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

* Public Health Law in a Nutshell: The source of the Fall 2001 bioterrorism attack remains uncertain

Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 29, 2015

It wasn't Ivins

unnamed 1229

13 Responses to “* Public Health Law in a Nutshell: The source of the Fall 2001 bioterrorism attack remains uncertain”

  1. DXer said

    Justice Dept. to expand review of FBI forensic techniques beyond hair unit

    By Spencer S. Hsu February 25
    The Justice Department will expand its review of forensic testimony by the FBI Laboratory in closed criminal cases nationwide to ensure it has not overstated evidence against defendants, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates announced.

    In March, the department will lay out a framework for auditing samples of testimony that came from FBI units handling pattern-based evidence, such as tracing the impressions that guns leave on bullets, shoe treads, fibers, soil and other crime-scene evidence, department officials said this week. The FBI and other crime labs nationwide conduct more than 100,000 such examinations each year.

    Justice Department officials left open questions of which techniques and how many cases would be reviewed, using what standard over what time period, and whether convicted defendants would be notified if any errors are found.

    ***

    Hundreds of convicted defendants in hair-match cases have been notified of the testimony errors, and the bureau and the department are offering them new DNA testing and lowering barriers to appeals.

    Determining “whether the same kind of ‘testimonial overstatement’ . . . could have crept into other disciplines” would help “ensure the public’s ongoing confidence in the work we do,” Yates said.

    In a statement, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.), ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, applauded the Justice Department “for taking responsibility and launching a full review so that the public can learn exactly what went wrong and how we can prevent this from ever happening again.”

    ***

    Victor W. Weedn, outgoing AAFS president and chairman of the George Washington University department of forensic sciences, said, “To critique old cases, to see the limitations of old techniques we used because of advances in technology is a matter of transparency and accountability, and to not sweep it under the rug, that is a breath of fresh air.”

  2. DXer said

    Troubling truth beneath Litvinenko headlines
    By Daniel Gerstein
    Updated 8:11 PM ET, Thu January 21, 2016
    http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/21/opinions/alexander-litvinenko-case-gerstein/index.html

    “But it is not just states that have been employing chemical weapons and experimenting with biological pathogens — terrorists have been, too. U.S. officials believe the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria already is using crude chemical weapons against government forces and civilian populations in Iraq and Syria. And the group is believed to be seeking supporters with skills in microbiology, chemistry or related disciplines to develop more advanced weapons. In 2002, U.S. forces discovered evidence of an al Qaeda chemical and biological lab during initial operations in Afghanistan.

    One need only look at what happened in the United States during the 2001 anthrax attacks to see the impact that a mere several grams of biological material can have, even when delivered through rudimentary means, like letters sent through the mail. Just as alarming is that those looking to cause harm can, with relative ease, find recipes on the Internet for developing biological weapons, including for growing Clostridium botulinum, the pathogen that causes the potentially fatal illness botulism.”

    • DXer said

      EXPERT COMMENTARY
      Countering Bioterror
      JANUARY 17, 2016 | DANIEL GERSTEIN
      https://www.thecipherbrief.com/article/countering-bioterror

      Advances in biotechnology have brought a wide range of benefits in health and medical research, food and agriculture, even manufacturing. At the same time, biotechnology is also advancing on a darker side, as biological weapons are now within the reach of many rogue nations and possibly some terrorist groups.

      The deliberate use of biological pathogens to attack a major population center could kill or infect hundreds of thousands of people, yet report after report shows the United States to be ill prepared to address a threat that is only increasing as technology marches forward.

      ***

      Since 2001, when the anthrax attacks brought the threat of biological terrorism to the headlines with the delivery of mail containing the deadly white powder, attention to the threat posed by biological weapons has tended to drift away from concerns about the deliberate use of biological pathogens and toward public health efforts directed mostly at naturally-occurring disease threats—such as pandemic influenza H1N1, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and Ebola.

      But properly prepared biological weapons do not act as naturally occurring disease; what may have worked in the fight against Ebola, for example, may have little effect against a weaponized, aerosol delivered variant of the disease. In fact, the history of the dismantled offensive U.S. biological weapons program demonstrates pathogens could be prepared and deployed so that resulting infections had barely any resemblance to the natural forms of the unmodified disease. ‘

      THE AUTHOR IS DANIEL GERSTEIN

      Daniel M. Gerstein works at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation. He was the Under Secretary (Acting) and Deputy Under Secretary in the Science and Technology Directorate of the Department of Homeland Security from 2011-2014. He is also the author of a book on the BWC, “National Security and Arms Control in the Age of Biotechnology: The Biological Weapons Convention.”

  3. DXer said

    It’s now time to have a similar probe as to the major pre-2002 incident that resulted in 5 deaths.

    “AR 15-6 Investigation Report – individual and Institutional Accountability For the Shipment Of Viable Bacillus Anthracis From Dugway Proving Ground,” December 17, 2015
    http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2691592-Dugway-Proving-Ground-Anthrax-Shipment-AR-15-6.html

  4. DXer said

    http://uk.reuters.com/article/us-usa-defense-anthrax-idUKKCN0UT1QW

    Health | Fri Jan 15, 2016 2:47pm
    Probe faults Army lab’s leaders over mistaken anthrax shipments: paper
    WASHINGTON
    Officials at an Army biodefense lab in Utah had multiple warning signs of safety issues but failed to take steps that could have averted the mistaken shipment of live anthrax to other labs, USA Today reported Friday, citing a military investigation.

    The newspaper, which obtained a copy of the military’s accountability investigation, said the brigadier general who led the lab at Dugway Proving Ground, an Army facility southwest of Salt Lake City, was among a dozen individuals facing possible disciplinary action including the loss of jobs, for the failures that led to the anthrax shipments.

    The lab at Dugway Proving Ground is responsible for neutralizing anthrax spores that are sent to other laboratories for medical research and investigation.

    But for more than a decide, the lab used a technique that failed to fully neutralize the spores on many occasions, resulting in live spores of the deadly bacteria being sent to 192 labs in the United States and abroad, Defense Department officials reported last year.

    Anthrax spores are neutralized with doses of radiation but are notoriously difficult to kill. To confirm their neutralization, samples are tested after receiving radiation doses to determine if they can still grow.

    An official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told a congressional hearing last year it should have been evident the procedures at Dugway were inadequate because anthrax was often repeatedly sent back for more radiation.

    USA Today said the military’s accountability report by Major General Paul Ostrowski concluded that the leadership at Dugway should have recognized the “complacency” and taken action to address it earlier.

    “This complacent atmosphere resulted in an organization plagued by mistakes and unable to identify systemic issues in the high-risk, zero-defects world of biological select agents and toxins,” the paper cited the report as saying.

    Officials failed to take effective action to correct the problems even after serious incidents at the labs between 2007 and 2011 involving anthrax, VX chemical nerve agent and poisonous Botulinum neurotoxin A.

    The review singled out Brigadier General William E. King IV, who was in command at Dugway as a colonel from July 2009 to July 2011, saying he “repeatedly deflected blame and minimized the severity of incidents,” USA Today reported.

    King is now commanding general at the 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosive Command at the Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, the paper said.

    King declined to comment on the ongoing investigation but told the paper he was concerned about the “seriousness” of the Dugway anthrax incident.

    King was the only person named in the report, because he is a general officer and as such is considered a public figure, the newspaper said.

    The other people facing potential discipline include two former commanders and three other leaders at the Army post.

  5. DXer said

    The Army’s review last year was limited to post-2002 shipments — even though the critical misuse and diversion (that killed 5 people) occurred just prior to that.

    The Army was led by the former FBI Amerithrax officials (Dr. Hassell and Dr. Majidi).

    It is hypercritical to say (in the now completed report discussed today by the USA Today) that the named General did not conduct the necessary review. It is, more notably, the Army — guided by the former FBI Amerithrax officials Hassell and Majidi — that failed to conduct the necessary review.

    Whatever happened to leading by example?

    If it is not sanctionable for Hassell and Majidi to have engaged in the truncated analysis — and was just a matter of line-drawing and professional judgment — then why doesn’t the same logic apply to the General? The difference between the post-2002 incidents and pre-2002 incidents is that pre-2002 incidents is that pre-2002 5 people died.

    Bruce Ivins emails that I uploaded (obtained from FOIA) show that irradiation was frequently ineffective.

    300 ml. was a huge amount to irradiate and size of sample greatly affected success of irradiation.

    Ivins estimated it was the amount needed to make the dried powder. And this blog has uploaded the correspondence of its rumored diversion.

    Docs produced under FOIA recently show the head of radiation safety was on vacation.

    300 ml. of gamma irradiated Ames was sent from USAMRIID to Dugway in August 2001; is there record that it was in fact received (and not diverted)?
    Posted on December 2, 2015

    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2015/12/02/300-ml-of-gamma-irradiated-ames-was-sent-from-usamriid-to-dugway-in-august-2001-is-there-record-that-it-was-in-fact-received-and-not-diverted/comment-page-1/#comment-42904

  6. DXer said

    Panel to HASC: ISIS Militants Will Be Difficult to Totally Defeat

    By: John Grady
    January 12, 2016 3:37 PM
    Michael Morrell, former acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency, added that followers of the Islamic State are convinced “Allah has chosen them personally to prepare for the coming of the Mahdi [the prophesized redeemer] . . . and the end of the world is coming. It’s exactly what the al Qaeda leadership believes,” but al Qaeda did not proclaim a caliphate—in large part because it does not hold territory.

    Holding territory allows the Islamic State to also recruit and train fighters and plan future attacks in a haven. Morrell said those havens were particularly troubling if the Islamic State acquired weapons of mass destruction. Islamic State leaders have said publicly “they would use them” even against civilians and “they have provided a religious justification” for their use. He cited al Qaeda’s earlier work on anthrax as an example of danger.

    http://news.usni.org/2016/01/12/panel-to-hasc-isis-militants-will-be-difficult-to-totally-defeat

    Comment:

    The 2011 wordpress blog below is several years old but now likely will be updated to include the recent years’ graphics by the federal undercover so as to give fuller treatment to Yazid Sufaat, Rauf Ahmad and the like. With Sufaat’s trial in Malaysia to resume shortly, Ali Al-Timimi’s critical briefing pending, and Richard L. Lambert’s suit likely headed for dismissal, I have been reluctant to post. The only consolation is that the art heist of the Century was solved before ISIS attacks DC and New York.

    Anthrax, Al Qaeda and Ayman Zawahiri: The Infiltration of US BIodefense
    http://www.amerithrax.wordpress.com

  7. DXer said

    “Expert panel finds CDC remains weak on lab safety despite some progress,” Washington Post,
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/expert-panel-finds-cdc-remains-weak-on-lab-safety-despite-some-progress/2016/01/04/8df100bc-b298-11e5-9388-466021d971de_story.html

    “The experts, who interviewed more than 50 leaders and researchers at CDC, conclude that a reluctance to report lab incidents remains one of the most difficult issues.”

    ***

    In 2014, the agency suffered serious safety breaches when anthrax, a deadly strain of bird flu and Ebola were mishandled in its labs in three separate incidents. No known infections or illnesses occurred as a result, but the incidents highlighted what CDC Director Tom Frieden told Congress was a too-narrow focus on response to specific events and a failure to spot a broad pattern of safety lapses.

    [Comment: And yet the Army and CDC this past year appears to have truncated their analysis to post 2001 events. ]

    ***

    The agency’s blunders with dangerous pathogens parallel errors at other federal government labs, including at the National Institutes of Health, Food and Drug Administration and, most recently, a Pentagon lab that sent scores of live anthrax samples to facilities across the United States and overseas.

    Frieden appointed the 11-member outside panel to investigate CDC’s lab safety in July 2014. Its first report, made public last March, was harshly critical and said safety was not part of CDC culture — particularly among more highly educated scientists and those working at the highest-security labs. The experts said they were “very concerned that the CDC is on the way to losing credibility.”

    From the report:

    • This should be a performance issue but personal negative consequences should only be associated with failure to communicate incidents.

    [When ISIS and/or Al Qaeda attacks the DC and NYC with anthrax, the current Army and CDC senior management involved with CBRN may want to get out their resume given the failure to address these same issues prior to 2002.]

    http://www.cdc.gov/about/pdf/lab-safety/acd_cdclabsafety_followupreport_20151029.pdf

    _______________

    Sherlock, The Abominable Bride, review: ‘sleuths, drugs and rock’n’roll’
    Michael Hogan reviews Watson and Sherlock’s trip back in time in the New Year’s Day special
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/tv-and-radio-reviews/12076259/Sherlock-The-Abominable-Bride-review.html

    “It is what it is.” — Ronald Leo Bowes

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: