Skip to comments.Five Years Later, Anthrax Questions Swirl Anew at FBI
Posted on 10/13/2006 3:46:10 PM PDT by Shermy
Nobody has been arrested for the anthrax mailings of 2001, but many people have paid for the crime.
Five died and at least 17 others got sick.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been frustrated. Careers have crumbled. Taxpayers have gotten socked for billions of dollars to shore up bioterror defenses that some experts say still fall short.
Now, an analysis from the FBI itself, buried in a microbiology journal, is raising more questions about the investigation.
In the August issue of Applied and Environmental Microbiology, FBI scientist Douglas Beecher sought to set the record straight. Anthrax spores mailed to politicians and journalists in September and October 2001, Beecher wrote, were not prepared using advanced techniques and additives to make them more lethal, contrary to "a widely circulated misconception."
The notion the anthrax spores were "weaponized" had fueled conjecture that only a government insider could have carried out the operation.
Beecher's article suggested a much wider universe of potential suspects -- who showed they could kill without highly refined spores.
"A clever high school student" could make such a preparation, according to Ronald Atlas, former president of the American Society for Microbiology and co-director of the Center for Health Hazards Preparedness at the University of Louisville.
The Beecher paper has left Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., wondering if the killings, which further shook a nation already reeling from the Sept. 11 terror attacks, will ever be solved. He blames the FBI for "botching" the case.
Agents spun their wheels chasing a small circle of weapons experts, Holt said.
In the anthrax attacks, Steven Hatfill, a virologist who had worked for the government, landed in the cross-hairs. Labeled a "person of interest" by officials but never charged, the scientist claims the public probe has made him unemployable. He is suing the government and media outlets.
Kenneth Berry's career also unraveled after the FBI searched a Dover Township, N.J., summer home he was visiting in 2004. Berry was a doctor from upstate New York who started an organization for training emergency workers to deal with biochemical attacks. He never was charged, either.
Holt also chides authorities for taking nearly a year to discover anthrax traces in a mailbox near Princeton University. That mailbox, where letters laced with anthrax bacteria may have begun their journey in 2001, is on a route that feeds the Hamilton Township postal center where anthrax letters were processed.
In a letter to Holt, FBI Assistant Director Eleni Kalisch declined to give a closed-door briefing to the House Intelligence Committee. Kalisch claimed sensitive information was leaked from classified briefings more than three years ago, and described the anthrax case as a criminal matter not subject to the committee's oversight.
Some cases take time to crack, Kalisch wrote. Seventeen FBI agents and 10 postal inspectors remain on the "Amerithrax" beat. The FBI said the anthrax investigation has spanned six continents and generated more than 9,100 interviews, 67 searches and 6,000 subpoenas.
Early on, the FBI hoped that analysis of the spores would point to the lab that prepared them. But Beecher's article underscores difficulties of such microscopic sleuthing. Particle sizes, for instance, may not yield as many clues as some expected.
Over time, after being handled and exposed to different conditions, particles "may not resemble the initial product," Beecher wrote.
Yet the FBI is confident, and has forged scientific ties and advances to help prevent future biological attacks, said Joseph Persichini Jr., acting assistant director in charge of the Washington field office, on the FBI's Web site.
Richard Ebright, a Rutgers University microbiologist, still thinks the anthrax attacks were an inside job because they used a virulent form of the Ames strain of Bacillus anthracis, which only a few biodefense- or intelligence-related labs were thought to possess.
"Whoever did it is an insider," said Ayaad Assaad, a toxicologist with the Environmental Protection Agency, who formerly worked at an Army biodefense center at Fort Detrick, Md. "It started with anthrax. Now it's ricin, and God knows what's coming."
Ed Lake has tracked the case closely, self-publishing a book, "Analyzing the Anthrax Attacks, The First Three Years" and moderating a Web site. Lake is convinced the FBI knows the perpetrator but lacks evidence to prosecute. He believes the killer is a scientist from central New Jersey who wanted America to gird for an al-Qaida bioterror attack in the wake of Sept. 11.
"So he sent a warning to the media, saying this is next, there's a biological attack coming next, and be prepared: Take penicillin," said Lake, referring to hand-printed letters, bearing New Jersey postmarks, sent to NBC and the New York Post.
Leon Harris retired last year from the Hamilton Township postal center. He too suspects the bad guys are home-grown and will be caught.
"I don't care if it takes 10 years," the Air Force veteran said. "They're going to find them."
Ernesto Blanco agreed. He survived inhalational anthrax that killed his friend Bob Stevens, a colleague at a tabloid in Florida, five years ago this month. Blanco, now 79, returned to his mailroom job at American Media Inc. in 2002.
"I am positive they will catch them," Blanco said. "I have faith in what they are doing."
Key dates in the 5-year-old investigation of the anthrax attacks:
Sept. 18: Postal facility in Hamilton Township, N.J., processes anthrax-laced letters to NBC News in New York and the New York Post.
Oct. 5: Bob Stevens, photo editor at Florida tabloid the Sun dies from inhalational anthrax.
Oct. 9: Hamilton Township facility processes anthrax letters to then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and Sen. Patrick Leahy. Both letters have return address of fictitious "Greendale School" in Franklin Park, N.J.
Oct. 16: U.S. Senate closes; employees are tested for exposure to anthrax microbes.
Oct. 17: The House shuts down.
Oct. 18: Hamilton Township facility is closed.
Oct. 21: Washington postal worker Thomas Morris Jr. dies from anthrax.
Oct. 22: Washington postal worker Joseph Curseen dies from anthrax.
Oct. 31: Kathy Nguyen, who worked in a New York City hospital supply room, dies from anthrax.
Nov. 21: Ottilie Lundgren, 94, of Oxford, Conn., dies from anthrax. Authorities suspect her mail was contaminated by other mail.
[snip - more at link]
I would argue the other way around. You don't get weaponized aerosolization via mere happenstance.
Whatever "weaponized" really means ~
It all points back to the terrorist crowd in Boca Raton.
They had a direct connection to the AMI building (the landlord who leased them their apartment). The Boca Raton postal facility was contaminated. They were seen by a doctor and treated for anthrax symptoms. The letters that were recovered were written in a style compatible with English as a 2nd language.
...And Bob Stevens October 5th death points to an attack originating prior to 9/11/2001.
Moreover, the anthrax from the recovered letters was weaponized and had only a single non-anthrax component: silica...whichs points to a professional clean-room lab operation.
So timing, motive, the weapon itself, personal connections, handwriting evidence, geography, processes involved...it all points to the 9/11 attackers as being behind the anthrax attacks.
Remember, it wasn't a uniform mixture ~ different samples had different silica content.
Simply cleaning the bacterial mat of debris and producing spores "weaponizes" anthrax quite nicely.
I don't think sugar sand is entirely composed of silica... most of it is ground up calcium since it's made of coral, not minerals from the mountains like say, the sand in Virginia. You'd need to dissolve it in some acid to remove the calcium and that may still leave other minerals.
If it were just blowing around on a beach there would be pollen too.
Do you recall the Egyptian that died on the cargo ship off the Canadian coast, presumably from a briefcase full of anthrax? It wasn't too long after the anthrax attacks.
I was just wondering if you have a particular NJ scientist in mind....or just speculating in general about that part?
thanks in advance
DECEMBER 9, 2001 : (NEWSWEEK REPORTS THAT RENEGADE RUSSIAN SCIENTISTS HAD BEEN ASSISTING AL QAEDA IN DEVELOPING ANTHRAX AND A SUPPLY OF THE STUFF MAY HAVE BEEN STOCKPILED) The war in Afghanistan has produced a hodgepodge of disturbing intelligence that investigators are still trying to sift and analyze. Perhaps the most alarming evidence gathered so far concerns Al Qaeda efforts to develop biological weapons. According to intelligence sources, U.S. operatives in Afghanistan have collected information that one or more Russian scientists were working inside Afghanistan with Al Qaeda operatives. One well-placed source tells Newsweek that evidence from the scene indicates that the renegade Russians were helping Al Qaeda to develop anthrax, and that spores of the deadly disease may actually have been stockpiled by the terrorist group. While intelligence sources say they believe any such stockpiles were destroyed in U.S. bombing raids, it is not known how much, if any, of the anthrax ever made it out of Afghanistan. And the infamous Dr. Ayman Al-Zawahiri, bin Laden's closest lieutenant and considered the brains behind Al Qaeda, may have been directly involved in the biological program. Al-Zawahiri, may have been hit by U.S. bombs last week, according to unconfirmed British intelligence reports. ------- "A U.S.-Based Al Qaeda 'Sleeper Cell' Was Poised to Launch a Post-Sept. 11 Attack on a Major Washington Target; Would-Be Terrorists Went Underground or Fled U.S. ," Newsweek, December 9, 2001
I can rememer that - I'll see if I can find it
OCTOBER 26, 2001 : (PAKISTANI JOURNALIST CLAIMS THAT PAKISTANI AUTHORITIES HANDED YEMENI MICROBIOLOGIST JAMIL QASIM SAEED MOHAMMED OVER TO THE US- CIA PLANE ALLEGEDLY USED TO TAKE HIM AWAY) The CIA's plane secret began to unravel less than six weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
On Oct. 26, 2001, Masood Anwar, a Pakistani journalist with the News in Islamabad, broke a story asserting that Pakistani intelligence officers had handed over to U.S. authorities a Yemeni microbiologist, Jamil Qasim Saeed Mohammed, who was wanted in connection with the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole.
The report noted that an aircraft bearing tail number N379P, and parked in a remote area of a little-used terminal at the Karachi airport, had whisked Mohammed away about 2:40 a.m. Oct. 23. The tail number was also obtained by The Post's correspondent in Pakistan but not published.---- "CIA's private jet an open secret in terror war Amateur spyhunters zero in on agency's secret airline," By Dana Priest Updated: 1:43 a.m. ET Dec. 27, 2004 , msnbc/washpo
OCTOBER 25, 2001 : (COLUMBIA : IRA TERRORISTS REPORTEDLY TRIED TO BUY COCAINE; PLANNED TO MIX ANTHRAX WITH COCAINE) On October 25,2001, Univisions Spanish T.V., "Primer Impacto' and in the late nightly international news, it was reported from Colombia that the IRA terrorists arrested this month in Colombia had their headquarters in Cuba and tried to buy 1,500 kilograms of cocaine in order to be mixed with anthrax for further distribution in the U.S. Although the Spanish TV channel interviewed the DEA agent who exposed the operation, the American media censored this important news that brings forward Castros involvement in bio-terrorism. - "CASTRO AND THE INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM, A CHRONOLOGY," by Eugene Pons with a foreword by Jaime Suchlicki , Institute for Cuban &Cuban-American Studies, Occasional Paper Series, September 2001
9/11 Hijacker sought treatment for red hands (anthrax).
October 11, 2001. Palm Beach Post.
Tabloid Editor rented apartment to two 9/11 hijackers. The tabloid lost a worker to anthrax.
October 15, 2001. Miami Herald.
Hijackers linked to anthrax.
October 15, 2001. St. Petersburg Times.
9/11 Hijackers treated for anthrax.
March 23, 2002. The New York Times.
April 20, 2002. The Weekly Standard.
Hijacker treated for anthrax.
May 9, 2002. The Wall Street Journal.
Atta tried to buy a cropduster.
June 6, 2002. ABC.
Analysis of anthrax letters.
June 19, 2002. Instapundit.
Freeper My Identity research on anthrax letters. Post #44.
The silica used in the anthrax attacks traced to Iraq.
October 28, 2002. The Washington Post.
Freeper polemikos list of links to investigations regarding anthrax.
December 26, 2003.
Evidence Iraq behind anthrax attacks.
January 1, 2004. Accuracy in Media
Saddam behind anthrax attacks and 9/11 attacks.
And as we know, she is associated with this guy:
SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 or later : (SATTAR IS TRANSFERRED FROM A JOB THAT INCLUDED PICKING UP MAIL FROM JFK AIRPORT TO A DESK JOB AT A REMOTE BRANCH OFFICE ON STATEN ISLAND) Until 1997, Sattar had government clearance as a paralegal to visit Abdel-Rahman in federal prisons. Even as the government was tapping his phone, Sattar, a 13-year veteran of the U.S. Postal Service, was drawing a $40,000 salary for a job with the main post office on Staten Island that included picking up priority mail from secure areas of John F. Kennedy International Airport. That job ended when he was abruptly transferred to a desk job at a remote branch on Staten Island after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Sattar had the same job at the Staten Island post office that the first postal worker to come down with anthrax had at the Brentwood postal facility in D.C. The D.C. guy transferred mail between Baltimore-Washington International Airport and the Brentwood facility. 9 posted on 05/13/2002 7:37:47 AM PDT by aristeides
I didn't know that about Lynne Stewart.
BTW, congratulations regarding your mention in David Horowitz's book The Shadow Party. You're one of the best researchers on the web and Free Republic.
Post # 216 very important.
really? something else you made up? Your opinion presented as fact?
You know as well as I that the media has been looking for some explanation why AFIP said what they did when Dr. Beecher AND THE FACTS say just the opposite. That's a question that demands an answer. But AFIP isn't talking to the media -- at the moment.
You also know from our off-forum discussions that a representative of AFIP has made some unofficial comments about Beecher's report which do not disagree with Beecher's report.
Dr. Beecher's report indicates that the FBI is looking to clear up public misconceptions about the attack anthrax. Whatever information they release about the anthrax powder will dispute what AFIP said, so eventually AFIP will have to explain their newsletter, and General Parker and others who initially believed the detection of silicon and oxygen indicated that there was silica in the anthrax will have to acknowledge that they were just making assumptions.