Friday, January 23, 2009

Army releases some e-mails from anthrax suspect/Frederick News-Post

Article by Justin Palk

The U.S. Army released 33 pages of Bruce Ivins' e-mails Thursday from his account at Fort Detrick.

The e-mails, obtained by The Frederick News-Post under the Federal Freedom of Information Act, span the period from September 1998 through January 2002.

The documents contain 16 threads of communication, some including multiple e-mails between Ivins and his correspondents.

The e-mails all address one of three issues: the work of Ivins and other individuals to plan an international meeting of anthrax researchers in Annapolis for the summer of 2001; discussions of lab research; and in two cases, copies of The New York Times articles about the investigation into the 2001 anthrax mailings that Ivins e-mailed to himself.

The news articles both concern the difficulty investigators had early on in tracking the history and origins of the Ames strain of anthrax used in the mailings.

The Army continues to review additional e-mail messages from Ivins.

In August, the Department of Justice announced it considered Ivins, a U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases microbiologist, its sole suspect in the 2001 anthrax mailings that killed five and hospitalized 17 others.

Ivins died on July 27 after intentionally overdosing on acetaminophen.

His attorney has maintained Ivins was innocent.

8 comments:

Ross Getman said...

The first of Dr. Ivins' emails dates back to September 1998, immediately after the first international conference. That conference was held in the UK. From that very first email, Ivins notes the security issues raised by such a conference.

In the emails continuing the planning of the 2001 conference planned for the US, he discusses the 1999 and 2000 conference in the UK. Porton Down scientists had organized those conferences and now responsibility was shifting to USAMRIID.

Ironically, Bruce took the lead in musing over biosecurity issues that had plagued planners of the UK conferences.

The September 1999 conference held in Plymouth was attended by a scientist sent by Ayman Zawahiri for the purpose of gaining a virulent strain and the know-how to weaponize anthrax. The scientist in the second letter to Zawahiri explains that his mission was a success. (In an earlier handwritten letter he said he was going to have to plan a visit to a second lab after the strains at a first lab were nonpathogenic.) The DIA provided the correspondence to me under FOIA. That correspondence and correspondence between Zawahiri and military commander Atef confirms their intent to use charities and universities as cover for weaponizing anthrax.

I SUCCESSFULLY ACHIEVED THE TARGETS DURING MY VISIT TO _____________.

THE CONFERENCE _______________ WAS FOUND TO BE HIGHLY BENEFICIAL FOR OUR FUTURE WORK ___________________________________________
SUCCESSED IN OBTAINING SOME OF THE IMPORTANT INTERNET CONNECTIONS
AND TRIED TO SOLVE TECHNICAL PROBLEMS OF OUR WORK DURING DISCUSSIONS
WITH _______________________________________________________________



THE COMPLETE UNIT OF FERMENTER ______________________ ALONG WITH
ACCESSORIES WAS IN ITS FINAL STAGES OF ITS COMPLETION. MOREOVER,
A CERTIFICATE TRAINING OF ALL THE RUNNING UNITS OF ___________________
BIOREACTOR WAS COMPLETED. I FINALIZED ALL THE ACCESSORIES REQUIRED FOR THE SMOOTH RUNNING OF OUR BIOREACTER [SIC]. I AM SENDING
YOU A FINA [SIC\ PRICE LIST OF ITEMS TO BE SHIPPED (EXCLUDING DUTY, CLEARANCE
AND AGENT CHARGES).

The scientist by the same name provided me his resume but then lost touch after he realized I had his letters to Zawahiri. His area was food production. I believe that a journalist making a respectful approach could get the scientist's input and point of view. Yazid Sufaat got the job at the director of the lab in Afghanistan instead of Rauf because Ayman Zawahiri perceived Rauf as motivated by money rather than religious devotion.

The ISI stopped cooperating with the CIA in early 2003. I had named him on my website in 2002 after I had seen him mentioned in a report of a raid of the Khawaja compound, which involved a family of MDs. I emailed Aafia's sister-in-law of the same last name to see if she is related but did not hear back. She was from Ann Arbor (up to the first half of 2001). She got her degree from Aga Khan in Karachi in 1993 or so and so I thought she might know the family of MDs by the same name.

By email, I asked the Ann Arbor lab tech (MM Hayes) who reported to the ASM's ICAAC in September 1998 about the success of the biocidal agent in killing the virulent strains of anthrax in the petri dish if he knew Aafia's sister-in-law. I have not heard back.

(These Ann Arbor researchers expressly thanked Bruce Ivins for supplying Ames in connection with the DARPA-funded work involving the intranasal vaccine and biocidal agent.) Their field of research involved nanoemulsions (another word for microencapsulation) including the use of oil-and-water emulsions (e.g., silicon oil).

I also have not heard back from the lead DARPA researcher who got his microbiology PhD from Cairo Medical in 1994 and had graduated from medical school there in December 1982. His wife had been on the dental faculty there for the intervening 10 years.

I had wanted to ask him if he knew any of the heads of Egyptian Islamic Jihad/ Vanguards of Conquest, all of whom were from Cairo Medical. The anthrax was mailed just as had been threatened upon the denial of the EIJ/VOC on October 5, 2001. See February 2001 PDB from the CIA to President Bush.

Zawahiri openly recruited at the school according to a former Egyptian Islamic Group member who consults with intelligence agencies. The fellow has known the DARPA researcher all his life, since he would visit from Khartoum where his mother was a professor in finance/accounting. Ayman Zawahiri came from a highly respected family of faculty members at the school, to include his sister and father who worked respectively in the area of antimicrobials and pharmaceuticals. The other side of Ayman family are highly respected religious and accomplished religious scholars.

Aafia's mom, a respected and politically connected religious scholar, would visit the US and stay with Aafia's brother and sister-in-law for long periods.
(Aafia would cook home-cooked meals in Boston for the son of the former Pakistan religious minister).

Aafia and her sister are also associated with the same Ann Arbor addresses.

Aafia and her sister were subject to the warrantless NSA wiretapping. An AUSA has said in open court that Aafia was willing to participate in an anthrax attack if asked. She claims to have been in secret ISI (CIA) custody for 5 years. Based on the account her uncle gave me of a visit to him in January 2008 that I've uploaded, she seems to have been acting under duress for the CIA/ISI in going to Afghanistan. Admittedly, the facts relating to Aafia are shrouded in mystery and confusion.

Information about the NSA wiretapping was suppressed even from the DOJ #2. It is hardly conducive to the administration of justice not to adhere to the rule of law and share such information. The claim that such suppression is in the name of national security rings hollow in light of how much we know of the former Administration's politicization of justice at the DOJ and White House.

I suspect that if Archibald Cox were making the decisions, Amerithrax would have long since been solved and successfully prosecuted.

Ross Getman said...

Note that the handwritten and typed letters from the scientist infiltrating in the UK date to 1999. The head of Society for Applied Microbiology, however, confirmed to me, after checking records, that Rauf attended the UK conferences in both 1999 AND 2000.

The 2000 conference is just a blank slate as to the connections he made or labs he visited.

A description of the presentations for the 2000 conference is here.
DANGEROUS PATHOGENS 2000, UNIVERSITY OF PLYMOUTH, 4–7th SEPTEMBER 2000
Authors: Baillie L.; Godfree A.
Source: Journal of Applied Microbiology, Volume 91, Number 4, October 2001 , pp. 571-571(1)

Here are presentations at the 2001 Annapolis conference that Dr. Ivins helped organize.

oai.dtic.mil/oai/oai?verb=getRecord&metadataPrefix=html&identifier= ADA394240

Ross Getman said...

errata -

"The anthrax was mailed just as had been threatened upon the denial of the EIJ/VOC on October 5, 2001. See February 2001 PDB from the CIA to President Bush."

should be

"The anthrax was mailed, just as had been threatened, upon the denial of the bail of EIJ/VOC #2 Mahmoud Mahjoub on October 5, 2001. See February 2001 PDB from the CIA to President Bush."

Old Atlantic Lighthouse said...

Ross Getman great work. A major reason for al Qaeda to have readied the anthrax attacks is that they couldn't know their main 9/11 plan would work so well. What if Atta had been stopped by the agent who thought he was a terrorist but didn't want to be racist?

The anthrax was a backup spectacular in case the main one didn't work. They may have had a lot more anthrax to send or plans to make more but chose to stop with what they did. If they had a 50 liter fermenter they could have done a lot such as shut down the US mail system for an extended period. They didn't want to depend completely that the security agent would think he was racist because he was wanted to stop Atta.

Anonymouse said...

Atlantic,

Respectfully, I disagree. There was no fatwa permitting use of anthrax against innocents. These folks are strictly by the book. Moreover, the Hadith expressly requires a warning. Besides any Salafist-Jihadist supporting Ayman living in the US for years is going to have family and friends here. He or she likely is not going to favor widespread aerosolized use.

Instead, the modus operandi followed exactly the lethal letters to newspapers in DC and NYC and people in symbolic positions relating to the detention of the blind sheik. There is still a $5 millon reward for the Al Hayat letters (and the same group is responsible).

As a practical matter, however, by December 14, 2001, the CIA and FBI were up the a** of the bad guys. They would not have had any opportunity to do a follow-up attack. It was by then that (after a CIA analyst found the correspondence between Rauf and Zawahiri) Cheney brought the FBI and CIA together and gave the marching orders. NYT journalist Phil Shenon made a call to the charity being raided and they started shredding documents. Patrick Fitzpatrick was very pissed.

Old Atlantic Lighthouse said...

Anonymous, good points. The letters did warn to take penicillin. Also there were other warning letters from Florida. The point on the Blind Sheikh I agree is important. The FBI has not paid as much attention to this issue as you as usual.

Let me point out Pakistan was under sanctions from its 1998 nuclear test. Its gross exports were less than its interest. So it needed sanctions lifted and money or it would have had to give up its nukes.

They needed a big hit in the US to get sanctions lifted. There was a big push by their friends before 9/11 to get sanctions lifted. There was also talk that India's sanctions would be lifted but not Pakistan's.

Search: Pakistan sanctions unjust.

I have a set of links and info on this at another blog post.

http://anthraxvaccine.blogspot.com/2008/12/confirmation-letter-spores-grown-in.html

The operation as a whole, all of 9/11, was intended to get sanctions lifted on Pakistan so it wouldn't have to give up its nuclear program is one hypothesis. Under that, a backup plan for anthrax makes sense. If Pakistan ISI was supporting the anthrax logistics its doubly so.

Anlonymous said...

Conspiracy theory can get too far fetched here. The anthrax attacks were too mild of an attack to make any significant impact to a terrorist. Think about it really, comparing the 911 attacks to the anthrax letter attacks, they are not anywhere near equal in strength. Remember 911 involved hits on many other cities as well, but fortunately the planes grounded and authorities moved in quickly. The magnitude of 911 cannot be compared so as to state the anthrax letters were a "substitute".

Bob In Pacifica said...

Sounds like a rabbithole.

We know about all that "bentonite" stuff being leaked to the press from multiple sources in Ft. Detrick (read: government spokespeople, not four independent loose cannons in the lab).

And is there any information at all that these people had the means to actually produce this stuff in the U.S. and any proof that any of these people put it in the mailbox in Princeton? Seems to me that after all is said and done Battelle and friends are still in the lead.