Is Mr Z the One


The Anthrax Killer?

We seem to have a compulsion these days to bury time capsules in order to give those people living in the next century
some idea of what we are like.  I have prepared one of my own.
In it, I have placed some rather large samples of dynamite, gunpowder, and nitro-glycerine.
My time capsule is set to go off in the year 3000.  It will show them what we are really like.

- Alfred Hitchcock

How Strong Is the Case against Bruce Ivins?

Source: 3 August 2008

In my humble opinion, if the case against Bruce Ivins had been strong, then the government would've laid it out.  Just sayin'...

See also:

bulletAdditional Key Facts (an external site at by regular columnist Glenn Greenwald, who was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York) - "So much of the public reporting about Ivins has been devoted to depicting him as a highly unstable psychotic who had been issuing extremely violent threats and who had a violent past.  But that depiction has been based almost exclusively on the uncorroborated claims of Jean Carol Duley, a social worker (not a psychiatrist or psychologist) who, as recently as last year, was apparently still in college at Hood College in Frederick, Maryland. Duley's scrawled handwritten complaint against Ivins, seeking a Protective Order, has served as the basis for much of the reporting regarding Ivins' mental state, yet it is hardly the model of a competent or authoritative professional.  Quite the opposite.  Duley herself has a history that, at the very least, raises questions about her credibility.  She has a rather lengthy involvement with the courts in Frederick, including two very recent convictions for driving under the influence - one from 2007 and one from 2006 - as well as a complaint filed against her for battery by her ex-husband"...

Previous Faltering Steps

Investigators Conclude Russian Defector is Lead Suspect in Anthrax Mailings Case

Sandpoint, Idaho - Three veteran investigators have independently narrowed the field of anthrax mailings suspects to a single Russian defector affiliated with two heavily implicated defense contractors and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).  Kanatjan Alibekov, alias "Ken Alibek," the President of Hadron Advanced Biosystems, should be re-interrogated by the FBI, according to three researchers who arrived at this conclusion independently.  They say Stephen Hatfield - the military virologist cited by FBI officials in recent weeks as a chief subject was not likely involved in the mailings at all.

The three men include: Dr Leonard G Horowitz - a public health and emerging diseases expert, Michael Ruppert - a retired Los Angeles Police Department homicide detective, and Stewart Webb - a federal whistle blower credited with supplying key evidence to federal prosecutors during the 1989 Housing and Urban Development (HUD) scandal.  All three investigators say overwhelming evidence implicates Dr Alibekov and the parties he served before and during the anthrax mailings, including the CIA.  This, they propose, might best explain why the FBI's inquiry has floundered.

Their compiled evidence is largely public knowledge.  Dr Alibekov was the first Deputy Director of Biopreparat - the Soviet Union's leading biological weapons testing centre.  He oversaw military anthrax production for nearly 20 years, and was personally responsible for 32,000 employees at 40 facilities when he suddenly defected to the United States in 1992 to begin working for the CIA.  According to interviews, Dr Alibekov allegedly defected to help stop the biological weapons race, not for monetary reward.  Yet, his activities in America indicate otherwise.

On 20 May 1998 Dr Alibekov testified before the Joint Economic Committee of the US Congress as a Programme Manager for the Battelle Memorial Institute (BMI) - a leading military contractor and one of few institutional suspects identified by the press.  William Broad of the New York Times (13 December 2001), upon Dr Horowitz's earlier urging, cited BMI as the chief CIA contractor for project "Clearvision" - an effort to produce the deadliest Ames strain anthrax ever developed.  It was hyper-concentrated, silica-laced, electro-magnetized, and extremely transmissible.  The facts indicate Dr Alibekov, one of two leading anthrax experts contracted by the CIA at the time of "Clearvision," may have managed the entire program during which the germ was sent from BMI to the BMI administered and supplied Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah.  From here or BMI's anthrax lab in West Jefferson, Ohio, the never-before-seen anthrax weapon was transferred to envelopes and mailed from four locations including Trenton, New Jersey and St Petersburg, Florida in early October 2001.  The mailings killed five people while scores of others were victimised by the ensuing fright and toxic side effects from taking CIPRO - the "anthrax antibiotic," according to experts and news reports.

More suspicious ties to the Russian defector and Hadron Advanced Biosystems were realised when investigators learned of the second leading BMI and CIA anthrax contractor, and close personal friend of Dr Alibekov, Dr William C Patrick III.  Suspiciously, Dr Alibekov and BMI had contracted with this anthrax ace in the Spring of 1998 to predict the dispersal and damage capability of mailing such a hyper-weaponized germ much like the one sent to select members of the media and legislators on Capitol Hill.

The three independent investigators each cite economic and political motives for the targeted anthrax mailings.  Given the high grade and technical difficulty in producing and handling this grade of anthrax, they reasoned, "white collar criminals" with access to military or pharmaceutical labs most likely acted on behalf of those who benefitted most from the attacks and ensuing fright.  Hadron and its affiliates, including DynCorp and BMI, lead the pack of corporate and institutional suspects, the investigators say.  A revelatory organisational chart prepared by Dr Horowitz depicting these corporate and institutional suspects was mailed to more than 1,500 FBI agents late last year along with an extensive 25-page report still available over the Internet (link to

Logically, the three investigators reasoned, the media was initially targeted to sway public opinion in support of government orders worth billions of dollars for hyped vaccines and drugs, much of which benefited Hadron, DynCorp, BMI and their directors. DynCorp was the major military and intelligence provider awarded $322 million to develop, produce, and store anthrax and smallpox vaccines for the nation.  BMI, a leading defense and energy industry contractor, directed the US military's Joint Vaccine Acquisitions Program.  Bioport, LLC became a leading beneficiary.  This British-controlled anthrax vaccine maker in Lansing, Michigan was sanctioned repeatedly by federal officials and members of congress for unethical business practices, violating health and safety guidelines, and vaccine contaminations that some researchers say may have triggered the mysterious Gulf War illness.

Corporate profiteering was firmly secured after the mailings to Capitol Hill, the investigators say.  The specific targeting of Senators Patrick Leahy (Democrat - Vermont) and Majority Leader Tom Daschle (Democrat - South Dakota), traditionally strong drug and military industry adversaries, reinforced their suspicions.

Dr Horowitz had been studying anthrax advances since 1989.  He correctly diagnosed "the beginning of the anthrax scam" one week before the first mailings were heralded by the media.  FBI records show he urged the bureau to begin their ongoing investigation into anthrax-related bioterrorism at the end of September, 2001.  It took bureau officials six months to finally respond to his repeated urgent correspondence.  "Then, rather than expressing gratitude and following my leads," he said, "my two interrogators were primed to make me a suspect."  For this reason, Horowitz says, he can "feel for the plight of the bureau's scapegoat" - Dr Steven Hatfield.

Investigative journalist Michael Ruppert followed his suspicions to Hadron and DynCorp through court records pertaining to a secret pirated military software program called PROMIS.  He learned that Dr Alibekov's predecessor - Hadron's past director and founder, Dr Earl Brian - a business associate of former Reagan administration Attorney General Edwin Meese - was convicted of fraud during the 1980s.

"Dr Alibekov's interrogation and lie detection at Hadron's Advanced Biosystems," Ruppert advised, "may not only solve the anthrax mailings mystery, but also shed light on the recent untimely and inexplicable deaths of several biological weapons experts."  The retired homicide detective suspects Dr Alibekov's "comrade-in-arms," another top Soviet biological weapons director, Dr Vladimir Pasechnik, was most likely murdered.  Pasechnik defected to Great Britain three years before Dr Alibekov defected to America, Mr Ruppert recalled.  Pasechnik's death, according to British intelligence officer Christopher Davis, was reportedly due to a stroke.  Ruppert remains unconvinced.

Stuart Webb has spent more than 20 years investigating "white collar crime" at the highest levels of government.  His intelligence sources and leads have proven accurate a number of times, helping justice department officials indict suspects ranging from bankers to drug dealers.  He also believes evidence in the anthrax mailings case implicates key CIA and Bush administration officials.  For this reason, he says, the crime is unlikely to be solved by the FBI.  "One of my sources, a high ranking intelligence officer, confirmed Dr Horowitz's conclusion," he said.  Hadron and "Dr Alibek" in particular, are "most heavily implicated as agents for this anthrax devil-doing."

News Release No. DITA-81
Contact: Elaine Zacky-208/265-2575; 800/336-9266

Tetrahedron, LLC
Health Science Communications for People Around the World
206 North 4th Avenue, Suite 147
Sandpoint, ID 83864

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: For interviews with the independent investigators named, contact: Dr Horowitz, phone 208-265-2575 email; Mr Ruppert, email; and Mr Webb, email

Source: 30 August 2002

Anthrax-Probe Doctor Sentenced for Assault

Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey - A physician whose home was searched last summer in an investigation into the 2001 anthrax attacks pleaded guilty to assaulting his wife and stepdaughter.  Dr Kenneth Berry, who has not been charged in the anthrax attacks, was sentenced Friday to two years probation and fined $1,000 by Municipal Judge James A Liguori.  Berry was arrested after a domestic dispute at a hotel where the family was taken during a search of his parents' home on 5 August 2003.

Five people died and 17 were sickened in the fall of 2001 by anthrax mailings that targeted government and media officials as the nation was still reeling from the 11 September terror attacks.  FBI spokesman Joseph Paris said the agency is still investigating the anthrax case, but he would not comment on Berry's involvement.  As part of his plea, Berry dropped countercharges of assault against his wife, Tana Luecken-Berry, and 18-year-old stepdaughter Dara Luecken.  The couple are still married but live separately.

Berry did not address the court.  His lawyer, Clifford Lazzaro, said Berry attributed the incident to stress caused by FBI searches of his home in upstate New York and his parent's summer home on the Jersey Shore where the family was staying at the time.  "I think the events of the day caused this unfortunate incident to occur.  My client was obviously under a great deal of pressure,"  Lazzaro said.  "It doesn't excuse my client's behaviour."  Lazzaro has said no evidence was found that would link Berry to the anthrax mailings and he said Berry would be exonerated.

Berry founded an organisation in 1997 that trains medical professionals to respond to chemical and biological attacks.  After the raids, he was fired from his job as an emergency room physician at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Source: Saturday 6 November 2004

I don't know what's scarier - not knowing who mailed the anthrax letters, realising that there appear to be multiple people perfectly capable, perhaps even eager, to do it, or thinking multiple scientists have been unfairly accused of this, will never be charged, and so can never be found innocent.

In the Pipeline: Drug Discovery

Anthrax - Again

by Derek Lowe

The latest issue of Science magazine (28 November Volume 302, page 1492, no free link for non-subscribers) has a disturbing article on the notorious anthrax powder from the fall of 2001.  Journalist Gary Matsumoto has been covering the story for some time, and his piece here (a long one by Science's standards) seems driven by his despair at the FBI's handling of the case.

Now, I wrote a series about chemical weapons back before the Iraq war, on my Lagniappe site, and I thought about expanding it to biological weapons at the time.  But it's a difficult and depressing subject - the chemical weapons were bad enough, but at least they're antiquated.  Biowarfare is (unfortunately and damnably) state of the art.  But Matsumoto's eyebrow-raising article is enough to make me return to the topic.  Besides, most of what he's talking about is chemistry - and some of it is actually pharmaceutical chemistry.

The big question has always been: were the anthrax spores made by civilian technology?  Could they have been?  Or did they have the signs of classified-level expertise?  There have been conflicting reports, to say the least, and the FBI (these days, anyway) is not talking about the subject at all.  Some of the obvious tests couldn't answer the question.  For example, initial investigations showed that the anthrax was the Ames strain, which didn't narrow things down very much.  (Well, it did show that the spores's producers had picked a virulent strain and hadn't cultured something out of the nearest barnyard.)

So Matsumoto concentrates on the processing of the spores: their particle size, and their possible coatings and treatments to make them disperse better.  This is where the homebrew/high-tech distinction should be clear, and this is just where the available information has the most contradictions. Initially, reports were that the spore samples had very small, very uniform particle sizes, and may well have had additives to them to keep them from aggregating.  Alan Zelicoff, of Sandia, was quoted at the time saying that whoever made the Senate anthrax had "the keys to the kingdom."  (I remember reading that, and having a sudden, terrible vision of just what kingdom that was.)  But you can now find leaks and reports that dispute both of these contentions, though.  The difference is especially marked in statements the FBI has made in the last few months, which make the spores sound much less well-processed than their earlier reports.  As Matsumoto puts it:

The reversal was so extreme that the former chief biological weapons inspector for the United Nations Special Commission, Richard Spertzel, found it hard to accept.  "No silica, big particles, manual milling," he says: "That's what they're saying now, and that radically contradicts everything we were told during the first year of this investigation."

One of these contradictions is around the question of whether the anthrax spores were electrostatically charged.  If they all were given a static charge, they would tend to repel each other, staying as separate particles and dispersing more readily.  Some now claim the spores had no charge, others say that they did, but it was an artifact of the postal sorting machinery, and others say that it was a deliberate and sophisticated bit of processing.

Another controversy is whether the spore samples contained silica.  That's in there to make the spores bumpy at a microscopic level, which keeps their glycoprotein-rich coats from contacting each other closely.  Unrestrained contact causes severe clumping, because there are so many hydrogen bonds and van der Waals forces involved that.  Different bioweapons programs over the years have used different sorts of silica (making it a potentially important marker).

Even more exotic, and distinctive, are potential coadditives to make the silica particles bind to the spores, such as some sort of polysiloxane (known, rather inaccurately, as "polymerized glass").  I say exotic from a pharmaceutical perspective, since they're generally not additives that are used (or needed) for drug preparations.  But polysiloxanes, as compounds, are quite well-known; there's all kinds of literature on them.  Just go to the paints and coatings industry, and you'll find all you'd want to know.  What's obscure, though, is their use in weaponizing bacterial spores ... you'd have to have done that research on your own, or be in contact with those who did.

So, who knows about these techniques, then?  Well, there are two places that do a lot of research into finely milled inhaled powders: secret bioweapons labs, and pharmaceutical companies.  I don't have many web links to offer for the former, but drug companies are glad to talk about their efforts, and to try to sell you their services.  Nektar, formerly Inhale Therapeutics, has deals with Aventis and Pfizer for several projects, most famously their long-running attempt to make an inhaled insulin powder for diabetics.  Another company pursuing the same goal is Aradigm.  And Dura was taking a crack at inhalation technology, before being bought by Elan three years ago.

Has the FBI investigated these research efforts?  I'd be surprised (and disappointed) if they hadn't.  But, needless to say, drug companies don't spend a heck of a lot of time working with anthrax spores.  Not much of a market for an anthrax inhaler, you know.  But there's one intersection of the pharmaceutical world and the classified-defense-contractor world that comes to mind: Battelle.  Not only do they have sophisticated particle technology, but (according to Matsumoto) another Battelle division has, in the past, actually done research-scale anthrax production for the Defense Department and US intelligence.  The FBI says that it has interviewed Battelle personnel, but has no further comment.

It's important to note, as Matsumoto stresses, that there is no evidence linking Battelle to the 2001 anthrax.  (Nor is there any to link another logical site on the bioweapons side of things, the Army's Dugway Proving Ground in Utah.)  But if it's true that the anthrax showed signs of sophisticated technology, places like this (or their equivalents in foreign countries) are the ones to investigate.  Matsumoto hammers on the point that the FBI's basement-anthrax theories have come to a dead end.  They and the Army appear to have been unable to reverse-engineer the Senate anthrax using home-style technology.

We still don't know where the 2001 anthrax came from.  The story has just become more confused as time goes on.  But what worried me then, and worries me now, is that if you're going to go to the trouble of making this stuff, you might as well make a good-sized batch.  Remember the note, in the letter that was sent to Daschle's office?  "We have this anthrax," it said.  I thought at the time that it meant "We have this anthrax," meaning, the good stuff.  I remember that I was surprised when the anthrax attacks stopped.  I wonder if they really have.

Source:  Corante Tech News Filtered Daily Wednesday 3 December 2003

See also:

bulletHomegrown Horror: The Prospects for All-American Bioterrorism - a white-supremacist group called the Order of the Rising Sun apparently created as much as 40 kilograms of typhoid bacteria cultures in a college laboratory.  They planned to contaminate water supplies in Chicago, St Louis, and other Midwestern cities, thereby leading to the deaths of "inferior" populations.  The plot was uncovered when two members of the group panicked and informed police...

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