Scientists’ Analysis Disputes F.B.I. Closing of Anthrax Case
By WILLIAM J. BROAD and SCOTT SHANE
October 9, 2011
The New York Times
A decade after wisps of anthrax sent through the mail killed 5 people, sickened 17 others and terrorized the nation, biologists and chemists still disagree on whether federal investigators got the right man and whether the F.B.I.’s long inquiry brushed aside important clues.
Now, three scientists argue that distinctive chemicals found in the dried anthrax spores — including the unexpected presence of tin — point to a high degree of manufacturing skill, contrary to federal reassurances that the attack germs were unsophisticated. The scientists make their case in a coming issue of the Journal of Bioterrorism & Biodefense.
F.B.I. documents reviewed by The New York Times show that bureau scientists focused on tin early in their eight-year investigation, calling it an “element of interest” and a potentially critical clue to the criminal case. They later dropped their lengthy inquiry, never mentioned tin publicly and never offered any detailed account of how they thought the powder had been made.
The new paper raises the prospect — for the first time in a serious scientific forum — that the Army biodefense expert identified by the F.B.I. as the perpetrator, Bruce E. Ivins, had help in obtaining his germ weapons or conceivably was innocent of the crime.
Both the chairwoman of a National Academy of Science panel that spent a year and a half reviewing the F.B.I.’s scientific work and… Continue reading
May 20, 2011
By Greg Gordon
WASHINGTON — Buried in FBI laboratory reports about the anthrax mail attacks that killed five people in 2001 is data suggesting that a chemical may have been added to try to heighten the powder’s potency, a move that some experts say exceeded the expertise of the presumed killer.
The lab data, contained in more than 9,000 pages of files that emerged a year after the Justice Department closed its inquiry and condemned the late Army microbiologist Bruce Ivins as the perpetrator, shows unusual levels of silicon and tin in anthrax powder from two of the five letters.
Those elements are found in compounds that could be used to weaponize the anthrax, enabling the lethal spores to float easily so they could be readily inhaled by the intended victims, scientists say.
The existence of the silicon-tin chemical signature offered investigators the possibility of tracing purchases of the more than 100 such chemical products available before the attacks, which might have produced hard evidence against Ivins or led the agency to the real culprit.
But the FBI lab reports released in late February give no hint that bureau agents tried to find the buyers of additives such as tin-catalyzed silicone polymers.
The apparent failure of the FBI to pursue this avenue of investigation raises the ominous possibility that the killer is still on the loose.
A McClatchy analysis of the records also shows that other key scientific questions were… Continue reading
By Scott Shane
Published: February 15, 2011 at
WASHINGTON — A review of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s scientific
work on the investigation of the anthrax letters of 2001 concludes that the
bureau overstated the strength of genetic analysis linking the mailed anthrax
to a supply kept by Bruce E. Ivins, the Army microbiologist whom the investigators
blamed for the attacks.
The review, by a panel convened by the National Academy of Sciences, says the
genetic analysis “did not definitively demonstrate” that the mailed anthrax
spores were grown from a sample taken from Dr. Ivins’s laboratory at Fort Detrick
in Frederick, Md. It does add, however, that the evidence is “consistent with
and supports an association” between Dr. Ivins’s flask and the attack anthrax.
The academy’s report faults the F.B.I. as failing to take advantage of
scientific methods developed between the mailings in 2001 and its conclusion
after Dr. Ivins’s suicide in 2008 that he was the sole perpetrator.
“In subsequent years, the investigators did not fully exploit molecular
methods to identify and characterize” anthrax samples, the report said.
Nothing in the 170-page academy report directly refutes the conclusion of what
was by most estimates the most expensive and manpower-intensive criminal investigation
in American history. The academy panel, which was paid $1.1 million by the F.B.I.
for its review, assessed only the scientific aspects of the investigation and
not the traditional detective work.
Alice P. Gast, chairwoman of the 16-member scientific panel and president of
Lehigh University, said Tuesday… Continue reading
Posted at CanadianTruther’s blog at 911blogger.com
January 14, 2011
Graeme MacQueen and Laurie Manwell discuss their talks given on Saturday, September 4, 2010 at the Buskirk Chumley Theater in Bloomington, Indiana on WFHB radio.
The Fictional Basis For The War On Terror by Dr. Graeme MacQueen
The Psychological Implications of 9/11 by Laurie Manwell
Peace Through Truth – 9/11 & State Crimes Against Democracy
presented by the 9/11 Working Group of Bloomington
Fire House Broadcasting: http://www.wfhb.org/
SCAD: State Crimes Against Democracy petition:
In a bizarre, Soviet-style move, the White House has threatened to veto the intelligence budget unless everyone accepts the FBI frame up of Dr. Bruce Ivins.
As Bloomberg writes :
President Barack Obama probably would veto legislation authorizing the next budget for U.S. intelligence agencies if it calls for a new investigation into the 2001 anthrax attacks, an administration official said.
A proposed probe by the intelligence agencies’ inspector general “would undermine public confidence” in an FBI probe of the attacks “and unfairly cast doubt on its conclusions,” Peter Orszag, director of the Office of Management and Budget, wrote in a letter to leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence committees.
Given that an FBI investigation into a specific crime has nothing to do with the budget or any of OMB’s other core responsibilities, it seems that Orszag simply drew the short straw for this little assignment.
As I wrote Thursday:
The FBI says that the anthrax case is closed, and that they have proved that Dr. Bruce Ivins did it.
But Congress is not convinced.
On March 3, 2010, Representative Holt called for a new investigation:
Last week, [Congressman Holt] succeeded in including language in the 2010 Intelligence Authorization Bill that would require the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community to examine the possibility of a foreign connection to the 2001 anthrax attacks.
“The American people need credible answers to all of these and many other questions. Only a comprehensive investigation–either by the Congress, or through the… Continue reading
February 19, 2010
By DEVLIN BARRETT and PETE YOST
WASHINGTON — After seven frustrating years probing the deadly 2001 anthrax
mailings, the FBI closed the case Friday, concluding a mentally unhinged government
researcher acted alone in the attacks that killed five people and unnerved Americans
Many details of the case have been known, but newly released FBI documents
paint a fuller portrait of Dr. Bruce Ivins as a troubled scientist whose career
was teetering toward failure at the time the letters were sent. As the U.S.
responded to the mailings, his work was given new importance by the government
and he was even honored for his efforts on anthrax.
The documents also describe what investigators say was Ivins’ bizarre, decades-long
obsession with a sorority. The letters were mailed from a mailbox near the sorority’s
office in Princeton, N.J.
The anthrax letters were sent to lawmakers and news organizations as the nation
reeled in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Postal facilities,
Capitol buildings and private offices were shut down for inspection and cleaning
by workers in hazardous materials "space suits" from Florida to Washington
to New York and beyond.
The FBI and Justice Department announced the decision closing the case while
disclosing reams of evidence collected in the case. Officials also released
a nearly 100-page summary of their findings.
The document said Ivins made comments to a former colleague that showed "immediately
prior to the anthrax letter attacks, his life’s work was in jeopardy."
Ivins… Continue reading
The FBI disproved its main theory about how the spores were weaponized.
January 24, 2010
By EDWARD JAY EPSTEIN
Wall Street Journal Opinion
The investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks ended as far as the public knew on July 29, 2008, with the death of Bruce Ivins, a senior biodefense researcher at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) in Fort Detrick, Md. The cause of death was an overdose of the painkiller Tylenol. No autopsy was performed, and there was no suicide note.
Less than a week after his apparent suicide, the FBI declared Ivins to have been the sole perpetrator of the 2001 Anthrax attacks, and the person who mailed deadly anthrax spores to NBC, the New York Post, and Sens. Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy. These attacks killed five people, closed down a Senate office building, caused a national panic, and nearly paralyzed the postal system.
The FBI’s six-year investigation was the largest inquest in its history, involving 9,000 interviews, 6,000 subpoenas, and the examination of tens of thousands of photocopiers, typewriters, computers and mailboxes. Yet it failed to find a shred of evidence that identified the anthrax killer–or even a witness to the mailings. With the help of a task force of scientists, it found a flask of anthrax that closely matched–through its genetic markers–the anthrax used in the attack.
This flask had been in the custody of Ivins, who had published no fewer than 44 scientific papers over three decades as a… Continue reading
by Prof. Peter Dale Scott
” In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.” Dwight David Eisenhower, “Military-Industrial Complex Speech,” 1961, 1
” My observation is that the impact of national elections on the business climate for SAIC has been minimal. The emphasis on where federal spending occurs usually shifts, but total federal spending never decreases. SAIC has always continued to grow despite changes in the political leadership in Washington.” Former SAIC manager, quoted in Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele, “Washington”s $8 Billion Shadow.” Vanity Fair, March 2007 2
“We make American military doctrine” Ed Soyster, MPRI 3
The Myth of the Grand Chessboard: Geopolitics and Imperial Folie de Grandeur
In The Road to 9/11 I summarized the dialectic of open societies: how from their energy they expand, leading to a higher level of more secretive corporations and agencies, which eventually weaken the home country through needless and crushing wars. 4 I am not alone in seeing America in the final stages of this… Continue reading
By Tom Burghardt
August 2, 2009
The 2001 anthrax attacks underscore the dangers posed to our health and safety
by the Bioweapons-Industrial Complex.
The killer(s) employed a military-grade version of the deadly pathogen, a four-mutation
blend of anthrax prepared at the government’s test site at the remote Dugway
Proving Ground in Utah. Based on available evidence it’s a near certainty that
the weapon came from stockpiles at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute
of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) in Ft. Detrick, Maryland.
Before the dust cleared prominent opposition politicians had been attacked,
five people were murdered, 10,000 more were exposed and representative government
ground to a halt as panic set in.
According to multiple media reports, federal investigators concluded that the
anthrax spores in the letters addressed to former Senate leader Tom Daschle
(D-SD) and Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) could only have been
produced in a state-run lab. The weaponized version of the pathogen contained
as many as one trillion spores per gram, a concentration sufficient enough
to kill half the American population if widely distributed.
But rather than giving pause to Pentagon weaponeers, Big Pharma who profit handsomely
from vaccine production, the $100 billion agribusiness empire that drives research
and the politicians who do their bidding, decades-long U.S. biowar programs
have miraculously morphed overnight into a new growth industry: “biodefense.”
What had once been Washington’s dirty little secret has now blossomed into a
$50 billion cash-cow for academic and corporate grifters, according to the Washington,… Continue reading
By Daniel Tencer
August 1, 2009
Until the US holds a “broader inquiry” into the investigation of the 2001 anthrax mailings, US House Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) won’t be satisfied that there isn’t a mass killer on the loose in his home town.
Holt — whose 12th Congressional district of New Jersey includes a postal facility from which some of the anthrax letters were mailed during the 2001 biological terrorism scare — says that the FBI “suffers from a credibility gap” because of the many mistakes made by the bureau during its long investigation into the first serious case of biological terrorism on American soil.
“If the technical and scientific procedures [used by the FBI] are as flawed as the non-technical procedures, they certainly deserve a look,” the Frederick, Md., News-Post quoted Holt as saying.
At the FBI’s request, the National Academy of Sciences has convened a 15-member panel to review the scientific soundness of the FBI’s eight-year-long investigation into the anthrax mailings. According to Elie Dolgin at Nature magazine, the FBI believes the scientific review of its own investigation to be “unprecedented.”
The panel will be allowed to review the genetic and chemical elements of the FBI’s investigation, but not “any other aspects of the investigation not related to the science.”
That’s what has Holt worried.
“I have fundamental concerns about how this was conducted and lingering doubts about the conclusions — and a lot of others do,” Holt told the Washington Post in an interview.
“I’d… Continue reading
By John Byrne
July 6, 2009
British weapons inspector Dr. David Kelly was writing an expose about his work with anthrax and his warnings that Iraq possessed no weapons of mass destruction at the time of his death in July 2003, according to a report published in a British newspaper.
Kelly’s death — said to have been a suicide — has stirred controversy, as it came on the heels of testimony to the House of Commons about a memo which purported that Britain had “sexed up” a dossier on Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction. A Parliamentary inquiry ruled that the death had been suicide, though it also included testimony from a former British ambassador who quotes Kelly as having said, “I will probably be found dead in the woods” if Iraq were invaded.
The new report says Kelly had spoken with an Oxford publisher several times about a book.
“He had several discussions with a publisher in Oxford and was seeking advice on how far he could go without breaking the law on secrets,” the UK Daily Express alleged.
Kelly’s computers were seized in the wake of his death. He was a signatory to Britain’s Official Secrets Act, which allows for the prosecution of those who talk to the press about state secrets and prescribes a more stringent framework for secrecy than in the United States.
According to the paper, “he was intending to reveal that he warned Prime Minister Tony Blair there were no weapons of… Continue reading
The provocative new film and book about the untold story of the 2001 U.S. Anthrax Attacks and the dark secrets of the shadowy world of modern day germ weapons research.
“Fear and Terror on The Anthrax Trail” – Anthrax War Trailer:
When the 2001 anthrax attacks hit the USA in the days following 9/11, it was like a one-two punch against the Republic. Workers in New York’s media center who had seen the planes swoop too low over their heads en route to the Twin Tower were now terrified of their mail. In Washington, Capitol Hill was evacuated and White House staffers were chewing CIPRO tablets.
It was our scariest collective nightmare come to life – the attack of deadly invisible bugs. It seemed like a self-fulfilling prophecy, the preceding years filled as they were with scores of films, best-selling books, TV shows and articles on the coming of “Bio-Terror.” Indeed, for the first time in history, national leaders and the military actually acted out high-tech “germ attack” war games, one of which had a scenario shockingly close to the actual events.
So after the government pledged the most thorough investigation it could muster, we hoped the feds would get to the bottom of it all. Thus, we were saddened but not really surprised when the attacks disappeared from public discourse – unmentioned, for example, by any major candidate during the 2008 election contest. And when the FBI announced suddenly last summer that the cold case was red-hot, identified… Continue reading
Sunday March 29, 2009 at 10 pm ET/PT on CBC Newsworld’s Passionate Eye Showcase
An investigation into the deadly world of germ weapons, Anthrax War begins in New York in the days following 9/11. Anthrax-laced letters, mailed to media and U.S. senators, killed five people and spread fear and panic throughout the nation.
For filmmaker Bob Coen, who was raised in Zimbabwe where the former white regime has been accused of unleashing anthrax against the black population, biological weapons have a deep personal meaning. He embarks on a journey that raises troubling questions about the FBI’s investigation of the 21st century’s first act of biological terrorism.
Coen’s investigation takes him from the U.S. to the U.K. and from the edge of Siberia to the tip of Africa. In a rare interview, Coen confronts “Doctor Death” Wouter Basson, who headed Project Coast, the South African apartheid-era bio-warfare program. Project Coast used germ warfare against select targets within the country’s black population.
Anthrax War also investigates the mysterious deaths of some of the world’s leading anthrax scientists, including Dr. David Kelly, the UK’s top military microbiologist, the Soviet defector Dr. Vladimir Pasechnik, and Dr. Bruce Ivins. The FBI claims – despite the doubts of highly ranked U.S. officials – that Ivins was the only person behind the U.S. anthrax murders.
In tracing the 2001 bio-terror attacks in the U.S. to the heart of the U.S. bio-defense program, this film raises an alarm. These attacks that helped prepare a country for war have… Continue reading
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Congressman Holt Introduces Anthrax Commission Legislation – Modeled After 9/11 Commission
Congressman Holt wants an anthrax investigation modeled on the 9/11 Commission.
Senators Leahy and White house want a torture investigation modeled on the 9/11 Commission.
But – according to the 9/11 Commission itself – the whole thing was a joke:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 3, 2009
Contact: Zach Goldberg 202-225-5801 (office)
HOLT INTRODUCES ANTHRAX COMMISSION LEGISLATION Bill Would Create 9/11 Commission-Style Panel to Investigate Anthrax Attacks and Government Response
(Washington, D.C.) — Rep. Rush Holt (NJ-12) today introduced the Anthrax Attacks Investigation Act of 2009, legislation that would establish a Congressional commission to investigate the 2001 anthrax attacks and the federal government’s response to and investigation of the attacks. The bipartisan commission would make recommendations to the President and Congress on how the country can best prevent and respond to any future bioterrorism attack. The attacks evidently originated from a postal box in Holt’s Central New Jersey congressional district, disrupting the lives and livelihoods of many of his constituents. Holt has consistently raised questions about the federal investigation into the attacks.
“All of us — but especially the families of the victims of the anthrax attacks — deserve credible answers about how the attacks happened and whether the case really is closed,” Holt said. “The Commission, like the 9/11 Commission, would do that, and it would help American families know that the government is better prepared to protect them and their children from future bioterrorism attacks.”
Under Holt’s legislation, the commission would be comprised of no more than six members of from the same political party. The commission would hold public hearings, except in situations where classified information would be discussed. The commission would have to consult the National Academies of Sciences for recommendations on scientific staff to serve on… Continue reading
by John Byrne
February 26, 2009
Poisonous anthrax that killed five Americans in the weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks doesn’t match bacteria from a flask linked to Bruce Ivins, the researcher who committed suicide after being implicated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a scientist said.
Spores used in the deadly mailings “share a chemical ‘fingerprint’ that is not found in the flask linked to Bruce Ivins,” Roberta Kwok wrote in Nature News, citing Joseph Michael, a scientist at the Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Michael analyzed letters sent to the New York Post and offices of Senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy, and found a distinct “chemical signature” not present in the flask known as RMR-1029, which Ivins could access in his laboratory at Fort Detrick, Maryland.
“Spores from two of those show a distinct chemical signature that includes silicon, oxygen, iron, and tin; the third letter had silicon, oxygen, iron and possibly also tin,” Kwok wrote. “Bacteria from Ivins’ RMR-1029 flask did not contain any of those four elements.”
The results don’t necessarily exonerate Ivins.
The mailed spores could have been removed from the flask and grown under different conditions, resulting in varying chemical contents, Jason Bannan, a microbiologist and forensic examiner at the FBI’s Chemical Biological Sciences Unit in Quantico, Virginia, told Kwok.
“It doesn’t surprise me that it would be different,” said Bannan.
The FBI has asked the National Academy of Science to perform an independent review of the… Continue reading
by Bill Simpich tr u t h o u t | Report
The Congressional anthrax hearings of September 16-17 revealed that public pressure is keeping the doors open in the anthrax case. FBI Director Robert Mueller promised that the FBI will provide their evidence to a panel of experts for scientific evaluation. The battle will now turn to the independence of this panel, and whether “all evidence” or merely “scientific evidence” will be under review.
During the hearings, Mueller found himself under fire by Senator Patrick Leahy and Congressman John Conyers for not having answers to their questions. Republican Arlen Specter was furious at Mueller for his unwillingness to assure them that Congress would have a role in determining the panel’s composition.
Meanwhile, new evidence shows just how deeply wrong ABC and Washington Post reporters have been over the years on their coverage of the anthrax attacks. They can’t have it both ways: Either they made repeated “mistakes” by relying on their sources, or several people deliberately lied in order to advance war on Iraq.
In his recent book Taking Heat, former White House secretary Ari Fleischer wrote that Bush was more shook up by the anthrax attacks than by any other event. White House officials repeatedly pressed Mueller to prove it was a second-wave assault by al-Qaeda or Iraq. After days of provocative statements designed to scare the American people, Cheney himself believed that he had been exposed to anthrax. Although the test results were negative, October 18, 2001… Continue reading
August 15, 2008
You may have noticed that lately I’ve been making movies that “force” people to go to www.historycommons.org (www.cooperativeresearch.org). I’m hoping people will see just how important a tool it can be.
Please support www.historycommons.org. They have been invaluable to me, and hopefully will be for you as well.