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

Posts Tagged ‘Iowa State University’

* among the still unanswered anthrax questions … Who decided to destroy the large collection of anthrax samples at the Iowa State University?

Posted by DXer on December 22, 2011

******

Iowa State University

******

I was re-reading Noah Schachtman’s detailed overview of the anthrax attacks and subsequent FBI investigation, published in WIRED in March 2011 when I was struck by this sentence … “Scientists from around the world were asked to send in a bit of every Ames anthrax sample in their possession.”

This reminded me of the fact that a large reservoir of anthrax, located at the Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa was purposely DESTROYED shortly after the initial attacks, clearly with FBI concurrence.

The reasons behind this bizarre event have never been adequately explained.

These questions remain unanswered …

  • Who decided to destroy those valuable samples?
  • Who was aware of the destruction before it happened?
  • What reasons were given at the time, and do those reasons seem to make any sense?
  • And also, why haven’t we heard more about this issue, even in Schachtman’s otherwise very comprehensive account?

******

DXer adds … in its report, GAO can also address any issues relating to Iowa.

From Keim’s Q and A:

Q: Did the FBI or U.S. Department of Justice consult with any genetics expert when they were asked in October 2001 whether it was okay for the [B. anthracis strains held at] Iowa State University and USDA Ames (at the strip mall) to be destroyed?

A: I was not consulted nor am I familiar with the actual steps that lead to the destruction of these materials. During that time period (late 2001), I was doubtlessly the most engaged microbial geneticist working with the FBI. If I wasn’t consulted, then probably none others were either. Additional Commentary:  It is hard to understand why this destruction was done and why it was allowed to occur. Clearly someone in Iowa panicked at being in the media bright lights and wanted to get rid of the material. If this was really authorized by the FBI, who that authority was has not been released, to my knowledge. If the investigation had eventually lead back to Iowa, this would have been viewed as destruction of evidence and obstruction of justice. Now that would have been a public relations nightmare!

******

By way of some background, I interviewed all the professors and posted what they reported, the reasons given etc.  The new Dean of the Vet school encouraged the key professor involved to speak with me after an initial reluctance.  And so I ended up speaking with a number of people at ISU to include Dr. Roth and Dr. Cheville if I am remembering the names correctly.  Jim D at microbiology was especially helpful and was not involved in the misguided decision to destroy the collection.

Now first it is important to distinguish between ISU and Agriculture Department.  The labs are nearby but they are physically distinct and under different management.  Some of the ISU professors worked at at the Ag lab.  There was a BL-3 Ag there at USDA.  But a basic first mistake most people make in discussing the issue is confusing ISU with USDA Ames.

Second, the numerous strains kept at ISU were never shown to have been Ames.  Even with the ambiguity of the mailing label (with their being no cancellation on the envelope showing where it was postmarked), the strains at ISU were not known or shown to have Ames.  On the other hand, the important William Broad article based on the correspondence file provided by Gregory Knudson does not actually definitively resolve the question as to the routing of the envelope.  That would require a cancellation, a postmark.  I obtained the mailing label and uploaded it at various websites.  Dr. Knudson, who later went to work for the CIA, had asked USDA Iowa to help collect virulent strains.  The conventional, but not authoritatively proven consensus, is that it was mailed directly from Texas.  There were two slants mailed that arrived at USAMRIID.  Dr. Ivins could not find the second one and presumed Dr. Knudson took it with him when he left USAMRIID.  (Incredibly, the fellow who mailed it from Texas had not even been interviewed.  He had retired to someplace like Idaho and we had to track down; he does not recall specifics; the FBI instead was relying on the Director of the Texas TVMDL).

As for whether USDA had Ames — whether from the first collection or later in the course of vaccine work — it gets less clear.  Thomas Bunn, manager of the BL-3 lab, declined to respond.  A formal FOIA request was vetted through some sort of national terrorism committee.  The nice FOIA person said there were no responsive documents.  But he took pains to emphasize that at least they had nothing that was “known as Ames.”  One logically would want to ask Dr. Bunn, who had worked at USAMRIID, whether he had some from his days at USAMRIID.

Now as for the reason for the destruction, the offered reason was the cost of National Guard protection.  That didn’t make much sense, as a practical matter, because it was a simple thing to courier them over to the USDA lab which was very nearby. But in the rush of events we can forgive a University President for not knowing too much about the particulars of regulation of select agents.   As for who at DOJ approved, or did not object, Professor Boyle would point to Buck Revell as someone to ask.  But I have no idea.  DOJ, for its part, would say that it was getting guidance from CDC.

Certainly, with the  benefit of hindsight, it was a bonehead decision and the FBI science people (to include experts like Budowie), if consulted, likely would have advised restraint and preservation of evidence.  Dr. Keim, like Dr. Hugh-Jones, in hindsight agrees that it was very unfortunate decision.  Dr. Kimothy Smith could say whether he was ever asked but likely not given that Dr. Keim doesn’t know anything about it.  (GAO could easily find out what FBI scientist was asked and obtain written record of the response).  In-house scientists might have been less attuned to the nature of the genetic inquiry that was second nature to the experts in Dr. Keim’s lab and now the stuff of popular press articles.

ISU is a fascinating case study given virulent anthrax was handled at a shopping mall in a satellite lab — photographs show the very poor physical conditions.  It illustrates just how simple it would be for virulent anthrax to be stolen.

Also, Jim D.  in microbiology, had a prototype device on loan the summer of 2001 called the MICROBIAL VAC that concentrated anthrax by a factor of 10 using repeated centrifugation and sequential filtration.  From an Idaho company funded by an SBIR.  The inventor, Bruce Bradley, tells me it could be used to make anthrax into a powder but only on a small scale.  The advisor on the project (at WSU) was the mentor and co-author with a supporter of Bin Laden’s sheiks from Al-Timimi’s charity, Dr. Diab.  That supporter, a PhD animal geneticist, had quit his job, where he researched making dried powders for foodstuffs, and came here to Syracuse.  Then he went back to Idaho where the webmaster Al-Hussayen was being investigated and was quoted there in August 2002.  Then he returned here.  The supporter of Bin Laden’s sheiks was arrested in February 2003, the day and minute Ali Al-Timimi’s townhouse was searched on Northern Virginia.   The scientist who had come to Syracuse, Ismail, lived a mile from me and is very gracious fellow with highly educated family and friends.  He was placed under house arrest, I believe, but never questioned (at last report)  My source on info relating to the charity knew nothing of this person’s work.   Another good friend who studies polymers and living organisms lives in the apartment complex the scientist was in.  And so I hope to someday meet him and do a proper interview.  When I once contacted him by telephone, there was “too much going on” (I presumed surveillance etc.) for him to talk.   His mentor says he  was expert in mixing silica and so maybe has insights on the silicon signature also.  His supervisor, JH, though says he would just use it in mixing.  His supervisor/colleague and wife were concerned about him because they had not heard from him since he abruptly quit his PhD research job and came here ostensibly to work for a spin-off of Ali-Al Timimi’s charity, the one based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  (Research on animal foodstuffs involves microencapsulation which protects the medicine from being destroyed by enzymes before reaching the target organ).  Out in Idaho, Sami’s MSA VP, whose room was searched at the same time, had a PhD thesis with 350 pages of drying coefficients.  So people who don’t think highly religious people are not also often highly educated need to get out more.

At the time of the searches of Ali’s townhouse and the locations in Idaho, 100 agents came here in February 2003 and simultaneously interviewed 150 people.  The FBI used the cover of OPERATION IMMINENT HORIZON in investigating Amerithrax.  But it is all classified, Ali Al-Timimi is perhaps a TOP ECHELON informant and so it will be a difficult subject for the GAO to gain insights on.   But truth is a funny thing.  Given the gaps in proof and speculation that dominates the handling of this case, maybe all we can do is wait until after the next 911 and look back with the benefit of hindsight.

******

Additional background on this issue is contained in an article on this blog posted July 5, 2009 …

* al-Qaeda was seeking anthrax; in Ames, Iowa, anthrax samples were destroyed; is there a connection? text of the new YouTube video

******

Advertisements

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

* Dr. Paul Keim answers questions about the anthrax investigation, some from CASE CLOSED blog participants

Posted by DXer on July 8, 2009

why the FBI failed to solve the 2001 anthrax caseCASE CLOSED

* buy CASE CLOSED at amazon

* VIDEO – introducing CASE CLOSED

.

.

Dr. Paul Keim answers questions

about the anthrax investigation,

some from CASE CLOSED blog participants

KeimPaul Keim, Ph.D., is a Regents Professor of Biology at Northern Arizona University and the Division Director of Pathogen Genomics at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen). Keim serves on the Scientific Working Group for Microbial Forensics (FBI) and the National Science Advisory Board for Biodefense to advise the U.S. government on issues of science and policy.

On July 6, 2009, Paul Keim answered selected viewer questions about the anthrax letter attacks and microbial forensics in general. Excerpts from these Q & A follow; the entire Q & A is found in the comment below.

Q: What are the limitations of using microbial forensics for attribution purposes? Are policymakers fully aware of these limitations? Jonathan B. Tucker, Washington, D.C.

A: … “The laboratory Ames strain can be precisely identified and differentiated from all other types of Bacillus anthracis, including those very close relatives isolated from the same geographic region of Texas.” This is a long ways from concluding that letter spores came from USAMRIID, but it is a start and eliminates a lot of possibilities. “Exclusion” due to a lack of a match is one of the most powerful conclusions that can be drawn in DNA fingerprinting analysis. In the Amerithrax case, the scientific evidence (morph typing) tying the letter spores to the RMR-1029 appears strong. The FBI repository of Ames cultures was extensive, and only cultures derived from RMR1029 or that culture itself have all four morphs. While this scientific conclusion excludes a very large number of possible perpetrators, it still doesn’t directly attribute the crime to an individual. I understand that there was more than one person with access to RMR-1029 spore preparation. I don’t know how many individuals had access, and I can only speculate that it could have been quite a few (10? 50? 100?). This limitation is well understood by the scientists involved but may or may not be understood by the public or policymakers.

Q: Did the FBI or U.S. Department of Justice consult with any genetics expert when they were asked in October 2001 whether it was okay for the [B. anthracis strains held at] Iowa State University and USDA Ames (at the strip mall) to be destroyed? Ross Getman, Syracuse, New York

A: I was not consulted nor am I familiar with the actual steps that lead to the destruction of these materials. During that time period (late 2001), I was doubtlessly the most engaged microbial geneticist working with the FBI. If I wasn’t consulted, then probably none others were either. Additional Commentary:  It is hard to understand why this destruction was done and why it was allowed to occur. Clearly someone in Iowa panicked at being in the media bright lights and wanted to get rid of the material. If this was really authorized by the FBI, who that authority was has not been released, to my knowledge. If the investigation had eventually lead back to Iowa, this would have been viewed as destruction of evidence and obstruction of justice. Now that would have been a public relations nightmare!

The following are several of the many questions proposed at my CASE CLOSED blog, where a vibrant discussion of issues related to the anthrax investigation is active every day. Lew Weinstein, Collioure, France:

Q1: Did the 1,070 samples examined by the morphotype analysis accurately reflect the actual number of anthrax samples held in the U.S. in the 2001 timeframe?

A: This would not be representative of all the Bacillus anthracis samples, but rather Ames strain stocks. I don’t know how many B. anthracis cultures existed in the U.S. in 2001, but many more than this. The Ames strain is only one of many different identifiable strains.

Q2: 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?

A:  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.

Q3: Did the FBI use any type of proficiency testing for their genetic analysis?

A: Definitely yes. Extensive proficiency testing was performed both prior to and during the genetic analysis at Northern Arizona University. The initial determination from the first Florida sample was done using normal research controls and standards, but soon afterwards very rigorous forensic-level protocols were implemented. There was no time for proficiency testing for the first analysis on the Robert Stevens isolate, as we had only a few hours notification. Immediately afterwards, the FBI forensic scientists began to review our procedures and help us to institute forensic-level operating protocols, including proficiency testing. Once these were in place, original analyses were repeated with the same result.

Note that there were no forensic standards for microbes and that we had to adapt the ones developed for human DNA testing to our new anthrax tests. This is a topic of great debate as to what the standards should be for a new technology.

Q4: 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?

A: 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. 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.

Three questions from Marcia Ann Chambers, Topeka, Indiana

Q1: The mailed spores were compared to ancestral Ames (genotype62) and determined to be identical to it. In what lab and under what circumstances was the ancestral Ames stored?

A: The ancestral Ames culture was stored at USAMRIID until it was discovered during the Amerithrax investigation. It is the oldest known archival Ames culture discovered in the investigation and dates from early 1981 (see: Ravel et al. 2009 J. Bacteriology 191:445-6.).

Q2: When testing other sources to compare to the mailed spores, did you look for colony morphology differences?

A: The morphs themselves were useful for identifying minor genetic differences in the letter spores, but it would have been very tedious and unreliable to depend upon visual analysis of colony morphology across the entire repository or across all the evidence. In addition, the colony morphological differences can be subtle and subjective. (A lot of credit should be extended to the skilled microbiologists who originally spotted the morphs.) So, the final repository analysis was of the genetic differences controlling the morphological differences. These were genetic tests (PCR) developed after the full genomes of each morph were determined by TIGR [The Institute for Genomic Research]. These tests are rapid,
sensitive, and highly reproducible. The entire process was done in a blinded fashion where the labs used anonymous samples.

Q3: If Iowa State University destroyed its entire collection of anthrax, how can it be eliminated as a source for flask RMR-1029?

A: It is regrettable that ISU destroyed their archival B. anthracis isolates (see my commentary above), as this could have exonerated them. Our DNA analyses would have quickly determined whether they even had the Ames strain in their collection. The reason they were under such scrutiny was due to the misnaming of the Ames strain (see my discussion on this topic above).

Commentary: This is an opinion, but given the mailing location in New Jersey, it is unlikely that an ISU employee could have driven that far to mail the letters without being detected. It is also unlikely that ISU even had the Ames strain, let alone RMR1029. They did not have a vaccine development program, and there were no notable anthrax research teams there at that time. After all the unwarranted media attention, I’m guessing that the government investigated activities at ISU with great diligence and ruled out potential suspects.

NOTE: The entire post from Dr. Keim is contained in the comment below, submitted by DXer and reproduced below.

Posted in * anthrax science, * questioning the FBI's anthrax investigation, Ames anthrax | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

* Lew’s CASE CLOSED interview with Bill Becker on US1Radio

Posted by DXer on June 24, 2009

Lew Weinstein

Lew Weinstein

*

Bill Becker

Bill Becker

Lew Weinstein was heard this morning in an interview by Bill Becker that was available to a national audience on http://www.us1radio.com.

The interview ranged over many aspects of the real anthrax case as well as the fictional scenario Lew has imagined in CASE CLOSED to explain why the FBI did not solve the case.

*****

*****

click here to listen to >>>

Lew’s interview with Bill Becker

NOTE: after listening to the interview (12 min) …

CLICK RETURN KEY (<-) to come back here

*****

click here to >>> * purchase CASE CLOSED

CASE CLOSED

click here to >>> * see CASE CLOSED VIDEO on YouTube

NOTE: after watching the video (1.5 min) …

CLICK RETURN KEY (<-) to come back here

Posted in * about CASE CLOSED, * questioning the FBI's anthrax investigation, Ames anthrax | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

* lack of control of Ft. Detrick anthrax inventory undercuts the FBI’s case against Dr. Bruce Ivins

Posted by DXer on June 18, 2009

Lew’s new novel CASE CLOSEDCC - front cover - small

explores the FBI’s failed investigation of the 2001 anthrax case …

* see CASE CLOSED VIDEO on YouTube

* purchase CASE CLOSED (paperback)

* lack of control of Ft. Detrick

anthrax inventory undercuts …

Nelson Hernandez writes in today’s Washington Post (6/18/09) …

Fort Detrick 2

  • An inventory of potentially deadly pathogens at Fort Detrick’s infectious disease laboratory found more than9,000 vials that had not been accounted for, raising concerns that officials wouldn’t know whether dangerous toxins were missing.
  • The vials contained some dangerous pathogens, among them the Ebola virus, anthrax bacteria …
  • “I can’t say that nothing did [leave the lab], but I can say that we think it’s extremely unlikely,” Kortepeter said.
  • the overstock and the previous inaccuracy of the database raised the possibility that someone could have taken a sample outside the lab with no way for officials to know something was missing.

read the entire article at … http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/17/AR2009061703271.html

LMW COMMENT …

It just keeps getting worse. How can anyone believe the FBI’s assertion that Dr. Bruce Ivins was the sole perpetrator of the 2001 anthrax attacks.

In my novel CASE CLOSED, I described inventory and physical controls at Fort Detrick as being shockingly inadequate, thus allowing many people to have potential access to the anthrax that was used in the 2001 attacks. The real world, apparently, was even worse that I imagined.

Who will hold these people — USAMRIID, the FBI, Iowa State University, Battelle, others — accountable for their role in the investigation of the still unsolved case of the 2001 anthrax attacks?

Members of Congress have asked good questions of FBI Director Mueller, and have been stonewalled with no answers, or answers that were so unresponsive as to be insulting and demeaning to the Congress and to the American people. So far, there has been no meaningful follow-up by the Congress to this disgraceful arrogance on the part of the FBI.

The bottom line … Who is hiding what? Why?

RELATED ARTICLE …

* Who will lift the veil of secrecy regarding the FBI investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks?

It seems that the FBI’s stonewalling tactics are working just fine for them. Congress is accomplishing little, despite many strong statements and excellent questions, to lift the veil of secrecy which surrounds the failed FBI anthrax investigation.

grassley-holt-nadler-conyers


Posted in * FBI refusal to testify, * questioning the FBI's anthrax investigation, * recent anthrax news | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

* the (apparent) refusal of the FBI to answer Sen. Grassley’s September 2008 questions raises further suspicions of a continuing FBI cover-up of its failed anthrax investigation

Posted by DXer on May 29, 2009

Televangelists Finances

Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa)

LMW COMMENT … 

Last September, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) sent a letter to the then Attorney General Michael Mukasey and FBI Director Robert Mueller, asking 18 excellent questions (see below) about the FBI’s investigation of the anthrax case and the FBI’s determination that USAMRIID scientist Dr. Bruce Ivins was the sole perpetrator of the 2001 anthrax attacks.

Eight months have passed.

I have recently called Senator Grassley’s office several times, asking …

  • has the FBI responded to the Senator’s questions?
  • if yes, will you release the FBI’s answers?
  • if no, what are you going to do about the FBI’s unwillingness to answer?

To date, I have been shunted around by the Senator’s staff but have received no answers to my questions. What’s going on here? Who’s covering up what?

If the FBI has refused to answer, that is a disgrace; Senator Grassley and the Congress should not let the FBI get away with that. 

If the FBI has answered, why haven’t their answers been made known?

If the FBI truly believes the case is solved, what more could they possibly have to hide?

Of course, if the FBI knows it has not solved the case, as I and many others believe, they have much to hide.

Senator Grassley is of course from Iowa, where Iowa State University had the infamous Ames Anthrax and then destroyed it soon after the first of the 2001 anthrax attack mailings. There has never been an adequate explanation for the destruction of the Ames Anthrax and the FBI’s role in “ordering” or “approving” or “not objecting” to that destruction, and this subject was, curiously, not among those addressed by Senator Grassley’s questions.

Marcia Chamber’s excellent series of posts on this blog (see * MARCIA’S STORY ) tells her story of what she saw at Iowa State University in 1990, and expresses her belief that it was anthrax stolen in 1990 from a lab at Iowa State University which was later used in the 2001 mailings. Marcia’s observations have never been adequately investigated, despite her numerous attempts to convince the FBI and Postal Inspectors of the potential importance of what she saw. There is no question in my mind that the destruction of the Ames Anthrax by Iowa State University remains a puzzling and troubling aspect of the case which has not received sufficient investigative attention.

CC - front cover - small

The longer such information is withheld, the more it appears that the FBI investigation was indeed a sham and that their case against Dr. Ivins is one which could not be proven in court.

It was my anger at the FBI’s August 2008 announcement naming the recently deceased Dr. Ivins as the sole perpetrator of the 2001 anthrax attacks that prompted me to write my latest novel CASE CLOSED.

CASE CLOSED picks up where the facts of the actual anthrax case leave off and presents a fictional scenario to explain who committed the anthrax attacks and, equally important, why the FBI failed to solve the case. My premise in CASE CLOSED is that the FBI didn’t solve the case because they were told not to.

Does CASE CLOSED tell what actually happened in the anthrax attacks and subsequent FBI investigation. Of course not. It’s a novel!

But many early readers, including a well placed member of the Intelligence Community, have told me that my story, while fiction, is all too plausible.

A video introducing CASE CLOSED may be seen on YouTube at …

* see CASE CLOSED VIDEO on YouTube

CASE CLOSED may be purchased at amazon.com (in Kindle format) …

* purchase CASE CLOSED at amazon (Kindle format)

CASE CLOSED paperback edition is scheduled to be available at amazon.com and other bookselling locations within the next week.

 

**********************************************

Here are the 18 questions asked in Senator Grassley’s September 2008 letter …


  1. What is the date (month and year) that the FBI determined that the anthrax came from a specified flask in Ivins’s lab (“RMR-1029”)?
  2. When (month and year) did the FBI determine that Dr. Hatfill never had access to the anthrax used in the killings?
  3. How did the FBI determine that Dr. Hatfill did not have access to the anthrax used in the killings?  Was that because the FBI determined that Dr. Hatfill no longer worked at USAMRIID when the powder was made?
  4. Was Dr. Hatfill or his counsel informed that Dr. Hatfill had been cleared of any involvement in the anthrax killings before the Department of Justice offered a settlement to him?  Was he informed before signing the settlement agreement with him?  If not, please explain why not.
  5. Was Judge Walton (the judge overseeing the Privacy Act litigation) ever informed that Dr. Hatfill had been eliminated as a suspect in the anthrax killings?  If so, when.  If not, please explain why not.
  6. Was Dr. Ivins ever polygraphed in the course of the investigation?  If so, please provide the dates and results of the exam(s).  If not, please explain why not.
  7. Of the more than 100 people who had access to RMR 1029, how many were provided custody of samples sent outside Ft. Detrick?  Of those, how many samples were provided to foreign laboratories?
  8. If those with access to samples of RMR 1029 in places other than Ft. Detrick had used the sample to produce additional quantities of anthrax, would that anthrax appear distinguishable from RMR 1029?
  9. How can the FBI be sure that none of the samples sent to other labs were used to create additional quantities of anthrax that would appear distinguishable from RMR 1029?
  10. Please describe the methodology and results of any oxygen isotope measurements taken to determine the source of water used to grow the spores used in the anthrax attacks.
  11. Was there video equipment which would record the activities of Dr. Ivins at Ft. Detrick on the late nights he was there on the dates surrounding the mailings?  If so, please describe what examination of the video revealed.
  12. When did the FBI first learn of Dr. Ivins’ late-night activity in the lab around the time of the attacks?  If this is powerful circumstantial evidence of his guilt, then why did this information not lead the FBI to focus attention on him, rather than Dr. Hatfill, much sooner in the investigation?
  13. When did the FBI first learn that Dr. Ivins was prescribed medications for various symptoms of mental illness?  If this is circumstantial evidence of his guilt, then why did this information not lead the FBI to focus attention on him, rather than Dr. Hatfill, much sooner in the investigation? Of the 100 individuals who had access to RMR 1029, were any others found to suffer from mental illness, be under the care of a mental health professional, or prescribed anti-depressant/anti-psychotic medications?   If so, how many?
  14. What role did the FBI play in conducting and updating the background examination of Dr. Ivins in order for him to have clearance and work with deadly pathogens at Ft. Detrick?
  15. After the FBI identified Dr. Ivins as the sole suspect, why was he not detained?  Did the U.S. Attorney’s Office object to seeking an arrest or material witness warrant?  If not, did anyone at FBI order a slower approach to arresting Ivins?
  16. Had an indictment of Dr. Ivins been drafted before his death?  If so, what additional information did it contain beyond the affidavits already released to the public?  If not, then when, if ever, had a decision been made to seek an indictment from the grand jury?
  17. According to family members, FBI agents publicly confronted and accused Dr. Ivins of the attacks, showed pictures of the victims to his daughter, and offered the $2.5 million reward to his son in the months leading up to his suicide.  These aggressive, overt surveillance techniques appear similar to those used on Dr. Hatfill with the apparent purpose of intimidation rather than legitimate investigation.  Please describe whether and to what degree there is any truth to these claims.
  18. What additional documents will be released, if any, and when will they be released?

Posted in * FBI refusal to testify, * questioning the FBI's anthrax investigation, * recent anthrax news | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments »

* Ames anthrax and the 1943-1969 U.S. biowarfare program

Posted by DXer on May 21, 2009

Ike Solem posted a comment earlier today on one of the posts having to do with Marcia Chambers’ story of what she saw at Iowa State University in 1990. Here are some extracts from Ike’s comment …

  • The claim since the (2001 anthrax) attacks is that the Ames strain was isolated from a cow in Texas in the early 1980s, and then it was sent to Fort Detrick, where it was found to be quite virulent and was thus chosen as the “anthrax vaccine challenge strain” – i.e., guinea pigs, rabbits and rhesus macaque monkeys would be vaccinated and then exposed to the Ames strain.  Ames is still the anthrax challenge strain, by the way.
  • In 1969, Nixon shut down the entire program after anthrax spores killed 3000 sheep on the edge of the Dugway Utah biowarfare test center.  Everything was to be flushed, and supposedly it was.
  • You can see the problem, however… if the Ames strain was really isolated in the 1950s, perhaps that means that the biowarfare program was not really shut down – just put on ice, transferred to a friendly country like Britain, or something similar.
  • This then leads into other troubling questions – like who was it, precisely, that set Saddam Hussein up with a biological weapons program in the early 1980s when he was fighting our sworn enemiesanthrax spores, the Iranians?
  • If the Ames strain came from the 1943-1969 U.S. biological warfare program, which had been ‘entirely dismantled’, then we have a whole new set of difficult questions to ask – for example, did Britain keep their biowarfare operation running?  Is that how Saddam got his hands on anthrax?
  • They do have that official secrets act, which they use to muzzle their press on such issues, so it is hard to say.
  • the trail of odd suicides,
  • from Frank Olson (a Detrick microbiologist who joined the program in the 1940s and later decided it had been a terrible mistake)
  • to David Kelly (UK WMD scientist who died in 2003 after being accused of complicity in the alleged “sexing up” of Iraqi WMD intelligence.)
  • to Bruce Ivins (accused by the FBI of being the sole perpetrator of the 2001 anthrax attacks after he committed suicide in 200committed suicide in 2008).  
  • Recall Colin Powell waving the little tube of anthrax around at the UN, as well, as he was drumming up support for an invasion of Iraq.
  • This mess is going to be exposed to strong sunlight – which is one of the more effective methods of destroying germs – and all the surveillance and harassment in the world won’t stop that from happening.

Posted in * Iraq & anthrax, * questioning the FBI's anthrax investigation, Ames anthrax | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »