deposition of KRISTIE M. FRIEND, June 9, 2011
    https://mrmc.amedd.army.mil/content/foia_reading_room/Depositions/Friend%20Deposition_Redacted.pdf

    Q. Who are they?
    A. Ms. Cindy Allen, Ms. Stephanie Readus —
    Q. R-E-A-D-U-S?
    A. — yes, sir — and Ms. Terri Abshire. And
    one soldier worked with them as well, and he would have been Sergeant Lee Spinogle.
    Q. Spinogle?
    A. Um-hmm.
    Q. And these were lab techs that were already
    there.
    A. Right. And their mission, they primarily
    worked in the SPSTL. They didn’t do any other type of lab research. Their primary focus was to receive samples and test them for any kind of biowarfare agents that may have affected wherever. So they had received many samples from all over the country and all over the world, at times.
    Q. I’m sure, though, that they had access to the rest of USAMRIID to call in other people in case they needed some expertise, like you said earlier.
    A. Yes, absolutely.

    (p. 30)

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