hat tip: Truth Jihad
By Barry Kissin
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. INTRODUCTION – THE SMOKING GUN
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 widespread concern about the integrity of Amerithrax, the colloquy during these hearings was largely feeble. Congressman Nadler 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 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.” (Emphasis 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. Only a few months ago, Bruce Ivins’ “Reference Material Receipt Record” with respect to the anthrax designated RMR-1029 was posted on the internet, now accessible at http://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2009/07/25/usamriid-rmr-records-flask-1029/
The original copy of said record is in the custody of the FBI. Said record documents that during the summer of 2001, Bruce Ivins sent samples of RMR-1029 to both Battelle and Dugway. Practically all of the science underlying Amerithrax now being reviewed by the National Academy of Sciences 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.
That the FBI has engaged in cover-up in its Amerithrax investigation is readily apparent. This memorandum addresses the urgent 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 toxic agents by the CIA for 5 years after their destruction was ordered by President Nixon. These 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 (which has yet to be revisited by the Obama administration) 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/1873368.stm, both Patrick and the CIA denied the existence of this report.]
III. MAINSTREAM MEDIA REPORT THE TRUTH BEFORE
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. . . .”
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 its 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 technology involving polyglass made of tightly bound hydrophilic silica referred to by Richard Spertzel (see above) is located in the spore coat.]
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.]
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. They 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.
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, and that James Burans is a Battelle employee.
One last excerpt from this briefing:
DR. MAJIDI: Two institutions . . . that means USAMRIID and one other institution.
QUESTION: . . . you know, there are so many suspicions about the way [Amerithrax] has been handled.
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 memorandum had something to do with this retraction being made. I composed a detailed critique of the N.Y. Times article, and Dr. Meryl Nass decided to post it on her website. I also 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.” My critique is accessible at http://anthraxvaccine.blogspot.com/2009/01/critique-of-chemical-signature.html
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 recently released 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 scull 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.”
“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.”
In 1961, in his “Farewell Address,” President Eisenhower warned of the emerging power of the “military-industrial complex.” In the ensuing almost 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 750 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:
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. All indications are that DHS will be contracting with Battelle to manage and operate this facility as well.
Just the week before this memorandum is being submitted, there were three separate Congressional committees conducting hearings about the massive proliferation of high-security bio-laboratories being built across the country. In the first such hearings that took place back in October, 2007, Keith Rhodes 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.” Only massive delusion can explain how in all of these hearings, no one except the GAO is seriously questioning the need for, the rationale behind this proliferation. The multitude of government-sponsored advisory panels, like the National Research Council committee that just issued a 161-page report, practically all appear to begin with the assumption that this proliferation is essential to national security. Only massive delusion can explain how we could assume that the necessary response to the only bioattack in our history is to massively expand the program that itself generated that attack.
The operation of our military-industrial-intelligence complex is impervious to changes in Federal administration. 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 DHS’s Science and Technology division illustrates the nature of our system. 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 recently 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: “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.”