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9/11 Commission

Anthrax Terror

Starting one week after the 9/11/2001 attack letters containing weaponized anhtrax were sent to media offices and to Democratic Senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy -- the two individuals expected to resist passage of the USA PATRIOT Act.

The attacks, which killed five people and infected 17 others, came in two waves of letters with Trenton, New Jersey postmarks: the first, with postmarks of September 18, were sent to ABC, NBC, CBS, the New York Post, and the National Enquiror at American Media Inc.; and the second, with postmarks of October 9, were sent to Senators Daschle and Leahy.

Glenn Greenwald describes the importance of the anthrax attacks in cementing the message of 9/11.

e x c e r p t
title: Vital unresolved anthrax questions and ABC News
authors: Glenn Greenwald
After 9/11 itself, the anthrax attacks were probably the most consequential event of the Bush presidency. One could make a persuasive case that they were actually more consequential. The 9/11 attacks were obviously traumatic for the country, but in the absence of the anthrax attacks, 9/11 could easily have been perceived as a single, isolated event. It was really the anthrax letters -- with the first one sent on September 18, just one week after 9/11 -- that severely ratcheted up the fear levels and created the climate that would dominate in this country for the next several years after. It was anthrax -- sent directly into the heart of the country's elite political and media institutions, to then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD), Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt), NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw, and other leading media outlets -- that created the impression that social order itself was genuinely threatened by Islamic radicalism.

Attack Pinned on "Lone Biokiller"

In August of 2008, the FBI closed its investigation of the anthrax attacks, after agreeing to pay its former "person of interest" Steven Hatfill $5.8 million to settle a lawsuit, by pinning the attacks on Bruce E. Ivins, who had just committed suicide. In two essays, Michael Green showed that the FBI had framed Ivins in an apparent attempt to protect the real perpetrators.

e x c e r p t
title: FBI Frame-up of Bruce E. Ivins Made Simple
authors: Michael Green

The gravamen of the FBI's case against Ivins is that in 1997 he mixed an anthrax batch, RMR-1029, that was a genetic match to the letter anthrax, and thereafter Ivins was the "sole custodian" of the flask that contained it. (The FBI does not mention that other scientists at his facility had unfettered access to the flask, nor emphasize that over 100 individuals at other facilities had access as well, and this does not include the sources that provided Ivins with the anthrax components to mix.) The crucial question to determine whether Ivins could be the "lone biokiller" is thus whether the RMR-1029 in the flask in Ivin's possession was fully weaponized. The answer is that it was not.

Neither the DOJ oral presentation, nor anything in any of its documents states or implies this during a public presentation whose purpose was to convince the American public that the FBI "got the right man" this time. They cannot even bring themselves to say that the spores in Ivins's possession were of the same consistently tiny size of 1.5-3.0 microns that made them so deadly -- something they would surely say were it so. In fact, the topic is sedulously avoided even though -- or precisely because -- it is essential to making the case against Ivins.

Better, Jeffrey Taylor, who seemed to have a weak grasp of the evidence, in his opening remarks gave away the fact that the anthrax in the letters did not come directly from the flask with the sample of spores "RMR-1029" that Ivins monitored and that were reportedly a genetic match to the anthrax that killed its victims. Mr. Taylor advised:

As the court documents allege, the parent material of the anthrax spores used in the attacks was a single flask of spores, known as "RMR-1029," that was created and solely maintained by Dr. Ivins at USAMRIID. This means that the spores used in the attacks were taken from that specific flask, regrown, purified, dried and loaded into the letters.

So, that's the game and the frame-up right there. Regrown spores don't weaponize themselves. They do not regrow super-small and covered with state-of-the-art anti-clumping silica (silicon dioxide) with a weak electrical charge for dispersion. And how do we know, aside from voluminous ongoing reports that we will soon examine, that there was such silica on the spores, and that it was cutting edge technology? Search Warrant Affidavit 07-534-M-01 (available at USDOJ: Amerithrax Court Documents ), dated October 31, 2007, states in pertinent part, p.4:

Microscopic examination of the evidentiary spore powders recovered from all four letters identified an elemental signature of Silicon within the spores. This Silicon signature had not been previously described for Bacillus anthracis organisms.

page last modified: 2010-12-18
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Hand-written content of one of the letters
Envelope of anthrax letter sent to Tom Brokaw
Envelope of anthrax letter sent to Senator Tom Daschle
2001 poster; source