September 24, 2008

Efforts continue to posthumously promote EHartford man who opposed military vaccinations

Efforts continue to posthumously promote EHartford man who opposed military vaccinations
By Thomas D. Williams
Special to the Journal Inquirer
Published: Wednesday, September 24, 2008 10:34 AM EDT

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is continuing months of efforts to press the state’s National Guard and Gov. M. Jodi Rell to posthumously promote Russell Dingle of East Hartford — one of the nationwide leaders of a successful effort to promote drug safety and licensing requirements for the military’s mandatory anthrax vaccine inoculations.

“Lieutenant Colonel Dingle, at great personal and professional sacrifice, not only persevered in challenging the legality of the vaccine, but also succeeded in forcing the (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) to correct the warning label on the vaccine — thereby avoiding birth defects and other serious health problems for many people,” Blumenthal said in a May letter to Rell.

“Therefore, I strongly urge you to consider this posthumous promotion as a fitting tribute to a Connecticut Air National Guard member, someone who did so much for his fellow soldiers, his state, and his country,” he wrote.

The attorney general long has supported efforts by Dingle and others to stop the use of the vaccine because he considered it unsafe and improperly licensed.

Dingle, who died of cancer at 49 in September 2005, waged an unprecedented eight-year battle to compel government recognition of improper licensing of the controversial vaccine.

Eventually, his protests to government agencies, the courts, and two presidential administrations helped result in a December 2003 ruling from U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan in Washington, D.C., temporarily blocking required military inoculations eventually aimed at all 2.4 million service members.

After the Food and Drug Administration made adjustments to the vaccine’s license, ordered by Sullivan’s ruling, the Pentagon continued mandatory vaccinations. The inoculations caused thousands of adverse reactions and hundreds of disciplinary actions, including service removals of military men and women who refused to be vaccinated.

“What began as a task to investigate the anthrax vaccine (Tiger Team Alpha) has resulted in nonspecific personal threats, verbal abuse, ostracism, and, most recently, defamation of character and slander,” Dingle wrote in a February 1999 letter to his commander, Col. Walter Burns, weeks after he and seven other veteran combat pilots announced they were being forced out of the Air National Guard. He and others involved in opposing the vaccine, Dingle said, were being compared to “Nazi sympathizers.”

In August of this year, the FBI identified its second prime suspect in the September 2001 attacks that involved anthrax spore mailed to media outlets, two Democratic U.S. senators, and others: military lab vaccine scientist Bruce Ivans. The FBI insisted the national threat to cut off use of the anthrax vaccine motivated Ivans to spread terror with the spores to promote the vaccine he had a financial interest in.

Federal government discussions, including some involving former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, aimed at possibly halting the mandatory inoculations resulted in part from the earlier legal battle and other governmental pressures brought by Dingle and several Air Force colleagues. Initially, soon after the attacks, high-level officials, including President Bush, suggested foreign agents spread the anthrax spores and, as a result, the threat to discontinue the vaccine ended.

But, in fact, Dingle and Air Force Reserve Maj. Thomas Rempfer — a close friend, fellow military pilot, and vaccine-fighting colleague — argued that the threat of a foreign anthrax spore attack is remote. It had been used only once, and unsuccessfully, in 1995 by terrorist group Aum Shinrikyo in a Tokyo subway station, they said. And what’s more, Dingle and Rempfer added, the spore is difficult, dangerous, and expensive to produce.

A month after Blumenthal’s request to promote Dingle, Maj. Gen. Thaddeus J. Martin, the state’s adjutant general, rejected it. Martin said Dingle “voluntarily transferred” from the Guard to the U.S. Air Force Reserve, so he wasn’t qualified for Guard promotion.

But Dingle repeatedly had insisted he was forced out of the Guard in early 1999 because Guard officials didn’t want to accept his investigative findings that the vaccine was a dangerous health threat and was improperly licensed.

Most recently this month, Blumenthal — after reviewing evidence supporting Dingle’s claim supplied by a reporter — sent another request to authorities because he became convinced that Dingle was illegally forced out of the National Guard.

Dingle’s inspiration to oppose the vaccine arose in 1998 after Burns, his former Air Force National Guard commander, assigned him and Rempfer, then both majors and pilots, to research all aspects of the controversial drug.

After their “Tiger Team Alpha” found the vaccine to be too likely to cause adverse reactions, to have failed manufacturing inspections, and to have been improperly licensed, Burns rejected their conclusions.

A video shows that Burns later told Guard members they would be “traitors” if they failed to take the vaccine.

A deposition of Burns quotes him as saying: “If you do not get the shot during this time period … all you’re doing is kicking the can … if some of these issues are burning inside you. … Can’t have that because words like traitor start coming up in my mind, and I don’t have a lot of time for those kind of people. … If you’re not going to be ready to go to war whenever we’re called, you are sponging America as far as I’m concerned.”

The videotape, sworn testimony, and other data were e-mailed by a reporter to Martin, the state’s adjutant general. Martin, who in the February 1999 letter from Dingle to the Guard was accused of berating Dingle, continued to insist Dingle voluntarily resigned.

Ultimately, his press spokesman, Lt. Col. John Whitford, insisted that all queries be directed to Air Force headquarters in Washington, D.C. Air Force spokesman Michael Andrews said any such questions should be addressed instead to the National Guard Bureau in Washington, D.C. And there, spokeswoman Kristine M. Munn ultimately told a reporter that such subjects were in the purview of the Connecticut National Guard.

Blumenthal is asking the Guard and Rell to promote Dingle to the rank of full colonel from his Guard rank as major. After leaving the Guard in early 1999, Dingle moved into the Air Force Reserves and eventually was promoted to lieutenant colonel.

Rempfer supports the attorney general’s efforts. He said Dingle “should be posthumously promoted to full colonel, though he likely would have risen farther had he been allowed to remain. Russ was a leader with unparalleled integrity, and the state of Connecticut should honor his service accordingly.”

A Rell spokesman, Christopher Cooper, declined comment until the governor reviews a letter Blumenthal is preparing for unidentified authorities.

In May 2001 Dingle wrote to three congressmen seeking their intervention in the court-martial of then-Air Force Capt. John Buck, a medical doctor, who refused to take the vaccine.

He said: “`When the U.S. military no longer allows for professional dissent within its ranks; when the U.S. military mandates that any and all orders be obeyed regardless of their moral or legal basis; when the U.S. military allows its members to defend themselves with ‘I was just following orders’; then the U.S. military will cease to attract men and women of principle and honor. … It will end up resembling the military organizations that we have fought for the last 60 years.”

Dingle was survived by his wife, Jane; two daughters, Megan and Emma; and his mother, Barbara.

September 17, 2008

Scientist concedes 'honest mistake' about weaponized anthrax,0,1753550.story
From the Los Angeles Times

Scientist concedes 'honest mistake' about weaponized anthrax

Peter B. Jahrling, who aided the federal probe of the 2001 mailings, says he erred when he told White House officials that material he examined probably had been altered to make it more deadly. By David Willman
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

9:53 PM PDT, September 16, 2008

WASHINGTON — An acclaimed government scientist who assisted the federal investigation of the 2001 anthrax mailings said Tuesday that he erred seven years ago when he told top Bush administration officials that material he examined probably had been altered to make it more deadly.

The scientist, Peter B. Jahrling, had observed anthrax spores with the aid of an electron microscope at the government's biological warfare research facility at Ft. Detrick, Md.

On Oct. 24, 2001, Jahrling was summoned to the White House after reporting to his superiors what he believed to be signs that silicon had been added to anthrax recovered from a letter addressed to then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.).

The presence of silicon was viewed with alarm because the material, if artificially added to the anthrax, would make it more buoyant in air and more capable of penetrating deeply into the lungs.

"I believe I made an honest mistake," Jahrling said in response to questions e-mailed to him for this article, adding that he had been "overly impressed" by what he thought he saw under the microscope.

"I should never have ventured into this area," said Jahrling, who is a virologist, referring to his analysis of the anthrax, which is a bacterium. Jahrling's initial analysis -- and his briefing of officials at the White House -- was first detailed in a 2002 book by bestselling author Richard Preston.

Although Jahrling was careful in 2001 not to implicate Iraq or any other regime in the mailings, others used his analysis to allege that the silicon perhaps linked the letters to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Inhaled anthrax can kill at a rate of 80% to 90% unless patients are treated quickly with an antibiotic.

Jahrling's comments Tuesday came soon after a congressional hearing at which FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III announced that he was arranging for an outside review of scientific findings that helped the bureau conclude that another scientist at Ft. Detrick, Bruce E. Ivins, perpetrated the deadly mailings. The review is to be overseen by the National Academy of Sciences, Mueller said.

FBI scientists and outside experts hired by the bureau to analyze the anthrax recovered from the mailings announced Aug. 18 that although they had found silicon, it occurred within the spores naturally and was not added.

In challenging those experts, one journalist reminded them that Jahrling, among other scientists, had concluded otherwise.

Some critics of the FBI investigation have asserted that Ivins lacked the skills to have "weaponized" the anthrax with any additive that enhanced its virulence.

At Tuesday's hearing, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), pressed Mueller anew about how the silicon got into the spores.

After being informed of the events at the hearing, Jahrling renounced his earlier analysis.

"In retrospect," Jahrling said, "I believe I was mistaken and defer to the experts."

Ivins, 62, a civilian bacteriologist for the Army, died July 29 after ingesting a massive dose of prescription Tylenol 3.

Attorneys Ivins had hired to defend him against criminal charges being prepared by the Justice Department have said that they would have won his acquittal if the case had gone to trial.

In 2001, Jahrling briefed a roomful of officials at the White House, including Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft, Mueller and Tom Ridge, President Bush's secretary of Homeland Security.

The next day, the Washington Post published a front-page article headlined "Additive Made Spores Deadlier" that reported:

"The presence of the high-grade additive was confirmed for the first time yesterday by a government source familiar with the ongoing studies, which are being conducted by scientists" at Ft. Detrick.

The article said that the United States, the former Soviet Union and Iraq were "the only three nations known to have developed the kind of additives that enable anthrax spores to remain suspended in the air, making them more easily inhaled" and more deadly.

At the time, Jahrling was employed as the senior civilian scientist at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, within Ft. Detrick.

Jahrling is a past winner of the Secretary of Defense Meritorious Civilian Service Award.

Michael P. Kortan, a spokesman for Mueller, said after the congressional hearing that the FBI was seeking the outside review while maintaining "full confidence in our scientific approach."

"Consideration of an outside review began before any public disclosure of the scientific aspects of the investigation," Kortan said.

Times researcher Janet Lundblad in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

September 16, 2008

United States citizens are increasingly enslaved, manipulated and murdered by corporations, and very few of them seem to realize it

United States citizens are increasingly enslaved, manipulated and murdered by corporations, and very few of them seem to realize it!

2008-09-16 13:37:30 - US Attorney Jeff Taylor was sweating on August 6, as he laid out his case against the late Dr. Bruce Ivins at a news conference­and with good reason. Anyone familiar with the case is well aware that Dr. Ivins was railroaded, and that the news conference was a flimsy web of lies.

Washington DC-based journalist Sheila Casey and attorney/peace activist Barry Kissin write:

Ivins had nothing to do with the 2001 anthrax attacks. The attacks were almost certainly carried out by the only group that had the means to produce the highly weaponized anthrax in the letters: the CIA, its contractor Battelle Memorial Institute of West Jefferson, Ohio, and the Army at Dugway in Utah.

The DOJ-FBI frame-up of Ivins rests heavily upon the claim of new advances in genetic testing which supposedly prove that the killer anthrax could have come only from Ivins' flask. Jeff Taylor stated: "The FBI sought out the best experts in the scientific community and, over time, four highly sensitive and specific tests were developed that were capable of detecting the unique qualities of the anthrax used in the 2001 attacks."

This is a distraction. No special tests were required to assess the genetic heritage of the Ames strain in the envelopes. The Washington Post reported on December 16, 2001 that "only five laboratories, so far, have been found to have spores with perfect genetic matches to those in the Senate letters."

The distinguishing feature of the anthrax that killed five people in 2001 is not related to its genes. What made that anthrax unique was that it was highly weaponized. Anthrax is a common pathogen found in the soil in many places. It doesn't become a potential weapon unless produced in such a way that it behaves like a gas, floating easily in the air and deep into a victim's lungs. The anthrax used in the attacks was beyond cutting edge.

Donald A. Henderson, former assistant secretary for the Office of Public Health Preparedness at the Department of Health and Human Services, told Science magazine: "It just didn't have to be that good" to be lethal.

Why the killer anthrax was so deadly?

Precisely-sized particles­1.5 to 5 microns. Anything smaller is exhaled, anything larger tends to get caught either in the nose or in the cilia in the trachea.
Coated with silica. The silica acted as a buffer, preventing spores from adhering to one another. The silica on the attack anthrax rested on a thin layer of polymerized glass, which is a highly advanced technique for coating anthrax spores. To do this required a "spray dryer," the cheapest of which sells for $50,000. The lyophilizer in Ivins' lab is used to dry anthrax, but can NOT be used to coat the spores with silica. Ivins did not have a spray dryer.

Highly concentrated. The letter to Senator Daschle's office contained two grams of anthrax, about the weight of a dime. Each gram contained a trillion pure spores of anthrax, or enough to kill 200 million people.

Electrically charged. The same charge on each particle (of spores) caused the particles to repel each other and thus to spread out into the room after the envelope was opened.

No electrostatic charge. The particles were specially treated to eliminate electrostatic charges so they float in the air. It is these attributes of the anthrax­not its genetic heritage­which made it so unique and so lethal.

The source of the anthrax was clear in 2001

US Attorney Jeff Taylor characterized a flask in Dr. Ivin's possession as "the murder weapon." But a December 12, 2001 article in the Baltimore Sun stated: For nearly a decade, US Army scientists at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah have made small quantities of weapons-grade anthrax that is virtually identical to the powdery spores used in the mail attacks that have killed five people.

The article refers to Dugway as "the only site in the United States where weapons-grade anthrax has been made in recent years," and also includes this: Dugway's production of weapons-grade anthrax, which has never before been publicly revealed, is apparently the first by the U.S. government since President Richard M. Nixon ordered the US offensive bio-warfare program closed in 1969.

The following day, The Washington Post echoed the Sun article: An Army biological and chemical warfare facility in Utah has been quietly developing a virulent, weapons-grade formulation of anthrax spores since at least 1992.

On December 16, 2001, The Washington Post corroborated the Sun report by stating that "Dugway is the only facility known in recent years to have processed anthrax spores into the powdery form that is most easily inhaled," also stating, "Army officials in Washington said yesterday that Fort Detrick does not have the equipment for making dried anthrax spores."

On September 4, 2001, The New York Times exposed: Over the past several years, the United States has embarked on a program of secret research on biological weapons . . . even the [Clinton] White House was unaware of their full scope. The projects, which have not been previously disclosed . . . have been embraced by the Bush administration, which intends to expand them.

These projects involve the CIA, Battelle Memorial Laboratories in West Jefferson, Ohio, and the Army at Dugway in Utah.

The need to keep such projects secret was a significant reason behind President Bush's recent rejection of a draft agreement to strengthen the germ-weapons treaty, (the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention) which has been signed by 143 nations. Had the treaty been strengthened, the Dugway and West Jefferson sites would have been subject to international inspections. It is important to note that Battelle not only operates its labs in West Jefferson, but also is contracted by the Army to operate the labs at Dugway.

The DOJ-FBI news conference on August 6, 2008, was a deliberate attempt to divert attention from the secret anthrax weaponization projects by pinning the crimes on a dead man. So far the DOJ-FBI have succeeded in covering up the real perpetrators of the crime, concealing the illegal weapons program, and persuading many that it is time to close the investigation.

Dr. Ivins was an immunologist; he had neither the knowledge nor the equipment to produce the silica-coated, electro-statically charged, 1.5 to 5 micron sized, one trillion spore per gram anthrax that was mailed to Senators Leahy and Daschle. The DOJ has made much of the fact that Ivins worked 45 extra hours in September and October of 2001. Yet when the FBI attempted to reverse engineer the weaponized anthrax from the attacks, they admitted after a year of trying that they were unable to come up with a product as potent as that in the letters.

Scientists doubt FBI's story

As far back as October 28, 2002, The Washington Post reported that bio-weapons experts were skeptical about the view that the anthrax in the letters could have come from a lone nut: 'In my opinion, there are maybe four or five people in the whole country who might be able to make this stuff, and I'm one of them,' said Richard O. Spertzel, former deputy commander of USAMRIID (the Army bio-defense facility at Detrick). 'And even with a good lab and staff to help run it, it might take me a year to come up with a product as good.'

Writing in The New York Times on August 9, 2008, Gerry Andrews, an assistant professor of microbiology at the University of Wyoming, described the envelopes' contents as "a startlingly refined weapons-grade anthrax spore preparation, the likes of which had never been seen before by personnel at Fort Detrick." He continued: "It is extremely improbable that this type of preparation could ever have been produced at Fort Detrick, certainly not of the grade and quality found in that envelope."

Abundant evidence that Ivins is innocent

Ivins passed two polygraph tests and no link was made between his handwriting and that on the anthrax letters. Investigators were so frustrated at Ivins passing the polygraph tests that they searched his house for books or articles on how to fool a polygraph, but found none. US Attorney Jeff Taylor stated that the investigators zeroed in on Ivins when they "conducted additional investigative steps," and thus were "able to narrow the focus even further, exclude individuals, and that left us looking at Dr. Ivins." Those "additional investigative steps" were polygraph tests. Where passing a polygraph test was enough to exclude certain people, it did not exclude Ivins.

Ivins' car, work locker, safe deposit box and house were thoroughly swabbed for anthrax spores multiple times over the space of years; not a single spore was found, although the killer anthrax was so highly weaponized that it behaved like a gas and was very difficult to contain.

None of the materials in the mailings were found at his house: not the tape, the envelopes, nor the pen used to write the letters. There isn't one piece of evidence placing him in New Jersey at the time the letters were mailed: not a credit card receipt, restaurant receipt, nor a witness.

On August 3, 2008, Glen Greenwald wrote in Salon: "It is so vital to emphasize that not a shred of evidence has yet been presented that the now-deceased Bruce Ivins played any role in the anthrax attacks, let alone that he was the sole or even primary culprit. Nonetheless, just as they did with Steven Hatfill, the media (with some notable and important exceptions) are reporting this case as though the matter is resolved."

Bruce Ivins: juggler, Red Cross volunteer, pianist

Jeff Taylor's case against Ivins rests heavily on claims that Ivins was mentally ill. If Ivins was truly so unhinged, why was he allowed to work with toxic substances? His security clearance was never revoked. Certainly a brilliant homicidal serial killer who is determined to avoid detection would immediately get rid of the Ames strain with the incriminating genotype in his flask, if he had used it to make weaponized powder and kill five people. Yet years later, the same genotype was still in Ivins' lab! The DOJ and FBI ask us to believe that Ivins launched the attacks because his vaccine research was not going well and he feared he might lose his job. It's just not a plausible motivation.

In 2003, Ivins received the Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service­the highest award given to the Defense Department's civilian employees. He had been a respected scientist at USAMRIID for 35 years and had a very secure job.

Ivins had been married for 33 years. He played keyboard at his local church, he was a member of the American Red Cross, an avid juggler and founder of the Frederick Jugglers. He also played keyboards in a Celtic band and would often compose and play songs for coworkers who were moving to new jobs. The FBI focused on him as a probable fall guy in 2006, and for two years was all over him, repeatedly questioning him, searching his home, car and office, and confronting him and his family in public with accusations that he had "killed people." His daughter was shown pictures of dead anthrax victims and told "your father did this." His son was promised $2.5 million and a sports car of his choice if he would implicate his father in the anthrax attacks. Who among us would not resort to drink, or drugs, or fantasies of revenge under those circumstances?

Who had the expertise to weaponize anthrax?

William C. Patrick III, and Ken Alibek. William Patrick was the originator of the first anthrax weaponization process. He has five patents on anthrax weaponization and wrote a paper in 1999 setting out exactly what an anthrax attack by mail would look like. Patrick's scenario is very similar to what actually happened in 2001. For example, he suggests no more than 2.5 grams of anthrax per envelope; the envelopes contained two grams. One footnote in his paper reveals "we now have the ability to purify to one trillion spores per gram." William Patrick was a consultant to the CIA, Battelle, the Army, the DIA and the FBI on bio-weapons.

Ken Alibek headed up the Soviet bio-weapon programs until defecting to the USA in 1992. He brought with him the technology that was key in the anthrax attacks: using polymerized glass to coat anthrax spores. He worked for Battelle Memorial Institute in the late 90s.

These men had to have been instrumental in developing the technology used in the 2001 anthrax attacks.

Who can control the FBI, DOJ and the media?

The significance of the railroading of the deceased Ivins cannot be overstated. This railroading is not a matter of incompetence. In detail after detail, the joint FBI-DOJ prosecution deliberately lies, evades and obfuscates in a desperate attempt to pin blame somewhere and close the case. (A transcript of the entire August 6 news conference is available on, titled "DOJ News Conference On Bruce Ivins)

US Attorney Jeff Taylor states at the news conference that the envelopes used in the attacks were "very likely sold at a post office in the Frederick, Md. area," and that Ivins had a post office box there. This is another outright lie. Taylor's own application for a search warrant stated: -envelopes with printing defects, identical to printing defects identified on the envelopes utilized in the anthrax attacks during the fall of 2001, were collected from the Fairfax Main post office in Fairfax, Virginia, and the Cumberland and Elkton post offices in Maryland.

Taylor and his supervisors at DOJ must be hoping that no one will notice or care that they are blatantly lying about their evidence against Ivins.

Reading the transcript, it is striking how often Jeff Taylor and Joseph Persichini refuse to answer questions. They either refer reporters to the Department of Defense (which is not holding a news conference) or to the documents they have been given. When asked when their all new, ground-breaking DNA research would be published, Taylor replies "I'm not going to comment on (that When asked a direct question about how many others were investigated other than Ivins, Taylor replies "I'm not going to get into the details."

Not only does he not get into the details, he doesn't even give us the broad strokes. When asked how he can be so sure that there wasn't another person involved, Taylor replies: The evidence I described in my statement, and that I've described throughout this question-and-answer period, as I said, led us to conclude that Dr. Ivins is the person who committed this crime. We are confident, based on the evidence we have, that we could prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt.

In other words, he doesn't answer.

Honest citizens must ask themselves: who are the FBI and DOJ protecting?

Who has the ability to control and corrupt an investigation of this importance?

And why, after sitting through a news conference that is obviously a hastily constructed web of lies, have so many journalists dutifully reported the story just as instructed by Jeff Taylor?

We no longer have a working government in the United States ... what we have are functionaries in various departments­Congress, FBI, DOJ, CIA­who take their orders from the corporations who make vast sums of money waging war and selling vaccines. Their influence extends to the major media outlets who control the flow of information to the American people. We are increasingly enslaved, manipulated and murdered by these corporations, and very few of us seem to realize it.

Sheila Casey is a DC based journalist. Her work has appeared in The Denver Post, Buzz Flash, Common Dreams and Dissident Voice. She blogs at

Barry Kissin is an attorney/peace activist based in Frederick, MD, home of Fort Detrick, and can be contacted at

September 10, 2008

Is FDA Interested in the Safety of Anthrax Vaccine?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Is FDA Interested in the Safety of Anthrax Vaccine?

FDA answered a Freedom of Information Act request for me today. I asked how many adverse event reports had been filed for anthrax vaccine (5,931 reports through July 22, 2008) and how many FDA had designated as SERIOUS (618 reports). Serious reports are those indicating an event requiring hospitalization, a life-threatening event, permanent disability, or loss of life.

I further asked whether FDA has performed any studies to assess causality (i.e., were adverse outcomes a result of the vaccination?) or if FDA has required the manufacturer to do so. The answer was 'No' to both questions.

FDA referred me to CDC. CDC began a clinical trial of anthrax vaccine in 1,564 people in 2002. Subjects were enrolled for 43 months, which theoretically should yield excellent long-term data. But no report from the study has been made public, despite early promises that a preliminary report would be released in 2004, and a final report in 2007.

The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices met February 27-28, 2008 and discussed anthrax vaccine and this trial. Slides from every talk except the anthrax vaccine talks were posted by the CDC here. But the slides from each of the 4 talks on anthrax vaccine are listed as "coming soon."

However, I did manage to find this tidbit (see page 155 of the report): in CDC's clinical trial of 1,564 subjects, there were 229 reports of serious adverse events! That means, if you entered the anthrax vaccine trial, you had a greater than 1 in 7 chance of suffering a serious adverse event within the next 43 months. Yet despite failing to cite quantitative data, CDC thought the vast majority of serious events were not related to the vaccine. (But something bad was happening to this cohort of subjects, about 85% of whom received anthrax vaccine.)

Over 2 million people have received more than 7.5 million doses of the Bioport (now Emergent BioSolutions/ EBS) anthrax vaccine since 1998, and all deploying soldiers and most contractors must be vaccinated as a condition of employment. Yet no federal public health agency is anxious to release definitive safety/injury data. Wonder why?

Meryl Nass, MD
Mount Desert Island Hospital
Bar Harbor, Maine 04609
W 207 288-5081 ext. 1220
C 207 522-5229
H 207 244-9165
pager 207 818-0708

September 7, 2008

Lawmakers Seek Anthrax Details

September 7, 2008
Lawmakers Seek Anthrax Details

WASHINGTON — A month after the F.B.I. declared that an Army scientist was the anthrax killer, leading members of Congress are demanding more information about the seven-year investigation, saying they do not think the bureau has proved its case.

In a letter sent Friday to Robert S. Mueller III, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Democratic leaders of the House Judiciary Committee said that “important and lingering questions remain that are crucial for you to address, especially since there will never be a trial to examine the facts of the case.”

The scientist, Bruce E. Ivins, committed suicide in July, and Mr. Mueller is likely to face demands for additional answers about the anthrax case when he appears before the House and Senate Judiciary Committees on Sept. 16 and 17.

“My conclusion at this point is that it’s very much an open matter,” Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the top Republican on the Senate committee, said of the strength of the case against Dr. Ivins, a microbiologist at the Army’s biodefense laboratory who worked on anthrax vaccines. “There are some very serious questions that have yet to be answered and need to be made public.”

Bureau officials say they are certain they have solved the nation’s first major bioterrorism attack, in which anthrax-laced letters killed five people, after a long and troubled investigation that by several measures was the most complex in the bureau’s history.

But in interviews last week, two dozen bioterrorism experts, veteran investigators and members of Congress expressed doubts about the bureau’s conclusions. Some called for an independent review of the case to reassure the public and assess policies on the handling of dangerous pathogens like anthrax.

Meanwhile, new details of the investigation, revealed in recent interviews, raised questions about when the bureau focused on Dr. Ivins as the likely perpetrator and how solid its evidence was.

In April 2007, after the mailed anthrax was genetically linked to Dr. Ivins’s laboratory and after he was questioned about late-night work in the laboratory before the letters were mailed, prosecutors sent Dr. Ivins a formal letter saying he was “not a target” of the investigation. And only a week before Dr. Ivins died did agents first take a mouth swab to collect a DNA sample, officials said.

Justice Department officials, who said in early August that the investigation was likely to be closed formally within days or weeks, now say it is likely to remain open for three to six more months. In the meantime, agents are continuing to conduct interviews with acquaintances of Dr. Ivins and are examining computers he used, seeking information that could strengthen the case.

But bureau and Justice Department officials insist that the delay, which they say is necessary to tie up loose ends in a complex investigation, reflects no doubts about their ultimate verdict. “People feel just as strongly as they did a month ago that this was the guy,” said a department official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Even the strongest skeptics acknowledged that the bureau had raised troubling questions about Dr. Ivins’s mental health and had made a strong scientific case linking the mailed anthrax to a supply in his laboratory.

But they said the bureau’s piecemeal release of information, in search warrant affidavits and in briefings for reporters and Congress, had left significant gaps in the trail that led to Dr. Ivins and had failed to explain how investigators ruled out at least 100 other people who the bureau acknowledged had access to the same flasks of anthrax.

In interviews, F.B.I. officials said they knew their findings would face intense scrutiny after the bureau admitted that for years it had pursued the wrong man, Steven J. Hatfill, whom the government paid $4.6 million in June to settle a lawsuit that accused the government of leaking information about him to the news media.

Officials also acknowledged that they did not have a single, definitive piece of evidence indisputably proving that Dr. Ivins mailed the letters — no confession, no trace of his DNA on the letters, no security camera recording the mailings in Princeton, N.J.

But they said the case consisted of a powerfully persuasive accumulation of incriminating details. Dr. Vahid Majidi, head of the F.B.I.’s weapons of mass destruction directorate, said the accumulation of evidence against Dr. Ivins was overwhelming: his oversight of the anthrax supply, his night hours, his mental problems and his habit of driving to far-off locations at night to mail anonymous packages.

“Who had the means, motive and opportunity?” said John Miller, assistant F.B.I. director for public affairs. “Some potential suspects may have had one, some had two, but on the cumulative scale, Dr. Ivins had many more of these elements than any other potential suspect.”

Mr. Miller said the bureau ultimately planned to release much more information from its investigative files, including notes of F.B.I. interviews with Dr. Ivins and other suspects and witnesses and surveillance logs detailing his movements and actions. But those disclosures, requiring a detailed review to remove private and classified information, are likely to be months away.

Mr. Mueller, the F.B.I. director, is likely to face tough questions at next week’s scheduled oversight hearings, not just about the case against Dr. Ivins but about the prolonged pursuit of Dr. Hatfill. Senator Charles E. Grassley, an Iowa Republican and frequent critic of the bureau, said he was frustrated by the delay in closing the case and answering questions.

“If the case is solved, why isn’t it solved?” Mr. Grassley asked. “It’s all very suspicious, and you wonder whether or not the F.B.I. doesn’t have something to cover up and that they don’t want to come clean.”

Investigators have not reviewed three boxes of papers left by Dr. Ivins marked for the attention of his lawyer, Paul F. Kemp, because the records must first be reviewed to see whether they should be kept confidential under attorney-client privilege, Mr. Kemp said. A government lawyer not involved in the investigation will soon review the papers with Mr. Kemp, who said some might be given to investigators or made public.

What is clear is that the disclosures have not closed the matter.

“They took their shot,” said Representative Rush D. Holt, a Democrat who holds a doctorate in physics and has followed the case closely because the letters were mailed in his New Jersey district. “They hoped and maybe believed that the case they laid out would persuade everyone. I think they’re probably surprised by the level of skepticism.”

Many scientists who have tracked the case, too, have found the evidence less than decisive.

“For a lot of the scientific community, the word would be agnostic,” said Dr. Thomas V. Inglesby, an expert on bioterrorism at the Center for Biosecurity of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “They still don’t feel they have enough information to judge whether the case has been solved.”

Mr. Holt and Dr. Inglesby were among a number of outsiders who said that only an independent review of the investigation and the evidence against Dr. Ivins — either by Congress or a commission like the one that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks — could give the public confidence that the case was over.

Dr. Ralph R. Frerichs, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Los Angeles who has created a Web site detailing the anthrax case, said that such a review was critical to establishing how the lethal powder was made.

“There’s no clarity on the simplest aspect: is this hard to do or easy to do?” Dr. Frerichs said. If the powder could be made with basic laboratory equipment and no sophisticated additives, as the bureau maintains, laboratory security and background checks for workers may have to be tightened, he said.

Skepticism toward the bureau’s case remains especially pronounced among Dr. Ivins’s former colleagues at the Army laboratory at Fort Detrick, Md.

“Despite the F.B.I.’s scientific and circumstantial evidence, I and many of Dr. Ivins’s former colleagues don’t believe he did it and don’t believe the spore preparations were made at Detrick,” said Dr. Gerry Andrews, a microbiologist who worked at the Army laboratory for nine years and was Dr. Ivins’s boss for part of that time.

Laboratory records obtained by The New York Times show that the anthrax supply labeled RMR-1029, which the F.B.I. linked to the attacks, was stored in 1997 not in Dr. Ivins’s laboratory, in Building 1425, but in the adjacent Building 1412. Former colleagues said that its storage in both buildings at different times from 1997 to 2001 might mean that the bureau’s estimate of 100 people with physical access to it was two or three times too low.

Some microbiologists question the time records documenting Dr. Ivins’s night hours, pointing out that one F.B.I. affidavit said he was in the secure part of the laboratory for exactly 2 hours and 15 minutes three nights in a row — an unlikely coincidence that they said raised questions about the accuracy of the records.

Confusion remains about silicon found in the mailed powder. Some F.B.I. critics say it shows that there was a sophisticated additive that might point away from Fort Detrick as a source, but the bureau concluded that it was merely an accident of the way the anthrax was grown.

Dr. Majidi said that many technical details would be cleared up by the papers published by bureau scientists and consultants over the next year or more. “It’s the collective body of evidence that’s really strong,” Dr. Majidi said.

Without witnesses or forensic experts linking the killings directly to Dr. Ivins, the Justice Department’s public case against him relies largely on “opportunity evidence,” said Robert J. Cleary, the lead prosecutor a decade ago in the Unabomber attacks.

“What prosecutors have to do to persuade the public that this was the guy is to show the uniqueness of the strain of anthrax and to eliminate everyone else who had opportunity and access to it.” That, Mr. Cleary said, “is a challenge.”

September 6, 2008

Kristof Still Doesn't Get the Anthrax Story: The Justice Department, Bush Science & Our Sorry Media
by Elizabeth Ferrari

In his unapologetic apology to Steve Hatfill yesterday, The Media's Balancing Act, Nicholas Kristof warned that the press should err on the side of sharing what it knows over the consequences to an individual should that report be printed. His premise seems to be that the problem in the anthrax reporting has been caused by the press printing "what it knows." Kristof appealed to the need for journalistic balance in order to serve the public good.

I don't know how an employee of the New York Times can still cling to such an idea, let alone, forward it in public. Judith Miller was not a public servant -- can we agree on that? I still have the email former Public Editor Okrent sent to hundreds of us when we asked why the Times would not cover election theft in Ohio 2004. He assured us the Times would cover the story if one developed. Of course, he said that while the Times sat on the Bush Administration's illegal wiretapping and to my knowledge, the Times has not covered the layers of corruption since peeled off of that election and the paper has not apologized in any way for either our stolen election or for shrugging off readers who asked for the paper to do its job.

The problem in our press is not that it prints what it knows. In the case of Dr. Ivins, the trial in the press has been replete with the press sharing what it does not know. The L.A. Times printed that Ivins stood to gain monetarily from the vaccine he was fixing and that he broadcast anthrax to save his job. That turns out to be a massive distortion coupled to an outright falsehood. Ivins' job was secure and he didn't stand to gain much if we used that vaccine or the one he had in development. The AP printed that Dr. Ivins suspiciously did not report a spill in his lab. Untrue, he reported it to his Ethics officer. The Washington Post printed that he had taken time off on 9/17/01 to mail the deadly envelopes. That turned out to be physically impossible: he was in Frederick at the time. Where is the balance in this reporting?

So, it's not a matter of "humanizing" the so called suspect or of adopting his viewpoint, as Kristof says, but of doing basic due diligence before running with these very serious allegations. Dr. Ivins has been prosecuted in the press with more impunity than Steve Hatfill was, although the FBI's case against him is even more flimsy. The larger question here isn't what the press knows but if the press can learn to distinguish a fact from a smear, no matter where that smear originates. In my reading about this case in our press, I've been struck with the repetition of talking points the FBI has put out. Here's one example of the career of the meme "compelling":

NPR August, 6, 2008: Jeff Taylor, US Attorney, Gonzalez appointee and host for the FBI briefing: "So, again, circumstantial evidence? Sure, some of it is. But it's compelling evidence and our view is we are confident it would have helped us prove this case against Dr. Ivins beyond a reasonable doubt."

AP August 18, 2008: Daschle said the most compelling evidence to him is the odd, extended hours that the Army scientist kept shortly after the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

New York Times August 16, 2008: In its case against Dr. Ivins, the F.B.I. developed a compelling profile of an erratic, mentally troubled man who could be threatening and obsessive, as in his odd fascination with a sorority from his college days. But investigators were never able to place him at the New Jersey mailboxes where the anthrax letters were dropped, and the case against him relied at its heart on the scientific evidence linking the anthrax in Dr. Ivins' laboratory to the spores used in the attacks.

Star Ledger: "I am persuaded, unless I'm missing something, there is a compelling case they at least got the one right guy," Smith said. "They claim there's no evidence whatsoever that there was an accomplice, but our hope is that they still keep looking to make sure there wasn't." click here

AP August 8, 2008: Mark Cunningham, a New York Post op-ed editor, one of three staffers there who were sickened by an anthrax-tainted letter, said he also was convinced about the government's case against Ivins. . . "The case is circumstantial but compelling," Cunningham wrote. "I'm glad they're keeping the case open, to tie up loose ends, make absolutely certain he acted alone, and all the rest. But I have my closure."

"The scientific evidence is compelling," says Rita R. Colwell, former director of the National Science Foundation, which funded some of the research behind the investigation. It is impressive how all the different scientific aspects came together, she says. ews/86/i34/8634notw1.html

Nature Magazine August 21, 2008: "Haigwood said FBI agents were "very ethical and above board." And reading their case files convinced her they have the right suspect. "The evidence was compelling," she said."

Did our press know this "evidence" was compelling? Even if the phrase is a direct quote, the fact that it went unchallenged so often argues a kind of innocence no reporter should aspire to. No one included the caveat, for example, "Nancy Haigwood has not seen Dr. Ivins in twenty-five years and her outfit depends on millions of dollars in annual federal grants." The FBI's phrase was just churned out, over and over, as if the language was somehow losing syllables.

In other words, Nick, please share your fears and facts with your public. But clearly label your fears so they don't get spammed all across the country in factual drag as the report that Bruce Ivins was a homicidal sociopath was spammed when the source was a low level mental health worker/recovering addict/FBI witness. It was never interrogated by anyone in the press before being broadcast and it still hasn't been questioned in any substantive manner. Only Bruce Ivins' life as he led it contradicts the hundreds of repetitions of "what the press knew".

There's something else here, too, that is so huge we can't see it. I've yet to see a single caveat in the press regarding the FBI's scientific "findings" in the Ivins case that no scientist outside the government will validate and in the context of the documented manipulation of science itself by the Bush Administration. This administration's suppression, falsifying and censoring of science has been read into the Congressional Record. Surely the press has access to that body of facts. Surely as a mere civilian I'm not the only one that has read or heard or witnessed the iron control the Bush Administration has exerted over government scientists in the last eight years? Anyone with access to a search engine can search "Bush censors scientists" and come up with hundreds of hits such as this one:

SCIENCE-US: Top Scientists Want Research Free From Politics
By Adrianne Appel

BOSTON, Feb 14 (IPS) - Leading U.S. scientists called on Congress Thursday to make sure the next president does not do what they say the George W. Bush Administration has done: censor, suppress and falsify important environmental and health research.

"The next president and Congress must cultivate an environment where reliable scientific advice flows freely," said Susan Wood, a former director of women's research at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Wood resigned her post in 2005 in protest over the FDA's delay in getting emergency, over-the-counter birth control onto the market.

"Serious consequences can result when drug safety decisions are not based on the best available scientific advice from staff scientists and experts," she said.

Wood joined a panel of prominent scientists in Boston -- convened by the Union of Concerned Scientists, an activist group -- to announce a joint statement asking Congress to protect scientific integrity. Among the more than 15,000 government scientists signing onto the statement are Harold Varmus, president of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre and former director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH); and Anthony Robbins, professor of medicine at Tufts University and former director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

So, if the FBI's case against Bruce Ivins depends upon "new" science developed by government scientists, a reasonable person has to ask, how reliable is that science? It hasn't been published or peer reviewed. There is no expert outside the government willing (so far) to validate it. Perhaps, in that instance, we are being asked to trust the Bush Justice Department to vet the FBI product.

Unfortunately, even though the press that Kristof defends has not raised the issue, the Bush Justice Department that has sponsored and presented this "new" science to convict Bruce Ivins, has been under investigation for corruption. The Bush Justice Department is under investigation for gutting the Voter Rights Act office, for political discrimination in its hiring practices, for politically motivated prosecutions of Governor Don Siegelman and Paul Minor and others, not to mention, for lying to Congress and for trying to present torture as patriotism to the American public.

Although I respect Kristof as one of his longtime readers, I have to call bullshit on his "apology" to Steve Hatfill because that apology is founded on the premise that our press is diligent enough to be presented with the problem of what to distribute to the public. Would that it were so. What a wonderful dilemma that would be were it true.

Our press shouldn't be criticized for sharing what it knows with the American public. But it should be hung out to dry for sharing what it cannot verify – as Kristof did with respect to Hatfill and as the New York Times, the Washington Post, the L.A. Times and worst offender, the AP have in the last four weeks with respect to Dr. Ivins. They should be hung out to dry again for never raising the obvious problems with the last iteration of the FBI's case: the Bush Justice Department is asking the American public to believe it so respects both science and justice for once that the unpublished case against Bruce Ivins is in any way believable.

I don't fault you, Mr. Kristof, for sharing what you know or for making the best, difficult decision you can make as a journalist. I fault you for not being all over the Ivins chapter of this story. Because you, of all people, should recognize what is being done to Ivins in the press right now and unlike Steve Hatfill, Bruce Ivins is not here to contend with the Bush Justice Department. Covering this story with some kind of insight and integrity is the apology that the American public deserves from you or from anyone who claims to serve the public good in print.

September 3, 2008

Emergent BioSolutions wins $24.3M to fight anthrax

Wednesday, September 3, 2008 - 5:03 PM EDT
Emergent BioSolutions wins $24.3M to fight anthrax
Washington Business Journal - by Mara Lee Staff Reporter

Emergent BioSolutions Inc. has won a contract worth $24.3 million from the Department of Health and Human Services to research an experimental drug to fight anthrax.

Rockville-based Emergent BioSolutions (NYSE:EBS), already has Federal Drug Administration-approved vaccine that prevents anthrax infection called BioThrax.

The bulk of the money, $20 million, would be used to complete the first phase of human testing for the antibody-based drug, which is designed to treat people who have already been exposed to anthrax.

It has been tested in mice, rats and rabbits, and now must be tested in humans, first to see if it is safe, and then to see if it works. The grant will only underwrite the first phase of that testing, though it will also cover costs from making more of the drug for the trials.

“We believe this funding from HHS underscores the U.S. government’s commitment to a multi-prong approach in responding to the threat of bioterrorism in our country,” the company said in a statement.

Emergent did not invent this particular antibody approach — it bought the rights to the experimental drug from Avanir Pharmaceuticals in March 2008.