Effect Measure

Anthrax and credibility

The unfolding anthrax story may not unfold much because the government seems to be in a hurry to keep it folded. They claim — not officially but through the news media — to have found the nutjob who did it. He had opportunity, means and motive (he was a nutjob). Now he’s dead and can’t defend himself. Case closed. Maybe. But neither the news media nor the government who feeds them crapola have track records for credibility, so I’m not yet willing to lay this vicious homicide automatically on his grave. Yes, we are getting all sorts of leaked info but then we got a lot of leaked info when the attacks occurred and then later when authorities were under pressure to find the culprit. They wound up pilloring a government scientist, Stephen Hatfill. Hatfill sounds like a jerk and the current suspect, Bruce Ivins, may not have been a prize either. But if being a jerk or having some people say bad things about you is grounds for a murder indictment then a lot of other people should be on the list, too. Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com, to his great credit, has been beating the drums about government and news media culpability in this cock up investigation for some time and we refer you to his recent posts (here, here), which also have links to his earlier warnings, warnings which had little response — until now. His account is long, detailed and documented, so we’ll give you the gist to encourage you to follow-up on your own.

The salient features of his reporting are these. By the government’s own admission, they believe the culprit in the anthrax attacks just after 9/11 came from within the US bioweapons establishment. But that judgement become clear to the public only some time after the event. In the wake of the attacks both the government and the news media used the attacks to create a climate of fear and to advance an explicit claim the perpetrators were Islamic extremists connected with Saddam Hussein. Greenwald singles out Brian Ross of ABC News as being a willing tool of unnamed government sources in spreading a false story the anthrax had the hallmarks of the Iraqi weapons program (false information it contained bentonite, claimed to be uniquely associated with the Iraq version of weaponized anthrax; there never was any bentonite in the anthrax involved in the attack, nor is it clear that even if there were it would have any relevance to Iraq). It was sheer fabrication on someone’s part, one ABC News has never retracted or apologized for. And not an inconsequential error. Greenwald adduces substantial evidence the Iraq connection was a signifiant factor in getting the public and more especially the media establishment onboard. We note with some interest that it was also Brian Ross at ABC News that was saying recently his sources were telling him Iran was close to nuclear capability. Once burned, twice shy.

If Ivins was indeed involved and not just the new fall guy after Hatfill fought back successfully, then we have a number of other questions. News leaking out now that Ivins had behaved in suspicious ways in the 7 years since the attack raise further questions. If true — and the examples seem flagrant — why was he allowed to continue working in a top secret government weapons laboratory? Greenwald also cites other scattered pieces of information that together present a darker picture. After 9/11 and before the anthrax attacks government officials (including the Vice President) and some influential news pundits were advised to have a supply of ciprofloxicin on hand and even to start taking it. It was as if someone in the government knew that anthrax spores might be floating around soon. And indeed they were soon floating around, in Washington, DC and among the news media. What a coincidence. Now the story is the stuff came from a government lab from a long time weapons scientist. But don’t worry. It wasn’t a conspiracy. The guy is nuts. How do we know? Leaked information from a social worker and his therapist. Hmmm. Forgive me for being skeptical. (If you think that contriving pretexts for war is tinfoil hat stuff, consider this.)

It’s taken the FBI seven years to get this far and along the way they’ve either found no one or found the wrong person (costing the US taxpayer, $.5.3 million dollars to settle Hatfill’s lawsuit). Now we are supposed to believe they’ve got the right guy in the waning months of the Bush administration, before a new administration and Congress might arrive and take a good hard look at this. The suspect is dead (nothing was leaked about this until his body was already cold) and the FBI is reportedly interested in closing the case. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Even now the FBI is showing no signs of being able to conduct an investigation within acceptable bounds. Consider this:

“Two FBI agents walked into a public library in Maryland, without a warrant, and walked out with two computers. The library director agreed to release the machines to these smooth-talking feds. According to the article, the director of Frederick County Public Libraries indicated that this was the third time in his 10 years there that the FBI had requested records, but the first time they had come without a court order. The director seemed to indicate no regrets, stating ‘It was a decision I made on my experience and the information given to me.’ He further justified his actions, noting that the agents indicated specific computers they needed (of the several dozen in the library) and further that they ‘had an awful lot of information.'”

The library director speculated whether the raid may have involved the Bruce Ivins / anthrax case, musing “Obviously it coincided with the events everyone is talking about,” but he said the agents hadn’t mentioned it. (Slashdot, link to WTOP News)

There is no urgency in this case, no ticking time bomb. This keystone cops inquiry has been going on for 7 years. But warrants? Who needs warrants? Not this administration.

Whatever else the US “biodefense” program has done for us — and benefits are hard to document if they indeed exist at all — it seems at least to have brought us the only successful bioterrorism attack on US soil in our history.

That in itself is quite an accomplishment.

Comments

  1. #1 adamant
    August 4, 2008

    If Ivins was indeed involved and not just the new fall guy after Hatfill fought back successfully, then we have a number of other questions.

    Don’t forget the space in between: Ivins could have been involved–even under orders–and still find himself selected as the fall guy.

  2. #2 John Emerson
    August 4, 2008

    This is somewhat off-topic, but it’s a question I’ve had from the beginning. (In 2001 I looked up anthrax in Mandell and in Current Infectious Disease). Why is anthrax used in bio warfare when it’s treatable with penicillin? (I’ve heard speculation about the possibility of a penicillin-resistant strain, but no one has said that it’s been developed or that the 2001 anthrax was resistant. Cipro was recommended for those allergic to penicillin, and probably just in case the resistant strain had been developed).

    Before 2001 anthrax was a very rare disease in the US, usually in the single figures or low double figures annually, usually among people who work with hides. The mortality was very high only because the distinctive diagnostic symptoms occur very late, when the disease is untreatable. Survival of 2001 victims was 70%, IIRC, much better than the statistical baseline.

    One reason why anthrax is used is presumably that the spores are very durable. There’s a down side to this, though; the area of an attack will be toxic for decades.

    It would seem that once anthrax is known or suspected to be in uses, it loses almost all of its effectiveness since prophylactic penicillin can be given.

    The anthrax disaster in the USSR could be explained by Societ ineptness and secrecy.

    I’ve toyed with the idea that anthrax bio warfare is just an international boondoggle that should have been sunsetted long ago.

  3. #3 John Emerson
    August 4, 2008

    This is somewhat off-topic, but it’s a question I’ve had from the beginning. (In 2001 I looked up anthrax in Mandell and in Current Infectious Disease). Why is anthrax used in bio warfare when it’s treatable with penicillin? (I’ve heard speculation about the possibility of a penicillin-resistant strain, but no one has said that it’s been developed or that the 2001 anthrax was resistant. Cipro was recommended for those allergic to penicillin, and probably just in case the resistant strain had been developed).

    Before 2001 anthrax was a very rare disease in the US, usually in the single figures or low double figures annually, usually among people who work with hides. The mortality was very high only because the distinctive diagnostic symptoms occur very late, when the disease is untreatable. Survival of 2001 victims was 70%, IIRC, much better than the statistical baseline.

    One reason why anthrax is used is presumably that the spores are very durable. There’s a down side to this, though; the area of an attack will be toxic for decades.

    It would seem that once anthrax is known or suspected to be in uses, it loses almost all of its effectiveness since prophylactic penicillin can be given.

    The anthrax disaster in the USSR could be explained by Societ ineptness and secrecy.

    I’ve toyed with the idea that anthrax bio warfare is just an international boondoggle that should have been sunsetted long ago.

  4. #4 John Emerson
    August 4, 2008

    This is somewhat off-topic, but it’s a question I’ve had from the beginning. (In 2001 I looked up anthrax in Mandell and in Current Infectious Disease). Why is anthrax used in bio warfare when it’s treatable with penicillin? (I’ve heard speculation about the possibility of a penicillin-resistant strain, but no one has said that it’s been developed or that the 2001 anthrax was resistant. Cipro was recommended for those allergic to penicillin, and probably just in case the resistant strain had been developed).

    Before 2001 anthrax was a very rare disease in the US, usually in the single figures or low double figures annually, usually among people who work with hides. The mortality was very high only because the distinctive diagnostic symptoms occur very late, when the disease is untreatable. Survival of 2001 victims was 70%, IIRC, much better than the statistical baseline.

    One reason why anthrax is used is presumably that the spores are very durable. There’s a down side to this, though; the area of an attack will be toxic for decades.

    It would seem that once anthrax is known or suspected to be in uses, it loses almost all of its effectiveness since prophylactic penicillin can be given.

    The anthrax disaster in the USSR could be explained by Societ ineptness and secrecy.

    I’ve toyed with the idea that anthrax bio warfare is just an international boondoggle that should have been sunsetted long ago.

  5. #5 pauls lane
    August 4, 2008

    If the library agreed to give up the computers then no warrant was needed. If the library wouldn’t give up the computers then the FBI would have probably gotten warrants. Revere’s zing at the administration over the lack of a warrant is without merit.
    I find it interesting and understandable with revere’s frustration at the law enforcement (keystone cop is a direct quote)approach over this homegrown terrorist investigation. I also find it somewhat amusing considering comments made in other posts about the same law enforcement approach to terrorism.

  6. #6 revere
    August 4, 2008

    pauls: You are correct about no warrant necessary if the librararian didn’t demand one. It is the current practice in libraries to require warrants because of the First Amendment threat but that’s not a legal requirement but a professional norm. However that does not mean that the FBI should have tried to do it without a warrant. A warrant was the right way to do it and doing it without a warrant is, alas, characteristic of this particular administration.

    Regarding your second comment, the choice between using a military and law enforcement approach is predicated on both being competent. We know there are highly competent military personnel and highly competent law enforcement personnel and highly incompetent versions of each. The policy issue is about policy. Competence is about management, which, again, in this administration is not of the highest order, whether it is military or law enforcement.

  7. #7 dubiquiabs
    August 4, 2008

    @ pauls lane
    Your comment looks like another attempt to lay false tracks, as seems to be the order of the day. Could it be that the Executive Branch might have to investigate itself here, and that it is for some reason (hmmm, wonder if I could think of one, can you?) not as well suited to investigating itself as it would be investigating terrorists? Could there, perhaps, hypothetically, be a difference in the efficacy of police work depending on whether the “Unitary Executive” wants it to succeed, as opposed to when it does not want it to succeed?

  8. #8 Phila
    August 4, 2008

    I’ve toyed with the idea that anthrax bio warfare is just an international boondoggle that should have been sunsetted long ago.
    Posted by: John Emerson | August 4, 2008 9:09 AM

    Biowarfare is an effective way to frighten large numbers of people, but there are plenty of other ways of doing this that don’t involve nearly as many risks and uncertainties for the perpetrator. Spending $57 billion on bioterror programs while underfunding the public health system is just colossally stupid.

    But that’s what happens when you focus on tactics instead of goals.

  9. #9 M. Randolph Kruger
    August 4, 2008

    John-It was the reason that the Egyptian pilots were trying to buy a crop duster. Skin contact Anthrax is treatable most of the time. Inhalation anthrax generally isnt. Its almost always fatal.

    http://anthrax.radpath.org/Pathogen2a.html

    Phila, could you please give me a number of dollars where you think it would be more important to have the healthcare systems socialized than to have people sickened by bioweapons. One thing is sure, if Bird Flu isnt a bioweapon the results would be the same if they dropped a superflu on us. Remember the Norkos and Syrians were selling their souls for money during this last 7 years. am sure you have an answer for that other than cheap shotting it. Remember its our Congress, a Democrat one that I surely didnt vote for that makes the decisions about who gets what money. 57 billion? If you call all of the other research into it then yep it might be 57 billion.

    John E-Not quite true on the decades before you could enter an area. Most of the spores would be blown away and you could render them inert by spraying the ground using the same type of crop dusters. It wouldnt take long for the weaponized version to return whence it came and that is the soil.

    Pauls–I agree with most of what you said. Remember this was Clintons FBI when this investigation started. There were leaks and we came to understand the term, “person of interest”. And they spent a hell of a lot of money trying to prosecute Richard Jewel too. Fact is that the guy in question stood to make a LOT of money off an anthracis outbreak and you just cant regulate or second guess everything on this planet. Nutties will always find a way. Be very glad it wasnt an airborne version of Ebola……

  10. #10 John Emerson
    August 4, 2008

    Inhalation anthrax generally isn’t [treatable]. Its almost always fatal.

    Based on my memory of the standard medical sources, this is not true. If inhalation anthrax is caught early enough, it’s treatable.

  11. #11 John Emerson
    August 4, 2008

    If an anthrax diagnosis is made early, the disease can be successfully treated with antibiotics. Unfortunately, infected people often confuse early symptoms with more common infections, such as the flu or common cold, and do not seek medical help until severe anthrax symptoms appear. By that time, the destructive anthrax toxins have already risen to high levels, making anthrax treatment difficult. Antibiotics can kill the bacteria, but they have no effect on anthrax toxins.

    Anthrax Treatment: Antibiotics
    Antibiotics used for anthrax treatment in both adults and children include:

    * Ciprofloxacin
    * Doxycycline
    * Penicillin.

    Link

  12. #12 Evan Henke
    August 4, 2008

    I work in Microbiology at the University of Minnesota. The wife of one of the professors here had worked with Ivins in a lab (Not in MN) during the 90s studying anthrax.

    Hearsay in the department is that (at least back then) the guy was mild mannered, calm, and gentle. He was not in favor of the “offensive” use of biological weapons but was very interested in the “defensive” aspect of biological agents, such as vaccination. (duh) Said coworker of Ivins was somewhat shocked to hear the news.

    One prof. I spoke with today suspects that perhaps the FBI had pressured him relentlessly or decided to use him as a scapegoat as has been mentioned above.

  13. #13 Phila
    August 4, 2008

    Phila, could you please give me a number of dollars where you think it would be more important to have the healthcare systems socialized than to have people sickened by bioweapons

    False choice + strawman. About what I expect from you.

    In case I haven’t made myself clear in the past, I think you’re dishonest and delusional, so I have no reason to engage with you on this or any other issue.

  14. #14 pauls lane
    August 4, 2008

    Evan you and alot of other folks on this site remind me of one of my favorite TV characters, Dr. Jack Hodgins on Bones. He’s great isn’t he? I laugh just about everytime he opens his mouth. Minor point though which is a bit worrisome, Hodgins is a fictional character, I am assuming you are not.

  15. #15 M. Randolph Kruger
    August 4, 2008

    Waiting for the number Phila…What is the number of dollars that you want spent on bioterror defense, how much on UHC….. Come on I always ask the lefties when they come up with it because they never figure out a way to pay for what their priorities are except to raise the taxes.

    Dishonest and delusional. In what way Phila….? You do have to qualify that with more than a kick and run. Typical Leftist. No stomach for the fight? I generally withhold myself a bit but in your case I would make an exception. Bouphonia +(phila+boat) = river carrying both to nowhere.

    There is just so much in the well right now for you to dip from, pick a number. If one bio attack succeeded with High CFR’s then you would say that they didnt do enough to interdict it. That too would be typical…. Obambination and Pelosi are good for that.

    Warrants-I wouldnt have gotten one either. He might have gotten off in the trial but then he would have never worked again either. He could always sue.

    You can alway negotiate with a bio-terrorist right?

    But DO remember he is innocent until proven guilty too. So both were pretty quick to get the tar and feathers out.

    I would say that there is a good chance that they pressured him. And I want him and everyone else that works with this shit pressured so that they know they cant get away with it. Pretty good chance that this stuff was home grown but by whom?

    Cant ask the questions any more so unrelenting pressure (some would call it intimidation) is about the only way to keep this stuff in the box. Revere and I both agree on one thing… there are too damned many of these “boxes” out there.

    The opportunity to pull the demon out of the freezer and any misgivings someone might have is easily oiled up with cash. Was it monetary? Dont know and dont care. I want the guys who are found guilty of this kind of thing summarily executed, preferably on national TV. Too many Americans game the system with lawyers and the like. If they are guilty then they should be executed for this and any terror crime in a loud and ugly way so the people know there is accountability.

    Evan-The Joint Services Manual for bio states that inhalation anthrax is about 85% fatal if not treated within 24 hours. Hence the reason for the anthrax vax I guess. Proactive rather than reactive. I got out just in advance of it being passed out. Time in motion. Once a few got it, how long in theater would you have before they started falling out? Not long I bet. I saw some pictures of the contact type and a guy just before he tagged off. After I did I thought about that vax and whether I would take it or not.

  16. #16 John Emerson
    August 4, 2008

    I suspect that the 85% figure and the 24 hour period are wrong. There weren’t been a lot of cases to analyze before 2001. 5 of 11 inhalation cases died in 2001 according to Wiki, which squares with other things I’ve heard — though the wiki was all garbled up in other aspects. I don’t know the treatment history of the 11 cases.

    A vaccine apparently exists and works, and penicillin and other antibiotics are ineffective. The hard part is apparently the need for quick treatment, and the absence of diagnostic symptoms in the early stage.

  17. #17 John Emerson
    August 4, 2008

    **penicillin and other antibiotics are EFFECTIVE.**

    Big mistake.

  18. #18 M. Randolph Kruger
    August 4, 2008

    Regardless John, you are right they can treat it always… Whether it works or not is the big question. For our soldiers it wasnt a question. If they had to “Time in motion” it then I think you would agree that they would be dropping like flies.

    http://www.bt.cdc.gov/agent/anthrax/faq/treatment.asp

    http://www.bmj.com/cgi/reprint/bmjusa.01110003v1.pdf

    But, its pretty lethal stuff. The above described person through a side channel was described to me as a bit odd. Okay, but he’s dead because I think that was his plan. So was he a bio terrorist? That would seem to be the unproven evidence. Phila says 50 billion is too much and refuses to answer the question of what she thinks the number should be even though 50 billion wouldnt take care of even Tennessee for three months.

    We have an individual out in Vegas who popped himself accidentally with Ricin that he was planning to use. On trial starting this week. So is that chemical terrorism? So many criminals, so little money. I wonder what the limit is that you could slip into the water supply around Vegas and only turn people into vegetables. Hmmm…

    The FBI showed up and snagged two computers from a library. They obviously knew which two computers so they could have gotten a warrant if needed. Obvious probably cause. Did they snag them before he was dead? Dunno but, was this guy working alone is my bigger question? Was he selling bio out the back door to support a drug, gambling or women habit? Some do it for family so where is this all going to? He also had a thing for a sorority apparently and frankly he would have raised all my red flags. He was an in person at one of the biggest bio labs in the world. I think the gas was rising in his cheese and went Swiss a long time ago and before 01.

    The military gives people PRP’s for reliability and to see if they can get them to crack or break down. Dont they do the same for these guys. Hey all the military can do is drop a single bomb at a single time. These guys got stuff that can kill the entire world.

    Its a fine line we are walking here and ultimately we will get it wrong. We will screw with someones rights or something along those lines and succeed in putting the US Govt. into court for violations. The first guy they did it to they got it wrong, the second they spent 7 years investigating. I now wonder where this thread leads to beyond this guy offing himself. Might take another 50 bill to find out. You know, it was interesting but I cant remember the guys name but he was an eminent bio guy and they found his car on the bridge here in Memphis after some bio conference about the same time.

    Apparent suicide, never found the body. What if this was linked to it in some way? Very interesting. What if someone just ducked him into a car? Only three bodies havent shown up in the last 25 years. Very strange that this guys didnt.

  19. #19 M. Randolph Kruger
    August 4, 2008

    Regardless John, you are right they can treat it always… Whether it works or not is the big question. For our soldiers it wasnt a question. If they had to “Time in motion” it then I think you would agree that they would be dropping like flies.

    http://www.bt.cdc.gov/agent/anthrax/faq/treatment.asp

    http://www.bmj.com/cgi/reprint/bmjusa.01110003v1.pdf

    But, its pretty lethal stuff. The above described person through a side channel was described to me as a bit odd. Okay, but he’s dead because I think that was his plan. So was he a bio terrorist? That would seem to be the unproven evidence. Phila says 50 billion is too much and refuses to answer the question of what she thinks the number should be even though 50 billion wouldnt take care of even Tennessee for three months.

    We have an individual out in Vegas who popped himself accidentally with Ricin that he was planning to use. On trial starting this week. So is that chemical terrorism? So many criminals, so little money. I wonder what the limit is that you could slip into the water supply around Vegas and only turn people into vegetables. Hmmm…

    The FBI showed up and snagged two computers from a library. They obviously knew which two computers so they could have gotten a warrant if needed. Obvious probably cause. Did they snag them before he was dead? Dunno but, was this guy working alone is my bigger question? Was he selling bio out the back door to support a drug, gambling or women habit? Some do it for family so where is this all going to? He also had a thing for a sorority apparently and frankly he would have raised all my red flags. He was an in person at one of the biggest bio labs in the world. I think the gas was rising in his cheese and went Swiss a long time ago and before 01.

    The military gives people PRP’s for reliability and to see if they can get them to crack or break down. Dont they do the same for these guys. Hey all the military can do is drop a single bomb at a single time. These guys got stuff that can kill the entire world.

    Its a fine line we are walking here and ultimately we will get it wrong. We will screw with someones rights or something along those lines and succeed in putting the US Govt. into court for violations. The first guy they did it to they got it wrong, the second they spent 7 years investigating. I now wonder where this thread leads to beyond this guy offing himself. Might take another 50 bill to find out. You know, it was interesting but I cant remember the guys name but he was an eminent bio guy and they found his car on the bridge here in Memphis after some bio conference about the same time.

    Apparent suicide, never found the body. What if this was linked to it in some way? Very interesting. What if someone just ducked him into a car? Only three bodies havent shown up in the last 25 years. Very strange that this guys didnt.

  20. #20 M. Randolph Kruger
    August 4, 2008

    Regardless John, you are right they can treat it always… Whether it works or not is the big question. For our soldiers it wasnt a question. If they had to “Time in motion” it then I think you would agree that they would be dropping like flies.

    http://www.bt.cdc.gov/agent/anthrax/faq/treatment.asp

    http://www.bmj.com/cgi/reprint/bmjusa.01110003v1.pdf

    But, its pretty lethal stuff. The above described person through a side channel was described to me as a bit odd. Okay, but he’s dead because I think that was his plan. So was he a bio terrorist? That would seem to be the unproven evidence. Phila says 50 billion is too much and refuses to answer the question of what she thinks the number should be even though 50 billion wouldnt take care of even Tennessee for three months.

    We have an individual out in Vegas who popped himself accidentally with Ricin that he was planning to use. On trial starting this week. So is that chemical terrorism? So many criminals, so little money. I wonder what the limit is that you could slip into the water supply around Vegas and only turn people into vegetables. Hmmm…

    The FBI showed up and snagged two computers from a library. They obviously knew which two computers so they could have gotten a warrant if needed. Obvious probably cause. Did they snag them before he was dead? Dunno but, was this guy working alone is my bigger question? Was he selling bio out the back door to support a drug, gambling or women habit? Some do it for family so where is this all going to? He also had a thing for a sorority apparently and frankly he would have raised all my red flags. He was an in person at one of the biggest bio labs in the world. I think the gas was rising in his cheese and went Swiss a long time ago and before 01.

    The military gives people PRP’s for reliability and to see if they can get them to crack or break down. Dont they do the same for these guys. Hey all the military can do is drop a single bomb at a single time. These guys got stuff that can kill the entire world.

    Its a fine line we are walking here and ultimately we will get it wrong. We will screw with someones rights or something along those lines and succeed in putting the US Govt. into court for violations. The first guy they did it to they got it wrong, the second they spent 7 years investigating. I now wonder where this thread leads to beyond this guy offing himself. Might take another 50 bill to find out. You know, it was interesting but I cant remember the guys name but he was an eminent bio guy and they found his car on the bridge here in Memphis after some bio conference about the same time.

    Apparent suicide, never found the body. What if this was linked to it in some way? Very interesting. What if someone just ducked him into a car? Only three bodies havent shown up in the last 25 years. Very strange that this guys didnt.

  21. #21 albatross
    August 5, 2008

    If you read this same story, but it had all happened in, say, Russia, would it sound plausible to you? High profile terrorism case solved by the FSB years after the fact. Terrorist attack apparently came from someone within the Russian government. The guilty party just happened to off himself the day before he was due to be arrested. Case closed, everything solved.

    Placed in another country, it all sounds suspicious as hell.

    My immediate suspicion is that the FBI would really like to get this case off their desks and into the “solved” column, and now that this major suspect is dead, they’ve decided that claiming he was certainly the terrorist (and that he worked alone) will let them score this case as solved.

    Now, that doesn’t mean he didn’t do it. But whether he did or not, now that he’s dead, there’s an obvious guy to blame this crime on. Unlike a living defendant, this guy won’t be paying a defense lawyer to poke holes in the case against him, and won’t be furnishing any annoying contradictory evidence that would show he’s not the guy.

    Assuming he was involved, but there were others involved with him, his death is also damned convenient for his co-conspirators. In jail, with a death sentence hanging over his head, he might very well have decided to tell the FBI everything he knew. If I were the kind of guy who was willing to mail anthrax to strangers, I have to guess I’d also be willing to poison a fellow terrorist to keep myself out of jail.

    And the really annoying part is, we’ll almost certainly never know whether this was the guy who did it, or whether this was the only guy involved.

  22. #22 M.Randolph Kruger
    August 5, 2008

    Alabtross-Yup! I dont get a comfortable feeling from this honestly. If he was unhinged then its not over with by a long shot. HOW MUCH did he get out of there if he is guilty… Dead men tell no tales.

  23. #23 pauls lane
    August 5, 2008

    Albatross and MRK, hence the continuing investigation..and the audacity of the FBI to obtain computers from a library without a warrant (if the computers have anything to do with this case at all) after all the article as quoted by revere sounds a bit weird..two fbi agents walk into the library in the first paragraph becomes a raid in the last…the library director agrees to release the computers on the information given him by the agents, becomes speculation by same library director if it pertains to the Bruce Ivins case…what do the agents tell him? “Hey Mr. Director we need those two computers, the two right over there. No not that one, the other one next to it..oh by the way we have an awful lot of information”.
    So the director turns the computers over and then tells the reporter that the agents never mentioned anything about the case he is speculating on.

  24. #24 wenchacha
    August 5, 2008

    http://ridingthejuggernaut.blogspot.com/2008/08/anthrax-suicide-fallout.html

    What makes me uneasy are the accounts of the behavior of some occupants of the labs at Ft. Detrick. Google “the Camel Club” to read about the workplace harrassment directed toward one DR. Ayaad Assad. The downright childish, boorish sort of antics doesn’t speak too well of America’s premier biolab.

    Anyone who has worked in a hostile environment knows how miserable it can get. Remember all the news stories about “going postal?” Somebody really losing it at an anthrax lab could do some serious damage to co-workers, forget about the rest of the world. Eventually, Zack and his friend were fired, but Asaad was ignored by his higher up for some time.

    Reading more about Ivins in the past day or two, and leaving out the questionable input of Duley, Ivins sounds more like your above-average eccentric egghead who would be an easy target to blame for the attacks. They had to go back how far to link him to tangential sorority mailbox stuff? And he got pretty tame internet porn? Wow, call the cops! He’s a total freak!

    I want more discussion of Bush’s leaning on Mueller to pin the anthrax on bin Laden. How much do you push for that info when it is just not the case?

    Following the prosecution/persecution of the artist and scientist who were hounded about the harmless bacteria (or whatever it was) in Buffalo, I have next to zero confidence in the FBI’s ability to solve this case correctly. They aren’t even savvy enough to tie up a neat tidy package to fool the public.

  25. #25 M. Randolph Kruger
    August 5, 2008

    Its the government Wen… If it was happening on the Clinton watch I would be just as worried about this as I am about those missing hard drives from Los Alamos that were never recovered in the “fire” that conveniently dissappeared, never to be found.

    Those hard drives had all sorts of data on them about nuclear weapons and their design… Bill Richardson took full control for their recovery and never involved the FBI until about a month after they were gone. L. Alamos was never burned, just singed and those drives are likely sitting in China now.

    The case above is unnerving. We all know what was at Ft. Detrick. To do research on bugs and create preventatives you have to grow the bugs, modify in them in the way that a foreign nation might such as pneumonic plague, ebola or lassa to sex them up. The government and I agree has had a bad habit of creating issues where there are none but this one is on out there. My missing bio guy from the conference here suddenly vanishes and never heard from again on a bridge that has camera’s on it? This guy does his thing and might have been doing that thing and the Los Alamos gig? All way too convenient for me.

    I am with Revere on these labs but with one exception that was recent and it was the guy who was shipping anthracis via the mail. We cant have our cake and eat it too. These guys were respected in their fields and they think the law doesnt apply to them. Then when the law comes down on them with an iron club Revere and others rightly/wrongly come out in their defense. We cannot have it both ways. My reaction to all of this is to make the law, make it mandatory and make it for life. If there is a release into the environment resulting in human deaths or major economic harm…execute them on public TV after a very public trial.

    This way we dont have to worry about whether they are terrorists or not. By definition of the law in the prescribed manner there can be only two verdicts, guilty or not. The outcome? Death by hanging, death by firing squad or you go home after losing your financial livelyhood because you had to go through a trial. Make it so onerous that to even screw up in one of these labs and that includes the CDC you run the risk of not only dying from the bug, but for screwing up. This shit affects everyone on this planet and we got them going up everywhere for bioterrorism. Okay, security starts at home and that means that in this case Revere CAN have his cake and eat it too. If we make the penalties for screwing up so bad that they will not do it from a legal, moral aspect in these labs then the only natural conclusion that it could be is terrorism then it makes it a lot simpler.

    WE dont need any more goddamn labs. WE need to police the ones we have much better. If terrorism is involved or monetary gain, then you simply put them out on the block and off with their heads. Harsh measures for a harsh environment.

  26. #26 revere
    August 5, 2008

    Randy: Who shipped B. anthracis through the mail? No one I know. It was B. subtilis, a non-pathogen involved in the case of Ferrell and Kurtz.

  27. #27 Willy
    August 6, 2008

    = = = = = = = =
    “Whatever else the US “biodefense” program has done for us — and benefits are hard to document if they indeed exist at all — it seems at least to have brought us the only successful bioterrorism attack on US soil in our history.”
    = = = = = = = =
    Seems to me some smallpox-tainted blankets were the first bioterrorism attacks here in America. (Small nit picked.)

  28. #28 revere
    August 6, 2008

    Willy: You make a valid point, not a nitpick. If I were to nitpick (back) I’d say it happened before there was a US.

  29. #29 wenchacha
    August 6, 2008

    Randy: I didn’t like Louis Freeh either.

  30. #30 Julie Stahlhut
    August 6, 2008

    Two FBI agents walked into a public library in Maryland, without a warrant, and walked out with two computers.

    Helluva way to get free computers!

  31. #31 M. Randolph Kruger
    August 6, 2008

    Now theres something we didnt think of….. Maybe they just stole the computers by flashing a badge?

    Wen-I think that the Clinton years were the complete and total set up for the Bush years. If we had gone out and tagged these guys repeatedly as we were attacked, attacked and attacked again under the Freeh FBI then we might have ended up with a better president for the last 8.

    But GWB is not a total fuck up as some would have you believe. He doesnt speak well, he appears confused at times but he is rock solid when there is a crisis. But it takes more than that. The pendulum swung so hard to the right and I have posted about it more than once that you have to be no more than one step right or left of center in these United States to make this thing work. Keep one foot on the center at all times. You are allowed generally that leeway.

    This deal with anthrax disturbs Revere and me as well. When they start going after academics because of their beliefs (W. Churchill-sack of shit) then there is a problem. But there is also a problem when those academics use their positions to dog down those who disagree with them. This guy was eminent in his field but I think his elevator got stuck on the 10th floor. We may never know but I fully doubt that he was working alone. There is a deep need to know that “I gotcha” with these types. Revenge? I dont know that either. I do know that there is a move afoot to require that people in this type of position have annual psych evals… I think they should… part of the process to stay employed as part of the federal system annual review. The picture they might be able to paint afterwards is one that they could use to get warrants next time due to repeat behavior of other nutcases being exhibited again. The guy was innocent until proven guilty and once again the media is portraying someone who is dead as guilty without trial except in the public domain. This is where the FBI comes in. They should instead of working towards proving someone guilty, proving that they are not and the person left standing at the end of the musical chairs is the one that IS guilty. The guy may or may not be and these goddamn labs around the US and overseas are targets and we keep putting them up like hot house sheds to grow this crap. How much of it is bio warfare by direct definition is questionable. But it doesnt matter because the agents are there waiting to be let out. It only takes one to kill the world. Anthrax is just one of the bugs thats a possibility and having people out from under the thumb of the FBI and/or the military as “civilians” leaves the door unlocked. How many of these guys are working as the heads of bug departments at universities? How many students would fund their research by slipping something out the door? Theres the real question on this.

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