Archive for August 3, 2008


This is a must read article by Glenn Greenwald from Salon

The FBI’s lead suspect in the September, 2001 anthrax attacks — Bruce E. Ivins — died Tuesday night, apparently by suicide, just as the Justice Department was about to charge him with responsibility for the attacks. For the last 18 years, Ivins was a top anthrax researcher at the U.S. Government’s biological weapons research laboratories at Ft. Detrick, Maryland, where he was one of the most elite government anthrax scientists on the research team at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease (USAMRIID).

The 2001 anthrax attacks remain one of the great mysteries of the post-9/11 era. 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.

If the now-deceased Ivins really was the culprit behind the attacks, then that means that the anthrax came from a U.S. Government lab, sent by a top U.S. Army scientist at Ft. Detrick. Without resort to any speculation or inferences at all, it is hard to overstate the significance of that fact. From the beginning, there was a clear intent on the part of the anthrax attacker to create a link between the anthrax attacks and both Islamic radicals and the 9/11 attacks. This was the letter sent to Brokaw:

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Specifically, a month before his death according to documents obtained by the Smoking Gun. This story is going to be on Lifetime no doubt. Also a therapist  Jean Carol Duley from the Psychiatric Hospital where Ivins was committed filed a protective order against Ivins.

From a taped excerpt found here.

Duley: As far back as the year 2000, the respondent has actually attempted to murder several other people, either through poisoning – he is a revenge killer when he feels that he’s been slighted or has had, especially towards women, he plots and actually tries to carry out revenge killing. He has been forensically diagnosed by several top psychiatrists as a sociopathic, homicidal killer.

Woman’s ties to anthrax case unclear

Two days after a media frenzy following the news that Jean Duley sought legal protection from Bruce Ivins, the chief suspect in the 2001 anthrax attacks, Duley has gone into hiding.

Ivins died Tuesday at Frederick Memorial Hospital, an apparent suicide.

Duley, 45, filed for a peace order against him July 24 in Frederick County District Court, accusing him of stalking, threats and harassment. A temporary peace order was granted that day.

Duley’s fianc? of seven years, Mike McFadden, spoke to The Frederick News-Post on Saturday from their home in Williamsport and provided a statement on her behalf.

“Jean is currently at an undisclosed location,” McFadden said.

Duley had numerous meetings with the FBI in the past month, McFadden said, but he declined to provide specific information about those meetings.

He said Ivins had threatened Duley’s life.

EEK!, What is also interesting is Jean Carol Duley’s judicial history. After accepting the terms enter her name. Umm?

More here and the plot thickens.

By William F. West : The [Henderson] Daily Dispatch
The Herald-Sun

BUTNER — State Sen. Doug Berger, who now opposes a germ-fighting lab at Butner, additionally wants one of the chief proponents of the project to give back more than $262,000 obtained from a nonprofit organization for a so-called informational campaign.Berger expressed his wishes in a letter to N.C. Biotechnology Center President Norris Tolson, asking Tolson to reconsider the Golden LEAF Foundation’s award last month of funds to promote the proposed National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility.

The Golden LEAF Foundation was created in 1999 to help North Carolina make the transition from a tobacco-dependent economy. The foundation receives half the funds coming to the state from the tobacco master settlement agreement that resulted from lawsuits against cigarette manufacturers over smoking-related diseases.

Tolson is a member of a statewide consortium of academics and businesspeople who are seeking to have the NBAF built at the southern Granville County town.

Tolson said Friday that Berger “has a right to represent the people of his district and he has a right to his opinion. The input that the consortium has gotten from people in Granville County has been that the NBAF is a positive thing for the county,” Tolson said.

“Well, it does lead one to wonder whether the N.C. Biotech officials are deaf, blind or just dumb,” said Kathryn Spann, a member of the opposition Granville Non-Violent Action Team steering committee.

The proposed facility has been a subject of intense controversy for the last several months, with GNAT leaders citing numerous potential environmental and health hazards.

Adding to the controversy was the success of Tolson’s consortium in obtaining the more than $262,000 from Golden LEAF, which is based in Rocky Mount.

Berger, who wanted Golden LEAF to hold off on giving a grant to the consortium, said Thursday that the consortium’s effort is too late in the process and will not be educational.

“It’s propaganda,” Berger said.

Tolson disputed this assertion, saying, “The consortium wants to provide information to the citizens of Granville County so that they can make a decision based on facts.

“It never was, and still isn’t, an advocacy program,” Tolson said.

Spann countered that “I’m kind of baffled as to how this is supposed to be educating the citizens of Granville County” when Aug. 25 is the Department of Homeland Security deadline for receiving written public comments about the NBAF.

“I think Tolson and N.C. Biotech — and the consortium as whole — keeps hoping that if they state their position frequently enough, it will somehow become true,” Spann said.

Golden LEAF’s action last month provoked much criticism about the appearance of supporting one side in a two-sided issue.

John Hood, president of the conservative, Raleigh-based John Locke Foundation, additionally questioned the ethics of two Golden LEAF board members voting for the grant when they have strong ties to N.C. State University, which stands to benefit from the NBAF being at Butner.

Butner is one of five sites in contention for the multimillion-dollar NBAF to replace an aging, outdated lab at Plum Island, which is located at the tip of New York’s Long Island.

Plum Island remains on the list as an alternative site for the NBAF, with a seventh option being not to build the NBAF at all.

Source: The New York Times

Anthrax Case Renews Questions on Bioterror Effort

 By ERIC LIPTON and SCOTT SHANE

WASHINGTON — Until the anthrax attacks of 2001, Bruce E. Ivins was one of just a few dozen American bioterrorism researchers working with the most lethal biological pathogens, almost all at high-security military laboratories.

Today, there are hundreds of such researchers in scores of laboratories at universities and other institutions around the United States, preparing for the next bioattack.

But the revelation that F.B.I. investigators believe that the anthrax attacks were carried out by Dr. Ivins, an Army biodefense scientist who committed suicide last week after he learned that he was about to be indicted for murder, has already re-ignited a debate: Has the unprecedented boom in biodefense research made the country less secure by multiplying the places and people with access to dangerous germs?

“We are putting America at more risk, not less risk,” said Representative Bart Stupak, Democrat of Michigan and chairman of a House panel that has investigated recent safety lapses at biolabs.

F.B.I. investigators have long speculated that the motive for the attacks, if carried out by a biodefense insider like Dr. Ivins, might have been to draw public attention to a dire threat, attracting money and prestige to a once-obscure field.

If that was the motive, it succeeded. In the years since anthrax-laced letters were sent to members of Congress and news organizations in late 2001, killing five people, almost $50 billion in federal money has been spent to build new laboratories, develop vaccines and stockpile drugs.

After the attacks, for example, an experimental vaccine Dr. Ivins had spent years working on moved from the laboratory to a proposed $877 million federal contract, though the deal collapsed two years later. Federal documents suggest that Dr. Ivins, along with several colleagues, might have earned royalties had the contract gone forward, but the deal ultimately collapsed.

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On WRAL they have an article which appears to be an interview with Barrett Slenning a member of the NCC- NBAF Consortium. The article, WRAL says was originally published in the BT Catalyst  which is publication  by the North Carolina Biotechnology Center. Slenning has roots in Granville County and through my email contact with him, he seems to be a good guy whether I agree with him or not. 

But several things he said concerns me as it should you. In my opinion it highlights the general attitude to the local community during the NBAF site selection process. For example;  

It’s been disheartening, however, to see this opportunity become political. Some groups have latched onto misinformation and embraced half-truths in a way that is totally baffling. It’s hard to understand how people can disregard the facts. Worse, some opponents have leveled outrageous accusations with no link to reality at all.

“It’s been disheartening, however, to see this opportunity become political”?, It’s disheartening that the consortium didn’t hold public hearings before they submitted the Expression of Interest (EOI) in March 2006 for the NBAF. The EOI document dosen’t appear on the consortium’s website however, Ed Hammond, Director of the Sunshine Project  made it available to the public on his website, as did GNAT. Is it politcal to offer a community up to host the largest BSL-4 ag Facility in the world without first seeking community acceptance for the project? And then deny the community access to the related documents? I think you can answer that question for yourself.

The consortium’s dialogue with the Butner community and citizens has never been open for discussion or to educate. It has been a Public Relations campaign buying full page ads in the Butner-Creedmoor News and a mass mailing to sell this lab no matter what. They waited however over a year and a half into the site selection process before they made that effort, I must add. These tactics were illustrated recently through the local media due to the disclosure of information concerning  a Golden Leaf Foundation Grant. The consortium and NC BioTech applied for and received a public grant in the amount of $262,000 for (using their words) “education”. Public funds should not be used for advocacy or a PR campaign which was their purpose for the funds. It’s a little late in the game to try to win over a community they (the consortium) didn’t embrace to began with.

The consortium says in their ads “citizens deserve accurate information”. I have  a suggestion how  about citizens deserve to be informed they are expected to pay for the NBAF infrastructure and maintainance  over  the next 50 years or citizens deserve a competent Draft Environmental Impact Statement, that’s what citizens deserve.

You can not examine potential impacts regarding an issue as complex as the NBAF  and not discuss the real world possibilities with the community. The good with the bad and the negatives, as well as the suggested positives. It is the proponents burden to prove this facility is a benefit to the community they expect to host it as well as if the lab is an economic asset not a liability. GNAT is the only group that has held a forum in Butner. Let me reiterate not Oxford, not Henderson, but Butner to inform citizens concerning the NBAF.

“I’ve been interested in agricultural biosecurity since the mid-1990s. Then in 2001, anthrax attacks in the United States and an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the United Kingdom showed how devastating such animal diseases could be to society.

I think the argument can be made by this statement that Slenning is making a case against the NBAF.  Consider the following “Theory Behind Pirbright Foot and Mouth Outbreak”

 

HSE (Healthand Safety Executive) could be compared to our FDA and the agency was asked by the UK Prime Minister to lead an investigation into biosecurity issues at the nearby Pirbright Laboratory facilities (Merial Animal Health Ltd and the Institute for Animal Health. (an aside note: Merial/Merck has a facility in Athens, Georgia and Merial/Merck is a few thousand feet from the proposed location for the NBAF in Butner, NC) The HSE produced the theory flow chart to demostrate their findings concerning exactly where the FMD outbreak or leak originated. Click on the thumbnail to read the full final report concerning HSE’s findings.

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