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The Anthrax Attacks and the Cover Up
By Barry Kissin
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-re...
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.' (Pages 287-299).
“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/18733..., 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.
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 --
DR. MAJIDI: Yeah.
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 http://anthraxvaccine.blogspot.com/2009/01/critique-of-chemical-signatur...
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  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).
V. OBAMA ADMINISTRATION PERPETUATES COVER-UP AND THE SYSTEM IT PROTECTS
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 Battelle Memorial 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 National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (NBACC). Both NIH and DHS have already entered into contracts worth $750 million with the same private company for the management and operation of these facilities – the name of that company is Battelle. DHS is also entrusted with constructing the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF), a 500,000 square foot facility, which will have within its walls more BSL-4 laboratory space than three times the total amount of BSL-4 space in the entire country as of 2004. BSL-4 is designed for the specific purpose of working with germs for which there is neither vaccine nor cure. All indications are that DHS will be contracting with Battelle to manage and operate this facility as well.
In 2006, the Washington Post afforded a rare glimpse of the true nature of DHS’s NBACC. NBACC will be central to our secret offensive biowarfare program.
Washington Post, July 30, 2006
“The Secretive Fight Against Bioterror” by Joby Warrick:
“On the grounds of a military base an hour's drive from the capital, the Bush administration is building a massive biodefense laboratory unlike any seen since biological weapons were banned 34 years ago . . .
“In an unusual arrangement, the building itself will be classified as highly restricted space, from the reception desk to the lab benches to the cages where animals are kept. Few federal facilities, including nuclear labs, operate with such stealth. It is this opacity that some arms-control experts say has become a defining characteristic of U.S. biodefense policy as carried out by the Department of Homeland Security, NBACC's creator . . .
“When it opens in two years, the NBACC lab will house an impressive collection of deadly germs and teams of scientists in full-body ‘spacesuits’ to work with them. It will also have large aerosol-test chambers where animals will be exposed to deadly microbes. But the lab's most controversial feature may be its secrecy …
“[C]ritics of NBACC fear that excessive secrecy could actually increase the risk of bioterrorism. That would happen, they say, if the lab fosters ill-designed experiments conducted without proper scrutiny or if its work fuels suspicions that could lead other countries to pursue secret biological research.
“The few public documents that describe NBACC's research mission have done little to quiet those fears. A computer slide show prepared by the center's directors in 2004 offers a to-do list that suggests the lab will be making and testing small amounts of weaponized microbes and, perhaps, genetically engineered viruses and bacteria. It also calls for ‘red team’ exercises that simulate attacks by hostile groups.
“NBACC's close ties to the U.S. intelligence community have also caused concern among the agency's critics. The CIA has assigned advisers to the lab, including at least one member of the ‘Z-Division,’ an elite group jointly operated with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory that specializes in analyzing and duplicating weapons systems of potential adversaries, officials familiar with the program confirm. . . .
“‘If we saw others doing this kind of research, we would view it as an infringement of the bioweapons treaty,’ said Milton Leitenberg, a senior research scholar and weapons expert at the University of Maryland's School of Public Policy. ‘You can't go around the world yelling about Iranian and North Korean programs -- about which we know very little -- when we've got all this going on.’ …
“NBACC is intended to be the chief U.S. biological research institution engaged in something called ‘science-based threat assessment.’ It seeks to quantitatively answer one of the most difficult questions in biodefense: What's the worst that can happen?
“To truly answer that question, there is little choice, current and former NBACC officials say: Researchers have to make real biological weapons.
“‘De facto, we are going to make biowarfare pathogens at NBACC in order to study them,’ said Penrose ‘Parney’ Albright, former Homeland Security assistant secretary for science and technology.”
Various Congressional committees have conducted hearings about the massive proliferation of high-security bio-laboratories being built across the country. On October 4, 2007, Time Magazine reported: “Congress held the first of a series of planned hearings on the recent -- and some might say reckless -- proliferation of high-security bio-laboratories in the U.S.” During the first such hearings, Keith Rhodes, chief technologist of the GAO, testified: “High-risk labs have health risks for individual lab workers as well as the surrounding community . . . [E]ven labs within sophisticated biological research programs, including those most extensively regulated, have had and will continue to have safety failures."
In answer to the question, “has the research they've conducted made us any safer today than we were six years ago, just after 9/11,” Rhodes testified: “[Given] that there is so much that is unknown at the moment, I would have to say we are at greater risk, because as the number [of bio-labs in this country] increases, the risk increases.” This describes classic American national security policy. At huge expense, we are creating defenses that themselves pose more risk than the threat they supposedly address. Elsewhere, the GAO has reported that the threat of bioterror has yet to be properly assessed, and that there is very little evidence that has been collected pertaining to the nature and magnitude of said threat.
Only massive delusion can explain how in all of the hearings and conferences pertaining to the proliferation of high-security bio-labs, no one except the GAO appears to be seriously questioning the need for, the rationale behind this proliferation. The multitude of government-sponsored advisory panels practically all appear to begin with the assumption that this proliferation is essential to national security.
Only massive delusion can explain how we could accept that the necessary response to the anthrax attacks of 2001, the only bioattack in our history, is to recklessly expand the program that itself generated that attack.