New York Times Complicit in FBI Anthrax Coverup

Back in 2001, just months after the anthrax attacks that killed five people, several articles came out in mainstream newspapers that pointed clearly to the CIA and Army as the most likely sources of the weaponized anthrax. Articles in The Baltimore Sun, Miami Herald, Washington Post and New York Times laid out the facts that incriminated Battelle Memorial Labs in West Jefferson, Ohio, and the Army’s lab at the Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah as the only logical sources for the anthrax. These facts, as reported in 2001, include:

1. For over a decade, Army scientists at Dugway have been making weapons-grade anthrax that is “virtually identical” to the anthrax used in the attacks.

2. The anthrax used in the 2001 attacks was extremely concentrated, with a trillion spores per gram. The Dugway anthrax had a similar concentration.

3. The FBI was increasingly focused on US government bioweapons research programs as the source of the deadly anthrax.

4. Both the lab in Utah and the lab in Ohio received anthrax samples from the United States Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick, although USAMRIID deals only with wet anthrax and ships it wet.

5. The investigation was focused on the Dugway anthrax, and Dugway was described as the only facility that was known to be weaponizing anthrax.

6. One FBI official said that the CIA’s anthrax was “the best lead we have at this point.”

7. Army officials said that Fort Detrick did not have the equipment for weaponizing anthrax.

The FBI has never explained what became of this initial focus on the labs in Utah and Ohio. Instead, after the death of Fort Detrick anthrax researcher Bruce Ivins in July 2008, the FBI attempted to make the case that Ivins was the murderer and all other suspects had been cleared of suspicion.

Since Ivins’ death, the media have, with very few exceptions, passively swallowed the line dispensed by the FBI, and have acted as little more than stenographers in parroting the hollow arguments presented by the FBI that Ivins is guilty.

On December 12, 2001, The Baltimore Sun published a seminal article by Scott Shane that clearly laid out just how strong the evidence was against the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. Subtitled “Organisms made at a military laboratory in Utah are genetically identical to those mailed to members of Congress,” Shane’s article also includes this eyebrow-raising line: “Scientists familiar with the anthrax program at Dugway described it to The Sun on the condition that they not be named.”

Apparently Shane has forgotten all that he reported seven years ago. Now with The New York Times, Shane’s latest piece, published January 4, 2009, raises troubling questions about the independence of The Times, and the memory hole that Shane must have used to shunt away all that he once knew about the case the FBI code-named Amerithrax.

Shane calls his 5,200-word article “the deepest look so far at the investigation.” Titled “Portrait Emerges of Anthrax Suspect’s Troubled Life,” it is primarily a hatchet job on Bruce Ivins. Filled with innuendo and unsubstantiated allegations, the purpose of the article is clearly to solidify the perception that Ivins was the killer, and to pooh-pooh the widely held belief that the anthrax came from a CIA or military lab in Utah or Ohio.

Shane dismisses these beliefs breezily, stating: “The Times review found that the FBI had disproved the assertion, widespread among scientists who believe Dr. Ivins was innocent, that the anthrax might have come from military and intelligence research programs in Utah or Ohio.” Not a single piece of evidence is presented to back up this sweeping claim.

Halfway through his article, Shane springs another shocker on us. “By early 2004, FBI scientists had discovered that out of 60 domestic and foreign water samples, only water from Frederick, Maryland, had the same chemical signature as the water used to grow the mailed anthrax.”

Really? Do FBI scientists think that anthrax researchers go to the kitchen sink for the water they use to grow the anthrax? According to Wikipedia, biochemistry labs use only highly purified water, such as double-distilled. Distilled water is created by boiling water and collecting the steam. To obtain double-distilled water, the process is done twice, so that all impurities and minerals are removed. Distilled water has the same chemical signature, namely none, no matter where in the world it originates.

It is unprecedented to have a major development in a high profile case go unreported for a full five years. Not only has the FBI never before mentioned this so-called discovery about the signature of the water, but when they were specifically asked if anything could be learned from the water, they said no.

The question came up on August 18, 2008, when the FBI held a science briefing to follow up on the highly publicized August 6 press conference by DOJ attorney Jeff Taylor. The science briefing was hosted by Dr. Vahid Majidi, Assistant Director of the FBI Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate.

Dr. Majidi was asked: “In your looking at the elemental and chemical properties, could you tell anything about the water that was used to filter this anthrax, and did that do you any good?”

Dr. Majidi replied: “No. No.”

Yet here we are, five months later, with Scott Shane telling us that the FBI has known since 2004 that the anthrax was grown near Fort Detrick, because of the chemical signature of the water.

Beyond these outrageous claims, Shane’s article is busy assassinating Bruce Ivins’ character. We have Nancy Haigwood saying of Ivins “he did it,” for no apparent reason other than she doesn’t like him and thinks he’s odd. She also thinks Ivins vandalized her house 27 years ago and impersonated her. No reason is given for why she believes these things.

Shane editorializes heavily. He charges that Ivins was “chipper” even as five people were dead or dying of anthrax inhalation, and was relishing his moment in the spotlight. No evidence is presented for how Shane reached these conclusions about Ivins.

Words Shane uses to describe Ivins (including quotes from others) are: corny, dour, scary, provocative, emotionally laden, thin-skinned, aggressive, goody two shoes, very sensitive, creepy, possessing an unnerving hubris, stressed, depressed, rude, sarcastic, nasty, devious, jumpy and agitated.

We find out that Ivins had been a nerdy, awkward teenager, was not popular in high school, and was still bitter about this.

He liked to eat a mixture of peas, yogurt and tuna for lunch and wore outdated bell-bottoms, practices that, according to Shane, got him labeled an “oddball.” The words odd, oddball or oddities appear five times in Shane’s article.

The final reference, regarding “a man whose oddities, for many people, made the FBI’s anthrax accusation more plausible,” tips Shane’s hand. His constant harping on Ivins oddness betrays the poverty of the FBI’s case, which Shane acknowledges has “yielded nothing more persuasive than a strong hunch” that Ivins was the killer.

Fortunately for many of us, being odd is not a crime.

But was Ivins odd? The Frederick News Post published a letter from Amanda Lane on August 10, 2008 that includes: “I want to shout from the mountain tops that Bruce was the kind of man we look up to . . . He was a decorated scientist and the humblest of men who didn’t use his title as a status symbol. He picked up a mop or emptied the trash without a moment’s hesitation. If he thought you were having a bad day he would offer candy or a catchy tune to cheer you up. If someone had to stay late to accomplish a task, Bruce would work with you so that the task would get completed faster.

“He was not the greatest athlete, but he was the best cheerleader present at every game to support his friends. I will truly miss his good humor, as there are few people in life who measure up to this man. I hope that he knew how much joy he brought to my life and others around him. If I learned anything from Bruce, it was to enjoy life and to always smile. His friendship brightened so many lives. I hope that Americans will remember Bruce for the funny and compassionate person that he was, because that is all Bruce knew how to be.”

Although Shane does mention that Ivins’ colleagues cherished him, the implication is that they didn’t really know him, as “he hid from them a shadow side of mental illness, alcoholism, secret obsessions and hints of violence.”

The New York Times has published a hit piece, devoid of incriminating facts, more gossip than journalism. Shane’s article raises disturbing questions about the relationship between The New York Times and the US government. What happened to the FBI’s original focus on the CIA and Army labs? Who is behind the drive to pin the attacks on a dead man who possessed neither the means nor the motive to carry them out? And why is The Times acting as a PR arm for those with an agenda that has nothing to do with journalism?

Sheila Casey is a DC-based journalist. Her work has appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, Reuters, The Denver Post, Buzz Flash, Common Dreams and the Rock Creek Free Press. She blogs at blog. Read other articles by Sheila, or visit Sheila's website.

15 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Paul Meyer said on February 26th, 2009 at 10:18am #

    That the NYTimes is a propaganda sheet is not news to anyone who studies the question. The fact that they feel the need to do a character-assassination job on Ivins merely shows that “the system” wants to lay the issue to rest–if possible. No one has recently addressed the attempted hatchet job on one of the labs Muslim employees by a coterie of Zionist coworkers at the lab. Much more here than gets published. Much like 9/11. Or the attack on the U.S.S. Liberty.

  2. lloyd rowsey said on February 26th, 2009 at 12:38pm #

    It’s the same old news that’s fit to print.

  3. ms freeh said on February 26th, 2009 at 1:39pm #

    The author may want to look at the research of Meryl Nass MD of Bar Harbor Maine
    her website is

    http://www.anthraxvaccine.org

    Also the lead FBI agent investigating the anthrax attack in 2002 , Tom Carey,
    quit his job at the FBI and took a job running the campus police at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. Bates college was the host of 11 National Conferences investigating crimes committed by FBI agents held from 1990-2001.
    After FBI agent took the job at Bates College the conference was no longer held at Bates.

  4. ms freeh said on February 26th, 2009 at 1:48pm #

    over 1500 pages material from the conference investigating crimes committed by FBI agents may be found at
    http://www.campusactivism.org/phpBB3/viewforum.php?f=29

    http://www.dallasnews.com/forums/viewforum.php?f=48

    http://www.forums.signonsandiego.com/showthread.php?t=59139

    google these words together

    nichols potts trentadue

  5. Lj said on February 26th, 2009 at 4:13pm #

    Thanks for that investigative reporting, real journalism.

    The New York Times is a propaganda rag which has been at Ground Zero of every major Right-Wing, establishmentarian atrocity of the past 2 decades. The Times and Post “reporting” on “Whitewater” and other “get Clinton” campaigns were so horrendous, that Conason & Lyons use 25 pages, of mostly single-line citations, to detail them, in their book, “The Hunting of the President”. Some of the more glaring editorial double-standards of the Times and Post include making the Clinton’s overnight guest list into the so-called “LINCOLN BEDROOM ‘SCANDAL’!”, and the even more horrendous “White House Trashing scandal” without a SINGLE PHOTO OF EVIDENCE! Which faux-”scandal” served to legitimize the Bush-Cheney theft of election 2000. Which was made possible by the Times (and Post) relentlessly focusing on VP Al Gore’s alleged “serial exaggerations” in the long campaign summer of 2000, while giving Texas Governor George W. Bush a FREE PASS for his – long history of scandals, including going AWOL from Texas ANG during the Vietnam War; including then Gov. Bush using Harriett Miers to award the Texas Lottery contract, overriding the winning bidder to hand the contract to a company connected with a Bush crony; and of course the Times & Post giving Bush a free pass for busting Texas budget surplus, left to him by previous, Democratic Gov. Ann Richards.
    Once Bush & Cheney stole the White House, the Times gave them a free-pass for: flying bin Laden family out of America after 9-11; for doing NOTHING to head off the 9-11 hijacks despite repeated and persistent FBI & CIA warnings; doing NOTHING to bring Al Qaida to justice for the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole; first obstructing, then whitewashing the 9-11 commission; ALLOWING Osama bin Laden to flee from Afghanistan to Pakistan (and then giving him 5 years of bliss in his new sanctuary); supporting and TRUMPETING Cheney’s Lies-to-War from the front pages of the Times & Post, including of course JUDITH MILLER acting as Cheney’s megaphone from the front pages of the Times; then helping the White House WHITEWASH and OBSTRUCT the Valerie Plame “outing” – not just of Ms. Plame, but of her ENTIRE CIA UNDERCOVER organization, as a means of political retribution on her husband, and outspoken lies-to-war whistleblower;
    The Times WHITEWASHED the military Chain-of-Command’s role in the “abuse” of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison, while TRUMPETING KANGAROO COURT trials of female, volunteer privates – accused ONLY of “abuse’ – WHILE Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney were loudly, publicly, and repeatedly DEMANDING and insisting on the ‘right’ to TORTURE prisoners, to death, at their sole discretion, with NO oversight from anyone, ever! –
    And of course the Times and Post WHITEWASHED the way Vice President Cheney BOUGHT HIMSELF A WAR in Georgia, bribing and arming Georgia’s Dictator, Saakashvili, to attack South Ossetia, and when that war blew up in Saakashvili’s face, VP Cheney flew to Georgia to hand Mr. Saakashvili ANOTHER BILLION DOLLARS of no-questions asked or answered US taxpayer dollars (to continue smashing heads of his political opponents and arresting them for “treason’) –

    AT EVERY STEP of the sad, sordid way, the New York Times has been “in” on every atrocity and democracy-crushing agenda item of the Bush-Cheney agenda and its neo-con, PNAC foreign policy crew (and economy-gutting neo-con economics crew).

  6. John S. Hatch said on February 26th, 2009 at 4:38pm #

    if I were to believe that the same people who did 9/11 also mailed the anthrax (the Bush Cabinet was allegedly on the drug Cipro for a month prior, and not flying on commercial jets) and that none of it was planned in a cave, would that make me a mentally ill conspiracy nut? Just asking…

  7. ms freeh said on February 26th, 2009 at 8:40pm #

    the issue as I see it, is the anthrax is a sympton of a problem.
    one important thing learned from the conference dealing with crimes committed by FBI agents was the FBI is a death squad posing as a law enforcement agency.
    The FBI organization model was created to protect corporations and those who are
    in power, there is little difference between the two.
    Until communities learn to patrol and police themselves there will always be a problem with the bodyguards turning on the sheeple.
    Why do you thing FBI agents picked the date 911 when they created the terrorist acts?
    911 is a universal symbol for law enforcement.
    you don’t have enough money to pay for that kind of advertising.

  8. Mr Beaker said on February 27th, 2009 at 2:55am #

    “Do FBI scientists think that anthrax researchers go to the kitchen sink for the water they use to grow the anthrax? According to Wikipedia, biochemistry labs use only highly purified water, such as double-distilled. Distilled water is created by boiling water and collecting the steam. To obtain double-distilled water, the process is done twice, so that all impurities and minerals are removed. Distilled water has the same chemical signature, namely none, no matter where in the world it originates.”

    Actually, distilled water does not always suffice in purity (i.e. for cultures or PCR reactions), hence the use of ultrapure (type 1) water.
    As for the ‘elemental and chemical properties’ , the analysis likely referred to measuring the isotope ratios of oxygen and hydrogen, which can be geo-specific (see Ehleringer et al. PNAS in Feb 26, 2008) and is not affected by any filtering or distillation technique…

  9. Rich said on February 27th, 2009 at 5:00am #

    THIS IS WHY THE N.Y. TIMES IS GOING OUT OF BUSINESS….WHO WANTS TO BUY A RAG THAT ACTUALLY CENSORS THE NEWS….I WOULDEN’T EVEN WRAP FISH GUTS WITH IT LET ALONE FISH!!!!!!!!

  10. DavidCyrus said on February 27th, 2009 at 9:48am #

    Ehleringer et al. PNAS in Feb 26, 2008, mapped isotope concentrations in tap water across huge swaths of America. According to their figures, the same levels of tap water isotopes are present in the area of Fort Detrick and West Jefferson, Ohio. So, while water does contain “elemental properties” that can be measured and compared, this paper does not identify a level of precision that would distinguish water from Fort Detrick and Battelle Memorial Labs.

  11. Sheila Casey said on February 27th, 2009 at 11:02am #

    Dr. Beaker: Scott Shane’s article clearly specifies “chemical signature” of the water.

    David Cyrus: thank you for this highly relevant piece of information. I knew that even after extensive purification, isotope signatures remain, (although the FBI did not refer to isotope signatures). Very interesting to hear that even isotope signatures can not zero in specifically on Ft. Detrick, MD.

    Interesting, but not surprising, as there is no evidence against Ivins that would hold up in court, please see my and Barry Kissin’s article from August of last year at:

    http://www.sheilacasey.com/2008/08/fbi-tries-to-sweep-anthrax-under-the-rug.html#more

  12. Brian Koontz said on February 27th, 2009 at 7:33pm #

    I assume Al Qaeda picked 9/11 out of black humor.

    Lesser known fact: the Madrid bombings (done by a terrorist group not associated with Al Qaeda) occurred 912 days after the New York attack. It *would have been* 911 days afterward, except for the leap year of 2004 – so whoever calculated the date of the bombings didn’t take the leap year into account.

    The following “911 days later”, September 8, 2006, did not feature any terrorist attack that I know of.

  13. russell olausen said on February 27th, 2009 at 8:24pm #

    I quit reading the N.Y.Times when they made the gross presumption that they could actually charge money for its content.

  14. Shabnam said on February 27th, 2009 at 8:33pm #

    This kind of mistake, forgetting the leap year, is popular with the devil, CIA and Mossad. They made the same mistake when they intended to frame Iran of using IED against American soldiers. These IED had American dates on them which is different from European Date. Iran using European system meaning days come first, therefore, they could not insist on their claim. They knew they have been caught red – handed.

  15. robs said on February 28th, 2009 at 5:58pm #

    There are a number of very disturbing points contained in the documents released by the government on this issue. In no particular order of importance:

    1) Reference is made to a single flask of RMR-1029. It would be very unusual to maintain a single container or any particular strain or sample, especially an important one. The more usual practice is to have multiple small samples, aliquots, of important strains in storage. This is done to for a number of reasons including prevention of contamination. If only one container of a particular strain exists and it inadvertantly becomes contaminated, then that strain is lost.

    2) Specimens are not stored in ‘flasks’ or ‘beakers’, they would be stored in small sealable tubes specifically designed for the purpose.

    3) The manufacture of anthrax spore powder is a very complicated and time consuming process. If one were to start with spores, they must first be grown in culture medium to a certain density, then they are removed from the growth medium and placed in a special nutrient deficient medium that stresses them and induces the formation of spores. Then this spore containing medium must be put through a clean up process and then freeze dried. Doing all of these tasks would necessarily consume a notable quantity of supplies, two types of medium, culture flasks, pipettes, protective clothing etc. and would also take quite a bit of time and effort. This would be a quite notable departure from routine maintenance activities and unless some extra material was made in the course of normal laboratory activities, it would almost certainly been noticed by co-workers.

    4) Given the amount of work involved in making spore powder, and the timing of the suspect laboratory use, it would have been very difficult to start work on a project of this type, successfully produce two or three batches of powder, and then mail them over the few days that the suspect access events occurred. While it could have been done, it would have taken a nearly full time effort which would have been noticed. In the alternative, some spore powder could have been prepared and stored and only packaged in the suspect time period, but again, laboratory audits of sample storage would likely have shown extra or unusual quantities of material.

    5) Nothing is reported on identification of any spores or traces of the final powders from the letters that were recovered during the search warrants.

    6) Silicon is listed as being identified in some of the delivered letters. There is technology using silica as a non-clumping/dispersion aid for powdered bioweapons, but not silicon or silicone.

    7) The search warrants make reference to isotopic studies identifying the water used as having come from the northeast. Laboratory work of this nature does not make use of tap water supplies. The water would have come from one of three sources, first commercially produced bottled ultra high purity water prepared for cell culture work. The second source would be derived from municipal supplies that would have been subjected to several exhaustive purification steps in the laboratory to produce water of the purity necessary to do this type of work. The third source would be commercially available medical grade water for injection. All of these processed grades of water will have particular contaminant profiles and oxygen isotope ratios. Ivins certainly would not have used raw tap water. But critically there would be few if any other signatures present as the purpose of purification is to remove them.

    8) The critical need is to examine the data from all of the laboratory work the FBI commissioned.

    9) As others have noted, what about all of the other people and institutions that had samples of this particular culture?