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

Posts Tagged ‘Noah Schactman’

* DXer: Here is an A-Z directory and sample reporting from some of the dozens of excellent reporters who have covered Amerithrax and related issues.

Posted by DXer on October 22, 2013

from DXer … Here is an A-Z directory and sample reporting from some of the dozens of excellent reporters who have covered Amerithrax and related issues.



“FBI Checking Crop-Dusting Planes, Pilots,” Associated Press, April 22, 2004


“GMU Bioterrorism Center Unites Former Foes,” Washingon Post, February 14, 2002

AUGENSTEIN, NEAL – Feb. 10, 2009 – “Lawyer: Evidence against Bruce Ivins ‘Undercut'”



“Newsweek Poll: Bin Laden to Blame For Anthrax,”


Jeffrey Bartholet, “Terrorist Sleeper Cells: A U.S.-Based Al Qaeda ‘Sleeper Cell’ Was Poised to Launch a Post-Sept. 11 Attack on a Major Washington Target; Would-Be Terrorists Went Underground or Fled U.S. Evidence Indicates Al Qaeda Had Russian Help Developing Anthrax; Al-Zawahiri Believed Involved in Bin Laden’s Biological Weapons Program.” Newsweek, December 9, 2001.


Science Magazine – Oct. 11, 2011 – “New Challenge to FBI’s Anthrax Investigation Lends an Ear to Tin”


The New York Times – Feb. 24, 2010 (opinion) – “Haste Leaves Anthrax Case Unconcluded”


“Cropdusters grounded in poison alert: Toxic threat Pesticide planes could be used to spray cities,” Guardian, September 24, 2001

BRENNAN, PHIL   [Phil was a friend of Robert Stevens and had a very notable 6-part series in Newsmax as I recall]

“Alibek Doubts FBI Claims on Hatfill,” Newsmax, October 3, 2002.

BROAD, WILLIAM (with Scott Shane)

The New York Times – Oct. 9, 2011 – “Scientists’ Analysis Disputes F.B.I. Closing of Anthrax Case”


Asia Times – Feb. 25, 2010 – “Doubts cloud closing of anthrax case”


CADWALLADER, BRUCE (with Catherine Candisky)

“Anthrax Probe Story Is Baloney, FBI Says,” Columbus Dispatch, December 21, 2001  [Ed Lake’s theory was first to be debunked; but he persisted for 7 years, denying Hatfill was a suspect and reasoning the FBI suspected this POI]


MSNBC – Apr. 16, 2010 – “Exonerated anthrax suspect: FBI harassed me”

CONNOLLY, CECI (with Steve Fainaru)

Experts Debate Theory Hijacker Was Exposed


Does an Al Qaeda “Anthrax Operative” Own New York Pharmacies?

A detainee assessment released by WikiLeaks identifies a Pakistani pharmacist suspected of ties to terrorism.


Village Voice (blog) – July 19, 2011 – “Bruce Ivins Maybe Didn’t Send Anthrax, Government Admits in Court Papers”


“Warrantless Wiretapping Used In Terrorist Trial,”, December 8, 2008


CNN – Feb. 15, 2011 – “Scientific review reaches no conclusion on source of anthrax”

CULLISON, ALAN (with Andrew Higgins)  [what Mr. Cullison and WSJ colleagues did was some amazing Pulitzer-deserving sh**]

“Computer in Kabul holds chilling memos,” Wall Street Journal, December 31, 2001.



“Al Qaeda-Anthrax Link?,” CBS News, March 23, 2002


“Report Says UBL-Linked Groups Possess ‘Deadly’ Anthrax and Plague Viruses,” Melbourne Age (Internet version), June 4, 2000


“Silicon highlights remaining questions over anthrax investigation,”Nature, Sept. 29, 2008


The Times of Trenton – Feb. 26, 2010 – “Holt: Last word not in on anthrax case”


ECKSTEIN, MEGAN  (Adam Behsudi and the other FNP reporters also did good work but I didn’t have time to grab AB articles)

Frederick News-Post – Feb. 23, 2010 – “FBI report fails to end questions about Ivins’ guilt”

Frederick News-Post – July 19, 2011 – “Justice Department filings poke holes in Ivins’ case”

The Frederick News-Post – Dec. 10, 2010 – “Amerithrax review delayed after FBI releases more docs”

ENGELBERG, STEPHEN   (if you need to be told too often of incredible work done by ProPublica, McClatchy and Frontline, you just aren’t paying attention)
Their work is all the more impressive because they invested the resources to make documents and transcripts and raw interviews available.  Donate to public interest journalism today.

Stephen Engelberg et al., The Macon Telegraph – Oct. 11, 2011 – “Was FBI’s science good enough to ID anthrax killer?”



“For Decades, Mailing Germs Was Routine,” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 2, 2002

FRANTZ, DOUGLAS (with David Rohde)

“2 Pakistanis Linked to Papers on Anthrax Weapons,” New York Times, November 28, 2001
A NATION CHALLENGED: BIOLOGICAL TERROR; 2 Pakistanis Linked to Papers on Anthrax Weapons


The Atlantic – Apr. 16, 2010 – “The Wrong Man”


GANNON, KATHY     [Her book “I is for Infidel” should be put on your list of books to read; she has deep experience in that part of the world; she was there at the Taliban vaccine lab with the photographer taking pictures of the brown slurry harvested June 2001 that Yazid wouldn’t identify for me.]

“Taliban Showed Interest In Anthrax Research Lab. Scientists Say An Official Paid Frequent Visits” in The Boston Globe, November 22, 2001

GARRETT, LAURIE   (at book sales, when I’m in the relevant section people more than once have commented that her past books were very good).  She worked at Newsday previously.

Council on Foreign Relations – Oct. 12, 2011 – “The Anthrax Letters”

NPR (Laurie Garrett interview) – Aug. 26, 2011 – “A look back at 9/11 in ‘I Heard the Sirens Scream'”


Zawahiri’s Plan To Obtain the Ames Anthrax Strain

I switched from words to pictures because people are too busy to read.  A federal undercover did the graphics; I don’t even know photoshop.


“Biological weapons link to al-Qaida,” Guardian Unlimited, October 16, 2001

GILMORE, JIM (with Gordon, Engelberg and Wiser)

The Miami Herald – Oct. 12, 2011 – “Newly released files cloud FBI’s anthrax finding”

GORDON, GREG (with Engleberg) – Oct. 24, 2011 – “Secret Reports: With Security Spotty, Many Had Access to Anthrax”


“U.S. Says It Found Qaeda Lab Being Built to Produce Anthrax,” New York Times, March 23, 2002

GREENWALD, GLENN (Glenn Greenwald) – Apr. 21, 2010 – “Unlearned lessons from the Steven Hatfill case”

The Sacramento Bee – July 20, 2011 – “Justice Dept backtracks on anthrax claims”

GUGLIOTTA, GUY (with Gary Matsumoto)

“FBI’s Theory On Anthrax Is Doubted, Attacks Not Likely Work Of 1 Person, Experts Say,” Washington Post, October 28, 2002.



The Gazette – Oct. 12, 2011 – “Questions remain 10 years after anthrax mailings”

HERRIDGE, CATHERINE           (The Terror Pixie may find that she ends back with anthrax by pursuing her Awlaki-Al-TImimi-Wade Ammerman leads).

“FBI Focusing on ‘About Four’ Suspects in 2001 Anthrax Attacks,” FoxNews, March 28, 2008 – Mar. 7, 2009 – “FBI’s Evidence in Anthrax Case Leaves Puzzling Scientific Questions”


“Anthrax, ricin detected in Afghan labs,” United Press International, March 25, 2002

HOSENBALL, MARK  (like Isikoff, a heavy hitter on intel matters)

“A Germ Warfare Guru Goes Free”
Why did Malaysia release Al Qaeda’s bioweapons expert?
December 16, 2008

“Interrogation: Al Qaeda and Anthrax,” Newsweek, April 12, 2004


JADRNAK, JACKIE    (why on earth did Bruce send to UNM long before their BL-3 was up and running)?

“UNM Anthrax May Be Twin To Strain in Attacks,” Albuquerque Journal, December 19, 2001


“Hair Samples in Anthrax Case Don’t Match,” The Washington Post, August 14, 2008

The Washington Post – Aug. 1, 2009 – “Lawmaker ‘Skeptical’ of Anthrax Results”


“Is Al Qaeda Making Anthrax?” CBS News, October 9, 2003



“Their Faraway eyes”, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 14, 2002


LENGEL, ALLAN – May 26, 2011 – “Rep. Nadler Criticizes the FBI in Letter to Director Mueller Over Anthrax Probe”


“Anthrax trail on wrong path?” Rocky Mountain News, September 5, 2002

LLOYD, ANTHONY (with Daniel McGrory)

“Poison trail that started in al-Qaeda safe house,” TimesOnline, January 8, 2003

Commission: Al-Qaida made surprising advances on biological weapon

Published, April 1, 2005


MACASKILL, MARK (with Nicholas Rufford)    what does cleric al-Bakri say about the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings?

“Muslim Calls for Bio-Weapon Holy War,” Sunday Times, September 5, 1999

MACKENZIE, DEBORA   (a heavy hitter on science issues)

New Scientist – Feb. 16, 2011 – “Scientists critical of FBI’s anthrax conclusions”

MARKON, JERRY   (a heavy hitter on intel matters)

Jerry Markon, “Government Secrecy May Lead to New Trial In Va. Terrorism Case,” Washington Post, November 21, 2007; Page A08


“Federal advisers say U.S. unprepared for biological attack,” Associated Press, August 27, 2002.

“Lab Suggests Qaeda Planned to Build Arms, Officials Say,” New York Times, September 14, 2002

MULLER, RICHARD  (a physics PhD as I recall)

“Al Qaeda’s Anthrax: Osama bin Laden behind the mail attacks?” Technology Review, April 16, 2002



Ouagrham-Gormley, Sonia Ben
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists – Nov. 1, 2011 – “Amerithrax review: Lessons for future investigations”


“Who’s Afraid of Aafia Siddiqui?” Boston Magazine, October 2004


PARASCANDOLA, ROCCO   (a true crime guy; a still fascinating lead over a decade later)

“Guilty Plea in Fraud Case But Feds Fear Pakistani’s Purpose for buying Food Mixer,” Newsday , July 15, 2002.



“Does Al Qaeda Have Anthrax? Better Assume So,” National Journal, June 1, 2002.

RAZAK, AIDILA   (the reporter I most would like to have over for dinner; the series she and her colleagues did was Yazid Sufaat was amazing journalism; I don’t have a link to the one explaining Sufaat was a member of a since abandoned Malaysian biological weapons program.  But IMO it is the single most important article that has been done.  A subscription is required for the articles)

Yazid hails 9/11 attackers as ‘marketers of Islam’   (Yazid is actually a very nice guy; he should just be a truth-teller and let Allah sort out his secular concerns).


“Disturbing scenes of death show capability with chemical gas,” CNN, dated August 19, 2002.


SCHACTMAN, NOAH        (this was an important and influential article)

Wired Magazine – Mar. 24, 2011 – “Anthrax Redux: Did the Feds Nab the Wrong Guy?”


“Walker Lindh: Al Qaeda planned more attacks,” CNN, October 3, 2002

SCROGGINS, DEBORAH          (the world’s expert on and author of a  book on Aafia Siddiqui, she is an experienced journalist)

“The Most Wanted Woman in the World,” Vanity Fair, March 2005

SHARAF-AL-DIN, KHALID       (if you don’t understand the reports of the defendants in the trial relating to the Albanian Returnees, then you weren’t going to be informed in profiling the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings).

“Bin-Laden Men Reportedly Possess Biological Weapons,” Al-Sharaq al-Awsat, March 6, 1999 (FBIS/FTS 19990306000273)

SHANE, SCOTT   (influential throughout the course of the investigation; previously at Baltimore Sun; informed and insightful over the range of issues; overworked)

“Hijacker’s lesion deepens mystery,” Baltimore Sun, March 24, 2002

“New methods trace anthrax source by water,” Baltimore Sun, March 12, 2003

“Scientist says he’s anthrax ‘fall guy’,” Baltimore Sun, August 12, 2002,0,326233.story

SHANNON, ELAINE   (the mass spec on the toner is more important than the tracks)

“The Kinko’s Connection,” TIME, December 17, 2001,9171,1001477,00.html

SHERIDAN, MARY BETH    (Wade Ammerman is the FBI Agent who could explain a lot if allowed to speak to GAO)

“Hardball Tactics in an Era of Threats,” Washington Post September 3, 2006

STEIN, JEFF   (AUSA Lieber’s treatment of the polygraph issue illustrates overzealous prosecutorial approach that substitutes rationalization for evidence)

The Washington Post – Feb. 15, 2011 – “Ivins case’s inconvenient issue: his polygraph”



“U.S. Letter Tries To Establish a Doctor’s Links to Terrorists,” New York Times, dated November 6, 2004

TELL, DAVID       (David wrote extremely influential early pieces)

Remember Anthrax?
Despite the evidence, the FBI won’t let go of its “lone American” theory.
APR 29, 2002, VOL. 7, NO. 32

“Who is Syed Athar Abbas,” Weekly Standard, July 17, 2002.

The Hunting of Steven J. Hatfill
Why are so many people eager to believe that this man is the anthrax killer?
SEP 16, 2002, VOL. 8, NO. 01


UNKNOWN, OFFHAND (what can I say, some of the very most important articles were written by unknown;  I was short of “U’s” and am short of time)

“Taliban spokesman caught ‘with anthrax’: Afghan governor,” Nation (Pakistan) January 17, 2007

“Bio-terror strike ‘is inevitable’,” BBC News, November 21, 2005
The world must face the inevitability of a bio-terror attack by al-Qaeda, the head of Interpol has warned.

“Suspect in Pearl’s killing dies after interrogation; report,” AFP via Yahoo! News, November 11, 2007 (” Memon was helping al-Qaeda develop anthrax strains, the newspaper said.”)

“F.B.I. to question suspect in Malaysia,” New York Times, September 18, 2002

“Al Qaeda anthrax lab tech says he had been part of Malaysian Armed Forces biological weapons program”

“Sketches of anthrax bomb found in Pakistani scientist’s office,”, November 28, 2001

“Evidence of Anthrax Labs Near Kandahar,” March 25, 2002, ABCNews

“Bin Laden group ‘has bio-weapons,” BBC News, October 9, 2001

“US says al-Qaeda weapons lab found,” BBC News, March 22, 2002

“No Threat to Canton, Mayor Says Egyptian Man Who Researched City Water System, Parasitic Diseases at Library ‘Just Had Conversations,” Akron Beacon Journal, October 6, 2001

“Terrorist Investigation Heads To Local Library,” Clickondetroit, October 5, 2001

“Al Qaeda: Anthrax Found in Al-Qaeda [Zawahiri’s] Home,” Global Security Newswire, December 10, 2001

“Pakistan: Scientists Questioned About Anthrax Plans,” Global Security News, November 28, 2001

“Word for Word/Jihad Lit: Beware of Hidden Enemies And Their Wolves and Foxes,” New York Times, December 9, 2001



USA Today – Oct. 2, 2011 – “Al Qaeda lab lingers in anthrax story”

USA Today – Aug. 3, 2009 – “Anthrax case not closed: Panel reviews Bruce Ivins, mail probe”


WARRICK, JOBY     ( a personal favorite of mine for his environmental investigative work in an earlier life; we’ll have to forgive him for his article with the CSI pose of the FBI’s lab people).

Suspect and A Setback In Al-Qaeda Anthrax Case
October 31, 2006

“Report Sounds Alarm Over Bioterror: Bipartisan Study Finds Insufficient Laboratory Safeguards, Loose Regulations,” Washington Post, November 30, 2008


(Chertoff interview) “Bio Terror ‘Next Threat’ For US,” SkyNews, October 31, 2008

WILLIAMS, LANCE (with Erin McCormick)              great early reporting

“Did Bin Laden buy bioterror: trial testimony says he did,” San Francisco Chronicle, October 21, 2001.


MSNBC – July 19, 2011 – “Government lawyers backtrack on anthrax case”

WILLMAN, DAVID            Great access to the investigators looking to spin Ivin as a creepy guy who must be guilty.

“U.S. attorney’s office accused of anthrax case leaks,” Los Angeles Times, January 12, 2007

WISER, MIKE  (and Gordon and Engelberg)    (It would take a long time just to gather up all the important work done by this team; I cite only a few of their articles)

The Kansas City Star – Sept. 2, 2011 – “Sen. Grassley asks Justice Department to explain contradictory acts on anthrax”



“Broken Justice,” Frederick Gorilla, January 2012



Nature – Feb. 15, 2011 – “Science falls short in anthrax investigation”


The Baltimore Sun – Oct. 9, 2011 – “Frontline’s ‘Anthrax Files’ takes hard look at FBI role in suicide of Ft. Detrick scientist”–fbi-suicide-fort-detrick-scientist-20111009_1_detrick-scientist-bruce-ivins-fbi-role

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* 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


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* Noah Schactman: Many scientists “were deeply, deeply critical” at how their work was used.

Posted by DXer on April 2, 2011


Dr. Bruce Ivins wins highest civilian award from Defense Dept. in March, 2003


Noah Schactman radio interview …


Mr. Schactman conducted several dozen interviews and reviewed 3500 pages. Noah says he’s not sure whether they got the wrong/right guy. He says that even lead agents admit the case is kind of shaky.

Excerpts from the interview …

  • “This is not the kind of case I could ever see being won in court.”
  • The authorities never figured out …
    • what his motive would be,
    • or how he would have brewed this up,
    • or when he would have brewed this up.
  • Many scientists “were deeply, deeply critical” at how the investigation turned out and how their work was used.
  • Noah explains that there were lots of clones of RMR-1029 around.
  • He notes that Ivins spent years under FBI scrutiny without a lawyer.
  • He says that they had known for a long time he was a suicide risk.
  • Almost to a man, his co-workers don’t believe he did it — not attitude, not means, not equipment.

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Noah Schactman: Did the Feds Nab the Wrong Guy? … LMW: the FBI’s publicly revealed evidence could not convict Ivins … the 2001 anthrax case needs to be re-opened

Posted by DXer on March 25, 2011



This case needs to be re-opened !!!


Noah Schactman writes in Wired (3-24-11) …

extracted from Schactman’s excellent overview titled … “Anthrax Redux: Did the Feds Nab the Wrong Guy?”

  • The FBI unraveled the mystery, officials said, thanks in part to the microbiologists seated at a U-shaped table in the front of the room. Among them was Paul Keim, who first identified the anthrax strain used in the attacks, and genetic specialist Claire Fraser-Liggett, who led the team that sequenced the DNA of the anthrax in the letters, tracing the spores back to their genetic match: a flask of superconcentrated, ultrapure anthrax held by Ivins. Several of the researchers at the table had previously counted Ivins as a peer and even a friend. Now they were helping brand him a monster.
  • Between the officials and the scientists, it was a convincing display. It had to be. Ivins had killed himself three weeks earlier. There would be no arrest, no trial, no sentencing. Absent a courtroom and a verdict to provide a sense of finality or some measure of catharsis, all the FBI could do was present its findings and declare the case closed.
  • No one involved that day expressed any doubt about Ivins’ guilt.
  • But things are not always as clear-cut as they may seem in an FBI presentation.
  • Two years later, sitting in her office overlooking West Baltimore, Fraser-Liggett concedes she has reservations. “There are still some holes,” she says, staring out her window in discomfort.
  • Nearly 2,000 miles away in Flagstaff, Arizona, Keim has his own concerns. “I don’t know if Ivins sent the letters,” he says with a hint of both irritation and sadness.
  • Even agent Edward Montooth, who ran the FBI’s hunt for the anthrax killer, says that—while he’s still convinced Ivins was the mailer—he’s unsure of many things, from Ivins’ motivation to when he brewed up the lethal spores. “We still have a difficult time nailing down the time frame,” he says. “We don’t know when he made or dried the spores.”
  • In other words, it’s been 10 years since the deadliest biological terror attack in US history launched a manhunt that ruined one scientist’s reputation and saw a second driven to suicide, yet nagging problems remain.
  • Problems that add up to an unsettling reality …

Despite the FBI’s assurances, it’s not at all certain

that the government could have ever convicted Ivins of a crime.


read the entire article at …


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