The truth about the anthrax attacks and its cover-up

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QUESTION: How many were outside of the United States, and how many were non-governmental labs?
DR. MAJIDI: None outside the United States.
QUESTION: Were they all government labs?
DR. MAJIDI: There's a fine distinction there and I don't know really what we call government and what we call quasi-governmental, so we're going just going to leave that as is. . . .
QUESTION: So I've seen different estimates. How many people at Detrick or anyone else actually have access to RMR-1029?
DR. MAJIDI: The total body -- the total universe of people at some point were associated with RMR-1029 -- I'll qualify that. Roughly, about 100-plus.
QUESTION: Hundred-plus. Were those all at Detrick, or other labs --
DR. MAJIDI: No, they were at Detrick and other labs.
QUESTION: Can you just tell us, of the eight samples that the letters matched to, how many places were they at? You were sort of vague earlier.
DR. MAJIDI: Sure. Let's just say they're definitely not at eight places.
QUESTION: But can you just give us the number? Why can't you give us the number?
DR. MAJIDI: Because if I provide you with the exact number -- well, there's a number of reasons, I'll just give you a generic one. We don't want you to bug those laboratories.
QUESTION: Well, don't give us the names, just tell us how many.
QUESTION: You've already told us a hundred people; right? So --
QUESTION: -- how many labs?
DR. MAJIDI: Hmm --
QUESTION: Is it one?
DR. MAJIDI: It's more than one.
DR. MAJIDI: Hmm --
QUESTION: Can we keep guessing?
QUESTION: Is it ten?
DR. MAJIDI: Okay, it's total two laboratories.
QUESTION: Total two. Including USAMRIID? Or --
BACKGROUND OFFICIAL: Two institutions.
DR. MAJIDI: Two institutions . . . that means USAMRIID and one other institution.
Of course, the other institution, the “quasi-governmental” lab, is Battelle. It bears pointing out that throughout the entire Amerithrax investigation, no one from either the FBI or the DOJ ever publicly mentions the name Battelle.
James Burans identified above as the FBI’s “expert on processing” is introduced at the beginning of the briefing by FBI Lab Director Hassell as “the associate laboratory director of the National Bioforensic Analysis Center.” Later in the briefing when Dr. Burans introduces himself, he says he is “from the U.S. Naval biodefense community,” that he “became a scientific consultant to the FBI in the early stages of the Anthrax investigation,” and that he “helped to establish the National Bioforensic Analysis Center . . . to support Homeland Security and the FBI.” What is never revealed is the fact that the Department of Homeland Security contracted with Battelle to manage and operate the National Bioforensic Analysis Center at Fort Detrick, and that James Burans is a Battelle employee.
One last excerpt from this briefing:
QUESTION: . . . you know, there are so many suspicions about the way [Amerithrax] has been handled.
DR. MAJIDI: I don't think, number one, we were ever going to put the suspicions to bed. There is always going to be a spore on the grassy knoll . . .

I will cite one other venue in which the FBI/DOJ Amerithrax cover-up has been promoted, namely, the New York Times. On January 4, 2009, the Times published on its front page an article by Scott Shane which Shane introduced as the product of “the deepest look so far at the [Amerithrax] investigation.” Excerpts follow:
“The Times review found that the F.B.I. had disproved the assertion, widespread among scientists who believe Dr. Ivins was innocent, that the anthrax might have come from military and intelligence research programs in Utah or Ohio. By 2004, secret scientific testing established that the mailed anthrax had been grown somewhere near Fort Detrick . . . By early 2004, F.B.I. scientists had discovered that out of 60 domestic and foreign water samples, only water from Frederick, Md., had the same chemical signature as the water used to grow the mailed anthrax.”
About two months later, this nonsense about water testing establishing that the attack anthrax was grown near Fort Detrick was retracted on the New York Times website as follows:
Postscript: February 28, 2009 (by Scott Shane)
“A front-page article on Jan. 4 about Bruce E. Ivins, the late Army scientist who the Federal Bureau of Investigation says was responsible for the anthrax letter attacks of 2001, reported that F.B.I. scientists had concluded in 2004 that out of 60 domestic and foreign water samples, only water from near Fort Detrick, Md., where Dr. Ivins worked, had the same chemical signature as the water that had been used to grow the mailed anthrax.
That information, provided by a former senior law enforcement official who did not want to be named in the article, suggested that the anthrax could not have come from military and intelligence research programs in Utah and Ohio, as some defenders of Dr. Ivins’s innocence had speculated. . . .

“On Tuesday at an American Society for Microbiology conference in Baltimore, an F.B.I. scientist, Jason D. Bannan, said the water research ultimately was inconclusive about where the anthrax was grown. An F.B.I. spokeswoman, Ann Todd, said on Wednesday that the bureau ‘stands by the statements’ of Dr. Bannan.”

The author of this memo had something to do with this retraction being made. I attended the American Society for Microbiology conference in Baltimore referred to in the retraction, and was the individual who asked FBI scientist Bannan to comment about the “water research.” I also composed a detailed critique of the N.Y. Times article, and Dr. Meryl Nass decided to post it on her website. That critique is accessible at

Another passage in this same New York Times article that warrants retractions is as follows:

“Though a public debate had raged for years over whether the mailed anthrax had been ‘weaponized’ with sophisticated chemical additives, the F.B.I. had concluded early on that it was not. Dr. Ezzell agreed, as did Jeff Mohr, an expert on anthrax and other pathogens at the Army’s Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. Without giving an opinion of Dr. Ivins’s guilt or innocence, both Dr. Ezzell and Dr. Mohr said they believed that any experienced microbiologist could have grown and dried the anthrax using equipment Dr. Ivins had in his laboratory.”

Previous statements by Drs. Mohr and Ezzell contradicted the view attributed to them in the N.Y. Times article. Dr. Mohr was interviewed for a documentary entitled Anthrax War, (which documentary was co-produced by Congressman Nadler’s brother, Eric Nadler). In the documentary, Dr. Mohr is heard to plainly say that Dugway weaponizes anthrax. He also openly reveals that “a bunch of” scientists at Dugway worked with the FBI on Amerithrax, thus learned the “ins and outs” with respect to the characteristics of the attack anthrax, that the particles of attack anthrax were in the range of 1 micron in size, that size is only “one of the reasons it was so dangerous,” but that he has to be careful about what he reveals, because he (and the other Dugway scientists) signed statements promising not to talk about what the attack anthrax looked like.

Dr. Ezzell gave his original account of the attack anthrax to Marilyn Thompson, which account was reported in her book, The Killer Strain (HarperCollins: 2003):

“The FBI called Ezzell on October 15 [2001] to alert him that evidence would be brought from the Daschle crime scene straight to USAMRIID for testing. . . . [A]s Ezzell worked, he noticed a bit of white powder tucked into one of the letter's folds. Almost as soon as he saw it, the powder dispersed, spreading invisibly through the safety cabinet. After years of researching anthrax, he had never seen the bacteria in its weaponized form -- . . . a material that could blanket a city or annihilate an enemy. This was a powder so virulent that normal laboratory rules did not apply. Both he and his team could be at risk despite their precautions. . . . 'After all these years of looking, here it is. This is the real thing, in the right form,' he recalled. . . . To protect himself, Ezzell started antibiotics to guard against infection. He also took another precaution. Ezzell went to a sink and mixed a solution of diluted bleach. Bracing himself, he lifted it to his nose and took a deep snort. The pain that surged through his sinuses almost knocked him to the ground . . . Later in one of the regular interagency conference calls, Ezzell described what he had seen when he looked into the Daschle letter. He used the term weaponized anthrax. That night a friend who worked for the CIA woke him from a deep sleep to tell him that his assessment of 'weaponized' anthrax in the Daschle letter had been passed on to the President of the United States.” (Pages 116-118).

There is one other book that reports observations of the attack anthrax made during the first examinations of the Daschle anthrax. The Demon in the Freezer by Richard Preston (Oct. 2002, Random House) also reveals the seeds of the cover-up:

“October 16, 2001

On the morning of the 16th, the day after it was delivered to USAMRIID, the powder in the letter mailed to Senator Daschle was being studied by John Ezzell, the civilian microbiologist who accepted it from the agents of the FBI’s Hazardous Materials Response Unit [HMRU]. But, Jahrling wanted Tom Geisbert to get the sample under an electron microscope… [Geisbert] shoved it into one of the electron microscopes, a transmission scope, which is eight feet tall. The scope cost a quarter-million dollars. Geisbert sat down at the eye pieces and focused. The view was wall-to-wall anthrax spores. . . .The material seemed to be absolutely pure spores. . . [USAMRMC Chief] General Parker and Peter Jahrling went by the office of the USAMRIID Commander, Colonel Ed Eitzen, then the three men went upstairs to the scope room, where Tom Geisbert was staring at the anthrax. ‘It’s okay, I used to run an electron microscopy lab,’ Parker said. Parker sat down at the scope and looked. Pure spores. That was all he needed to see. He went out into the hallway and started issuing instructions to Eitzen and Jahrling in a rapid fire way: ‘We’re going to put USAMRIID into emergency operations . . .’
“October 17, 2001

. . . Major General John Parker went to the US Senate, where he met with a caucus of the Senate leadership and their staff. He told them that he looked at the anthrax himself in the microscope and that it was essentially pure spores. He would later say, ‘The letter was a missile …’ The FBI decided, sensibly, to get a second opinion on the Daschle anthrax. The HMRU dispatched a Huey to Fort Detrick…The helicopter took off with the sample and thupped westward over Maryland. It touched down in West Jefferson, Ohio near Columbus at the Hazardous Materials Research Center of the Batelle Memorial Institute. Batelle scientists took the [sample] into the lab. . . . Their tests showed that the anthrax was not nearly as refined or powerful as the Army people believed.

“October 18, 2001

. . . [During an Interagency Conference Call with individuals from National Security Council, FBI, CDC, and Army], Peter Jahrling replied that USAMRIID’s data indicated that the Daschle anthrax was ten times more concentrated and potent than any form of anthrax that had been made by the old American bio-warfare program at Fort Detrick in the 1960s. He said that the anthrax consisted of pure spores, and that it was ‘highly aerogenic’ . . . The spores of anthrax went straight through the paper of the Daschle envelope and other anthrax envelopes full of ultra-fine powder that were mailed, though they had been sealed tightly with tape.

“October 19, 2001

. . . Before dawn on Friday morning, four days after the Daschle letter was opened, Peter Jahrling put on a space suit and went into the Submarine and got a tiny sample of live, dry Daschle anthrax. He gave the sample to Tom Geisbert so that he could look at the dry anthrax in a scanning electron microscope. Geisbert carried the tube of dry anthrax into his microscope lab . . . [Geisbert] stared at the bone-colored particles. Now he saw them climbing the wall of the tube, dancing along the wall of the tube heading upward. His assistant, Denise Braun, was working near by. ‘Denise, you’ll never believe this.’ The anthrax was like jumping beans; it seemed to have a life of its own. He began preparing a sample for the scope. He opened the tube and tapped a little bit of the anthrax onto a piece of sticky black tape that would hold the powder in place. But the anthrax bounced off the tape. The particles wouldn’t stick. Eighty percent of the Daschle particles flittered away in air currents up into the hood. That was when he understood that the Hart Building was utterly contaminated . . . [Geisbert] had a national-security clearance, and he knew something about anthrax, but he could not imagine how this weapon had been made. It looked extremely sinister. He started feeling shaky. He called Jahrling. ‘Pete, I’m in the scope room. Can you come up here, like right now?’ Jahrling ran upstairs, closed the door, and stared at the skull anthrax for a long time. He didn’t say much. Geisbert’s security clearance was rated secret, and the details of how this material could have been made might be more highly classified. Not long afterward, Jahrling apparently went to the Secure Room and had the classified safe opened. He studied a document or documents with red-slashed borders that would appear to contain exact technical formulas for various kinds of weapons-grade anthrax. … Jahrling refers to the secret of skull anthrax as the Anthrax Trick although he won’t discuss it . . . [Geisbert] was afraid that his findings about the skull quality of the anthrax meant that it had come from a military biowarfare lab . . . Meanwhile in Washington , the FBI laboratory was trying to evaluate the anthrax. On the same day that the two Brentwood workers died, a meeting was held at FBI headquarters involving the FBI laboratory, scientists from the Battelle Memorial Institute and scientists from the Army. Battelle and the Army people were doing what scientists do best; disagreeing totally with one another. The Army scientists were telling the FBI that the powder was extremely refined and dangerous. While a Battelle scientist named Michael Kuhlman was allegedly saying that the anthrax was ten to fifty times less potent than the Army was claiming . . . The Department of Health and Human Services was not getting briefed about the anthrax to its satisfaction by the FBI. An HHS official who was close to the situation but who did not want her name used had this to say about the Battelle analysis of the Daschle anthrax: ‘It was one of the most screwed-up situations I’ve ever heard of. The people at Battelle took the anthrax and heated it in an autoclave, and this caused the material to clump up, and then they told the FBI it looked like puppy chow. It was like a used- car dealer offering a car for sale that’s been in an accident and is covered with dents, and the dealer is trying to claim this is the way the car looked when it was new.’
“October 24, 2001

Early in the morning, nine days after the Daschle letter was opened, Major General John Parker got a call from Tommy Thompson at Health and Human Services. Thompson had been hearing rumors that the Daschle anthrax was really bad stuff, but he still hadn’t heard much about it from the FBI laboratory . . . [At the White House, that evening:] John Ashcroft led off the meeting. He didn’t mince words. There was an obvious lack of communication between the Army, the FBI, and the CDC, he said, and the purpose of this meeting was to determine why the CDC hadn’t realized that the anthrax was weapons--grade material and hadn’t taken action faster on the Brentwood mail facility . . . Ashcroft was Robert Mueller’s boss and he looked straight at the FBI director. Mueller turned his gaze to General Parker. Mueller thanked the Army for bringing the nature of the anthrax to the FBI’s attention. He said that the FBI had received conflicting data on the anthrax. The FBI had been trying to sort this issue through, but Mueller now acknowledged that the Army had been right: the Daschle anthrax was a weapon.

“October 25, 2001

Tom Geisbert drove his beat-up station wagon to the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, in northwest Washington, carrying a whiff of sterilized dry Daschle anthrax mounted in special cassette. He spent the day with a group of technicians running tests with an X-ray machine to find out if the powder contained any metals or elements. By lunchtime, the machine had shown that there were two extra elements in the spores, silicone and oxygen. Silicone oxide. Silicone dioxide is glass . . . The glass was slippery and smooth, and it may have been treated so that it would repel water. It caused the spores to crumble apart, to pass more easily through the holes in the envelopes, and fly everywhere, filling the Hart Senate Office Building and the Brentwood and Hamilton mail-sorting facilities like a gas.” (Pages 200-234).

“One day, I [author Richard Preston] spoke with a scientist who is an expert in forensic evidence, knows a lot about biology, and until recently was an influential executive in the FBI. ‘We just don’t know who these perpetrators are, and it could be years before we get a break. I’m saying ‘they.’ I personally find it hard to believe it was done by only one person . . . If I wanted to keep tight operational security…I would do it with opsec. Opsec—operational security. It’s a standard security approach for making yourself as invisible as possible. There is a leader who organizes and directs an operation, and a different person carries it out.’ The person who does the operation is expendable.” (Pages 246-247).


Though the anthrax attacks and the design of the new “biodefense” program happened under the Bush administration, the Obama administration’s appointment of Tara O’Toole as the head of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology division illustrates the nature of our system, a system that is impervious to changes in administration. Tara O’Toole was the CEO and Director of the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Biosecurity, which describes itself as “an independent organization dedicated to improving the country’s resilience to major biological threats.”
According to their web site, The Alliance for Biosecurity is “a collaboration among the Center for Biosecurity and 13 pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies whose mission is to work in the public interest to improve prevention and treatment of severe infectious diseases -- particularly those diseases that present global security challenges.” Alliance partners include Emergent BioSolutions (manufacturer of the only vaccine licensed by the FDA for the prevention of anthrax infection), Human Genome Sciences, Inc. (that received a $1.8 billion contract to help the government stockpile anti-anthrax antibodies, whose directors include Richard Danzig, former Secretary of the Navy and a national security advisor to President Obama), and Battelle.
O’Toole was the principal designer of two bioterror preparedness drills, the 2001 “Dark Winter” exercise and the 2005 “Atlantic Storm” drill. According to a U.S. Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute publication by Milton Leitenburg, these drills were based on a bundle of lies and misinformation including a claimed terrorist capability of making a bio-weapon that state-run programs do not possess, and exaggerated transmission rates of disease employed to exaggerate the resultant calamity. The drills were fraudulently designed so as to frame the threat of bioterrorism as a rationalization for the increased expenditure of public funds.
Well-respected Professor Richard Ebright of Rutgers University stated: “This is a disastrous [appointment]. Tara O’Toole supported every flawed decision and counterproductive policy on biodefense, biosafety, and biosecurity during the Bush Administration . . . She was the single most extreme person, either in or out of government, advocating for a massive biodefense expansion and relaxation of provisions for safety and security.”

The Obama administration’s continuation of the Bush administration’s policy of choosing arms race over arms control is borne out most significantly in the position taken in Geneva in late 2009. An L.A. Times editorial copied below unmistakably captures the continued rejection of bioweapons arms control. This is the maintenance of an insane policy. An arms race in the realm of bioweapons will only greatly magnify the sizeable gap in effectiveness that already exists between offensive (bioweapons) technology and defensive. Put otherwise, the reason Nixon and Kissinger unilaterally terminated our offensive bioweapons program in 1969 and then entered the U.S. into the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) in 1972 was out of the simple recognition that it was in this realm of weaponry that relatively undeveloped countries could and would amass weapons of mass destruction that cannot be neutralized.

Los Angeles Times, December 15, 2009

“A Bad Bioweapons Decision” by Editor:

“The Obama administration needs to take another look at how to curb biological weapons. The Obama administration has embraced many troubling national security policies adopted by the Bush administration, but in most of these cases -- such as the regrettable decision to continue the ‘rendition’ of captured terrorism suspects to foreign countries -- it at least had a reasonable-sounding explanation. When it comes to this week's misguided ruling on biological weapons,

though, administration officials couldn't even dream up a good excuse.

“The Biological Weapons Convention outlaws the production and use of deadly bioweapons such as anthrax and smallpox. The United States is one of 162 nations that have signed on to the 1972 convention, which isn't particularly effective because it has no teeth. Unlike the treaties that govern nuclear arms or chemical weapons, it contains no mechanism for monitoring or enforcement. A 2001 conference aimed to change that, but the Bush administration refused to go along and the initiative collapsed.
“Meet the new boss: Same as the old boss. On Wednesday, Ellen Tauscher, the U.S. undersecretary of State for arms control, announced that the Obama administration too had no interest in strengthening the convention. Although the end result is the same, the reasons differ. Bush officials, under pressure from the pharmaceutical lobby, said that allowing international inspectors to monitor commercial or military research facilities could compromise corporate or defense secrets. This made little sense. Safeguards could be put in place to protect secrecy; moreover, international monitoring of nuclear and chemical weapons has not resulted in such security leaks.
“Tauscher's explanation makes even less sense. She claims that monitoring doesn't work. "The ease with which a biological weapons program could be disguised within legitimate activities, and the rapid advances in biological research, make it very difficult to detect violations," she said. Huh?
“Just because it's difficult doesn't make it impossible. Monitoring programs exist in order to discourage regimes from building illegal weapons by providing a credible threat that they might get caught. A dedicated team of U.N. inspectors could stay abreast of technological advances and provide that threat. It wouldn't be 100% effective, but no monitoring program is. What's more, even if one accepts the dubious notion that it's pointless to try to prevent countries from developing bioweapons, that's no excuse for failing to probe those suspected of using them. The Biological Weapons Convention gives the United Nations secretary-general that power, but there is no existing team of U.N. investigators nor funding to create one. With the United States ducking the issue, there won't be one any time soon, either.
“President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in part because of his strong efforts to combat nuclear proliferation -- yet biological weapons are potentially as serious a danger. He should put his prize-winning brain to use developing a smarter strategy.”

In early 2010, both the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times surprisingly published op-eds that shed real light on the Amerithrax cover-up.

Wall Street Journal, January 24, 2010

“The Anthrax Attacks Remain Unsolved” by Edward Jay Epstein:
“The investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks ended as far as the public knew on July 29, 2008, with the death of Bruce Ivins …
“With the help of a task force of scientists, [the FBI] 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 … As custodian, he provided samples of it to other scientists at Fort Detrick, the
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