BattelleMemorial Institute in Columbus, Ohio, and other facilities involved in anthrax research. According to the FBI's reckoning, over 100 scientists had been given access to it. Any of these scientists (or their co-workers) could have stolen a minute quantity of this anthrax and, by mixing it into a media of water and nutrients, used it to grow enough spores to launch the anthrax attacks …
“[Ivins’] suicide provided an opportunity to close the case. So it held a congressional briefing in which it all but pronounced Ivins the anthrax killer. But there was still a vexing problem—silicon.
“Silicon was used in the 1960s to weaponize anthrax. Through an elaborate process, anthrax spores were coated with the substance to prevent them from clinging together so as to create a lethal aerosol. But since weaponization was banned by international treaties, research anthrax no longer contains silicon, and the flask at Fort Detrick contained none.
“Yet the anthrax grown from it had silicon, according to the U.S. Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. This silicon explained why, when the letters to Sens. Leahy and Daschle were opened, the anthrax vaporized into an aerosol. If so, then somehow silicon was added to the anthrax. But Ivins, no matter how weird he may have been, had neither the set of skills nor the means to attach silicon to anthrax spores. “At a minimum, such a process would require highly specialized equipment that did not exist in Ivins's lab—or, for that matter, anywhere at the Fort Detrick facility. As Richard Spertzel, a former biodefense scientist who worked with Ivins, explained in a private briefing on Jan. 7, 2009, …‘I don't think there's anyone there who would have the foggiest idea how to do it.’ So while Ivins's death provided a convenient fall guy, the silicon content still needed to be explained.
“The FBI's answer was that the anthrax contained only traces of silicon, and those, it theorized, could have been accidently absorbed by the spores from the water and nutrient in which they were grown. No such nutrients were ever found in Ivins's lab, nor, for that matter, did anyone ever see Ivins attempt to produce any unauthorized anthrax (a process which would have involved him using scores of flasks.) But since no one knew what nutrients had been used to grow the attack anthrax, it was at least possible that they had traces of silicon in them that accidently contaminated the anthrax.
“Natural contamination was an elegant theory that ran into problems after Congressman Jerry Nadler pressed FBI Director Robert Mueller in September 2008 to provide the House Judiciary Committee with a missing piece of data: the precise percentage of silicon contained in the anthrax used in the attacks. “The answer came seven months later on April 17, 2009. According to the FBI lab, 1.4% of the powder in the Leahy letter was silicon. ‘This is a shockingly high proportion,’ explained Stuart Jacobson, an expert in small particle chemistry. ‘It is a number one would expect from the deliberate weaponization of anthrax, but not from any conceivable accidental contamination.’ “Nevertheless, in an attempt to back up its theory, the FBI contracted scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Labs in California to conduct experiments in which anthrax is accidently absorbed from a media heavily laced with silicon. When the results were revealed to the National Academy of Science in September 2009, they effectively blew the FBI's theory out of the water.
“The Livermore scientists had tried 56 times to replicate the high silicon content without any success. Even though they added increasingly high amounts of silicon to the media, they never even came close to the 1.4% in the attack anthrax. Most results were an order of magnitude lower, with some as low as .001%.
“What these tests inadvertently demonstrated is that the anthrax spores could not have been accidently contaminated by the nutrients in the media. ‘If there is that much silicon, it had to have been added,’ Jeffrey Adamovicz, who supervised Ivins's work at Fort Detrick, wrote to me last month. He added that the silicon in the attack anthrax could have been added via a large fermentor—which Battelle and other labs use’ but ‘we did not use a fermentor to grow anthrax at USAMRIID . . . [and] We did not have the capability to add silicon compounds to anthrax spores.’ “If Ivins had neither the equipment or skills to weaponize anthrax with silicon, then some other party with access to the anthrax must have done it. Even before these startling results, Sen. Leahy had told Director Mueller, ‘I do not believe in any way, shape, or manner that [Ivins] is the only person involved in this attack on Congress.’
“When I asked a FBI spokesman this month about the Livermore findings, he said the FBI was not commenting on any specifics of the case, other than those discussed in the 2008 briefing (which was about a year before Livermore disclosed its results). He stated: ‘The Justice Department and the FBI continue working to conclude the investigation into the 2001 anthrax attacks. We anticipate closing the case in the near future.’
“So, even though the public may be under the impression that the anthrax case had been closed in 2008, the FBI investigation is still open—and, unless it can refute the Livermore findings on the silicon, it is back to square one.”
New York Times, February 24, 2010
“Haste Leaves Anthrax Case Unconcluded” by Richard Bernstein:
“Probably not very many readers of this space are subscribers to the scientific journal Aerosol Science and Technology …
“Aerosol Science and Technology reported on an attempt by a group of scientists at the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah to reproduce the dry, powderized substance that was found in one of the anthrax-laden envelopes … The title of the paper, “Development of an Aerosol System for Uniformly Depositing Bacillus Anthrax Spore Particles on Surfaces,” demonstrated that to create anthrax in a dry aerosol form of the sort that can be dispersed through the air is a long and difficult process involving a lot of highly specialized machinery. “The original culture has to be incubated; spore pellets are then collected with a centrifuge; those spores are dried “by a proprietary azeotropic method,” before an “amorphous silica-based flow enhancer” is added to turn the otherwise sticky anthrax spores into an aerosol, after which the material has to be passed through a series of ever finer mesh screens that are activated by a pneumatic vibrator.
“The point, as one scientist specializing in fine particle chemistry told me, blows a large hole through the 92-page summary of the investigation released last week by the F.B.I. and the Justice Department, the main conclusion of which is that Bruce E. Ivins, a scientist at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, in Maryland, was the anthrax mailer. ‘Note that the proprietary azeotropic drying technique and the pneumatic mill are both superspecialized pieces of equipment, neither of which is at Detrick,’ the specialist in fine particles, Stuart Jacobsen, said in an e-mail message …
“[Ivins] had created the very flask of anthrax bacillus that, using cutting-edge scientific techniques, the F.B.I. determined to be the sole source of the material used in the attacks. Several hundred other scientists over the years have had access to the material in that particular flask, but according to the F.B.I., all of them except for Mr. Ivins were exonerated …
“[A]s Representative Rush D. Holt of New Jersey put it last week, [the FBI’s case] is “barely circumstantial.” …
“[M]ost important is the failure of the F.B.I. to demonstrate that the anthrax used in the attack was actually produced in Mr. Ivins’s lab at Fort Detrick, or even that it could have been produced there
… [S]ome of the F.B.I.’s arguments seem like conclusions in search of arguments, while other aspects of the report — notably its failure to deal with the silicon question — are conspicuously incomplete.” These Wall St. Journal and N.Y. Times op-eds confirm that the FBI and DOJ have engaged in deliberate cover-up of the fact that the attack anthrax spores contained silica in amounts that could and would be present only if deliberately added for the purpose of promoting friability and dispersability. The silica in the attack anthrax must now be recognized to be weaponizing, an integral part of a process involving a technology and genotype of Ames strain anthrax, together which were available only to our own (domestic) anthrax weaponization projects.
As a way to diffuse the skepticism and demands for an independent investigation referred to in the Introduction section of this memo, the FBI back in September of 2008, retained the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to evaluate the scientific aspects of its investigation. The “Project Scope” excluded any “assessment of the probative value of the scientific evidence” and made clear that the NAS would “offer no view on the guilt or innocence of any person(s) in connection with the 2001 [anthrax] mailings …”
Despite the fact that the NAS was still in the middle of conducting its evaluation, the DOJ/FBI on February 19, 2010, suddenly announced that they were officially closing the Amerithrax investigation. At the same time, a 92-page “Amerithrax Investigative Summary” was released whose conclusion was that Bruce Ivins was solely responsible for the anthrax attacks.
Earlier in this memo, it was mentioned that throughout the Amerithrax investigation, no one from either the FBI or the DOJ ever publicly mentions the name Battelle. This transparently deceptive practice is maintained in the “Amerithrax Investigative Summary.” Battelle is actually referred to four times in the Summary: as a “private company in the midwest,” (page 24), a “commercial laboratory located in the midwest,” (page 35), a “commercial lab in the midwest,” (page 37), and as an “outside lab in the midwest,” (page 75), as if these four references could be to four different entities.
The FBI and the DOJ evidently felt compelled to try and improve on the response given to Congressman Nadler that is highlighted in the Introduction section of this memo. To wit, at page 35 of the Summary, there is the following: “In May and June 2001, Dr. Ivins sent some RMR-1029 spores to a commercial laboratory located in the midwest … There are a number of … factors that militated strongly against the notion that anthrax coming from this institution was the source of the attacks.” These “factors” are said to include: 1.) “[E]very minute spent in the lab was accounted for and billed to some contract.” Of course, there is absolutely no reference in the entire Summary to any contract with the CIA or DIA to conduct anthrax weaponization projects, which contracts must have existed as documented in section II of this memo. 2.) “During standard lab hours …no researcher was ever alone in the lab” and “after normal business hours … there were always two employees in the suite where RMR-1029 was stored …” This factor of course is based on the tacit, utterly unsubstantiated, almost certainly erroneous assumption that only one person was involved in processing the anthrax that went into the letters. 3.) “Background investigations were conducted on all 42 people with access to RMR-1029 at this facility … [whose] results were unremarkable.” Would a background of working on quite arguably illegal anthrax weaponization projects be viewed as “unremarkable” by the FBI? 4.) “[T]he great distance between the location of this lab [reminder: Battelle’s location is Ohio] and Princeton, New Jersey [from where the anthrax letters were mailed] preclude any reasonable possibility that the mailings came from [this lab].” Expressing reliance upon this factor is just pitiful.
It is noteworthy that in the Summary, the DOJ/FBI abandon the position forcefully taken during the August 18, 2008 science briefing that is cited earlier in this memo. No longer is the anthrax in the mailings said to be “easy to make,” or that the attack anthrax amounted to a “very simple spore preparation.” At page 37, the DOJ/FBI resort to: “Another example of [Ivins’ unique] expertise involved a commercial lab in the midwest with hundreds of scientists on its staff, but whose staff had to call Dr. Ivins for advice at times regarding anthrax issues because there was no one in-house who could answer their questions.” This is just more clumsy, transparent cover-up. Ivins’ expertise had nothing to do with processing dry, silica-treated anthrax. Ivins certainly would have had no idea how to concentrate one trillion anthrax spores into a gram of powder. The Summary does acknowledge that Dugway has special anthrax expertise, but at no point acknowledges that Battelle was operating the labs at Dugway.
Also at page 37, the DOJ/FBI refers to “the very narrow universe of those with the highly-specialized skill required to create the mailing material.” In the next sentence, the DOJ/FBI cite as an authority the only other “renowned anthrax expert” that is identified by name in the Summary, namely Dr. Martin Hugh-Jones of Louisiana State University. This is ironic, because this same Dr. Martin Hugh-Jones was the co-author of a paper in July, 2010, entitled “Three Markers in the Attack Anthrax as Indicators of its Source.” Contained in this paper is the following: “The FBI has ruled out the ‘midwest’ laboratory as the source of the attack anthrax [based] on … unwarranted assumptions … [T]here is no publicly-available information to rule out the possibility that the anthrax spores in the letters were made in the normal conduct of laboratory operations … Battelle, for example, is well-known for its aerosol study capabilities and biodefense activities, for which dry spores are routinely needed … “Contamination of the anthrax spores in some of the attack letters by a genetically distinct strain of B. subtilis provides an institutional ‘fingerprint’ that appears to have played no role in the FBI’s investigation … B. subtilis was not found in the parent RMR 1029 flask [at Fort Detrick] … There is no evidence that the FBI searched the “midwest” lab for the contaminant, nor is it known whether they examined records there for simulant or anthrax spore preparations …
“Evidence regarding the Silicon marker has been inconsistent, contradictory and confusing …
Major General John S. Parker, Commander of Fort Detrick … at a White House briefing on October 29, 2001 … [was] asked if … there was no additive to make the spores more easily aerosolized, he answered: ‘Complicated question. We do know that we found silica in the samples,’ but we don’t know why it would be there … Gen. Parker also said on Oct. 31 that USAMRIID had at first reported to the FBI that the Daschle spores had some attributes consistent with ‘weaponized’ anthrax; but they then ‘revisited the term 'weaponized' and decided the terms 'professionally done' and 'energetic' as more appropriate descriptions in lieu of any real familiarity with weaponized materials … The Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP), which had performed the energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry on the Daschle spores in October 2001, published a comment about a year later by AFIP Principal Deputy Director Florabel Mullick, who said silica ‘was a key component. Silica prevents the anthrax from aggregating, making it easier to aerosolize.’ …
“Experts like John Ezzell, Peter Jarling and Thomas Geisbert of USAMRIID, Jeff Mohr of Dugway, and Bill Patrick of the former US bioweapons program made early statements that the attack spores contained silica or were weaponized, but later reversed their positions. Scientists at Dugway, USAMRIID, and perhaps elsewhere were asked to sign statements not to talk about the anthrax … Dwight Adams, the chief FBI scientist, stated at a private FBI briefing of Senators Daschle and Leahy in late 2002 that the letter anthrax contained no additives, but did contain Silicon which occurred naturally in the spore coat (not on the surface). Dwight Adams later stated in a sworn deposition on January 11, 2006 that scientific information obtained by the FBI about the letter anthrax is too sensitive to reveal to either the public or the Senate, Congress or their staff … [T]here is no evidence that USAMRIID or any of its staff may have had the ability to produce spores with such high levels of Silicon …
“It was only after Sandia [under contract with the FBI] utilized transmission SEM on thin sections to determine the location of Si in the spores, that the presence of fumed silica particles--which would manifest themselves as individual particles on the outside of the spores (the exosporium)--could be ruled out definitively. However, Sandia’s data, showing that Si is present only at the spore coat, do not rule out the possibility that the spores were treated with a liquid silane or siloxane agent that penetrated the exosporium and polymerized into a phase of SiOxCx on the spore coat. Unlike fumed silica particles, silane and siloxane monomers are small molecules that are likely to pass readily through the exosporium …
“[A]t the Aug. 18, 2008 [science] briefing … Dr. Hassell, during questioning of Dr. Majidi about the procedures used to make a fine powder, interrupted to say ‘You got to understand, there are some national security implications if we give you all the details of the many possible ways to do this. So if we’re hedging a little bit, that’s --’”
Typical of the responses to the FBI suddenly closing the Amerithrax investigation on February19, 2010, was that of Congressman Rush D. Holt (D-N.J.), a scientist himself, whose district contains the mailbox from which the anthrax letters were sent: "Arbitrarily closing the case on a Friday afternoon should not mean the end of this investigation. The evidence the FBI produced would not, I think, stand up in court."
Holt is Chair of the Select Intelligence Oversight Panel and a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Shortly after Amerithrax was closed, Holt and Congressman Roscoe Bartlett, whose district contains Fort Detrick, introduced an amendment to the 2010 Intelligence Authorization Bill that would open Amerithrax to investigation by Congress. This amendment was shortly thereafter passed by the House.
On March 15, 2010, the Obama administration threatened to veto the 2010 Intelligence Authorization Bill. The Administration’s objection to further investigation of the anthrax attacks was expressed as follows: “[T]he FBI is confident that the attacks were planned and committed by Dr. Bruce Ivins, acting alone. The commencement of a fresh investigation would undermine public confidence in the criminal investigation and unfairly cast doubt on its conclusions.” The Administration knows full well that, in fact, there is no confidence in the FBI’s Amerithrax investigation for a myriad of very obvious reasons.
The Administration also objected to a provision in the 2010 Intelligence Authorization Bill approved by both the House and Senate that would give the Government Accountability Office (GAO) authority to conduct intelligence oversight, a provision that would undo the exemption of intelligence and counterintelligence activities from GAO review. Congress relented with respect to both the Amerithrax and GAO provisions in the Bill. The relevance of the abandonment of the GAO provision to prospects for exposing the Amerithrax cover-up is illuminated at the end of this section of this memo.
On February 15, 2011, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released its “Review of the Scientific Approaches Used During the FBI’s Investigation of the 2001 Anthrax Letters.” The most central conclusion reached by the NAS was that the FBI’s (very time consuming and expensive) genetic analysis did not establish, as had been claimed by the FBI, that the parent material of the anthrax spores used in the attacks was a single flask of spores known as "RMR-1029.” This conclusion by the NAS truly understates the fundamental problems with the FBI’s scientific analysis, further discussion of which is beyond the scope of this memo.
Since August, 2008, when the DOJ/FBI declared Ivins to be solely responsible for the anthrax attacks, they have repeated over and over again as the front piece of their case against Ivins that the flask of spores designated “RMR-1029” was created and solely maintained by Ivins at Fort Detrick. Even if the FBI’s genetic analysis had properly established a direct connection between RMR-1029 and the attack anthrax, this still would have been a far cry from establishing Ivins’ guilt. Footnote 23 of the DOJ/FBI’s February, 2010 “Amerithrax Investigative Summary” acknowledges that more than 300 individuals at Fort Detrick alone had access to RMR-1029. As cited above, the Summary also claims that 42 individuals at Battelle in Ohio had access. There is nothing in the Summary about individuals at Dugway who must have had access. And this just scratches the surface of the obvious weaknesses in the overall case against Ivins.
A few of the many weaknesses cited by Dr. Meryl Nass include: “FBI failed to find any anthrax contamination in Bruce’s car, home or possessions, although the simple act of placing a letter in the mailbox would have led to massive spore contamination of everything in the area, including the mailer … Bruce passed two FBI polygraph tests …FBI has failed to find evidence placing Bruce in New Jersey where the letters were mailed … [and] failed to show how Bruce could have been at the mailbox during the window of time in which the letters were sent.”
In sum, the FBI has failed to produce hard evidence of either means, motive or opportunity on the part of Bruce Ivins. Now that the NAS has undermined the linchpin of the FBI’s case, that is, the connection between RMR-1029 and the attack anthrax, the contrivance of the case against Ivins is laid bare.
I am a weekly columnist for the Frederick News-Post (FNP), the only daily newspaper in Frederick, Maryland, home of Fort Detrick. On February 19, 2011, the FNP published a column of mine entitled “NAS On Amerithrax,” excerpts from which follow:
“We didn't need the National Academy of Sciences to tell us that the government's case against Bruce Ivins is a sham.
“On March 6, 2010, I began a column: ‘The Bruce Ivins case is a trap. If the powers that be manage to keep us occupied with analyzing and reanalyzing the numerous and glaring weaknesses in the contrived case against Ivins, they succeed in diverting attention away from [the true source of the anthrax attacks]’ …
“On covering up the true source of the anthrax attacks, NAS almost entirely cooperated [with the FBI]. This is most significantly illustrated in what NAS had to say about silicon. Silicon has always been a key ingredient in the U.S. method of weaponizing anthrax. Though no one says it, this central issue of silicon in Amerithrax is about whether the attack anthrax must have come out of our own up-until-then secret anthrax weaponization projects.
“The NAS: ‘Silicon was present in the letter powders but there was no evidence of intentional addition of silicon-based dispersants.’ The problem is that the NAS relied on only one source of information about this, namely the FBI.
“Here's a better source: 'If there is that much silicon, it had to have been [intentionally] added,’ [said] Jeffrey Adamovicz, [former scientist] at Fort Detrick ... He added that the silicon in the attack anthrax could have been added via a large fermentor -- which Battelle and other labs use.’ (Wall Street Journal, 1/24/10).
“The NAS: ‘[N]o silicon was detected on the outside surface of spores where a [weaponizing] dispersant would reside. Instead, significant amounts of silicon were detected within the spore coat of some samples.’
“It is true that there was ‘no silicon detected on the outside surface,’ but it is false that this is ‘where a dispersant would reside’ -- that is a surpassed technology. The most modern anthrax-weaponizing technology has been referred to throughout the duration of the Amerithrax investigation by sources like Richard Spertzel, former deputy commander of USAMRIID [at Fort Detrick], Kay Mereish, the chief of biological planning and operations at the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, and Science magazine.
“This most modern anthrax-weaponizing technology precisely situates ‘significant amounts of silicon’ on the ‘spore coat,’ just what the NAS found and obligingly disregarded. In other words, the anthrax was indeed intentionally weaponized with the most modern (advanced) anthrax-weaponizing technology …
“So who had this technology? Before the anthrax attacks, secret anthrax weaponization projects were being conducted by the CIA at Battelle's labs in West Jefferson, Ohio, and the DIA in labs managed and operated by Battelle at the Army's Dugway Proving Ground (in Utah). Both facilities had received anthrax spores from Bruce Ivins' flask RMR-1029. “‘[T]o create anthrax in a dry aerosol form of the sort that can be dispersed through the air is a long and difficult process involving a lot of highly specialized machinery.’ (New York Times, Feb. 24, 2010).
“This was not the work of any lone nut. The anthrax attacks were the product of an advanced domestic weaponization program, and the government cover-up persists.”
On the same day as the NAS released its report, Congressman Rush Holt reintroduced the Anthrax Attacks Investigation Act, 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. Holt then stated: “We still badly need a 9/11-style commission to determine how the attacks happened …” This Act was not passed by Congress when it was first introduced in September, 2008, and most likely will not pass the second time around. Even if it were passed, it probably would be vetoed by President Obama.
What remains is investigation by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). Back in May, 2010, Holt, Senator Grassley (R-Iowa) and three others from the House requested the GAO to answer specific questions about the methods used during the FBI investigation of the anthrax attacks. In a letter addressed to Holt dated August 27, 2010, the GAO accepted this request. The GAO then said it would wait until after NAS review was completed before “scoping our work.” In the same letter, the GAO stated: “Please know that we may encounter challenges to our access to sensitive and classified information from the FBI and the intelligence agencies. We will consult with you if this occurs.” A report is expected to be issued by the GAO by the end of September, 2011.
In 1961, in his “Farewell Address,” President Eisenhower warned of the emerging power of the “military-industrial complex.” In the ensuing fifty years, that warning has gone unheeded, and we have been engaged in what Gore Vidal calls “perpetual war.” Our military and so-called “national security” expenditures exceed the total of what the entire rest of the world spends.
We by far export more weapons than any other country. We maintain at least 800 military bases around the world. We are what Martin Luther King called the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world.” So much of what we now do in the name of national security (including our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan) actually undermines our security, not only by multiplying our enemies, bankrupting our treasury, and instigating international arms races, but by perpetuating massive delusion.
The insanity of our course is exemplified in the system surrounding the anthrax letters of 2001. This, the only bio-attack in our history, is an officially acknowledged “inside job,” one that we know originated from our own so-called “biodefense” program. No, the anthrax letters were not the work of a “lone nut.” They were the work of our military-industrial-intelligence complex, a complex of revolving participants that manufactures weapons and war for power and profits.
The decision in early 2001 to unilaterally reject inspections and verification as a part of international bioweapons arms control (precisely to avoid inspections of our secret weaponization projects) was the choice to pursue arms race over arms control. The anthrax letters that soon followed served and fulfilled two purposes.
1.) As a “false flag operation,” with language in the letters (all dated 09-11-01) that read “Death to America, Death to Israel, Allah is Great,” the anthrax attacks played a major role in the run-up to the Iraq war. Ironically, this purpose was further served by the widespread fraudulent misrepresentation that the attack anthrax contained the weaponizing additive bentonite. This additive bentonite was characteristic of the Iraqi bioweapons program that originated in the 1980s (with our help). White House officials repeatedly pressured FBI Director Robert Mueller to demonstrate that they were a second-wave assault by Al Qaeda following the September 11 attacks. In October, 2001, the Wall St. Journal editorialized that Al Qaeda perpetrated the mailings, with Iraq the source of the anthrax. 2.) As a stimulator of fear of bio-threat, the anthrax attacks served as the pretext for a massive expansion of our so-called biodefense program, with expenditures on this program quickly becoming twenty times what they were before the attacks. Hundreds of high-containment biolabs have become operational since 2001, involving thousands of additional lab workers.
I am a longtime resident of Frederick, Maryland, home of Fort Detrick. Fort Detrick has been headquarters for our biowarfare/biodefense programs ever since their inception in 1943. The plan is to make Detrick the site of a National Inter-agency Biodefense Campus (NIBC). Construction of two of the NIBC’s facilities is already completed, one an NIH facility called the Integrated Research Facility (IRF), the other a Homeland Security (DHS) facility called the