Since Aug 25, 2008

view home page, enter name:

In this country we prosecute people, not beakers




text >

Bruce Edwards Ivins (April 22, 1946 – July 29, 2008),[1] was a United States government microbiologist and vaccinologist[1] and senior biodefense researcher at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) in Fort Detrick, Maryland.[2]

He committed suicide prior to formal charges being filed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for an alleged connection to the 2001 anthrax attacks,[3] which killed five people and made 17 others ill.[4]

At a news conference at the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) on August 6, 2008, FBI and DOJ officials formally announced that the Government had concluded that Ivins was likely to have been solely responsible for "the deaths of five persons, and the injury of dozens of others, resulting from the mailings of several anonymous letters to members of Congress and members of the media in September and October, 2001, which letters contained Bacillus anthracis, commonly referred to as anthrax."[5][6]

Biography Early and family life Bruce Ivins was born in Lebanon, Ohio to Thomas Randall Ivins and Mary Johnson Knight, as the youngest of three sons.[1] His father, a pharmacist, owned a drugstore and was active in the local Rotary Club and Chamber of Commerce, while his mother stayed at home and participated in the Parent-Teacher Association. The family went regularly to Lebanon Presbyterian Church.[7]

Avidly interested in science, Ivins was an active participant in extracurricular activities in high school, including National Honor Society, science fairs, the current events club, and the scholarship team all four years. He ran on the track and cross-country teams, worked on the yearbook and school newspaper, and was in the school choir and junior and senior class plays.[7]

He was married to Diane Ivins for 33 years and they adopted two children.[1][7][8] Diane Ivins was a stay-at-home mom who ran a daycare center out of the family's home.[9]

Education and career Ivins graduated with honors from the University of Cincinnati with a B.S. degree in 1968, an M.S. degree in 1971, and a Ph.D. degree in 1976, all in microbiology.[2] Ivins conducted his Ph.D. research under the supervision of Dr. P. F. Bonventre. His dissertation focused on different aspects of toxicity in disease-causing bacteria.[7]

Ivins was a scientist for 36 years[1] and senior biodefense researcher at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) in Fort Detrick, Maryland for 18 years.[2] After conducting research on Legionella and cholera, in 1979, Ivins turned his attention to anthrax after the anthrax outbreak in the Soviet city of Sverdlovsk (also known as Yekaterinburg), which killed at least 64 after an accidental release at a military facility.[8]

Ivins had published at least 44 scientific papers dating back to May 18, 1969.[10][11]

His earliest known published work pertained to the response of peritoneal macrophages, a type of white blood cell, to infection by Chlamydia psittaci an infectious bacterium that can be transmitted from animals to humans.[12][13]

He was the co-author of numerous anthrax studies, including one on a treatment for inhalational anthrax published in the July 7, 2008 issue of the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.[4]

He often cited the 2001 Anthrax attacks in his papers to bolster the significance of his research in years subsequent to the attacks.[14]

In a 2006 paper published in the prestigious journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, he wrote with his co-authors “ Shortening the duration of antibiotic postexposure prophylaxis in a bioterrorism event involving B. anthracis by adding postexposure vaccination could greatly alleviate problems of noncompliance and side effects associated with prolonged antibiotic therapy. The value of adding vaccination to postexposure antibiotic prophylaxis should be considered in planning the public health response to bioterrorism events involving inhalational anthrax.[15]

” Ivins was a coinventor on two US patents for anthrax vaccine technology, U.S. Patent 6,316,006 and U.S. Patent 6,387,665 . Both of these patents are owned by his employer at the time, the US Army. Personal interests and beliefs Ivins was a Roman Catholic. The Frederick News-Post has made public several letters to the editor written by Ivins[16]

in which he displays a conservative Catholic political philosophy. These were cited in the Department of Justice summary of the case against Ivins as suggesting that he may have harbored a grudge against pro-choice Catholic senators Daschle and Leahy, recipients of anthrax mailings.[17]

In a letter expressing his belief that Jews were God's chosen people, Ivins stated, "By blood and faith, Jews are God's chosen, and have no need for 'dialogue' with any gentile."[18]

Ivins praised a rabbi for refusing to dialogue with a Muslim cleric.[18] His pastimes included playing keyboard at his local church, Saint John the Evangelist;[1] he was a member of the American Red Cross;[1] he was an avid juggler and founder of the Frederick Jugglers.[7]

He played keyboards in a Celtic band and would often compose and play songs for coworkers who were moving to new jobs.[7][8]

Alleged involvement in 2001 anthrax attacks and investigations The 2001 anthrax attacks involved the mailing of several letters proclaiming "Death to America... Death to Israel... Allah is Great",[19] and contaminated with anthrax, to the offices of U.S. Senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy, as well as to the offices of ABC News, CBS News, NBC News, the New York Post, and the National Enquirer. [20][21]

Initial investigative role Ivins became involved in the investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks because he was regarded as a skilled microbiologist.[2] Ivins also helped the FBI analyze the powdery material recovered from one of the anthrax-tainted envelopes sent to a U.S. senator's office in Washington.[2]

Results of the investigation were initially distributed to the public via ABC News claiming "four well placed sources" attesting to the fact that "trace amounts of the chemical additives bentonite" were found in the anthrax samples, and that this was the chemical signatures of Iraqi-made anthrax.[19]

It has been confirmed that bentonite was never actually found in the anthrax samples.[19]

While it is presumed that Ivins was one of ABC News' four sources, ABC News has refused to reveal their identities, which has contributed to the mystery of Ivins' role in the initial investigation and its widely reported findings.[19] 2002 Fort Detrick anthrax containment breach In 2002, an investigation was carried out as a result of an incident at Fort Detrick where anthrax spores had escaped carefully guarded rooms into the building’s unprotected areas.[22]

The incident called into question the ability of USAMRIID to keep its deadly agents within laboratory walls seven months after the anthrax mailings. A coworker told Ivins that she was concerned she was exposed to anthrax spores when handling an anthrax-contaminated letter. Ivins tested the technician’s desk area that December and found growth that had the earmarks of anthrax. He decontaminated her desk, computer, keypad and monitor, but did not notify his superiors.[22] 2003 Department of Defense commendation On March 14, 2003, Ivins and two of his colleagues at USAMRIID at Fort Detrick received the Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service—the highest award given to Defense Department civilian employees - for helping solve technical problems in the manufacture of anthrax vaccine.[23]

2008 investigation For some time, the FBI focused its investigation on Steven Hatfill, considering him to be the chief suspect in the attacks. In March 2008, however, authorities exonerated Hatfill and settled the lawsuit he initiated for $5.8 million.[24] According to ABC News, some in the FBI considered Ivins a suspect as early as 2002.[25] FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III changed leadership of the investigation in late 2006, and at that time Ivins became the main focus of the investigation.[2] The FBI thought Ivins, who had complained about the limits of testing anthrax drugs on animals, might have sent the anthrax letters in order to test a vaccine he had been developing.[26][27] After Hatfill was no longer considered a suspect, Ivins began "showing signs of serious strain".

[28] As a result of his changed behavior, he lost access to sensitive areas at his job. He began being treated for depression and expressed some suicidal thoughts.[2]

On March 19 2008 police summoned to Ivins' home in Frederick, MD, found him unconscious and sent him to the hospital.[7]

Late in July 2008, investigators informed Ivins of his impending prosecution for his alleged involvement in the 2001 anthrax attacks that Ivins himself had previously assisted authorities in investigating. It has been reported that the death penalty would have been sought in the case.[29]

Ivins maintained his security clearance until July 10; he had been publicly critical of the lab's security procedures for several years.[30]

Dr. W. Russell Byrne, a colleague who worked in the bacteriology division of the Fort Detrick research facility, said FBI agents "hounded" Ivins by twice raiding his home and that Ivins had been hospitalized for depression earlier in the month. [31] According to Byrne and local police, Ivins had been removed from his workplace out of fears that he might harm himself or others. "I think he was just psychologically exhausted by the whole process", Byrne said. [32] "There are people who you just know are ticking bombs", Byrne said. "He was not one of them." [33]

However, Tom Ivins, who last spoke to his brother in 1985, said, "It makes sense ... he considered himself like a god".[34] The Los Angeles Times reported that Ivins stood to gain financially from the attacks because he was a co-inventor on two patents for a genetically-engineered anthrax vaccine. The San Francisco-area biotechnology company, VaxGen, licensed the vaccine and won a federal contract valued at $877.5 million to provide the vaccine under the Project Bioshield Act.[35]

However, biological warfare and anthrax vaccine expert Dr. Meryl Nass has expressed skepticism of this purported motive, pointing out that "Historically, government employees do not receive these royalties: the government does".[36]

On August 6, 2008, a federal prosecutor, U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Taylor, officially made a statement that Ivins was the "sole culprit" in the 2001 anthrax attacks. [37]

Taylor stated that Ivins had submitted false anthrax evidence to throw investigators off of his trail, was unable to adequately explain his late laboratory working hours around the time of the attacks, tried to frame his co-workers, had immunized himself against anthrax in early September 2001, was one of more than 100 people with access to the same strain of anthrax used in the killings, and had used similar language in an email to that in one of the anthrax mailings.[38] Ivins was also reportedly upset that the anthrax vaccine, that he had spent years helping develop, was being pulled from the market.[39]

Paul Kemp, Ivins' attorney, stated that the US government's case against his client is not convincing. US Department of Justice official Dean Boyd stated that Ivins mailed anthrax to NBC in retaliation for an investigation of Ivins' lab's work on anthrax conducted by Gary Matsumoto, a former NBC news journalist. At the time, however, Matsumoto was working for ABC, not NBC. Also, Ivins passed a polygraph-assisted interrogation (also known as a "lie detector test") in which he was questioned about his possible participation in the anthrax attacks. Boyd responded by saying that the FBI now believes that Ivins used countermeasures to deceive the polygraph examiners. "There are clearly a lot of unanswered questions," said Iowa Senator Charles Grassley, who is calling for a congressional investigation into the allegations that Ivins was the anthrax killer.[40]

Death Ivins was found unconscious at home in the early morning of July 27 and died at Frederick Memorial Hospital on July 29, 2008 from an overdose of acetominophen with codeine,[49][4] an apparent suicide. No autopsy was ordered following his death.[50] Immediately after news of his death, the FBI refused to comment on the situation.[4] Ivins' attorney released a statement asserting that Ivins had cooperated with the six-year investigation by the FBI and also asserting that Ivins was innocent in the deaths.[51]


"The True Story Is Emerging

Valuable light was shed on the case recently by the admission of acclaimed scientist Peter Jahrling that he had made an "honest mistake" when he told the White House on October 24, 2001, that he saw signs that silica had been added to the anthrax that had arrived at Senator Daschle's office the previous week. If silica or another anti-clumping substance had been artificially added or coated onto this anthrax, it would have made it more buoyant and easier to penetrate the lungs. Jahrling, a virologist, said that he had been "overly impressed" by what he thought he had seen, and added that "I should never have ventured into this area."

Jahrling's error was seized upon just two days later on October 26, 2001, when Gary Matsumoto, Brian Ross, and other members of ABC News issued a national story asserting that Iraqi-made bentonite was coating the anthrax. It took until the 29th for the head of Fort Detrick to state authoritatively that Matsumoto and ABC had gotten it wrong. Even then, Matsumoto continued to argue that either Fort Detrick was wrong about the bentonite or the story about the presence of silica provided an alternative theory for "state-sponsored terrorism."

During this same time period, Matsumoto was in the midst of conducting FOIA requests for the anthrax records maintained by Bruce Ivins. Matsumoto had been researching Ivins for some time, as he believed that Ivins' experimental anthrax vaccine was the cause of many injuries among veterans during and after the 1991 Gulf War. Years later, Matsumoto wound up writing a book on the subject, Vaccine A, accusing Ivins and his fellow inventors of being responsible for Gulf War Syndrome. This controversy caused the FDA to suspend further production of the anthrax vaccines for the market.

Matsumoto's theory that the attack anthrax contained "additives and coatings" was thoroughly rebutted in a Scientific American article printed last Friday, which detailed Sandia National Labs' investigation in early 2002. The Department of Justice had asked Sandia to see if Matsumoto and Jahrling's claims of an anti-clumping additive coating the anthrax were correct. It was already undisputed that this anthrax was ultra-pure, and the finding that they contained a trillion spores per gram was a sign that it was of US origin."


“Tell Matsumoto to kiss my ass. We’ve got better things to do than shine his shoes and pee on command. He’s gotten everything from me he will get.”

- Bruce Ivins

***website design web guide.