On January 4, 2009, the New York Times, our “newspaper of record,” published a front page article by Scott Shane about the DOJ-FBI’s case against Bruce Ivins akin to the series of articles by Judith Miller in 2001-2003 that made the case for invading Iraq. In both cases, the Times plays a pivotal role in perpetrating tragic propaganda.
Shane refers to his piece as the product of “the deepest look so far at the [Amerithrax] investigation.” Many of the 5,215 words of this article are devoted to a rehashing of various opinions about Bruce Ivins’ character. There is also the precious first look at the “police reports on his suicide,” which reports add nothing to our understanding of the anthrax attacks.
But there is one thing new in this article that does reflect upon the heart of the matter. In the thirteenth paragraph, Shane slips in: “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.”(Emphasis added). The only other words Shane devotes to this absolutely key assertion are slipped in at the sixty-fifth paragraph: “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.” (Emphasis added.)
One thing that stands out about this revelation said to have been discovered in early 2004 is that now is the first time it has ever been spoken of.
At the only Amerithrax Investigation Press Conference – it took place on August 6, 2008 – U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Taylor was asked about how the DOJ-FBI ruled out other possible sources of the anthrax letters. His answer was: “I’m not going to get into the details of other investigative techniques that were handled (sic) ... that we used in this case for the other individuals.” Taylor did offer: “And only through taking extensive, time-consuming steps, involving a lot of agents, were [we] able to exclude individuals and include others; in particular, Dr. Ivins.” If the DOJ-FBI had actually obtained “scientific testing” of water that established that the “mailed anthrax had been grown” in Frederick, Md. (home of Fort Detrick), one would expect to have heard about it at this Amerithrax Investigation Press Conference. There is nary a word about it.
During the House Judiciary Committee “Amerithrax oversight” hearing on September 16, 2008, FBI Director Robert Mueller was specifically asked by Congressman Gerald Nadler as to how the FBI was able to rule out the military and intelligence research programs in Utah and Ohio as the source of the anthrax letters. Mr. Mueller’s answer was that he did not know, and would have to get back to the Congressman on that, and promised to do so promptly. There have been no reports of any answer ever being provided.
If the DOJ-FBI had actually obtained “scientific testing” of water that established that the “mailed anthrax had been grown” in Frederick, Md., one would expect to have heard something about it during the House Judiciary Committee “Amerithrax oversight” hearing, and/or during the Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing that occurred the next day. Not one word during either proceeding.
But it is the record of the FBI’s Science Briefing of August 18, 2008 that most clearly establishes the hoax.
Dr. Vahid Majidi, Assistant Director of the FBI Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate, who hosted this briefing for, as he put it, reporters from the “well-known, well-respected scientific journals,” was asked the following question: “Were you able to tell something about the water that was used to develop the growth media? Did it come through into the spores?” In his rambling response, Dr. Majidi refers only to “Scanning Electron Microscopy” (SEM) analysis that he says enabled the FBI to determine that “in the letter materials, the silicon and oxygen were co-located on the spore coat, within the spore.” A follow-up question was: “Did you develop any theories on where the silicon and oxygen came from,” to which Dr. Majidi replies: “It could have been within the growth media.” Later, Dr. Majidi is asked: “In your looking at the elemental and chemical properties, could you tell anything about the water that was used to filter this anthrax, and did that do you any good?” Dr. Majidi’s answer: “No. No.”
Later during the Science briefing, Dr. Majidi was specifically asked about how other possible sources of the anthrax letters were ruled out. His answer: “So a hundred people are within the universe of [possible suspects], and everyone was investigated. We looked at a number of different factors that go into the investigation, and we were able to include and exclude specific individuals in that list. ... As we investigated every individual, we narrowed down our focus.” Needless to say, there is not a word during the entire Science Briefing about any scientific testing of water.
At www.usdoj.gov/amerithrax/ on the Department of Justice (DOJ) website are the Court documents pertaining to the investigation of Bruce Ivins, essentially consisting of twenty-eight (28) Applications for Search Warrant. In said Applications, all of which were granted by the Court, the DOJ sets forth the “probable cause” that serves as the basis for the issuance of search warrants with respect to Bruce Ivins’ residence, automobiles, office, laboratory, wall lockers at USAMRIID, safe deposit box, e-mail accounts, etc. Said “probable cause” of course includes the genetic analysis of the mailed anthrax spores (which is summarized in Part IV below). The probable cause also includes, for example, an analysis of four envelopes used in the mailings, which analysis is claimed to indicate that the “envelopes utilized in the attacks were purchased from a post office in Maryland or Virginia.” How geographically revealing that is.
Certainly, if the DOJ-FBI had actually obtained “scientific testing” of water that established that the “mailed anthrax had been grown” in Frederick, Md., one would expect to find something about this analysis somewhere in the above-described Court documents. But there is nothing about this in any of the Applications for Search Warrant – not a word.
As cited in Part I, the New York Times account of the FBI’s supposed proof of where the anthrax had been grown depends upon an analysis of the “chemical signature” of the water in Frederick, Maryland, which is said to match that of the water used to grow the mailed anthrax. It should come as no surprise that, from a scientific point of view, this is simply absurd.
One need not be an expert to understand that all laboratories involved in the (controlled) growth of any kind of biological product use distilled water and certainly not the local tap water. (USAMRIID’s laboratories are no exception.) The obvious purpose of distilling/purifying the water is to remove all of the chemicals and minerals in the tap water, many of which would unpredictably affect the growth of the desired biological product. Bottom line: There would be no chemical signature at all in the water used to grow the mailed anthrax, regardless of where it was grown.
The DOJ-FBI must recognize the risk posed by exposure of this hoax. What compels the DOJ-FBI to resort to this hoax? The answer is clear. The DOJ-FBI is, at this point, desperate to dispel what the New York Times article itself refers to as the “widespread” belief that “the anthrax might have come from military and intelligence research programs in Utah or Ohio.”
What underlies this widespread belief? There is a massive amount of evidence (which now includes the Frederick water hoax). Some of the evidence is as follows:
At the Amerithrax Investigation Press Conference on August 6, 2008, U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Taylor summarized the chief piece of evidence against Bruce Ivins as follows: “First, we were able to identify in early 2005 the genetically-unique parent material of the anthrax spores used in the mailings. As the court documents allege, the parent material of the anthrax spores used in the attacks was a single flask of spores, known as ‘RMR-1029,’ that was created and solely maintained by Dr. Ivins at USAMRIID. This means that the spores used in the attacks were taken from that specific flask, regrown, purified, dried and loaded into the letters. No one received material from that flask without going through Dr. Ivins. We thoroughly investigated every other person who could have had access to the flask and we were able to rule out all but Dr. Ivins.”
The DOJ and the FBI, with cooperation from our media “of record,” have done their best to obscure the glaring problem with this chief piece of evidence: According to the logs dutifully maintained by Dr. Ivins, which are now in the custody of the DOJ-FBI, RMR-1029 spores were repeatedly sent before the mailing of the anthrax letters to the military and intelligence research programs in Utah and Ohio. And it has been established, ironically enough, first in a lengthy Sept. 4, 2001 article in the New York Times, that these military and intelligence programs were engaged in the up-until-then secret weaponization of anthrax. (Senator Patrick Leahy, himself the target of an anthrax letter, referred to this Sept. 4, 2001 article during the above-mentioned Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing.)
Practically all of the former and current scientists at USAMRIID who have expressed themselves on the subject are of the opinion that Ivins had neither the expertise nor the equipment to process anthrax spores in the way the anthrax sent to the Senators was processed. In contrast, no one doubts that the military and intelligence research programs in Utah and Ohio had and have both the expertise and equipment to accomplish such processing.
The truth is that the anthrax weaponization projects being conducted in Ohio and Utah are the only possible source of the anthrax letters, given both the genetic make-up of the mailed anthrax and the way that the mailed anthrax was processed into a weapon.
Actually, this truth was evident soon after the event of the anthrax letters. Scott Shane, himself, then with the Baltimore Sun, wrote a December 12, 2001 article subtitled “Bioterror: Organisms made at a military laboratory in Utah are genetically identical to those mailed to members of Congress,” which contained the following:
“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. ... [Emphasis added]
“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. ...”
Four days later, on December 16, 2001, the Washington Post published the following:
“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. ...
“Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, Ohio ... [is one of the] only other facilities [besides Dugway] known to have received samples from USAMRIID. ...
“The anthrax contained in the letters under investigation ‘absolutely did not’ come from CIA labs, the [CIA] 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.”
Five days later, on December 21, 2001, the Miami Herald published the following:
“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. ...”
The DOJ-FBI has never explained what became of this initial focus upon Dugway, the CIA and Battelle. And apart from its very recent attempt on the front page of the New York Times to fraudulently explain away Dugway, the CIA and Battelle, the DOJ-FBI has never explained how they were excluded.
Certainly not everyone involved in Amerithrax who work for the DOJ and the FBI understands all of this, but the ultimate decision-makers certainly do. These decision-makers turned Amerithrax into a deliberate cover-up of the evident source of the anthrax letters. The tragedy is the persecution to death of an innocent man named Bruce Ivins. The tragedy is also a society wherein ultimate decision-makers act on behalf of a “military-industrial-intelligence complex” whose power President Eisenhower warned Americans against in 1961 – a warning that we have yet to heed.