August 15, 2008

KU Med researchers share anthrax discovery

Kansas University Medical Center researchers, along with researchers from Harvard Medical School, the University of Missouri-Kansas City and William Jewell College, have made a discovery that could be used to eventually prevent anthrax infections from harming humans.
Although it is known that anthrax is comprised of three proteins, the discovery specifically looks at the structure of the protective antigen pore protein, which is responsible for the delivery of toxins in human cells, according to a press release.

Researchers used an electron microscope to study the structure of the protein. Hiroo Katayma, a biochemistry and molecular biology graduate student, was the one to discover the protein essentially formed a syringe-like appendage which injected the toxins into human cells.

This discovery could eventually lead to prevent anthrax infections from even taking place, rather than requiring a vaccine.

Mark Fisher, KUMC professor of biochemistry and molecular biology who led the research, said that finding drugs that could prevent the structure from forming would be a “first line of defense.”

August 13, 2008

U.S. Could Owe Millions for Anthrax Mailings

The United States could face tens of millions of dollars in liability payments over the 2001 anthrax mailings if it is ruled to have overlooked security risks posed by the scientist alleged to be the sole suspect for the attacks that killed five people, USA Today reported yesterday (see GSN, Aug. 11).

The central question is whether the U.S. Army Research Institute of Infectious Diseases was or should have been aware of indicators that microbiologist Bruce Ivins was mentally unstable, according to Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University.

The U.S. Justice Department last year identified Ivins as the perpetrator of the mailings and was reportedly preparing charges against him when he committed suicide in late July. Ivins’s legal team maintains he had no role in the mailings.

Whether or not the laboratory was aware of Ivins’s mental instability, "the question is whether they should have known," Turley said. "It's like saying that you didn't know that a physician was a perfect lunatic at a hospital. The expectation is that a hospital would have sufficient monitoring to detect lunacy."

One $50 million lawsuit contends that American Media Inc. photo editor Bob Stevens died after exposure to one contaminated envelope because the Fort Detrick biological defense facility failed to properly store and secure an anthrax supply allegedly used in the attacks (see GSN, May 6).

"One of the people that worked at the laboratory told me they had better security at a 7-Eleven than they did at the … laboratory where they had the most dangerous substances known to mankind," said Richard Schuler, a lawyer for Stevens’s family (Ken Dilanian, USA Today, Aug. 11).

The years-long federal investigation of the mailings shattered the careers and personal lives of some people it targeted, the New York Times reported yesterday.

Before setting its sights on Ivins, the probe grilled academics, non-U.S. nationals and biological warfare experts, including other USAMRIID staffers.

“It was not pleasant,” said Jeffrey Adamovicz, a former USAMRIID official who remembered employees viewing each other with suspicion. “There was a general sense of paranoia that they were going to get somebody no matter what.”

When Ohio microbiologist Perry Mikesell came under the scrutiny of investigators, he turned to alcohol abuse and died soon after, according to relatives. A New York doctor lost his marriage and was damaged professionally when he became a suspect, his lawyer said. Two Pakistani brothers were forced to find work outside the United States after falling under suspicion for a short time.

“You do the best you can, and it’s not always pretty,” said former FBI domestic terrorism chief Robert Blitzer. “Here you have a bunch of people dead and several diminished, and you’re charged with solving the crime. You try not to step on people’s toes, but sometimes it happens” (Broad/Shane, New York Times, Aug. 11).

What the FBI Knows: For Bruce Ivins and for us

Quote: "As a consumer of the BioPort vaccine himself, Bruce was as motivated as anyone to get a better vaccine in place."

What the FBI Knows: For Bruce Ivins and for us

"I don't think the FBI knows what the FBI knows" – Richard Clark testifying before the 9/11 Commission

In the summer of 2001, two hijackers were renting lodgings from an FBI asset in San Diego, California. But the FBI couldn't be bothered to know in the same way that they ran off John O'Neill when he was "on fire" about Bin Laden and they couldn't be bothered to listen to him. The next thing you know, thousands of people are dead, John O'Neill is dead and there's a scar in the heart of Manhattan. In 2005, the FBI is sure, knows with cold institutional certainty that Steve Hatfill is the anthrax mailer and before you can turn around, they're paying out 5 million dollars for ruining the life of an innocent man and publicly, too, by pillorying him in the press. You'd think they'd have learned by now. You'd think they'd have a picture of Richard Jewell up in every single FBI office and a special promise to say silently every morning before sitting down to the day's work.

You'd think by now the FBI would have a long needed moment of ontological panic and ask themselves how they know what they know. In 2003, they mapped out every single minute of Steve Hatfill's life on the days surrounding the two anthrax mailings and they were not loathe to announce that to the New York Times. But in the last few weeks, when they were accusing Bruce Ivins in the press, they didn't seem to know that Ivins couldn't be in Frederick, Maryland at 4:30 and in Princeton, New Jersey at 5:00 p.m. on September 17th, 2001, although they seemed to know each fact separately. It's as if the FBI has had the membrane connecting the two lobes of its institutional brain slashed, isolating one working hemisphere from the other.

The FBI claims that new technology can trace DNA from the weapon to Dr. Ivins when the tech to map a genome was available in 1998 and while withholding the exact nature of that new technology. Do you believe in magic? They claim that Ivins was the sole custodian of that flask of anthrax but do not mention the origins of that anthrax at the Dugway Proving Ground and they also elide the fact that ten other researchers had access to that same anthrax at Fort Detrick alone. And that's without considering all the researchers and labs that obtained samples from Dr. Ivins over the years, or the fact that Ivins helped evaluate the letter sent to Tom Daschle. The FBI is dealing with a crime scene faceted over space and time as if it was a simple plane, or a projection, a Power Point presentation they can point to unambiguously. The FBI does not know what it knows. Richard Clarke was right.

I'd like to ask them if Bruce Ivins was so careful that he could drive weaponized anthrax two hundred miles and mail it without leaving any trace at all on his person, in his car or around his residence or, if he was so careless that he mailed anthrax to Pat Leahy and Tom Daschle and didn't know that postal machines would pound the deadly powder out into the public sphere long before the envelopes were delivered. Which is it?

The FBI has said Bruce Ivins was afraid his vaccine program would be canceled and that motivated him to mail the anthrax. How is that possible? Ivins had a new vaccine in the works. No matter what happened to the BioPort vaccine he had been hired to fix, Dr. Ivins would get work. Make no mistake about it. Even if BioPort's product went down in flames, Dr. Ivins had another vaccine in development and his expertise would be in demand. There is always work for skilled people like Bruce Ivins. As a consumer of the BioPort vaccine himself, Bruce was as motivated as anyone to get a better vaccine in place.

In 2001, the FBI knew the anthrax mailer was a loner

Source: Los Angeles Times, November 10, 2001.


WASHINGTON -- The FBI is increasingly convinced that the person behind the recent anthrax attacks is a lone wolf within the United States who has no links to terrorist groups but is an opportunist using the Sept. 11 hijackings to vent his rage, investigators said Friday.

The FBI is still pushing the idea that Ivins fits the "loner" description. But he doesn't. He was a married man with two adopted children, with mentees and colleagues and neighbors.

Fairfield resident recalls time at Fort Detrick; worked with suspected anthrax terrorist

While civilians like Battersby work at Fort Detrick, the site has military management, she said. And some people, such as those who want to advance their careers, have stayed quiet about their experience there, according to Battersby. (Emphasis added.)

But the few people not worried about talking about their experience with the government should talk, she said. "It's painful to me on a whole bunch of levels," Battersby said. "I feel like I should tell my story because I know I can." (Emphasis added.)

Are people who knew Bruce Ivins afraid to speak out for fear of losing their jobs if they disagree with what the FBI "knows"? Battersby seems to say exactly that.

The reality is that this case hinges not on what the FBI knows but what the American public can be made to fear. Again. When asked last week why the FBI didn't take Ivins into custody, a Defense Department spokesperson (spokes spinner?) said the FBI didn't want to compromise the investigation – when the whole neighborhood saw how Bruce could barely get around FBI vehicles to get into his own driveway. It's one of the few acts of solidarity seen lately between DoD and Justice. They haven't co-operated so well since the Justice Department came up with the rationale for torture and the Defense Department found the means to implement that policy. (And here there is a subtext of corruption so profound that you wonder how long, if ever, it will take to clean up the Justice Department and how long it will be before we can again believe the Defense Department deserves the respect our uniformed young people pay it by their service.)

To grease the hinge of this case, last week the FBI fronted Jean Duley, a low level mental health worker, in a much challenged recovery herself to be generous or just plain "wet" in the vernacular of alcohol rehab. She lit up the media like a Christmas tree. Instead of quietly seeking a restraining order in private, she chose to go to a public hearing and to do a very bad impression of the clinician she is not. She accused Ivins of being a revenge killer, of hating women, of being a homicidal sociopath as if that was a diagnosis in the DSM IV, which it is not.

It's worth mentioning that while Ms. Duley was making these serious accusations, Ivins had no criminal record at all but, she did.

The media lit up like Macy's on Christmas Eve when the Salvation Army bell is ringing loudest over the heads of hassled shoppers. In particular, there was a pair at the Associated Press that could not recycle these outlandish claims often enough and without a shred of skepticism. From that venerable fount, these claims were spammed all over the American press and the cable channels. The fact that Ms. Duley was only recently out of house detention for her own problems or that she had no degree in psychology or that she had only seen Ivins a handful of times over the period of six months or that she was firmly in the hands of the FBI while making these claims, never seemed to make it into even the fifth paragraph of any of these cloned stories.

Predictably, the resulting spam from the AP hit pieces wind up reducing Bruce Ivins into a stereotype at Wikipedia, where as late as last night he is described as a "conservative Catholic". Bruce Ivins was not a conservative. His letters to the Frederick News-Press are the letters of a curious, left-leaning, inclusive writer. A person with a quiet and persistent sense of humor that is often turned on himself. A thoughtful person who believes women should be included in the priesthood, that people are indeed born gay, that all people deserve the respect of their fellows. Someone who cared deeply about his community. These are not the letters of a hidebound ideologue or an abortion clinic bomber. But, like those iconographic portraits of Renaissance monarchs, Bruce Ivins the person is becoming indistinguishable from the FBI Bruce Ivins caricature at Wikipedia, illustrated but not represented.

Contrast this public misrepresentation with the issue of coerced silence brought up by Battersby who remembers the actual man. The best example of that silence may be the hundreds of people attending Ivins' two memorials last week in Frederick, ironically one private and one public, their very attendance a rejection of the official story in favor of honoring the man they knew who juggled with their children and wrote songs to celebrate their promotions.

In the middle of the Ivins tragedy and in the middle of the FBI claiming to know more than they know and more than they will tell the public, the Department of Health and Human Services took new bids for the national stockpile of anthrax vaccines from contractors in Maryland. The news item stuck in my mind because July 31st is my son's birthday.

I need to get this clear for my son, in the way that mothers always need to get danger real clear. The anthrax attacks were terrorism, not discrete attacks on individuals. Whoever mailed that anthrax meant to terrorize, not to attack specific targets. Those envelopes were all mailed to executives and anyone sophisticated enough to mail that substance was sophisticated enough to know that executives don't open their own mail. So, when the FBI makes claims about Ivins' motives regarding the addressees, it just makes them look impotently disconnected from their own purpose. Ivins had no motive to send those envelopes to those people. No one did. That mail was sent to frighten a people, not to attack anyone in particular.

And as for Dr. Ivins in particular, there is nothing in his mountain of writings that demonstrates he ever imagined hurting other people in particular or in general. When his relapse was pounding him, he drank, he wrote to his friends and he went to his doctor. He made up silly jingles about his symptoms in the way that optimists deploy humor against danger. But there is not one sentence anywhere that indicates he even considered harming another as a solution to his distress. The FBI cannot place him at the scene of the crime – not physically and not in imagination. If there is more, we haven't seen it.

This has been the the biggest investigation the FBI has taken on in its entire history second only to 9/11. What a spectacular failure. And how identically twinned that failure has been by our media's failure to interrogate, at every point and over and over, the shoddy media circus that has passed for crime solving.

Rush Holt and Pat Leahy are rumbling about Congressional hearings but as well intentioned as they are, there is no reason to have confidence that our Congress will resolve this crime against the American people, against Ivins, his family, or the Fort Detrick community just there is no reason to have confidence that appointing an independent investigative panel will mend our broken justice system. How sad is it that we cannot rely on our institutions to take care of us in this most basic way.

We have slipped so far down the rabbit hole of unaccountability, I only hope that the next time someone decides to send vectors into the public sphere, the deaths will not be too terrible and the fear will be more mercifully short. At some point, though, you have to wonder who our media believes will consume its product if we are rightfully unwilling to handle our own mail.

The anthrax attacks were deadly and we can never forget those terrible losses. It's equally true that the Bush Justice Department and its shameful media gaggle have been more destructive than the person who deliberately put that deadly substance into our mail. Between them, they misled us into bombing an innocent people – enabling hundreds of thousands of deaths, the displacing of millions and the irresolution of this case which speaks to the foundation of any government: the safety of its citizenry. There is no reason to have confidence in either the remains of the Justice Department or in the remains of our news media.

And in the meanwhile, Bruce Ivins was driven to suicide. How can anyone feel all right with that when there is not only a "reasonable doubt" of his guilt, but a doubt so big that the Grand Canyon could safely use it for a pit stop?

Who can feel safer today knowing Dr. Ivins is dead and will not get a day in court? Without that process, who can trust that this case has been closed against future harm to the American people? Some wise guy said, "Trust but verify". When did verifying the most basic elements of our system of justice become so impossible in our country? I don't trust the FBI to know what it knows. I don't see our media checking behind them. To quote Mr. Poe of Texas, "And that's just how it is".

"Gerard P. Andrews, another of Dr. Ivins' former colleagues, said he knew that Dr. Ivins was frustrated, but that he doubted that Dr. Ivins would consider such a step."

I'm with you, Mr. Andrews. A lot of us are frustrated. I don't know if Bruce Ivins did the crime that he has been convicted of in the press. I sincerely doubt it. That we allowed him to be so convicted is more destructive than the original crime.

If the civil, peaceful and private expression of frustration is now a terrorist activity by implication, rumor or assertion, and without resort to a court of law, then the attacks on us, on the American people are ongoing, no matter what the FBI believes it knows or refuses to know, and no matter how cheerfully this doubtful "knowledge" is broadcast by a contaminated press.

HHS evaluates proposals for new anthrax vaccine

Lisa Schnirring Staff Writer

Aug 12, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – Two Maryland pharmaceutical companies recently announced that they have submitted proposals to produce and deliver at least 25 million doses of a next-generation anthrax vaccine to the nation's Strategic National Stockpile.

Both companies—Emergent BioSolutions, based in Rockville, and PharmAthene, based in Annapolis—announced in Jul 31 statements that they submitted responses to a request for proposal (RFP) from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The RFP was issued in February and seeks 25 million doses of recombinant protective antigen (rPA) anthrax vaccine, based on a key anthrax protein, with a shelf life of at least 2 years.

Federal officials didn't say if any other companies submitted proposals to produce an rPA anthrax vaccine for HHS. Robin Robinson, director of the HHS Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), said the agency received multiple offers and that they appear promising, according to a report yesterday in the Baltimore Sun.

Robinson told the Sun that BARDA expects to allocate $1.5 billion toward adding anthrax vaccines to the national stockpile. The government has said it wants to boost the national anthrax vaccine stockpile from 18.2 million doses to enough to protect 300 million, the report said.

Feds spell out vaccine request
The contract would require companies to secure Food and Drug Administration approval for the rPA anthrax vaccine. Initially, the vaccine would be used for pre-exposure prophylaxis in adults, with a future label extension to allow postexposure prophylaxis alongside antibiotics.

Federal officials said they expect to award the contract to one or more companies, based on available funding, by late September.

Federal officials have been seeking a new vaccine formulation that can provide immunity in three doses, rather than the six doses required for the licensed vaccine, and that will cause fewer side effects.

The anthrax vaccine currently in the national stockpile, Anthrax Vaccine Adsorbed (AVA), was developed in the 1950s and is produced by Emergent BioSolutions under the brand name BioThrax. The product, required for US military personnel serving in high-risk areas such as the Middle East, is given in six doses over 18 months, followed by an annual booster.

A number of service members have reported serious side effects from the vaccine, and some sued to shelve the program. However, in late February a US district court judge dismissed the suit.

The latest federal call for a new version of the anthrax vaccine came 4 months after the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress, criticized previous attempts to secure a second-generation anthrax vaccine as premature, unrealistic, and vague regarding its intended use.

In 2007, HHS withdrew an $877.5 million contract to VaxGen, a South San Francisco, Calif., biotechnology company, after it missed some of its development milestones. The contract required VaxGen to produce 75 million doses of the rPA anthrax vaccine, enough to immunize 25 million people.

In May, VaxGen sold its experimental anthrax vaccine to its competitor, Emergent BioSolutions, according to previous reports. One month earlier, PharmAthene acquired an rPA anthrax vaccine candidate that was developed by Avecia, a biotechnology company based in the United Kingdom. The National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has supported both candidates with research grants.

Phase 2 studies complete

Emergent BioSolutions said its vaccine candidate is a reformulated and more stable version of the rPA 102 vaccine that was originally developed at the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases. In its statement, the company said phase 2 studies of rPA have been completed.

James Jackson, senior vice president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Emergent BioSolutions, said in the statement its analytical and nonclinical data support the vaccine's stability improvements: "We believe that the current formulation will meet the US government's stability requirements for an rPA vaccine," he said.

The company said it would produce the vaccine at its new manufacturing facility in Lansing, Mich.

PharmAthene said its new anthrax vaccine consists of rPA adsorbed into alhydrogel and packaged as a filled syringe for intramuscular injection. In its statement, the company said preclinical studies suggest that two or three doses administered several weeks produce an immune response that requires annual boosters.

It said phase 1 and 2 studies involving 700 human subjects suggest that its rPA anthrax vaccine is safe and well tolerated and produces a protective immune response.

David P. Wright, PharmAthene's president and CEO, said the competition for the HHS contract is stiff, according to the Sun report. "This will not be a cakewalk for us. We have very strong competitors, but I believe, with the caliber of staff we have, that we will be successful at the end of the day in producing for this country the vaccine we need," he told the Sun.

See also:

Jul 31 Emergent BioSolutions press release

Jul 31 PharmAthene press release

HHS request for proposal listing

Oct 31, 2007, CIDRAP News story "GAO critiques anthrax vaccine procurement, management"

Jul 29 CIDRAP News story "Anthrax vaccine maker wins NIAID grants"

What If the FBI Is Right

August 12, 2008; Page A19

If the FBI theory on the man responsible for the anthrax attacks of 2001 is correct, then the threat of bioterrorism is far more troubling than we have imagined.

I am not a scientist, and will leave the debate on the scientific evidence against Bruce Ivins to the sort of thorough, independent examination recommended by Sen. Charles Grassley (R., Iowa). But such an examination is crucial. It could have profound national security implications, which have been missed in most public discussions of the case. Here's why:

In the years since 1999, while I've provided an executive-level course on the threat of bioterrorism to more than 3,000 senior military officers, plus scores of other presentations, lectures and seminars, one of the most frequent questions asked is, "If the Unabomber had been a biologist instead of a mathematician, could he have produced a sophisticated bioweapon?"

The answer has always been "No: That would require a team of individuals." However, if the FBI is right about Ivins, such a lone individual can produce such a weapon.

This would be a watershed. The arsenals of the U.S. and the USSR once included bioweapons, but producing them required a massive scientific and industrial effort. In 1969, President Richard Nixon unilaterally removed bioweapons from our arsenal, and the U.S. led an international effort to ban biological weapons. The Soviets signed the Biological Weapons Convention, but continued their massive program into the early 1990s. That program, too, was a giant effort: At one time, more than 30,000 scientists and technicians worked in their illegal bioweapons program.

Since then, the intelligence community has been aware that revolutionary advances in biotechnology now provide nonstate actors with the potential to build and deliver highly sophisticated bioweapons. This was stated in an unclassified Defense Science Board report in June 2001, and repeated by virtually every subsequent government and think-tank assessment.

However, in all of these assessments, most believed that it would still take a team of scientists, or perhaps a team of highly skilled technicians led by a scientist, to produce a sophisticated bioweapon. Now that received wisdom may be obsolete.

If the FBI theory on Dr. Ivins is correct, we could be living now in a world where a single individual -- with no prior training in weaponization of pathogens -- can convert anthrax spores into a dry-powdered weaponized form that was of a quality equal to (some would say better) than that produced in the not-too-distant past in billion-dollar, superpower arsenals.

It is important to keep in mind here that Bruce Ivins had no training or experience in the weaponization process. His government work was limited to vaccine development.

We also need to keep in mind that the type of anthrax spores that the FBI alleges Ivins weaponized are available in laboratories around the world. For that matter, they are also contained in soil from Amarillo, Texas, to Azerbaijan. Furthermore, if the FBI theory is correct, the equipment used for the weaponization process is now available in thousands of academic and industrial biology labs, or you could just buy it on or eBay.

A thorough, independent scientific analysis of all evidence the FBI has amassed should be an immediate, top priority of the Bush administration and the U.S. Congress. Yes, it is something that the Ivins family deserves. But more important, our national security rests on determining whether the threat of bioweapons has reached a new, more dangerous plateau. If the FBI is right, the threat is greater than most have assessed.

Col. Larsen (U.S. Air Force, Ret.) is a former chairman of the Department of Military Strategy and Operations at the National War College, and the author of "Our Own Worst Enemy: Asking the Right Questions About Security for You, Your Family, and America" (Grand Central, 2007).

Our own worst bioenemy,0,1045104.story

The U.S. bioweapons program has grown so large that it has become a threat to Americans.
By Wendy Orent
August 13, 2008

'Whatever you can say about the Soviet bioweapons scientists," a Bush administration official once told me, "they never killed anyone."

We can't say the same about our bioweapons scientists. Someone, most likely Bruce Ivins, at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Ft. Detrick, Md., turned powdered anthrax spores into a deadly weapon. It's ironic that the Soviet scientists were making offensive weapons. Our people, since 1969, have worked strictly to defend us.

One of those defenders killed five people, sickened 17 others and plunged the nation into hysteria for weeks in the fall of 2001. After a seven-year investigation by the FBI, the source of the deadly anthrax strain has been identified -- our own biodefense program at Ft. Detrick. That is the real legacy of the FBI investigation.

Since the anthrax-laced letters were mailed in September and October of 2001, U.S. biodefense has blown up out of all proportion to any rational assessment of the bioweapons threat. Earlier this year, an article in the journal Biosecurity and Bioterrorism, analyzing government biodefense spending from 2001 to 2008, stated that $49.66 billion has been allocated for civilian biodefense. According to microbiologist and longtime biodefense critic Richard Ebright of Rutgers University, actual spending is even higher, amounting to $57 billion.

In 2005, he and 757 other microbiologists sent a stinging open letter to Elias Zerhouni, director of the National Institutes of Health, protesting the government's preoccupation with "priority pathogens" -- germs such as anthrax that could be used in a bioweapons attack. But Zerhouni and Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, would have none of it. In a letter published in the journal Science, they disagreed: "The United States has experienced an anthrax attack, and security experts repeatedly express concern that future attacks with biological weapons are likely, if not inevitable."

But we didn't actually experience an anthrax attack. The whole incident amounted to a snake eating its own tail. No ingenious biowarrior from Al Qaeda sent the lethal envelopes through the U.S. postal system. An American scientist did. The FBI and its genetic analyses leave no doubt: Though 16 laboratories had access to the "Ames strain" of anthrax used in the letters, only the samples that came from Ivins' laboratory at Ft. Detrick matched the genetic fingerprint of the attack strain.

In the sorry aftermath of the anthrax investigation, it's clear that the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have to rethink the priority-pathogens list, which includes anthrax, smallpox, plague, tularemia, Ebola and other germs that rarely, if ever, threaten American lives. It's the "non-defense-related" germs that are killing us. Randall Wolcott of the Southwest Regional Wound Care Center points out that 500,000 Americans a year die of biofilm infections -- such as diabetic ulcers -- that are almost impossible to treat by conventional means. That's almost twice as many as die of cancer.

According to the CDC, infections caused by methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, kill 19,000 people a year. Still, staph itself isn't considered a priority pathogen, despite the emergence of highly resistant and increasingly virulent strains. Only one of 40 staph toxins is on the priority list.

There's another problem created by the priority-pathogens list. The ballooning of the biodefense program, according to Ebright, means that about 14,000 individuals are now considered qualified to work with priority pathogens.

It hasn't always been easy to find qualified people for this research. In the days when the FBI was pursuing former "person of interest" -- and now exonerated -- Steven J. Hatfill, one senior government scientist said of Hatfill's background, "You take what you can get -- not many people with his abilities show up very often." So where do 14,000 suddenly qualified biodefense experts come from? And how can they be vetted? As biodefense expert Leonard Cole, author of "The Anthrax Letters," told me: "There are 15,000 to 16,000 people now working in labs on select agents -- that's many more possibilities of another bizarre individual doing illicit work."

The lesson of the anthrax letters isn't that we're in danger of a bioweapons attack from terrorists. It's that U.S. biodefense itself has become a threat: We have met the enemy -- and it is us.

The next administration should pull the plug on the biodefense excesses of the Bush administration and put most of the thousands of microbiologists to work on the germs we really need to worry about.

Wendy Orent is the author of "Plague: The Mysterious Past and Terrifying Future of the World's Most Dangerous Disease."

August 10, 2008

Ivins would benefit how?

Older, but worth the repeat....

In Search Of The Anthrax Attacker - Following Valuable Clues

By Meryl Nass, MD
February 3, 2002

"Senior Bush administration officials have privately said that little
progress is being made in the anthrax investigation, which has
involved hundreds of investigators, [who] are no closer to finding the
culprit, they say." So reported Todd J Gillman and Michelle
Mittelstadt of the Dallas Morning News on January 31.

It has been four months since the first case of inhalation anthrax was
diagnosed. Last week, the FBI announced that it would be sending
flyers to 500,000 residents of the Trenton, New Jersey region, asking
for leads. This week, the FBI arranged with the American Society for
Microbiology to e-mail its US membership, in another attempt to reach
out to scientists that might have insight into the attacks.

Dr. Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, an arms control expert at the State
University of New York, Purchase, and chair of a bioweapons panel at
the Federation of American Scientists authored an analysis of the
attacks that may have prodded the FBI into investigating the US
bioterrorism establishment. She thinks the scientific details could be
too complicated for investigators to grasp.

But if the FBI has no anthrax expertise, there are plenty of
scientists who do, and who would be happy to assist in the

Last October, both Ken Alibek (the defector who was #2 in the Soviet
biowarfare establishment, and who also developed the most virulent
Soviet anthrax) and William Patrick (the man who was #1 in the US
biowarfare establishment, and developed a powder used for weaponizing
anthrax, allegedly the same material used in the attacks) were quoted
as saying that no one had sought their help in the investigation. That
made me extremely curious, since they were two public figures most
knowledgeable about weaponized anthrax, and would know how to analyze
the anthrax and identify its origin.

Why had the anthrax been sent in letters, rather than released in
ventilation systems, tunnels or subways? The (estimated) two trillion
spores per letter could have caused a lot more mischief in another

Something else was odd. The attacker had actually warned the
recipients that the letters contained anthrax, and suggested they take
penicillin. Then a lightbulb went off: someone was sending these
letters to create an effect, not to cause damage. The letters were
sealed with tape, presumably to further prevent the escape of spores.
The point was to frighten, not to kill. And the targets were chosen
with an eye to getting publicity and making an impact on Congress.

The attacker also had familiarity with forensic investigations. He
avoided using saliva on the letters, used a form of printing that is
most difficult to analyze, and otherwise left a paucity of evidence.
Did he have professional help?

(I am referring here to the anthrax attacker in the singular and using
the male gender, although I suspect that, for logistical reasons, it
is unlikely that one person acted alone, or was even a loner, as the
FBI profile has suggested.)

I subsequently learned of William Patrickís 1999 analysis of anthrax
sent by mail, written for a defense contractor. Iíve not seen the
report, but have been told he did not consider that envelopes
contained pores, and was not aware that postal machines squeeze and
compress the mail, forcing anthrax spores out of intact envelopes.

The attacker may well have read Patrickís report, or even used it as a
model. Who had access to this report?

To commit a crime one must have a motive. Because of the
unpredictability of who might become ill, or die after exposure to the
letters, I doubt that the attacker had specific victims in mind. A
grudge against Tom Brokaw or Senator Daschle has been postulated. Did
the attacker really think they opened their own mail?

More likely, the attacker wanted to frighten Congress, which controls
spending for bioterrorism. If new appropriations for bioterrorism
defense are a measure of the attackerís success, he has certainly

Who are the beneficiaries of a bioterrorism scare?

The biowarfare establishment has benefited so far: CDC got $450
million extra for bioterrorism, and the states will get $1.1 billion
dollars. More money has been spent on stockpiling antibiotics, and the
government has contracted for 209 million doses of smallpox vaccine,
at a cost of $850 million. Other biowarfare vaccines in development
have probably had new life breathed into them.

The US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (where
the Armyís center for biodefense, Fort Detrick, is located) will
receive increased funding and stature. Bioport, the anthrax vaccine
manufacturer that tried in vain for the past 2 years to get FDA
approval, after as major overhaul of its facility, just got it -
though Congressman Ben Gilman has asked the GAO to investigate this,
and the Defense Department has declined to say whether anthrax
inoculations for the military will resume.

Who had the means?

After the attacks it was revealed that the powdered, weaponized
anthrax is identical to that made by our own biowarfare establishment;
that is, by the same people who are benefiting from the attacks.

One area of wasted investigative effort was the search for the origin
of the "Ames" anthrax strain used. It was reported initially that
hundreds of labs held Ames anthrax samples. Then it turned out that
few actually did.

On October 11, after receiving FBI approval to do so, Iowa State
University destroyed their anthrax collection. Did this result in the
loss of crucial evidence?

But how would tracing back the Ames strain solve the case? Even if
only 20 labs had samples, not all of them had high levels of security.
After all, some are university labs. Scientists share strains with
hardly a thought. Ames anthrax could have been stolen, shared, or even
dug up from Texas soil. Or removed from one of the labs by a scientist
with access.

Dr. Paul Keim of Northern Arizona University maintains an extensive
anthrax database; he examined the Ames anthrax used in the attacks
with a series of genetic probes, and said it was identical to the
strain held at several government labs. But to be certain, the entire
genome of the attack anthrax and the government anthrax are being
deciphered, so that individual differences can be counted and
examined, and estimates made as to precisely how close (or how many
generations apart) the two strains really are. (Of course, this
assumes that the actual government strain, and the actual letter
strain were provided to the Institute for Genomic Research in
Rockville, Md.)

Reading William Broadís article, "Geographic Gaffe Misguides Anthrax
Inquiry," in the January 29 New York Times, one finds confusion over
the meaning of the strainís origin. Broad also takes Dr. Rosenberg to
task over her earlier statement that the anthrax "may be a remnant of
the US biological weapons program."

Broad discovered that the Ames strain came from a cow that died in
Texas in 1981, not from a cow that died in Iowa in the 1930ís. He then
inferred that the strain did not come from the US biowarfare
stockpile, which was officially destroyed by 1975, when the Biological
Weapons Convention went into effect.

But a CIA memo signed by Thomas Karamessines, and provided to the
Senate, informs us that the CIA (at least) kept 100 grams of anthrax,
illegally, after the Convention went into effect. So some of the old
stockpile could still be around.

The fact that the Ames strain was isolated from a cow in 1981, and
from a goat several hundred miles away in 1997, indicates that there
is a lot of Ames in Texas, and it most likely was there well before
1981, and ever since. So it could have comprised part of the old US
stockpile. William Patrick and others would know, and there should be
records to show what was actually produced.

The more germane issue, however, is whether the isolation of Ames in
1981 exonerates the Defense Department, CIA, or US government
contractors from possible involvement in the anthrax attacks. It does

No matter whether the government first got its supply of Ames before
or after 1970, when it officially ended its offensive biowarfare
program, Ames was eventually used to create a government supply of
dry, weaponized anthrax, which at this time appears to be identical to
that used in the attacks.

Of more importance to the investigation, however, is the origin of:

a) the material added to the anthrax spores that causes them to
separate from each other, greatly enhancing virulence, and

b) the method that assured the spores were relatively uniform in size,
and were sized for optimal lethality.

Although Ames was shared, this method of production, as well as the
additive, would have been closely-guarded secrets. They are what made
Ames extremely lethal, and the same could be done with other strains.

Furthermore, the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, which the US
initiated and signed in 1972, prohibits the possession of biological
agents that are not used for defensive purposes. No defensive use for
this form of anthrax has ever been publicly disclosed.

In contrast, the Ames anthrax that is used in (defensive) vaccine
experiments is dispersed by an aerosolizer from a liquid slurry. No
dry anthrax is used. (In liquid form, anthrax is a poor weapon.)

To test our defenses against dry anthrax, you can use a benign
Bacillus spore, a cousin of anthrax. The mere possession of dry,
weaponized anthrax could be deemed illegal under the terms of the
Convention. So the United States kept its existence secret, and would
have had little reason to share it. We wouldnít want the material or
recipe for making highly dispersible spores to reach potential enemies.

The real question is: who had access to this material, or knew the
method for its production? A clue: you will find the attacker among
the very small clique of bioweaponeers with this specialized knowledge
or access to the weaponized end product.

Now to the question of whether the anthrax was homemade, or snatched
from a government inventory. It is much more likely to have been
snatched, but either is possible.

Anthrax cannot be produced without leaving evidenceótelltale spores
that have escaped into the environment. Companies that use spore-
forming organisms to manufacture vaccines (for tetanus and botulinum
toxoid, for instance) can never use the facility for making other
products, due to persistent contamination with invisible spores. The
Hart Senate Office Building clean-up took 3 months and cost $14
million, and may not have rid the building of every anthrax spore.

Therefore, production in a basement lab could lead to spore detection
(and proof of guilt) for the foreseeable future, if environmental
samples were obtained and cultured. Furthermore, the equipment and
materials the attacker purchased to produce the anthrax could be traced.

In addition to increasing the attackerís chances of being detected,
spore production is dangerous. Remember, this is someone who knows all
about anthrax. He knows what these spores can do, and would not have
wanted to expose himself to them.

Anthrax experts know that physical protection (particularly the use of
a self-contained breathing apparatus) is your primary protection from
inhaled anthrax. It has long been established that large spore counts
can overwhelm vaccine-induced immunity and antibiotic protection. In
fact, for a long time the Ames strain was called "vaccine resistant"
at Fort Detrick. So anyone in-the-know would have worked with the
spores in a safe setting. They might well have been vaccinated and
used antibiotics, but would not have relied on them exclusively for

Therefore, anthrax was almost certainly manufactured, mixed with the
anti-cling powder, and placed into envelopes in a protected environment.

Placing the spores - two trillion at a time - into envelopes would
have been particularly dangerous. These spores floated off the glass
slides when scientists first tried to look at them. You canít fill an
envelope without losing millions or billions of spores in the process.

It is only logical that the filling occurred within an official
anthrax "hot suite"- a Biosafety Level 3 or 4 facility, by someone in
a "moon suit" using a protected air supply. There are a small number
of these facilities. They must have substantial security, possibly
video cameras, and there must be logs that indicate who used them.

If the attacker used government-made (or defense contractor-made)
anthrax, and filled the envelopes in hot suites already contaminated
with Ames anthrax, he will have left no evidence. He could walk out of
the hot suite with his filled envelopes in a plastic bag or other
secure container, and no one would be the wiser.

Furthermore, the first known letters were postmarked September 18, and
contained a fake Islamic message.

Yet another clue: although anthrax degrades extremely slowly, and
could have been obtained or produced at any time, the choice of
September and an Islamic message suggests the first envelopes, at
least, were filled between September 11 and 18. Who used the hot
suites then?

This past week a new, important wrinkle was reported. An Egyptian-born
scientist, Dr. Ayaad Assaad, had been fingered as a possible
bioterrorist in an anonymous letter sent to Quantico Marine Corps
Base, before any anthrax letters had even been discovered. It is
unclear whether the letter was sent to the military or to the FBI,
which maintains a substantial presence on the base.

Assaad had worked at Fort Detrick for years, but was laid off in 1997,
and had an age discrimination lawsuit pending against his former
employer. Furthermore, while at Detrick he had been the butt of a
salacious and demeaning poem circulated by a group of coworkers- all
Army scientists- who called themselves the "Camel Club." Unauthorized
nighttime research and missing anthrax slides at the lab where the
club members worked embellish the story.

Although one might manage to grow anthrax from a spore found on a
stolen pathology slide, itís unlikely. Slides are generally heated,
and the material may have been treated with formaldehyde, which kills
anthrax. There must be easier ways to obtain anthrax, especially if
you work at Fort Detrick. Although itís a juicy story, there is a huge
divide between anthrax on a pathology slide and the production of
weaponized anthrax. They do not equate.

At first glance, the letter about Assaad seemed to have been written
by a former Camel Club member, who decided to revive an old
antagonism. But it is much more likely that the real attacker knew of
the club, and meant to lay guilt on former club members. (The club
members were not anthrax scientists, but instead worked on pathogenic

Letís look more closely. The first letters to arrive with anthrax took
a long time to cause illness. Until then, they were dismissed as
hoaxes. The letters to the New York Post and NBC were postmarked
September 18; the letter to The Sun, a Florida-based tabloid, has
never been found. The first anthrax case was diagnosed in Florida on
October 3, probably 15 days after the letter was sent.

It seems logical, therefore, that the Quantico letter (that insinuated
Assaad was a bioterrorist) was meant to arrive after the public had
become aware of an anthrax attack. Had that happened, the letter would
have been perceived as a response to the attacks. But since it arrived
first, indicating foreknowledge of the attacks, it could only come
from the attacker himself.

Therefore, where the letter came from, when it was sent, and the
personal details of Assaadís life that it contained are vitally
important. Only a small number of people could be sufficiently
familiar with Assaad and the Camel Club shenanigans to have written it.

A very important clue: one of these people is the perpetrator. He may
also have some connection to Quantico.

Where does this leave us?

Most likely, the suspect still works in the biodefense field, but
might be a former employee. He may have read William Patrickís report
on mailed anthrax. Places where the perpetrator likely worked may
include Fort Detrick, Dugway Proving Ground (where a large Biosafety
level 3 facility for testing biowarfare aerosols exists), Battelle
Memorial Institute, CDC, and Bioport, but there are others. All these
entities potentially stand to benefit from the new interest in
bioterrorism. The person probably worked at Fort Detrick years ago,
and knew Assaad and the Camel Club members. Either recently, or in the
past, the attacker had access to weaponized anthrax. He used a high
containment, Biosafety 3 or 4 facility to prepare his anthrax-laden
envelopes between September 11 and 18.

Where do we go from here?

People who fit this profile should be investigated, to include
interviews possibly using lie detectors. If warranted, their homes and
businesses should be carefully cultured for stray spores. Retired Fort
Detrick workers, who are familiar with what was stockpiled, and how
anthrax products were made, should be interviewed. Several are on
record as saying they have not been approached. All appropriate
Biosafety facilities, here and in other nations, should have their
logs reviewed. It should be easy to construct lists of those who
worked at Detrick and knew Assaad, those who had access to weaponized
anthrax or knew the recipe, and those with access to the hot suites.
However, if there do exist several attackers, the overlap might be
hard to find. This person, or his program, if such is the case, is
likely to benefit nicely from the anthrax scare.

The anthrax attacks were a heinous crime in a number of ways. First,
they caused the deaths of five innocent civilians, who in military
jargon might be considered "collateral damage." Second, they directly
attacked the center of our government, and our free press. Third, they
appear to have been motivated by the calculation that the country
needed to be scared to death, in order to act in a way the attacker
wanted. And so we have, allocating billions of taxpayer dollars for
responding to and preparing for bioterrorism. That is not how
decisions should be made in a democracy. Finally, biological attacks
are a clandestine, cowardly method of attack, in which the perpetrator
is usually difficult to identify.

If the attacker remains free, the attractiveness of future biological
attack only increases.

Clashing portraits emerge of anthrax suspect,0,2832068,full.story

Bruce E. Ivins was a well-respected biowarfare expert and obsessive oddball whose eccentricities seemingly blossomed into madness at one of the U.S. government's most secure facilities.

By Stephen Braun,, David Zucchino and Nicole Gaouette, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers

August 10, 2008

FREDERICK, MD. -- Inside Ft. Detrick's cloistered high-security laboratories, Bruce E. Ivins was regarded as a seasoned researcher and an affable, if slightly odd, colleague. He showed up for work in thrift-store clothes, gobbled down powdered milk and foul-smelling lunches of fish and other foodstuffs layered in jars. Sometimes he abruptly dropped to the floor to juggle balls while lying on his back.

That was "just Bruce," colleagues would say, shaking their heads. It was his endearing qualities that were recalled Saturday at a memorial service for the once-unknown scientist.

But there was another Bruce, one who sometimes lashed out in disjointed hostility. Starting in 1982 and continuing through last year, Ivins obsessively contacted a fellow University of North Carolina graduate student he'd known in the 1970s. The woman was a member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, which FBI officials said may have been "linked to location of anthrax mailings" in Princeton, N.J.

The object of Ivins' fixation was Dr. Nancy L. Haigwood, who now directs the Oregon National Primate Research Center in Portland. Haigwood confronted Ivins in 1982 after she found her sorority's initials scrawled in red paint on her fiance's car and the sidewalk and gate of the condominium where she lived.

Ivins denied involvement. But for 25 years after that episode, Haigwood said, he regularly bombarded her with "creepy" letters and then e-mails, asking about her life and referencing details about her family that she had never discussed with him.

Shortly after the anthrax letters were mailed in late 2001, Haigwood said, Ivins included her in a group e-mail bragging about his work with the toxic spores. He sent along photographs of himself working in his Ft. Detrick lab.

"This is someone who thinks he can do anything to anybody at any time," Haigwood said.

The clashing portrayals that emerge of an accomplished biowarfare expert and obsessive oddball chart the downward trajectory of a veteran scientist whose eccentricities seemingly blossomed into madness inside one of the U.S. government's most secure installations.

After his apparent suicide late last month, he was accused of murdering five people with the anthrax bacterium he had spent his life trying to protect people from by developing better vaccines.

On Saturday, several hundred people filled St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Frederick for a memorial service celebrating Ivins' life. Friends, colleagues and family remembered the scientist as a generous and talented man with a keen sense of humor. They spoke about his love of music and Gary Larson's "The Far Side" cartoons, about his enthusiasm for helping others and about his mischievous jokes -- including the remote-control device he kept in his office that made flatulence sounds.

The circumstances of Ivins' death went unmentioned inside St. John.

But outside the spare white and gray house of worship, a cordon of police officers and a phalanx of television cameras acted as silent reminders of the accusations the Justice Department has leveled against Ivins.

The closest acknowledgment of the controversy came from Ivins' younger brother Charles, who ended his remarks by addressing his dead brother directly.

"I'll miss you, buddy," he said. "I'm glad your torment is over."

Ivins' wife and two children did not speak during the memorial. His wife, Diane, her hair cropped short since her husband's death, was composed throughout the ceremony and afterward greeted friends with hugs.

Ivins' son, Andy, 24, was subdued in a dark suit and shook hands with friends at the end of the service. Andy's twin sister, Amanda, wiped away tears and hugged friends, her right wrist in a cast.

The priest leading the music-filled service asked God to forgive "Bruce's sins and failings" and led the congregation in two Bible readings that he said were chosen by Diane Ivins.

One, from St. Paul's letters to the Corinthians, emphasized that only God can judge man. The other was from the story of Job.

Chronicling his decline

Ivins himself provided a ghoulish commentary on his disintegrating inner self. Prescribed a mix of psychotropic medications from 2000 to 2006 for unspecified mental illness, according to FBI documents, Ivins e-mailed an eerie poem to a friend in December 2001: "Hickory dickory Doc! Bruce and this other guy, sitting by some trees, exchanging personalities. It's like having two in one. Actually it's rather fun!"

Last week, one anthrax expert suggested that Ivins' deteriorating mental state after 2000 might have been affected by the annual vaccinations he would have received over his 28-year career to protect against infection by the potent anthrax spores he cultivated. Ironically, much of Ivins' research was aimed at developing a new vaccine.

Meryl Nass, a Maine physician and expert on the anthrax vaccine, said Ivins complained to her in 1998 that he was suffering from a blood disorder he worried might be a side effect of anthrax vaccinations.

Nass suggested last week that Ivins may have had psychological side effects as well, especially if the vaccines interacted with the antipsychotic drugs he took over the last decade.

The old vaccine has been linked to psychological effects in a report by the National Academies of Science Institute of Medicine. Examining active-duty military personnel who received shots from 1998 to 2000, the study found that the diagnosis rate for psychoses and other personality disorders more than tripled after the vaccinations.

Friends of Bruce Ivins say he was a frail man who simply unraveled under the extreme stress of the government's pressure-cooker investigation. "Their science is suspect, but even if they had done a better job, it's still the wrong guy," said Dr. W. Russell Byrne, who was Ivins' supervisor from 1998 through 2000.

At home and around Frederick, Ivins seemed the model citizen. Living in a cramped white frame house across the street from the walled-off military installation, Ivins played keyboards during Sunday folk Mass concerts at St. John. He taught lifesaving courses. He juggled for delighted children at the county fair.

At his lab table, Ivins was regarded as a top-notch researcher who excelled in "spore prep," the cultivation of virulent strains of anthrax for use in efforts to find a cure that could be used by American soldiers in the event of a mass biowarfare attack.

Ivins was deemed promising when he joined Ft. Detrick's research staff in 1980. Microbiologist John W. Ezzell, who was on the hiring committee that brought Ivins into the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), laughed at his 1970s-era bell-bottom pants but was impressed by his "teamwork. That's what we were looking for."

Troubled childhood

Ivins came from Lebanon, Ohio, where he had impressed his small-town high school teachers with his acuity in biology and chemistry. His chemistry teacher, Dean Deerhake, said Ivins was "very intelligent but pretty much a loner."

At home in Lebanon, there were indications of a troubled existence. Thomas Ivins, the scientist's estranged older brother, said that Bruce was alternately "coddled" and punished by a mother who kept him "attached to her apron strings."

Bruce Ivins talked little about his family life with co-workers. He partnered with his wife for the folk Masses at St. John -- while he played the keyboards, she sang.

Their daughter, Amanda, lives in Hagerstown, Md., 25 miles northwest of Frederick. Reached last week, she indicated that she would like to talk about her father eventually but said: "When I do, I will do it with my lawyer. . . . I haven't been charged with anything, but I want my lawyer at my side when I talk about my dad."

Her father seemed most at home inside Building 1425, where he worked long hours in his office and in the high-security labs where anthrax spores were cultivated.

When the anthrax letters surfaced in September and October of 2001, killing five people from New York to Florida, Ivins was one of 80 scientists assigned to investigate the source of the highly weaponized spores. They worked around the clock, analyzing more than 33,000 samples.

"He had a reputation for being trusted with these materials," said Ezzell, whose diagnostics division led the search.

But in April 2002, near the end of the testing frenzy, USAMRIID revealed that anthrax contamination had been found in an office and changing room outside a secure area, sparking a partial evacuation of the building. The leak was traced to Ivins, who admitted that there also had been a December 2001 leak inside his office -- a serious violation of protocol -- which he had tried to contain by spreading bleach on the affected area.

As the FBI and USAMRIID's scientists narrowed their search for the anthrax culprit, they turned to Ft. Detrick itself as the source. Many researchers were forced to take polygraph tests, though it remains unclear whether Ivins was one of those scrutinized.

By summer of last year, Ivins was the prime target. FBI agents parked their cars outside his home, so close to his driveway that Ivins had trouble pulling up in his faded red Dodge van, recalled neighbor Robert Duggan.

At work, he wept at his desk. Voice quavering, he told one colleague: "These guys aren't letting up. Sometimes they're following me home. They won't let me breathe."

In November, after he was medically committed to a Maryland mental health center, Ivins' security clearance was canceled, a crushing blow.

In May, Ivins sent an e-mail to the co-worker, saying he intended to retire in September. "We're not well-paid, and we do what we do because it's interesting," Ivins wrote. "If you take away that, there's no reason to stay in science."

Times staff writers David Willman in Washington and Charles Piller in San Francisco and researcher Janet Lundblad in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

August 9, 2008

Bombshell: Was FBI complicit in Ivins' death? (for links)

Saturday, August 9, 2008
Bombshell: Was FBI complicit in Ivins' death?

In his news conference on Wednesday, August 6, US Attorney Jeffrey Taylor mentioned (evidence point 4) that while Ivins had been under 24/7 surveillance, he discarded some materials on DNA coding.

If the FBI was about to charge Ivins, you would expect he was still under 24/7 surveillance, right?

Well, a tylenol overdose is entirely treatable--curable- -during many hours after consumption. The patient receives N-acetyl cysteine or glutathione, which allows the body to detoxify the tylenol. If you make it to hospital within 16--24 hours you will live.

SO...why was the FBI twiddling its thumbs during and after Ivins ingested his Tylenol #3 (acetaminophen with codeine)? Attorney Taylor began his remarks saying, "We regret that we will not have the opportunity to present the evidence to a jury to determine whether the evidence establishes Dr. Ivins' guilt beyond a reasonable doubt."

Really? I'd like to see the medical records, and see Congress investigate the "traffic" between the agents performing surveillance and FBI headquarters while Ivins was ingesting his poison and starting to die at home.

Meryl Nass, MD

NAS report shows psychiatric illness increases 7 fold after AVA (See the blog for links to the

National Academy of Science report shows psychiatric illness increases several-fold after anthrax vaccination

Many have asked me if Ivins' anthrax vaccinations or meds might have contributed to his mental state. Bruce admitted a family history of emotional problems, his brother Tom appears psychiatrically impaired, and I don't mean to make light of this history.

However, the answer to whether anthrax vaccine leads to mental disorders is a resounding YES. The National Academy of Science studied anthrax vaccine for Congress, publishing its report in 2002. Table G-3 of the report summarizes data supplied to the Academy by the military from the Defense Medical Surveillance System database on hospitalization rates in 300,000 soldiers, before and after receiving
anthrax immunizations.

In those who received 1-3 doses of vaccine, hospitalizations for affective psychosis were 4.95 times greater after vaccination than before receiving any anthrax vaccine. For other nonorganic psychoses, the rate was 4.82 times higher. Hospitalizations for neurotic disorders were 2.63 times higher. Hospitalizations for personality disorders were 4.66 times higher. Hospitalizations for drug dependence were 5.64 times higher. Hospitalizations for adjustment reaction were 2.96 times higher. For depressive disorder, not otherwise classified, the rate was 2.76 times higher.

Amazing statistics.

Meryl Nass, MD

Doubts Persist Among Anthrax Suspect’s Colleagues
The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Military personnel, under the threat of court-martial, were refusing inoculations of an anthrax vaccine. The vaccine’s sole manufacturing plant was ordered to shut down. Researchers were turning up evidence possibly linking the vaccine to illnesses of soldiers during the Persian Gulf war of 1991.

It was hardly the thank you that Dr. Bruce E. Ivins expected for his years of labor to produce a vaccine that would protect military personnel from an anthrax attack by the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein or some other adversary.

The criticism, which reached its peak in 2000 and early 2001, was clearly starting to get on Dr. Ivins’s nerves. “I think the **** is about to hit the fan ... big time,” he wrote in a July 2000 e-mail message about the inoculation program, according to a government affidavit. “It’s just a fine mess.”

This turmoil has now been cited by federal investigators as a key part of the reason they believe that Dr. Ivins sent out anthrax-laced letters in the fall of 2001 — as such an attack would, in a single stroke, have eliminated the skepticism and second guessing about the need for an anthrax vaccine.

The investigators suggest that Dr. Ivins had been struggling with psychological problems, and was on medication and undergoing counseling after being overcome by what he described as paranoid, delusional thoughts. The trouble with the vaccine, they argue, may have been enough to set him off.

But Dr. Ivins’s former colleagues reject that two-part theory, saying it is just one of many flaws in the evidence presented by the government in an unconvincing case.

There was a real threat, the former colleagues acknowledged, that the anthrax vaccine Dr. Ivins had worked on during that period, known as Anthrax Vaccine Absorbed or AVA, might be pulled from the market.

Most troubling were problems at the Michigan manufacturing plant, which had been shut down in 1998 after the Food and Drug Administration uncovered serious flaws.

Dr. Ivins and other researchers, however, had been working on a more advanced alternative vaccine — considered safer and more effective — so there was no reason for such a rash act, his former colleagues say.

“There was a lot of consternation, a lot of pressure to rescue this thing,” said Jeffrey Adamovicz, one of Dr. Ivins’s fellow researchers at the time. “But if AVA failed, he had his next vaccine candidate. It was well on its way to what looked to be a very bright future.”

The vaccine controversy erupted in the late 1990s, after the Defense Department ordered the inoculation of all 2.4 million active duty and reserve troops, starting with those most likely to confront biological attacks in war zones, partly because Iraq had confirmed that it once had a large stockpile of anthrax that was destroyed after the first Persian Gulf war.

By 2000, more than 570,000 military personnel had complied with the order, and hundreds had filed an “adverse event report” after receiving the shots, citing reactions that included fatigue, dizziness and muscle pain, and more serious conditions like thyroid disorders and rhabdomyolysis, a muscle ailment.

Congressional hearings were held, and dozens of House members signed a letter to the Pentagon calling the mandatory vaccination program “a flawed policy that should be immediately stopped.”

Protests were also organized.

“What the government is doing is wrong, and it is time to wake up America from its comfortable stupor and say ‘no more,’ ” said a Pennsylvania woman, Gloria Graham, at a 2000 protest over the vaccine, which Ms. Graham said had sickened her son.

The Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, at Fort Detrick, Md., where Dr. Ivins worked, had been assigned by the Defense Department to help BioPort, the company that owned the Michigan manufacturing plant, to fix any problems so production could resume.

“Unfortunately, since the BioPort people aren’t scientists, the task of solving their problem has fallen on us,” Dr. Ivins wrote in a June 2000 e-mail message.

The situation became dire as the vaccine supply dwindled, leading Dr. Ivins to speculate openly that the program might be halted. “That would be bad for everyone concerned, including us,” he wrote. “I’m sure that blame will be spread around.”

The pressure was intense for the team at Fort Detrick that had been working on the effort, a group of about half a dozen scientists and technicians, said Dr. Adamovicz, Dr. Ivins’s former colleague.

“It was a big concern for us,” Dr. Adamovicz said in an interview this week. “We wanted obviously to see this vaccine succeed.”

The stakes were particularly high for Dr. Ivins, who, for nearly a decade, had been leading experiments in which laboratory animals — rabbits, monkeys and mice — were injected with vaccines that each had slightly different additives in an effort to increase their effectiveness.

Critics of the program were accusing the Defense Department of using one of the experimental formulas, which featured an oil-based additive called squalene, in vaccines given to military personnel in the gulf war, a decision, they contended, that may have caused autoimmune diseases among returning soldiers.

“It is well documented that the U.S. military has a history of administering experimental vaccines to the troops,” said Gary Matsumoto, who was doing research on a book on the anthrax program and who had submitted Freedom of Information requests to the Army requesting access to Dr. Ivins’s laboratory notebooks.

The Defense Department denied conducting such experiments on troops and defended the vaccine, saying it was both safe and effective, and necessary to protect the military from a possible attack. Dr. Ivins’s notebooks, which were released to the public, suggested, however, that he had found that the vaccine might be making some of the test animals sick.

“Although all vaccinated monkeys survived, they appeared to be sick over the course of two weeks,” Dr. Ivins’s laboratory report said.

In his e-mail messages, Dr. Ivins expressed particular contempt for Mr. Matsumoto and his requests for copies of internal Army test results.

“We’ve got better things to do than shine his shoes and pee on command,” Dr. Ivins wrote, in August 2001, about Mr. Matsumoto. “He’s gotten everything from me he will get.”

What the Justice Department has not produced is evidence documenting that Dr. Ivins’s frustrations motivated him to retaliate with the anthrax letters.

Gerard P. Andrews, another of Dr. Ivins’s former colleagues, said he knew that Dr. Ivins was frustrated, but that he doubted that Dr. Ivins would consider such a step.

“Nothing is unimaginable,” Dr. Andrews said. “But I would definitely say it is doubtful.”

August 7, 2008

White House memo exposes Rove knew of problems with anthrax vaccine.

White House memo exposes Rove knew of problems with anthrax vaccine.
Rove memo dated 25 April 2001.

http://rawstory. com/news/ 2008/Memo_ shows_White_ House_knew_ of_0807.html

White House memo exposes Rove knew of problems with anthrax vaccine
08/07/2008 @ 10:51 am
Filed by Allen McDuffee

Rove said Gulf War Syndrome, vaccine political stumbling block

The Department of Defense continued its controversial mandatory anthrax vaccinations program despite high ranking Bush administration officials acknowledging there were problems with the vaccine within months of the Bush administration taking office—well before the 9/11 attacks and the October 2001 anthrax letters.

A 2001 memorandum from former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove to then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz indicates that the White House knew of problems relating to the Gulf War Syndrome and the military's controversial anthrax vaccine.

Obtained by RAW STORY earlier this year from a senior military official and referenced in today's New York Daily News, Rove wrote, "I do think we need to examine the issues of both Gulf War Syndrome and the Anthrax vaccine and how they can be dealt with. They are political problems for us."

RAW STORY had held off printing the memorandum (which appears below) in an effort to validate its authenticity. Along with the memo, Rove noted that he had attached "material on the Anthrax vaccine problem," which had been forwarded to him by H. Ross Perot. He titled it "GULF WAR SYNDROME AND ANTHRAX."

"It didn't bother me that Rove referred to it as a political problem at the time because it meant that it would be properly dealt with, finally," the military official who leaked the memo said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "The political problem became a problem to me when they dropped the ball and allowed the program to continue. It was politics that motivated them to investigate and it was
politics that motivated them to allow the program to continue. Now the political nature bothers me."

The Apr. 25, 2001 memo indicates how long and how far up in the administration the anthrax vaccine—and Gulf War Syndrome—have been considered problematic.

The Pentagon's anthrax vaccine is manufactured by a single contractor, Emergent BioSolutions. It has been plagued with complaints from soldiers and soldiers' advocates, who assert that the vaccine causes myriad debilitating ailments.

The Defense Department was forced to halt mandatory injections in 2004 after a judge ruled that the FDA had not approved the vaccine for its intended use. In 2006, the military resumed mandatory vaccinations after FDA approval, citing letters laced with anthrax in late 2001 as a reason.

Questions about the mailings containing anthrax have re-emerged in the wake of a suicide by a biodefense researcher. At the time of his death, Bruce Ivins, 62, was under federal investigation for the 2001 anthrax attacks that left five people dead and more than a dozen sickened. In a Wednesday joint FBI and Department of Justice press conference, while not officially closing the case, Assistant Director
in Charge Joseph Persichini of the FBI Washington Field Office said, "Bruce Ivins was responsible for the death, sickness, and fear brought to our country by the 2001 anthrax mailings."

The leaked memo also comes on the heels of an announcement by the Department of Homeland Security, which has proposed giving the city where Emergent BioSolutions is located $946,520 to protect the company's facilities. The grant, according to an article in the Lansing State Journal, would "purchase, install and deploy the
eligible Homeland Security equipment and manage related law enforcement protective actions."

A New York Times article following Ivins' death highlighted a number of tensions between public safety and biodefense research, centering around the question: "Has the unprecedented boom in biodefense research made the country less secure?"

Pentagon maintains vaccine is safe, requires injections

Despite repeatedly maintaining it is safe, documents obtained by Raw Story last year showed that the Pentagon and medical military personnel have known since at least 1998 that there are genetic triggers between illnesses and some required immunizations. They also revealed the military knew and did not implement routine pre-screening which could help reduce vaccine-related illnesses.

A flyer posted by the Vaccine Healthcare Center in 2007 showed that Walter Reed solicited servicemembers who have suffered as a result of the vaccine, asserting that "adverse effects may include redness or swelling where the shot was given (larger than the bottom of a soda can) and/or more than 24 hours of headaches, muscle/joint pains, and/or fatigue (tiredness) that interfered with your daily

Texas billionaire and onetime presidential candidate H. Ross Perot testified to a Congressional committee in 2002 regarding issues with the vaccine and its manufacturer.

"BioPort is a mess," Perot said, referring to the Pentagon contractor, which has since changed its name to Emergent BioSolutions. "BioPort should not be able to keep that contract. For years they never met any goals or objectives.. .For years they got bonuses that equaled or exceeded their salaries and didn't accomplish
their goals."

"The damage that was done to our Tigers in the Armed Forces is incredible," he added. "Hundreds of pilots have left the Air Force rather than take the shot. $6 million to train one pilot. That's a high price to pay, right?"

Ivins had worked on producing an anthrax vaccine. Documents presented by federal prosecutors paint a portrait of a paranoid man who suffered delusions. Their evidence against him, however, has been questioned. Sources who spoke to the press said that the Justice Department was close to charging Ivins when he took his own life, but that they still had more investigating to do. The Department asserts
that Ivins acted alone.

Iowa Republican Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), has called for a "full-blown accounting" of the probe, which cost taxpayers $15 million and took seven years, according to the Washington Post. Democratic Rep. Rush D. Holt (D-NJ), who represents the region the deadly letters were mailed from from, says hearings should be held as to "why investigators are so certain that Ivins acted alone."


August 6, 2008

DOJ Spin: Ivins only Anthrax Killer

Documents, US officials: Ivins only anthrax killer

Associated Press Writers

WASHINGTON (AP) - Army scientist Bruce Ivins "was the only person responsible" for anthrax attacks in 2001 that killed five and rattled the nation, the Justice Department said Wednesday, backing up the claim with dozens of documents all pointing to his guilt.

Ivins committed suicide last week as investigators closed in, and U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Taylor said, "We regret that we will not have the opportunity to present evidence to the jury."

The prosecutor's news conference capped a fast-paced series of events in which the government partially lifted its veil of secrecy in the case that followed closely after the airliner terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Documents made public alleged that Ivins had sole custody of highly purified anthrax spores with "certain genetic mutations identical" to the poison used in the attacks, and that investigators had traced back to Ivins' lab the type of envelopes used to send the deadly spores through the mails.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

WASHINGTON (AP)—Army scientist Bruce Ivins had sole custody of highly purified anthrax spores with "certain genetic mutations identical" to the poison that killed five people and rattled the nation in 2001, according to documents unsealed Wednesday in the government's investigation.

Investigators also reported tracing back to Ivins' lab the type of envelopes used to send the deadly spores through the mails.

The scientist, depicted in the newly released papers as deeply troubled, committed suicide last week as investigators were preparing to charge him with murder in the attacks.

The documents were released as the FBI held a private briefing for families of the victims of the episode, and officials said the agency was preparing to close the case.

More than 200 pages of documents were made public by the FBI, virtually all of them describing the government's attempts to link Ivins to crimes that his lawyer has said he did not commit.

Senate Sergeant at Arms Terrance Gainer, who attended a briefing for congressional staff, said FBI agents had told the group there was no evidence that anyone else was involved.

According to one affidavit made public, Ivins submitted false anthrax samples to the FBI, was unable to give investigators "an adequate explanation for his late laboratory work hours around the time of" the attacks and sought to frame unnamed co-workers.

He was also said to have received immunizations against anthrax and yellow fever in early September 2001, several weeks before the first anthrax-laced envelope was received in the mail.

The government material describes at length painstaking scientific efforts to trace the source of the anthrax that was used in the attacks.

It says that in his lab, Ivins had custody of a flask of anthrax termed "the genetic parent" to the powder involved—a source that investigators say was used to grow spores for the attacks on "at least two separate occasions."

Anthrax culled from the letters was quickly discovered to be the so-called Ames strain of bacteria, but with genetic mutations that made it distinct. Scientists developed more sophisticated tests for four of those mutations, and concluded that all the samples that matched came from a single batch, code-named RMR-1029, stored at Fort Detrick.

Ivins "has been the sole custodian of RMR-1029 since it was first grown in 1997," said one affidavit.

Powder from anthrax-laden letters sent to the New York Post and Tom Brokaw of NBC contained a bacterial contaminant not found in the anthrax-containing envelopes mailed to Sens. Patrick Leahy or Tom Daschle, the affidavit said.

Investigators concluded that "the contaminant must have been introduced during the production of the Post and Brokaw spores," the affidavit said.

The events in Washington unfolded as a memorial service was held for Ivins at Fort Detrick, the secret government installation in Frederick, Md., where he worked. Reporters were barred.

The documents disclosed that authorities searched Ivins' home on Nov. 2, 2007, taking 22 swabs of vacuum filters and radiators and seizing dozens of items. Among them were video cassettes, family photos, information about guns and a copy of "The Plague" by Albert Camus.

Investigators also reported seizing three cardboard boxes labeled "Paul Kemp ... attorney client privilege."

Ivins' cars and his safe deposit box also were searched as investigators closed in on the respected government scientist who had been troubled by mental health problems for years.

According to an affidavit filed by Charles B. Wickersham, a postal inspector, the scientist told an unnamed co-worker "that he had `incredible paranoid, delusional thoughts at times' and 'feared that he might not be able to control his behavior.'"

A mental health worker who was involved in treating Ivins disclosed last week that she was so concerned about his behavior that she recently sought a court order to keep him away from her.

Allegations that Ivins sought to mislead investigators ran through the material made public.

One FBI document said Ivins "repeatedly named other researchers as possible mailers and claimed that the anthrax used in the attacks resembled that of another researcher" at the same facility.

The name of the other researcher was not disclosed.

Stephen A. Hatfill's career as a bioscientist was ruined after then-Attorney General John Ashcroft named him a "person of interest" in the probe. The government recently paid $6 million to settle a lawsuit by Hatfill, who worked in the same lab.

The documents made public painted a picture of Ivins seeking to mislead investigators beginning in 2002, when he allegedly submitted the wrong samples to FBI investigators.

It wasn't until more than two yeras later, in March 2005, that he was confronted with the alleged switch, according to U.S. Postal Inspector Thomas Dellafera, who added that Ivins insisted he had not sought to deceive.

The documents, which were expected to shed light on many of the mysteries surrounding the case, were released following an order from U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth. Among them were more than a dozen search warrants issued as the government closed in on Ivins in an investigation into the terrifying mail poisonings a few weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Lamberth ordered the release after consultation with Amy Jeffress, a national security prosecutor at the Department of Justice.

The investigation dates to 2001, when anthrax-laced mail turned up in two Senate offices as well as news media offices and elsewhere. At the time, the events were widely viewed as the work of terrorists, and delivery of mail was crippled when anthrax spores were discovered in mailing equipment that had processed the contaminated envelopes.

The FBI's investigation had dragged on for years, tarnishing the reputation of the agency in the process.

Ivins' lawyer has maintained that the 62-year-old scientist would have been proved innocent had he lived. And some of Ivins' friends and former co-workers at the Fort Detrick biological warfare lab say they doubt he could or would have unleashed the deadly toxin.

August 3, 2008

DOJ Search Warrant - July 11, 2008

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (hereinafter "Task Force") investigation of the anthrax attacks has led to the identification of Dr. Bruce Edward Ivins, an anthrax researcher at the U.S. Army Medical ~esearch'hstitutefo r Infectious Diseases, Fort Detrick, MD (hereinafter "USAMRIID"), as a person necessitating further investigation for several reasons: (1) At the time of the attacks, he was the custodian of a large
flask of highly purified anthrax spores that possess certain genetic mutations identical to the anthrax used in the attacks; (2) Ivins has been unable to give investigators an adequate explanation for his late night laboratory work hours around the time of both anthrax mailings; (3) Ivins has claimed that he was suffering serious mental health issues in the months preceding the attacks, and told a coworker that he had "incredible paranoid, delusional thoughts at times" and
feared that he might not be able to control his behavior; (4) Ivins is believed to have submitted false samples of anthrax from his lab to the FBI for forensic analysis in order to mislead investigators; (5) at the time of the attacks, Ivins was under pressure at work to assist a private company that had lost its FDA approval to produce an anthrax vaccine the Army needed for U.S. troops, and which Ivins elieved was essential for the anthrax program at USAMRIID; and (6)
Ivins sent an email to hfew days before the anthrax attacks warning that "Bin Laden terrorists or sure lave anthrax and sarin gas" and have "just decreed death to ail Jews and all Americans," language similar to the anthrax letters warning "WE HAVE THIS ANTHRAX . . . DEATH TO AMERICA . . . DEATH TO ISRAEL." In his affidavit dated October 3 1,2007, submitted in support of an initial search of the residence and
vehicles of Bruce Edwards Ivins, Supervisory Postal Inspector Thomas F. Delafera described in greater detail information regarding Bruce Edwards Ivins, and his probable connection to the anthrax mailings. I hereby incorporate this affidavit by reference herein.

August 1, 2008

Suspect in anthrax-letter deaths kills himself

NOTE: "For more than a decade, Ivins had worked to develop an anthrax
vaccine that was effective even in cases where different strains of
anthrax were mixed — a situation that made vaccines ineffective —
according to federal documents reviewed by the AP. In 2003, he shared
the Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service for his work on the
anthrax vaccine. The award is the highest honor given to Defense
Department civilian employees."


WASHINGTON (AP) — Anthrax-laced letters that killed five people and severely rattled the post-9/11 nation may have been part of an Army scientist's warped plan to test his cure for the deadly toxin, officials said Friday. The brilliant but troubled scientist committed suicide this week, knowing prosecutors were closing in.

The sudden naming of scientist Bruce E. Ivins as the top — and perhaps only — suspect in the anthrax attacks marks the latest bizarre twist in a case that has confounded the FBI for nearly seven years. Last month, the Justice Department cleared Ivins' colleague, Steven Hatfill, who had been wrongly suspected in the case, and paid him $5.8 million.

Ivins worked at the Army's biological warfare labs at Fort Detrick, Md., for 18 years until his death on Tuesday. He was one of the government's leading scientists researching vaccines and cures for anthrax exposure. But he also had a long history of homicidal threats, according to papers filed last week in local court by a social worker.

The letters contained anthrax powder were sent on the heels of the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and turned up at congressional offices, newsrooms and elsewhere, leaving a deadly trail through post offices on the way. The powder killed five and sent numerous victims to hospitals and caused near panic in many locations.

Workers in protective garb that made them look like space men decontaminated U.S. Capitol buildings after anthrax letters were discovered there. Major postal substations were closed for years. Newsrooms were checked all over after anthrax letters were mailed to offices in Florida and New York.

The Justice Department said Friday only that "substantial progress has been made in the investigation." The statement did not identify Ivins.

However, several U.S. officials said prosecutors were focusing on the 62-year-old Ivins and planned to seek a murder indictment and the death penalty. Authorities were investigating whether Ivins, who had complained about the limits of testing anthrax drugs on animals, had released the toxin to test the treatment on humans.

The officials all discussed the continuing investigation on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

The Justice Department is expected to decide within days whether to close the "Amerithrax" investigation now that its main target is dead. If the case remains open, that could indicate there still are other suspects.

Ivins' attorney asserted the scientist's innocence and said he had cooperated with investigators for more than a year.

"We are saddened by his death, and disappointed that we will not have the opportunity to defend his good name and reputation in a court of law," said Paul F. Kemp.

Ivins died Tuesday at Frederick Memorial Hospital in Maryland. Relatives told The Associated Press that he killed himself. Kemp said his client's death was the result of the government's "relentless pressure of accusation and innuendo."

For more than a decade, Ivins had worked to develop an anthrax vaccine that was effective even in cases where different strains of anthrax were mixed — a situation that made vaccines ineffective — according to federal documents reviewed by the AP. In 2003, he shared the Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service for his work on the anthrax vaccine. The award is the highest honor given to Defense Department civilian employees.

Ivins conducted numerous anthrax studies, including one that complained about the limited supply of monkeys available for testing. The study also said animal testing couldn't accurately show how humans would respond to anthrax treatment.

The Fort Detrick laboratory and its specialized scientists for years have been at the center of the FBI's investigation of the anthrax mailings. In late June, the government exonerated Hatfill, whose name has for years had been associated with the attacks. Then-Attorney General John Ashcroft called him a "person of interest" in 2002.

Investigators also had noticed Ivins' unusual behavior at Fort Detrick in the six months following the anthrax mailings. He conducted unauthorized testing for anthrax spores outside containment areas at the infectious disease research unit where he worked, according to an internal report. But the focus stayed on Hatfill.

Ivins' friends, colleagues and court documents paint a picture of a flourishing scientist with an emotionally unstable side. Maryland court documents show he recently received psychiatric treatment and was ordered to stay away from a woman he was accused of stalking and threatening to kill.

Social worker Jean C. Duley filed handwritten court documents last week saying she was preparing to testify before a grand jury. She said Ivins would be charged with five capital murders.

"Client has a history dating to his graduate days of homicidal threats, plans and actions towards therapist," Duley said, adding that his psychiatrist had described him as homicidal and sociopathic.

Authorities have been watching Ivins for some time. His brother, Tom Ivins, said federal agents questioned the scientist about a year and a half ago. Neighbors said FBI agents in cars with tinted windows conducted surveillance on his home. A colleague, Henry S. Heine, said that over the past year, he and others on their team had testified before a federal grand jury in Washington that has been investigating the anthrax mailings.

On July 10, police responded to Fort Detrick to speak with Ivins. He was ultimately removed from his job and taken to a hospital for psychiatric evaluation because of concern he had become a danger to himself or others.

The victims of the attacks had little in common.

Robert Stevens, 63, a photo editor at the Sun, a supermarket tabloid published in Boca Raton, Fla., was the first to die.

Thomas Morris Jr. 55, and Joseph Curseen, 47, worked at a Washington-area postal facility that was a hub for sorting the capital's mail.

Kathy Nguyen, 61, who had emigrated from Vietnam and lived in the Bronx, worked in a stock room at Manhattan Eye Ear & Throat Hospital, a Children's Hearing Institute. Ottilie Lundgren, 94, who lived in Oxford, Conn.

Officials eyed death penalty for anthrax suspect


Honored by Pentagon
In 2003, Ivins and two of his colleagues at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick received the highest honor given to Defense Department civilian employees for helping solve technical problems in the manufacture of anthrax vaccine.

In 1997, U.S. military personnel began receiving the vaccine to protect against a possible biological attack. Within months, a number of vaccine lots failed a potency test required by federal regulators, causing a shortage of vaccine and eventually halting the immunization program. The USAMRIID team's work led to the reapproval of the vaccine for human use.

The Times said Ivins was the son of a Princeton-educated pharmacist who was born and raised in Lebanon, Ohio. He received undergraduate and graduate degrees, including a Ph.D. in microbiology, from the University of Cincinnati.

Officials eyed death penalty for anthrax suspect

http://www.msnbc. 25961053/

Death penalty loomed over anthrax suspect

Government researcher apparently killed himself as prosecutors closed in

NBC News and news services

updated 12:46 p.m. ET, Fri., Aug. 1, 2008

WASHINGTON - A top U.S. biodefense researcher apparently committed suicide this week as prosecutors prepared to seek indictment and the death penalty against him for the deadly 2001 anthrax attacks, U.S. officials said Friday.

The scientist, Bruce E. Ivins, was a leading military anthrax researcher who worked for the past 18 years at the government's biodefense labs at Fort Detrick, Md. The laboratory has been at the center of the FBI's investigation of the anthrax mailings.

For more than a decade, Ivins worked to develop an anthrax vaccine that was effective even in cases where different strains of anthrax were mixed, which made vaccines ineffective, according to federal documents reviewed by the AP.

In his research, he complained of the limited supply of monkeys available for testing and said testing on animals is insufficient to demonstrate how humans would respond to treatment.

Federal officials told NBC News that Ivins was asked to help analyze some of the anthrax material recovered from mailings that killed five people in the weeks following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. He also helped develop the anthrax vaccine widely given to U.S. troops.

A painstaking scientific examination of the anthrax used in the mailings — an analysis that took years — showed that it came from anthrax strains held at Ivins' lab, U.S. officials told NBC News on condition of anonymity.

Other U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the ongoing grand jury investigation, said prosecutors were closing in on Ivins, 62. They were planning an indictment that would have sought the death penalty for the attacks, which killed five people, crippled the postal system and traumatized a nation still reeling from the Sept. 11 attacks.

Authorities were investigating whether Ivins released the anthrax as a way to test his vaccine, officials said. The Justice Department has not yet decided whether to close the investigation, officials said, meaning it's still not certain whether Ivins acted alone or had help. One official close to the case said that decision was expected within days.

If the case is closed soon, one official said, that will indicate that Ivins was the lone suspect.

White House press secretary Dana Perino declined to comment on the case, except to say that President Bush has maintained an interest in it over the years and was aware there were "about to be developments. " She would not say how much he knew about the Ivins case.

Ivins' attorney said the scientist had cooperated with investigators for more than a year.

"We are saddened by his death, and disappointed that we will not have the opportunity to defend his good name and reputation in a court of law," attorney Paul F. Kemp said. "We assert his innocence in these killings, and would have established that at trial."

Kemp said that Ivins' death was the result of the government's "relentless pressure of accusation and innuendo."

The biodefense institute issued a statement saying its " family mourns the loss of Dr. Bruce Ivins, who served the institute for more than 35 years as a civilian microbiologist. In addition to his long and faithful government service, Bruce contributed to our community as a Red Cross volunteer with the Frederick County chapter. We will miss him very much."

Peer doubts Ivins was guilty
Ivins was "hounded" by aggressive FBI agents who raided his home twice, said Dr. W. Russell Byrne, a colleague who worked in the bacteriology division of the Fort Detrick research facility for 15 years. Byrne said Ivins was forcefully removed from his job by local police recently because of fears that he had become a danger to himself or others. The investigation led to Ivins being hospitalized for depression earlier this month, Byrne said.

He said he does not believe Ivins was behind the anthrax attacks.

Ivins died Tuesday at Frederick Memorial Hospital in Maryland. The Los Angeles Times, which first reported the investigation, said the scientist had taken a massive dose of a prescription Tylenol mixed with codeine. A woman who answered the phone at Bruce Ivins' home in Frederick declined to comment.

Tom Ivins, a brother of the scientist, told The Associated Press that his other brother, Charles, had told him that Bruce committed suicide and Tylenol might have been involved.

Investigated for months
Tom Ivins said Friday that federal officials working on the anthrax case questioned him about his brother a year and a half ago. "They said they were investigating him," he said from Ohio, where he lives, in a CNN interview.

FBI vehicles with tinted windows had watched Ivins' home for a year, neighbor Natalie Duggan, 16, said.

"They said, 'We're on official business,' " she said.

Five people died and 17 were sickened by anthrax powder in letters that were mailed to lawmakers' Capitol Hill offices, TV networks in New York, and tabloid newspaper offices in Florida. Two postal workers in a Washington mail facility, a New York hospital worker, a Florida photo editor and an elderly Connecticut woman were killed.

In late June, the government exonerated a colleague of Ivins, Steven Hatfill. Hatfill's name has for years had been associated with the attacks after investigators named him a "person of interest" in 2002.

The government paid Hatfill $5.82 million to settle a lawsuit contending he was falsely accused and had been made a scapegoat for the crimes.

Due to the privacy lawsuit with Hatfill, the Justice Department and the FBI are being cautious about how much information they reveal about the investigation into Ivins, federal lawyers told NBC News' Pete Williams.

"We are not at this time making any official statements or comments regarding this situation," said Debbie Weierman, a spokeswoman for the FBI's Washington field office, which is investigating the anthrax attacks, said Friday.

Despite his death, Ivins and his estate, which is now controlled by his family, still retain privacy rights, the lawyers said. However, the officials said they are well aware that at some point they will need to make a full accounting.

Unusual behavior by Ivins was noted at Fort Detrick in the six months following the anthrax mailings, when he conducted unauthorized testing for anthrax spores outside containment areas at the infectious disease research unit where he worked, according to an internal report. But the focus long stayed on Hatfill.

After the government's settlement with Hatfill was announced in late June, Ivins started showing signs of strain, the Times said. It quoted a longtime colleague as saying Ivins was being treated for depression and indicated to a therapist that he was considering suicide.

Family members and local police escorted Ivins away from the Army lab, and his access to sensitive areas was curtailed, the colleague told the newspaper. He said Ivins was facing a forced retirement in September.

Maryland court documents show he recently received psychiatric treatment. Last week he was ordered to stay away from a woman he was accused of stalking and threatening to kill.

Ivins played keyboard and helped clean up after masses at St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in Frederick, where a dozen parishioners gathered after morning Mass to pray for him Friday.

The Rev. Richard Murphy called Ivins “a quiet man. He was always very helpful and pleasant.”

Colleagues react
Henry S. Heine, a scientist who had worked with Ivins on inhalation anthrax research at Fort Detrick, said he and others on their team have testified before a federal grand jury in Washington that has been investigating the anthrax mailings for more than a year.

Heine declined to comment on Ivins' death.

Norman Covert, a retired Fort Detrick spokesman who served with Ivins on an animal-care and protocol committee, said Ivins was "a very intent guy" at their meetings.

Ivins was the co-author of numerous anthrax studies, including one on a treatment for inhalation anthrax published in the July 7 issue of the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

The Los Angeles Times said federal investigators moved away from Hatfill and concluded Ivins was the culprit after FBI Director Robert Mueller changed leadership of the investigation in 2006. The new investigators instructed agents to re-examine leads and reconsider potential suspects. In the meantime, investigators made progress in analyzing anthrax powder recovered from letters addressed to two U.S. senators, according to the report.

In January 2002, the FBI doubled the reward for helping solve the case to $2.5 million, and by June officials said the agency was scrutinizing 20 to 30 scientists who might have had the knowledge and opportunity to send the anthrax letters.

Honored by Pentagon
In 2003, Ivins and two of his colleagues at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick received the highest honor given to Defense Department civilian employees for helping solve technical problems in the manufacture of anthrax vaccine.

In 1997, U.S. military personnel began receiving the vaccine to protect against a possible biological attack. Within months, a number of vaccine lots failed a potency test required by federal regulators, causing a shortage of vaccine and eventually halting the immunization program. The USAMRIID team's work led to the reapproval of the vaccine for human use.

The Times said Ivins was the son of a Princeton-educated pharmacist who was born and raised in Lebanon, Ohio. He received undergraduate and graduate degrees, including a Ph.D. in microbiology, from the University of Cincinnati.

NBC News' Pete Williams and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

URL: http://www.msnbc. 25961053/