THE TRUTH ABOUT THE ANTHRAX ATTACKS AND ITS COVER-UP
I. INTRODUCTION – THE SMOKING GUN
Within a month after the September 11, 2001 attacks, letters containing dry powder spores of
anthrax bacteria were sent through the U.S. mail. Letters postmarked September 18 were addressed to Tom Brokaw of NBC News and the New York Post in New York City. Three other letters never recovered are believed to have been sent at the same time, one to ABC News, one to CBS News, and one addressed to America Media International in Boca Raton, Florida, which letter caused the death of the first victim, Robert Stevens. Letters postmarked October 9 were addressed to Senators Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) in Washington, D.C.
In total, 22 persons developed anthrax symptoms, five of whom died from inhalational anthrax. After the death of Robert Stevens, two of the fatalities were post office workers at the Brentwood sorting facility in Washington, D.C., evidently infected as the result of anthrax spores coming through the pores in the paper of a letter’s envelope. The remaining two fatalities, one from New York City and the other from Connecticut, appear to have died as the result of cross-contamination of letters. When the letter addressed to Senator Daschle was opened in the Hart Senate Office Building, the anthrax powder therein floated out like a gas.
10,000 people deemed “at risk” from possible exposure underwent antibiotic prophylaxis. 35
postal facilities and commercial mailrooms were contaminated. Decontamination of the Hart Building (where 50 Senators have their offices) closed the building for three months and cost $42 million. Decontamination of the Brentwood facility took 26 months and cost $130 million.
The FBI took charge of the investigation dubbed “Amerithrax.” There followed years of obvious missteps, contradictory findings, and misleading pronouncements on the part of the FBI. On July 29, 2008, a microbiologist named Bruce Ivins died from what appeared to be suicide. For the previous 18 years, Ivins had worked at the biodefense facility named the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) located at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland. On August 6, 2008, the FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ) conducted a press conference during which they declared Ivins to have been solely responsible for the anthrax attacks. Due to the obvious weaknesses in the case against Ivins, this announcement was met by widespread skepticism and demands for an independent investigation.
On September 16 and 17, 2008, the House and Senate Judiciary Committees respectively, conducted “Amerithrax oversight” hearings consisting of questioning FBI Director Robert Mueller. Despite the widespread concern about the integrity of Amerithrax, the colloquy during these hearings was largely feeble. Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) did manage to ask the $64,000 question. Salon.com journalist Glen Greenwald recounted this as follows:
“Nadler asked one of the most central questions in the anthrax case: he pointed out that the facilities that (unlike Ft. Detrick) actually have the equipment and personnel to prepare dry, silica-coated anthrax are the U.S. Army's Dugway Proving Ground and the Battelle Corporation, the private CIA contractor that conducts substantial research into highly complex strains of anthrax. Nadler asked how the FBI had eliminated those institutions as the culprits behind the attack. After invoking generalities to assure Nadler that the FBI had traced the anthrax back to Ivins' vial (which didn’t answer the question), Mueller's response was this: I don't know the answers to those questions as to how we eliminated Dugway and Battelle. I'll have to get back to you at some point.
“Nadler then pleaded: please try to get back to us with the answer quickly. Mueller replied: ‘Oh, absolutely Congressman.’”
Shortly thereafter, Nadler’s question was put into writing and sent to the FBI with other questions from the House Judiciary Committee. Nadler’s question read:
“How, on what basis, and using what evidence did the FBI conclude that none of the laboratories it investigated were in any way the sources of the powder used in the 2001 anthrax attacks, except the U.S. Army Laboratory at Fort Detrick, Maryland? Please include in your answer why laboratories that have been publicly identified as having the equipment and personnel to make anthrax powder, such as the U.S. Army’s Dugway Proving Grounds in Dugway, Utah and the Battelle Memorial Institute in Jefferson, Ohio, were excluded as possible sources.” Seven months went by before the FBI responded. Its response read:
“Initially, the spores contained in the envelopes could only be identified as Bacillus Anthracis (Anthrax). They were then sent to an expert, who ‘strain typed’ the spores as Ames. Once the strain type was identified, the FBI began to look at what facilities had access to the Ames strain. At the same time, science experts began to develop the ability to identify morphological variances contained in the mailed anthrax. Over the next six years, new scientific developments allowed experts from the FBI Laboratory and other nationally recognized scientific experts to advance microbial science. This advancement allowed the FBI to positively link specific morphs found in the mailed anthrax to morphs in a single flask at USAMRIID. Using records associated with the flask, the FBI was able to track the transfer of sub samples from the flask located at USAMRIID to two other facilities. Using various methods, the FBI investigated the two facilities that received samples from the parent flask and eliminated individuals from those facilities as suspects because, even if a laboratory facility had the equipment and personnel to make anthrax powder, this powder would not match the spores in the mailed envelopes if that lab had never received a transfer of anthrax from the parent flask.” (Emphases added).
On its face, the FBI’s response is absurd. The response literally says that after identifying “two facilities” that received samples of anthrax from the USAMRIID (Bruce Ivins’) flask, these facilities were excluded as possible sources of the attack anthrax because they “never received” anthrax from said flask.
One of the purposes of this memorandum is to make clear why Nadler’s question is the “most central” question to be asked about Amerithrax. This will serve to put in perspective Robert Mueller’s professed inability to answer the question on Sept. 16, 2008, the period of seven months it took for the FBI to fashion a response, and the disingenuousness of the response.
The FBI’s response is not only absurd; it is, to the extent it states anything at all, demonstrably false. Bruce Ivins’ “Reference Material Receipt Record” with respect to the anthrax flask designated RMR-1029 was posted on the internet, now accessible at http://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2009/07/25/usamriid-rmr-records-flask-1029/
The original copy of said record is in the custody of the FBI. Said record documents that during the spring and summer of 2001, Bruce Ivins sent samples from RMR-1029 to both Battelle and Dugway. Practically all of the science underlying Amerithrax is about matching the genetic fingerprint of the attack anthrax to that of RMR-1029. Given that both Battelle and Dugway had RMR-1029, Battelle and Dugway are no less incriminated than Bruce Ivins by the science underlying Amerithrax. Furthermore, as stated in a Los Angeles Times article dated August 4, 2008: “Dugway Proving Ground in Utah [is] a facility operated by the Battelle Memorial Institute in Ohio, a private contractor that performs top-secret work for the CIA and other agencies.” According to Battelle’s website, “Battelle is the world’s largest private research and development organization …”
That the FBI has engaged in cover-up in its Amerithrax investigation is readily apparent. This memo addresses the crucial matter of what it is that is being covered up.
So far, Congress has failed in its oversight role with respect to Amerithrax. An important example of this failure is the absence of any reaction on the part of Congressman Nadler or any other member of Congress to the miserable FBI response highlighted in this Introduction.
II. BRIEF HISTORY RELEVANT TO THE ANTHRAX ATTACKS
At the Senate Judiciary Committee “Amerithrax oversight” hearing mentioned in the Introduction, Chairman Patrick Leahy (himself a target of one of the anthrax letters) made specific reference to an article entitled “U.S. Germ Warfare Research Pushes Treaty Limits” that appeared in the New York Times on September 4, 2001. Excerpts from said article follow:
“Over the past several years, the United States has embarked on a program of secret research on biological weapons that, some officials say, tests the limits of the global treaty banning such weapons . . .
“The projects, which have not been previously disclosed, were begun under President Clinton and have been embraced by the Bush administration, which intends to expand them. “Earlier this year, administration officials said, the Pentagon drew up plans to engineer genetically a potentially more potent variant of the bacterium that causes anthrax, a deadly disease ideal for germ warfare . . .
“A senior Bush administration official said all the projects were 'fully consistent' with the treaty banning biological weapons and were needed to protect Americans against a growing danger. ‘This administration will pursue defenses against the full spectrum of biological threats,’ the official said . . .
“Some Clinton administration officials worried, however, that the project violated the pact. And others expressed concern that the experiments, if disclosed, might be misunderstood as a clandestine effort to resume work on a class of weapons that President Nixon had relinquished in 1969 . . .
[My comment: In 1975, it was discovered that the CIA had disobeyed the 1969 Presidential order to destroy all US BW stocks, and had retained a large catalogue of pathogens and toxins for its own use. Volume 1: Unauthorized Storage of Toxic Agents of the Church Committee Reports (1975) documented the unauthorized and illegal storage of pathogens and toxic agents by the CIA for 5 years after their destruction was ordered by President Nixon. These pathogens and toxins, stored at the Army’s Fort Detrick in Maryland, included anthrax and tuberculosis bacteria, the encephalitus virus, salmonella, shellfish toxin, the smallpox virus, and various other poisons and biological warfare agents.]
“Administration officials said the need to keep such projects secret was a significant reason behind President Bush's recent rejection of a draft agreement to strengthen the germ-weapons treaty, which has been signed by 143 nations . . .
[My comment: The “draft agreement” referred to was for a protocol that would provide for international inspections and verification measures, which agreement was supported by practically all of the other signatories to the international treaty known as the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC). In the past, the U.S. had repeatedly taken the position that enforceability of international arms control treaties depended on inspections and verification. The rejection by the Bush administration of inspections and verification was mirrored on October 23, 2002, when the UN Disarmament Committee adopted a resolution reaffirming the 1925 Geneva Protocol “prohibiting the use of poisonous gases and bacteriological methods of warfare.” The resolution passed unanimously with two abstentions: the U.S. and Israel. US abstention amounted to a veto, effectively preventing the resolution from being reported.]
“Among the facilities likely to be open to inspection under the draft agreement would [have been] the West Jefferson, Ohio, laboratory of the Battelle Memorial Institute, a military contractor that has been selected to create the genetically altered anthrax . . . “Several officials who served in senior posts in the Clinton administration acknowledged that the secretive efforts were so poorly coordinated that even the White House was unaware of their full scope . . .
“[I]n 1997, the [CIA] embarked on [Project] Clear Vision, which focused on weapons systems that would deliver the germs . . . A model was constructed and the agency conducted two sets of tests at Battelle, the military contractor. The experiments measured dissemination characteristics and how the model performed under different atmospheric conditions, intelligence officials said . . .
“In the 1990's, government officials also grew increasingly worried about the possibility that scientists could use the widely available techniques of gene-splicing to create even more deadly weapons . . .
“Eventually the C.I.A. drew up plans . . . but intelligence officials said the agency hesitated because there was no specific report that an adversary was attempting to turn [an anthrax] superbug into a weapon.
“This year, officials said, the project was taken over by the Pentagon's intelligence arm, the Defense Intelligence Agency . . . Officials said the research would be part of Project Jefferson, yet another government effort to track the dangers posed by germ weapons.
“A spokesman for Defense Intelligence, Lt. Cmdr. James Brooks, declined comment. Asked about the precautions at Battelle, which is to create the enhanced anthrax, Commander Brooks said security was ‘entirely suitable for all work already conducted and planned for Project Jefferson.’”
At the end of this Sept. 4, 2001 New York Times article, it is stated that the article is based on material gathered for the about-to-be published book, Germs: Biological Weapons and America's Secret War. Excerpts from Germs Biological Weapons and America's Secret War (2002: Touchstone, Simon & Schuster) follow: “The CIA, [George Tenet] said, was looking for bold, imaginative solutions -- something that would 'break the back' of biological terrorism. . . . [T]he CIA and the Pentagon had been working separately for nearly three years on several highly classified projects to develop a better understanding of germ weapons and delivery systems . . . The programs were among the government's most closely held secrets, their code names known to only a handful of officials. . . . Officials privately acknowledged another reason for their sensitivity: the projects were bringing America much closer to the limits set by the 1972 treaty banning biological weapons. . . . [I]n the late 1980s, Senator John Glenn's investigation and hearing prompted much tighter limits on germ research. In the years that followed, scientists at Fort Detrick scrupulously confined their work . . . It was a different story at the CIA . . . A project took shape. CIA officials named it Clear Vision -- an attempt to see into the future of biological warfare . . . The [CIA] went ahead without asking the White House for approval . . . White House officials say that President Clinton was never told of the program . . . In the ensuing months, Battelle, a military contractor in Columbus, Ohio, with sophisticated laboratories, conducted at least two sets of tests . . . The program had become controversial, one senior intelligence official acknowledged, because 'it was pressing how far you go before you do something illegal or immoral.' . . . The State Department representative argued that the treaty ruled out any tests involving weapons. The CIA did not back down. Projects like Clear Vision, the agency argued, were a response to specific intelligence about a possible adversary. . . . By early 2001 . . . although some at the agency continued to defend the project's value, nevertheless, the program was out of money. . . . Senior Clinton officials had been briefed only on what a top official called 'one part of the iceberg that threatened to collide with the germ treaty.'
“In the last days of the Clinton administration, the Pentagon gingerly moved toward doing its own recombinant work on pathogens. . . . To make the genetically modified anthrax, the DIA turned to Battelle, its contractor which had also worked on Clear Vision, the CIA project. . . . [This] secret project was to be done as part of Project Jefferson. (Pages 308-309).
“In fact, federal investigators found that the anthrax Daschle received was virtually indistinguishable from the kind William Patrick had made in the old U.S. program -- up to one trillion spores per gram . . . Fort Detrick had shipped a sample of its Ames strain to the Dugway Proving Grounds in the Utah desert, an army facility. Dugway subsequently made powdered anthrax . . . One year's experiments, the army said, did not involve the Ames strain. But it was silent on whether the potent variety had been used in other years.” (Pages 330-331).
[My comment: In 1999, William Patrick, the original inventor of anthrax weaponization, was commissioned to do an analysis of a hypothetical anthrax attack through the mail for the CIA. Ultimately, this classified document was leaked to the media. In his report entitled “Risk Assessment,” Patrick explained that 2.5 grams is the amount that can be placed into a standard envelope without detection. (The anthrax letters addressed to the Senators contained about 2 grams of anthrax.) In a footnote, Patrick noted that the U.S. had refined "weaponized" anthrax powder to the unprecedented extent of a trillion spores per gram. This degree of refinement corresponds with the extraordinary purity of the anthrax in the letters addressed to the Senators. According to a BBC program Newsnight that aired on March 14, 2002, accessible at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/audiovideo/programmes/newsnight/archive/1873368.stm, both Patrick and the CIA denied the existence of this report.]
III. MAINSTREAM MEDIA REPORT THE TRUTH BEFORE COVER-UP PREVAILS
Baltimore Sun, December 12, 2001
“Anthrax matches Army spores: Organisms made at a military laboratory in Utah are genetically identical to those mailed to members of Congress” by Scott Shane: “For nearly a decade, U.S. Army scientists at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah have made small quantities of weapons-grade anthrax that is virtually identical to the powdery spores used in the mail attacks that have killed five people, government sources say. . . . Anthrax is also grown at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick . . . [b]ut that medical program uses a wet aerosol fog of anthrax rather than the dry powder used in the attacks . . . Dugway's production of weapons-grade anthrax, which has never before been publicly revealed, is apparently the first by the U.S. government since President Richard M. Nixon ordered the U.S. offensive biowarfare program closed in 1969. Scientists familiar with the anthrax program at Dugway described it to The Sun on the condition that they not be named. . . .Scientists estimate that the letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle originally contained about 2 grams of anthrax, about one-sixteenth of an ounce, or the weight of a dime. But its extraordinary concentration - in the range of 1 trillion spores per gram - meant that the letter could have contained 200 million times the average dose necessary to kill a person. Dugway's weapons-grade anthrax has been milled to achieve a similar concentration, according to one person familiar with the program. The concentration exceeds that of weapons anthrax produced by the old U.S. offensive program or the Soviet biowarfare program, according to Dr. Richard O. Spertzel, who worked at Detrick for 18 years and later served as a United Nations bioweapons inspector in Iraq
. . . [M]any bioterrorism experts argue that the quality of the mailed anthrax is such that it could have been produced only in a weapons program or using information from such a program. . . .”
New York Times, December 13, 2001
“The Investigation: U.S. Recently Produced Anthrax in a Highly Lethal Powder Form” by William J. Broad and Judith Miller:
“As the investigation into the anthrax attacks widens to include federal laboratories and contractors, government officials have acknowledged that Army scientists in recent years have made anthrax in a powdered form that could be used as a weapon. Experts said this appeared to be the first disclosure of government production of anthrax in its most lethal form since the United States renounced biological weapons in 1969 and began destroying its germ arsenal. Officials at the Army's Dugway Proving Ground in Utah said that in 1998 scientists there turned small quantities of wet anthrax into powder to test ways to defend against biowarfare attacks. . . . Government records show that Dugway has had the Ames strain since 1992. Dugway officials said in a statement that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was looking into "the work at Dugway Proving Ground," along with that of other medical facilities, universities and laboratories. "The Army is cooperating with and assisting the F.B.I.'s efforts," the officials said. The disclosure at Dugway comes as federal agents, as part of a vast investigation of the anthrax attacks that has made little apparent headway, are trying to figure out where stores of anthrax are housed around the nation and who has the skill to create the powdered form — a major technical step needed to make the anthrax used in the terror attacks. The F.B.I. declined to detail its strategy other than to say its agents have visited some laboratories and are identifying new ones that may have handled, or had access to, the Ames strain. . . . Of the 15, Dr. Rosenberg said, four are ‘probably more likely than the others to have weaponization capabilities’ — the ability to turn wet anthrax spores into a fine powder that could be used as a weapon. Army researchers have previously acknowledged making wet anthrax, but Dr. Rosenberg said the acknowledgment yesterday by Dugway officials that they had produced dried anthrax was the government's only such disclosure. ‘I know of no case of the United States saying that it has made anthrax powder,’ she said. . . .Dugway's disclosure was so sketchy that it was impossible to determine how similar the powdered anthrax produced there was to that sent in the anthrax attacks. In addition to drying, other steps involved in producing the most lethal powders include making the particles uniformly small and processing them so they float freely. Private and federal experts are clashing over how much powdered anthrax Dugway has made. The issue is politically sensitive since some experts say producing large quantities could be seen as violating the global treaty banning germ weapons. . . . She said Dugway did make one- pound quantities of Bacillus subtilis, a benign germ sometimes used to simulate anthrax. . . . It is uncertain how the disclosure by Dugway will be perceived abroad, where some European countries have recently accused the United States of turning its back on the germ treaty, charges that the Bush administration denies. . . . Intelligence officials say that Battelle Memorial Institute, a military contractor in Ohio, has experience making powdered germs.They say the contractor participated in a secret Central Intelligence Agency program, code-named Clear Vision and begun in 1997, that used benign substances similar to anthrax to mimic Soviet efforts to create small bombs that could emit clouds of lethal germs. Katy Delaney, a Battelle spokeswoman, would not comment on the laboratory's anthrax work except to say that the lab had always cooperated ‘with any and all legitimate inquiries from law enforcement.’”
Washington Post, December 16, 2001.
“Capitol Hill Anthrax Matches Army's Stocks: 5 Labs Can Trace Spores to Ft. Detrick”
by Rick Weiss and Susan Schmidt:
“The FBI's investigation into the anthrax attacks is increasingly focusing on whether U.S. government bioweapons research programs, including one conducted by the CIA, may have been the source of deadly anthrax powder sent through the mail, according to sources with knowledge of the probe. The results of the genetic tests strengthen that possibility. The FBI is focusing on a contractor that worked with the CIA, one source said. . . .The scientists are still planning to do genetic testing on anthrax bacteria from the Defense Research Establishment Suffield, a Canadian military research facility, the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, and the Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, Ohio, a government contractor doing research on anthrax vaccines. Those are the only other facilities [besides Dugway] known to have received samples from USAMRIID . . . The CIA's biowarfare program . . . involved the use of small amounts of Ames strain, an agency spokesman said yesterday. The CIA declined to say where its Ames strain material came from . . . Nevertheless, the FBI has turned its attention to learning more about the CIA's work with anthrax, which investigators were told about by the agency within the past few weeks, government officials said . . . The anthrax contained in the letters under investigation ‘absolutely did not’ come from CIA labs, the spokesman said . . . Law enforcement sources, however, said the FBI remains extremely interested in the CIA's work with anthrax, with one official calling it the best lead they have at this point. The sources said FBI investigators do not yet know much about the CIA program.”
Miami Herald (Knight Ridder), December 21, 2001
“Anthrax investigators focusing on strain from military facility” by David Kidwell:
“Federal anthrax researchers are attempting to match the strain that killed a Boca Raton man and four others to a weaponized strain secretly manufactured at a U.S. military facility in the Utah desert, according to sources familiar with the probe. Agents are examining lab workers and researchers who had access to the weaponized, powdered anthrax grown at the U.S. Army's Dugway Proving Grounds and later supplied to Battelle Memorial Institute, a military research company based in Columbus, Ohio . . . It is clear that a strong theory has emerged that the refined powder used in the anthrax attacks bears striking similarities to U.S. military grade anthrax manufactured only at Dugway . . .‘The anthrax at Dugway is the only known sample they intend to check right now. The investigation is clearly focused on the Dugway anthrax,’ said Dr. Ronald Atlas, dean of the University of Louisville Biology Department, and incoming president of the American Society of Microbiology. ‘The word in the scientific community is that they are very close to something.’ Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge said Thursday the FBI has ‘winnowed’ the field of its investigation . . .”
Nevertheless, on December 21, 2001 (the same day that the above-cited Miami Herald article was published), The Dispatch in Columbus, Ohio reported that FBI Director Robert Mueller had assured Ohio Republican Senator Mike DeWine that “no one with or formerly with Battelle is a suspect.”
To recapitulate, Battelle Memorial Institute (BMI) was not only doing the lab work in its own labs in West Jefferson, Ohio for the CIA’s weaponization project, it was also doing the lab work at the Army’s Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah for the DIA’s anthrax weaponization project. Battelle has a “national security division” offering the services of a team of “engineers, chemists, microbiologists, and aerosol scientists supported by state-of-the-art laboratories to conduct research in the fields of bioaerosol science and technology.” On its Web site, Battelle called this research group “one-of-a-kind.” Battelle also makes one of the world’s most advanced medicinal powders. Battelle’s pharmaceutical division, BattellePharma, in Columbus, has developed electrostatically charged aerosols for inhalation. BattellePharma’s Web site boasted that the company’s new “electrohydrodynamic” aerosol “reliably delivers more than 80% of the drug to the lungs in a soft (isokinetic) cloud of uniformly sized particles.” Other powders, boasted the Web site, only achieve 20% or less.
IV. THE COVER-UP
In order to cover-up the evident connection between our secret anthrax weaponization projects and the attack anthrax, it would be necessary to negate the fact that the attack anthrax (particularly in the letters to the Senators) was weaponized.
This aspect of the cover-up is described in “Anthrax Powder: State of the Art?” by Gary Matsumoto, that appeared in the November, 2003 edition (Vol 32) of Science Magazine: “Early in the investigation, the consensus among biodefense specialists working for the government and the military [was that] . . . the powder mailed to the Senate . . . was a diabolical advance in biological weapons technology . . . In May 2002, 16 of these scientists and physicians published a paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association, describing the Senate anthrax powder as ‘weapons-grade’ and exceptional: ‘high spore concentration, uniform particle size, low electrostatic charge, treated to reduce clumping’ (JAMA, 1 May 2002, p. 2237) . . . [But] by the fall of 2002, the awe inspiring anthrax of the previous spring had morphed into something decidedly less fearsome. According to sources on Capitol Hill, FBI scientists now reported that there was ‘no additive’ in the Senate anthrax at all. . . . The reversal was so extreme that the former chief biological weapons inspector for the United Nations Special Commission, Richard Spertzel, found it hard to accept. ‘No silica, big particles, manual milling . . . That’s what they’re saying now, and that radically contradicts everything we were told during the first year of this investigation.’” Of course, once the DOJ/FBI arrived at their formulation that Bruce Ivins was the lone culprit, it became that much more necessary to portray the attack anthrax as other than “weapons-grade.” Richard Spertzel, quoted in the above-cited Science Magazine, was not only a chief UNSCOM inspector, he also worked at Fort Detrick for 18 years, and served as Deputy Commander of USAMRIID. On August 5, 2008 (one week after the death of Bruce Ivins), the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by Mr. Spertzel entitled “Bruce Ivins Wasn’t the Anthrax Culprit.” Excerpts follow:
“Let's start with the anthrax in the letters to Sens. Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy. The spores could not have been produced at USAMRIID where Ivins worked, without many other people being aware of it. Furthermore, the equipment to make such a product does not exist at the Institute. Information released by the FBI over the past seven years indicates a product of exceptional quality. The product contained essentially pure spores. The particle size was 1.5 to 3 microns in diameter . . . What's more, they were also tailored to make them potentially more dangerous. According to a FBI news release from November 2001, the particles were coated by a ‘product not seen previously to be used in this fashion before.’ Apparently, the spores were coated with a polyglass which tightly bound hydrophilic silica to each particle. That's what was briefed (according to one of my former weapons inspectors at UNSCOM) by the FBI to the German Foreign Ministry at the time . . . The multiple disciplines and technologies required to make the anthrax in this case do not exist at USAMRIID. Inhalation studies are conducted at the Institute, but they are done using liquid preparations, not powdered products. The FBI spent between 12 and 18 months trying ‘to reverse engineer’ (make a replica of) the anthrax in the letters sent to Messrs. Daschle and Leahy without success, according to FBI news releases.”
On August 18, 2008 (three weeks after the death of Bruce Ivins), FBI scientists and their consultants conducted a briefing for journalists with “well-respected scientific journals.” The transcription of the entire briefing accessible at http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dc3wqmd7_33d2tjs5ct should be reviewed. The briefing is rife with evident evasions, contradictions and clumsy contrivances. Several excerpts (somewhat rearranged according to subject matter) follow:
BACKGROUND OFFICIAL: . . . Leading today's discussion is Dr. Vahid Majidi and Dr. Chris Hassell of the FBI. . . .
DR. MAJIDI: . . . After nearly seven years of investigation, we have developed a body of powerful evidence that allows us to conclude that we have identified the origin and the perpetrator of the 2001 Bacillus Anthracis mailing. . . .
DR. MAJIDI: . . . We have obviously done a number of other analyses [of the attack anthrax], elemental characterization, that drove us to conclude that there were no additives.
BACKGROUND OFFICIAL: . . . [The silica] was on the inside of the spore and not on the outside of the spore. . . .
DR. MAJIDI: . . . That's what the whole concept or methodology of weaponization comes from, is to weaponize. That's really -- that's an ambiguous word, but what people mean by weaponize is that postproduction of the spores was silica added to it to make it more disbursable . . . So one last time. No additive was added to the sample to make it more disbursable. . . . . So is the material being so easily dispersible really unusual? The answer is no.
DR. MICHAEL: The spore coat is a layer, as I understand it, that's within the spore and it's not the outermost layer of the spore. So the spore had sequestered silicon and oxygen in the same location on the spore coat. We found no additives; no exogenous material on the outside of the spores. We did have the opportunity to look at weaponized material to compare it to the letter material and they were very different. And the weaponized material the additives appear on the outside of the spore. Again, in the letter materials the silicon and oxygen were co-located on the spore coat, within the spore.
QUESTION: Did you develop any theories on where the silicon and oxygen came from, and do you think it played any role in making the spores super buoyant?
DR. MAJIDI: If I can actually pass that question to Dr. Burans, because he's our expert on processing. DR. BURANS: In essence, as Dr. Michael described, the silicon associated with oxygen that was found within the spore, not on the surface of the spore, being present within the spore coat, which is covered by something called an exosporia, the silicon would not have contributed to the fluid-like qualities of the Anthrax powders.
[My comment: From where did Dr. Michael obtain his “weaponized material”? That question aside, additives on the outside of the exosporium is pre-1969 technology. The current weaponizing technology involving polyglass tightly binding hydrophilic silica referred to by Richard Spertzel (see above) is located on the spore coat beneath the exosporium.]
QUESTION: And as to where it came from?
DR. BURANS: It's known that Bacilli are capable of mineralizing different types of elements including silicon, so as early as 1982 Bacilli species have been shown to localize silica within their spore coat.
QUESTION: Can I ask a follow-up?
DR. MAJIDI: It could have been within the growth media. It could have been within --
DR. BURANS: It was a natural occurrence.
DR. MAJIDI: -- natural occurrence, yes.
QUESTION: Can you tell us what the dry weight percentage was on the silicon and the oxygen?
BACKGROUND OFFICIAL: There was no exogenous silicon in the spores.
QUESTION: I appreciate that, but can you please tell me what the dry weight percentage was of the silicon?
BACKGROUND OFFICIAL: It was high.
QUESTION: It was high?
BACKGROUND OFFICIAL: Yes.
[My comment: The claim that spores could contain a “high” percentage of silicon as the result of a “natural occurrence” is absurd – more on this in section V below.]
QUESTION: But we still need to know the weight, because that tells you how this stuff was weaponized.
DR. MAJIDI: Just wait a second. Wait a second. You know, there is -- this -- I don't understand what -- you are using the term, “weaponized” -- no one -- when you look at weaponization, there is a clear definition. That is you have an anthrax spore; you do specific preparation to make it suitable for use as a biological weapon. The material that we recovered did not have any additives added to it to make it in any more easily dispersible. The material we have is pure spores . . .
DR. MAJIDI: So again, I don't want to get wrapped around the issue of how was a sample processed. The critical issue --
QUESTION: Isn't that part -- an important part of the evidence, though?
DR. MAJIDI: Well, no. The important part of the evidence is that the materials of the letter with the genetic mutations could exclusively be related only to RMR-1029. . . .
DR. MAJIDI: It would have been easy to make these samples at USAMRIID. . . .
BACKGROUND OFFICIAL: There is a misconception going around this room that very simple spore preparation, simply spores washed in water, when dried, are not dangerous and friable. That is a misconception. We have seen many biological preparations that when just washed with water and dried are extremely friable. . . .
QUESTION: Can you tell me in your preparations how long it took you to make a spore like this as of the SI enhancer or whatever -- the drying, et cetera? How long did that take?
DR. BURANS: Basically, it would take somewhere between three and seven days.
QUESTION: That's all? How many people did it take to do that to that; to --
DR. BURANS: One person can perform the operation. . . .
DR. MAJIDI: Those locations [from where RMR-1029 was submitted] -- it is not eight laboratories. I got to be clear about that. They came from different locations. A good number of them came from USAMRIID itself. And we're not disclosing the [other] location.