Worker Has Anthrax
Worker Has ‘Cutaneous’ Infection
N E W Y O R K, Oct. 12 — An NBC News employee has tested positive for anthrax, the network and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said today, and the FBI has opened a criminal investigation into how the woman became infected.
"The Federal Bureau of Investigation has launched a separate criminal investigation to find out the source of the anthrax in the New York City case," Attorney General John Ashcroft announced today.
The employee was infected through her skin, in a form of the disease known as cutaneous anthrax, Giuliani said at a news conference with NBC network head Andrew Lack and FBI officials. Virtually all people who come down with that form of the disease and are treated properly recover completely.
She was responding well to treatment, Lack said. "She is in good health and in good care," he said.
The woman, whose name was withheld, is a staffer at NBC Nightly News who works on the third floor of the company's Manhattan headquarters, where the Today show is also produced.
The woman opened a piece of suspicious mail on Sept. 25, but the powder inside tested negative for anthrax, Giuliani said.
Health officials began monitoring the woman when she developed a lesion, but she did not test positive until early this morning, the mayor said.
She had been treated with the antibiotic Cipro — commonly used to treat anthrax — as a precaution shortly after her apparent exposure.
"At this time the source of the anthrax is being investigated and has not yet been determined," Ashcroft said at a news conference in Washington, D.C., today. "No conclusions have been reached at this time."
Mayor: No Reason for Public to Worry
Several floors of the NBC headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Center will be closed for several days, Giuliani said, as health officials test the building. All employees working in the area are being tested for the disease, but there have been no other positive results.
Giuliani told a news conference there was no reason for the public to be concerned. "This is in very good hands," he said.
Health officials, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were also investigating the infection.
"One piece of good news is that if anyone else was gong to be infected , they would have been infected by now," Giuliani said. Still, as a precaution, those who had been tested were being given Cipro.
Giuliani and Barry Mawn, head of the FBI's New York office, stressed there was no evidence the infection was the work of terrorists.
"We see no connection whatsoever" to the Sept. 11 terror attacks, emphasized Mawn.
The letter the NBC employee handled contained a powder and was reported as suspicious to company security, General Electric Vice Chairman Bob Wright said at the news conference today. GE owns NBC. The envelope was forwarded to police.
Skin-Based Anthrax Seldom Fatal
Cutaneous anthrax, the type the NBC employee was diagnosed with, accounts for 95 percent of all known anthrax cases, and is rarely fatal with appropriate treatment. Many people recover completely even without treatment.
This form of infection typically comes from a cut or abrasion that allows the anthrax bacterium to enter the skin.
Anthrax is not contageous, that is, it cannot be passed from person to person and can only be contracted by direct exposure to spores of the bacterium.
The FBI is already investigating the exposure of three employees of the Sun tabloid newspaper in Boca Raton, Fla. One of the employees, 63-year-old photo editor Bob Stevens, died of inhalation anthrax, which is both very rare and usually fatal.
Two other employees there tested positive for exposure to anthrax. The family of one of those exposed, Ernesto Blanco, told ABCNEWS the 73-year-old man nearly died over the weekend. The Centers for Disease Control said it could not yet confirm whether Blanco had actually been infected with anthrax, or merely exposed.
After combing through the offices of American Media, which publishes The Sun, the FBI found anthrax traces on one computer keyboard that was used by Stevens before he died last week.
While investigators said a criminal attack would more likely have spread anthrax through the building, they also say the strain of lab-isolated bacteria found almost certainly rules out a lone crackpot.
Preliminary tests suggest the spores may be from a particularly deadly vaccine-resistant strain that may have been first harvested in an Iowa veterinary research lab in the 1950s. The tests are not yet conclusive.
Speaking today at a news conference about the New York anthrax case, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said there it was not yet clear if the new case was the same strain as the Florida cases.
"There has been no conformation that this is the same or different," he stressed.
Giuliani Urges Caution With Suspicious Packages
Giuliani encouraged people worried about suspicious mail to call authorities and not to open or shake it.
"The thing to do is to call 911," he said. "Leave it where it is."
Giuliani also confirmed that several floors of the New York Times offices in Manhattan were evacuated today after suspicious mail was received.
"The New York Times received a letter with a powdery substance," Giuliani said.
Police and health officials did not yet know if the substance tested positive for anthrax, but were on the scene and investigating, Guiliani said.
Anthrax Suggests Government Expertise
By Gary Matsumoto
Oct. 16 — Some of America's top biological warfare scientists are edging closer to a conclusion they've resisted since receiving word of the first anthrax infection in Florida — that the recent germ attacks involved an expertise only a government could provide.
Richard Spertzel, who directed the U.N. Special Commission biological weapons inspectors in Iraq, says a second confirmed case of pulmonary anthrax in Florida has deepened his suspicion that the attacks had the support of a foreign government. According to this view, agents of a state-run biowarfare program, or rogue scientists from a nation with a biological arsenal, may have provided the perpetrators with advice, and possibly with the agent itself.
One indicator, Spertzel says, is particle size. Inducing pulmonary, or inhaled, anthrax requires 8,000 to 10,000 spores embedded in particles between one to five microns in diameter. That amount would fit on the period at the end of this sentence.
If the particles are smaller than one micron, they are exhaled. Larger than five microns, and chances are the particles will lodge in the nose, or be caught in cilia that line the trachea. These are very narrow parameters.
Although spores of these precise dimensions do occur in nature, the chances of digging them up from soil, their natural habitat, are slim. The chances of inhaling them while walking in the woods are not only slim; they're unheard of.
So a would-be anthrax terrorist wouldn't prospect for these spores; he'd grow them. The next step is making an aerosol. That's the hard part.
A Select Club
Bill Patrick, a scientist who used to make anthrax weapons for the United States, patented a secret process that involved freeze-drying the spores, milling the resulting anthrax "cake" to yield particles of the proper diameter, then coating them with a special mixture to dampen electrostatic charges that cause clumping. Patrick calls this making the particles "slippery."
It's these particles that "deliver" the spores. A good anthrax "munition" requires more know-how than he says he'd expect to find in a laboratory run by al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden's network, which U.S. officials believe was behind the Sept. 11 hijacking attacks.
The Russians have this know-how. So do the Iraqis, among others. But it's a rather select club.
This is one reason why former UNSCOM chief Richard Butler has echoed Spertzel's apprehension about reports from the Czech government that hijacker Mohamed Atta met with an Iraqi agent in Prague months before the Sept. 11 attacks.
Did the Iraqi provide Atta, the Egyptian pilot considered a linchpin in the World Trade Center attacks, with anthrax? "It's not yet concluded," says Butler, who says the United States is trying to answer this question with the help of the Egyptian government.
Investigators also have yet to point a finger at any one person or entity in the anthrax probe.
"While organized terrorism has not been ruled out," FBI Director Robert Mueller said today, "so far we have found no direct link to organized terrorism."
Looking at the Specs
In the effort to identify where the agents found in Florida, New York and Washington came from, forensic scientists stand to learn more from the particles' "manufacturing specs" than they would from the spores' DNA signature.
For decades, microbiologists have exchanged anthrax strains for research with few restrictions, even the most virulent isolates. Unless its a rare strain, Spertzel says the spores used in the attacks could have come from anywhere.
The "Ames" strain has been the focus of much speculation in the press, as law enforcement sources say it was the source of the Florida exposures. But it isn't that rare. The strain was extracted from a dead cow in Ames, Iowa, in the 1950s, then sent to the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases around 1980 for research.
British and American scientists discovered that Ames was one of the strains that defeated the licensed U.S. and British anthrax vaccines. Quite simply, it killed vaccinated guinea pigs. (Before you get too scared, antibiotics successfully kill the Ames strain). One can find Ames "reference strains" in laboratories around the world.
But if the agents used in the attack are found to contain the telltale presence of certain compounds used in a professional drying process, this could be a very revealing clue. For instance, the presence of aluminum clay, an anti-clumping agent employed in an air-drying process for anthrax, would point to professionals rather than amateurs, and narrow the field of possible suppliers.
It's clear the Florida cases involved a less elegant preparation with spores of an inconsistent size. Still, someone succeeded in manufacturing tens of thousands of particles, or more, to the required size to infect two victims with pulmonary anthrax. That took more than a mortar and pestle.
in Reno Nevada Tests Negative for Anthrax
RENO NEVADA — 10/18/01- Final tests on a letter in a Microsoft office in Reno have come back negative for anthrax, Gov. Kenny Guinn announced Thursday.
Tests performed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the presence of a bacterium, but ruled out that it was anthrax.
Guinn was scheduled to discuss the results at a Thursday evening news conference.
The tests performed by the CDC in Atlanta were requested after initial state tests showed anthrax had contaminated a pornographic picture in a letter at the Microsoft Licensing Inc. office in Reno.
The state Health Division's laboratory had confirmed the presence of anthrax earlier, but forwarded the material to the CDC to determine whether it was dangerous or harmless, vaccine-grade anthrax.
The CDC's initial analysis was negative, but state health officials said the first sample sent to the centers in Atlanta might have been too diluted and sent another.
Six people exposed to the Microsoft letter have tested negative for the deadly, inhaled version of the disease.
Officials at Microsoft Licensing contacted health officials Oct. 10 over an employee's suspicions about a returned envelope, mailed earlier to a vendor in Malaysia. Pornographic pictures had been inserted into the envelope, which also contained a check made out to the vendor, who wasn't identified.
The Malaysian government, which
along with the FBI is investigating, says it is not clear where the
Deputy Inspector General of Police Jamil Johari was quoted in the New Straits Times newspaper as saying that the letter from Microsoft in Reno was returned to the sender after the addressee in Malaysia could not be contacted.
Last Updated: Oct 18, 2001
Troubling Anthrax Additive Found
Despite a last-minute denial from the White House, sources tell ABCNEWS the anthrax in the tainted letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle was laced with bentonite. The potent additive is known to have been used by only one country in producing biochemical weapons — Iraq.
ABCNEWS has been told by three well-placed and separate sources that initial tests on an anthrax-laced letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle have detected a troubling chemical additive that authorities consider their first significant clue yet.
An urgent series of tests conducted on the letter at Ft. Detrick, Md., and elsewhere discovered the anthrax spores were treated with bentonite, a substance that keeps the tiny particles floating in the air by preventing them from sticking together. The easier the particles are to inhale, the more deadly they are.
As far as is known, only one country, Iraq, has used bentonite to produce biological weapons.
Just minutes before ABCNEWS' World News Tonight aired this report, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer flatly denied bentonite was found on the letters. Moments later, another senior White House official backed off Fleischer's comments, saying it does not appear to be bentonite "at this point."
The official said the Ft. Detrick findings represented an "opinionated analysis," that three other labs are conducting tests, and that one of those labs had contradicted the bentonite finding. But, the official added, "tests continue."
While it's possible countries other than Iraq may be using the additive, it is a trademark of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's biological weapons program.
"It means to me that Iraq becomes the prime suspect as the source of the anthrax used in these letters," former U.N. weapons inspector Timothy Trevan told ABCNEWS.
In the process of destroying much of Iraq's biological arsenal, U.N. teams first discovered Iraq was using bentonite, which is found in soil around the world, including the United States and Iraq.
"That discovery was proof positive of how they were using bentonite to make small particles," former U.N. weapons inspector Richard Spertzel told ABCNEWS.
But officials cautioned today that even if Iraq or renegade Iraqi scientists prove to be the source, it's a separate issue from who actually sent the anthrax through the mail.
"What you have to keep in mind
is the difference between knowledge about what type of information you
have to have to produce it, and who could have sent it," Fleischer said.
"They are totally separate topics that could involve totally separate people.
It could be the same person or people. It could be totally different people.
The information does not
Experts say the bentonite discovery doesn't rule out a very well-equipped lab using the Iraqi technique. In fact, commercial spray dryers that Iraq used to produce its biological weapons were bought on the open market from the Danish subsidiary of a U.S. company for about $100,000 a piece.
Starting Thursday, FBI agents began asking company officials in Columbia, Md., if anyone suspicious in this country had recently acquired one of them.
— Brian Ross, Christopher Isham, Chris Vlasto and Gary Matsumoto
Additive Search Requires More Study
By Gary Matsumoto
W A S H I N G T O N, Nov. 1 — A group of military scientists is feverishly examining the microscopic spores of anthrax sent to Sen. Tom Daschle for clues to a mystery that could have profound implications for the United States and its ongoing war on terror: Who made it?
Contained in the deadly sample that arrived in Daschle's office on Oct. 15 are additives used to make the normally inert bacteria a better killer, and exactly which additives they are could point investigators in the direction of the anthrax's source, and from there, perhaps, to who sent it.
Biological weapons experts say producing potent samples like the spores in the Daschle letter require advanced techniques that leave tell-tale markers to who made it — the known manufacturers of biological agents all have different ingredients and methods for creating their wares.
ABCNEWS reported last week that initial tests on the Daschle letter discovered the presence of one of those important additives, bentonite, an anti-clumping agent that makes the spores float through the air and into the lungs more easily, and which United Nations weapons inspectors have associated with Iraq.
This issue is critical. Making anthrax deadlier by mixing it with such additives is a trademark of sophisticated, well-funded, government programs, which could point to state-sponsorship of the mail attacks. Finding bentonite or silica, a similar additive, is one of the few solid leads investigators would have on the possible source of the contaminated letters that have been showing up in mailrooms from Florida to New York City.
But there is dispute over what the additives are. The White House and the head of the Army's biological laboratories in Ft. Detrick, Md., have denied bentonite was present, and said even if it was, it would not necessarily point to Iraq as the culprit.
They said investigators have not ruled out domestic or foreign sources, and, experts in the field note, the equipment used to treat anthrax with bentonite is available on the open market, which could lead investigators to a suspect in the United States.
But mineralogists suggest the matter of the bentonite may not be closed
The government's top labs have run the Daschle anthrax sample through a series of tests. An electron microscope study found the Daschle spores looked "virtually identical" to those found in Iraq by U.N. weapons inspectors in 1994. But after subjecting it to a sophisticated X-ray test last week, the Army concluded it contained no bentonite, a clay comprised of several minerals, including aluminum.
For the Army, no aluminum equaled no bentonite.
"One of its principal ingredients is aluminum," said Maj. Gen. John Parker, overall commander of the military laboratories doing the analyses. "And I will say to you that we see no aluminum presence in the sample."
That assessment may prove correct, but not based solely on the absence of aluminum. ABCNEWS has learned that at least two European chemical companies make a processed, aluminum-free bentonite. Mineralogist William Moll, who has mainly worked in private industry, says these synthetic bentonites are used as "free-flow agents" that give dry powders a "fluid" or "slippery" quality as the particles float through the air. The existence of such bentonite means further tests are needed to rule out the presence of the troubling additive.
One of America's leading experts on mineral clays, Hayden Murray, a professor emeritus of geology at Indiana University, says a company based in Munich, Germany, removes aluminum from bentonite to create a finer, more refined additive than one could make from the bentonite deposits found in Iraq.
Murray says at least two American companies mine such high-quality bentonite, but the German company has a much larger customer base in the Middle East.
Last week, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer confirmed the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology found another additive — silica — in the Daschle anthrax. Like bentonite, silica is used in pharmaceutical powders all over the world and would make the anthrax float through the air more effectively.
When the United States was still in the biological weapons business back in the 1960s, U.S. scientists experimented with anthrax, silica and bentonite. The former Soviet Union also used silica in powders with anthrax.
In fact, federal officials say many countries have the materials, the technology, and the know-how to put pharmaceutical powders to deadly use. Yet as far as anyone knows, only the United States and the former Soviet Union have actually produced an anthrax weapon in powdered form.
But Iraq, for one, is believed to have been trying. In the 1980s, Baghdad purchased three spray dryers from a Danish company for research purposes. In 1988 and 1989, Iraqi officials asked the Danish company that manufactured the dryers to help identify companies that would sell silica, as well as two other drying agents, kaolin and maltodextrin.
Like many items employed in the production of germ weapons, the dryers and the chemicals were "dual use." Spray dryers, for instance, are commonly used to make powdered milk. U.N. weapons inspectors say the Iraqi dryers were eventually used to make biological weapons.
The FBI apparently has its own suspicions about the use of spray dryers in the germ attacks. When ABCNEWS phoned the company that sold Iraq the dryers, officials there said the FBI had called the previous day.
'Pure Spore' Clues
The concentration of spores in the Daschle sample is another potential clue scientists can use to find its source.
In creating a germ weapon, microbiologists must induce bacteria like anthrax into a spore state, a hardier form of the cells that protects them against extreme temperatures and other environmental stress. Spores can be induced in various ways, but American scientists discovered one of the best techniques in the '70s, years after abandoning its offensive biological warfare program. Iraq improved on the U.S. method, creating a preparation that was almost 100 percent spores.
That fits Parker's description of what he saw when he looked at the Daschle sample. "I have looked at the specimen under the microscope, both the electron microscope and the scanning microscope, and I can say that the sample was pure spores," he said. Parker also said the spores were "uniform in size," and "highly concentrated." In an amateur preparation, experts like former Soviet biological warfare scientist Ken Alibek would expect to see a mixture of anthrax organisms in different stages of development. "Like a mix of seeds and plants," says Alibek.
At times, the language of bacteriology sounds almost botanical. When an oval-shaped spore "germinates" it grows into a rod, which looks like a short pretzel stick. Microbiologists refer to this as the organism's "vegetative" state. Alibek would expect a "home-brewed" anthrax preparation to look like a hodgepodge of spores and vegetative cells.
'Ted Kaczynski With a Petri Dish'
But federal officials say even the level of purity in the Daschle sample is no proof that a foreign state is connected to the attacks. Instead, a theory favored by some federal investigators might be described as "Ted Kaczynski with a petri dish." According to this view, "a disgruntled Ph.D." here in America could have launched this wave of bioterror with a "well-equipped laboratory" and a tiny speck of virulent anthrax, which is quite simple to nurture into large colonies. That is, if he get his hands on the right strain. America's biowarfare scientists remain divided on this point. The trick is still making an effective powder, which requires more than an advanced degree in microbiology. Bill Patrick, former chief of "product development" at Fort Detrick in the waning days of the U.S. offensive biological weapons program, believes the small amount of anthrax recovered so far, apparently just 2 grams in the Daschle letter, points to "a small operation."
Patrick and another Fort Detrick veteran, Col. David Franz, both say they'd expect state-supported bioterrorists to use larger amounts of anthrax in more ambitious attacks. For Franz, the threshold of proof for state involvement is 50 kilograms, or 100 pounds of anthrax, an amount that could cause, under perfect conditions, Hiroshima-like casualties.
Former U.N. weapons inspector Richard Spertzel disputes this logic. He maintains that the use of a small amount of anthrax in these attacks does not prove the perpetrators only possessed a small amount. "Look at what they've accomplished with a few letters," says Spertzel. "They didn't need to use more."
Another dissenter from the prevailing conventional wisdom, Alan Zelicoff of Sandia National Laboratories, admits that a "disgruntled Ph.D." could get a hold of a virulent anthrax strain and culture it, but "he wouldn't know the aerosol physics to create the powder. This is a complex engineering problem," says Zelicoff.
Sources privy to the federal investigation say the tests on the Daschle sample are still under way. Even if these tests ultimately find bentonite, as well as silica, they will not prove Iraqi involvement. In the language of criminology, the manufacturing techniques, and the additives in the aerosol powders, may add up to a known modus operandi, but they are not "fingerprints."
Although Spertzel is convinced that the accumulating circumstantial evidence is "narrowing the field," he concedes that investigators may never know with certainty the identity of the terrorists behind the germ attacks.
"I don't think that we're going to see a smoking gun that's going to implicate this country, or that company," says Spertzel. "That's the hard thing to swallow with these anonymous attacks. You want to defend yourself, but from whom?"
A Followup on Bentonite
On Nov. 1, 2001, ABCNEWS.com ran the report above regarding the U.S. Army's analysis of the anthrax material sent to the office of Sen. Thomas Daschle. The report included the U.S. Army's statement that the sample had been found to contain no aluminum and therefore could be concluded to contain no bentonite.
The story also reported on suggestions that an unnamed German company might make a processed, aluminum-free bentonite. That company has contacted ABCNEWS.com and said that while it does remove some aluminum from bentonite, it does not remove all aluminum.
May Be Missing Anthrax Link
N.J. Man Says FBI, CDC Ignored ‘Possible Lead’ in Anthrax Investigation
Nov. 12 — A New Jersey doctor who wonders if he might have been the first person infected in the anthrax attack is still waiting for the FBI to talk to him about what he might know.
What makes his story potentially significant is that his symptoms appeared long before those who were infected by the letters mailed Sept. 30 — actually a week before the terror attacks of Sept. 11.
At the time he had a sore with a black scab, followed by what was diagnosed in a hospital as meningitis. In an interview with ABCNEWS' Good Morning America, Dr. Jerry Weisfogel said he may have had a brush with the anthrax attacker, but the government has ignored his story.
Four people have died, one person is in serious condition and 16 others are recovering from anthrax infection, while at least 37 others have been exposed to the spores.
The FBI says it is pursuing more than 1,000 leads, including at least 100 that have taken investigators overseas.
Weisfogel works in the town of Kendall Park, N.J., which is near Franklin Park, the town found on the return address of the anthrax-contaminated letter that was mailed to Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D.
There's no Greendale school, which was given as the return address, but there is a Greenbrook school in Weisfogel's town, and it only goes to the fourth grade. The return address of the letter sent to Daschle said, "4th Grade, Greendale School."
"It obviously made me think that there may have been some local connection between where my office is, between what I had and wherever the perpetrators of the anthrax mailings are," Weisfogel said.
Could There Be a ‘Cluster 0’?
But Weisfogel said that, to his amazement, he had a hard time getting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to get interested in his case. They told him his case appeared too early to be connected, even when he suggested that his could have been the first case.
"That's exactly what I said," Weisfogel said. "I said, 'You have Case 1 and Case 2 or Cluster 1 and Cluster 2. How do you know there was not a Cluster 0?'"
Weisfogel said he originally diagnosed his black scab as a spider bite, but now he wonders if his mistake might not have been the same misdiagnosis so commonly seen in anthrax cases.
What's more, he said, he wonders if the bioterrorist responsible for the letters might have been in his office.
"Have I come across patients from countries who might be doing this? Yes," Weisfogel said.
Weisfogel admits that there is no proof that anyone he treated had any connection to the rash of anthrax-contaminated letters received by lawmakers and media companies, but said it is "a possible lead" in a case in which investigators seem to have almost no leads, other than a trail of anthrax infections and spores all going back to New Jersey.
On Thursday, after the CDC became aware that Weisfogel was telling his story to Good Morning America, the agency tested his blood for anthrax antibodies. He was told it could be weeks before the results of the tests are in.
U.S. Scientist Questioned
Former Researcher Denies Connection to Anthrax Attacks
W A S H I N G T O N, Dec. 20 — A scientist formerly involved in U.S. anthrax research has told ABCNEWS he is now under investigation by the FBI regarding the recent attacks-by-mail, but has denied involvement in the deadly incidents.
Federal authorities are now convinced the anthrax mailed in poison letters was made in the United States, and told ABCNEWS they are investigating a former anthrax researcher who allegedly threatened to use the potentially deadly bacteria.
Unknown to all but a few government officials, the United States has been producing small quantities of weapons-grade anthrax for several years at two secret locations, one of them the Army's Dugway Proving Ground in the Utah desert.
The FBI is now interviewing current and former scientists in Utah and at the second secret anthrax-producing facility, Battelle in Columbus, Ohio, a nonprofit corporation that does the work for the CIA and the military.
An estimated 200 U.S. scientists dealt with the anthrax program over the last five years and federal authorities have told ABCNEWS they are now investigating the activities of a senior research scientist who FBI sources say was twice fired from Battelle and who allegedly made a threat to use anthrax in the days after Sept. 11.
Agents Search American Scientist’s Home
According to an FBI affidavit, agents searched the home of one former top Battelle scientist in late September after he allegedly made threats about using anthrax. Agents said they found suspicious chemicals but no anthrax, according to the sources.
The scientist confirmed to ABCNEWS' Brian Ross that agents had searched his home and taken his personal computer, but he denied any involvement in the attacks. He also insisted he had quit his post at Battelle, and was not fired.
Authorities told ABCNEWS the program, designed to protect U.S. soldiers, grew out of the Gulf War. The idea was to replicate the kind of anthrax Iraq might make and one day use against U.S. soldiers.
According to documents obtained by ABCNEWS, the U.S. scientists have been making a powdered aerosol form of anthrax, and also have the unique strain of the bacteria found in deadly letters sent to two U.S. senators.
Scientists who worked on the project were vaccinated against anthrax and are immune to the bacteria.
One of the few to be told of the classified program, the chairman of a House subcommittee on national security, said the research is very important.
"The program's been going on a number of years, thank God," said Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn. "I mean, the purpose of the program is for us to know how to deal with an attack."
But the Army won't talk about the anthrax production, and has not shared what it learned with civilian authorities.
The Army says all of the anthrax it has made since 1997 is accounted for. But what the FBI is really looking for is one of the 200 or so U.S. scientists who have been secretly making anthrax — looking for the one who may have used the bacteria to wreak havoc.
ABCNEWS' Brian Ross contributed to this report.
Suspects, Few Clues
FBI Believes Anthrax Sender Could Be U.S. Scientist
By Brian Ross
April 4, 2002
— Six months after the government first said a man in Florida was sick with anthrax, which later killed five people and set off a nationwide panic, federal investigators say they have no suspects and few clues.
But what they do have is a fear that the person responsible could be one of the very government scientists they have relied on for help, and a concern that the U.S. military is not telling them everything about secret anthrax research programs.
The FBI asked for the help of Dr. Ken Alibek almost immediately because no one in the world has made more weapons-grade anthrax than he has.
Until he defected 10 years ago, Alibek ran the secret Soviet and Russian anthrax program and says he has the expertise to make the material that was sent in the American anthrax letters. "Yes, it would be easy to do," he said.
Now Alibek tells ABCNEWS he and a number of other scientists were told last month they must take lie detector tests if they wanted to continue to help the FBI. He confirmed he had to answer questions including "Did you do it?" and "Do you know who did it?"
Alibek said he passed the test.
FBI Believes Person Responsible Is U.S. Scientist
The FBI continues to believe the person responsible for the anthrax attacks is likely a current or former U.S. scientist, perhaps a prominent one.
Federal investigators say Alibek is one of at least a dozen such individuals, many who worked in the bioweapons research program at Ft. Detrick, Md., have been given and passed lie detector tests.
"There are very few people who have this technical skill," said Dr. David Franz, the former bioweapons commander at Ft. Detrick. "And that's, in my mind, what makes this a very small group of potential perpetrators."
But federal investigators tell ABCNEWS that military and intelligence agencies have withheld a full listing of all facilities and all employees dealing with top-secret anthrax programs where important leads could be found.
"We're talking here about laboratories where, in fact, the material that we know was in the Daschle letter and in the Leahy letter could have been produced," said Jeanne Guillemin, a professor of biological and weapons studies at MIT and author of the book Anthrax: The Investigation of a Deadly Outbreak. "And I think that's what the FBI is still trying to find out."
Military officials have said they are fully cooperating but investigators say the criminal investigation has come up now against some closely held military secrets which are slowing down the pursuit for the "anthrax killer."
Wake-Up Call For Bioterrerorism Research
But there are some people connected to the U.S. bioweapons program who think the anthrax attacks, which claimed the lives of five people, provided a much needed wake-up call, including the former bioweapons commander Franz.
"I think a lot of good has come from it," he told ABNCEWS. "From a biological or a medical standpoint, we've now five people who have died, but we've put about $6 billion in our  budget into defending against bioterrorism."
But for the families of the five people who died, it is cold comfort.
"It's a tragedy," said Franz. "That's true in war; that's true in any tragedy."
Copyright © 2002 ABC News Internet Ventures.
for Fort Detrick Workers
Investigators Searching for Culprit in Anthrax Mailings
By Pierre Thomas, ABC.com
— The government will launch a wide-ranging program of polygraph testing to determine if one of its own employees is responsible for last year's anthrax attacks, ABCNEWS has learned.
As many as 200 current and former employees at Fort Detrick in Maryland, the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah and a number of other labs across the nation will face questioning and voluntary polygraph tests in the hope that one of them might produce a lead.
Sources told ABCNEWS those targeted include people who have expertise in the production of anthrax or have had access to it.
"In the absence of a prime suspect, the FBI has to build its case through subtraction, taking away the elements that don't fit, trying to make their theory work," said Kyle Olson, an analyst in the field of weapons of mass destruction.
Law enforcement officials say the scientific analysis of the anthrax sent in letters that killed five people is consistent with the Ames anthrax strain housed by the U.S. military at Fort Detrick and distributed to a number of labs for research.
"The anthrax strain from the Florida case was very similar to an anthrax strain that was derived from one distributed through Fort Detrick," said Timothy Read, an assistant investigator for the Institute for Genomic Research.
Investigators Face Dead Ends
Frustrated for months and with no clear suspect, the mass lie detector tests, which are expected to start in June, constitute the latest government attempt to generate new leads.
Earlier this year, the FBI sent a letter to the 43,000-member American Society of Microbiology, which said: "It is very likely that one or more of you know this individual … Based on his or her selection of the Ames strain … one would expect that this individual … had legitimate access" to biological agents.
One law enforcement source told ABCNEWS that investigators, who have faced a lot of dead ends, have to start somewhere.
for Anthrax Attack
Government Scientist Commissioned Report on Hypothetical Attack
By Brian Ross
The former government scientist whose home was searched by the FBI this week commissioned a report three years ago on how to deal with an anthrax attack by mail, ABCNEWS has learned.
The scientist, Steve Hatfill has denied to ABCNEWS any connection with the anthrax attacks that left five dead and at least 13 others ill last fall. But the FBI says he is one of 20 or 30 present and former government scientists who remain under scrutiny in the case.
The FBI obtained a copy of the secret anthrax report last week just before agents raided Hatfill's home in Frederick, Md., and a storage facility he maintains in Ocala, Fla.
The report describes a hypothetical anthrax attack, specifying an amount and quality of anthrax that is remarkably similar to what was sent to the offices of U.S. Sens. Patrick Leahy and Tom Daschle last October.
The report, obtained by ABCNEWS, was written in February 1999 by William Patrick III, a leading bioweapons expert and submitted to a defense contractor, Science Applications International Corporation where Hatfill worked at the time. It says that a terrorist would use 2.5 grams of powder in a standard envelope, about the same amount sent to Leahy, a Vermont Democrat and Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Same Spores, Particle Sizes
The report says any "more powder makes the envelope bulge and draws attention."
"Anytime you pick something up like this, and it seems to layout the whole story for you months or years before the fact, your immediate response is to step back and say 'whoa, something may be going on here,'" said bioterrorism expert and ABCNEWS consultant Kyle Olson.
The report also depicts the same number of spores, one trillion per gram, and particle size as actually were found in the Senate letters — a far more deadly anthrax than most experts thought doable.
"Our attacker may very well have used this report as something of a — if not a template, then certainly as a rule of thumb," said Olson.
Former colleagues say Hatfill received the anthrax vaccine and had ready access to anthrax as a government scientist, until his security clearance was suspended shortly before Sept. 11 for unknown reasons.
One former colleague has told the FBI Hatfill was seen taking home a large piece of surplus lab equipment used to handle dangerous materials and it was one of the things the FBI sought in this week's searches. The FBI said nothing immediately incriminating was discovered.
Hatfill said he consented to the search in an effort to clear his name. He told ABCNEWS he understood his background and comments made him a logical subject of the investigation. He has been interviewed by FBI agents four different times.
Investigators are also intrigued by the fact that Hatfill lived for years near the town of Greendale while attending medical school in Zimbabwe, Africa. Greendale School was the phony return address used in the anthrax letters.
Hatfill responded to this report in a phone message to ABCNEWS tonight, calling the it "completely inaccurate, scandalous and libelous."
NEWS TONIGHT ABC TV
6:30 PM AUGUST 11, 2002
Scientist Responds To Anthrax Allegations
TERRY MORAN: A former government
scientist and germ warfare expert today passionately denied any involvement
in last fall’s anthrax attacks that killed five people. Dr. Steven Hatfill
is one of dozens of scientists who have taken lie detector tests at the
FBI’s request, but the only one whose case has been discussed publicly
in great detail. Today, in his first public comments,
BARRY SERAFIN: After keeping a low profile for months, Hatfill went public today to deny any involvement in the anthrax attacks.
STEVEN HATFILL [Former Biotech Scientist]: I am a loyal American, and I love my country. I have had nothing to do, in any way, shape or form, with the mailing of these anthrax letters.
SERAFIN: Hatfill, who declined to answer reporters’ questions, said that when he worked as a biological warfare researcher at Fort Detrick, Maryland, he focused on viruses, not bacteria such as anthrax.
HATFILL: I have never, ever worked with anthrax in my life.
SERAFIN: Hatfill said he had cooperated with the FBI, taking a lie detector test, which he said he passed, and allowing a search of his apartment near Fort Detrick in June. But he was upset when agents returned this month with a warrant for highly publicized searches of not only his apartment, but his girlfriend’s.
HATFILL: Her apartment was wrecked, while FBI agents screamed at her that I had killed five people and that her life would never be the same again.
SERAFIN: Hatfill said through government leaks and some press reports, he was being made a fall guy.
HATFILL: I acknowledge the right of the authorities and the press to satisfy themselves as to whether I am the anthrax mailer. This does not, however, give them the right to smear me and gratuitously make a wasteland of my life in the process. I will not be railroaded.
SERAFIN: Hatfill has attracted the interest of the FBI partly because in 1999, while working for a defense contractor, he commissioned a study detailing how anthrax attacks could be carried out through the mail. It was also revealed today that he has been working on a novel. Part of the manuscript has been obtained by ABC affiliate WJLA in Washington.
REBECCA COOPER [WJLA reporter]: This novel written by Steven Hatfill envisioned a biological attack on Congress. It’s an attack so deadly that not only do members of Congress and congressional aides become ill, but hundreds of Washington residents become ill and many die as a result.
SERAFIN: Late today, the FBI responded to Hatfill’s remarks, saying any credible allegations concerning mishandling of evidence will be investigated thoroughly. As far as the FBI is concerned, Hatfill is not a suspect, but along with others he remains a person of interest. Terry?
MORAN: Thanks, Barry. Barry Serafin reporting from Washington. ABC’s chief investigative correspondent, Brian Ross, has been reporting on the FBI’s anthrax investigation since the attacks last fall. He joins us from Connecticut. Brian, as we’ve just heard, Doctor Hatfill is adamant that he had nothing to do with these attacks. So why do investigators seem to remain suspicious of him?
BRIAN ROSS: Well, Terry, it was some of his former co-workers at Fort Detrick in Maryland who first told the FBI they were suspicious of him, that he could, in fact, be the anthrax mailer. He was fired from his job at Fort Detrick, or dismissed, in 1999 and then lost his top secret security clearance August 23rd of 2001. He apparently had misrepresented a number of things on his resume. He was said at that time to be mad at the world, mad at the government, and many in the FBI thought that perhaps gave them the motive for some kind of revenge against the government. As well, he’s known as a person who has worked around anthrax experts, although the FBI concedes he could not himself make anthrax, does not have what they call "the bench skills" to make it.
MORAN: Well, aside from Doctor Hatfill, Brian, what else has this massive investigation turned up? Where else might it be headed?
ROSS: Well, it’s hard to know.
There’s very little evidence that leads to anyone, Doctor Hatfill or anyone
else. No fingerprints, no DNA. Right now, some of the investigation is
focusing on the so-called hoaxes, other letters that were sent with phony
anthrax, including one sent in November to Senator Daschle from London.
It turns out that Doctor Hatfill was in London on the very same day that
that letter was sent to Senator Daschle. So the interest in Hatfill continues
MORAN: All right, Brian. Thanks. That’s Brian Ross, ABC’s chief investigative correspondent. We should emphasize, as Brian did, that the FBI has not formally named Doctor Hatfill as a suspect in this case.
Anthrax Probe Figure Claims Innocence, Protests Gov’t ‘Innuendo’
Aug. 11 — A former government scientist that the FBI has labeled a "person of interest" in last year's fatal anthrax attacks said today he is innocent, and that government leaks and media scrutiny are ruining his life.
Steven Hatfill, 48, said he is a "loyal American" who had "nothing to do with the anthrax letters," and his attorney argued that his case is similar to that of Richard Jewell, who was implicated and then cleared in a bomb blast at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.
‘Person of Interest’
Hatfill — who worked from 1997 to 1999 at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute at Fort Detrick, Md., and has studied biological warfare — is one of a group of scientists FBI officials have been investigating for months in the probe of the anthrax letter attacks that left five people dead and at least 13 others ill last fall. Investigators searched Hatfill's home earlier this month and in June.
He has been described by authorities as a "person of interest," not a suspect, and until now has declined to speak out in detail to the ongoing anthrax investigation.
"I am appalled at the terrible acts of biological terrorism that caused death, disease and havoc in America starting last fall, but I am just as appalled that my experience, knowledge and service relative to defending Americans against biological warfare has been turned against me in connection with the search for the anthrax killer," Hatfill said today in a lengthy, prepared statement to the media.
"I went from being someone with pride in my work, pride in my profession, to being made into the biggest criminal of the 21st century, for something I never touched," Hatfill earlier had told The Washington Post for today's editions. "What I've been trying to contribute, my work, is finished. My life is destroyed."
Pat Clawson, a spokesman for Hatfill and his attorney, Victor M. Glasberg, told ABCNEWS.com before the statement that Hatfill is a private person who was not used to dealing with the media, and the statement would be the only time he addresses the press. Hatfill took no questions after his statement, though Glasberg fielded some as Hatfill stood behind him.
Law enforcement officials told ABCNEWS that the latest search of Hatfill's property, conducted Aug. 1, followed newly uncovered information. FBI agents also searched a rental storage shed in Ocala, Fla., that had been rented by Hatfill, as well as at least one other location. The shed had also been previously searched by officials investigating the anthrax attacks.
Hatfill added that his girlfriend's home recently was searched, and alleged she was "manhandled" and "screamed at" by FBI agents.
Hatfill said he remains willing to cooperate with investigators, and that he consented to the June search in an effort to clear his name. Glasberg added Hatfill would have consented to the August search even if agents had not displayed a warrant.
"As a scientist in the field of biological warfare defense, I have never had any hesitation whatsoever in helping the anthrax investigation," Hatfill said.
Following the first search, agents said they found nothing immediately incriminating in Hatfill's apartment and storage shed.
Hatfill said he understood his background and controversial comments made him a logical subject for investigation, but he objected to government leaks and media zeal that have made him, "the currently designated fall guy."
"This does not … give them the license to smear me and gratuitously make a wasteland of my life in the process," he said. "I will not be railroaded. I am a loyal American."
‘Never, Ever Worked With Anthrax’
Hatfill has worked closely with the military and CIA anthrax experts and has frequently shocked his colleagues with his statements and demonstrations of how easily terrorists could make biological weapons, sources said.
Hatfill said today he has received standard government vaccinations or boosters for anthrax but that the last one expired by Sept. 2000, making him just as vulnerable to exposure as any unvaccinated member of the public. He added that although he has commented on bioterror, his work focused on viruses and did not involve anthrax.
"I have never, ever worked with anthrax in my life," he said. "It's a separate field from the research I was performing at Fort Detrick."
In 1999, however, while working for a government contractor, Hatfill commissioned a study detailing how a hypothetical anthrax attack could be carried out by mail.
Hatfill lost his government security clearance Aug. 23, 2001, for reasons that remain unclear. Glasberg declined to answer a reporter's question on the circumstances surrounding the loss of the security clearance.
Hatfill said he later was fired from the government contractor's job and placed on leave at a new job at Louisiana State University largely because of "defamatory speculation, innuendo and other accusations about me."
Biological Attack Novel
Glasberg revealed today that Hatfill has been working on a novel. Part of the manuscript has been obtained by ABCNEWS affiliate WJLA-TV in Washington.
"This novel written by Steven Hatfill envisions a biological attack on Congress," said Rebecca Cooper, a reporter for WJLA. "It's an attack so deadly that not only do members of Congress and congressional aides become ill, but hundreds of Washington residents become ill and many die as a result."
Glasberg said the novel was stored on a computer seized during one of the searches, and alleged investigators may have leaked it to the media. However, it was unclear how WJLA obtained the manuscript portion.
Late today, the FBI responded to Hatfill's and Glasberg's remarks, saying, "Credible allegations concerning mishandling of evidence will be investigated thoroughly."
Investigators are intrigued by the fact that Hatfill lived for years near a Greendale Elementary School while attending medical school in Zimbabwe, ABCNEWS has reported. Greendale School was the phony return address used in the anthrax letters.
However, Glasberg denied Hatfill knew of such a school in Harare, Zimbabwe.
"There is a subdivision in Harare called Greendale, [but Hatfill] did not live there," Glasberg said. "The information we have is that there is no such Greendale School."
Since the wave of attacks, the FBI has been unable to find out who was behind the anthrax-laced letters. There have been few leads and investigators have admitted that the trail seemed to have grown cold.
Fort Detrick, which also is home to the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, has anthrax samples, and the FBI is conducting voluntary lie detector tests at the base. Lie detector tests and interviews are also being conducted at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, where researchers have been developing a powdered form of anthrax for testing biological defense systems.
Small quantities of anthrax have routinely been produced at Dugway, and then shipped to the Army's bio-defense center at Fort Detrick, Army officials have said.
ABCNEWS' Barry Serafin, Pierre Thomas and Brian Ross contributed to this report.
Bloodhounds Lead Investigators to Ex-Government Scientist in Anthrax Case
By Brian Ross and David Scott
Oct. 22 — The FBI is using an elite team of specially trained dogs and leads from agents deployed to Africa in its investigation of former government scientist Steven Hatfill and his possible role in the five anthrax deaths.
Authorities say they are building what is described as a "growing circumstantial evidence case." Their secret weapon has been a three-member team of bloodhounds from California: Tinkerbell from the South Pasadena Police Department, Knight from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office and Lucy from the Long Beach Police Department.
These bloodhounds — considered by the FBI to be the best in the country at what they do — were each given the scent extracted from anthrax letters posted last year and each, independently, then led handlers to the Maryland apartment of the same man — Steven Hatfill.
One of the bloodhounds, Lucy, then led handlers directly to Hatfill.
The dogs are regularly flown in for high-profile assignments, such as the serial sniper case terrorizing the Washington, D.C., area.
While he is not officially called a suspect, Hatfill is clearly the main focus of the FBI, even as he continues to deny any involvement.
"I have never, ever worked with anthrax in my life," Hatfill told reporters on Aug. 12.
Hatfill's apartment has been repeatedly searched, his blood samples tested and now the FBI is telling government officials, in a general way, it is making a great deal of progress.
"I think they're getting close," said Jerry Hauer, an expert on biological and chemical terrorism and director of public health preparedness at the Department of Health and Human Services. "I think at the end of the day, the FBI will find the person."
Hatfill continues to strongly deny any involvement in the anthrax murder and accuses the FBI of wrongly accusing him.
FBI Investigates Hatfill’s Background in Africa
The FBI reportedly has had success with two teams of agents sent to Africa to investigate whether Hatfill developed expertise with anthrax there in the late 1970s and 1980s, when he attended medical school in Rhodesia, now known as Zimbabwe. At the time Hatfill attended, the medical school was called the Godfrey Huggins school, but it is now called the University of Zimbabwe School of Medicine.
As ABCNEWS has previously reported, Hatfill lived near a Greendale primary school while he attended medical school in Rhodesia. Greendale School was the phony return address used in the anthrax-laced letters sent to lawmakers and the media last fall.
The FBI has also talked with former commanders of an elite Rhodesian army unit where Hatfill has said he served. It is the same unit accused of using anthrax and other biological weapons against opponents of white-minority rule.
"There was quite a lot of guerrillas, Zanla guerrillas killed with toxins, maybe a couple of thousands or so," said Peter Stiff, a former Rhodesian police officer and author of several books on the Rhodesian war.
But Hatfill denies any involvement in African chemical or biological warfare, calling all allegations against him "complete and utter defamation," through his spokesperson, Pat Clawson.
Capitol Attack Could Have Been Worse
Whoever was responsible, officials tell ABCNEWS, the anthrax attack on the U.S. Capitol one year ago this week could have been much worse.
An FBI evidence photo shows, for the first time, that the anthrax appears as a brownish material on the lower part of an anthrax-laced letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle's office on Oct. 9, 2001.
Government scientists say the water smear marks on the envelope indicate the letter and the anthrax also got wet, preventing much of the deadly anthrax from flying into the air when it was opened in Daschle's office.
"By having some water in there, it caked some of the anthrax and reduced the amount that could have been aerosolized," said Hauer.
Even the tiny amount that did get out caused the Capitol building to shut down and led authorities to spend billions of dollars to prepare for future anthrax attacks.
Authorities believe that's exactly what the person responsible wanted, and that he or she is unlikely to attack again.
Hatfill himself commissioned a report three years ago on how to deal with an anthrax attack by mail, in which it describes a hypothetical anthrax attack, specifying an amount and quality of anthrax that is remarkably similar to what was sent last October to the offices of Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Daschle, D-S.D.
The report, obtained by ABCNEWS, was written in February 1999 by William Patrick III, a leading bioweapons expert, and submitted to a defense contractor, Science Applications International Corp., where Hatfill worked at the time. It says that a terrorist would use 2.5 grams of powder in a standard envelope — about the same amount sent to Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Chief Dissatisfied Anthrax Mailers Not Caught
Nov. 1, 2002
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - FBI Director Robert Mueller expressed dissatisfaction on Friday that those responsible for last year's deadly anthrax attacks had not yet been caught, saying scientific analysis of the anthrax had been difficult.
"Am I satisfied? No, because we don't have the person or persons responsible identified and charges being brought against them," he said when asked about the FBI's investigation into the anthrax-laced letters that killed five people.
"Are we making progress? Yes. And we continue to make progress. We continue to have a number of individuals that we are looking at," he told a news briefing. The letters were sent to two U.S. senators and to the news media in the nation's worst biological weapon attack.
"We are looking at the scientific analysis of the anthrax and replicating the ways, or possible way or ways, in which it might have been manufactured," Mueller said.
"But it is not a process that is easily accomplished," he said, explaining that scientists are undertaking analyzes that have never been done before to get information that might help determine the source of the anthrax, who manufactured it and those capable of obtaining and making it.
"We're looking at the DNA of the analysis. We're looking at the chemical breakdown of the anthrax. We're replicating the manufacture of the anthrax," Mueller said.
"There are a number of different scientific studies that are ongoing to give us all of the information available in the scientific community on the anthrax," he said.
"We are going into new territory in some areas," Mueller said.
And the FBI only has a limited amount of anthrax to analyze, he said.
In November 2001, the FBI released a possible profile of the anthrax mailer, saying a man in the United States most likely sent the letters and that he was a loner with a scientific background.
Mueller said the FBI had not updated its profile, but that did not mean the agency had excluded other possibilities.
"We have never ruled out any scenario, and to the extent that there are leads that come up, whether it be to individuals or methods of manufacturing or what have you, we pursue them," Mueller said. "No possibility has been ruled out."
FBI Preparing to Search Park for Lab Equipment in Anthrax Probe
By Brian Ross
Dec. 12 — The FBI is preparing a major search of Gambrill State Park outside Frederick, Md., in connection with the ongoing anthrax investigation, federal law enforcement sources told ABCNEWS.
The FBI plans to bring several teams of divers to search a number of small lakes and ponds in the state park, sources said.
The search is based on information that former Fort Detrick government scientist Steven Hatfill may have disposed of certain laboratory equipment in one of the bodies of water in the lake near his former Maryland home, which investigators have searched repeatedly, the sources said.
Hatfill has long denied any involvement in the anthrax mailings and has maintained he has never in his life worked with anthrax.
"I have never, ever worked with anthrax in my life," Hatfill told reporters on Aug. 12.
FBI agents were at the park today preparing for the underwater search, which will likely last through the weekend. A ground search of the park is also planned.
The FBI agents on the scene today were taking steps to close off the areas they plan to search, hoping to block news media coverage.
In a news release put out by the FBI, officials said they are "conducting forensic searches on public land located within the City of Frederick. The searches are related to the FBI's investigation of the origin of anthrax-laced letters mailed in September and October 2001, which resulted in five deaths."
The statement said that based on testing done already, there is no indication of risk to the public from any contamination.
Anthrax Probe Zeroes in on Scientist
Jan. 9 — Federal investigators on the anthrax task force continue to focus on former government scientist Steven J. Hatfill as the man most likely responsible for the bioterror attacks last year that killed five people, even though they have found no hard evidence linking him to the attacks, according to several officials who attended a recent task force summit meeting in Washington and talked with ABCNEWS on the condition of confidentiality.
Hatfill has repeatedly and strongly denied any involvement in last fall's anthrax mailings saying he "has never, ever worked with anthrax." He has not been charged with any crime or even publicly described as a suspect. Attorney General John Ashcroft has called him "a person of interest."
A spokesman for Hatfill, Pat Clawson, said the reason the FBI can find no hard evidence is that it doesn?t exist.
"They can search the earth for evidence tying Steve to the anthrax attacks but they will find no evidence because he was not involved in any way," Clawson said. "If an investigation continues to develop a dry hole, doesn't it make sense that nothing's there?"
Officials who attended the task force summit say the government is attempting to build a circumstantial evidence case against Hatfill, although one official acknowledged "we may have enough right now to get an indictment but we don't have anywhere near enough to get a conviction."
The FBI had hoped an extensive search last month of lakes and ponds in a Maryland state park near Hatfill's home in Frederic, Md., would turn up new evidence but officials tell ABCNEWS nothing of any significance was discovered by government divers.
One official said the search was triggered by credible information that Hatfill may have disposed of laboratory equipment in the ponds and that additional dives are planned.
Officials attending the meeting also told ABCNEWS that FBI agents plan another round of interviews with other persons of interest, including some current and former government scientists.
"It's an attempt to rule out anybody else who has come across our radar," said one investigator. "Then, we can focus entirely on Hatfill," the investigator said.
Clawson said such a focus would prove fruitless.
"The sad fact is somebody committed the anthrax attacks and the FBI doesn't have a clue in hell who it is," he added. "Nobody wants to see the anthrax investigation resolved more than Steve Hatfill."
Brian Ross and Risa Molitz contributed to this report.
FBI Drains Pond as Part Anthrax Probe
By Brian Ross
June 9, 2003
— As the FBI began draining an entire pond today in its 20-month-old anthrax probe, investigators remained focused on one man in the hunt for the perpetrator, ABCNEWS' World News Tonight reported.
And today's unusual move appears to be the FBI's last, best shot at proving what it so far has been unable to prove, that former government scientist Steven Hatfill was the anthrax killer.
Five people died and more than a dozen others were sickened in the rash of anthrax attacks targeting Congress and media outlets in the fall of 2001.
The decision to drain the pond in Maryland's Frederick Municipal Forest was based on what federal officials say is no more than a growing circumstantial case against Hatfill, federal law enforcement sources said.
The FBI's working theory, sources said, is that Hatfill, who lived eight miles away in Frederick, Md., next to U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases where he worked, used makeshift lab equipment to put finely powdered anthrax in envelopes, and then dumped the equipment in the pond. Hatfill has vehemently denied any involvement in the anthrax attacks, and his spokesman reiterated that today.
"They can drain the Pacific Ocean and they're not going to find any evidence that Steve Hatfill was the anthrax killer because he's had no involvement whatsoever," said Hatfill spokesman Pat Clawson.
The Sweater Box Mystery
But the circumstantial case is continuing to develop. The FBI was led to the pond last year by bloodhounds, including one named Tinkerbell, tracking the scent picked up from Hatfill and the anthrax letters, federal sources said.
Over the Christmas holiday, FBI divers recovered what they think was a piece of the makeshift equipment used to load the anthrax, a plastic sweater box with two hand-sized holes cut in it, sources said.
Other circumstantial evidence that has sources said has led the FBI to continue its focus on Hatfill includes his presence in Florida, around the time an anthrax-laced letter was mailed to the American Media Co. in Boca Raton, Fla.
Also, sources said, Hatfill made an admission to the FBI that he was taking the powerful antibiotic Cipro at the time of the anthrax attacks, which he reportedly said was for a nasal infection.
Cipro is the treatment prescribed for suspected anthrax poinsoning, and was given preventatively to thousands of people at the peak of the anthrax attacks.
Still, none of that circumstantial evidence has produced an arrest, leaving the FBI draining a 1-acre pond, a process that is expected to take three to four weeks and cost $250,000.
"If the FBI had any facts tying Steve Hatfill directly into the anthrax case, I don't think he'd be out walking the streets right now," said Clawson.
FBI Imposes October Deadline to Make a Case in the 2001 Anthrax Poisonings
By Brian Ross
July 20, 2004 — FBI agents returned to search the U.S. Army's biological weapons labs at Fort Detrick, Md., as part of a last-ditch effort by the bureau to make a case in the 2001 anthrax attacks, federal officials tell ABC News.
The FBI has set a self-imposed Oct. 1 deadline for its agents to build a case that will stand up in court, officials said.
After matching the anthrax used in the deadly attacks with anthrax at the Army facility, investigators now hope to further narrow the hunt among the hundreds of researchers who have worked at the Fort Detrick labs, sources tell ABC News.
The labs at Fort Detrick were once the workplace of former government weapons scientist Dr. Steven Hatfill, who has been called a "person of interest" in the case.
Hatfill has repeatedly and strongly denied any involvement.
According to federal officials, the FBI has essentially taken over the so-called "hot zone suites," where work with infectious substances is conducted.
A team of more than 20 agents have been at the base since last Friday, focused on labs in two buildings, officials told ABC News.
"[They're] trying to see if there are any spores in the environment, spores that might have been released while somebody was theoretically making anthrax," said Jerry Hauer, an expert on biological and chemical terrorism and director of public health preparedness at the Department of Health and Human Services.
Close to Making a Case?
Almost three years have lapsed since letters containing anthrax were sent to the U.S. Senate and several news organizations. As a result, five people died and 17 others were poisoned.
Scientists say anthrax spores could survive for as long as 50 years and that this week's search holds the possibility of producing new evidence.
No one has ever been charged in the case.
But a former federal official says Hatfill remains the focus of the investigation.
"I think they're very close to making a case but as they say, that last five yards is often the most difficult to get," said Hauer, who is an ABC News consultant.
Earlier this year, Hatfill sued the government for targeting him, but a federal judge put the case on hold until Oct. l, after officials said the case was at a critical juncture.
That date now serves as the deadline for the FBI to make a case against Hatfill or get off his back.
Developments in Anthrax Letters Case
By Michelle Charlesworth
(Chadwick Beach-WABC, August 5, 2004) — Federal officials are searching locations in Ocean County, N.J., and Wellsville, N.Y., as part of their investigation into the anthrax letters sent following the September 11th attacks.
One is just outside Buffalo in Wellsville, and the other is in Ocean County, New Jersey. Michelle Charlesworth reports from Chadwick Beach, in Ocean County, with the story.
FBI agents were here focusing on an emergency room doctor, Dr. Kenneth Michael Berry, 46. The FBI also wants to make clear that Berry is not a suspect. And intelligence sources say that what has been going on is a kind of re-working of leads, retracing of steps, making sure they did not miss anything.
Investigators tell Eyewitness News that Dr. Berry vacations in the home here, a tiny 'salt box' on Barnegat Bay in New Jersey. According to investigators, Berry's parents own the house, and they are from Connecticut.
Mike Mastronardy, Police Chief: "Actually he was here today, and they spoke to him in the investigation. And I'm sure that whatever they're doing is continuing."
The investigation is in regards to the fall 2001 anthrax letter attacks. The letters sent to senators, journalists and news outlets were dangerous. Five people died, 17 were very sick, and only one man so far, Berry, has been called a "person of interest."
He was never charged, and there have been no charges here in Chadwick Beach. FBI agents also searched Berry's residence in Wellsville, New York.
FBI agents surrounded and searched the house early on Thursday morning. They brought out cardboard boxes and bundles.
Chadwick Beach is a town of 100,000 year-round residents. We spoke to a man, a visitor, who is renting the house 15 feet away from Berry's.
Vacationing Renter: "It's unbelievable. You see everything that's going on on the news, and everything like that. And here you are on vacation and it's happening right next door to you."
Michelle Charlesworth: "Are you worried at all, given that they're looking for any evidence of anthrax?"
Vacationing Renter: "A little bit. I mean, I see them coming in and out of the house without any protective gear or anything on. So I'm assuming there's nothing in there that's harmful."
We understand Dr. Berry is staying at a hotel.
Experts Fear Slowing Momentum on Bioterror
Experts Laud Progress Made in 2004 for Bioterror Attacks, but Fear Interest Is Waning
The Associated Press
Dec. 21, 2004 - David Hose is a bioterrorism casualty. Little wonder, then, that his confidence in U.S. readiness for another such attack is about as low as his energy and as weak as his still-battered immune system, lingering after-effects of the anthrax he accidentally inhaled handling a letter addressed to Sen. Pat Leahy three years ago.
"I was worried before the attacks," said Hose, 60, who spent more than two weeks in the hospital with the anthrax infection and will never fully recover. "Now, I'm convinced it will happen again and I don't think we're doing enough to address that."
Hose, a government employee, is not alone. Biological weapons experts, including the scientist who played a big role in eradicating smallpox from the globe, have similar concerns.
While the experts laud the increased spending government lavished on combatting biological threats in 2004, they sense momentum slowing as public attention and political will wane. The unsolved anthrax attacks that killed five and sickened Hose and 16 others three years ago are but faint background noise in the national security debate of today.
The fact that U.S. forces in Iraq have yet to find any biological weapons also factors into the public's fading attention, experts say.
"There is a certain element of complacency setting in," said Dr. D.A. Henderson of the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Biosecurity. "Anthrax still keeps me up at night."
Henderson said anthrax remains atop his list of diseases that have the potential to be used as weapons. That's because there's been little accounting of what became of the former Soviet Union's vast biological weapons program.
"The Russians kept 30 metric tons of anthrax in dry storage. The amount used in the U.S. attacks was 10 grams," Henderson said. "There were 60,000 Russians working on this, we don't know where most of them are today."
Henderson, who led the global smallpox eradication campaign in the 1960s and served as a bioterrorism consultant to President Bush, said the federal government made significant progress in 2004 in combatting the threat, including earmarking a record amount of money to address the problem.
Federal spending has increased from $414 million in fiscal year 2001 to a proposed $7.6 billion for this year, according to a Pitt study. Since Sept. 11, 2001, the federal government has awarded contracts worth a combined $1.5 billion to biotech companies to beef up the nation's smallpox and anthrax vaccine stockpiles.
Further, Henderson said, previously nonexistent communication links among federal agencies and local emergency officials have dramatically improved, though room for additional advances remain. Public health officials, for instance, now monitor pharmacies for spikes in sales of fever reducers, rash ointments and other indications that a biological attack is underway.
Nonetheless, the United States remains woefully unprepared for another attack, Henderson and other experts say.
The threat from biological weapons has outstripped that from chemical and nuclear arms because of the "riotous" progress of biotechnology, according to a British Medical Association report released in October.
Carelessness in the stewardship of biotechnology advances could be exploited by terrorists to target specific ethnic groups and recreate devastating diseases such as the 1918 Spanish flu, the report says.
Another study, compiled by a panel of experts convened by the CIA in 2003 and titled "The Darker Bioweapons Future," warned that advances in biotechnology could lead to a generation of biological weapons far more dangerous than those currently known.
"The effects of some of these engineered biological agents could be worse than any disease known to man," the panel told the CIA. "The same science that may cure some of our worst diseases could be used to create the world's most frightening weapons."
In November, an influential committee of the World Health Organization recommended that researchers be permitted to conduct genetic-engineering experiments with the smallpox virus. Some bioterrorism experts, Henderson among them, consider such tinkering more hazardous than the problem it aims to combat. Henderson advocates destroying the the two known stocks of smallpox in the United States and in the former Soviet Union.
Meanwhile, public health experts say that one glaring weakness is that most cash-strapped U.S. hospitals would be unable to handle the crush of people who will either be sickened or panicked by a bioattack.
"We have an incredibly under-trained public health officials and the numbers are getting worse," said Dr. Shelley Hearne, executive director of the Trust for America's Health in Washington D.C. 'We've had a series of some really scary wake-up calls over how seriously unprepared we are in the case of a serious disease outbreak."
Another major vulnerability is the nation's antiquated vaccine manufacturing system and the reluctance of big pharmaceutical companies to enter a low-profit, high-risk market.
Hearne pointed to Emeryville, Calif.-based Chiron Corp.'s failure to deliver half the nation's expected flu vaccine supply this year and the administration's bungled program in 2003 to inoculate 500,000 front-line health care workers with the smallpox vaccine.
Only about 40,000 workers ultimately received injections because of apathy or health concerns over the effectiveness of the smallpox vaccine.
"We need a credible bioterrorism game plan that everybody buys into," Hearne said. "We don't have that."
Attacks Left a Lingering Mistrust
Senate staff and postal workers most at risk in the attacks say public health officials acted poorly during the 2001 crisis.
By Randy Dotinga
THURSDAY, Feb. 24 (HealthDay News) -- The anthrax attacks of 2001, which terrified millions of Americans, left many of those most directly affected with a shattered faith in public health officials, new research contends.
In just-published focus-group interviews, U.S. Senate staff members and postal workers who were exposed to the lethal white powder contended that the government failed to make them feel secure.
"There is a lot of mistrust of public health agencies in these groups. That was a consistent message," said Dr. Janice Blanchard, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at George Washington University who conducted the interviews a year after the attacks.
But perceptions varied, according to Blanchard's findings, published in the March issue of the American Journal of Public Health.
Postal employees at risk, almost all black, felt they were neglected because of their race and income, with some harkening back to the notorious Tuskegee medical study of decades past.
A handful of U.S. Senate workers, mostly white, were unimpressed by what they termed inconsistent and confusing messages from the government.
The attacks, in the fall of 2001, involved the infectious agent Bacillus anthracis concealed in envelopes that were mailed to various political figures and media outlets around the country.
Twenty-two people were stricken with the disease. Eleven contracted inhalation anthrax, the most lethal form; five of them died. The rest developed cutaneous anthrax, the form of the disease that mainly affects the skin.
When the attacks occurred, Senate workers were initially considered at high risk since anthrax-infected letters were sent to Capitol Hill. Postal workers at the Brentwood mail processing plant, which sorted the letters, were not considered to be in danger, at least initially, and weren't treated until nearly a week after Senate workers.
But four employees at Brentwood became ill with inhalation anthrax; two of them died.
To determine lingering impressions of the response to the attacks, researchers held two-hour focus group sessions with 36 postal employees from the Brentwood station and seven employees from the U.S. Senate in late 2002 and early 2003. Almost all of the postal employees were black; five of the Senate employees were white.
"We asked a series of open-ended questions," said Blanchard, who helped treat anthrax patients during the attacks. "We wanted to know where they got information, what they thought of that information. We also asked them about suggestions for future improvement."
Of all the comments made by the postal workers about people who delivered information about the attacks, 34 percent touched on issues of mistrust, and 16 percent dealt with perceived bias against their race and income level, the researchers report.
"They thought they'd been treated differently due to race," Blanchard said. "Many thought they were being experimented on and (mentioned) the Tuskegee study." The infamous Alabama study involved federal researchers who tracked the long-term effects of syphilis by withholding treatment from infected black men, many of whom died.
The Senate workers, by contrast, were mainly concerned about lack of organization by health officials.
Dr. Ivan Walks, who was the Washington D.C. chief health officer during the attacks, said he was not surprised by the findings, although he contend that health officials made the best decisions at the time with the information they had.
"This research really illustrates how important perception is," said Walks, who now works as a consultant.
In any emergency, he added, perception is "all that really matters when it's time for (citizens) to engage in behavior that will make them safe."
According to Walks, federal health officials are working to make messages more consistent during emergencies. As for the study's recommendations, he agreed with the suggestion that "natural leaders" be appointed in various workplaces to act as liaisons with health officials. He also seconded the study's advice that officials be open about their uncertainties during crises.
On that front, Walks said he follows some advice from his mother: "When you tell people honestly what you don't know, they'll believe you when you come back and tell them what you do know. Those are words to live by."
FBI Report Questions Al Qaeda Capabilities
No 'True' Al Qaeda Sleeper Agents Have Been Found in U.S.
Mar. 9, 2005 - A secret FBI report obtained by ABC News concludes that while there is no doubt al Qaeda wants to hit the United States, its capability to do so is unclear.
"Al-Qa'ida leadership's intention to attack the United States is not in question," the report reads. (All spellings are as rendered in the original report.) "However, their capability to do so is unclear, particularly in regard to 'spectacular' operations. We believe al-Qa'ida's capability to launch attacks within the United States is dependent on its ability to infiltrate and maintain operatives in the United States."
And for all the worry about Osama bin Laden's sleeper cells or agents in the United States, a secret FBI assessment concludes it knows of none.
The 32-page assessment says flatly, "To date, we have not identified any true 'sleeper' agents in the US," seemingly contradicting the "sleeper cell" description prosecutors assigned to seven men in Lackawanna, N.Y., in 2002.
Overblown Sleeper Cell Threat?
"Limited reporting since March indicates al-Qa'ida has sought to recruit and train individuals to conduct attacks in the United States, but is inconclusive as to whether they have succeeded in placing operatives in this country," the report reads. "US Government efforts to date also have not revealed evidence of concealed cells or networks acting in the homeland as sleepers."
It also differs from testimony given by FBI Director Robert Mueller, who warned in the past that several sleeper cells were probably in place.
"Our greatest threat is from al Qaeda cells in the United States that we have not yet been able to identify," Mueller said at a Senate Select Intelligence Committee hearing in February 2003. "Finding and rooting out al Qaeda members once they have entered the United States and have had time to establish themselves is our most serious intelligence and law enforcement challenge."
When the secret report was issued last month, on Feb. 16, Mueller testified at a hearing before the same committee that the lack of evidence concerned him. "I am concerned about what we are not seeing," he said.
The report does cite several cases in which individuals have been seen as potential sleeper agents, including a member of the Saudi Arabian Air Force training at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.
The Saudi was sent home after it was discovered he provided information to al Qaeda figures in Saudi Arabia, including "coordinates on landmarks in the US," the report says.
"It's not surprising because we believe the Saudi military is infiltrated at the junior officer level in Saudi Arabia," said Dick Clarke, a former White House counterterrorism czar and now an ABC News Consultant. "And there are so many of them who come here for training."
New Al Qaeda Recruits
The report also says al Qaeda is shifting tactics because its leaders are aware of profiles singling out adult Arab males.
"Al-Qa'ida places a premium on operatives who are not, or at least appear not to be, Arab, particularly those with European or Asian features, according to various detainee reporting," the report reads. "Detainees also report that al-Qa'ida is interested in recruiting US citizens to participate in US operations, particularly African-American converts to Islam."
But the report continues that "US recruits are hard to find and al-Qa'ida detainees have reported that US citizens can be difficult to work with, one senior detainee claimed that US citizens and others who grew up in the West, were too independent and thought they knew more about US operations than senior planners."
In addition, women and married couples with children are being actively recruited, according to the report.
"A senior al-Qa'ida detainee instructed an operative who is currently in US custody, to settle in the United States with his family and maintain a low profile before eventually conducting an attack," the report reads. "Al-Qa'ida operatives have also married US women to obtain US visas and foreign documentation from other countries, according to sensitive reporting."
No Solace in No Evidence
The FBI says it takes no solace in the lack of evidence, or about what it is not seeing.
"Individual operatives who possess a clean passport, have not come to the attention of intelligence agencies overseas, and lack a criminal record are unlikely to attract the attention of security agencies in the United States, unless they are in contact with known extremists," according to the report. "Al-Qa'ida has altered its operative profile, making it more difficult to screen visa applicants at embassies and individuals entering the United States at airports and other border crossings."
And the report suggests that instead of actual sleeper agents, lying in wait, al Qaeda may rely on disaffected Americans or other sympathizers, who might pick easier, softer targets such as shopping malls.
Clarke warned, "We have reason to believe that techniques like that and others we shouldn't talk about are well known to terrorists around the world."
ABC News' David Scott contributed to this report.
The Secret Tapes -- Inside Saddam's Palace
ABC News Obtains 12 Hours of Recordings of Saddam Hussein Meeting With Top Aides
By BRIAN ROSS and RHONDA SCHWARTZ
Feb. 15, 2006 — ABC News has obtained 12 hours of tape recordings of Saddam Hussein meeting with top aides during the 1990s, tapes apparently recorded in Baghdad's version of the Oval Office.
ABC News obtained the tapes from Bill Tierney, a former member of a United Nations inspection team who translated them for the FBI. "Because of my experience being in the inspections and being in the military, I knew the significance of these tapes when I heard them," says Tierney. U.S. officials have confirmed the tapes are authentic, and that they are among hundreds of hours of tapes Saddam recorded in his palace office.
One of the most dramatic moments in the 12 hours of recordings comes when Saddam predicts — during a meeting in the mid-1990s — a terrorist attack on the United States. "Terrorism is coming. I told the Americans a long time before Aug. 2 and told the British as well … that in the future there will be terrorism with weapons of mass destruction." Saddam goes on to say such attacks would be difficult to stop. "In the future, what would prevent a booby-trapped car causing a nuclear explosion in Washington or a germ or a chemical one?" But he adds that Iraq would never do such a thing. "This is coming, this story is coming but not from Iraq."
Also at the meeting was Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, who said Iraq was being wrongly accused of terrorism. "Sir, the biological is very easy to make. It's so simple that any biologist can make a bottle of germs and drop it into a water tower and kill 100,000. This is not done by a state. No need to accuse a state. An individual can do it."
The tapes also reveal Iraq's persistent efforts to hide information about weapons of mass destruction programs from U.N. inspectors well into the 1990s. In one pivotal tape-recorded meeting, which occurred in late April or May of 1995, Saddam and his senior aides discuss the fact that U.N. inspectors had uncovered evidence of Iraq's biological weapons program — a program whose existence Iraq had previously denied.
At one point Hussein Kamel, Saddam's son-in-law and the man who was in charge of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction efforts can be heard on the tapes, speaking openly about hiding information from the U.N.
"We did not reveal all that we have," Kamel says in the meeting. "Not the type of weapons, not the volume of the materials we imported, not the volume of the production we told them about, not the volume of use. None of this was correct."
Shortly after this meeting, in August 1995, Hussein Kamel defected to Jordan, and Iraq was forced to admit that it had concealed its biological weapons program. (Kamel returned to Iraq in February 1996 and was killed in a firefight with Iraqi security forces.)
A spokeswoman for John Negroponte, director of national intelligence, said information contained in the transcriptions of the tapes was already known to intelligence officials.
"Intelligence community analysts from the CIA, and the DIA reviewed the translations and found that, while fascinating, from a historical perspective the tapes do not reveal anything that changes their post-war analysis of Iraq's weapons programs nor do they change the findings contained in the comprehensive Iraq Survey group report," she said in a statement.
"The tapes mostly date from early to mid-1990s and cover such topics as relations with the United Nations, efforts to rebuild industries from Gulf war damage and the pre 9/11 situation in Afghanistan."
Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, says the tapes are authentic and show that "Saddam had a fixation on weapons of mass destruction and he had a fixation on hiding what he was doing from the U.N. inspectors." Hoeckstra says there are more than 35,000 boxes of such tapes and documents that the U.S. government has not analyzed nor made public that should also be translated and studied on an urgent basis.
Charles Duelfer, who led the official U.S. search for weapons of mass destruction after the war, says the tapes show extensive deception but don't prove that weapons were still hidden in Iraq at the time of the U.S.-led war in 2003. "What they do is support the conclusion in the report, which we made in the last couple of years, that the regime had the intention of building and rebuilding weapons of mass destruction, when circumstances permitted."
Tierney, who provided ABC News with the tapes, plans to make the 12 hours of recordings public at a nongovernmental meeting — called Intelligence Summit 2006 — this weekend in Arlington, Va. John Loftus, a former federal prosecutor, runs the meeting. "We think this is a tape that is unclassified and available to the public," says Loftus "[I] just want to have it translated and let the tape speak for itself."
ABC News' Hoda Osman and Avni Patel contributed to this report.
victim released from hospital
45 pounds lighter, this professional dancer can and will continue performing
WABC Eyewitness News
(Sayre, Pa.-WABC, March 23, 2006) - For the first time today we got a chance to see the man who almost died from anthrax inhalation. Forty-four year-old Vado Diamonde spent weeks in a hospital in Sayre, Pennsylvania.
He has not lost his smile and he certainly has not lost his passion for life. Today Vado Diomonde showed everyone just how thankful he is to be alive.
He was every bit the performer he says he is today. Forty-four year-old Vado Diomonde, joking with reporters, thanking those who cared for him at the Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre, Pennsylvania. And yes, although he is 45 pounds lighter now than he was just one and a half months ago, this professional dancer can and will continue performing.
While his news conference was so upbeat, doctors here did make it clear that at times they just weren't sure that Diomonde could survive the inhalation anthrax he contracted while making African drums at this warehouse in Brooklyn last month. And, they say, this case has taught them more effective ways of fighting anthrax with drugs in the future.
Dr. James Walsh, Robert Packer Hospital: "A variety of antibiotics. What we know is that you need to treat with more than one antibiotic."
Diomande's wife Lisa wanted to make it clear to the public that her husband's case of naturally occurring inhalation anthrax was far different from the weapons-grade anthrax was all saw back in 2001.
Lisa Diomande, Victim's Wife: "Vado had an industrial accident and there are so many elements that had to line up in a perverse and strange coincidental way for him to get sick like this."
And changing what he has said in the past months, Diomande insisted today that he believes is was not untreated goat hides from Africa that got him sick, instead skins from cows, he said, and where they came from is anyone's guess.
Vado Diomande, Anthrax Patient: "In the beginning I say goat skin. Right now I say no goat skin, that is, it's cow skin."
The Diomandes still have a very rough road ahead of them. They say they can't go back to their Manhattan apartment right now and many of their belongings have either been incinerated or treated with dangerous bleach.
Instead they say they'll stay with relatives in Jersey City. We also asked Diomande when he hopes to dance professionally again. He said two-and-a-half weeks. The doctors, however, said it will be more like months.
Anthrax Unaccounted for in NJ
April 21, 2006 - Health officials in New Jersey are trying to account for some missing anthrax.
An inventory taken at the public health environmental lab in Trenton in the last weeks showed two vials of the deadly bacteria unaccounted for.
A log showed 352 vials should have been there, the inventory only showed 350.
Officials are not sure whether the anthrax was taken. They say it is more likely that there was a counting error in the previous inventory.
News - www.wjla.com
Hearing to Be Held in Suit Over Newspaper Anthrax Columns
Friday October 13, 2006 6:12am
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) - A hearing is scheduled Friday in a defamation lawsuit against The New York Times over columns that linked a former Army scientist to the 2001 anthrax killings.
The hearing in Alexandria (website - news) is expected to discuss the newspaper's confidential sources used in columns about bioterrorism expert Steven Hatfill. He was labeled a "person of interest" by then-Attorney General John Ashcroft. He was never charged and has since filed several lawsuits.
A federal judge threw out Hatfill's lawsuit against The New York Times over 2002 columns by writer Nicholas Kristof that accused the FBI (website) of failing to thoroughly investigate Hatfill.
In March, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to block the suit after it was reinstated by the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond.
Authorities have never solved the mysterious mailing of anthrax-laced letters that killed five people not long after the September 11th terror attacks.
How the FBI Botched the Anthrax Case
An Analysis By BRAD GARRETT
The anthrax investigation, almost from the beginning, was hampered by top-heavy leadership from high ranking, but inexperienced FBI officials, which led to a close-minded focus on just one suspect and amateurish investigative techniques that robbed agents in the field the ability operate successfully.
I saw it firsthand as one of the FBI agents assigned to the anthrax case and directly involved in the investigation of Dr. Steven Hatfill. While I cannot comment on the guilt or innocence of Hatfill, I think I have a sense of some of the things that went wrong inside the FBI and what lessons can be learned from this embarrassing case.
Last Friday, the U.S. Department of Justice agreed to pay $5,825,000 to Hatfill, whom former Attorney General John Ashcroft once described as "a person of interest" in the investigation into the anthrax murders of seven people in 2001.
The vaguely-worded settlement agreement appeared on the online docket of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on Friday. The original complaint accused several government officials, including Ashcroft, of deliberately leaking information about the criminal probe into Hatfill in order to harass him and to hide the FBI's lack of hard evidence. The written settlement agreement contained no admissions of leaks or wrongdoing by government officials, however.
There are many lessons learned from the missteps in the anthrax investigation. As an FBI agent for more than 20 years with experience on other high profile cases, I was involved in the anthrax investigation along with countless other hard-working, decent FBI agents, federal prosecutors, and investigators.
Lesson One: Stay focused and professional regardless of the atmosphere.
The FBI's motto, "Fidelity, Bravery, and Integrity," cannot be ignored, even in times of high anxiety. The anthrax case was unprecedented even in terms of other high-profile cases: two members of Congress, Sen. Tom Daschle (D-ND) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and a prominent member of the television media, Tom Brokaw of NBC received anthrax-laced letters. A letter is also believed to have been mailed to ABC News, where the young child of a producer there was infected, though no letter was ever found.
U.S. Postal employees who handled mail died from anthrax contamination, along with five other people. The mailings took place in the weeks after the September 11, 2001 attacks. America's nerves were frayed and the FBI was responding to accusations that it had failed to connect-the-dots that might have prevented the deaths of nearly 3,000 people.
Lesson Two: Let only the most experienced chart the course.
Agents pounding the streets in the investigation were required to give daily briefings of their progress to FBI management, including the director, Robert Mueller. In high profile cases, as information about the investigation passes from one boss to the next, each supervisor weighs in on what investigative actions should be taken next. As the information works its way to the top, each boss adds comments and translates the original information.
The investigative experience of managers in the FBI varies widely. Some bosses may have investigated cases like the anthrax case before, but many may not have. Managers with less experience may devalue or over-value investigative techniques in their comments about an investigation. This can result in amateurish investigative techniques being suggested to more experienced agents, and can result in confusion at the top of the chain about the facts. The second lesson from the anthrax case is that only managers with considerable investigative experience should be making the big decisions or communicating with higher-ups.
Lesson Three: A covert investigation is always better than one rife with leaks.
Hatfill accused the FBI of conducting public and constant surveillance of him, including "bumper locking" him in Georgetown, and running over his foot while following him. He also accused several high-level DOJ officials of giving the media advanced notice of search warrants of his residence in Frederick, MD. Further his complaint alleged that he knew he was being wiretapped in his own home. Common sense and my experience have taught me that anyone who knows they are being wiretapped is unlikely to make incriminating statements. They are unlikely to go anywhere or do anything that will provide agents following them with any further evidence. If a suspect knows that you are coming to search his house, he can destroy evidence. If a public area is going to be searched, and the public is alerted, people can plant evidence or remove it. The best investigations are covert, where the suspect, the media and the public are not alerted.
Lesson Four: Identifying a suspect before the investigation is complete is always a mistake.
On August 6, 2002, former Attorney General John Ashcroft held a press conference and named Hatfill as a "person of interest."
In 1996, Richard Jewel was named "a person of interest" in the Olympic Park bombings case in Atlanta, GA. In the 14 years that have passed, the term "a person of interest" has become synonymous with word "suspect." Public disclosure of the target or suspect of an investigation is forbidden by the FBI and the DOJ in most instances, with Amber alerts being the obvious common-sense exception.
It is also not smart to name a suspect for practical reasons. Once an individual knows he is suspected of a crime, he will change his patterns of behavior. He will be less likely to contact possible co-conspirators. Where a suspect has been cooperating with an investigation, he will stop. While some helpful leads may come in from the public, there will also be many unhelpful leads that agents will have to wade through. Identifying a suspect puts pressure on agents to prove that the named individual committed the offense. This makes it harder to identify and investigate other possible suspects. If later the "person of interest" is cleared of wrongdoing, it is unlikely that they can ever fully reclaim their reputation. That only serves to damage the reputation of the FBI, an investigative agency that still has as its motto "Fidelity, Bravery and Integrity."
The vast majority of FBI agents follow this motto and are committed to seeking the truth by all lawful means. When they are handicapped by leaks and managerial failings, it prevents them from doing their jobs and protecting the public. They learned the lessons from the anthrax investigation long before any settlement was ever paid to Hatfill.
Brad Garrett retired from the FBI and is now an ABC News consultant. Garrett obtained confessions from two international terrorists. He was the lead investigator in the Starbucks triple homicide, the Chandra Levy case and was one of the key investigators in the anthrax mailings. Garrett holds a PhD and was the hostage negotiation coordinator for the FBI's Washington Field Office.
Cheney Thought He Had Lethal Anthrax Dose
Scare Prompted Veep to Take Hard Line onTerror Suspects, New Book Contends
By MARK MOONEY
July 14, 2008
In the days after 9/11, when fears of another terrorist strike were at their peak, Vice President Dick Cheney was convinced that he had been subjected to a lethal dose of anthrax, according to a new book.
White House insiders from that white-knuckle time told author Jane Mayer, who authored "The Dark Side, The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals," that the scare contributed to Cheney's insistence on hard-line tactics for fighting terror.
Mayer, a writer for the New Yorker, claims that the vice president became the driving force in pushing for tougher interrogation tactics that critics charge went over the legal line and constitute torture.
In the days after the horror of 9/11, the country seemed to be under assault from many sides, with anthrax letters showing up in Congress and newsrooms.
On Oct. 18, 2001, a White House alarm went off indicating that sensors had detected dangerous levels of radioactive, chemical or biological agents. According to Mayer, anyone who had entered the White House situation room, including Cheney, had been exposed.
"They thought Cheney was already lethally infected," said a former administration officer who had kept the White House secret until now, according to the book.
Despite the unnerving news. Cheney calmly reported the emergency to the National Security Council. It turned out that the detection system had a malfunction and there was no hazard.
But in the days after the incident, Cheney was taking no chances. Eleven days later, Cheney insisted on leaving the White House and retreating to one of his "secure, undisclosed locations," the book claims.
Cheney and other Cabinet members took turns hunkering down in one of several cold war era bunkers built to survive a nuclear attack. The bunkers, deep underground, were crammed with communications gear and Cheney would stay in what was dubbed the "The Commander in Chief's Suite," Mayer writes.
When vice president wasn't in the bunker, Mayer claims that "a sense of constant danger followed Cheney everywhere." The route was altered daily during the veep's commute to his above-ground office. On the back seat next to him would be a duffel bag stuffed with a gas mask and biochemical survival suit. And a doctor nearly always traveled with him, "The Dark Side" claims.
Cheney's deputy press secretary Megan Mitchell told ABC News, "On-the-record, we have not seen the book, so we really can't comment on it."
Mayer suggests that the shock of 9/11 coupled with his anthrax scare changed Cheney and made him an overpowering force in the administration arguing for significantly tougher interrogation techniques.
"The Dark Side" claims that former White House legal counsel and later attorney general Alberto Gonzales confided to colleagues that he agreed with administration lawyers who claimed the tactics were torture and illegal.
Gonzales reportedly told James Comey, the former deputy attorney general, that he was under too much pressure from Cheney to oppose him on the issue.
The book also reveals that a Red Cross report submitted to the CIA concluded that the treatment of 9/11 suspects, admitted mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah, amounted to torture and war crimes.
The Red Cross made its report after being granted access to the detainees when they were transferred to the prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Among the tactics the detainees said they were subjected to: kept naked in a frigid room and doused with water, kept in a small box called the "coffin" for hours at a time, arms shackled over their heads so they had to stand on tiptoes for up to eight hours straight.
Those claims by the 9/11 detainees could not be confirmed, but Mayer said several detainees told consistent versions of the tactics to the Red Cross although they were not allowed to communicate with each other.
ABC News' Ann Compton contributed to this report
At the FBI, Cold Cases Are Not a Thing of the Past
As Bureau Turns 100, Director Mulls Open Cases.
July 19, 2008
The Federal Bureau of Investigation will turn 100 on July 26. Through the years the FBI has nabbed some of America's most notorious gangsters, but there are plenty of cold cases that have eluded them.
They are the mysteries, the unsolved cases that bedevil an agency that prides itself on capturing the fugitive. The most obvious is the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, the Sept. 11 suspected mass murderer, who is at the top of the FBI's famed Ten Most Wanted list.
FBI historian John Fox said Bin Laden "is the first murderer on that scale" that's made the list.
But beyond Bin Laden, FBI Director Robert Mueller says there are many mysteries the FBI wants solved — such as the anthrax attacks. Five people were killed, 17 sickened and nearly seven years later no arrest appears imminent.
"I never give time frames, because you never know where you'll have sufficient evidence to go public with a prosecution," Mueller said.
Many of the unsolved cases are decades old, such as the one involving former Teamsters' president, Jimmy Hoffa. He hasn't been seen since 1975. As recently as 2006, the FBI was digging up a farm in Michigan, looking for Hoffa's remains.
Then there's the hijacking mystery that became a made-for-TV movie. In 1971, a man calling himself Dan Cooper, who later came to be known in the media as "D.B. Cooper," hijacked and threatened to blow up a commercial airplane if he did not get a $200,000 ransom and safe passage to Mexico. In a daring getaway, Cooper jumped out of a 727 plane thousands of feet over the Pacific Northwest during a raging storm. Cooper vanished with the cash.
Just this year the FBI examined an old parachute that was found not far from where Cooper disappeared — only to learn it wasn't his.
Mueller continued to list the FBI's unsolved case list. "You have Whitey Bulger out of Boston, whom we're still pursuing as a fugitive."
James J. "Whitey" Bulger is an alleged Boston mobster sought in connection with a series of vicious murders in the 1970s and '80s. On the FBI's Web site, you can find video of Bulger, as well as age-enhanced photographs and surveillance audio of Bulger's voice: "How you doing? Did he order any sandwiches?"
If you visit the FBI office in Washington, D.C., you'll see a remarkably real looking wax figure of J. Edgar Hoover leaning over a desk. The FBI has tried to retain the bulldog, "never give up" attitude of the former director when it comes to unsolved cases.
In speaking about the unsolved case list, Fox said, "You can't forget these things. The crimes are horrendous. Justice needs to be served."
Mueller said there are "a number of the Civil Rights cases that we are taking another look at, with Civil Rights organizations, ones that I would love to see solved, even though maybe 40 to 50 years have gone since the incident."
The FBI recently saw one such case resolved. In 1967, a jury had found Edgar Ray Killen, among 17 others, not guilty in the murder of three Civil Rights workers, Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman. The case, which the FBI named "MIBURN" for "Mississippi Burning," finally ended with a manslaughter conviction for Killen in 2005, exactly 41 years to the day that the three men first disappeared.
Last year, the FBI announced it had identified 100 truly cold cases from the Civil Rights era for review.
"We have a very, very long memory," Mueller said.
And lots of unsolved mysteries: 100 cold cases for a 100-year anniversary.
Anthrax Scientist Kills Himself as FBI Closes In
Biodefense Researcher Apparently Commits Suicide Amid Probe of 2001 Anthrax Attack
By PIERRE THOMAS, PAMELA COULTER, JACK DATE, Z. BYRON WOLF, JONATHAN KARL, MATT JAFFE and THERESA COOK
Aug. 1, 2008—
One of the nation's top biodefense researchers has apparently taken his own life, just as the FBI zeroed in on him as a suspect in the deadly 2001 anthrax attacks.
Sources familiar with the investigation tell ABC News that 62-year-old Bruce E. Ivins, who worked at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick, Md., died at a Maryland hospital Tuesday of a prescription drug overdose. The story of the Ivins investigation was first reported by the Los Angeles Times.
A source familiar with the investigation told ABC News that the government did not officially notify Ivins that he was a target of the investigation or that he was close to being indicted.
Ivins' attorneys learned of the government's intent to move forward with the prosecution of their client after he died on Tuesday, but had suspected the case was headed in that direction based on investigators' focus on the scientist, the source said.
Ivins' death came as FBI agents had been aggressively interviewing friends, family and associates about the possibility he was responsible for a series of anthrax mailings in the fall of 2001 that left five dead, sickened 17 and terrorized a nation still reeling from the Sept. 11 attacks.
The Justice Department released a statement on the anthrax investigation Friday, noting that there have been "significant developments" in the joint DOJ, FBI and U.S. Postal Inspection Service probe, but declining to go into detail.
Though they were "able to confirm that substantial progress has been made in the investigation by bringing to bear new and sophisticated scientific tools," the statement added that the investigative agencies "have significant obligations to the victims of these attacks and their families that must be fulfilled before any additional information on the investigation can be made public."
Additionally, investigative documents in the case remain under seal, but the statement said investigators "anticipate being able to provide additional details in the near future."
"I think it's incredibly disheartening that we as victims and survivors will never be able to sit in a courtroom with this man -- if indeed he was the person responsible -- and face him, and share with him how he so dramatically traumatized us and forever changed our lives," victim Casey Chamberlain, a former executive assistant at NBC News, said in a statement.
"I will never stop thinking about this case as long as I live."
Ivins had actually helped the FBI in the anthrax investigation and had ties to the location in New Jersey where the anthrax was mailed. The toxin arrived via mail to Capitol Hill offices and at news organizations in Florida and New York.
In a statement released Friday morning, Ivins' attorneys, led by Paul F. Kemp, asserted his late client's innocence and said they are "disappointed that we will not have the opportunity to defend his good name and reputation in a court of law."
Ivins had cooperated with investigators and appeared before the grand jury "many times," but had consistently maintained his innocence, the source familiar with the investigation told ABC News. His defense team had noticed Ivins was under increasing strain as a result of the investigation, and there was concern about how he was handling the news, the source said.
The source described the investigation as a "circumstantial case," with no direct evidence against Ivins, who was one of at least 30 people who had access to the anthrax at various times. FBI officials had long targeted Fort Detrick as the possible source of the anthrax attacks because of the facility's intensive research on anthrax as a biological weapon, but some seemed skeptical of the case against their colleague.
One official went as far as to call the FBI's actions "irresponsible" and said of Ivins, "He was a nice guy. He did his work and kept to himself."
"The USAMRIID family mourns the loss of Dr. Bruce Ivins, who served the Institute for more than 35 years as a civilian microbiologist," read the official statement from Fort Detrick.
The statement also made mention of the fact that in 2003, Ivins received the highest possible civilian honor from the Defense Department, the Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service. "We will miss him very much," it ended.
Investigators obtained warrants to search the Ivins home twice, and they had taken a sample of his DNA, the source said.
"For six years, Dr. Ivins fully cooperated with that investigation, assisting the government in every way that was asked of him," Kemp's statement said.
Noting his years of service as a military scientist, Kemp added, "The relentless pressure of accusation and innuendo takes its toll in different ways on different people, as has already been seen in this investigation. In Dr. Ivins' case, it led to his untimely death."
Even before his death, court records obtained by ABC News from the District Court of Maryland for Frederick County paint a picture of a man who had recently been displaying the effects of that pressure.
A social worker named Jean Duley had filed a protection order against Ivins last month, alleging that he had made "threats of homicidal intent" in mid-July. The court documents also indicate that Ivins had been admitted to a hospital in the area and was under psychiatric care.
"Client has a history dating to his graduate days of homicidal threats, actions, plans threats & actions toward therapist [sic]. Dr. David Irwin his psychiatrist called him homicidal, sociopathic, with clear intentions," a handwritten page submitted with the application stated.
"Will testify with other details FBI involved, currently under investigation & will be charged w/ 5 capital murders. I have been subpoena [sic] to testify before a federal grand jury August 1, 2008 in Washington, D.C."
A judge granted the petition, ordering Ivins stay away from Duley's home, work and not to contact her, but the court officially dismissed the case Thursday because of Ivins' death.
According to the source familiar with the case, a police officer filled out the paperwork not to secure the order, but rather to get an emergency evaluation for Ivins. Duley, who worked in Ivins' psychiatrist's office, recounted what Ivins said in the course of therapy to the officer, the source said.
ABC News attempted to speak to Duley at her Williamsport, Md., home Friday, but a man who answered the door would not identify himself, confirm that Duley lives at the residence or comment on the information contained in the court documents.
Earlier Friday afternoon, policemen responded to the Ivins residence in Frederick -- just across the street from Fort Detrick -- to speak to Ivins' widow, Diane, about a complaint she had called in about the media presence outside her home.
Dozens of reporters and camera crews lined the street outside the small two-story home with dark red shutters and white plastic siding.
Diane Ivins has not spoken to the media gathered outside her home. "While understanding the job that you guys have to do, she just doesn't want to be bothered," Frederick Police Department Det. Sgt. Bruce DeGrange said after he spoke to her.
"She seemed fine," he added. "She's a little upset about the attention, but she seems fine."
In regards to the anthrax case, which has frustrated government investigators for years, FBI Director Robert Mueller said in a recent interview with ABC News that he was confident the case would be solved.
"We've made progress in the investigation -- I'm comfortable that the investigation is on course and that ultimately it will be successful," Mueller said.
But there have been major missteps in this case, and the FBI has thought it was close before.
In June, the government settled a lawsuit with another scientist from Fort Detrick, agreeing to pay Steven Hatfill nearly $6 million amid allegations he was unfairly targeted and humiliated by leaks to the press. In August 2002, then-U.S. Attorney General John Aschcroft named Hatfill as a person of interest in the mysterious mail attacks, but he has never been charged in connection with the case.
As for the ongoing investigation into the attacks, the anthrax task force is currently comprised of 17 FBI special agents and 10 U.S. Postal Service inspectors. As part of the probe, known as "Amerithrax," investigators have "executed approximately 75 searches and conducted more than 9,100 interviews in the relentless pursuit of the perpetrator of these attacks," according to the Justice Department.
The bureau has not commented extensively on the investigation, but in the fall of 2006, FBI scientist Doug Beecher, a member of the bureau's Hazardous Materials Response Unit based at the its laboratory at Quantico, Va., wrote in an article that no specialized equipment or specialized knowledge of bioengineering was needed to pull off the 2001 attacks.
Beecher's article, which appeared in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, is a rare example of the FBI disclosing information on the anthrax investigation.
According to Homeland Security officials, President Bush occasionally asks how the investigation is proceeding during his morning intelligence briefing.
ABC News' Jason Ryan contributed to this report.
Anthrax Scientist Aided FBI's Probe
Bruce Ivins Helped Develop a Protocol for Collecting Anthrax Samples
By JASON RYAN
Aug. 18, 2008—
The FBI destroyed anthrax samples submitted in 2002 by the scientist who later became the prime suspect in the deadly mail attacks because he didn't prepare them according to the protocol spelled out in a court order, the bureau said today.
Dr. Bruce Ivins, the U.S. Army researcher who committed suicide last month as investigators zeroed in on him as the main suspect in the fall 2001 attacks, advised the FBI during its development of a standardized procedure for specimen collection. "Dr. Ivins was an adviser on the repository process," FBI laboratory director Dr. Chris Hassell told reporters today at FBI headquarters.
Investigators codified the protocol in a subpoena sent to scientists around the globe, which ordered them to submit anthrax samples to the FBI as it built a repository as part of the investigation.
During the course of the investigation, the FBI collected more than 1,000 samples of the Ames strain anthrax, which was used in the attacks. Eight of the samples, all originating from two U.S. labs, matched the genetic markers consistent with the anthrax that was used in the 2001 attacks.
In 2002, the FBI collected samples of anthrax that Ivins had in his possession at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Md.
In December 2003 and April 2004, the FBI identified more anthrax samples in Ivins' possession, which he provided. The FBI also seized a flask of anthrax identified as RMR-1029, which was used by scientists at the medical research institute.
As the FBI constructed a genetic fingerprint of the anthrax used in the attacks, investigators found that the second set of samples Ivins provided to the bureau had none of those genetic markers, but that the sample called RMR-1029 matched the four key genetic markers.
But because the FBI had previously determined that they might not be able to admit the Ivins anthrax samples in court because they were prepared differently than the more than 1,000 other samples received, the FBI had them destroyed.
Dr. Vahid Majidi, the assistant director of the FBI's Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate, said, "Looking at it in hindsight, we would have done some things differently."
Despite the FBI's decision to destroy the sample, Dr. Paul Keim of Northern Arizona University, who was assisting with the FBI's repository of the Ames strain, had a sample of Ivins' original submissions to the FBI. That initial 2002 sample had tested positive for the genetic markers of the anthrax used in the attacks.
"There was no way to determine this at the time because the genetics were not online," Hassell said of the FBI's decision to destroy Ivins' initial sample.
During the seven-year investigation, FBI and scientific experts honed the science of microbial forensics, examining genetic fingerprints of the anthrax used in the attacks and that of the samples in the repository. With the technological advances, the FBI was able to focus on the medical research institute and Ivins.
Despite Ivins' advising the FBI on how to collect anthrax samples and the proper protocols that were needed, when he initially submitted a sample in 2002, he failed to follow the procedures he had developed. From the pool of researchers and scientists who submitted the anthrax samples, Ivins "was the only one to not follow protocol," Hassell said.
The scientists noted that the anthrax used in the attacks had no additives on the anthrax spores, but that the mineral silica was present in the deadly substance.
Although the FBI was able to reverse-engineer anthrax similar to the anthrax used in the mailings, scientists have been unable to reproduce it with the silica.
The FBI has yet to reveal the remaining mysteries of the forensic investigation, and some elements of the case might never be known. Asked how some of the victims contracted anthrax despite no letters being found, Majidi said, "Some are truly unknown to us. We never found the Florida letter" used in the attack that killed a photo editor at American Media Inc. in Boca Raton.
The briefing today by FBI scientists and outside experts who assisted the bureau noted that more scientific information will be released in peer-reviewed journals.
Despite some of the new information,. Majidi said that conspiracy theories will always be connected with the case.
"[We are] not going to put the suspicions to rest, there will always be a spore on the grassy knoll."