According to the official account of the anthrax attacks of 2001, Bruce Ivins, senior biodefense researcher at Fort Detrick, single-handedly grew the trillions of anthrax spores involved, processed these spores into a dispersible dry powder, loaded the anthrax letters, then drove to Princeton, N.J., and deposited the letters in the same mailbox on two separate occasions about 20 days apart, all without anyone noticing anything out of the ordinary.
As a result, the mute Army at Fort Detrick continues to face these kinds of questions: How could Ivins have maintained his clearance to work in high-containment military biolabs all the way into 2008? How could Ivins have managed to grow all the spores and processed them without drawing attention?
Questions more deserving of answers, questions that our community's biolab safety committee should pursue, include: As of 2001, did the Army at Fort Detrick have the equipment and expertise necessary to create the attack anthrax -- anthrax powder of unprecedented purity and as dispersible as a gas? If not, who did have such equipment and expertise? Is there a legitimate purpose for such equipment and expertise? Has the program involving such equipment and expertise been terminated, or is the program being expanded as a part of the ongoing expansion taking place at Detrick?
This past Wednesday, Paul Kemp, attorney for Ivins, gave a presentation to the lunchtime Rotary Club at Dutch's Daughter. This is not the first time I have heard Kemp demolish the case against Ivins. Kemp describes in detail item after item in the government's case, which clearly amounts to fabrication, distortion and flagrant illogic.
But Kemp covered ground on Wednesday that I had not heard him focus on before. For example, he referred to the company Battelle as the operator of biolabs for the CIA that had access to the very same anthrax variety that incriminated his client, and he pointedly questioned how the FBI managed to exclude Battelle personnel as suspects in the case. Battelle is the company contracted by the Department of Homeland Security and the National Institutes of Health to operate the new biolab facilities at Detrick, whose construction is complete.
Amerithrax breakthroughs continue to occur. Kemp referred to a McClatchy Newspapers article published May 19 that focuses on lab data that did not emerge until the National Academy of Sciences report on Amerithrax was released, one year after the Justice Department formally closed the case against Ivins. This lab data shows "unusual levels of silicon and tin in [the] anthrax powder ... that could be used to weaponize the anthrax ... so [the lethal spores] could be readily inhaled ...
"'There's no way that an individual scientist [like Ivins could] invent a new way of making anthrax using silicon and tin ... It requires an institutional effort to do this ...'"
The emergence of this lab data led Congressman Jerrold Nadler 10 days ago to send a letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller demanding an explanation for why, when the congressman requested the data back in September 2008, the FBI provided "incomplete and misleading" information.
Proof of an FBI cover-up continues to mount. This is the cover-up of an "institutional effort" from within to weaponize anthrax ...