back to article Inside the tent, the best bioterrorist money could buy?

When Bruce Ivins, presumed psycho amateur juggler/church keyboardist/government scientist/bioterrorist, committed suicide by drug overdose, taking two days to die, everyone was taken by surprise by an FBI effort notable for almost complete information secrecy until the shoe was about to drop. In early July, many had commented, …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Committed suicide AND died?

    That's unlucky...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'Obviously Saddam to blame!'

    Maybe the CIA coerced Ivins to mail the anthrax to support their claims of WMD in Iraq and it was this coersion that twisted his mind. He was possibly coming close to spilling the beans and so had to be reigned in. His method of suicide is rather suspect, overdosing is generally preferred by females.

    And that's as good a conspiracy as I can come up with on a Monday.

  3. Richard Barclay

    Dr Evil vs. Dr Ego

    The way I read it is he was motivated in the same way some errant Firefighters set thier own fires. In a way he just wanted to massage his ego & justify his existance of developing vaccines to anthrax by creating a terror campaign.

    One could further extrapolate this theory, that because of the political thesis at this time, that Iraq / Sudam Hussain / Al Qaeda were bad, ipso-facto they must be developing chemical / biological weapons. (so it would be easy to divert any attention) Now if your 'area' of reseach just happens to be a bit of a scientific backwater from the cold war, one might be encouraged to promote ones services as the pre-eminant authority on Anthrax. It would seem like the perfect crime......

  4. Steve
    Black Helicopters

    doesn't ring true

    If you read any of the blogs of people that knew Irvin, the picture being painted by the government and FBI seems to be completely inconsistent with their opinions of the man.

    It's very convenient that someone who apparently had no suicidal tendencies has died just as the evidence to charge him has come to light. Almost like a scapegoat.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I distinctly remember seeing on the news that weaponised anthrax could only be produced by a state (hence the finger pointed at Saddam). Now we are to believe that it was a single maverick acting alone? The question we should ask is whether the US is stockpiling weaponised biological agents or not.

    Anon, obviously :-(

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    "convenient ... died just as the evidence to charge him has come to light."

    Convenient that *another* person has died just as the evidence to charge him has come to light. Dr David Kelly being a previous one.

    When is Bliar due to commit suicide, surely there's evidence against him? Do we have to set the impreachment process going first? It would be something good to remember Gordon Bruin for, everything else he's done seems to have involved the inverse Midas touch...

  7. Disco-Legend-Zeke

    Fund Raiser? Watch "Long Kiss Goodnight"

    on one hand, a top researcher would be up on the latest technology, be it bentonite or whatever. so it could be just keeping up with allajonses.

    on the other side, if a bio lab were looking for funding, it would be imperative to give the agent foreign credentials.

    the end of life will be more likely caused by all that mercury escaping from compact fluorescent bulbs during normal failure mode. Pop, Crackle, and Spew.

  8. Taz Taziuk

    Jean Carol Duley

    Glenn Greenwald, who has blogged extensively on this topic over at notes that:

    "So much of the public reporting about Ivins has been devoted to depicting him as a highly unstable psychotic who had been issuing extremely violent threats and who had a violent past. But that depiction has been based almost exclusively on the uncorroborated claims of Jean Carol Duley, a social worker (not a psychiatrist or psychologist) who, as recently as last year, was apparently still in college at Hood College in Frederick, Maryland."

    He also details a lengthy rap sheet on her which would appear to discredit her reputability.

  9. Turbojerry


    The anthrax would have to be milled to separate the spores and additives added to stop it clumping to form the highly aerogenic anthrax used in the attacks, this is consistent with the processes that came out of the Soviet bio-warfare program at BioPreparat and the technology was transfered to the US by Dr. Alibekov who went to work at Battelle Memorial Institute not Ft. Detrick so Ivins would not have had the know how or technology to do the weaponisation.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    "weaponising" antrax only takes a few bits of kit from eBay. What you really need is some practice, and that is where a few lost spores will get you a visit from the black helos.

    Aum Shinrykyo tried and failed, but then they were completely unsophisticated about it. They did not get caught, only going titsup with the botched subway sarin attacks.

    There are two questions about Ivers:

    a) If he was apparently known as a cracker in 2000, why was he still working there? Is this the Hansen Moment for Detrick?

    b) isn't it convenient that there was an apparently homicidal suspect, and that suspect is now deceased? He must have known that acetaminophen OD was an unpleasant way to go too...

    So who is the real Amerithraxer? Is he or she the same as the Zodiac Killer? A descendent of Jack the Ripper? A practice run of the polonium assasin?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Bentonite is just a clay, it was / is quite a popular substance to clear the system, it can carry huge amounts of negatively charged substances in ratio to its size.

    And it is used all over because of this carry capability, not sure this would count as a signature use, seems like a standard extra ingredient to a lot of things.

  12. Aron A Aardvark


    Ah, another possible Oswald to be judged guilty in the courtroom of public opinion with no defence counsel or right to cross-examine his accusers and the evidence presented against him. Good ol' westernised media justice.

    There was a list doing the rounds of around 14 micro-biologists who have died in strange circumstances over the last few years, the most famous being David Kelly. Suicide sounds like an occupational hazard but what are the chances? Is there a link between these deaths? Investigating let alone answering such questions would require a media with a spine that is not frozen into inaction by the two magic words - 'national security'.

  13. CKM
    Black Helicopters

    Re: Bentonite

    I believe it is also used in a lot of pool filters....

  14. Anonymous Coward

    US media is a little strange

    why would the US media say they have DNA evidence linking Ivers to the anthrax case?

    1) If they US government had DNA evidence, they already have a DNA database of its workers in high-security areas to compare it to (and if they don't, they're fucking stupid *and* naive). Assuming they did their job, why did it take 5 - 6 years to come out with the data linking Ivers to the crime? This is a little too convenient.

    2) What is this DNA evidence? Where did it come from? Was the anthrax made DNA-specific so that only humans were affected (God forbid - Frank Herbert's "The White Plague" made real)?

    On a personal note, when this story broke, I caught myself saying out loud (and not realizing it), "Well, looks like the Bush Administration is burning up the evidence."

    The US news media is not only being a government propaganda tool, but they're being cowards (being owned by a few rich men notwithstanding). Orwell has already arrived, with the word "responsibility" already having been erased from their dictionaries.

  15. Martin Usher
    Black Helicopters

    Doesn't pass the smell test

    The people who were the targets of the mailed Anthrax were Senators who were likely to impede the rapid passage of the so-called Patriot Act. There was also a bit of dark hinting that maybe Iraq was at the bottom of this. It could have been the actions of the generic lone gunman or anthrax-mailer but the political coincidences elevate it to something a bit more interesting -- definitely this needs the black helicopter. Too bad the guy died...but given the political implications he was unlikely to live long anyway.

  16. unitron

    As long as I'm being paranoid....

    Far be it from me to say anything derogatory or of a suspicious nature about the same fine folks who dreamed up Operation Northwood, but...

    If you were going to "appropriate" some of USAMRIID's anthrax to send to some of your unsuspecting pen pals (for whatever reason) and you knew that it might be possible to find out exactly where in USAMRIID the anthrax came from, from which scientist's anthrax stash would you pilfer, if not the one most easily made to look like a whacko?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yet another terrorist turns out to be... American

    Like Tim McVeigh, the Unabomber, the US Marines, the USAF, the US Navy, the US Army, the CIA, and the dozens of home-grown murderers who from time to time kill clusters of American civilians in their own country.

    The USA's morbid and vastly exaggerated fear of foreign attack is reminiscent of the psychological condition known as projection. ( Or, as Hermann Hesse put it long ago, 'If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn't part of ourselves doesn't disturb us'.

  18. Wayland Sothcott
    Black Helicopters

    Google Microbiologist killed

    Since 9/11 there have been loads of Microbiologists killed. In the UK Dr David Kelly and more recently the two french students in London who first had their laptop stolen containing their project, then they were tied up tortured, stabbed and set on fire. This was discribed as "Knife Crime" and there were calls to make all knives have rounded ends.

    When a microbiologist dies I am suspicious. When someone linked to The War On Terror dies strangely I am suspcious. The anthrax attacks helped push the Patriot Act through, and it was a bogus reason it turns out. Same as WMD 45 minute dodgy dossier in the UK.

    I expect he was feeling murderous, if he knew the truth about the anthrax and was being fitted up and had been put in a mental hospital where no one believed him that would drive anyone mad.

    There are just not enough different icons for all this spook stuff.

  19. Dr Patrick J R Harkin


    "If you read any of the blogs of people that knew Irvin, the picture being painted by the government and FBI seems to be completely inconsistent with their opinions of the man."

    Yes - but every serial killer I can think of had neighbours who thought he was perfectly normal.

  20. Wayland Sothcott

    Dangerous knowledge

    Many of the above posters have guessed what this is about. Fortunately for their personal safety they can't prove it in court. Anyone likely to blow this will be silenced. It's pretty obvious to anyone who thinks about as well as listens to the news. The news media are telling us, but they can't just blurt it out. If they can't prove it they can't say it, if they do prove it then they are next.

    If you look at sackings and deaths of media people you might wonder if some have rumbled it. You might wonder if many media people are encouraged to take drugs in order for someone to gain a hold over them.

    The regulated media is losing it's trusted position, the Internet is taking over, they are trying to regulate the Internet. How long before someone wins a case against an ISP that failed to filter out some nasty that came through the Internet. Once ISPs feel they need to protect their subscribers then they will implement filtering. Everything will be made safe enough for a 5 year old child and websites will need approval before they are available on say Virgin and BT.

    This will affect sites like these who will have to more strongly regulate the opinions expressed here, for the safety of the children. Smaller sites and personal sites will be regulated out of existance. Or at least you won't be able to have a decent forum and news since that will require a social networking licence.

    It was not so long ago that people could not express their views in public like this. OK so you could write a letter to a newspaper or points of view but what we have with the Internet is amazing. We have not had this very long and possibly not for much longer.

  21. heystoopid

    Sadly , the fix is in !

    Sadly though , in this new age of 21st Century Propaganda the sheer bulk of today's corporate media reporters are of the incredibly lazy dumb and stupid clones from the Judith Miller school of incompetent reporting and are for the most part just corrupt stupid propaganda mouth pieces, forever spouting only irrelevant government permitted bylines of useless information peppered with mostly incompetently poorly written fiction like your average Hollywood film since the 1980's of another century ago ! Or basically a Snow or Dana does the media for the nth time as dumb stupid suckers !

    The reality in this industry of biological warfare engineering of super bugs is the exact opposite to that which the FBI portray as one AC put it !

    One can see the mass corporate media fix is already now in place , and the odd breakthrough the existing cones of silence will be from odd co-incidental reporting from the few remaining independent daily or weekly local newspapers and not from our uniform mass corporate propaganda only main stream sources like the things such as FBI confiscating library computers here and there for no apparent logical reason given and so forth ! The main corporate mass media will now begin to deploy the various cones of silence about the real facts as we see now happening already !

    Now , we shall also sit back and watch the irrelevant character slagging as what happened in an alleged suicide in the UK not all that long ago under the stewardship of an evicted ex PM who deliberately chose fiction for expedience and continues to do so raising UK barriers as those across the channel go down allowing the Russian Bear Federation to join the ECM !

    Strange times indeed , where are the Murrow's , Bernstein's and Woodward's of yesteryear who accepted no BS and just kept on digging through the crap thrown at them looking at every inconsistency , that be the question , or will the evil inept Judith Miller clones prevail to bury it in even more irrelevant crap and irrelevant gossip in the mainstream media to call it news rather then propaganda that it really is !

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Yet another V quote that relates to the news. Funny that....

    Our story begins, as these stories often do, with a young up-and-coming politician. He's a deeply religious man and a member of the conservative party. He is completely single-minded convictions and has no regard for the political process. Eventually, his party launches a special project in the name of 'national security'. At first, it is believed to be a search for biological weapons and it is pursued regardless of its cost. However, the true goal of the project is power, complete and total hegemonic domination. The project, however, ends violently... but the efforts of those involved are not in vain, for a new ability to wage war is born from the blood of one of their victims. Imagine a virus - the most terrifying virus you can, and then imagine that you and you alone have the cure. But if your ultimate goal is power, how best to use such a weapon? It is at this point in our story that along comes a spider. He is a man seemingly without a conscience; for whom the ends always justify the means and it is he who suggests that their target should not be an enemy of the country but rather the country itself. Three targets are chosen to maximize the effect of the attack: a school, a tube station, and a water-treatment plant. Several hundred die within the first few weeks. Until at last the true goal comes into view. Before the St. Mary's crisis, no one would have predicted the outcome of the elections. No one. But after the election, lo and behold, a miracle. Some believed that it was the work of God himself, but it was a pharmaceutical company controlled by certain party members made them all obscenely rich. But the true genius of the plan was the fear. A year later, several extremeists are tried, found guilty, and executed while a memorial is erected to canonize their victims. Fear became the ultimate tool of this government. And through it our politician was ultimately appointed to the newly created position of High Chancellor. The rest, as they say, is history.

  23. John F***ing Stepp

    Just be careful if you walk those big bad woods that you are alone.

    Several scientists, Senator Wellstone, Lt. Colonel Thomas Mooney and Hunter Thompson.

    Just when I thought that they might be breaking up Cheney's little gang of assassins, we get this sh*t again.

    Come on, guys, Tylenol? Hey, you are mailing it in.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Jumping a tall conclusion from a standing start...

    It seems that most of the the theories here work towards one of two conclusions. Firstly the man was entirely innocent and set up as a scapegoat. Secondly that the whole thing was set up to blame Iraq or the Islamic world in general.

    The third possibility is of course that, assuming that the guy was guilty, he was trying to create a huge market for an anthrax vaxine to which he owned the rights. A little colateral damage sure, but the end result could have been the whole nation vaccinated against anthrax and a huge income for one or more drugs companies. A side effect of course being that the patent holder would become incredibly rich. Surely this fits right in with the American way of life and he should have been aplauded for his efforts.

    I would say that the third theory satisfies Occam's razor, so maybe that means it isn't a good conspiracy theory. Don't conspiracy theories have to be incredibly complex? Hell, it isn't even a conspiracy theory at all since it only involves one man.

    Oh well.

  25. Danny Silver badge
    Jobs Horns

    Thanks Taz

    Very interesting links. This is reminiscent of Dr Frank Olsen who 'suicided' himself from Project Artichoke in the '50's by throwing himself out of a closed window.

    The text from the social worker with the drink and drugs charges is damning only of her. How does someone who can't write, can't spell and has no grammar graduate high school let alone university - and why is such a poorly written opinion taken seriously by a court?

    I know of a right-wing US social worker who is employed by the Scottish prison authorities to assess prisoners for parole. He gave false evidence against prisoners for obviously political reasons, which the SPS have apologised for - even though the affected prisoners are still wrongly incarcerated.

    As to militarisation of the anthrax, that means converting it to the extremely fine uncharged aerosol that it was. As far as I understand it, that does not simply mean milling it, although it is maybe best not to discuss this online.

    "I don't think a vaccine specialist could do it. This is aerosol physics, not biology, there are very few people who have their feet in both camps." - Dr. Alan P. Zelicoff

  26. Danny Silver badge

    Follow what money ?

    "A side effect of course being that the patent holder would become incredibly rich. "

    He got money from the patent as one of the inventors but he didn't own it, he was working for a private corporation who own it as part of an army programme. At best he stood to make a few tens of thousands of dollars, far less than his salary.

    Even if he did it, that would be his motivation.

  27. Anonymous Coward

    get your absurd conspiracy theories here...

    1) Brown rings: Microscopic copies of Dogbert's "Brown Ring of Quality" added to implicate Scott Adams, a constant thorn in the side of the New World Order that has been reducing cubicle sizes for decades.

    2) Bentonite: Tantalizing reference to the Arkansas headquarters of a known collaborator with Chinese manufacturers owned by the People's Liberation Army.

    3) The official explanation: Need I say more?

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    I'm calling BULLSHIT!

    A few things jump right out :

    1) He's homicidal ? Ok ..why just kill himself - if I was homicidal , and had proved it by sending a few letters tainted with Anthrax. Why stop - and why so few? If I am going to go - then I'm going to take as many as I can on the trip - thus proving I am in fact the misunderstood evil genius that everyone fears.

    2) On his way from the pharmacy ( doubt he had enough BRAND X in his medicine chest - unless he's planning this for a while :) ) - so he would have had to have gone out (leaving his evil lair) .. why not stop by the hardware instead there are better " goodies " there ( more efficient ones ). Being a biologist .. I am sure he had good knowledge of some good fast acting and super deadly poisons.

    3) Oh but wait he was a microbiologist specializing in creating bio weapons. Like all people with some form of trade (if they are any good they will have passion - and people who their work often have some tools for doing the job at home - tinkering.. etc.. as a microbiologist - would he not have some " tools " available that would have allowed him to put his craft to the ultimate test? Maybe some super deadly algae or toad spit or some or other horribly deadly substance that could have been easily synthesized, harvested or purified - perhaps impossible to weaponise - but super deadly. SURELY he would have preferred that to "Brand X" over the counter NSAID.

    4) Background checks. I'm surprised this evil genius managed to fool all the screening the government does. As a current job seeker in the US - the checks that they do on people border on the unconstitutional. Having access to military grade "toys" and "materials" would have one imagines involved some pretty stiff psychological evaluation. So its bizarre to me that a Social Worker managed to identify his "shortcomings" while trained military folk who deal with fucking crazy people all day (self created or otherwise ) - didn't manage to spot it. Really?

    Thumbs down. He just didn't show the kind of dedication to his own self eradication as he did for others. Poor show.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Bentonite

    Bentonite is also in clumping cat litter. Hardly a rare substance.

  30. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  31. Bruce Sinton
    Paris Hilton

    Taz Taziuk

    Taz, I tried that link, all I got was " Unable to find the page you requested"

    What a bugger!

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