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: 1) the US Army’s Dugway Proving Ground and 2) 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 Bruce 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 US 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 US 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 the Ames strain. 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 article 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. 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 a cover-up in its Amerithrax investigation is readily apparent. This article 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 article.
BRIEF HISTORY RELEVANT TO THE ANTHRAX ATTACKS
At the Senate Judiciary Committee “Amerithrax oversight” hearing mentioned above, Chairman Patrick Leahy (himself a target of one of the anthrax letters) made specific reference to an article entitled “US 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 . . . “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 . . .
“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 . . .
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, US 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 US 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 . . .”
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 US 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.”
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 US 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 US 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 US military grade anthrax manufactured only at Dugway . . .”
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 summarize, 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.
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 bio-defense specialists working for the government and the military [was that] . . . the powder mailed to the Senate . . . was a diabolical advance in biological weapons technology . . .”
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 article, 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 an 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 binds 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.”
The New York Times has played a role in promoting the DOJ/FBI cover-up. For example, 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 FBI 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, FBI scientists had discovered that out of 60 domestic and foreign water samples, only water from Frederick, Maryland, 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 had to be retracted on the New York Times website as follows:
“Postscript: February 28, 2009 (by Scott Shane)
“A front-page article on January 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 FBI scientists had concluded in 2004 that out of 60 domestic and foreign water samples, only water from near Fort Detrick, Maryland, 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 FBI scientist, Jason D. Bannan, said the water research ultimately was inconclusive about where the anthrax was grown. An FBI spokeswoman, Ann Todd, said on Wednesday that the bureau ‘stands by the statements’ of Dr. Bannan.”
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 FBI 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 NY 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.
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 . . .”
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… 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 fi re 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 …
“October 18, 2001
. . . [During an Inter-agency 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.”
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 export more weapons by far 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 “bio-defense” 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 profit.
The decision in early 2001 to unilaterally reject inspections and verification as a part of international bio-weapons arms control (precisely to avoid inspections of our own secret weaponization projects) was the choice to pursue arms race over arms control. The anthrax letters that soon followed served and fulfilled two purposes. As a “false flag operation,” with language in the letters 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. As a stimulator of fear of bio-threat, the anthrax attacks served as the pretext for a massive expansion of our so-called bio defense program, with expenditures on this program quickly becoming twenty times what they were before the attacks.
I am a longtime resident of Frederick, Maryland, home of Fort Detrick. Fort Detrick has been headquarters for our bio-warfare/bio-defense programs ever since their inception in 1943. The plan is to make Detrick the site of a National Inter-agency Bio-defense 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 Bio-defense 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 Argo-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 article was written, 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 bio-attack in our history is to massively expand the program that itself generated that attack.
Author’s note: This article is an abridged version of a memorandum submitted on Oct. 2 to the office of Congressman Rush Holt, who has introduced the “Anthrax Investigation Act” that would establish a national commission to investigate the anthrax attacks. The entire memorandum can be accessed at the RCFP website at RockCreekFreePress.com
Barry Kissin is an attorney/peace activist based in Frederick, MD, home of Fort Detrick.
Defense contractor, Battelle, practices emergency biological response drill with firemen.
Battelle Memorial Laboratories, which manages the labs at Jefferson and Dugway, the only sites capable of making the weaponized anthrax used in the 2001 attacks, now has the $750 million contract to manage and operate the new National Bio-defense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (NBACC) bio-lab facilities at Ft. Detrick, with primary responsibility to analyze and respond to future bio-attacks.