Monday, August 18, 2008

3 Months Before Anthrax Sent, Daschle Criticized Anthrax Vaccine

Speaking to motive for the Daschle and Leahy letters, there might be multiple motives.

The letters likely influenced their decisions on upcoming legislation like the Patriotic Act, and both had considerable power to promote or suppress legislation. The letters were likely intended to frighten all Congressional Members, whose office buildings were affected, and who, like the rest of us, didn't know what would come next.

Senate Majority Leader Daschle also may have been targeted because of his position regarding the Defense Department's mandatory anthrax vaccine program. In a letter he wrote to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld dated June 21, 2001, Daschle sought to weigh in on an ongoing DoD review of the vaccine program. He criticized the vaccine over its safety and efficacy, as well as persistent problems with its manufacture.

Did someone who read the letter, or was otherwise aware of Daschle's concern about the vaccine, decide that an anthrax letter might shift his thinking on the vaccine -- as well as the Patriot Act and other legislation?


Anonymous said...

Meryl, have you seen that over the weekend, the NYTs debunked the accusation that Bruce submitted the wrong strain to throw FBI off track And more importantly, that Jeff Taylor LIED in the briefing he hosted on television for "the public interest" when he still made that claim?

They have no case. Worse than that, the FBI has lied repeated to the American public.

Anonymous said...

I put this up today:

Ellen Byrne said...

The Latest from the FBI - released after 5pm eastern standard time:

FBI had, then tossed anthrax type used in attacks

Washingtons Blog said...

Here's my take on the story that the FBI had then tossed the anthrax

Ennealogic said...

Dr. Nass, what do you make of the information being reported today by NPR -- Scott Simon speaks with David Kestenbaum, who repeats what he heard at a briefing given by the FBI:

to wit, the anthrax in the letters was so simple to make that the FBI was able to duplicate it, and Bruce Ivins had all the equipment to do it right in his lab...but of course they gave no details so as not to give our "enemies" this information...

Here's the link to NPR's site with the audio (and maybe a transcript soon).

Meryl Nass, M.D. said...

How the anthrax in the letters was prepared remains a fuzzy area of the case. Lacking clarity, I feel I don't know if he had access to the materials and equipment needed.

To me, the inability to place him at the mailboxes is critical. If he could not have acted alone, the possibility exists that he may have acted in concert with others. Others may have supplied the powder, or performed post-production processing and delivery.

A venue should be established, imho, in which scientists knowledgeable about weaponization can discuss the evidence and get a (classified) FBI briefing on their reverse-engineering of the anthrax. Scientists who first examined the anthrax should be included. What makes sense to this group, after they have had time to sort through the evidence?


Anonymous said...

Listening to the NPR radio segment, it was revealed the anthrax in the letters matched eight different samples and not just the one that was in Ivins’ lab. The FBI refused to identify the other labs that held the remaining seven samples.

The anthrax sent to the media was coarser that the anthrax sent to the Senate. The media anthrax was described as looking like Purina Dog Chow and the Senate anthrax a fine powder. It would be interesting to know which anthrax in which letter could be traced to Ivins’ lab.

Anonymous said...

Aren't they saying now that they matched the strain (through a reverse process) but couldn't match the silica? In other words, they never did get a match, right?

Meryl Nass, M.D. said...

The full story of today's FBI briefing indicated that the eight strains came from 2 different labs. The other lab was not specified, but is important. Dugway? Battelle?


Anonymous said...

You are right on it Dr. Nass. It was the influence in The Senate that was the motive for The Anthrax Letters. I think the FBI gave us Ivins as the fall guy to lower the "Hysteria Factor" if the American public were to find.

Anonymous said...


Government scientists also acknowledged yesterday that they could not figure out how to reproduce silicon that appeared inside the dry spores, making an exact match elusive.

NY Times:

They also countered a principal scientific criticism of the investigation: that the spores had been weaponized with a special coating and therefore could not have been made by Dr. Ivins because he did not have the necessary equipment. This criticism is based on the presence of silica in the anthrax-laced attack letters. However, the F.B.I. scientists said that the silica had been imported naturally by the anthrax spores from their environment and that there was no evidence of weaponization. ...

The F.B.I. had been unable to reproduce one feature of the attack spores — their high level of silica — but attributed that to natural variability.


FBI officials and scientists also played down any significance of the element silicon in the killer anthrax strain, saying it seemed more of a natural occurrence than deliberate weaponizing as once theorized early in the investigation.


Science Now:

Other scientific work done by materials researcher Joseph Michael at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, convinced the FBI that silicon had not been added to the anthrax in the letters. Although preliminary analysis done at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology had indicated the presence of silicon, transmission electron microscopy by Michael and his colleagues revealed that the silicon was contained inside the spores--a natural occurrence documented in previous research--rather than a coating intended to make the anthrax more easily dispersible.

So which is it? Silicon or not silicon?

Anonymous said...

On your blog post Monday you stated, "
Did someone who read the letter, or was otherwise aware of Daschle's concern about the vaccine, decide that an anthrax letter might shift his thinking on the vaccine -- as well as the Patriot Act and other legislation? "

The CIA and DoD have deep roots. The CIA was controlled by the DoD, known as OSS, before becoming the traditional CIA that we know of now. There might be a strong tie with this comment you made as it is definitely possible The CIA was invloved with this.