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

* Virulent Ames genetically identical to the attack anthrax used in Fall 2001 mailings was at Dugway Proving Ground at Utah

Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 16, 2016

 

8 Responses to “* Virulent Ames genetically identical to the attack anthrax used in Fall 2001 mailings was at Dugway Proving Ground at Utah”

  1. DXer said

    Former CIA Chief Says Military Could Defy Donald Trump’s Orders

    By
    Damian Paletta
    Feb 27, 2016 4:53 pm ET

    WASHINGTON – Retired Gen. Michael Hayden, who recently led the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency, said the U.S. military would likely refuse to follow certain orders from Donald Trump if he is elected to the White House in November and follows through on campaign promises.

    • Former CIA Chief Says Military Could Defy Donald Trump’s Orders

    “I would be incredibly concerned if a President Trump governed in a way that was consistent with the language that Candidate Trump expressed during the campaign,” Gen. Hayden said during an interview will Bill Maher on Friday.

    Mr. Trump, the frontrunner in the GOP primary, has vowed to use torture techniques against suspected terrorists if he wins the White House, going beyond waterboarding and doing things he described as a “hell of a lot worse.”

    He has also suggested he would order U.S. forces to kill the family members of terrorists, a charge that some have alleged would be in violation of the Geneva Convention.

    Gen. Hayden, who had been an adviser to the presidential campaign of Jeb Bush, said the military would be required to refuse to obey these orders if Mr. Trump handed them down from the White House.

    “You are required not to follow an unlawful order,” Gen. Hayden said. Some of Mr. Trump’s proposals “would be in violation of all the international laws of armed conflict.”

  2. DXer said

  3. DXer said

    Anthrax matches Army spores
    Bioterror: Organisms made at a military laboratory in Utah are genetically identical to those mailed to members of Congress.
    December 12, 2001|By Scott Shane | Scott Shane,SUN STAFF

    For nearly a decade, U.S. Army scientists at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah have made small quantities of weapons-grade anthrax that is virtually identical to the powdery spores used in the mail attacks that have killed five people, government sources say.

    Until the anthrax attacks led to tighter security measures, anthrax grown at Dugway was regularly sent by Federal Express to the Army’s biodefense center at Fort Detrick, in Frederick, where the bacteria were killed using gamma radiation before being returned to Dugway for experiments.

    The anthrax was shipped in the form of a coarse paste, not in the far more dangerous finely milled form, according to one government official.

    Most anthrax testing at Dugway, in a barren Utah desert 87 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, is done using the killed spores to reduce the chance of accidental exposure of workers there.

    But some experiments require live anthrax, milled to the tiny particle size expected on a battlefield, to test both decontamination techniques and biological agent detection systems, the sources say.

    Anthrax is also grown at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, where it is used chiefly to test the effectiveness of vaccines in animals.

    But that medical program uses a wet aerosol fog of anthrax rather than the dry powder used in the attacks and at Dugway, according to interviews and medical journal articles based on the research.

    The wet anthrax, while still capable of killing people, is safer for laboratory workers to handle, scientists say.

    Dugway’s production of weapons-grade anthrax, which has never before been publicly revealed, is apparently the first by the U.S. government since President Richard M. Nixon ordered the U.S. offensive biowarfare program closed in 1969.

    Scientists familiar with the anthrax program at Dugway described it to The Sun on the condition that they not be named.

    The offensive program made hundreds of kilograms of anthrax for bombs designed to kill enemy troops over hundreds of square miles.

    Dugway’s Life Sciences Division makes the deadly spores in far, far smaller quantities, rarely accumulating more than 10 grams at a time, according to one Army official.

    Scientists estimate that the letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle originally contained about 2 grams of anthrax, about one-sixteenth of an ounce, or the weight of a dime.

    But its extraordinary concentration – in the range of 1 trillion spores per gram – meant that the letter could have contained 200 million times the average dose necessary to kill a person.

    Dugway’s weapons-grade anthrax has been milled to achieve a similar concentration, according to one person familiar with the program.

    The concentration exceeds that of weapons anthrax produced by the old U.S. offensive program or the Soviet biowarfare program, according to Dr. Richard O. Spertzel, who worked at Detrick for 18 years and later served as a United Nations bioweapons inspector in Iraq.

    Lab security measures

    No evidence linking the Dugway anthrax to the attacks has been made public, and there might well be none. Army officials say the anthrax there and at Fort Detrick has long been protected by multiple security measures.

    The FBI has extensively questioned Dugway employees who have had access to anthrax, according to people familiar with the investigation.

    Agents also have questioned people at Fort Detrick and other government and university laboratories that have used the Ames strain of anthrax found in the letters.

    Still, the analysis of the genetic and physical properties of the anthrax mailed to Daschle and Sen. Patrick J. Leahy has caused investigators to take a hard look at Dugway’s anthrax program.

    First, the genetic fingerprint of the mailed anthrax is indistinguishable from that of the Ames “reference strain,” which is the strain used most often at Fort Detrick and Dugway, according to a scientist familiar with the genetic work.

    Researchers led by Paul Keim at Northern Arizona University have compared the two samples and found them identical at 50 genetic markers – the most sensitive genetic identification method available.

    That does not mean the mailed anthrax necessarily originated from an Army program, because Ames anthrax has been widely used at government and university laboratories in the United States and overseas.

    Shipped without records

    While some sources have estimated Ames might have been used in as few as 20 labs, one scientist who has worked with anthrax said the total cannot be known exactly, but is probably closer to 50.

    “Until the last few years, a graduate student would call up a friend at another lab and say, `Send me Ames,’ and they’d do it,” the scientist said. “There wouldn’t necessarily be any records kept.”

    Ames is similar to but distinct from the Vollum1B strain of anthrax used in the old U.S. offensive biological weapons program.

    The genetic testing proves the mailed anthrax was not left over from the old program, most scientists agree.

  4. DXer said

    http://www.deseretnews.com/article/879524/Dugway-anthrax-probed.html?pg=all
    Dugway anthrax probed
    But Army says none of deadly bacteria missing

    By Joe Bauman
    Deseret News staff writer
    Published: Thursday, Dec. 13 2001 12:00 a.m. MST

    The FBI, in its attempts to track down the source of anthrax sent through the mail, is investigating Dugway Proving Ground’s work with the deadly spores, the Army said.

    But the Army insists no anthrax is missing from the sprawling test base in Utah’s western desert.

    “All anthrax used at Dugway has been accounted for,” Army officials told the Deseret News in an e-mail.

    Army officials acknowledged, following national news reports comparing the Dugway type of anthrax with that mailed in the terror attacks, that small amounts of live anthrax are routinely produced and tested at Dugway.

    Dugway has shipped small amounts of live anthrax to Army facilities in Fort Detrick, located in Frederick, Md., to be inactivated by radiation. The spores then are returned to the sprawling western Utah base so they can be tested for biological defenses, the Army said.

    Officials said the material was sent in paste form, not the powdered variety that has been sent in the mail.

    FBI director Robert S. Mueller, in Salt Lake City for an Olympics safety conference, responded to a question about Dugway’s work with anthrax at a press conference Wednesday by saying that the agency is looking at a number of possibilities about the origin of the anthrax in the terror attacks.

    Robert Flowers, Utah’s public safety commissioner, said Wednesday was the first time he had heard about a possible Dugway connection and that he would look into the situation.

    The Army’s e-mail came from its Developmental Test Command, Aberdeen, Md., after the Deseret News requested comments on an article carried by the Baltimore Sun on Wednesday. Dugway is one of the facilities involved with research at the command, which tests weapons and equipment.

    In 1969, then-President Richard Nixon ended America’s offensive biological testing program. Before then, open-air germ tests of various biological organisms were carried out at Dugway.

    Defensive programs — developing and producing such items as protective gear, detectors and decontamination agents — continue at Dugway. In order to test defenses, the base uses both live and inactivated anthrax.

    Because live anthrax is extremely dangerous to handle, even in the Dugway Life Sciences Test Facility’s biological testing laboratory, some anthrax grown at Dugway is sent to Fort Detrick to be inactivated because Dugway doesn’t have the radiation equipment. Then the inert version can be tested more safely.

    The Sun quoted unnamed sources as saying Dugway’s “weapons-grade” anthrax is virtually identical to the spores that have been used in the mail attacks. The Dugway anthrax “has been milled” to an extraordinary concentration, making it extremely deadly, the Sun reported.

    Anthrax spores in the terror letter to the Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., was ground to the concentration of 1 trillion spores per gram, the newspaper said. With two grams, it had 200 million times the average dose needed to kill a person.

    Dugway’s anthrax “has been milled to achieve a similar concentration, according to one person familiar with the program,” says the article. It added that Dugway’s Life Sciences Division rarely accumulates more than 10 grams at a time.

    Dugway’s present testing program was stimulated by dangers facing soldiers during the 1991 Gulf War.

    “By far, most of the testing (at Dugway) has been conducted using biological simulants,” says the e-mail from the Developmental Test Command.

    “The final test for a detection system is its ability to collect and identify aerosolized biological agents. The production of biological pathogens, to include bacillus anthracis [anthrax], is conducted to support this and decontamination testing, which . . . must be performed with live agents to evaluate the efficacy of decontamination solutions.”

    Dugway’s Web Site says its Life Sciences Division has an aerosol testing facility, requiring “biosafety level 3 containment.” Special containment cabinets allow testing of “potential biological threat agents.” The lab features sealed airtight chambers, it notes.

    Apparently, in order for anthrax to be aerosolized in a weapon, the bacteria spores must be ground to a fine powder, making the anthrax highly concentrated.

    The Army e-mail described shipping anthrax to Maryland:

    “In the past, very small amounts of anthrax have been shipped in paste form in hermetically sealed containers from Dugway Proving Ground to USAMRIID [the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick] for irradiation, and then returned.

    “Inactivated anthrax spores can be used for most of the tests” at Dugway, the note added.

    Shipments were carried out in accordance with stringent federal regulations on transfer of hazardous materials, the Army added.

    “Each was carefully tracked, and there was no loss of accountability nor any amount of anthrax paste. Anthrax in paste form cannot be the source of contamination for the anthrax letters mailed after Sept. 11, and Dugway never shipped any dry anthrax by commercial carrier.”

    The FBI is investigating many research and medical facilities, university programs and other sites across the country, “including the work at Dugway Proving Ground,” the note says.

    “The Army is cooperating with the FBI’s efforts, and as such, will not comment further on any aspect of its bio testing program until the time that the FBI investigation is complete.”

    The Baltimore Sun reported that a team of researchers led by Paul Keim of Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, had found that the Dugway anthrax and spores in the terror letters were identical at 50 genetic markers. However, that may not be significant because the Ames anthrax strain is used in many laboratories in the United States and overseas.

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