Misc. Articles About the Anthrax Case - Part 7
 
From KATV:
FBI Says Disclosure of Anthrax Probe Details Could Aid Terrorists
Location: Washington
Posted: December 02, 2003 4:35 PM EST

Washington (AP) - Disclosure of what the FBI knows about the deadly 2001 anthrax attacks could enable terrorists to engineer biological weapons to escape detection, the FBI says in documents filed in response to a lawsuit by a scientist labeled a "person of interest" in the case. 

Citing the criminal investigation and national security concerns, the Justice Department is trying to persuade a federal judge to delay the lawsuit filed by Dr. Stephen J. Hatfill, who contends the government invaded his privacy and ruined his reputation by leaking information to the media implicating him in the attacks. 

Hatfill has denied any role in the attacks and his lawsuit seeks to clear his name and recover unspecified monetary damages. 

Richard L. Lambert, the FBI inspector in charge of what is being called the "Amerithrax" investigation, says in a court document that Hatfill's lawsuit could jeopardize the probe and expose national secrets related to U.S. bioweapons defense measures. 

"In the hands of those hostile to the U.S., this valuable intelligence could aid state sponsors of terrorism or terrorist organizations in their efforts to genetically engineer or alter their anthrax bioweapons to 'spoof' or escape detection," Lambert said. 

Disclosure also would make public the vulnerabilities and capabilities of U.S. government installations to bioweapons attacks and expose sensitive intelligence collection sources and methods, Lambert said. 

There is no proven link between terrorist groups and the October 2001 anthrax attacks that killed five people and sickened 17 others. The government has, however, repeatedly warned of al-Qaida's interest in using anthrax or other chemical and biological weapons to mount attacks. 

In the FBI document, filed Nov. 21 in U.S. District Court in Washington, Lambert calls the anthrax probe "unprecedented in the FBI's 95-year history" because of its scope and complexity. In all, the investigation has consumed some 231,000 agent hours, he said. 

Lambert described the investigation as "active and ongoing" and said agents' work is divided between checking into individuals who could be linked to the attacks and an intensive scientific effort to determine how the spores themselves were made using "cutting-edge forensic techniques and analysis." 

The court papers stop short of confirming that Hatfill is among those being investigated. 

Hatfill was labeled a "person of interest" in the probe in August 2002 by Attorney General John Ashcroft and says in his lawsuit that FBI agents have had him under surveillance around the clock. 

That surveillance - which once led agents in a vehicle to run over Hatfill's foot on a Washington street - has dropped off in recent weeks, according to one person close to Hatfill and two federal law enforcement officials who spoke on condition of anonymity. The officials, however, cautioned against drawing the conclusion that Hatfill no longer was of interest to investigators. 

Lambert said in the court document that Hatfill's lawsuit could force the FBI to divulge its "interest in specific individuals," who could then destroy or hide evidence, flee the country, intimidate witnesses or make up alibis. None of these individuals are identified. 

The Justice Department is seeking to delay Hatfill's case until a decision is made on a forthcoming government attempt to dismiss the lawsuit entirely. Hatfill's lawyers were preparing a response Tuesday opposing the delay. 

Hatfill's lawsuit is seeking unspecified monetary damages from Ashcroft, the FBI and Justice Department and other current and former officials. His lawyers contend that the government linked him to the attacks to make it seem that the investigation was making progress. 

Hatfill once worked as a researcher at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Md. Hatfill says he never worked with infectious diseases such as anthrax, however.

Scientists discover how anthrax creates its deadly spores

Journal of Bacteriology

Knowledge could lead to new vaccines, treatments, detection and decontamination technologies

ANN ARBOR, MI - In the age-old battle between man and microbe, it pays to know your enemy. This is especially true for Bacillus anthracis, the bacterium that causes anthrax. Tiny spores of this highly infectious pathogen can survive drought, bitter cold and other harsh conditions for decades, yet still germinate almost instantly to infect and kill once inside an animal or human host. 

In a collaboration funded by the U.S. Office of Naval Research and the National Institutes of Health, scientists from three major research institutions - the University of Michigan, The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR), and The Scripps Research Institute - are working together to identify the genes and proteins involved in anthrax's deadly metamorphosis. Their work provides information other researchers can use to develop new vaccines and treatments targeted at specific points in the complex process of anthrax growth and spore formation. 

The first results of the collaboration's work will be published as the cover story in the Jan. 1, 2004 issue of the Journal of Bacteriology and posted Dec. 18, 2003 on the journal's web site. This study is the first analysis of a bacterial pathogen using the combined investigative tools of genomics and proteomics. It is also the first study to document, at a molecular level, all the genes and proteins involved in B.anthracis spore formation. 

Major findings of the study include: 

  *   When compared to other bacteria, anthrax spore formation is an unusually complex and intricate process. 
  *   Up to one-third of all the genes in the Bacillus anthracis genome are involved in spore production. 
  *   Genes are expressed in five discrete phases over a five-hour time period. 
  *   Each mature anthrax spore contains about 750 individual proteins.

"The most surprising result of this study is the degree of dedication this organism devotes to making its spore," says Philip C. Hanna, Ph.D., an assistant professor of microbiology and immunology in the U-M Medical School and the paper's corresponding author. "It may require one-third of the entire genome. This shows how important the spore is to this organism's life cycle. The spore allows the anthrax bacterium to survive conditions that would kill most other living things." 

Using cutting-edge techniques of functional genomics and proteomics analysis, scientists in the collaboration were able to shed new light on the molecular biology of the anthrax spore," says Scott N. Peterson, Ph.D., one of several scientists from The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) in Rockville, MD who are co-authors on the paper. 

"Until recently, we only knew how the anthrax spore was made on a microscopic level. We could see different structures forming, but didn't know precisely what went into making them," says Nicholas H. Bergman, Ph.D., a research investigator in the U-M Bioinformatics Program and a primary author of the paper. "Now we have a much clearer view of how the spore is assembled, and exactly what it is made of." 

Bacillus and Clostridium (the bacterium that causes tetanus) are the only bacteria that can shut down normal metabolic functions and convert rapidly into dormant, protective spores when environmental conditions make it impossible for them to otherwise survive. 

Scientists have been studying anthrax spores since 1876, when they were first described by the pioneering German bacteriologist, Robert Koch. Like a golf ball, anthrax spores are made of many layers of material, which protect DNA in the core. 

The spore's tough outer coat is surrounded by a loose-fitting layer called the exosporium. When the spore gets inside a human or animal host - the first step in the infection process - sensing agents in the exosporium signal the spore to "hatch," or germinate, and start producing more bacteria. 

TIGR scientists used DNA microarray technology to monitor gene expression changes in Bacillus anthracis over time as cells transitioned from growth to spore formation. "Since the spore is the infectious particle of the anthrax bacterium, it made sense to focus initially on the molecular biology of the spore," says Peterson. 

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA used advanced proteomics analysis technologies to identify proteins expressed in anthrax spores. "Proteomics experiments can reveal the expression and localization of proteins in microorganisms," says John R. Yates, Ph.D., a professor of cell biology at Scripps Research. "This is important, because some of these proteins may be promising targets for future vaccine development." 

Hongbin Liu, Ph.D., a former Scripps Research post-doctoral research fellow and the paper's first author, adds that the study "clearly demonstrates the benefits of combining genomics and proteomics in a single study. The combined approach helped deepen our understanding of the complexity of spore growth and sporulation." 

Microbiologists at the U-M Medical School were responsible for working with the bacteria to study how it infects and causes disease in its human host. U-M scientists worked with an attenuated strain of B. anthracis, which was modified to make it safe to handle in university laboratory facilities. U-M also provided the bioinformatics technology and expertise required to analyze the large amounts of data generated by the study. 

The collaboration's scientists identified 2,090 B. anthracis genes, of nearly 6,000 in the entire genome, which appear to be involved in spore formation. Gene activity occurred in five overlapping waves spread across a five-hour time period, but actual construction of the spore didn't begin until the fourth wave of gene expression. 

According to Hanna, this suggests that a surprising number of gene products in the spore itself are not produced during spore formation, but rather are scavenged from the vegetative bacillus during the process. 

"Think of these proteins as the supplies required to build a house - like lumber, nails, and shingles," says Hanna. "Many of these proteins already exist in the bacillus and can be recycled to create the spore. The first step is not to produce them, but simply to collect them all in one place and then re-pack them into a spore. Other accessory genes contain instructions for making regulatory proteins and enzymes, which are tools the anthrax bacillus uses to construct its spore." 

Data from the study indicates that proteins produced during the large, fifth wave of gene expression also become part of the spore itself. These include enzymes the spore needs for rapid germination, virulence factors and proteins that help the bacterial cell survive in a new host environment. 

"When it enters the body, the spore has all the digestive enzymes it needs packed inside," explains Hanna. "Immediately after germination, the cell can start eating, multiplying and spreading throughout the body." 

Complete data from the collaboration's study of the genome and proteome of B. anthracis spores has been posted on the National Center for Biotechnology Information's Gene Expression Omnibus database at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?dg=geo., where it will be freely available to the scientific community. Hanna stresses that, while the data will be extremely valuable to biomedical researchers, it has no value related to the use of anthrax as a biological weapon. 

"We want our results to be available to all university and corporate researchers developing anthrax spore countermeasures," says Hanna. "The scientific skills and technologies developed by the collaboration can now be focused on the next stage of anthrax infection - interaction with the host." 

In the next phase of their research, collaboration scientists will examine changes in gene expression and protein synthesis that occur when the anthrax bacillus enters immune system cells in the host. 

"The spore is the infectious agent of anthrax. It's how the bacterium persists in the natural environment, and it's what terrorists would manipulate in a bioterrorism attack," says Brendan Thomason, a U-M graduate student and a co-author of the paper.  "In order to understand how the bacterium causes disease and discover new methods for anthrax treatment and prevention, scientists need a more thorough understanding of the intricacies of the spore." 

Additional collaborators in the research study include: Shamira Shallom, Alyson Hazen, David A. Rasko, Ph.D., Jacques Ravel, Ph.D., and Timothy D. Read, Ph.D., from TIGR, and U-M research associate, Joseph Crossno. 

                                              ###

Journal of Bacteriology, Vol.186, pp. 164-178, Jan. 2004 

Contact: Sally Pobojewski, pobo@umich.edu, (734) 615-6912 (U-M) 
Robert Koenig, rkoenig@tigr.org, (301) 838-5880 (TIGR) 
Jason Bardi, jasonb@scripps.edu, (858) 784-9254 (Scripps Research)

The Washington Post
December 17, 2003
Pg. 37

Targeting Spread Of Deadliest Arms

U.S. Proposes U.N. Resolution Curbing Transfer of Weapons

By Colum Lynch, Washington Post Staff Writer

UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 16 -- The Bush administration launched its campaign to halt the spread of the world's deadliest weapons to terrorists, providing key U.N. Security Council members with a draft resolution Tuesday that would outlaw the transfer of biological, chemical and nuclear arms to individuals and groups instead of to countries.

The move comes nearly three months after President Bush vowed, in a Sept. 23 speech to the U.N. General Assembly, to lead international efforts at the United Nations to curb the trafficking of such weapons. The draft resolution is designed to close gaps in a series of international treaties aimed at limiting the spread of weapons.

Citing concerns that "these weapons could be used by terrorists to bring sudden disaster and suffering on a scale we can scarcely imagine," Bush urged the Security Council to adopt a resolution that could criminalize the proliferation of such weapons and compel governments to strengthen their export controls.

The U.S. initiative has been stalled for months by interagency quarrels in Washington over the extent of the Security Council's role in managing the anti-proliferation campaign. U.N. diplomats said it is unlikely that the resolution would be put to a vote before the end of the year.

The four-page draft resolution, which was presented Tuesday afternoon to the representatives of China, Russia, France and Britain, calls on U.N. members to criminalize the proliferation of weapons and to "refrain" from providing support to non-state entities attempting to "acquire, manufacture, possess, transport" chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. It would also require all governments to establish "domestic controls" for tightening their borders and curbing the export and financing of such weapons.

Although the U.S. text urges states to "combat by all means" the spread of such weapons, it contains no enforcement mechanism that would empower the council to impose sanctions against countries that fail to comply.

Britain and Russia had favored the inclusion of an enforcement provision, called Chapter Seven, to give the resolution more teeth, according to U.N. diplomats. But some administration officials were concerned that it would provide the Security Council too powerful a role in monitoring the illicit trade, the diplomats said. Instead, the United States intends to cite the resolution to bolster its bilateral and regional efforts to curb the spread of the world's deadliest weapons.

Saddam Behind Anthrax Attacks?
By Cliff Kincaid 
January 1, 2004

In a major development, potentially as significant as the capture of Saddam Hussein, investigative journalist Richard Miniter says there is evidence to indicate Saddam’s anthrax program was capable of producing the kind of anthrax that hit America shortly after 9/11. Miniter, author of Losing bin Laden, told Accuracy in Media that during November he interviewed U.S. weapons inspector Dr. David Kay in Baghdad and that he was "absolutely shocked and astonished" at the sophistication of the Iraqi program. 

Miniter said that Kay told him that, "the Iraqis had developed new techniques for drying and milling anthrax — techniques that were superior to anything the United States or the old Soviet Union had. That would make the former regime of Saddam Hussein the most sophisticated manufacturer of anthrax in the world." Miniter said there are "intriguing similarities" between the nature of the anthrax that could be produced by Saddam and what hit America after 9/11. The key similarity is that the anthrax is produced in such a way that "hangs in the air much longer than anthrax normally would" and is therefore more lethal. 

Nevertheless, the FBI has been operating on the assumption that it was produced by a disgruntled American scientist, perhaps in a basement. The FBI wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars investigating the possibility that the anthrax letters were packaged underwater in a Maryland pond in a special device of some sort. 

In a development that has received little media attention, an article in the November 28th issue of Science magazine focuses on the testimony of experts that the nature of the anthrax used against America constituted a major advance in biological weapons technology. The article notes that analysts in the U.S. Army detected silica coatings on the anthrax sent to the U.S. Senate and that special chemicals were used to enhance its ability to form a lethal aerosol. One of those was a super-specialized binder chemical used to keep the silica particles in place on the surface of the spores. 

One of the experts quoted in the article told us that, "In my opinion it would be impossible to manufacture a powder like this without state-sponsorship… These are super-specialized areas—and once it is understood just how difficult it is to process powders with these coatings, it becomes immediately obvious that only a highly disciplined state-sponsored program could have achieved this." 

Many reports in the media, including Washington Post reporter Marilyn Thompson’s book on the anthrax attacks, have claimed that the Ames strain of anthrax used in the attacks was a U.S. "military strain" and was therefore probably made in the U.S. But experts say the Ames strain was provided to laboratories around the world. The expert told us that, "Far too much focus has been placed on the genetic and DNA analysis of the senate anthrax" which has identified it as the Ames strain. "The real key to finding out who did it is not the DNA analysis, but the analysis of the coatings that were used." He said David Kay should be looking for scientists in Iraq who have developed this technology. 

Cliff Kincaid is the Editor of the AIM Report and can be reached at aimeditor@yahoo.com

Labs handling toxins require greater scrutiny, experts agree 

Joseph Straw
New Haven Register, Washington Bureau 
01/05/2004

WASHINGTON — Around the nation, hundreds of laboratories handle the types of toxins —  anthrax, ricin, smallpox and plague — and scores of others that aspiring bioterrorists would love to possess. 

The war on terror brought security at such labs to the fore, and with passage in 2002 of a federal bioterrorism preparedness law, federal agencies set out to evaluate the labs and issue certifications to facilities they deem safe.

However, the process has raised questions about how many labs actually hold the "select" agents that most concern federal officials, and where.

Together, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention projected late last year that they would field a total of 2,470 applications from labs seeking security certification.

As of Dec. 31, they had received just over 500. The USDA anticipated 1,653 applications and has received 112.

USDA spokesman Claude Knighten said the disparity arises from the agency considering all labs that could conceivably harbor any of the 84 agents on the CDC’s list.

"When the Bioterrorism Act passed, we tried to cast a broad net. We just included every lab we thought could be using these toxins. That was the reason we estimated, and why the number was so large," Knighten said.

However, Asha George, managing director of the non-profit ANSER Institute for Homeland Security, said that scrutiny of all agricultural and public health labs nationwide is needed.

"The thing is I don’t think we know who’s got what anymore. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a lab, but they put the stuff on dry ice, and then it sits there for decades. They don’t keep as good track as they once did," said George, a specialist in the areas of public health and counterterrorism.

"It’s going to be time-intensive … but we need to check all of this out," George said. "They’re getting the scientific community to understand that just because they’re doing research doesn’t mean someone with evil intentions won’t come in and steal the stuff."

CDC spokesman Von Roebuck said his agency only plays an advisory role in facility security evaluations and background checks.  Officials with its parent agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, did not respond to inquiries, nor did the FBI or the Department of Homeland Security.

The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven, where research is conducted on Eastern Equine Encephalitis, one of the CDC’s select agents, has received federal certification, while the Plum Island Animal Disease Center, located in Long Island Sound 12 miles south of New London, has received provisional certification.

Provisional certifications "reflect security evaluations that are near completion," said USDA spokesman Ed Curlett.

North Carolina State Public Health Laboratory Director Lou Turner said that what substances laboratories have "is always a question."

"Many labs have added cardkey access; security cameras; armed guards, etc. Funding is an issue, but it is being addressed regardless," Turner said.

While federal funding is en route to states and laboratories for defense against theft and use of biological agents, money to prevent and prepare for chemical attacks is lacking, said Jody DeVoll, a spokeswoman for the Association of Public Health Laboratories, which represents 460 labs and individuals around the country.

"There’s a significant gap in our preparedness for chemical terrorism as opposed to biological terrorism," DeVoll said.

While federal officials answer inquires about specific facilities, they declined to release a list of the facilities that applied for certification.

Research at Plum Island focuses on foreign livestock diseases, including foot-and-mouth disease and African swine fever, both among the CDC’s select agents.

Plum Island, operated by the USDA but now under the authority of the Department of Homeland Security, was the subject of a critical report issued in September by the U.S. General Accounting Office, Congress’ independent, non-partisan investigative agency.

The GAO found that security improved at Plum Island since 9/11, but remained insufficient, leaving the site vulnerable to attack or theft of pathogens. 

The report stated that administrators had not assessed threats or developed a plan of response to a terror attack, and that the island’s armed guards do not have statutory authority to carry guns and make arrests.

The FBI had completed more than half of the 9,000 planned background checks on workers employed at sensitive labs by late last year.

Joseph Straw can be reached at jstraw@nhregister.com or at (202) 737-5654.

Anthrax building getting tenant, cleanup

By John Murawski, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 13, 2004

BOCA RATON -- The real-estate investor who bought the vacant, anthrax-laced building here at a fire sale price of $40,000 is set to announce that a corporate tenant has agreed to occupy office space at the infamous site of the nation's first bioterrorism strike.

David Rustine of Crown Cos. in Boca Raton also will reveal today the method and schedule for decontaminating the quarantined three-story office in the Arvida Park of Commerce. 

The developments give new life to a building many believed was uninhabitable because of stigma and insurance liability. 

"Any time you bring a major company into Palm Beach County that didn't have a presence before it's a positive move for the community," said John Taylor, vice-president of Consultants in Disease and Injury Control, the Atlanta concern overseeing the cleanup project. "We had meetings with the prospective tenant and explained the (decontamination) process to them."

The announcements come nine months after Rustine bought the building from American Media Inc., the supermarket tabloid publishing empire. AMI vacated the building on Oct. 8, 2001, three days after Bob Stevens, a part-time photo editor for the Sun died from a case of inhalation anthrax. 

Mail room worker Ernesto Blanco became gravely ill with inhalation anthrax but eventually recovered and returned to work.

Rustine would not comment Monday. Rustine had said from the outset that he would salvage the building and instill confidence in its safety by making his company its first tenant.

His biotechnology contractors have spent months reviewing plans and perfecting a strategy for the nation's largest anthrax cleanup after local officials had lobbied for a federal bailout. 

"Number one, if we just moved with this plan for cleanup, we'd be making a step in the right direction," said Mike Arts, president of the Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce. 

Boca Raton Mayor Steven Abrams concurred: "It's a positive announcement for the long-awaited cleanup of the AMI building. It's a potential safety hazard and it's off the tax rolls. The city has been seeking to correct that for 2 1/2 years."

In July, Rustine's team filed preliminary plans to enter the building and survey its contents. The team planned to pull out computer hard drives and soak them in bleach and vinegar. 

That meant the destruction of all intellectual property as well as personnel records, business plans, buyout offers, libel claims and the vast network of paid informants for The National Enquirer, National Examiner, Globe, Sun and Weekly World News.

Trapped inside is AMI's photo library with 5 million images, 4.5 million pages of press clippings and about 600,000 pages of bound periodicals dating back three decades. 

Among the likely casualties if the building is gutted: a $50,000 cash fund for emergency travel and for easing the consciences of reluctant informants. That money was left in the building when the office was abruptly sealed off and abandoned in 2001.

The Miami Herald
Posted on Tue, Jan. 13, 2004

New Giuliani company will occupy former anthrax building

JILL BARTON
Associated Press

BOCA RATON, Fla. - Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's consulting firm and the company that decontaminated anthrax-infested buildings in Washington will team up to clean a similarly infected building here and use the space as their new headquarters.

Sabre Technical Services, which decontaminated two post offices and the Hart Senate Building after other anthrax attacks in 2001, will join Giuliani Partners to create Bio-ONE.

The new company will occupy the 65,000-square foot facility by early next year once the decontamination is complete.

"This is a building that was incapacitated by a person or persons who sent anthrax here," Giuliani said. "It will now be a building that's going to be at the cutting edge of making us safer, healthier and giving us a process to deal with possible further attacks by terrorists or perverse people."

The building was owned by American Media Inc., the publisher of The National Enquirer and its sister tabloids, when it became the site of the nation's first anthrax attack in October 2001. The facility has been quarantined since anthrax sickened and killed Sun photo editor Robert Stevens, the first of five Americans to die of anthrax from spore-tainted letters. No arrests have been made.

AMI sold the building last April for $40,000 to Crown Companies president David Rustine, ridding itself of the responsibility of 24-hour security and cleanup after federal efforts to take over the building and multimillion dollar decontamination stalled.

Bio-ONE plans to market its expertise in crisis management and response, along with the decontamination procedures it has developed.

The company will fumigate the building with chlorine dioxide, which kills anthrax spores and also is used to disinfect drinking water and treat fruits and vegetables, using a mobile generator developed by Sabre. The process will take only 24 hours but plans must first be approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

John Mason, Sabre president and CEO, said the generator could clean the water supplies for a city as large as Miami if it were infected in an emergency.

FBI investigators believe anthrax came into the building with a letter and spread when anthrax-laden papers passed through photocopy machines.

Investigators have entered the building hundreds of times and collected more than 5,000 hazardous samples, but the investigation has stalled and no suspects have been named.

Giuliani said company officials will cooperate with investigators, though the FBI has turned the building over to the new owner.

Cleanup costs have been estimated by lawmakers at $10 million to $100 million, which was the cost of clearing anthrax out the Brentwood Post Office in Washington. But Bio-ONE officials declined to say how much they think the decontamination would cost.

Giuliani said he will remain in New York at his Times Square headquarters of Giuliani Partners, but he will spend some time at his Bio-ONE offices, which will house about 100 employees.

He said the cleanup not only would help Boca Raton by removing a public nuisance, but also would help provide reassurance to a nation still shaken by the 2001 terrorist attacks.

"To have this building fully remediated, have it be perfectly safe, to actually be able to occupy it with Sabre as part of Bio-ONE is going to give me a feeling that we've come full circle, and that we can handle these things," Giuliani said. "Although terrorism has to be something we have to be very concerned about, it just means we have to learn more, we have to be more effective, we have to be brave and we have to move forward. And this will be a symbol of all that."

The Fort Detrick Standard
January 22, 2004 

Building 470 dismantling complete

The dismantling of Building 470 is complete. 

Workers completed the process in December by backfilling and cleaning up the work area, grading the alley on the east side of where the building once sat and rebuilding the walls of two buildings that were located just inches from where the seven-story building once sat. 

Building 470 was completed in 1953 at a cost of $1.3 million. As part of the nation's Cold War defense against the continuing threat of biological warfare, the building served as a pilot plant for production of bacteria with potential as weapons: Bacillus anthracis, the causative agent of anthrax; Francisella tularensis, the cause of tularemia, or rabbit fever; and Brucella suis, which causes brucellosis, sometimes called undulant fever. 

Most of the people who live in Frederick County have heard stories about Building 470. Dr. George Anderson of Southern Research Institute, an internationally recognized expert on Bacillus anthracis, exhaustively reviewed documents on 470 and interviewed many of the men, some still residing in Frederick, who once worked in the building. 

"We can put the most frightening of those urban legends to rest," Anderson said. He learned that no one working in Building 470 died of anthrax, although three workers elsewhere on Fort Detrick died of infection from agents that were being researched as biological weapons. The records show that two men working in other buildings died of inhalation anthrax, and one died of Bolivian hemorrhagic fever. 

Many heard of a large spill in Building 470. In 1958, a technician, trying to pry open a stuck valve at the bottom of a 3,000-gallon fermentor, unintentionally released approximately 2,000 gallons of liquid Bacillus anthracis culture. Because of the design of the building and the safety measures in place, the technician was able to isolate the spill to one room. There was no contamination of Fort Detrick or the community, and no one, including the technician, became ill. The outcome of the story is testament to the effective biological safety practices that were pioneered during those early days at Fort Detrick. 

When the United States renounced biological weapons in 1969, many buildings (but not Building 470) that had been dedicated to biological warfare research were deeded to the National Cancer Institute, decontaminated and renovated for cancer research. The institute also received about 70 acres on Fort Detrick to serve as a campus for the National Cancer Institute. 

Building 470 was vacated and decontaminated and was used as a storage facility since 1971. 

"The Army took 1,300 samples during the decommissioning of the building [1970-71] and all those samples were negative [for any evidence of Bacillus anthracis]," said Carol Shearer, project manager for the dismantling. "There were two rounds of gas decontamination using formaldehyde, and the closed systems [e.g., fermentors] were all steam-sterilized. Drains and other piping systems that they could not reach with steam were cut and then bleach was pumped up into them, and the bleach was then left to sit [in the pipes] to get anything that was in there. This was a very, very extensive decontamination." 

In 1988, the National Cancer Institute acquired Building 470 and hoped it could be converted to research laboratories. After feasibility studies were completed, the consensus was that the building's design was outdated and modernizing it would not be cost-effective. The building stayed vacant and continued to be used as a storage facility. 

Over time, the building deteriorated and became a safety hazard because of the structural instability of the masonry and the structural steel framework. National Cancer Institute officials decided the building should come down. 

The success of the earlier decontamination was re-verified in October of 2002. Tests on an additional 790 samples revealed no trace of live or dead Bacillus anthracis. The samples were analyzed by either conventional culture methods or by polymerase chain reaction, a more sensitive test involving DNA. 

"What all this means for our task at hand is that we have a building that is safe to take down," said Shearer, an expert in dismantling former bioweapons facilities in the former Soviet Union. "Our main concern, then, is not anthrax, but noise and vibration - and most importantly the disruption of science in the adjoining and adjacent buildings." 

Throughout the process, safety inspectors monitored the site. In an update briefing in mid-October, Shearer said that about 2,250 samples had been taken and tested for Bacillus anthracis. 

"We've run out of places to test," she said. "Now we're doing air samples." 

Controlled Demolition, Inc., the firm chosen for the dismantling work was sensitive to the needs of NCI-Frederick and Fort Detrick, working inside the building as much as possible and at night and weekends when noise would be less likely to disturb the work being performed here. 

The last phase of the project involved removing the remaining parts of Building 470 brick by brick because it was so close to Buildings 431 and 469. Walls of the latter buildings were studded out and waterproofed because they lay only inches from Bldg. 470. 

Calculations in November indicated that more than 900,000 pounds of debris had been removed from the site and 535,000 pounds of equipment and metal were removed for smelting. Most of the rubble was sent to the Frederick landfill, while the metal went to Conservit in Hagerstown and then shipped to North Carolina for smelting. 

 --Information taken from the National Cancer Institute-Frederick Web site and November newsletter, The Poster 

Tue, January 27, 2004 

Anthrax kills nine cows in western Saskatchewan, farm quarantined

NEILBURG, Sask. (CP) - A farm in western Saskatchewan has been quarantined after anthrax was discovered in a cattle herd. 

Nine cows have died from the disease, said Dr. Jim McLane, district veterinarian with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. The remaining animals in the 250-head herd will be vaccinated once the weather warms up. In rare cases anthrax can be spread to humans, so the family that lives on the farm and the veterinarian who performed the autopsies on the dead animals have been given antibiotics, McLane said. 

"I would like to stress that this is an isolated, individual farm problem and it's not an industry problem," he said. 

"We've taken the proper regulatory actions to prevent animals from leaving the farm." 

Anthrax is a fatal bacterial disease in sheep and cattle. In the rare cases it is transferred to humans, it usually affects the skin and lungs. 

People can get the disease by inhaling anthrax spores, but that requires close contact. 

Saskatchewan isn't the only Prairie province that has found anthrax in cattle. Manitoba has seen three outbreaks in cows over the last four years. The last case was in August when eight animals died. 

In 2000, a Minnesota farm family became ill from eating their own anthrax-infected cattle. 

Anthrax is also found from time to time in bison from Wood Buffalo National Park that straddles the Alberta-Northwest Territories boundary. 

Neilburg is about 230 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon.

Boca company claims cleanup of anthrax-infected building a patent violation

By Kathy Bushouse
The Sun-Sentinel
January 30, 2004

A Boca Raton company is claiming the planned cleanup at the former American Media Inc. building is a violation of a patent it received for an anthrax decontamination product. 

Custom Biologicals Inc. of Boca Raton sent a cease-and-desist letter Wednesday to Sabre Technical Services and Giuliani Partners -- the partners of new venture Bio-ONE that announced plans this month to clean up and occupy the former tabloid headquarters. 

Custom Biologicals is asking that Bio-ONE delay using any cleanup process that is part of Custom Biologicals' patent. 

At issue is Sabre's plan to use heat and humidity to get the anthrax spores' protective coats to soften, allowing bacteria-killing chlorine gas to penetrate. The first claim listed in Custom Biologicals' patent, issued Dec. 2, is that bacteria spores are first rendered harmless by "providing sublethal heat and/or adding a chemical activating agent." 

"If they manipulate the environment to open that spore up, then it violates our patent," said Chuck Baugh, Custom Biologicals vice president. "We have to stand and protect our patent. We have a lot at stake here." 

Sabre president John Mason said his company is planning nothing different at the building on Broken Sound Boulevard in Boca Raton than what was done at other decontamination sites. Sabre's first anthrax cleanup was at the Hart Senate office building in Washington, D.C., in November 2001. That was two months before Custom Biologicals submitted its patent application. 

Mason said there's no correlation between what's in the patent and Sabre's process. 

"To be an issue, we'd have to see that the technology we used really relates to their patent," Mason said. "At this point, we don't see that." 

Baugh said Sabre's prior cleanups don't violate the patent, because there wasn't a patent in existence then. But its future plans at the AMI building could be a violation, he said. 

Though no plans have been submitted at this point, Baugh said decontamination details outlined to the media are similar to what is contained in Custom Biologicals' patent. Its invention, Cleanthrax, is an anthrax-killing additive that also boosts the effectiveness of typical household disinfectants, Baugh said. 

For now, Baugh said, the company simply wants to talk with Sabre officials and see if they can reach an agreement. No lawsuit has been filed. 

Custom Biologicals hopes to license its technology and views Sabre as a potential customer, Baugh said. 

"The best-case scenario, now people know what our patent is," he said. 

Patent attorneys say if Custom Biologicals takes legal action, and if Sabre has clear and convincing evidence that Custom Biologicals' process isn't unique -- the patent could be jeopardized. Richard Byrne, a patent attorney in Pittsburgh, said that Sabre attorneys could argue in court that Custom Biologicals shouldn't have gotten a patent because such processes already existed. 

"The burden of establishing infringement is on the patent owner," he said. 

But if the company doesn't assert its patent, that could stir up competitors, said Dan Monaco, a patent attorney in Philadelphia. 

"Nobody's going to take your patent away from you if you do nothing with it, but if you don't enforce your patent, other people may get the idea to get into the business and compete with you," he said. 

Jeff Kempter, senior adviser for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency anti-microbials division, said the patent dispute isn't the agency's concern. 

Sabre has yet to submit detailed cleanup plans to the EPA, Kempter said. He said the general process outlined so far already has been used at three other sites: the Hart building and at postal facilities in Washington, D.C. and Trenton, N.J. 

Staff Writer Neil Santaniello contributed to this report. 

Kathy Bushouse can be reached at kbushouse@sun-sentinel.com or 561-243-6641.

Feds seek delay in anthrax lawsuit

By Alan Gomez, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 31, 2004

WEST PALM BEACH -- Federal attorneys are citing national security concerns in asking a Palm Beach County judge to delay a lawsuit filed by the widow of the nation's first anthrax victim, saying it could undermine one of the "largest and most complex investigations in law enforcement history."

In motions filed this week in federal court, lawyers for the government said, "... a stay of this civil suit is necessary to avoid compromising the United States' active investigation of the anthrax attacks of fall 2001 and to avoid public disclosure of sensitive information concerning biological weapons such as anthrax."

Unable to reach a resolution with the plaintiffs, federal attorneys are facing a March deadline to respond to the lawsuit filed by Maureen Stevens, whose husband, Bob, died after being exposed to anthrax while working as a photo editor at American Media Inc. headquarters in Boca Raton.

Wednesday's request to Federal Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley was for a six-month delay, and then for an opportunity to review whether another delay is necessary.

Maureen Stevens filed the lawsuit in September, seeking $50 million in damages for herself and her three children.

Her attorney argued in the suit that U.S. officials failed to secure a Maryland laboratory where the deadly bacterium was stored. The suit bases its claims on a memorandum that names the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Md., as the source of the Ames anthrax strain that Stevens believes infected her husband.

The Stevenses' attorney, Richard Schuler, said at the time that the family was frustrated over the government's stonewalling tactics, taking months to turn over an autopsy report, denying them access to DNA tests and even denying them money from the Sept. 11 Victims Compensation Fund.

In the government motion and a 114-page memorandum supporting their request, federal attorneys said Stevens' hope for a speedy investigation would undercut what has become a monumental investigation into a series of crimes that crippled the country.

Shortly after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the country was sent into another panic as anthrax-laden letters and numerous hoax letters appeared across the nation, including media outlets in New York and Boca Raton and congressional buildings in Washington. Twenty-two people were infected with anthrax, five people died and 30,000 were treated with antibiotics to protect against anthrax infection.

In an affidavit attached to the motion, Richard Lambert, the FBI's inspector in charge of the FBI/U.S. Postal Service investigation known as "AMERITHRAX," explained the breadth of the ensuing investigation.

Federal agents have responded by putting in 251,000 agent-hours -- the equivalent of 97 work years -- interviewing more than 5,000 people and serving more than 4,000 subpoenas, Lambert said. The affidavit says the investigation has yielded "subjects of the investigation" and says that a "specific forensic signature is continuing to emerge which characterizes the anthrax used in the attacks."

Opening the files in the Stevens case, federal attorneys argued, would only hinder that investigation and possibly keep law enforcement from catching the responsible parties.

"Plaintiff's frustration that the murder of her husband remains unsolved and her desire to help the United States' investigation to succeed are understandable," the motion reads. "Unfortunately, however, the means that plaintiff seeks to employ -- stripping the investigation of its secrecy and conducting her own parallel investigation via this civil suit -- would be extremely harmful rather than helpful. Litigation of this suit also would pose a significant risk of disclosing classified or sensitive information relating to the acquisition, development, and use of weapons of mass destruction such as anthrax, a risk that independently justifies a stay."

Federal attorneys also included a March 2002 memorandum from White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card to all executive departments and agencies calling on them to review their records to ensure sensitive information is being safeguarded.

No hearing has been scheduled for the government's request.

alan_gomez@pbpost.com

Posted on Sat, Jan. 31, 2004

WEST PALM BEACH
U.S. asks to defer anthrax lawsuit

National security concerns are cited as the government asks a federal court to postpone a lawsuit from the widow of a tabloid editor who died in the first of a series of anthrax attacks in 2001.

BY JILL BARTON
Associated Press

WEST PALM BEACH - The federal government is citing national security concerns in asking a federal court to delay a lawsuit from the widow of a man killed in the nation's first anthrax attack.

The government asked the court to put off the proceedings 'to avoid compromising the United States' active investigation of the anthrax attacks of fall 2001 and to avoid public disclosure of sensitive information concerning biological weapons such as anthrax.''

In their motion filed Wednesday, attorneys for the federal government said they were unable to resolve their concerns with Maureen Stevens, who sued the federal government in September, alleging that lax security at an Army lab caused her husband's death.

Robert Stevens, an editor for The Sun tabloid, is believed to have contracted anthrax from a tainted letter sent to the Boca Raton headquarters of American Media Inc. He died October 5, 2001, from inhalation anthrax, a rare and particularly lethal form of the disease.

Anthrax was also sent through the mail to media outlets in New York and a congressional building in Washington, killing four others and sickening more than a dozen people.

Maureen Stevens is seeking more than $50 million in what is believed to be the first lawsuit aiming to hold the federal government accountable for producing and mishandling the deadly strain of anthrax that the lawsuit says killed her husband.

Her attorney, Richard Schuler, was not available for comment late Friday.

Schuler has said that he believed DNA tests on the anthrax found at Stevens' office would prove it was an exact match to the anthrax produced at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Md.

The lab develops vaccines and drugs to protect service members from biological warfare agents and has become a focus of the investigation because it is the U.S. military's main anthrax research center.

Schuler has been denied access to the DNA tests.

Stevens sued the government because she wanted to force authorities to take action on their languishing investigation and provide answers to the victims' families.

Judge will weigh Feds' plea for delay in lawsuit over anthrax death

By Kathy Bushouse
Staff Writer - The South Florida Sun-Sentinel

February 3, 2004

A federal judge will decide whether national security concerns trump a Lantana widow's lawsuit against the U.S. government for more information about the 2001 anthrax attack that killed her husband.

But it's doubtful that national security claims alone will quash Maureen Stevens' wrongful-death case, legal experts said Monday.

U.S. District Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley will determine whether to grant Justice Department attorneys' request for a six-month delay in Stevens' wrongful death case. Government attorneys filed a motion last week that contends sensitive information and intelligence about the ongoing anthrax investigation and the nation's military could get out through Stevens' case.

The decision could hinge on how much detail Justice Department attorneys are willing to give about the government's anthrax investigation, said Bruce Rogow, a constitutional-law professor at Nova Southeastern University.

"Before making a decision I think [a judge would] need to have more than just the government's statement of its belief that this will impede an investigation," Rogow said.

The national-security issue is the same argument used by Justice Department attorneys in a lawsuit brought by Dr. Steven Hatfill, a scientist considered a "person of interest" in the government's 21/2-year anthrax investigation.

A hearing on the government's motion is scheduled for Friday in Hatfill's case. Stevens' attorney, Richard Schuler, said he would respond this week to the government's request.

The defendants can request as many postponements as they want, so long as the judge agrees.

Bob Stevens, a photo editor for tabloid publisher American Media Inc., died Oct. 5, 2001, from inhalation anthrax. His was the first death in a wave of bioterrorism attacks that killed five people. A cleanup plan at AMI's former offices in Boca Raton is pending.

Stevens' family filed a $50 million wrongful-death claim in February 2003 against the government, and later that year filed the federal lawsuit. Stevens also has a wrongful-death case pending in Palm Beach County Circuit Court against two companies with access to the anthrax bacteria.

Federal attorneys wrote that in both Stevens' case and Hatfill's cases, private details becoming public would have a chilling effect on the FBI's investigation: Possible suspects could destroy information, witnesses could be harassed, and others, fearing intense media scrutiny, would be less willing to cooperate if they had information to share.

Terrorists also could gain information about military installations and make potential targets of those locations, wrote FBI Special Agent Richard L. Lambert, chief of the joint FBI-U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigation dubbed "AMERITHRAX."

"All of the foregoing outcomes will seriously and adversely affect the FBI's ability to effectively and efficiently conduct the AMERITHRAX investigation," Lambert wrote. "It is not possible to proceed ... without divulging sensitive information that will compromise and frustrate the AMERITHRAX investigation."

Lambert wrote that there are 28 FBI special agents and 12 U.S. Postal inspectors working full-time on the anthrax investigation. The group has conducted 15 searches, interviewed more than 5,000 people and served more than 4,000 subpoenas, he wrote.

Justice Department attorneys claim in the motion that FBI agents have spent 251,000 man-hours investigating the attacks.

Schuler said it isn't Stevens' intent to interfere with the investigation, but called the request "a stalling game."

"The investigation is 21/2years old. They haven't made one arrest," Schuler said. "... We certainly don't want to interfere with the investigation but on the other hand, the investigation doesn't seem to be going anywhere."

Before filing the lawsuit, Schuler said he filed numerous Freedom of Information Act requests with the government, and received no responses. His hope is that he'll get more information about the investigation through subpoenas.

However, the government could request protective orders that could keep a person from giving a deposition, or that deposition could be limited, Rogow said.

Attorneys for the government could update the judge on their progress without revealing anything to Stevens and her attorney by giving Hurley -- a President Clinton appointee -- some details in private, Rogow said.

If the information is particularly sensitive, it can be sealed from public view, Rogow said.

"Without a little more information, the judge is put in a blind bind," he said.

If federal attorneys are able to put forth a good argument, Hurley could approve a six-month delay, said Joe Little, a law professor at the University of Florida.

"It's my guess that the judge will give the government a good bit of leeway on the matter, especially since it is an ongoing investigation," Little said.

He doubted the case would be delayed for too long.

"Ultimately, I think the court will try to find a way to get the case moving," Little said. "It might require some compromise and limiting of things that the plaintiff is able to discover, for example."

Kathy Bushouse can be reached at kbushouse@sun-sentinel.com or 561-243-6641.

Company about to start anthrax office cleanup

By Neil Santaniello
Staff Writer
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

February 14, 2004

BOCA RATON · The company decontaminating the former American Media Inc. building could begin preliminary anthrax-cleanup steps this weekend if it receives a go-ahead from county public-health officials. 

Operating from the parking lot of the three-story former tabloid news building, Bio-ONE on Friday was waiting for final approval of four one-page work plans, plus a more elaborate document detailing how it will safeguard cleanup workers entering the anthrax-tainted structure. 

"They're moving quick, that's for sure," said Tim O'Connor, county Health Department spokesman. He said the company had proposed starting initial work Friday, a mark it couldn't hit. 

The plans transmitted electronically to health authorities Thursday outlined janitorial and reconnaissance work preceding the main cleanup operation -- fumigating the building with chlorine dioxide gas.

Workers entering the 67,500-square-foot building on Northwest Broken Sound Boulevard will demagnetize and disable computer hard drives and soak them in a microbe-killing bleach solution. They'll use paper shredders to destroy files and documents that belonged to the publisher of the National Enquirer and Star, dampening them in bleach as well to avoid raising dust -- and any lurking anthrax spores. 

After trashing electronic and paper files, crews will seal them in plastic bags with duct tape and keep them on-site until a disposal solution is finalized, company officials said. 

AMI did not ask the company to spare photos, records or anything else, said Douglas Stutz, incident commander for Sabre Technical Services, which created Bio-ONE with a security consulting firm formed by former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. 

"It's a combination of both cleanup and what AMI wants done" with its old property, said Karen Cavanagh, Sabre general counsel. 

Workers will photograph the building interior, fixtures and furnishings with disposable cameras. That will help them become more familiar with the building layout and map out a careful anthrax-nullification plan, Stutz said.

"It's a very simple work plan. It's very simple work to start with," said Stutz, who holds a doctorate in veterinary medical science and oversaw Sabre's anthrax cleanup efforts on Capitol Hill.

While some of the AMI interior work could be done within a few days, Bio-ONE has not specified when it will move to the investigative phase, gathering anthrax samples by wiping surfaces and vacuuming in the air. 

That effort will help determine the extent and location of remaining anthrax. The cleanup team already is armed with information on that from a prior entry by federal regulators, said Stutz, who works from an RV parked on the site. 

The earlier information shows "a fair amount of positive hits, scattered, but primarily on the first floor," he said. "I can't vouch for its accuracy at this point. In nature, [the spores] survive a long time." 

The company, using 15 to 20 workers initially, could not go in Friday because of minor questions that state and federal health officials had on its work and safety plans, feedback that had to be delivered to Bio-ONE, O'Connor said. But "if everything falls in line" they could get start-up approval this weekend, he said. 

O'Connor said the county won't sign off alone on the entry plan until it receives nods from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and federal public health authorities. A county public health official likely will be posted at the site during the operation, he said. 

Neil Santaniello can be reached at nsantaniello@sun-sentinel.com or 561-243-6625.

Posted on Sun, Feb. 15, 2004

Anthrax cleanup starts at former site of American Media

Associated Press
 

BOCA RATON, Fla. - The cleanup has begun at the former American Media Inc. building, the first target in the 2001 anthrax attacks that killed five people.

Crews from Bio-ONE Solutions LLC spent Saturday setting up decontamination areas in the basement of the tabloid publisher's former headquarters and preparing for more-involved scouting trips on other floors Sunday and throughout the week.

More than a dozen people made trips in and out of the building during the preliminary survey, spending about an hour each inside then coming out for decontamination and checks of their vital signs, said Sandra Schuh, a director with Sabre Technical Services LLC.

Sabre is half of Bio-ONE, a new decontamination company created with former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's security consulting firm. Bio-ONE will make its headquarters at the building once the cleanup is complete later this year.

Once the setup work is complete, teams will focus on shredding documents and destroying files and computer hard drives. They will also take pictures of equipment, furniture and other fixtures left behind inside the building when American Media workers had to evacuate in October 2001.

The building was the home of the National Enquirer, Star and Weekly World News tabloids, but American Media sold it last year.

The facility has been quarantined since anthrax sickened and killed Sun photo editor Robert Stevens, the first of five Americans to die of anthrax from spore-tainted letters. No arrests have been made.

Other buildings that were contaminated with anthrax, including the Hart Senate office building and the Brentwood postal center in Washington, D.C., have been cleaned and reopened. Sabre handled cleanups at those buildings, as well as at a contaminated center in New Jersey.

                   ---

Information from: South Florida Sun-Sentinel, http://www.sun-sentinel.com

FBI questions scientist about anonymous letter from anthrax scare

NewsDay
February 17, 2004, 7:07 AM EST

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ FBI agents investigating the 2001 anthrax scare recently interviewed a scientist from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in connection with the deadly mail attacks, according to a document obtained by The Hartford Courant. 

Investigators wanted to know whether the scientist, whom the newspaper did not name, was responsible for an anonymous letter mailed to the FBI during the anthrax scare that suggested another EPA scientist was a potential terrorist. 

Federal agents summoned the scientist to their Washington field office last week. The scientist told federal investigators Wednesday that he had nothing to do with the letter, but the document indicated that he might be subjected to a lie-detector test. 

Anthrax-laced envelopes were mailed in the fall of 2001 to government and news media offices, including those of then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. Five people died and 17 others were sickened in those attacks. 

The anonymous letter was sent Sept. 26, 2001 from a northern Virginia mailbox. It accused Egyptian-born scientist Ayaad Assaad of being a "religious fanatic" with the "means and will" to launch a bioterrorist attack against the United States. 

Federal investigators have always said the letter had no bearing on their hunt for the anthrax killer. 

FBI Director Robert Mueller is briefed each week on the progress of the investigation, dubbed "Amerithrax" by the bureau. The FBI considers the case one of the most complex in its 95-year history. 

Assaad's lawyer, Rosemary McDermott, said that Assaad has not been questioned by the FBI since Oct. 3, 2001, when he was shown the letter naming him as a terrorist threat. McDermott said her client was cleared of any suspicion at the end of that interview. 

Assaad is convinced that anonymous writer is connected to the person who mailed the anthrax letters, and that the warning was intended set him up as a scapegoat. 

It is unclear whether last week's interview of Assaad's colleague is simply a search for fresh leads in the case or whether the FBI has been quietly hunting for the source of the anonymous letter for years. 

FBI spokeswoman Debbie Weierman would not comment on an ongoing investigation.

FBI hits wall in anthrax investigation

Suspect profile is only clue agency has after 2 years

By Frank James
Washington bureau

March 2, 2004

WASHINGTON -- The FBI's profile of the mastermind behind the anthrax attacks envisions an unsociable suspect who holds grudges and seeks revenge long-distance but lacks the personal skills for face-to-face confrontations.

Yet after expending millions of dollars and thousands of hours searching for him, authorities appear no closer to finding the criminal who sent anthrax through the mail shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Moreover, if the investigation into the 2001 anthrax mailings is an indication, the search for suspects in recent mailings of deadly ricin to the White House and Senate could be long and frustrating.

In the 28 months since the letters containing anthrax were discovered on Capitol Hill and elsewhere, hundreds of FBI agents have worked on the case. Hundreds of present and former government workers have taken lie-detector tests. Investigators have spent millions of dollars, including $250,000 to drain a pond in rural Maryland, in search of evidence.

Still, the FBI has not found whoever mailed the anthrax that killed five people and sickened at least 17 others.

"The investigation remains intensely active," said Debbie Weierman, an FBI spokeswoman who offers a list of numbers to prove her point: 28 FBI agents and 12 U.S. postal inspectors assigned to the case; 15 searches conducted; more than 5,000 people interviewed; and more than 4,000 subpoenas served.

Still, experts say the FBI has hit a wall in its investigation. That is all the more unsettling given the crime's proximity to the Sept. 11 hijackings, though no known link has pointed to the involvement of Al Qaeda.

Focus of inquiry questioned

Leonard Cole, author of "The Anthrax Letters: A Medical Detective Story," is loath to fault the FBI because of factors beyond the agency's control, including the lax regulations on laboratories handling anthrax until the 1990s.

But he questions the bureau's focus on a lone, domestic perpetrator as the villain.

"By focusing on the likely perpetrator in the manner that the FBI has done, [it] may have allowed other areas to be less carefully examined that deserve more scrutiny," Cole said.

The FBI has focused on a former Army bioweapons researcher, Steven Hatfill, 50, as a "person of interest" in the case.

Authorities have placed Hatfill under 24-hour surveillance. Agents searched his current and past homes. The pond agents drained was targeted because Hatfill had reportedly visited that area. Hatfill's foot even was run over by a vehicle driven by an FBI agent watching him in Washington's Georgetown neighborhood.

Weierman would not say whether the former researcher is still being watched, and Hatfill's lawyer did not return a call seeking comment.

Hatfill, who has never been charged with a crime, has denied involvement with the anthrax incidents. His lawyer previously said the FBI targeted Hatfill because it was growing desperate.

Other high-profile federal cases also have taken years to solve.

In the 1980s, seven people in the Chicago area died after ingesting cyanide-laced pain relievers purchased off store shelves. The case, known as the Tylenol murders, remains unsolved after nearly 22 years.

In the Unabomber case in which 23 people were injured and three others killed, it took the FBI nearly 18 years to capture Theodore Kaczynski. The big break in finding the bomber--now age 61 and sentenced to life in prison--came only after his brother provided law-enforcement officials with the crucial tip.

During the wave of anthrax attacks, the bureau had said the perpetrator was likely a poorly socialized adult male like Kaczynski, who was found in 1996 living at a remote cabin in Montana.

Cole thinks the FBI investigation of the anthrax mailings may have been overly influenced by the Kaczynski case at the expense of other possible angles.

The psychological profile of a likely suspect found on the FBI's Web site seeking tips in the anthrax case says the perpetrator could be "a non-confrontational person." It also makes these points: "He lacks the personal skills necessary to confront others.  He chooses to confront his problems `long distance' and not face-to-face. He may hold grudges for a long time, vowing that he will get even with `them' one day.

"There are probably other, earlier examples of this type of behavior," the FBI profile continues. "While these earlier incidents were not actual anthrax mailings, he may have chosen to anonymously harass other individuals or entities that he perceived as having wronged him. He may also have chosen to utilize the mail on those occasions."

Possible Al Qaeda tie-in

Cole is intrigued by circumstances of the anthrax attacks that could point to a Sept. 11 connection. For instance, several of the Al Qaeda hijackers were known to have lived in New Jersey, where the anthrax mailings were postmarked.

The first building contaminated in the 2001 anthrax attacks was the American Media Inc. building in Boca Raton, Fla., where a photo editor died after inhaling spores.

Two of the Sept. 11 hijackers had searched for an apartment through a real-estate agent whose husband was a top American Media executive. What's more, one of the hijackers subscribed to at least one of the supermarket tabloids published by company, Cole said.

Cole has also noted that six of 19 hijackers lived near the American Media building.

Also, a South Florida emergency-room physician recalled seeing a patient, thought to have been one of the hijackers, who had a black skin lesion on his leg consistent with cutaneous anthrax.

Thomas Inglesby and Tara O'Toole, two biodefense experts affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh, reviewed the physician's observations and concluded what he saw could have been caused by cutaneous anthrax, though others have questioned that conclusion.

Last year, Hatfill sued the Justice Department; the lawsuit is pending.

As the ricin incident in early February shows, even a prepared workplace like Capitol Hill is still vulnerable to a potential bioterrorist attack.

MRI scientist talks terrorism

American City Business Journals (http://kansascity.bizjournals.com)
Date: 2004-03-02

Mark Kind
Staff Writer

More than a decade before the 2001 anthrax attacks on Senate Democrats and TV news celebrities, the current chief biological scientist at Kansas City's Midwest Research Institute was killing guinea pigs at an Army research lab with the same strain of anthrax.

"We did a number of experiments with it with guinea pigs," David Franz told a seminar audience March 1 at MRI as part of the nonprofit private research organization's 60-year anniversary commemorative lecture series. "It happened to be the hardest strain to protect against in guinea pigs."

The former United Nations weapons inspector said "the public doesn't know" who weaponized the Senate anthrax in 2001, but it was "very high-quality material" consisting of more than a trillion spores a gram, which was better than billion-spore material at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.

The Ames strain had come to USAMRIID in 1983, and by 1987 it presumably had been distributed to other research labs, Franz said. Five more labs in the United States and Great Britain received the material from USAMRIID after 1987, when Franz held leadership positions at the lab. That makes it hard to pin blame on anyone for the strain's escape from government research to terrorist use.

"We know what strain it was, and yet how many post-docs have gone through all those labs?" he said. "It becomes a matter of intent and trusting people. The forensics is very difficult, as we know."

Although the anthrax-laced letters described themselves as an escalation of the terror attacks that brought down the World Trade Center towers and a wing of the Pentagon, the FBI reportedly identified a former U.S. Army colleague of Franz's as a "person of interest" in the anthrax attacks about a year later, in August 2002.

Although the anthrax killed five people, no charges have been filed. Targets of the attack in the Senate and among newscasters escaped harm, but a tabloid photo editor in Florida was among the dead. Other victims apparently became infected after the pathogen contaminated other mail at postal facilities.

The attacks were carried out "very simply and almost eloquently," Franz said, and resulted in President Bush proposing .8 billion for bioterrorism research the following year.

"The increase has never been that steep," he said. "It was quite a plus-up."

The scare resulted in renewed vigilance and research into bioweapons defense, he said.

"So some good will come out of this, whether or not we have a bioterrorism event," Franz said.

Franz is a native of rural Buhler, Kan., and a graduate of Kansas State University's veterinary school. He became head of MRI's biological research in November but works on MRI's biosecurity and biodefense projects from an office in Frederick, Md. He worked at USAMRIID from 1987 to 1998.

He also became the first director of the National Agricultural Biosecurity Center at K-State in November. He said that job has given him new insight into the ease of attacking agriculture with an agent that could discredit the quality of U.S. products worldwide and decimate the agricultural economy.

"I'm amazed, in a way, that biological agents haven't been used, especially in the agricultural area," he said.

REACH MARK KIND at 816-421-5900 or mkind@bizjournals.com.

FBI at crucial stage in finding source of anthrax attack

By Peter Franceschina
Staff Writer

March 11, 2004

The FBI is at a crucial stage in its investigation into the anthrax attacks that killed five people and poisoned 17 others, with investigators hoping that an emerging biological signature will identify the source of the anthrax in the next six months, a Justice Department attorney told a federal judge on Wednesday.

"The FBI is fully engaged in a very intensive investigation," said Justice Department attorney Jeffrey Bucholtz, referring to the attacks in the fall of 2001. "We all wish this investigation were simpler and resolved already."

Bucholtz told U.S. District Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley in West Palm Beach that he could not say that a suspect would be arrested in that time frame. The government is asking Hurley to put a wrongful-death lawsuit on hold for those six months in order not to interfere with the investigation.

The lawsuit was filed in December by Maureen Stevens, the widow of Boca Raton tabloid photo editor Bob Stevens, 63, who on Oct. 5, 2001, became the first person to die from the anthrax poisonings.

Maureen Stevens and her attorneys have said they want to use the lawsuit in part to find out what the government has done in the investigation. They allege the anthrax came from a government bio-weapons lab, likely the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Md.

West Palm Beach attorney Robert Schuler, who represents Maureen Stevens, said he hopes the FBI can progress to the point that a suspect is identified, but he said he doubts that will happen soon.

"We certainly want their investigation to succeed," he said after the hearing.

The largest biological attack in U.S. history took place in the weeks after the 9-11 terrorist attacks, when anthrax-laced letters were sent to news media offices in Boca Raton and New York City, and the Senate offices of Tom Daschle, D-S.D., and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

The FBI contends the lawsuit will encroach on national security issues and seriously jeopardize the investigation if details are made public. The Justice Department contacted Hurley before Wednesday's hearing in an effort to deliver a confidential briefing on the case, but Hurley said he didn't respond to the request.

Bucholtz said the FBI wants to apprise the judge ofdetails that the government doesn't want made public. Schuler did not object to that, and Hurley said he will issue a ruling after receiving the material.

One measure of the secrecy surrounding the investigation: The Justice Department will send the briefing by courier, and Hurley must return it to the courier after reviewing it.

In his questioning of Bucholtz about the lawsuit's potential ramifications on the investigation, Hurley appeared to suggest that some aspects of the case could go forward without hurting the investigation.

Schuler wants to question former Fort Detrick employees about security measures at the lab and reports that biological agents were lost or stolen, but Bucholtz said that could involve national security issues.

National security concerns would have to be addressed regardless of the status of the investigation, Hurley said. Earlier, Bucholtz told the judge that the government was "not ready to stipulate the source of the anthrax was Fort Detrick or anywhere else." He said the anthrax grown in the lab has been shipped to other sites over the years.

Although Schuler said neither he nor Stevens is conspiratorially minded, he noted that concerns about the direction and effectiveness of the FBI's investigation have been publicly raised by scientists and professors who have consulted on the case.

Despite Schuler's assertion, one of his recent court filings alluded to a British news account last year containing one of the more sensational claims made about the investigation.

"There is also the disturbing fact that British government sources have stated they had classified information indicating that American authorities had chosen to assassinate the anthrax attacker rather than bring him to trial," Schuler wrote.

The judge said he trusted that the FBI is doing the best it can. "It's hard to believe the government would be slack in the investigation, given the enormity of the threat," he said.

While courts have determined that civil suits can't be postponed indefinitely, Schuler said some cases can take years to be solved. He brought up the case of Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski, whose mail bombs continued for 17 years until his brother recognized the writings contained in Kaczynski's "manifesto."

"I was thinking about that as you were talking," the judge said.

The Justice Department also has tried to stall a lawsuit filed by former Fort Detrick bio-weapons expert Steven J. Hatfill, identified as a "person of interest" in the investigation by Attorney General John Ashcroft. Hatfill is suing the government to halt
his 24-hour surveillance and to clear his name. He has denied any involvement in the anthrax poisonings and contends government leaks have ruined his reputation.

Last month, the federal judge hearing Hatfill's suit, U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton, said Hatfill's attorneys could begin requesting information from the government. The judge came to that determination even after getting a confidential status report.

"The problem I'm having, to be very candid, is that I could see us here this time next year in the exact same posture that we're in now," Walton said.

Information from The Baltimore Sun was used in this report.

Peter Franceschina can be reached at pfranceschina@sun-sentinel.com or 561-832-2894. 

Outside View: FBI behind the anthrax curve

By Dr. Lawrence Sellin
A UPI Outside View commentary
Published 3/13/2004 2:39 PM

WASHINGTON, March 13 (UPI) -- On Feb. 23, the Washington Times reported the FBI official in charge of the probe into the 2001 anthrax mailings said the investigation still has top priority among the bureau's unsolved cases but acknowledged the anthrax sender may never be caught.

"Despite our very, very, very best efforts, we still might not be able to bring it home," said Assistant Director Michael A. Mason, who heads the FBI's Washington field office investigating the case.

This is in stark contrast to the Nov. 17, 2001 comments of James Fitzgerald of the FBI Academy's Behavioral Analysis Unit, reported by CNN: "I'm very positive that before too long we'll have some real good information, and the investigation will lead us to the person who is responsible for this."

What went wrong?

Perhaps it had more than a little to do with the FBI's basic assumption, which stated that they were dealing with a single suspect who fits a profile similar to serial bombers like "Unabomber" Theodore Kaczynski.

Fitzgerald said his analysis of the anthrax-laced letters sent to Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw and the New York Post suggested that the anthrax mailer acted alone and may have used as little as $2,500 worth of lab equipment to produce the anthrax. The FBI also believes this person is not connected to those behind the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

How one can reach such conclusions based on the meager and, to some extent, contradictory nature of the content of the anthrax letters is difficult to guess. Unless, of course, you believe it must be a Kaczynski-like individual.

From this false assumption all the "logic" of the subsequent investigation flows.

The FBI produced a profile of the anthrax mailer who was described as a lone person living within the United States who had experience working in labs and was smart enough to produce a highly refined and deadly product.

If employed, he is likely to be in a position requiring little contact with the public or other employees. He may work in a laboratory.  He is apparently comfortable working with an extremely hazardous material. He probably has a scientific background to some extent, or at least a strong interest in science.

He is a non-confrontational person, at least in his public life. He lacks the personal skills necessary to confront others. He chooses to confront his problems "long distance" and not face-to-face. He may hold grudges for a long time, vowing that he will get even with "them" one day and prefers being by himself more often than not.

In other words, Ted Kaczynski with germs.

This conclusion was presumably strengthened by the identification of the Ames strain of anthrax as the causative agent. The Ames strain came from an infected animal in Texas, cultured in Ames, Iowa, and found its way to the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Md., in about 1980. Therefore, the culprit had to be someone in the United States.

All this invariably led to Stephen Hatfill, who, we soon learned, had worked at Fort Detrick, had a shady past involving Rhodesia and South Africa, behaved suspiciously and had a questionable résumé. Lacking sufficient evidence to name Hatfill as a suspect, the FBI anointed him with the freshly minted label of "person of interest."

But Hatfill is no Kaczynski.

During the last two years he has been called a lot of things, but few would describe him as a "non-confrontational person" and, given his extensive activities in the bioterrorism arena, not exactly a person who "prefers being by himself more often than not." So much for the profile. In any case, the FBI has not compiled a case against Hatfill sufficient to arrest him.

The most concrete result of the FBI's efforts will likely be a lawsuit against the U.S. government.

The folks at the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington, D.C., might have done well to examine that elephant standing in the middle of their living room -- al-Qaida. Unfortunately, accepting this alternative renders the profile and their investment in it irrelevant.

We are aware of al-Qaida's continuing efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction. And the timing of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks and the anthrax letters is entirely consistent with a "second wave" theory. 

But what about those letters from which Fitzgerald at the FBI deduced so much? 

In one of the letters, the word "We" is used as in "We have this anthrax." The simplest explanation is a conspiracy, not a lone male. And the writing was certainly not done by a native English speaker. Sure, it could have been an "opportunist" as the FBI claims, covering his tracks by blaming it on some foreigners. But to what end? There has been no follow-up, no further demands.  The opportunist theory also assumes that an individual perpetrator would be extremely well-prepared for a Sept. 11-like event and would be able to execute a complex attack in the span of one week.

One popular theory suggests that it was a frustrated scientist trying to draw attention to the threat of bioterrorism or even profit from an increase in bioterrorism funding. That assumes quite a quantum leap in logic: to commit murder to achieve an altruistic goal or to commit murder and then depend on the vagaries of the grant funding process.

Yes, it's all a bit of a stretch, but it fits the profile.

Probably the most significant error the FBI committed was its cavalier dismissal of the cutaneous anthrax infection of Ahmed Al Haznawi, one of the hijackers on United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in rural Pennsylvania.

On June 25, 2001, Al Haznawi was treated for a dark lesion on his leg that he said he developed after bumping into a suitcase two months earlier. Dr. Christos Tsonas, an emergency room physician at Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., thought the injury was curious, but he cleaned it and prescribed an antibiotic for the infection.

In October 2001, after the first confirmed anthrax case, Tsonas was shown pictures of black anthrax lesions by experts at the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Strategies. It was concluded by these experts that for Al Haznawi's wound, anthrax was "the most probable and coherent interpretation of the data available."

Nevertheless, Assistant FBI Director John Collingwood played down the possible anthrax connection. "This was fully investigated and widely vetted among multiple agencies several months ago," he said in a written statement in March 2002. "Exhaustive testing did not support that anthrax was present anywhere the hijackers had been."

It is interesting to note that no anthrax was present anywhere Ottilie Lundgren of Oxford, Conn., and 61-year-old Kathy Nguyen of New York had been, both of whom died of inhalation anthrax.

Another clue related to the timeline of the anthrax attacks occurred in late August 2001. Gregg Chatterton, a pharmacist in Delray Beach, Fla., said he had told the FBI that two of the hijackers, Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi, came into the pharmacy looking for something to treat irritations on Atta's hands. According to Chatterton, both of Atta's hands were red from the wrists down including the palms. They weren't blistering -- they were simply red as if you had taken your hands and dunked them in a bucket of bleach or something. Marwan Al-Shehhi also needed something for "a cough."

This occurred immediately prior to the dates when all the hijackers bought their flight tickets, Aug. 24-31. The date of the attack was set for "9-11-01" as written in the anthrax letters. Was this the time the letters were prepared, and were Atta and his co-conspirators involved in their preparation and hand-off to the mailers?

Many people have been perplexed by the FBI's apparent focus on domestic terrorism, because the bulk of the evidence seems to point to a foreign connection. It is unlikely, however, that al-Qaida had the capability to produce such a high quality product. The FBI itself was unable to reproduce a similar product through back-engineering. Therefore, it had to come from another source.

The Ames anthrax used in the attack could have been pilfered from Fort Detrick, the British Biodefense Establishment at Porton Down or any one of about 20 other labs in possession of that particular strain. It is believed that the Soviet Union had the Ames strain, and Iraq and Russia continued to have high-level military meetings involving biological warfare at least into the mid-1990s. 

Other countries with presumably active biological warfare programs such as North Korea or Iran are potential sources, among others. Given the relatively small amounts involved, sale through black market intermediaries remains a possibility.

Detailed analysis of the anthrax in the letters indicated that it was about two years old at the time of the attack. Did Iraq have such a capability within two years of the attack, or was it processed elsewhere? It makes sense that Saddam Hussein, wanting both revenge and to operate clandestinely, would choose a strain of U.S. military origin. A finished product could have been transferred to Iraq and passed to Mohammed Atta in April 2001 via an Iraqi Intelligence operation in Prague. Other routes into the United States could have been easily used at later dates. Was there more than one batch delivered?

For many, there is still no convincing published evidence supporting the hypothesis that a lone domestic terrorist was the perpetrator of the 2001 anthrax attacks, while there is substantially more evidence pointing to a non-domestic source. The precise timing of the anthrax letters, first mailed within a week of 9/11, and the success of the perpetrators in eluding capture both suggest
a sophisticated level of planning not usually associated with an opportunistic attack. 

--

(Dr. Lawrence Sellin has conducted research involving the development of medical defenses against chemical and biological weapons. He has also served in military assignments dealing with weapons of mass destruction.)

--

(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of issues.  The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)

Court case surrounding the 2001 anthrax attacks

April 2, 2004
ANCHORS: BOB EDWARDS
REPORTERS: DAVID KESTENBAUM

BOB EDWARDS, host:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Bob Edwards.

Two court cases are providing a rare look inside the FBI's investigation of the anthrax attacks of 2001. The investigators had not revealed many specifics, but documents and discussions from these court cases show that the FBI is putting considerable emphasis on a forensic analysis of the anthrax spores in the hope that even at this late date science will lead them to the killer. Officials told one lawyer they expected to have new results within six months. NPR's David Kestenbaum reports. 

DAVID KESTENBAUM reporting:

Richard Schuler says this is one of the stranger cases he has dealt with as a lawyer. In December, he filed a lawsuit on behalf of Maureen Stevens. She is the widow of Robert Stevens, the first of five people to die in the attacks. She is suing the federal government, alleging that poor security at one of its bioweapons facilities allowed anthrax bacteria to fall into the wrong hands. The unusual part about the lawsuit, Schuler says, is that the attorneys for the government showed a secret document to the judge as part of their defense. He says it was carried under the guard of a federal
marshal.

Mr. RICHARD SCHULER (Attorney): It was in a canister and it was brought to the judge in our case while the federal marshal stood by while he read it, then it was put back in the canister and they swooped away with it.

KESTENBAUM: Schuler says he has no idea what the document said.

Mr. SCHULER: Nothing, other than what the government represented. That it was a document that contained references to national security secrets.

KESTENBAUM: An apparently similar secret document was also shown to the judge in a second lawsuit. That suit is being brought by bioweapons scientist Steven Hatfield who has been a focus of investigation in the case. Hatfield is also suing the government. He says the FBI and Department of Justice ruined his reputation and leaked information about him to the press.

On Monday, Hatfield sat in a federal courtroom in Washington, DC, and got some bad news. The federal judge overseeing the case said that based on the secret document, he would put part of the case on hold for six months. The judge said the document showed the government was involved in a, quote, "complicated process," and added that this, quote, "may be one of the more complicated investigations in the history of the department," end quote.

It seems likely the document describes the ongoing forensic work, work aimed at pinning down which lab the anthrax came from. Richard Schuler says that in February, he got a surprise visit from a team of government officials because Maureen Stevens' husband was killed in the crime, the officials gave them an update on the investigation. The officials said they were putting high stock in science to solve the case, but Schuler is not reassured.

Mr. SCHULER: They told us back in June when they came down here that they thought in six months that the science would give them the answers that they needed. Now eight months later, they're telling us, 'Well, science is going to give us the answers, that we need in another six months.' So I don't know whether it's just a staling tactic, you know, or what.

KESTENBAUM: Some scientists also have their doubts about how useful such research will turn out to be. Court documents filed by the Department of Justice say that 28 FBI special agents are working on the case full-time and that eight are scientists with PhDs. The document also says most scientific initiatives are scheduled to be completed within the next six months. The stay ordered by the judge in Hatfield's case is for six months. Dan Richman is a professor law at Fordham University School of Law.

Professor DAN RICHMAN (Fordham University School of Law): If you're to take this affidavit on its face, and actually I do, this looks like a massive investigation that regrettably has not yielded any final conclusions, but it's being pursued with every resource the bureau and the Postal Inspection Service has to bring.

KESTENBAUM: Richman says that even if Steven Hatfield and Maureen Stevens don't win their cases, they've already achieved something: They forced the government to let two judges, two independent observers, get a look at the investigation.

Prof. RICHMAN: There now will be a place where the government will have to go not every day and it looks like not even every month but from time to time and present some sort of clear indication that this is an ongoing investigation.

KESTENBAUM: Reggie Walton, the federal judge hearing Hatfield's lawsuit, has expressed sympathy for Hatfield on several occasions. The Department of Justice did have Hatfield fired from his last job in biodefense. The DOJ says it has the authority to do that because the job depended on government funds. Judge Walton said that, quote, "Hatfield has been injured. To keep him in limbo indefinitely is a problem." At the end of this week's hearing, he ordered the Department of Justice attorneys to update him on the status of the investigation over the coming months. Afterward, Hatfield snuck out of the courthouse to avoid the TV cameras.

Bipartisan Cover-Ups—From Vince Foster to Anthrax
By Cliff Kincaid
AIM.org  (Accuracy in Media)
April 7, 2004

As the media prepare the nation for Bush National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice’s testimony to the 9/11 commission, we should all be asking ourselves why the post-9/11 anthrax attacks haven’t been solved. This is a glaring intelligence failure that exposes our continuing vulnerability to foreign attack.

We know who committed the 9/11 attacks. But who carried out the anthrax attacks? The liberal media find no political profit in going after this issue because Democratic Senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy were among those urging the FBI to waste time and resources pursuing a former U.S. government scientist, Steven Hatfill, in the case. That is exactly what Attorney General Ashcroft and the FBI have done. So what is to be gained, from the media point of view, in attacking the Bush administration over this?

Steve Coll, author of The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001, recently commented that the Bush terrorism policy before 9/11 resembled the Clinton policy. This is the nub of the problem. That’s why former counter-terrorism official Richard Clarke’s criticism of Bush and praise of Clinton demonstrate his phoniness. Like CIA director George Tenet, Clarke was a holdover from the Clinton administration. For whatever reason, he wants to make the matter into a partisan political controversy. The media have gone overboard in obliging him.

The obvious fact, which Bush supporters must concede, is that both the Bush and Clinton administrations didn’t take the terrorism problem seriously enough before 9/11. The CIA had commissioned a 1999 study warning that al Qaeda could crash airplanes into government buildings, including the Pentagon. The CIA had evidence of such a plot dating back six years before 9/11. Not only couldn’t the CIA and FBI stop the attacks, they couldn’t even stop the terrorists from coming into the U.S. and taking flight training on U.S. soil. The unanswered question is whether some foreign terrorists on U.S. soil also carried out the anthrax attacks.

For his part, Hatfill filed suit against Ashcroft, who had labeled Hatfill a “person of interest” in the case. That designation and the media coverage have destroyed his life and career. Nevertheless, U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton has delayed a trial on Hatfill’s complaint. AP reported that Walton said, “At some point, Dr. Hatfill is going to have to have his day in court. I don’t think that point has occurred yet.”

It’s been two and a half years since the anthrax attacks occurred. This probe has included the draining of a Maryland pond, at a cost of $250,000, in order to find “evidence” of the crime. Investigators found an old bicycle, a gun and a minnow trap that some anonymous government sources tried to portray as a biological warfare device.

In a story about Walton’s decision, the Washington Times reported that, “Government lawyers said Mr. Ashcroft’s reference to Mr. Hatfill as a ‘person of interest’ during an August 2002 news conference was an attempt to make clear that the bioweapons expert was not a suspect.” The government statement is absolute hogwash. There is no question that the government regarded Hatfill as a suspect. That’s why the FBI kept him under 24-hour surveillance and followed him around Washington in a car, even running over his foot on one occasion.

The Times noted that the government wants his suit dismissed on the grounds that allowing it to go forward “will compromise and frustrate” the anthrax probe and could give Hatfill and others “a voyeur’s window” into the probe’s workings. That’s just another justification for a cover-up to conceal failure.

Similarly, the U.S. Supreme Court recently voted unanimously to sanction the government’s refusal to release photographs of the body of Clinton White House lawyer Vincent Foster, who died under mysterious circumstances in July 1993. Accuracy in Media has published an investigative report by chairman emeritus Reed Irvine indicating that the death was a murder, and that several government investigations, including the one run by the ardent “Republican” Kenneth Starr, into the death were flawed.

Lucy A. Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, was absolutely correct when she said that the Court decision was a “setback to the public’s right to know.”

In the Foster case, as well as the anthrax matter, both political parties would prefer for their own reasons not to pursue the truth. Journalists pretend to believe in the “right to know” but are content to go along with the cover-ups.

Cliff Kincaid is the Editor of the AIM Report. 

Posted on Sun, May. 09, 2004
Alibek

Threat of anthrax worries author most

The Kansas City Star

So wrote Ken Alibek in his book Biohazard. He was among the Soviet scientists watching the doomed monkeys in the late 1980s.

He rose to the rank of army colonel while working as deputy director of Biopreparat, a pharmaceutical company the Soviets used as a cover for biological weapons development.

As the Soviet Union crumbled, the Kazakhstan-born Kanatjan Alibekov fled with his family, his secrets and his weapons-making know-how to the United States. Now 53, Alibek is executive director of the National Center for Biodefense at George Mason University in Virginia. His speech at 5:30 p.m. Monday at the Midwest Research Institute, 425 Volker Blvd., is free and open to the public.

On Friday, he talked with The Kansas City Star about a life and a future in planning for germ warfare. His comments have been edited for clarity and brevity.

You once found yourself standing in a puddle of the plaguelike Francisella tularensis. And the next day you started to feel chills and fever. Did you think your number was up?

I had been wearing protection. A mask, rubber boots, gloves, a hood and a coat. But it wasn't designed for this kind of exposure. And getting undressed without getting contaminated is difficult.

I'm a physician. I knew if you start getting treatment early enough, there's a significant chance of surviving. But the speed of the development of the fever, chills, nausea and headaches was concerning. I took a dose of antibiotics that was three times normal. Soon after that, I started feeling better. The chance of infection is something you live with.

You wrote of a meeting with Soviet missile specialists in 1988 to discuss launching anthrax weapons on New York, Los Angeles, Seattle and Chicago. In the book you say you “don't remember giving a moment's thought to the fact that we had just sketched out a plan to kill millions of people.” Does it unsettle you now?

When you do military planning, you're thinking of the operation itself. You understand it's not for benign purposes, you know how it will work. (But) you don't think about possible number of casualties. Now I'm trying to do everything possible to repair what was done in making the Russian biological weapons.

Your work for the Soviets included creating a biological “matador's cape” that would mask one germ with another, so doctors would treat victims for the wrong killer. Are terrorists likely to work with that level of sophistication?

At this point we should worry about agents composed of natural pathogens rather than genetically modified agents. But at some point the terrorists will be able to acquire sophisticated techniques. That will be difficult to stop.

In 1987 you lost a Soviet colleague, exposed to a virus in the laboratory, who died bleeding from every orifice and lesion on his body. Did that incident change your outlook?

It was a real tragedy. I started thinking about whether I was doing the right thing. When I learned later that the United States did not have a biological weapons program, that was the real turning point.

What kind of biological attack worries you the most?

Anthrax. In 2001 we had 11 cases of inhalation of anthrax in the United States and lost five people. I talked to some physicians because they were overwhelmed by a huge number of people who imagined they were infected.

Isn't that one of the powers of biological weapons, not just to kill but to set off a panic?

Yes. With conventional weapons you have something very spectacular and dramatic. But within minutes or hours it's happened and it's over. If you are alive and uninjured, you know that you have survived. Chemical weapons are the same. But with biological weapons it takes days and days and days and you may not know if you're infected. It causes psychological distress.

You can imagine if the city of New York is attacked. People would stop going to shopping malls, they would try to limit travel, businesses would not be working. People would be too scared to go out. That's one way a biological weapon would continue to attack.

Is there anything ordinary folk should do to arm themselves against biological terrorism? Should we have moon suits in the trunks of our cars, yearly anthrax shots or stockpiles of Cipro in our refrigerators?

I don't think plastic and duct tape for your homes does much good. It's very hard to think somebody would deploy biological weapons in the downtown of a city and you'd have enough time to seal your house.

I would like to have some antibiotics around. One of the best is doxycycline. It's cheap and highly effective and less toxic than Cipro. And Cipro is very expensive.

Anthrax vaccinations for people for the rest of their lives, it's just not feasible.

You've toyed with the idea of defending the body against a wide range of biological killers by stopping the ability of bacteria to pass through the lungs. Will it work?

We're working with mice, and we've had good results. Depending on funding, we are a year or two away from use with humans.

It would protect against most bacteria and some viruses, but not all.

How do you respond to people who say we're building too many high-containment “hot labs” for handling the world's deadliest germs? Many people think this work should be concentrated to reduce the odds of the release of dangerous materials through accident or theft.

After the United States terminated its offensive program, we lost so much knowledge. Now we are about 30 years behind what biological weapons can do. Even the number of labs we have now is not enough.

There's some worry that the elimination of naturally occurring smallpox — and the subsequent demise of vaccination — actually makes it more potential germ weapon. Do you expect to see it used that way during your lifetime?

Hopefully, terrorist groups were not able to get strains of this virus. But if they were, we would probably see something soon.

Anthrax is the most imminent threat, the most likely thing. Smallpox is potentially the most devastating.

— Scott Canon/The Star

“One hundred monkeys are tethered to posts. … A cloud the color of dark mustard begins to unfurl, gently dissolving as it glides down toward the monkeys. They pull at their chains and begin to cry. Some bury their heads between their legs. A few cover their mouths or noses, but it is too late: They have already begun to die. … A handful of men in biological protective suits observe the scene through binoculars, taking notes. In a few hours, they will retrieve the still-breathing monkeys. One by one, the monkeys die of anthrax or tularemia, Q fever, brucellosis, glanders, or plague.”

Microbes in court
Coming up next on "CSI": Will the science of microbial forensics nail the anthrax killer?

By Farhad Manjoo
Salon.com
May 10, 2004

May 10, 2004  |  Sometime in February or March, officials at the Justice Department held a closed-door meeting with a federal judge in Washington, where they laid out what the government knows about the anthrax-letter attacks of 2001.

Nobody is exactly sure what the department told the judge during that meeting. People familiar with the presentation say it was held under top-secret conditions; documents were escorted to the courtroom under the supervision of the U.S. Marshals Service, and the judge was not even allowed to keep copies of the papers that were shown to him. But at a hearing on March 29, the judge, Reggie B. Walton of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, gave a hint of what he'd seen. The two-and-a-half-year-old investigation into the anthrax letters is at a "critical" stage, Walton said. Based on the evidence he'd been shown, a breakthrough in the case might be just around the corner.

Walton is presiding over the defamation lawsuit filed against Attorney General John Ashcroft by Steven Hatfill, a scientist once named by the department as a possible suspect in the attacks. The government presented its evidence to Walton in an effort to persuade him to delay the Hatfill case for six months; after seeing the documents, Walton granted the government's request, saying that he wanted the investigation to proceed without interference from Hatfill's civil suit.

Many close observers of the anthrax investigation dismissed Walton's pronouncements about the case -- the government has been periodically advertising impending breakthroughs in the case since just about the time the spore-ridden letters were mailed out, some critics of the Justice Department pointed out. But a few scientists believe that this time, the government may be telling the truth. That's because, for the last two years, the FBI has been building a more formal, standardized scientific method for dealing with the investigation and prosecution of bioterrorism -- and this work might finally be paying off in the anthrax investigation.

The new science, which the FBI calls "microbial forensics," aims to improve the way law enforcement officials and forensic labs across the nation deal with crimes involving microbes -- whether these are bacteria, like anthrax, or viruses like HIV or smallpox. Microbial forensics is a complex, multidisciplinary effort that has two main goals. The first is to build new forensic techniques to help investigators quickly track down bioterrorists. By examining both the genetic and atomic structures of different strains of dangerous microbes, researchers are trying to build something like a "fingerprint" for microbes -- a method of tying a suspect to a biological crime in the same way that a fingerprint ties a thief to the scene of a robbery.

The other part of microbial forensics has to do with perception; the FBI, which has established a working group of government and academic researchers to help develop the science, wants to make sure that microbial forensics will stand up in court. Law enforcement officials are often wary of bringing new scientific methods before a jury: While scientists can often use advanced forensic tools to unearth hints pointing to the likely cause of a bioterrorist attack, some of those clues don't provide for the kind of open-and-shut cases that prosecutors appreciate, especially in high-stakes cases of bioterrorism.

Because the FBI declined to comment on the science, it's not clear how microbial forensics is being used in today's anthrax investigation. It was certainly inspired by the anthrax attacks, though, and many researchers say it will become very useful in future bioterrorism cases. But microbial forensics will also help in areas beyond bioterrorism, says Paul Keim, a biologist at Northern Arizona University who is a member of the FBI's working group and a world expert on anthrax. "Its application might be greatest in what we call 'biocrimes,'" he points out. "For example, the deliberate infection of someone with HIV, or having unprotected sex when you know you're HIV-positive, which is a crime. Terrorism or crime, there could be hundreds of cases where we see people using this in court."

In addition to developing rules for handling biological evidence at crime scenes and in labs, the other main aim of microbial forensics is to build a database of known microbial threats, and to analyze those microbes genetically. This is a daunting task; there are dozens of known microbes that could be used in crimes and in terrorist attacks, and there are thousands (or more) of known genetic strains of many of those agents. But the FBI has an innovative plan to build this database -- outsourcing to non-governmental labs. While the government will maintain the main microbial database at a new bioforensics lab at Fort Detrick, in Frederick, Md., the lab will merely lie at the center of a large network of governmental and non-governmental laboratories, all sharing knowledge of the latest threats, members of the FBI microbial forensics panel say.

This setup is a departure for the FBI. Historically, the bureau has not been very enthusiastic about working with scientists from outside the government. But all that changed with the investigation of the anthrax attack; the agency has acknowledged that it was unprepared to deal with the complexity of that investigation, and shortly after the attack it quickly contacted outsiders to help the with the sophisticated genetic analyses needed to solve the case. "This may well be standard practice in future cases," Budowle wrote in Science in September.

Paul Keim, the anthrax expert, was one of the scientists that the FBI contacted in the anthrax letters investigation. Keim is prohibited by a nondisclosure agreement he signed with the FBI from talking about the case, but he has acknowledged that it was his team that pinned down the strain of the anthrax bacterium found at the first attack site, the American Media headquarters in Boca Raton, Fla. Keim determined that the anthrax used was of the "Ames strain" (which, curiously, is not from Ames, Iowa but instead from a cow in Texas.)

What does Keim's conclusion about the strain of anthrax used in the attacks actually prove? This question goes to the heart of the most difficult issue in microbial forensics. Human beings have unique DNA fingerprints, making it possible for blood found at a crime scene to be matched to only one suspect. Viruses and bacteria, though, can be genetically cloned. This leads to the possibility that a single genetic strain of anthrax, which is a naturally occurring bacterium, could be literally everywhere; and if law enforcement officials ever find a suspect in the anthrax letters case, they might have trouble convicting him even if they can prove that the suspect's belongings -- his house, or his car, perhaps -- are covered in anthrax spores of the Ames strain.

The chance of conviction, Keim says, would depend on how widely the Ames strain was disseminated. "If you have a situation where there's one lab in the world that has the Ames strain," Keim says, then you'd have a pretty good clue as to where the agents used in the attack came from. But if many different labs have identical versions of the Ames strain, it'll be more difficult to prove its origin, especially if you're facing a defense attorney who'll call such a situation a "reasonable doubt." (Keim says that that FBI has not given him any clue as to how common the Ames strain found in the first anthrax letter actually is.)

For anthrax, the difficulty in determining the origin of an attack is compounded by the organism's slow mutation rate, Keim says. "Anthrax is one of the slowest-evolving organisms on earth," he says. "Almost no changes occur when it's in spore form. When it's active, we know what the mutation rate is -- we can actually predict that it takes about 300 generations before a mutation will occur. In 300 generations, you can make a whole lot of anthrax." What this means, Keim explains, is that attackers who pick a common strain of anthrax can produce weapons from them with a pretty solid assurance that the weaponized anthrax will have an identical genetic sequence to the common strain. The weaponized anthrax will thus be anonymous, untraceable to a specific attacker.

Because of the difficulties Keim points out, some scientists are working on nongenetic methods to determine the origins of microbes used in attacks. For example, in a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in February 2003, a team at the University of Utah suggested a way to pinpoint where a microbe like anthrax was cultured by examining its atomic structure and measuring the level of one oxygen isotope -- oxygen-18 -- present in the bacteria.

The team predicted that the level of oxygen-18 in the bacteria would be similar to the level of oxygen-18 in the water in which the bacteria was cultured. And because the level of oxygen-18 in water is known to vary with geography -- seawater has more of it than fresh water, for instance -- counting oxygen-18 can give you a pretty good idea of where a microbe was grown, they determined. The group was able to verify its hypothesis using a blind test. They asked friends in North Carolina, Ohio, Louisiana and New Mexico to ship them spores of anthrax grown in those areas, and the team added its own spores grown in Salt Lake City. After analyzing the oxygen-18 levels, they were able to correctly guess the origin of three of the five microbes. (Because the microbes in North Carolina and Ohio were grown in water with identical levels of oxygen-18, the group could not say which was which.)

If one hurdle to investigating anthrax is its slow mutation rate, the problem scientists encounter when looking at HIV is just the opposite -- the virus changes extremely rapidly, making it difficult to say how one strain of the virus is related to another. This problem came up in the 1998 case of Richard J. Schmidt, a Louisiana doctor who was accused of drawing blood from a patient he knew was HIV-positive and injecting that blood into the arm of his former girlfriend, infecting her with the virus (she believed she was just receiving a vitamin shot).

When forensic scientists compared the genetic makeup of Schmidt's ex-girlfriend's strain of HIV with that of his patient, they could not find a perfect match; the HIV virus changes too quickly to allow such a thing. But they did find that the two had strains of the virus that were significantly more similar to each other than to others in the area. The prosecution argued that this proved Schmidt's guilt, but the defense called several experts who dismissed the evidence. "It was very contentious," says Keim, who was not involved in the case but considers it an important landmark in microbial forensics. "There were excellent experts on both the defense team and the prosecution. And one of the defense experts was claiming that because the prosecution was using the lab at a university you couldn't trust this. That shows you why having a standardized lab doing this analysis is important."

Still, despite the expert defense witnesses, the jury convicted Schmidt of attempted murder, and several appellate courts upheld the conviction. The trial provided the first U.S. courtroom victory for this kind of HIV analysis, and Keim believes that it set a precedent for future inquiries; he says we should expect many criminal and civil cases involving HIV -- for instance, wrongful death suits aimed at a sexual partner suspected of giving you the disease.

"Once you get one court to accept it," Keim says of the HIV test specifically but also microbial forensics in general, "then more and more courts are likely to accept it in the future, and we'll see a lot more of this in use."

When forensic researchers talk about the perils of bringing new scientific methods into the courtroom, the name that occurs to many of them is O.J. Simpson. DNA identification took center stage during the football star's infamous murder trial, but as we all remember, nobody could agree on what the DNA evidence meant. Blood matching Simpson's and the victims' DNA was found at the crime scene, in his Bronco, and on that famous bloody glove. Prosecutors maintained that these samples proved Simpson's guilt, but defense attorneys charged that detectives and law enforcement forensic scientists had, sometimes mistakenly and sometimes intentionally, seriously mishandled the blood evidence.

The outcome of the Simpson case served as a wake-up call for those scientists who believed that juries would have no choice but to accept the conclusions of a forensic method that, to the scientists, seemed so obviously accurate. Instead, though, the Simpson jury apparently believed the defense's theories of DNA evidence -- that it could be "contaminated" by poor practices, and that, by itself, DNA didn't matter if you were dealing with a police force thought to be corrupt and racist.

The Simpson case could have dealt a deathblow to DNA forensics. But in the aftermath of the case, says Paul Keim, "crime labs went to great lengths to standardize and protect their evidence-collecting techniques and to institute quality assurance and quality control." The national effort was spearheaded by the FBI, which developed a set of guidelines for DNA crime labs to follow in order to present DNA evidence that would appear incontrovertible to juries. And the effort worked, Keim says. "The reason why DNA fingerprinting of blood and semen is such a great and useful tool today is because the FBI has been so great in assuring the quality."

The FBI scientist who was at the forefront of the effort to maintain the quality standards of DNA evidence is a well-regarded geneticist named Bruce Budowle. Budowle, who did not return calls for comment, is now the chairman of the FBI panel working on microbial forensics; the aim of this panel, Budowle and other members have said, is to develop a set of guidelines that will allow scientists to present microbial evidence that can stand up to defense tactics in court. In other words, they want to prevent what happened in the Simpson case from occurring in the anthrax case.

Members of the FBI first met with prominent scientists to work on microbial forensics in Burlington, Vt., one weekend during the summer of 2002. Abigail Salyers, a microbiologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who was at time the president of the American Society for Microbiology, recalls the meeting as a productive melding of the best minds in law enforcement with the best scientists in academia.

"It's the first time we ever had the FBI present at one of our scientific meetings," she says, "and they kept asking the kind of questions that gave people a reality check. They were able to point out to us the limitations they underwent in the process of doing this work -- the main limitation of not knowing how you deal with a bioterrorist crime scene like this. This isn't like going to a murder scene where you have a book telling you how to collect samples and look for bullets and things like that. Here, there are cases where you won't know what you are looking for. They have to make up the book about what they were going to do."

Since then, the working group has been creating that book, and it has published portions of it in respected scientific journals. In September, the panel published in the journal Science a strict set of quality guidelines that laboratories looking to perform microbial forensics must follow.

"When the anthrax incident occurred, much of the investigative work was referred to laboratories that were external of the FBI or the government," says Joseph Campos, the director of the microbiology lab at the Children's National Medical Center in Washington and a member of the FBI panel. "There was a concern that those laboratories were not following procedures that were as standardized as they might be." With the new guidelines in place, Campos says, work done in different labs around the nation will result in similar findings.

May 19, 2004. 01:00 AM
WTC boss feared anthrax attack
Says FBI never revealed terrorist threat to hijack planes

Communications chaos revealed at harrowing 9/11 hearing
 

NEW YORK—The former World Trade Center director told the Sept. 11 commission yesterday that he was unaware of the threat posed by Osama bin Laden until the summer before the attacks, and was not briefed by the FBI on key terrorism intelligence.

Alan Reiss' comments came during an exchange with commission member Bob Kerrey at the start of an emotional two-day hearing about the response to the attacks. The hearings are being held in lower Manhattan about 2.5 kilometres from Ground Zero.

Kerrey asked Reiss when he became aware of bin Laden and his potential threat. Reiss said that didn't happen until the summer of 2001, and he later added he was never told by the FBI that Islamic militants might hijack a U.S. jetliner. Reiss said he was more focused on fending off possible bioterrorism attacks such as anthrax, spending more than $100,000 (U.S.) to protect the building from such an assault.

"We felt this was the next coming wave," he said. "We had developed plans on how to isolate the air conditioning system and shut it down, but never did we have a thought of what happened on 9/11."

Reiss said he didn't blame the FBI for a failure to share terrorism intelligence, but felt anger at the 19 hijackers.

Kerrey replied that there remained a "presumption that we may not be delivering the key information" to officials outside the FBI. And to the applause of family members, the former Nebraska senator said the hijackers "defeated the INS, they defeated the Customs (department), they defeated the FBI, they defeated the CIA."

Earlier, a new report prepared by the commission and read at the hearing recounted how Sept. 11 rescuers were forced to make rapid-fire, life-and-death decisions based on incomplete communications, contributing to the death toll. More than 2,700 people were killed in the attack.

The hearing began with a stark warning from the commission's staff: "The details we will be presenting may be painful for you to see and hear."

Scores of family members were in the audience as the commission showed footage of both hijacked planes slamming into the 110-storey towers, along with videotaped testimony from survivors. As footage showed the towers' collapse, family members held hands and locked arms as they waited for the inevitable, many wiping away tears.

"For me, it was reliving what my mother heard, what she saw, what her last moments were," said Terry McGovern, whose mother died in the south tower.

Committee member Sam Casperson, in a minute-by-minute recounting of the second plane's impact, detailed how Port Authority workers were advised to wait for help on the 64th floor. Many died when the tower collapsed.

Communications breakdowns also prevented evacuation announcements from reaching civilians in the building, Casperson said. One survivor told of calling 911 from the south tower's 44th floor. He was placed on hold twice.

Family members applauded when commissioners implied, or said outright, that the city was ill-prepared to deal with the attack. And they murmured disapprovingly when city officials, including former police commissioner Bernard Kerik and Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen, disputed that notion.

Sally Regenhard, whose son was among 343 firefighters killed, held up a piece of paper that said, "LIES."

The 26-page staff report offers no concrete explanation for early public address announcements in Tower 2 telling workers to remain at their offices, although it suggests two possible reasons: a concern for workers being injured by falling debris or bodies from the other tower, and the knowledge that in the 1993 WTC bombing, many of the injuries were sustained in the crowded evacuation of the building.

Other communications gaps included a lack of co-ordination between the police and fire departments, a crush of radio traffic that sometimes blotted out information, and an inability to share information effectively between on-scene officials and 911 phone operators.

Carol Olsen, whose firefighter son, Jeffrey, died trying to rescue others in the north tower, said she was impressed all the communication issues were raised. "I'm so proud of this commission for asking the tough questions and saying what needs to be said."

Deaths Blamed on Mysterious Microbe with Anthrax Genes

By Kate Ruder
Posted: June 4, 2004
Genome News Network

Last year two hospital patients from different cities in Texas died of severe pneumonia that appeared to be caused by inhalation anthrax. Yet neither patient was infected with the bacterium that causes anthrax, Bacillus anthracis.

Instead, DNA tests indicated that both patients became infected by another species of bacteria that carried the lethal anthrax genes. The bacterium, called Bacillus cereus, typically causes mild food poisoning.

When the Texas cases came to light, researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, were sequencing the genome of a strain of B. cereus isolated from a man in Louisiana who, in 1994, developed severe anthrax-like symptoms.

The researchers now report that B. cereus can indeed carry lethal genes of the anthrax bacterium. The Texas and Louisiana patients were all metal workers and appeared to have inhaled the dangerous bacteria, although scientists do not know how.

These are the first cases in which anthrax genes have been discovered in an organism other than B. anthracis, and the findings raise concerns about the prevalence of the previously unknown pathogen—and our preparedness to detect and respond to it in the event of a biological attack.

For example, tests used to detect anthrax during a suspected bioterrorism incident might not pick up the equally pathogenic bacteria B. cereus.

Alex Hoffmaster of the CDC found the Louisiana strain of B. cereus that tested positive for anthrax genes while he was looking back at samples from patients with fatal or near-fatal disease.

“Either I had made a mistake or this was a really interesting isolate,” says Hoffmaster.

He sent the CDC sample to The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) in Rockville, Maryland, and scientists there sequenced its genome in just a few short weeks. They then compared it to the genomes of related bacteria such as the B. anthracis Ames strain used in the 2001 U.S. mail attacks and other strains of B. cereus.

The CDC bacterium has genes nearly identical to anthrax toxin genes that cause disease in humans and other animals. And the bacterium caused anthrax-like illness in mice, the researchers report.

“It was completely unexpected to sequence the genome and see toxin genes in B. cereus identical to ones found in B. anthracis,” says Jacques Ravel of TIGR, who led the sequencing effort.

The findings appear in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week.

How did the strains of B. cereus acquire anthrax genes? “That is still a mystery,” says Ravel.

He and others suspect that the two species of Bacillus bacteria, which both live in the soil, might have swapped genes at some point during evolution. There is no evidence that someone engineered the bacteria to carry these genes. 

Oakland Tribune

Workers exposed to anthrax
Live samples sent to Children's Hospital Oakland by mistake

By Rebecca Vesely
STAFF WRITER

Friday, June 11, 2004 - At least six researchers working on an anthrax vaccine at Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute were exposed to the dangerous live agent, possibly due to a shipping mix-up, officials said Thursday.

The workers -- including a lead researcher, two lab technicians and an animal handler -- handled the live anthrax bacterium. Several other researchers were also present. None has shown signs of illness, and seven are now on the antibiotic Cipro as a precautionary measure.

The incident poses no risk to any other staff, the surrounding community or Children's Hospital, which is about one mile from the research facility, state health officials said.

"All the proper procedures are being followed here," said Dr. Richard Jackson, public health officer for the state Department of Health Services, which is investigating.

The institute's researchers believed they were working with a dead sample of the anthrax bacterium, but were inadvertently shipped live anthrax by their supplier, Southern Research Institute of Frederick, Md., hospital officials said.

Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute is not authorized to handle live anthrax.

The sealed liquid agent was shipped via FedEx, double-boxed, about three months ago to Oakland, officials said.

Researchers began injecting what they thought was dead anthrax into mice May 28. Over that weekend, 10 mice died in separate cages, and animal handlers placed the mice in a freezer. It was not brought to the immediate attention of lead researchers that all the mice in the first experiment had died.

Last Friday, another batch of mice was inoculated with the deadly agent.

On Monday, those mice, too, were dead, and the lead researcher obtained cultures from the cavity of a dead mouse. By Wednesday, the researchers discovered the anthrax organism growing from the abdominal cavity of the dead mouse.

"From there, the investigations continued at a rapid pace," said Dr. Ann Petru, a pediatric infectious disease expert at the institution.

The institute contacted the state Department of Health Services and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which launched their own investigations.

Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation's bioterror unit transported the infected dead mice to the state's laboratory in Richmond on Wednesday afternoon, where evidence of the live bacterium was confirmed.

Samples have been sent to the CDC in Atlanta for further testing, Jackson said.

Nasal samples from the lab workers are also being evaluated, with results expected next week, Petru said.

CDC spokeswoman Rhonda Smith said how the live agent was accidentally sent to Children's Hospital is under investigation.

"We're working with the California Department of Health Services, the shipping and receiving institutions and the FBI to determine what happened and how we can prevent it from happening again," Smith said.

Southern Research Institute's Thomas Voss, who is in charge of the institute's emerging infectious disease program, said the company is investigating what happened. He said it's unclear whether the institute did ship live anthrax to Oakland.

Voss said the institute's hot labs in Frederick and Birmingham, Ala., handle most "select agents" listed with the CDC, and that they are one of 350 entities registered to handle live anthrax.

He said the institute rarely ships out the agents.

"We receive agents on a routine basis," Voss said. "But on our end, we ship very infrequently. I can't even recall shipping live agents."

Dr. Frederick Murphy, a microbiologist at University of California, Davis, said such mixups are extremely rare.

"It's much more serious than it used to be," Murphy said. "There's all kinds of protocols in place to prevent these mistakes."

Namely, deadly live bacterium require extensive permits to ship and are typically handled by couriers. The agents would be encased in a safe-like container to prevent tampering or any exposure.

"There's really no excuse for someone casually sending something like this out," Murphy said.

Edward Hammond, director of the Sunshine Project, a watchdog group on biological weapons research, said with so many federal funds pouring into biodefense research, there should be more controls in place.

"This hospital clearly did not have the ambition to handle such agents," Hammond said. "But one might wonder why a children's hospital was handling anthrax at all."

Neighbors of the institute, located on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, are wondering the same thing.

"When (the institute) opened, they told us they would be researching meningitis, but they never talked about anthrax," said Bob Brokyl, a North Oakland activist.

Brokyl noted that a senior center is housed in the same building as the institute, which is surrounded by a working-class neighborhood.

I'm really angry and nervous because they've lied to us repeatedly about what their plans are, he said. They said they would never have anything dangerous there.

The great children's hospitals of our country are where a lot of the most incredible research is done -- major research in infectious disease, he said.

In 2001, anthrax attacks killed five people and sickened 17 others nationwide. No one has been apprehended in the killings, and the attacks spurred development of better vaccines.

Exposure to anthrax happens through inhalation of the contagion and through the skin. Inhaling anthrax leads to flu-like symptoms, and gastrointestinal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Exposure through the skin leads to open, red sores that develop a black center.

This is a scientist thinking on his feet, Petru said. This investigator did all the right things to contain the situation.

Staff writers Robert Gammon, Jill Tucker and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

June 11, 2004
The Scientist

US lab is sent live anthrax

Incident at Oakland, Calif., children's hospital research lab exposes seven workers | By John Dudley Miller

At least seven people in an Oakland, Calif., research laboratory have been inadvertently exposed to live anthrax bacteria that had twice been tested to be dead, once by the vendor company that shipped it and once in the lab.

The seven work at Children's Hospital and Research Center at Oakland in a building located 1 mile from the hospital, and no one at the hospital itself was exposed. Three researchers were trying to create an anthrax vaccine using Bacillus anthracis that had supposedly been heat inactivated, while the other four people, and perhaps a few others yet to be determined, worked in the lab but not on the project, according to Ann Petru, an infectious disease specialist at the hospital.

Nasal swabs were taken, Petru said, "but they aren't processed yet." All seven have been put on a 60-day regimen of ciprofloxacin, she said, because they might develop anthrax even if their cultures show they are not carriers of the disease.

The problem was discovered this week after 49 of 50 mice inoculated with the B. anthracis last week quickly died. Subsequent attempts to culture both the material and a sample from one of the dead mice both showed the bacteria was alive. The Federal Bureau of Investigation removed the remaining material from the lab last Wednesday night (June 9).

At a press conference at the hospital yesterday, California Department of Health Services officials said they feel confident that there is no risk to anyone else in the research building or the surrounding community, according to Ken August, a departmental spokesperson. A 2-hour inspection convinced them that the lab had handled the bacteria properly, he said. Researchers had been wearing masks and proper clothing, and the lab's air is filtered both entering and leaving. According to Petru, the lab is a Biosafety Laboratory 2 (BSL-2) facility, appropriate for research with inactivated B. anthracis. All seven are still working in the lab, August said.

The focus of the ongoing investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is on the vendor, Southern Research Institute (SRI), which shipped the B. anthracis from its facility in Frederick, Md., about 3 months ago. "What happened there in this heat process that failed to kill the bacteria?" August asked. "What checks and balances do they have, and how did it pass through that?"

Thomas Voss, vice president of the Homeland Security and Emerging Infectious Disease Research Division at SRI, told The Scientist that his company tested the B. anthracis it shipped by trying to grow the material in a culture medium for 48 hours. The culture didn't grow, so SRI concluded that it was totally inactivated.

Petru said that when the samples arrived in the Oakland lab, workers there also tried to grow it in culture for 48 hours but failed, so they too concluded it was dead. When asked how material that had twice been tested as inactivated 3 months ago could now be alive, Voss said, "This is biology. It doesn't always work they way you expect it to work every time. You want to validate these procedures as fully as you possibly can, and that's what we're doing right now," to see if they are sensitive enough to ensure inactivity.

Voss said the sample sent to the Oakland lab is the only heat-inactivated B. anthracis sample SRI has ever shipped to any lab. The bacteria can also be killed with formaldehyde, UV light, and gamma radiation, he said. While Petru said the Oakland lab had only received one shipment, Voss said, "We've done two [shipments to the Oakland lab]. The ones we've done with these folks are probably the only ones we've done with Bacillus anthracis that's been heat killed. Outside of that, that's all."

Petru speculated that the SRI material is a heat-resistant mutant strain of B. anthracis: "If the material was properly processed, I think you have to presume it must be mutant, because heat didn't kill it, that's how you define it, right?" Voss said no one knows at this point.

Although both SRI and the Oakland lab cultured the shipment of B. anthracis, the Oakland lab did not subculture it by taking a sample of the first culture and transferring it to a fresh culture dish. Voss said he doubts SRI subcultured it either, although he has not yet verified that fact. With some bacteria, subculturing is important because it won't grow otherwise, according to a prominent bioterrorism researcher, who spoke on condition of anonymity because his organization competes with SRI. "We didn't subculture it prior to inoculating it," Petru said. "If we had, perhaps we would have discovered that."

Both August and Voss said the incident illustrates the heightened awareness and cooperation among government agencies fostered by the federal government's efforts to strengthen the US public health system in the wake of September 11. August said that from the time his department was notified, it inspected the lab, wrote a report, and held a press conference in a little more than 24 hours. "I've been with the department for about 16 years," he said. Of the cooperation among CDC, SRI, and state and local authorities, he said, "You wouldn't have seen that 3 years ago."

Richard Ebright, a professor at Rutgers University, said he thinks the extraordinary increases in the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases budget, which is sponsoring the Oakland anthrax research, make accidents like this much more likely than they were before. "I think events like this are inevitable with the expansion of effort in this area," Ebright said. "I think that additional accidents of all flavors and descriptions as well as deliberate releases are inevitable with this expansion."

Article Last Updated: Saturday, June 12, 2004 - 3:07:54 AM PST

6/12/2004
The Oakland Tribune

Possible anthrax exposure concerns experts

Oakland lab workers were exposed to the bacterium

By Rebecca Vesely and Ian Hoffman, STAFF WRITER

The possible exposure of at least seven Oakland lab workers to anthrax is raising concerns among experts on the safety and oversight of biological agent research in the race to develop the nation's biodefenses.

It also is raising questions about how Bacillus anthracis, the spore-forming bacterium that causes the deadly disease anthrax, is neutralized for research purposes.

"This is a cautionary tale," said Dr. Jonathan Tucker, a senior researcher at the Monterey Institute of International Studies and an expert in biological weapons. "You have a lot of inexperienced researchers working at facilities around the country on these projects."

Scientists at Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute, who have been working on anthrax research for about a year, thought they were working with dead Bacillus anthracis.

Instead, the researchers were inadvertently sent live anthrax by their supplier, Southern Research Institute, from Frederick, Md.

The live sample, shipped via FedEx in liquid form three months ago, was injected into live mice beginning two weeks ago in an experiment to develop an anthrax vaccine for children. The mice died, raising alarms among the researchers, who did cultures to confirm the presence of the live agent. The FBI escorted the samples to the state's lab in Richmond Wednesday, where the findings were confirmed.

No workers have experienced any ill effects, according to institute officials. Seven lab workers are taking antibiotics as a precautionary measure. Officials say there is no risk to the community.

The Bacillus anthracis that killed the mice at Oakland Children's Research Institute was the Ames strain, the same type of anthrax bacteria used in the October-November 2001 letter attacks. Those attacks killed five people and spurred almost $10 billion in spending on new biodefense labs and research nationwide.

Congress and the Bush administration intended this rapid expansion of U.S. biodefense research to attract fresh minds and new ideas.

The anthrax vaccine studies at Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute fit that bill.

The institute's lead scientist, Alexander Lucas, came to Oakland 15 years ago from the University of California, San Diego and the prestigious Scripps Research Institute. Scientists who know his anthrax vaccine work say it shows originality and promise. But a review of his scientific publications show his work until last year focused on salmonella, streptococcus pneumonia and other pediatric infections.

A colleague, Terry Leighton, studied anthrax spores at the University of California, Berkeley. Children's Research Institute never has worked intentionally with live, virulent Bacillus anthracis.

Up until about five years ago, anthrax research was an extremely small field. Only about 10 to 15 researchers in the United States were working on it, including Dr. Martin Hugh-Jones, a foremost expert on anthrax at Louisiana State University.

Now there's unbelievable sums of money in it so everyone can discover all the pleasures of homeland security paperwork, Hugh-Jones said.

Developing an anthrax vaccine is a popular area of research. Give me a name of an institute and they're working on it, he said.

Richard Ebright, a microbiology professor and biosafety officer at Rutgers University, said the Oakland incident exposes loopholes in the regulation of the rapidly growing biodefense industry.

Shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, Congress and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tightened laws and regulations governing the handling of select agents, the three categories of microorganisms thought to pose the greatest threat of use in terrorism and warfare.

But in two revisions, the CDC removed inactivated agent and avirulent or vaccine strains from the select agent list, in effect exempting them from all regulation. Inactivated Bacillus anthracis, such as Oakland's researchers expected, are subject to none of the registration, security, shipping or biosafety rules of select agents.

This is a gap in regulation, Ebright said. This incident shows that material that is purportedly inactivated can have viable, recoverable agent. And because there are no regulations, no paper trail, this is a gap through which malicious organizations could obtain select agents without a paper trail and perhaps with serious safety incidents.

There are 350 entities nationwide that can handle live anthrax. Yet it's unclear how many labs are, like Children's Oakland, working with the dead agent.

Meanwhile, the federal government has poured funds into bioterror research. The federal budget for biodefense research is $2.4 billion this year. Of that, about $1 billion is at the National Institutes of Health.

Under the NIH umbrella, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which partly funded the Children's Oakland anthrax research, increased its funding for bioterror after 2001. Previously, it accounted for a minuscule portion of the institute's budget. After 2001, biodefense research accounted for one-third of all NIAID research funding.

The Oakland institute also had a research grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the venture capital research arm of the Pentagon.

It's a double-edged sword, said the Monterey Institute's Tucker. There's a greater risk of accidental or deliberate diversions of these agents and yet you have more people working in these important areas. It needs to be thought through better.

The state Department of Health Services, which is tasked with the public's health, knows little about what is going on in labs such as Children's Oakland.

There's no legal requirement to report [to the state-- whether a lab is working with an agent like anthrax, said state Department of Health Services spokesman Ken August. That is regulated under the select agent rules of the CDC.

Officials at the CDC were not available Friday for comment.

Dr. Thomas Voss, Southern Research Institute's vice president for homeland security and infectious diseases, said a review of the mistake is focused on the biology of what happened.

We're running the whole gamut, from inactivation to quality control, Voss said. We're seeing if we can replicate this in the lab.

According to Southern Research Institute, the Oakland researchers asked that the bacteria be killed by heat treatment in boiling water. Standard inactivation techniques include gamma rays, X-rays, ultraviolet light and autoclaving, or pressurized steam treatment, followed by filtering with a fine nylon mesh to block the escape of whole, live spores.

Hot water alone was unlikely to kill anthrax spores, other experts said.

Sporiform bacteria are incredibly hardy and able to withstand extremes of temperatures and live more than a century in soil.

That's not a good way to kill anthrax, said a veteran anthrax researcher, who asked for anonymity because of work with the institutions involved. I just can't believe that putting it in a hot water bath for any time is going to kill these things at all.

Voss said that using the hot water method is not unusual and strict protocols and testing are followed. He said it's possible that the agent appeared to be dead but was not, and after spending three months in a closet in Oakland, some of the live bacteria remained.

Several anthrax experts discounted that theory.

Things like this don't happen except under a full moon while wearing a pointy black hat and conjuring spells, Hugh-Jones said.

Dead is dead, said Rutger's Ebright, and science knows no means to revive the dead.

The fallout for SRI could be severe.

If it is what it appears to be, it represents an institutional and a regulatory failure, the anthrax expert said. I would expect SRI to catch an incredible amount of heat and perhaps be closed down for awhile.

The CDC is launching a full investigation into Southern Research.

Rutger's Ebright says the historical figures are poor indicators of future safety, because of lax requirements to report lab infections before 2001 and because U.S. biodefense research has exploded.

The scale of this enterprise has increased by a factor of 30 in dollars, people and facilities, he said. This has been accompanied by a decrease in the level of experience. These (biodefense labs) are being opened by investigators who have no track record or experience with select agents, in institutions that have no track record or experience with those agents.

Contact Rebecca Vesely at rvesely@angnewspapers.com and Ian Hoffman at ihoffman@angnewspapers.com . 

City company still probing anthrax shipment errors

by Robert Schroeder
Staff Writer
Maryland Gazette Newspapers

June 17, 2004

A Frederick research institute that mistakenly sent live anthrax bacteria to a California laboratory in March is continuing to investigate how the mishap occurred, a company spokeswoman said this week.

Southern Research Institute accidentally sent the bacteria, by Federal Express and not by a certified dangerous goods carrier, to Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute, where at least five people were exposed to the germs. The researchers were placed on antibiotics and are still showing no signs of infection.

SRI believed the anthrax germs to be dead when they were sent, company officials have said.

On June 11, Frederick County Health Officer Dr. Barbara Brookmyer said Frederick County residents faced no threat of anthrax exposure and that her office and other health and law enforcement officials were monitoring the situation.

But as late as Tuesday, a spokeswoman for SRI said the company was still reviewing internal documents and investigating the incident.

She also said it was too early to determine what preventative steps needed to be taken to ensure that a similar incident does not happen again.

"I can't tell you how we'll prevent it because we're not sure exactly what happened," spokeswoman Rhonda Jung said from the firm's headquarters in Birmingham, Ala. "We're still looking into everything."

Jung emphasized that no one in Frederick was exposed to anthrax.

Scientists at SRI's facility here had intended to send dead anthrax bacteria to colleagues in Oakland.

The dead germs were then to be injected into mice to produce anthrax antibodies. The germs were discovered to be active after mice died.

Brookmyer said she determined Frederick residents were safe because SRI uses Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shipping guidelines.

In a June 15 e-mail, Jung told The Gazette that the anthrax was triple-packaged, with the tubes in a leak-proof bag with absorbent material.

The bag was placed on wet ice in a Styrofoam container, which in turn was placed in a cardboard box.

But since quality control tests indicated the cells were dead, Jung said, the box was not shipped "diagnostic or infectious" using a special shipping company.

Brookmyer also said it is possible that the bacteria may have been changed after leaving Frederick.

Shortly after reports of the incident appeared, a Fort Detrick spokeswoman notified local media that Detrick was not responsible for the shipping accident.

"Fort Detrick was not involved in the shipment," Eileen C. Mitchell, the executive officer of the U.S. Army Garrison at Detrick, wrote to reporters. She said that some media mentioned and showed images of the installation in their reports about the anthrax shipment.

The military installation's name has come up in anthrax-related reports in the past. A former bioweapons researcher at Detrick's Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases is suing the federal government after investigators trailed him, seeking information about the 2001 anthrax attacks.

In the fall of 2001, anthrax contained in letters sent through the U.S. mail killed five people and sickened 17 others.

After initially discovering lab equipment in a Frederick County pond in December 2002, the FBI later drained the same pond but found no evidence related to the anthrax case.

Firm to start cleaning Boca anthrax site

By Antigone Barton, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 24, 2004

BOCA RATON -- The building where photo editor Bob Stevens contracted the anthrax that killed him is set to be made safe again.

By the end of the year the former AMI offices will house workers again, representatives of BioONE, the company that plans to both clean and occupy the building, said Wednesday.

Decontamination of the former AMI building, scheduled to begin July 11, will come two years, nine months and six days after doors last closed behind employees of the Weekly World News, The National Enquirer, the Sun and other supermarket tabloids, on the day that Stevens died.

The papers, files, photos and mementos that they left behind that day already have been removed from the building and will be destroyed, BioONE Chief Operating Officer Karen Cavanagh said.

Preserving all of the building's contents, which included more than 5 million photos -- Elvis in his coffin among them -- and 600,000 pages of bound periodicals, would have made the cost of the project "astronomical," Cavanagh said, because the materials would all have had to be tested post-fumigation.

The plans began in February, she said, shortly after BioONE announced its intention to occupy the building.

BioONE is a collaboration of a bioterrorism consulting firm headed by former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Sabre Technical services, the company that cleaned congressional offices and postal facilities in the wake of the October 2001 anthrax attacks.

The company, which is expecting final approval from the Environmental Protection Agency within the next two weeks, will use the same process used on those buildings, pumping chlorine dioxide gas through vent systems.

The job will take about 24 hours and 30 workers. The company plans to check the equipment it will use at the building on Sunday.

The company will answer questions about the decontamination at a public meeting at 7 p.m. July 9 at the Sugar Sand Park Community Center.

antigone_barton@pbpost.com

Posted on Sat, Jul. 10, 2004

New Giuliani company details plans for anthrax clean up

JILL BARTON

Associated Press

BOCA RATON, Fla. - Nearly three years after anthrax was found inside the headquarters of American Media Inc. after it killed an employee, a fumigation on Sunday is aimed at clearing out the deadly spores almost as quickly as they arrived.

Months of planning and rancor over the fate of the infested complex have finally led to the clean up, which is set to last a mere 24 to 36 hours.

Chlorine dioxide, a chemical used to disinfect drinking water and treat fruits and vegetables, will be pumped into the building to kill the anthrax spores, which have spread throughout the 65,000-square-foot facility. Repeated tests will then determine the safety of the building before a quarantine is lifted, officials said Friday at a community meeting.

A a new company formed by former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Sabre Technical Services, the company that decontaminated other buildings hit by anthrax attacks, is leading the effort.

To prove to a wary community that the building is safe, the company, BioONE, then plans to occupy the space as the headquarters for its new crisis management venture.

The arrival of anthrax in the mail at the building was the first in a series of still-unsolved attacks that killed five people - among them photo editor Bob Stevens of AMI's tabloid, the Sun. The attacks emptied Senate offices and a major mail processing center in the Washington area, rattling a nation shaken by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks a month earlier.

Giuliani, who said he plans to remain at his Times Square office, has said the decontamination will help demonstrate resolve against terrorism.

The company hopes to move into the building by the end of the year, said John Mason, Sabre's president and CEO. Before it is deemed safe, scientists will spend weeks taking thousands of samples on surfaces and in the air throughout the building. Then, they will circulate the air inside and take thousands more.

"Our clearance standard is: no viable or living spores. Not one," Mason said. "It's as close to zero as we can get in science today."

Built in 1985, the AMI building sits in a gated office park and was once appraised at $4.7 million. AMI officials, who publish The National Enquirer and its sister tabloids, said they had put in $20 million worth of renovations. But they hurriedly abandoned the three-story office after the anthrax was found and moved to another space nearby. The AMI building was soon declared worthless by the county property appraiser.

Lawmakers tried to get the federal government to take over the building and its clean up, partially due to fears in the community that a hurricane could rip open the complex and spread deadly anthrax throughout this tony city, about 50 miles north of Miami on Florida's East Coast.

After lawmakers failed last year, a real estate investor bought the building for a paltry $40,000 and then made plans to lease it to BioONE. The financial terms of the agreement have not been disclosed, though the decontamination at the larger Brentwood Post Office in Washington cost $130 million.

"At this point as mayor, I'm starting to see the end of the end to this ordeal in Boca Raton," said Mayor Steven Abrams.

But for others, particularly AMI employees who lost a colleague and were forced to abandon their possessions, the destruction of papers and photos that coincide with the decontamination is met more reluctantly.

"I've got 19 years of my life stored in that building," said Sheila O'Donovan, who wrote for the Examiner when the anthrax attack occurred.

She said she had irreplaceable photos of her parents from England, her first newspaper clips, books and a property deed she hasn't been able to replace.

"When we left on that Friday, it never occurred that I wouldn't ever be going back there ever again," O'Donovan said. "People had flowers on their desks and fish. I still imagine it being that way. It has just been the most bizarre occurrence."

Posted on Mon, Jul. 12, 2004

Former tabloid headquarters cleaned of deadly anthrax spores

Associated Press

BOCA RATON, Fla. - The former headquarters of a supermarket tabloid was declared clean of anthrax spores Monday, almost three years after it became the first target in a series of deadly attacks.

At 7:30 a.m., the cleanup crew stopped pumping a chemical into the American Media Inc. building to kill anthrax spores, said Karen Cavanagh, chief operating officer of BioONE and Sabre Technical Services, which led the project.

"We have no viable spores in the building," Cavanagh said.

BioONE was established by former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Sabre decontaminated a U.S. Senate office building and others hit by anthrax attacks in 2001.

Workers began pumping chlorine dioxide into the AMI building Sunday. The chemical used to disinfect drinking water killed the billions of spores that had spread throughout the 65,000-square-foot complex.

The cleanup is followed by thousands of tests to ensure the building is safe before a quarantine is lifted. That process normally lasts about six to eight weeks, Cavanagh said.

BioONE plans to occupy the space as the headquarters for its new crisis management venture. The company hopes to move in by the end of the year, though Giuliani said he will remain at his Times Square office.

The arrival of anthrax in the mail at the building was the first in a series of still-unsolved attacks that killed five people, among them photo editor Bob Stevens of AMI's tabloid, the Sun. The attacks emptied Senate offices and a major mail processing center in the Washington area, rattling a nation shaken by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks a month earlier.

AMI, which also publishes The National Enquirer, hurriedly abandoned the three-story office after the anthrax was found. The multimillion dollar building was declared worthless and lawmakers tried to have the federal government take over the complex and its cleanup.

When they failed, a real estate investor bought the building for a paltry $40,000 and then made plans to lease it to BioONE. Giuliani has said the decontamination will cost at least $5 million, though other terms of the deal have not been disclosed. Remediating the larger Brentwood Post Office in Washington cost $130 million.

Experts: Hatfill's Suit Against 'NY Times' Will Be Tough to Win

By Joe Strupp

Published: July 14, 2004 11:37 AM EST

NEW YORK Former U.S. Army scientist Steven J. Hatfill's lawsuit against The New York Times, claiming he was defamed in a series of columns by Nicholas Kristof about the FBI investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks, will be tough to win, according to veteran libel attorneys.

"The basic principle is that accurately reporting the fact that someone is under investigation, and why, is not a proper basis for a libel suit," said Peter Canfield, an attorney representing The Atlanta Journal-Constitution against a similar pending lawsuit by former Olympic bombing suspect Richard Jewell. "Columnists are entitled to comment on the news."

Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, which monitors such legal actions, agreed. "It seems to me this is a tough suit to win and that (Kristof) is a weird choice of a person to go after," Dalglish said. "He is a columnist and what they would have to prove is that the facts he wrote were false. They would also have to show malice."

Hatfill, a former U.S. Army researcher, filed suit in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va. on Tuesday, according to today's Washington Post. The suit alleges that the Times and Kristof defamed him in columns that identified him as a likely suspect in the 2001 anthrax attacks.

Hatfill, who was identified by investigators at the time as a "person of interest" in the anthrax case, last year filed suit against Attorney General John Ashcroft and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. That case, postponed for six months in March, is still pending. Victor Glasberg, Hatfill's attorney, did not return calls seeking comment.

A Times attorney, David McCraw, declined to comment, referring all inquiries to the newspaper's corporate communications office, which issued a statement. "We believe this case does not have merit. Mr. Kristof began a series of columns in July of 2002, criticizing the FBI for its response to the anthrax crisis," the statement said. "At that time, Dr. Hatfill had already been publicly identified as a person of interest in the investigation. While encouraging the FBI to investigate the matter, Mr. Kristof was careful to note that Dr. Hatfill was presumed to be innocent and that the FBI owed it to him to clear his name if they had no evidence. We believe in a case like this, the law protects fair commentary on an important public issue."

Dalglish added that Hatfill's stronger case may be against the federal government if he can prove leaked information damaged his reputation. "If Kristof looked at the facts, that this was a person of interest, and made opinions based on facts, I don't see what the claim is," she said. "If [Hatfill] has anything here, it is a privacy act case against the FBI."

Joe Strupp (jstrupp@editorandpublisher.com) is senior editor for E&P. 

CQ HOMELAND SECURITY – GOVERNMENT REORGANIZATION

July 19, 2004 – 9:36 p.m.

Mail Call: Postal Inspectors Bulk Up in the Pursuit of Anthrax Terrorism

By Caitlin Harrington, CQ Staff

One of the federal government’s oldest, but most obscure, law enforcement agencies has taken on an increasingly prominent role in the investigation and prevention of bioterror attacks inside the United States.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is perhaps best known for running down fraud schemes that exploit the postal system and breaking up child pornography rings that involve payments through the mail. Its role in investigating mail-delivered bombs, such as the ones dispatched by so-called Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, is usually overshadowed by the FBI or other law enforcement agencies.

But since the anthrax attacks of October 2001, the service has dramatically expanded its traditional law enforcement mission to include preparedness for any potential terrorist activity connected to the U.S. mail system.

The service traces its lineage back to the pre-revolution American colonies when, in 1772, Benjamin Franklin — then the postmaster general — created the position of surveyor to regulate and audit postal operations. Today, the Postal Inspection Service employs about 1,970 inspectors, and about 11,000 postal police guard the perimeter of postal facilities and keep an eye on high-value shipments. The support staff includes about 800 forensic specialists, information technology experts and financial analysts.

Like their counterparts in the FBI, postal inspectors are federal agents with guns, badges and arrest powers. They also have additional authority to enforce the approximately 200 statutes in U.S. law that protect the mail, Postal Service employees, customers and assets.

Unlike FBI agents, however, postal inspectors rarely find themselves in the public spotlight. “We always kind of joke around that we’re the silent service,” said Inspector Molly McMinn. “Most people don’t understand that we’re the law enforcement arm of the Postal Service.”

And since the 2001 anthrax attacks, the inspection service has taken on an increasingly important role in homeland security.

Last year, the service created an Emergency Preparedness and Homeland Security Group to make security policy for the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) — including continuity of operations and communications plans — and to coordinate with other federal agencies on bioterrorism preparedness and aviation security for air mail.

The new homeland security group has access to foreign and domestic intelligence from the CIA, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security through Postal Service liaisons assigned to those agencies, according to the agency’s 2003 annual report.

Test Pilots

The Homeland Security group ran the pilot test of the Postal Service’s new biological detection system at 15 facilities in 2003. The USPS began installing the equipment at facilities around the country in March.

Also in 2003, 90 postal inspectors received hazardous materials training, and several of those inspectors responded last January in “Level A” biohazard suits when ricin was discovered in the mailroom of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., McMinn said.

The Postal Inspection Service established a command center at the agency’s national headquarters in Washington, D.C., last year to coordinate with other federal agencies in real time during a crisis.

The service also has participated in other investigations.

The ongoing FBI-led probe of the anthrax attacks, known as Amerithrax, includes 13 federal agents from the Inspection Service who, earlier this year, interviewed scientists at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute at Fort Detrick, Md. — a possible source of the anthrax bacteria used in the 2001 attacks — according to a July 18 Washington Post report.

The Postal Inspection Service also has set up a 24-hour watch desk to handle reports of suspicious powder from postal inspectors in field offices and mail handlers nationwide.

Sometimes, however, the increased focus on homeland security has come at the expense of other investigations, said McMinn, who has worked on the watch desk.

“We want to take threats seriously, so that’s why we’re working to educate the public and employees,” she said. But she adds that “if we have inspectors respond to suspicious powder, it really does drain from other investigations.”

False Alarms

Since the October 2001 anthrax attacks, the Inspection Service has received more than 20,000 reports of suspicious powder leaking out of packages and envelopes, McMinn said.

Mail handlers have reported what turned out to be stale English muffins sent back to the manufacturer; talcum powder in an envelope addressed to J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series of children’s books; and beach sand from small bottles containing wedding invitations.

All of the reports so far have been false alarms except for the ricin and anthrax cases that have already been publicized, said McMinn.

In order to save valuable time and money, the Postal Inspection Service has stopped sending out inspectors to investigate every call. Instead, the agency more carefully screens calls and asks mail facilities to first contact the return addressee in an effort to confirm what is in the package.

McMinn said no budget for the Postal Inspection Service is available, but the U.S. Postal Service overall has spent $579 million on emergency preparedness since the anthrax attacks, according to Postmaster General John Potter.

The Bush administration has requested $779 million for USPS homeland security programs in fiscal 2005. Democrats on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Treasury and Independent Agencies, however, have criticized the subcommittee’s GOP majority for refusing to fully fund the administration’s request.

Caitlin Harrington can be reached via charrington@cq.com
Source: CQ Homeland Security

Anthrax Probe Takes Over Army Labs

Fox News
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Two buildings at a U.S. military base have been partially shuttered as part of a federal probe into the anthrax attacks of 2001, FOX News has learned.

Investigators with the "Amerithrax" task force, which comprises FBI and postal service agents, have taken their three-years-long hunt to the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick, Md.

It has long been speculated that the anthrax in the tainted mailings that killed five people and sickened 17 shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks was somehow stolen from the Fort Detrick labs.

Dr. Steven Hatfill, described as a "person of interest" in the investigation, also worked at the USAMRIID facilities. He has denied any involvement in the lethal mail campaign, and is suing the U.S. government for publicly linking him to the attacks.

Even if Hatfill is completely ruled out as a suspect, the task force's interest in Fort Detrick leaves open the disturbing possibility that the culprit may well be an American — even a military officer.

Sources close to the investigation told FOX News that access to two USAMRIID buildings that contain labs and are described as research "hot zones" has been limited.

"The U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases is temporarily closing some of its laboratory suites in support of an ongoing FBI criminal investigation," a statement issued from Fort Detrick said. "The temporary closing of laboratory suites is not associated with any incident that could pose a public or occupational health threat. Normal research operations will continue in the remainder of USAMRIID laboratories."

A federal judge is expected to decide soon whether to throw out parts of the lawsuit filed by Hatfill against Attorney General John Ashcroft and others. Hatfill contends that his reputation was ruined when Ashcroft labeled him a "person of interest" in the anthrax attacks.

Earlier this month, the Justice Department revealed details of its probe into the attacks to U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton. A department spokesman declined to describe what details the FBI's lead investigator in the October 2001 anthrax attacks, Richard L. Lambert, gave to the judge, noting the document was classified. The information was not given to defense lawyers for Hatfill.

The FBI considers the anthrax investigation its most complex ever. About a month after the Sept. 11 attacks, letters laced with anthrax were mailed to government and news media offices, including to Sens. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and to The New York Post and NBC anchor Tom Brokaw. The mailings rattled an already shaken populace, and postal and government buildings experienced closures. No one has yet been charged in the attacks.

Hatfill is a former government scientist and bioweapons expert who once worked at USAMRIID. The facility housed the strain of anthrax found in the envelopes sent to the victims, though Hatfill maintains he never worked with the bacterium, bacillus anthracis, that causes the infectious disease.

FBI Director Robert Mueller has said the Amerithrax investigation is focused on scientific tests to learn how the anthrax was made and who might have been capable of making it.

Walton previously decided to delay Hatfill's civil lawsuit until at least October. That decision came after Lambert told him a delay was "critical to the integrity and successful resolution" of the anthrax investigation. He warned that Hatfill probably will seek copies of sensitive internal FBI documents that would reveal names of people cooperating with investigators and other closely held details about evidence that has been collected.

Disclosing such information would provide "a voyeur's window" into the investigation, Lambert said, and give Hatfill or others ideas about destroying or hiding evidence, retaliating against witnesses or fleeing the country.

Hatfill's lawyers have described the government's assertions as a "parade of horribles" and said the information sought would not jeopardize the investigation.

FOX News' Catherine Herridge, Anna Stolley and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Palm Beach County News Briefs

July 24, 2004
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Boca Raton

Dismiss anthrax lawsuit, U.S. asks federal judge

The U.S. Justice Department is asking a judge to dismiss a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by Maureen Stevens, the widow of Boca Raton tabloid photo editor Bob Stevens.

Bob Stevens, 63, died after becoming infected during the anthrax attacks that followed the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Maureen Stevens and her attorneys have said they want to use the lawsuit in part to find out what the government has done in the anthrax investigation, which hasn't resulted in any arrests.

They allege the anthrax likely came from a government bio-weapons lab at Fort Detrick, Md.

At the government's request, U.S. District Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley delayed the lawsuit for six months to protect the integrity of the investigation. That deadline runs out Monday.

Justice Department lawyers filed a motion Thursday asking Hurley to throw the suit out.

Metro report

Palm Beach Post Staff Reports
Saturday, July 24, 2004

Police blotter

The federal government filed a motion Thursday to dismiss the $50 million lawsuit filed against it by the family of anthrax victim Robert Stevens, a former photo editor for American Media Inc.'s tabloids in Boca Raton. The family claimed the anthrax that killed Stevens, who lived in near Lantana, had come from a weapons laboratory in Maryland that the government had failed to secure. In its motion to dismiss the case in U.S. District Court in Miami, the federal government relies on sovereign immunity, the principle that shields governments from liability in many cases. In arguing against exceptions claimed by the family, the government argues that it had no particular duty of care toward Stephens in operating the laboratory, and that it did not have any duty to prevent the attack, which was carried out by a third party. The government has asked for a hearing on the motion to be set.

Swollen chest may indicate anthrax attack

12:24 30 July 04

NewScientist.com news service
 

An anthrax bioterror attack could be spotted early by emergency room doctors if they look out for a specific set of unusual symptoms outlined by a new study.

Identifying someone who has inhaled anthrax can be extremely difficult as the symptoms are similar to common acute respiratory infections like pneumonia. But now Demetrios Kyriacou at Northwestern University in Chicago, US, and colleagues have pinpointed a distinct group of symptoms.

"We found certain clinical characteristic symptoms and laboratory findings will help discriminate between inhaled anthrax and other respiratory diseases," says Kyriacou, research director for the department of emergency medicine at Northwestern. He says the most important pointers are seen on X-ray images - a swollen chest and fluid in the chest cavity.

Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting and altered mental state, such as confusion. "If a physician sees something like this, you should think the patient may have inhaled anthrax" he told New Scientist. "Or if you see two or three patients at the same time with these symptoms, you may be witnessing the very early cases of a bioterror anthrax attack."

Historical cases

"The early detection of an outbreak and the rapid identification of infected individuals within an exposed population would allow for a fast and effective response," notes Jeremy Mogridge, who studies the anthrax toxin at the University of Toronto, Canada.

"The intentional release of only one kilogramme of Bacillus anthracis spores could lead to the deaths of over 100,000 people in a city of 10 million," Mogridge writes in a commentary accompanying Kyriacou's research letter in The Lancet.

As cases of inhaled anthrax – through terrorism or other wise – are rare, Kyriacou and his team trawled through medical literature to find 47 historical cases.

These included 11 cases from the 2001 anthrax attacks in the US, as well as cases dating back to 1880. The researchers compared the clinical symptoms to 376 control patients who had community-acquired pneumonia or influenza-like illness (ILI).

Swollen nodes

Certain findings from chest X-rays were much more common in patients who had inhaled anthrax. They were nearly 23 times more likely to show fluid in the chest cavity and a widening of the mid-chest tissue, called mediastinal widening, than patients with ILI.

The mediastina is the white area on an X-ray which represents tissues and vessels of the mid-chest above the heart, just behind the breastbone. This includes the gullet, windpipe and the major arteries.

Kyriacou says this symptom would be rare in an otherwise healthy person who had recently caught a respiratory infection. Inhaled anthrax causes the mid chest to enlarge as it prompts the lymph nodes in that area – which house some immune cells - to respond rapidly and swell.

The other symptoms, nausea, vomiting and altered mental state, were also much more likely to be seen with inhaled anthrax than ILI. The team has developed an algorithm to help doctors distinguish inhaled anthrax from common ILI, which it has submitted for publication.

Journal reference: The Lancet (vol 364, p 449)

Posted on Thu, Aug. 05, 2004

Anthrax inquiry leads to Shore

By Sam Wood, Troy Graham and Joel Bewley

INQUIRER STAFF WRITERS

DOVER TOWNSHIP, N.J. - Federal agents investigating the 2001 anthrax attacks today searched the homes of a doctor and self-made bioterrorism expert, including an Ocean County beach house owned by his parents.

Officials would not say what they were looking for, but the investigation appeared to focus on Kenneth M. Berry, an emergency-room physician who advocated for anthrax vaccinations as far back as 1997.

Agents searched Berry's house and an apartment where he used to live, both in Wellsville, N.Y., a town south of Buffalo near the Pennsylvania border.

They also searched a Chadwick Beach house where neighbors reported seeing Berry with his wife and children this week.

FBI officials said only that the searches were related to the anthrax investigation. They would not say whether Berry was a subject of the inquiry.

Berry, 46, could not be reached today at his home in New York, and there was no one at the Chadwick Beach house. He also did not respond to an e-mail.

In the fall of 2001, five people died and 17 were sickened when anthrax spores were mailed to several U.S. senators and news organizations.

Some of the anthrax-tainted letters were processed at a postal facility in Hamilton Township, Mercer County, forcing the closure of the building, which was not decontaminated until two years later.

The FBI has not made any arrests or named any suspects in the case. The agency has said there are several "persons of interest," including Steven Hatfill, a scientist who worked at an Army laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md.

Hatfill has repeatedly denied any role in the anthrax attacks and has sued in federal court, arguing that the government has invaded his privacy and ruined his reputation.

Berry has long been associated with bioterrorism efforts. In 1997, he formed a nonprofit organization called Preempt to train medical professionals to respond to chemical, biological and nuclear attacks. It held its first conference on the subject that year in Philadelphia.

Berry told USA Today in a 1997 article listed on the organization's Web site that "we ought to be planning to make anthrax vaccine widely available to the population starting in major cities." The newspaper also quoted him as saying that military officials believed that terrorists would strike with biological weapons within five years.

Berry also spoke at a 1997 policy forum sponsored by former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn (D., Ga.), calling for a national training program for local first responders. Other panelists included former Central Intelligence Director R. James Woolsey and former Defense Secretary William Cohen.

The Preempt Web site also says that Berry is a forensic expert, the former president of the American Academy of Emergency Physicians, and a trained pilot.

He worked primarily as an emergency-room physician at Jones Memorial Hospital in Wellsville, serving for a time as the director. He resigned in October 2001, a hospital spokeswoman said. She would not elaborate. It was unclear where Berry works now.

In 2000, he pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in a forgery case in which he and a woman were accused of helping a doctor's widow forge the dead man's will. He was fined $300.

The teams of federal investigators, led by a group of FBI agents and postal inspectors dedicated to the anthrax case, began searching Berry's homes in New York state and New Jersey this morning. The search warrants were sealed, an FBI spokeswoman said.

Local and state agencies assisted, and the searches ended in the afternoon. Gov. McGreevey said in a statement that there was "no threat to public health or safety."

Agents arrived at the two properties in Wellsville just after daybreak.

"We're a community of 5,000. Things like this just don't happen," Mayor Bradley Thompson said. "The spotlight's going to be on Wellsville for quite a while."

In Chadwick Beach, just north of Lavallette in Ocean County, 15 FBI agents in street clothes pulled up to the Berry home on Sailfish Way around 9 a.m. They stayed until 4 p.m., said Johnathan DeGraw and Gina Persichetti, neighbors from Suffern, N.Y., who were renting the house next door.

The agents took several bags of items, many labeled "evidence," from the home. They spent a half-hour vacuuming, then hauled out some of what they had vacuumed.

Agents searched a small boat out back and hauled away two cars parked out front on flatbed trucks. About 6:45 p.m., a Ford minivan with New York plates was returned to the bungalow.

The news of the day was rather surreal to DeGraw and Persichetti, who are renting a house in Dover Township for the second summer.

"We heard rumors about him and anthrax, but we weren't too concerned, because the agents weren't wearing protective gear," said DeGraw, 26.

"You hear anthrax and for a minute it goes through your head - wow, anthrax," said Persichetti, 36. "And then we realized there was no immediate threat. And then it was OK."

They said Berry's parents had been at the house but had left Saturday night. On Sunday, Kenneth Berry came down with his wife and three or four children. DeGraw and Persichetti did not speak to them.

They did speak to Berry's parents about their son.

"His parents talked very highly of him," DeGraw said.

Contact staff writer Sam Wood at 856-779-3838 or samwood@phillynews.com.

FBI searches home of Dr. Kenneth Berry in Wellsville, allegedly for traces of anthrax

By JOHN ANDERSON/Wellsville Daily Reporter
Thursday, August 05, 2004

WELLSVILLE -- Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation executed a search warrant at two homes in Wellsville Thursday as part of an investigation into "the origin of the anthrax-laced letters mailed in September and October of 2001 which resulted in the deaths of five individuals and serious illnesses to 17 others."

One was a home owned by Dr. Kenneth M. Berry, 48, of 211 East Pearl St. The other was an apartment on 125 Maple Ave., which he rented before he bought the home on East Pearl Street.

Dr. Berry founded an organization called PREEMPT Medical Counter-Terrorism in 1997. He was the director of the emergency room at Jones Memorial Hospital in Wellsville from December of 1996 to October of 2001. He still lives in Wellsville with his wife and seven children, but works in Pittsburgh and other areas.

Sources told the Wellsville Daily Reporter that Berry was vacationing with his family at a home owned by his parents in Chadwick Beach in Dover Township, N.J., when the FBI showed up with a search warrant. Dr. Berry and his family allegedly left and went to a restaurant to eat and have not been seen since. Neighbors said he may have gone to Connecticut where his father currently lives.

Wellsville Mayor Brad Thompson read a statement from the FBI that said, "The FBI and the U.S. postal inspection service are conducting searches at multiple locations in New York and New Jersey. These searches are related to the FBI's ongoing investigation into the origin of the anthrax-laced letters mailed in September and October of 2001 which resulted in the deaths of five individuals and serious illness to 17 others."

Thompson said FBI Field Agent George W. Gast told him, "The amounts of anthrax they are looking for is a trace amount and nothing anyone has to be concerned about."

The search ended around 10:30 p.m. Thursday.

FBI spokeswoman Debbie Weierman said area residents should not be concerned, even though two roads were closed down for hours and police are still not allowing vehicles to drive by Dr. Berry's East Pearl Street home.

"That was just to secure the perimeter of the searches," said Weierman. "That is normal FBI activity when a search is being conducted, especially when the media and general public is aware of it and it becomes a focus of attention. It had nothing to do with health hazards."

Agents wearing purple gloves took several bags, boxes and children's toys from both homes.

Weierman said the FBI contacted the Wellsville Police and the Allegany County Sheriff's Department before starting the searches at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.

"The searches are regarding the anthrax-laced letters from 2001 -- I can't go into background or reasoning. We want to stress there are no health or safety concerns and we contacted the state and local authorities and local health departments," said Weierman.

Helen Evans of the Allegany County Department of Public Health said, "They assured us that there are no anthrax related threats or health issues."

Weierman said there are 30 FBI agents and 13 postal inspectors who only work on this case. In Wellsville, over 30 came in by a Winnebago and several unmarked sport utility vehicles and trucks from Maryland, Pennsylvania and Buffalo. The agents have conducted 5,200 interviews in connection to the anthrax letters.

Dr. Barry currently owns a Cessna P210 plane, friends said. When he first came to Wellsville, he had a push-pull plane, ones with an engine in the front and an engine in the back. Officials at the airport in Wellsville say the Cessna plane has not been there in a year.

According to his Web site, Berry is a bioterrorism and weapons of mass destruction expert. In a 1997 USA Today interview, Berry said: "We ought to be planning to make anthrax vaccine widely available to the population starting in the major cities."

Berry is not originally from Wellsville, but he was charged by New York State Police with felony forgery in 1999. On March 17, 1999, he entered a guilty plea to a violation, a misdemeanor. He was accused of signing a fake will of the late Dr. Andrew Colletta, who died in May of 1998 at the age of 46.

At the time, Allegany County District Attorney Terry Parker, who prosecuted the case, said, "Ideally, if he were any other individual who had done this, I would have insisted on a misdemeanor. However, any criminal conviction would have resulted in him losing his medical license and never practicing again. As far as society was concerned, that would not be appropriate ... he does a lot of good for society with what he does."

Last week, the Wellsville Code Enforcement Office sent a violation to Dr. Berry for having two junk cars on his property. Village officials in Wellsville said Berry called and said the vehicles belonged to his daughter's boyfriend and they were going to be removed.

Former Jones Memorial Hospital Chief Operation Officer William DiBerardino said he saw Dr. Berry last week.

"I don't know what to think, this is hard to believe," said DiBerardino. "I talked to him a couple weeks ago at Music on the Lawn, we talked about flying. Most of our conversations seemed to end up about flying because I love flying and he has been flying for years.

"He was different. He was a decent doctor by all accounts, so, how do you explain different?" DiBerardino added.

Dr. Berry's next door neighbor, Bob Kosciewicz said "I last saw him last week ... this is a shock. This is surprising. He's a very quiet person.

"I don't picture him as a terrorist or anything like that," said Kosciewicz. "I understand he has a plane and he flies to where ever. He was on one of those rent-a-doctor deals, and he flew all over the place. I punched up his resume and saw his credentials, it was pretty impressive."

"I don't see him too often because he works other places so often," Kosciewicz continued. "They lived next door for about three years. The family left for vacation, and I thought he had some work in Pittsburgh. But I don't know where he works exactly ... he was different, but I always liked him."

Dr. Berry told DiBerardino he said he was working with the Federal Aviation Administration investigating crashes and that he remembers Dr. Berry teaching courses to emergency rooms on terrorists. Dr. Berry's Web site said he investigated the TWA Flight 800 crash in Long Island.

Dr. Berry probed for alleged anthrax connection by FBI, charged on four counts of domestic violence

By JOHN ANDERSON/Daily Reporter
Friday, August 06, 2004

WELLSVILLE -- Despite having three places he was involved in searched by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Thursday, Dr. Kenneth M. Berry, 46, of Wellsville, was arrested, but on a domestic violence charge in New Jersey.

Point Pleasant Beach (N.J.) Police charged Dr. Berry with four counts of assault and a temporary restraining order was issued by Judge James A. Ligouri.

Agents from the FBI executed a search warrant at two homes in Wellsville Thursday as part of an investigation into "the origin of the anthrax-laced letters mailed in September and October of 2001 which resulted in the deaths of five individuals and serious illnesses to 17 others."

FBI Agents told Wellsville Mayor Bradley Thompson today that they did not find any traces of anthrax during the search. They are going to conduct a few other interviews before they leave town.

FBI spokeswoman Debbie Weierman told the Wellsville Daily Reporter today that the agency was "just there to do searches. I am unable to comment because it's a pending investigation."

While the searches in Wellsville were going on, sources told the Wellsville Daily Reporter that Berry was vacationing with his family at a home owned by his parents in Chadwick Beach in Dover Township, N.J., when the FBI showed up with a search warrant. Dr. Berry and his family allegedly left and went to a restaurant to eat before 9 a.m.

At 1:21 p.m., sources say Dr. Berry got into a fight with his wife and children at the White Sands Motel in Point Pleasant. Point Pleasant Police said one of the family members was injured and needed to be treated at the scene.

Point Pleasant Police received a 911 call of a domestic dispute, but Chatham Township Police Chief Elizabeth Goeckel was at the hotel and with the help of an employee, detained Dr. Berry until police arrived.

"I don't know why she was there, maybe visiting," said Investigating Officer Susan Saccone today. "I interviewed him and I can not discuss the case or his demeanor further until the actual report is complete."

Captain Kevin O'Hara and Officer Kyle Patton took Dr. Berry into custody, where he complained of illness and vomited. Dr. Berry was taken to Brick Hospital in New Jersey where he was treated and returned to police department. He was arraigned and sent to the Ocean County Jail in lieu of $10,000 bail. He reached bail and was released.

Attempts to reach Dr. Berry were unsuccessful, but his father, William C. Berry, said from his home in Newtown, Conn. that the FBI was making his son a scapegoat for a botched investigation.

"Hey, here's a guy being shafted by the FBI," said William C. Berry, a retired financial director who now serves as president of PREEMPT. It's just buying time because they have nothing on anthrax. You are looking at a setup."

The father described Berry as exhausted and upset. He said his son has been interviewed before by the FBI because of his counterterror expertise.

"They have been on him for three years. They have no leads," William Berry said from his farmhouse, near Danbury, Ct.

Dr. Berry is a father of seven who has been married twice. He now teaches emergency room skills at a hospital affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh, his father said. Born in Teaneck, N.J., Dr. Berry moved with his family to Switzerland at age 5. They returned to New Jersey, living in Wayne, and then moved to Connecticut.

The FBI searched in two Wellsville locations. One was a home owned by Dr. Berry on 211 East Pearl St. The other was an apartment on 125 Maple Ave., which he rented before he bought the home on East Pearl Street.

Dr. Berry founded an organization called PREEMPT Medical Counter-Terrorism in 1997. He was the director of the emergency room at Jones Memorial Hospital in Wellsville from December of 1996 to October of 2001. He still lives in Wellsville with his wife and seven children, but works in Pittsburgh and other areas.

Mayor Thompson read a statement from the FBI that said, "The FBI and the U.S. postal inspection service are conducting searches at multiple locations in New York and New Jersey. These searches are related to the FBI's ongoing investigation into the origin of the anthrax-laced letters mailed in September and October of 2001 which resulted in the deaths of five individuals and serious illness to 17 others."

Thompson said FBI Field Agent George W. Gast told him, "The amounts of anthrax they are looking for is a trace amount and nothing anyone has to be concerned about."

The search ended around 10:30 p.m. Thursday.

Weierman said area residents should not be concerned, even though two roads were closed down for hours and police are still not allowing vehicles to drive by Dr. Berry's East Pearl Street home.

"That was just to secure the perimeter of the searches," said Weierman. "That is normal FBI activity when a search is being conducted, especially when the media and general public is aware of it and it becomes a focus of attention. It had nothing to do with health hazards."

Agents wearing purple gloves took several bags, boxes and children's toys from both homes.

Weierman said the FBI contacted the Wellsville Police and the Allegany County Sheriff's Department before starting the searches at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.

"The searches are regarding the anthrax-laced letters from 2001 -- I can't go into background or reasoning. We want to stress there are no health or safety concerns and we contacted the state and local authorities and local health departments," said Weierman.

Helen Evans of the Allegany County Department of Public Health said, "They assured us that there are no anthrax related threats or health issues."

Weierman said there are 30 FBI agents and 13 postal inspectors who only work on this case. In Wellsville, over 30 came in by a Winnebago and several unmarked sport utility vehicles and trucks from Maryland, Pennsylvania and Buffalo. The agents have conducted 5,200 interviews in connection to the anthrax letters.

Dr. Berry currently owns a Cessna P210 plane, friends said. When he first came to Wellsville, he had a push-pull plane, a model with an engine in the front and an engine in the back. Officials at the airport in Wellsville say the Cessna plane has not been there in a year.

According to his Web site, Berry is a bioterrorism and weapons of mass destruction expert. In a 1997 USA Today interview, Berry said: "We ought to be planning to make anthrax vaccine widely available to the population starting in the major cities."

Berry is not originally from Wellsville, but he was charged by New York State Police with felony forgery in 1999. On March 17, 1999, he entered a guilty plea to a violation instead of a misdemeanor. He was accused of signing a fake will of the late Dr. Andrew Colletta, who died in May of 1998 at the age of 46.

At the time, Allegany County District Attorney Terry Parker, who prosecuted the case, said, "Ideally, if he were any other individual who had done this, I would have insisted on a misdemeanor. However, any criminal conviction would have resulted in him losing his medical license and never practicing again. As far as society was concerned, that would not be appropriate ... he does a lot of good for society with what he does."

Last week, the Wellsville Code Enforcement Office sent a violation to Dr. Berry for having two junk cars on his property. Village officials in Wellsville said Berry called and said the vehicles belonged to his daughter's boyfriend and they were going to be removed.

Former Jones Memorial Hospital Chief Operation Officer William DiBerardino said he saw Dr. Berry last week.

"I don't know what to think, this is hard to believe," said DiBerardino. "I talked to him a couple weeks ago at Music on the Lawn, we talked about flying. Most of our conversations seemed to end up about flying because I love flying and he has been flying for years.

"He was different. He was a decent doctor by all accounts, so, how do you explain different?" DiBerardino added.

Dr. Berry's next door neighbor, Bob Kosciewicz said "I last saw him last week ... this is a shock. This is surprising. He's a very quiet person.

"I don't picture him as a terrorist or anything like that," said Kosciewicz. "I understand he has a plane and he flies to where ever. He was on one of those rent-a-doctor deals, and he flew all over the place. I punched up his resume and saw his credentials, it was pretty impressive."

"I don't see him too often because he works other places so often," Kosciewicz continued. "They lived next door for about three years. The family left for vacation, and I thought he had some work in Pittsburgh. But I don't know where he works exactly ... he was different, but I always liked him."

Dr. Berry told DiBerardino he said he was working with the Federal Aviation Administration investigating crashes and that he remembers Dr. Berry teaching courses to emergency rooms on terrorists. Dr. Berry's Web site said he investigated the TWA Flight 800 crash in Long Island.

(The Newark Star-Ledger contributed to this report)
 

Wellsville was crawling with FBI

KATHRYN ROSS/Daily Reporter
Friday, August 06, 2004

Agencies from the police to the department of health were notified early Thursday that the FBI was executing search warrants in Wellsville concerning anthrax.

Neighbors were not that lucky.

Neighbors woke up at about 8:15 a.m. Thursday to the sight of several large, dark colored cars, vans and trucks, parked on their street and blocking the intersection at East Pearl Street and Wheeler Place.

"They were there when I got up just a couple of cars and then all the others showed up," said Eugene Coburn who lives across the street from the two-story, block-shaped, tan and cream-colored house at the corner of the two street.

"They just sort of swooped in shortly after we got here," said a member of a village work crew that has been repairing a water line on the street.

Neighbors say that haven't seen much of Berry who has lived in the house since February 2001, with his wife and their several children ranging from an approximately 2-year-old child to teenagers.

"He works out of state," said one neighbor who was stopped and questioned by F.B.I. agents before she could drive to her Pearl Street home.

"They kind of keep to themselves," Coburn stated.

Neighbors say they have also not seen the family since seeing them leave on vacation late last week.

FBI personnel also searched another residence Berry lived in before moving into the Pearl Street residence.

Standing across the street from 125 Maple Avenue where Berry lived in an apartment, Susan Decker and Don Figenscher both said they were surprised when they found dark-suited individuals going in and out of the house early in the morning. Decker who lives in the area and Figenscher who lives at 126 Maple Avenue said they vaguely remembered the doctor living there, but agreed that he hadn't lived there in years.

Both, and others at the scene said they observed agents carrying items out of the apartment including a small, hand-held, vacuum cleaner.

Berry worked as the director of Emergency Services at Jones Memorial Hospital from Dec. 1996 to Oct. 2001, said Judy Burt, public relations specialist for the hospital who confirmed that, "He was mainly an emergency room doctor."

She could not comment on his record with the hospital. However she did say that the F.B.I. had not contacted JMH concerning the doctor or his work there.

The FBI did talk to the Allegany County Department of Health. Spokesperson Helen Evans said Thursday, "They assured us that there are no anthrax related threats or health issues."

A spokesperson for the FBI, Josh Campbell, in Washington reported that while they were not at liberty to confirm names, the FBI was conducting searches at multiple locations in New York and New Jersey in relation to letters that were sent to people in September and October 2001 that resulted in the deaths of five people and caused severe illness in at least 17 others.

"There's no present danger," he said, " We confirmed that with state and local public health authorities."

Wellsville Mayor Bradley Thompson informed the press Thursday afternoon that the F.B.I. was looking for trace quantities of anthrax as part oof an ongoing investigation related to the anthrax-laced letters of September and October 2001. He reported, today, that no anthrax was found in Wellsville.

According to scientists, anthrax is a rare bacterial disease. Its spores can survive for years, and may be picked up from infected animals or bone meal.
 

Wellsville Police speak on Berry investigation

By KATHRYN ROSS/Daily Reporter
Friday, August 06, 2004

WELLSVILLE -- Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents worked well into the night Thursday, with officers from the Wellsville police department keeping watch as the agents searched 211 East Pearl Street.

Acting Wellsville Police Chief Steven Mattison said he was informed Wednesday night the F.B.I. would be executing a search warrant for the house at 211 East Pearl Street owned by Dr. Kenneth Barry and an apartment at 125 Maple Avenue where he once lived, on Thursday. No one was at either of the residences when the agents arrived. Reports say the family is on vacation at their home on the Jersey shore. Barry was a former director of the emergency room at Jones Memorial Hospital (JMH).

"I didn't know how extensive it was going to be until I went up there," Mattison said.

More than 50 agents, some from as far away as the Bahamas, most from Washington, Maryland and Buffalo arrived in the village Wednesday night. Others stayed in Olean before entering the Wellsville house between 8:15 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. Local officials said the agents were part of a special team put together by the F.B.I. to investigate such cases.

Looking at his watch more than 12 hours after the search warrants were executed, Mayor Bradley Thompson said, "When they contacted me they said they'd be here eight to ten hours."

Wellsville's officers were staying away from the site of the investigation until residents started expressing concern and the media arrived in mass by mid-afternoon.

"We put a couple of uniform officers up there, so the residents would feel better seeing a uniform they knew." Mattison said. He added that later in the day, to deal with media arriving from across the area, and the civilians that started to gather on Madison Street, more Wellsville officers were detailed to the scene, at the expense of the village.

Three of Wellsville's regular officers were working overtime at the scene according to Mattison who said Thursday night that he didn't know how long they would be working.

Mayor Bradley Thompson said that he doesn't think the cost can be billed to the F.B.I. or the federal government.

"We're the ones who decided to put uniform police up there," he said.

Deferring contact with the press to the mayor, the F.B.I. gave a statement to Thompson that stated the agency was conducting the search of the residences in relation to the investigation of the letters laced with anthrax that were mailed to politicians and the media following the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks. Five people died and 17 people suffered serious illness as a result of contact with those letters.

While a little overwhelmed by the number of F.B.I. agents involved in the operation, Mattison said he was impressed with the way the F.B.I. kept them informed. "I was a little surprised that the F.B.I. kept a little department like ours so well informed."
 

Wellsville doctor's trail can be found on Web; Berry identified as bioweapons expert

By LAWRENCE HOVISH/STAFF WRITER
Friday, August 06, 2004

On the Internet, Dr. Kenneth M. Berry comes across as one of the foremost experts on the biological threat to America, appearing in everything from interviews with MSNBC and USA Today to personal Web sites like the Prophecy Project and Revelation 6:4, which pulled his quotes from other sources.

In the Dec. 17, 1997, issue of USA Today Berry provided the lone dissenting voice against President Clinton's decision not to be vaccinated against anthrax or vaccinate the public. According to the newspaper, medical experts agreed with the president, saying the threat was just too low. Berry didn't agree.

"We ought to be planning to make anthrax vaccine widely available to the population starting in major cities," he told USA Today.

Berry also indicated military officials believed a terrorist attack using biological weapons would occur in a major U.S. city within five years.

The Wellsville doctor's list of accomplishments is long, indicative of the expertise that led him to be a weapons of mass destruction consultant to the United State Department of Defense and a lecturer on bio-ethics issues. Besides being founder and national coordinator of PREEMPT, Berry is president of the American Academy of Emergency Physicians and a member of, and special counsel to, the chair of the Board of Certification in Emergency Medicine, according to a Web site devoted to PREEMPT. He also served as director of emergency services at Jones Memorial Hospital in Wellsville until 2001.

The Web site indicated Berry is a fellow of the American Academy of Family Practice, the American College of Forensic Medicine and the American College of Forensic Examiners, and has considerable experience with forensic investigations of aircraft accidents, including the 1996 TWA Flight 800 crash off of Long Island.

Berry is a graduate of Fairfield University in Fairfield, Conn., the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine in Montserrat and did his third and fourth year clinical training predominantly at the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn.

"Dr. Berry has been one of the leaders within emergency Medical community in recognizing the potential threat of the use of weapons of mass destruction against American cities," the Web site quoted former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn of Georgia. "He has worked to develop a set of plans for expanding knowledge and training of emergency medical personnel using a ground up approach."

It was on June 14, 1997, in an interview with MSNBC, that Dr. Kenneth Berry said he didn't want to over-sensitize the people of the United States to possible weapons of mass destruction attacks, particularly in terms of biological weapons.

That was during the first Planned Response Exercise and Emergency Medical Preparedness Training conference in Philadelphia. By the second PREEMPT conference on Medical Domestic Preparedness Against Chemical, Biological and Nuclear Terrorism, which took place between April 4-6, 1998, Berry developed a hypothetical scenario involving an anthrax attack on San Francisco, Calif.

Though Berry seemed to avoid causing too much alarm during his 1997 interview, he did cause quite a stir in his Wellsville community Thursday as Federal Bureau of Investigation agents executed search warrants at his home, an apartment in Wellsville and his parents' residence in Dover Township, N.J., as part of the inquiry into the 2001 anthrax attacks that killed five people and sickened 17 more.

"At 7:30 a.m., this date, a group known as 'The Friends of Yousef' (a group supported by the HAMAS terrorist organization) called in a threat to CNN's San Francisco Bureau," Berry wrote in his scenario. "The group informed the network that they are prepared to make multiple airborne releases of a large quantity of an 'allegedly' new strain of anthrax."

The scenario also notes the strain is resistant to many antibiotics and the president is in town for a conference, before laying out all the medical services and other tools available to deal with the threat. Berry participated in other programs at the event, including ones on PREEMPT, a nuclear threat in Minneapolis, Minn. and a hazardous materials team workshop.

FBI searches houses tied to doctor from Jersey
Friday, August 06, 2004
BY KEVIN COUGHLIN, BRIAN T. MURRAY AND BRIAN DONOHUE
Star-Ledger Staff

The hunt for the killer in the 2001 anthrax attacks returned yesterday to New Jersey, where the attacks originated.

Federal agents searched a lagoon-front bungalow in Dover Township along with two upstate New York homes of a physician who founded an organization to train emergency workers to deal with biochemical attacks.

The doctor, Kenneth M. Berry -- a Teaneck native who in 1997 advocated anthrax vaccines for cities and predicted an imminent bioweapons attack -- was staying at his parents' red clapboard summer home in the Chadwick section of Dover Township when authorities arrived around 8 a.m. Neighbors said Berry took his family to breakfast at the nearby Sand Dollar Pancake House as the search proceeded.

Agents removed garbage bags filled with bulky contents, according to a neighbor. Authorities also removed boxes with clear plastic bags in them.

More than three dozen agents, some wearing protective suits, also rummaged through a pair of homes in Wellsville, N.Y., continuing a search that began Wednesday night. Property records list the homes as past and present addresses of Berry, who founded PREEMPT Medical Counter-Terrorism Inc. in 1997. On the organization's Web site, Berry, 48, also described himself as president of the American Academy of Emergency Physicians.

FBI spokesperson Debbie Weierman said, "This is solely regarding the anthrax mailings of 2001." Nobody was taken into custody, she said, explaining only that FBI agents and U.S. postal inspectors were executing search warrants that remain under seal.

Gov. James E. McGreevey said there was "no threat to public health or safety."

Berry's father, in an interview late last night at his home in Newtown, Conn., said the FBI was making his son a scapegoat for a botched investigation.

"Hey, here's a guy being shafted by the FBI," said William C. Berry, a retired financial director who now serves as president of PREEMPT. "It's just buying time because they have nothing on anthrax. You are looking at a setup."

Five persons died and at least 17 were sickened after anthrax- laced letters, postmarked Sept. 18 and Oct. 9, 2001, were sent to two Democratic senators and media organizations. The letters were processed at a postal center in Hamilton Township -- finally reopened this year after a costly decontamination -- and may have been sent from a mailbox in Princeton. The attacks prompted the closure of many government buildings and rocked a nation still reeling from the 9/11 terror strikes.

Over recent weeks, authorities have appeared to ramp up their efforts to crack what ranks among the most frustrating cases in FBI history.

For several days last month, they shut down labs at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick. They have reinterviewed former researchers from the Frederick, Md., base and even drained a nearby pond looking for discarded lab equipment.

Federal agents have logged more than 270,000 hours on the case, conducting more than 5,279 interviews, according to Weierman. Thirty FBI agents and 13 postal inspectors continue to hunt for clues.

Most attention so far has focused on another medical doctor, Steven J. Hatfill, described as "a person of interest" by Attorney General John Ashcroft but never charged.

From 1997 to 1999, Hatfill worked at Fort Detrick, the Army center that originally housed the anthrax strain sent in 2001. He has proclaimed his innocence and is suing the government and the New York Times.

Neither Hatfill nor Berry could be reached for comment yesterday. Berry's Web site says he presented a bioterrorism paper at Fort Detrick in January 1997, and, according to Berry's father, the two men know each other.

The father described Berry as exhausted and upset. He said his son has been interviewed before by the FBI because of his counterterror expertise.

"They have been on him for three years. They have no leads," William Berry said from his farmhouse, near Danbury.

Kenneth Berry, a father of seven who has been married twice, now teaches emergency room skills at a hospital affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh, his father said. Born in Teaneck, Kenneth Berry moved with his family to Switzerland at age 5. They returned to New Jersey, living in Wayne, and then moved to Connecticut.

The attention of the FBI is not all that Berry shares in common with Hatfill. They have foreign medical degrees, an evangelism for bioterror preparedness, and a flair for self-promotion and even hyperbole in their quests to become bio- defenders for the country.

Years before 2001, each man gave extensive interviews warning how bioterror attacks might be attempted, and how to thwart them.

"We ought to be planning to make anthrax vaccine widely available to the population starting in the major cities," Berry told USA Today in 1997, soon after the military announced plans to inoculate 2.4 million soldiers. Berry told the newspaper that military experts believed terrorists would attack a major U.S. city with biological weapons within five years.

From 1997 to 1999, Berry organized conferences under the banner of PREEMPT -- short for "Planned Response Exercises and Emergency Medical Preparedness Training." He proposed a system to train 200,000 emergency personnel for the aftermath of weapons of mass destruction. At a 1997 conference in San Francisco, he outlined a hypothetical scenario in which Middle East terrorists threatened to rain a "new strain of anthrax" on that city -- potentially killing more than a million people -- unless one of their leaders were released.

"It is important to know, however, that 99.9 percent of (emergency medical) personnel would not have competence in a WMD response," he told the conference, according to a text of his presentation.

That same year, he told MSNBC: "We don't want to oversensitize the population of the United States but we want to encourage in a very systemic and rational way that this indeed is a threat to our national security."

On Sept. 28, 2001 -- as it turns out, just days after the first anthrax mailings -- Berry filed for a patent on a surveillance system for identifying biological, chemical or nuclear attacks. The patent was awarded in March of this year.

Berry's conferences drew praise from former Sen. Sam Nunn (D- Ga.). "I wish you well in this most important endeavor," Nunn told Berry, according to a transcript. "What you're doing now is crucial to America's security."

Nunn's office was less effusive yesterday. Spokeswoman Lisa Cutler would say only that Nunn had met the doctor many years ago at a conference.

Berry's Web site also cites forensics experience that included the crash investigation of TWA Flight 800 in 1996. That was questioned yesterday by a spokeswoman for James Kallstrom, the former FBI official who headed the crash probe.

"He had nothing to do with it," Vicky Loughman, Kallstrom's spokeswoman, said of Berry.

Licensed as a physician in New York state, Berry lists a 1983 medical degree from the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine. Three years ago he quit as director of emergency medicine at the Jones Memorial Hospital in Wellsville after a scandal.

Berry and two others were charged in 1999 with forging the will of a fellow doctor who had died of a heart attack the year before. The common-law wife of the deceased doctor eventually was sentenced to five years in prison on forgery charges. Berry pleaded guilty in May 2000 to a disorderly conduct charge and paid $300 in fines and court fees.

A neighbor said the forgery incident "didn't do much for his reputation" in the tight-knit town of 7,600 people near the Pennsylvania border.

But a retired administrator from Jones Memorial Hospital doubted Berry could be involved with anthrax.

"He's an emergency room doctor. He's not a chemist or anything like that," William DiBerardino told the Associated Press.

The forgery episode did not derail Berry's counterterrorism efforts. According to his Web site, he spoke at a June conference in Sweden, advocating a network of air sensors to alert the population to bioterrorism agents and filtration systems in federal buildings such as the White House and CIA headquarters.

In Ocean County, a neighbor said Berry did not appear fazed by the investigation yesterday over breakfast at the pancake house.

"He seemed to be in a good mood," said Carolyn Schlichtig, who is renting the home next door to Berry. "There's a lot of speculation, but hopefully it turns out to be nothing."

Staff writers Mary Ann Spoto, John Mooney and Joe Ryan and Star-Ledger wire services contributed to this report.

Posted on Fri, Aug. 06, 2004

FBI agents search doctor's homes in anthrax case

BY JAMES GORDON MEEK AND HELEN KENNEDY

New York Daily News

WASHINGTON - (KRT) - Agents still hunting the 2001 anthrax killer on Thursday searched three homes of an upstate New York doctor who had formed his own counterterrorism group.

In the late 1990s, Dr. Kenneth Berry had warned that the nation was not prepared for a bioweapons attack and urged mass anthrax vaccinations.

Four federal sources told the Daily News that Berry is not the main focus of the FBI's 2001 "Amerithrax" probe.

"They're not really looking at him as a suspect," said one law enforcement source. "They're doing the searches to clear him," said another.

Ex-bioweapons researcher Steven Hatfill - who is suing the government for defamation - remains atop the list of "persons of interest," the sources said.

Agents combed Berry's home and former apartment in Wellsville, in west-central New York, and his parents' three-bedroom beach house in Lavalette, N.J.

Witnesses in both towns said the agents left with large filled plastic bags. Some were wearing protective suits, but local cops were told there was no danger to public health.

Berry could not be reached for comment.

Weeks after Sept. 11, 2001, envelopes filled with anthrax were mailed to news organizations and Washington lawmakers. Five people died and 17 were sickened.

FBI Director Robert Mueller has ordered agents to conduct a top-to-bottom review of the cold case and retrace old leads, one law enforcement source said.

In 1997, Berry formed his own group, Planned Response Exercises and Emergency Medical Preparedness Training, to prepare for a chemical or biological attack.

He appeared on NBC News that year warning about terrorism and was quoted in USA Today urging widespread anthrax inoculations.

One leading investigative theory is that the 2001 anthrax incident was a case of a well-meaning warning gone wrong.

The envelopes were labeled so the recipient would know to take antibiotics. The people who died were infected by spores that leaked from the envelopes.

Anthrax case hits home

Published in the Asbury Park Press 8/06/04
By TOM TRONCONE
and JOE ZEDALIS
STAFF WRITERS

DOVER TOWNSHIP -- Federal investigators probing the deadly 2001 mailings of anthrax-laced letters yesterday searched a Chadwick Beach bungalow owned by the parents of a prominent doctor who trains emergency workers and military personnel on how to respond to chemical and biological attacks.

The FBI also searched two upstate New York residences, current and former homes of Kenneth M. Berry, a weapons of mass destruction consultant to the Department of Defense. FBI officials declined to disclose details about what prompted the execution of the warrants, but Berry's daughter said federal authorities have been investigating him for several months in connection with the anthrax mailings.

"A couple of months ago, he told me he was being investigated by the FBI for the anthrax," said Nicole Berry, of Masontown, Pa., in a telephone interview. "He told me that people he knew knew how to make it or had access to it, but he said he had nothing to do with it."

The FBI would not discuss any link between Berry and the investigation, nor would they say what they sought inside the Sailfish Way home or in two homes in Wellsville, N.Y. A spokeswoman said the FBI does not have anyone in custody in connection with the mailings.

A team of investigators arrived at the red-shingled Chadwick Beach bungalow, owned by William C. and Virginia Berry, of Newtown, Conn.,the doctor's parents, around 8 a.m. and worked inside throughout the day, occasionally emerging from the house with boxes and filled plastic bags.

Neighbors said the Berry family spent the past two weeks at the house, with Berry's parents returning to Connecticut over the weekend. Authorities moved Berry and his family to an undisclosed location this morning before the FBI arrived, authorities said.

A female answering Berry's cellular telephone last night said he was not available. Reached at her home in Newtown, Conn., Virginia Berry, the doctor's mother, declined to comment on the searches.

Feds mum on probe

Both the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service were tight-lipped yesterday about the investigation. "I can confirm to you that we are down there," Special Agent Steven Kodak of the FBI in Newark said early yesterday afternoon. "And I can confirm the fact that it has to do with the anthrax letters."

Kodak referred further questions to the FBI's headquarters in Washington.

Debbie Weierman, spokeswoman for the FBI in Washington, said the agency was conducting searches at "multiple locations" in "New York and New Jersey" related to the investigation but declined to elaborate.

Most of the letters containing the anthrax were mailed from New Jersey, and a main post office processing center in Mercer County was closed for more than two years while authorities made sure it was safe. Five other post offices thought to have handled tainted letters were tested for anthrax, including Eatontown, but the tests were negative.

Berry is a physician at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in McKeesport, Pa., a hospital spokeswoman said last night.

Doctor worked with Army

He is also is the founder of Planned Response Exercises and Emergency Medical Preparedness Training (PREEMPT), an organization that trains emergency medical personnel in response protocols for terrorist attacks using chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. According to the organization's Web site, Berry presented a proposal regarding chemical and biological response training to Department of Defense and other government officials in January 1997 at Fort Detrick, Md. He has also developed training material in conjunction with the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, based at Fort Detrick.

It is widely believed that Fort Detrick was the source of the strain of anthrax in the September and October 2001 Anthrax mailings.

Less than two weeks ago, investigators completed a weeklong search of some Army biodefense laboratories at Fort Detrick, which temporarily closed laboratory suites at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.

As president of the American Academy of Emergency Physicians, Berry worked with Institute of Infectious Diseases, the FBI and the CIA in a 1997 program to train civilian physicians at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.

In Wellsville, N.Y., more than three dozen agents, some in protective suits, combed through two homes. Property records listed them as Berry's past and present addresses.

Investigators in Dover Township worked in street clothes. Some wore rubber gloves. Two large white vans were parked in front of the home all day and several other vehicles left and returned throughout the afternoon.

The house, located on the bayside of Route 35, is four houses in from the highway. Beach towels and bathing suits still hung on a clothesline as investigators went in and out of a side door. Agents also inspected a small boat moored behind the home in a lagoon.

Vehicles were towed away

Two flatbed trucks hauled away two vehicles away around noon, according to Adam Fadel of Dayton, Ohio, whose summer home is opposite the street leading to the bungalow. Just before 7 p.m., a champagne-colored Ford Windstar van with New York license plates was returned to the property. The license plate identified the dealership as one in Wellsville, N.Y.

Dover Township Police Chief Michael G. Mastronardy went door-to-door assuring residents and renters that the area was safe.

"I can't confirm it was about bio-chemicals or not," Mastronardy said. "We were asked to assist another agency in an investigation in a security role. That's all I can tell you."

Berry was a featured speaker a 1997 forum held by then Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., entitled Terrorism, Weapons of Mass Destruction and U.S. Security. He also discussed anthrax as a featured speaker at featured speaker at a FEMA conference 1997.

In June, Berry made a presentation about International Bio-Defense at a Swedish conference that talked about U.S. government counter-WMD programs, daily air sampling projects and the protective engineering of buildings.

Anthrax letters killed 5

Anthrax-laced envelopes were mailed in the 2001 to news media and government offices killing five people, sickening 17 others and further rattling a nation already on edge after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

One of the deaths occurred in Oxford, Conn., which is within 15 miles of Berry's parents' home.

Weierman said authorities have conducted 5,200 interviews in connection with the attacks. She said 30 FBI agents and 13 postal inspectors are devoted to the investigation.

As early as 1997, Berry was advocating widespread anthrax vaccinations.

"We ought to be planning to make anthrax vaccine widely available to the population starting in the major cities," he said in an interview with USA Today while predicting a major biological attack in a major U.S. city by 2002.

Berry pleaded guilty in May 2000 to a disorderly persons charge for forging the will of a doctor and was fined $300, according to a story in the Buffalo News.

The Associated Press contributed to this story and information from previous press stories was used in this story.

Tom Troncone (732) 643-4050 or ttroncone@app.com 

N.Y. physician linked to searches by FBI anthrax probe also employed by UPMC

Friday, August 06, 2004

By Byron Spice, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Dr. Kenneth Berry, an emergency physician whose addresses in New York and New Jersey have been searched by FBI agents investigating the 2001 anthrax attacks, is an employee of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

UPMC spokeswoman Jane Duffield confirmed that Berry is employed by Emergency Resources Management Inc., which provides staffing for the system's emergency rooms.

But Duffield said employee confidentiality barred her from saying how long Berry has been employed by the UPMC subsidiary, or where he worked. EMRI physicians could be assigned to any of the system's emergency rooms.

Berry was director of emergency services at Jones Memorial Hospital in Wellsville, N.Y., until 2001. William DiBerardino, who retired as the hospital's administrator four years ago, said he recalled Berry used to visit Pittsburgh even then, filling in at emergency rooms to make extra money.

This temporary physician staffing, known in the industry as locum tenens, has become a widespread practice in the last decade or so, as physicians look for ways to add to their income or, in many cases, adopt locum tenens as an alternative to a full-time practice.

Berry has had a Pennsylvania medical license since 1984. His license, which expires in December, is in good standing and he has had no disciplinary actions.

Berry in 1997 founded a group called PREEMPT Medical Counter-Terrorism Inc. to train emergency medical personnel on how to respond to chemical, biological or nuclear weapons attacks.

Dr. Michael Allswede, the UPMC emergency physician who specializes in medical response to WMD, could recall talking to Berry only once, soon after Allswede joined UPMC.

"I met him one time for about a half hour three years ago," Allswede said. "I don't have any idea what he's doing."

FBI agents investigating the 2001 anthrax attacks yesterday searched a number of addresses linked to Berry, who, days after the first anthrax mailings, had applied for a patent for a system to identify chemical and biological attacks.

And hours after yesterday's raids, Berry was charged with assault for allegedly fighting with four family members at a seaside motel, authorities said. Berry, 48, of Wellsville, New York, was released from jail on $10,000 bond.

More than three dozen agents, some in protective suits, combed through two Wellsville homes listed in property records as Berry's past and present addresses.

Officers also searched his parents' summer home in Dover Township on the New Jersey shore. They brought out garbage bags that appeared to be filled with bulky contents, said Jonathan DeGraw, 26, who rents the house next door. They also removed boxes containing clear plastic bags.

Two flatbed trucks hauled away two vehicles, according to another neighbor, Adam Fadel. One of the vehicles was returned yesterday evening.

An FBI spokesman in Washington said the FBI and Postal Inspection Service were searching multiple locations in Wellsville and Dover Township as part of the anthrax probe. He declined to say what agents were seeking.

"There is no present danger to public health or safety," said Joe Parris, FBI supervisory special agent.

Anthrax-laced envelopes were mailed in fall 2001 to government offices and news media. Five people were killed and 17 fell ill, further rattling a nation on edge after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Attorney General John Ashcroft had labeled Dr. Steven Hatfill, a former government scientist and bioweapons expert, as a "person of interest" in the case. Hatfill, who once worked at the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Maryland, has denied any wrongdoing and sued Ashcroft and other officials, saying his reputation was ruined. The lawsuit is pending.

Berry's father, William C. Berry, told The Star-Ledger of Newark that his son and Hatfill know each other. Berry's Web site says he presented a bioterrorism paper at Fort Detrick in January 1997.

Berry's father said the FBI was unfairly targeting his son.

"Hey, here's a guy being shafted by the FBI," William Berry said at his home in Newtown, Connecticut. "It's just buying time because they have nothing on anthrax. You are looking at a setup."

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Post-Gazette science editor Byron Spice can be reached at bspice@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1578

KDKA | kdka.com
Local Ties in Federal Anthrax Probe

Aug 6, 2004 6:35 pm US/Eastern

The investigation into the anthrax attacks that killed five people in 2001 has taken authorities to a New Jersey doctor's house; and KDKA has discovered that the man they're now calling a "material witness" worked as an emergency room doctor at UPMC McKeesport -- and is an expert on bioterrorism.

In late 2001, someone mailed anthrax-laced letters to several politicians and media outlets. The anthrax infected 22 people and five people died.

Over the past few days, FBI agents along with local police searched three homes owned by Dr. Kenneth Berry -- two in New York and one in New Jersey. Agents removed bags and boxes, but wouldn't discuss the case; again, no one will say how -- or if -- Dr. Berry is involved.

Sources tell KD Investigator Marty Griffin that agents started looking at Dr. Berry shortly after the anthrax attacks started; but it took over 5,000 interviews and 30 FBI agents and 13 postal inspectors working on the case to come up with enough evidence to consider him a "material witness."

KDKA has, however, learned that Berry co-founded a company called PREEMPT Medical Counter-Terrorism, to train medical professionals to respond to chemical and biological attacks.

Berry also worked as an emergency room doctor in the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center System. UPMC can't comment.

Meantime in a strange twist to this case, Dr. Berry was arrested today at a New Jersey hotel. He's charged with assault; witnesses say he was fighting with family members inside a hotel room.

The local FBI cannot comment on the case, or confirm whether or not local agents are involved in the search of Dr. Berry's properties.

Meanwhile, bio-terrorism experts who have been questioned by the FBI and who wish to remain anonymous say they are not surprised the FBI would look at Dr. Berry as a possible material witness.

Berry has not been charged with any crime.

BIOWAR: Anthrax raid focuses on NY doctor
By Dee Ann Divis
Senior Science and Technology Editor
Published 8/6/2004 11:10 AM

WASHINGTON, Aug. 6 (UPI) -- New York state physician Kenneth M. Berry has replaced "person of interest" Steven Hatfill at the center of the search for the murderer who killed five people three years ago by sending anthrax-laden letters through the U.S. postal system.

A search warrant executed in Wellsville, N.Y., targeted a home reportedly owned by Berry, who has a business interest in biodefense. Police in the town of Wellsville, located in the southwestern part of New York state, confirmed the house being searched was located on Pearl Street, matching the street name given in reports of Berry's residence. Phone and e-mail efforts to contact Berry directly about the house and search were unsuccessful.

Federal law enforcement officials also searched a Wellsville apartment used by Berry, according to the local newspaper, the Wellsville Daily Reporter. At least one other search was conducted in Dover Township, N.J., though it was not clear if it was related to Berry. The house in question is a rental unit, said an editor at the Ocean County Observer. There is no indication the owner of the rental property was the target of the New Jersey search. Efforts to contact the owner were unsuccessful. It is not clear who, if anyone, currently resides at each location.

"These searches are related to the FBI's ongoing investigation into the origin of anthrax-laced letters mailed in September and October 2001, which resulted in the deaths of five individuals and serious illnesses in 17 others," Debbie Weierman, spokeswoman for the FBI's Washington, D.C., Field Office, told United Press International.

Code named "Amerithrax," the investigation is run by the Washington Field office.

Weierman acknowledged that the searches were the conducted by FBI agents and U.S. Postal Service inspectors but would not comment on the goal of the searches, saying the details of the warrants were sealed. News reports indicate some 30 agents conducted the search in Wellsville alone.

The FBI's approach is quite different from that taken during searches in July at U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Frederick, Md. In that and earlier searches, the agency refused to confirm or deny the efforts were tied to the anthrax case.

This time, Weierman confirmed that the action was tied to Amerithrax. Because property ownership generally is a matter of public record, it would be highly unlikely the identities of the owners of the properties at the center of the high-profile searches could remain confidential.

As of Thursday, no arrests were made in relation to the searches, Weierman said, and reports about the searches have not indicated whether anyone was occupying the homes at the time. The New York Times reported Friday that Berry had been arrested Thursday on domestic assault charges at Point Pleasant Beach, N.J. He was released on bail.

The circumstances of Thursday's actions are eerily reminiscent of searches at the residence of Steven Hatfill, another physician involved in biodefense and training. Hatfill was named a "person of interest" by Attorney General John Ashcroft and became the subject of intense FBI scrutiny and pressure for well over a year. Never arrested, Hatfill lost his job and is now suing the Department of Justice and others over his treatment.

A Web site associated with Berry, and containing a picture matching one published by the New York Times in relation to the Point Pleasant arrest, shows a physician with a keen interest and financial investment in preparing the nation for a bioterror attack.

Berry describes himself on the site as the national coordinator of the "Planned Response Exercises and Emergency Medical Preparedness Training" program. The site also includes a business plan for PREEMPT Systems Inc., a firm seeking to organize training for first responders.

The PREEMPT plan, according to a 1997 letter transcribed on the site, was an ambitious one, involving the "formulation of a national program, which will provide effective emergency response training to 200,000 local primary responders over the next five to 10 years."

The letter was read at an unidentified forum hosted in 1997 by former Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga. Another letter Berry wrote to Nunn on Sept. 5, 1997, gave an update on PREEMPT and asked for help in getting federal funds into the hands of local emergency providers. The letter also requested an introduction to Vice President Al Gore in his capacity as head of the National Security Council.

Berry helped sponsor conferences from 1997 to 1999, but the Web site shows few updates until 2004. In June of this year, Berry appears to have given a presentation on behalf of PREEMPT Systems in Gothenburg, Sweden. He proposed a national program that would link buildings with embedded sensors. The goal is to anticipate, and perhaps ameliorate, the impact of a bioterror attack.

The varying fortunes of Berry's company reflected on the Web site trace the rise and fall of federal interest in bioterror defense over the last eight years.

During the late 1990s, President Clinton, prodded by counter-terrorism adviser Richard Clarke, took a strong and personal interest in biodefense. Though there had been attempts to use bioweapons before, the sarin gas attack by Aum Shinri Kyo on March 20, 1995, in Tokyo -- and the little-known, failed attempt by the same group to use anthrax -- lit a fire under the administration. Funding for federal activities to counter bioterrorism jumped sharply and key defensive and recovery programs were put into place.

The drive behind the programs gradually faded with time, however, and the administration was further distracted by the Monica Lewinsky scandal starting around 1997.

Over the last three years, one of the widely suggested motivations for the still-unidentified anthrax killer has been a business interest in an expanded biodefense effort. The experience of dealing with the letters, and the stark lack of emergency preparation revealed by the attacks in New York and Washington, kicked the federal government into high gear once again. A large part of the funds now being expended go to training first responders, an area relevant to PREEMPT's original business interests. Many companies, however, were chasing biodefense dollars at the same time PREEMPT was trying to capture funding and interest.

E-mail ddivis@upi.com

Berry prominent in forensic probes

DAVE SOMMERS , Staff Writer  08/06/2004
The Trentonian

TRENTON -- In one sense, Dr. Kenneth M. Berry seemed almost clairvoyant, predicting in 1998 that the U.S. would soon be in desperate need of first responders to handle the likely event of a chemical, nuclear or biological attack on our cities.

On the other hand, the President of the American Academy of Emergency Physicians and WMD expert has also become a person of interest to federal authorities who yesterday searched his summer home in Dover Township as part of their investigation into the 2001 anthrax attacks.

Just who is this man and why is he a possible target of an investigation some three years later?

According to the Georgia Institute of Technology website, Berry is a member of Phi Sigma Tau, the National Honor Society of Philosophy, and has written numerous papers on bioethics issues.

He has extensive experience in conducting forensic investigations of aircraft accidents, including the case of the mysterious July 1996 TWA flight 800 crash off Long Island.

He is also a multi-instrument-rated commercial pilot, and an aviation medical examiner with the Federal Aviation Administration.

But perhaps the most intriguing thing to authorities interested in the anthrax attacks is Berry’s position as a former WMD consultant to the U.S. Department of Defense back in the late 1990s.

At the time, he had a reputation as one who spoke repeatedly of the potential threat of the use of weapons of mass destruction against American cities, including biological, chemical and nuclear.

As such, he founded The PREEMPT (Planned Response Exercises and Emergency Medical Preparedness Training) WMD Preparedness Project, which directed officials how best to prepare for the event of attacks, which he considered highly probable eventually, the Georgia Tech website states.

During one speaking engagement at the University of Georgia in Athens, Ga., in April of 1997, Berry told a crowd of medical dignitaries and politicians that he was very concerned about the state of the nation’s Emergency Medical Systems in preparing for biological or chemical assault.

"(T)he training, preparation, and education on such concerns within the emergency medicine community is next to nil," he reportedly said, quoting a letter he had sent to former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.).

"Our literature to date has very little in its content regarding such topics. A further phase of EMS and emergency medicine education and preparation for potential biologic and/or chemical assaults needs to now ensue."

The website says Berry went on to complain that civilian physicians had been "left out of the loop" in preparing for biological and chemical assaults.

He also warned that the nation needed to train at least 200,000 "primary responders," over the next five to 10 years whereby the police and firefighters would ultimately function under the authority of emergency medical command physicians in each state.

Wellsville doctor leaves clear trail on the Internet
By LAWRENCE HOVISH - STAFF WRITER
Hornell Evening Tribune
August 6, 2004

On the Internet, Dr. Kenneth M. Berry comes across as one of the foremost experts on the biological threat to America, appearing in everything from interviews with MSNBC and USA Today to personal Web sites like the Prophecy Project and Revelation 6:4, which pulled his quotes from other sources.

In the Dec. 17, 1997, issue of USA Today Berry provided the lone dissenting voice against President Clinton's decision not to be vaccinated against anthrax or vaccinate the public. According to the newspaper, medical experts agreed with the president, saying the threat was just too low. Berry didn't agree.

"We ought to be planning to make anthrax vaccine widely available to the population starting in major cities," he told USA Today.

Berry also indicated military officials believed a terrorist attack using biological weapons would occur in a major U.S. city within five years.

The Wellsville doctor's list of accomplishments is long, indicative of the expertise that led him to be a weapons of mass destruction consultant to the United State Department of Defense and a lecturer on bio-ethics issues. Besides being founder and national coordinator of PREEMPT, Berry is president of the American Academy of Emergency Physicians and a member of, and special counsel to, the chair of the Board of Certification in Emergency Medicine, according to a Web site devoted to PREEMPT. He also served as director of emergency services at Jones Memorial Hospital in Wellsville until 2001.

The Web site indicated Berry is a fellow of the American Academy of Family Practice, the American College of Forensic Medicine and the American College of Forensic Examiners, and has considerable experience with forensic investigations of aircraft accidents, including the 1996 TWA Flight 800 crash off of Long Island.

Berry is a graduate of Fairfield University in Fairfield, Conn., the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine in Montserrat and did his third and fourth year clinical training predominantly at the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn.

"Dr. Berry has been one of the leaders within emergency Medical community in recognizing the potential threat of the use of weapons of mass destruction against American cities," the Web site quoted former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn of Georgia. "He has worked to develop a set of plans for expanding knowledge and training of emergency medical personnel using a ground up approach."

It was on June 14, 1997, in an interview with MSNBC, that Berry said he didn't want to over-sensitize the people of the United States to possible weapons of mass destruction attacks, particularly in terms of biological weapons.

That was during the first Planned Response Exercise and Emergency Medical Preparedness Training conference in Philadelphia. By the second PREEMPT conference on Medical Domestic Preparedness Against Chemical, Biological and Nuclear Terrorism, which took place between April 4-6, 1998, Berry developed a hypothetical scenario involving an anthrax attack on San Francisco, Calif.

Though Berry seemed to avoid causing too much alarm during his 1997 interview, he did cause quite a stir in his Wellsville community Thursday as Federal Bureau of Investigation agents executed search warrants at his home, an apartment in Wellsville and his parents' residence in Dover Township, N.J., as part of the inquiry into the 2001 anthrax attacks that killed five people and sickened 17 more.

"At 7:30 a.m., this date, a group known as 'The Friends of Yousef' (a group supported by the HAMAS terrorist organization) called in a threat to CNN's San Francisco Bureau," Berry wrote in his scenario. "The group informed the network that they are prepared to make multiple airborne releases of a large quantity of an 'allegedly' new strain of anthrax."

The scenario also notes the strain is resistant to many antibiotics and the president is in town for a conference, before laying out all the medical services and other tools available to deal with the threat. Berry participated in other programs at the event, including ones on PREEMPT, a nuclear threat in Minneapolis, Minn. and a hazardous materials team workshop.

Doctor's homes, past probed

Saturday, August 07, 2004
By JEFFREY GOLD
The New Jersey Times

DOVER TOWNSHIP - A doctor whose homes were searched by FBI agents investigating the 2001 anthrax attacks had filed an application for a patent for a surveillance system to identify chemical and biological attacks in September 2001.

Dr. Kenneth M. Berry, who founded an organization in 1997 that trains medical professionals to respond to chemical and biological attacks, applied for his patent on Sept. 28, 2001, according to the Patent and Trademark Office Web site. He filed for a provisional patent for the system nearly a year earlier, on Oct. 2, 2000.

The first anthrax letters were postmarked Sept. 18, 2001, in Trenton.

The patent was awarded to Berry in March.

"In an era where chemical, biological or nuclear attacks at one or more locations either globally or within a country are possible, it is desirable to have a surveillance system capable of locating and identifying the type of attack so that a rapid response can be initiated," the description of the invention's background read.

Berry's system uses a computer to combine weather data with information on how various concentrations of biological or chemical agents would affect a specific location, according to the patent office filing.

Hours after Thursday's raids in upstate New York and New Jersey, Berry was charged with assault for allegedly fighting with four family members at a seaside motel, authorities said. Berry, 46, of Wellsville, N.Y., was released from jail on $10,000 bond.

More than three dozen agents, some in protective suits, combed through two homes listed in property records as Berry's past and present addresses in Wellsville, a bucolic village of 5,000 residents near the Pennsylvania line. They wrapped up their daylong search after dark but did not reveal whether they found anthrax, Mayor Brad Thompson said yesterday.

About 250 miles to the southeast, the Jersey Shore home of Berry's parents was also searched on Thursday. There was no sign of further police activity there yesterday.

Investigators brought out garbage bags that appeared to be filled with bulky contents, said Jonathan DeGraw, 26, who rents the house next door. They also removed boxes containing clear plastic bags.

Two flatbed trucks hauled away two vehicles, according to another neighbor, Adam Fadel. One of the vehicles was returned Thursday evening.

An FBI spokesman in Washington said the FBI and Postal Inspection Service were searching in Wellsville and Dover Township as part of the anthrax probe. He declined to say what agents were seeking.

"There is no present danger to public health or safety," said Joe Parris, FBI supervisory special agent.

Anthrax-laced envelopes were mailed in fall 2001 to government offices and news media. Five people were killed and 17 fell ill, further rattling a nation on edge after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Attorney General John Ashcroft had labeled Dr. Steven Hatfill, a former government scientist and bioweapons expert, as a "person of interest" in the case.

Hatfill, who once worked at the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Md., has denied any wrongdoing and sued Ashcroft and other officials, saying his reputation was ruined. The lawsuit is pending. Hatfill attorney Tom Connolly in Washington, D.C., declined to comment yesterday on the searches involving Berry.

Berry's father, William C. Berry, told The Star-Ledger of Newark that his son and Hatfill know each other. Berry's Web site says he presented a bioterrorism paper at Fort Detrick in January 1997.

Hatfill spokesman Patrick Clawson said the two men are not acquainted. "(Hatfill) couldn't pick this guy out of a lineup," he said.

Berry's father said the FBI was unfairly targeting his son.

"Hey, here's a guy being shafted by the FBI," William Berry said at his home in Newtown, Conn. "It's just buying time because they have nothing on anthrax. You are looking at a setup."

Kenneth Berry was arrested Thursday by police responding to a domestic dispute at the White Sands Resort and Spa in the vacation community of Point Pleasant Beach, about 10 miles from Dover Township.

Officers there discovered the FBI search warrant after arresting Berry.

Berry told them he had done nothing wrong with anthrax, Point Pleasant Beach Police Chief Daniel DePolo said in a news conference yesterday.

"He just denied he was guilty of anything," DePolo said.

Berry faces four charges of simple assault. Three of the victims, as well as Berry, required treatment at medical facilities, DePolo said.

Family members had scratches and bruises. Berry told authorities he felt nauseous.

The fight happened about 1:20 p.m. as Berry and his family were checking in to the motel.

"Apparently, there was a dispute over a cell phone, and it's my understanding that there was a lot of stress from search warrants that were being conducted," DePolo said.

Berry, a New Jersey native, was director of emergency services at Jones Memorial Hospital in Wellsville until 2001. He resigned after pleading guilty to disorderly conduct to settle charges of forgery.

State police said Berry's signature was on a fake will of the late Dr. Andrew Colletta, according to The Wellsville Daily Reporter. While initially charged with two counts of second-degree forgery, the plea to a lesser violation allowed him to keep his medical license.

Acquaintances in New York and New Jersey said they were surprised to learn Berry was under scrutiny in the anthrax case.

"I just can't believe he'd be involved in anything like (anthrax) but who knows? Life's kind of funny," said William DiBerardino, a retired administrator at Jones Memorial Hospital.

"He's an emergency room doctor. He's not a chemist or anything like that," DiBerardino said.

"From what I know, he's a fine, conscientious physician who always had the interest of his patients at heart," said Joseph Pelych, the lawyer who represented Berry in that case. "I find it hard to believe he would be involved" in anthrax.

News of the home searches also surprised those in Dover Township, where Berry spends two weeks each summer, often going out in the marshes in his father's boat and listening to birds.

"Our family believes he wouldn't have anything to do with this," said Christopher Trotman, 24.

Anthrax-laced envelopes were mailed through the Hamilton post office in the fall of 2001 to news media and government offices, including those of Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

The attacks left five Trenton-area postal workers ill with anthrax, including four workers inside the postal facility on Route 130 in Hamilton. All five postal workers and a Hamilton accountant, who contracted anthrax from contaminated mail, recovered, but five people died and 17 were sickened across the nation.

The severely contaminated Hamilton facility was closed in October 2001 and has undergone extensive decontamination. Postal officials recently announced it may reopen in March. NOTE:

Associated Press writers Ben Dobbin in Wellsville, N.Y., and Krista Larson and David Porter in Trenton contributed to this report.

A routine arrest in a baffling case
Vacationing cop tackles doctor as federal agents seek anthrax clues

Saturday, August 07, 2004
BY MARY JO PATTERSON AND BILL SWAYZE
Star-Ledger Staff

She was supposed to be on vacation at the Jersey Shore.

Instead, Chatham Township Police Chief Elizabeth Goeckel found herself wrestling with Kenneth M. Berry, the man the FBI has made the latest focus of its search for the anthrax killer.

On Thursday, five hours after federal agents armed with search warrants swarmed over Berry family homes in Dover Township and Wellsville, N.Y., Goeckel said she intervened as Berry was beating up a family member.

Details of that confrontation, and Berry's subsequent arrest on assault charges, emerged yesterday, one day after federal agents armed with search warrants made Berry a public figure. But his connection, if any, to the puzzling 3-year-old anthrax murder case remained unclear.

Yesterday, federal agents declined to say what, if anything, they found in their search Thursday of properties in Wellsville, N.Y. and Dover Township linked to Berry, a 46-year-old physician and counterterrorism expert. They are investigating the anthrax mailings that killed five people and sickened 17 others in 2001.

Berry himself, a Wellsville, N.Y., resident employed as an emergency room doctor at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in McKeesport, Pa., has declined to comment on the events, and his whereabouts were unknown yesterday. The Dover Township bungalow where Berry was vacationing this week with his family belongs to his parents, William and Virginia Berry of Newtown, Conn.

Yet a number of unusual things in Berry's background have surfaced since the FBI descended on his parents' home, including specifics on the violence Thursday at the White Sands Oceanfront Resort & Spa in Point Pleasant Beach.

Authorities said Berry punched his wife, Tana, and two stepdaughters, ages 17 and 18, and jeopardized his son, 3, during an argument that erupted over a cell phone.

"There was a dispute over a cell phone and a lot of stress, based on search warrants that were being conducted," Point Pleasant Beach Police Chief Daniel DePolo said yesterday.

Chatham Township police chief Goeckel intervened before police arrived on the scene, spying the ruckus as she waited for an elevator in the lobby of the hotel.

Goeckel said she saw a man push a young woman through the doors leading into the lobby, then hit her about the face and upper body and shove her to the floor.

"She was screaming, 'Help.' When I saw that, that was going to stop. I had no emotion. I thought how can he do that to her?" Goeckel said yesterday.

The chief, 5 feet, 3 inches tall, 120 pounds and dressed in sandals and beachwear, said she pulled the woman by the arms out from under the man. When Berry tried to stand, she grabbed him by his right arm, twisted it behind his back, then put all of her weight on his back and pinned him down.

"I used every ounce I had," she said.

A hotel worker rushed over to help her keep the 175-pound Berry pinned.

Goeckel had no idea at the time that the man underneath her was at the center of the anthrax investigation.

"I didn't know who he was until I saw the paper on the Boardwalk today. I went, 'Oh, my God. That was the guy I was on top of,'" she said.

Police arrived and placed Berry under arrest. His wife later obtained a temporary restraining order against her husband.

At a news conference yesterday, Point Pleasant Beach police chief DePolo said police arrested Berry at 1:21 p.m. Thursday on four counts of simple assault, a disorderly persons offense. He was released on $10,000 bail at 12:10 a.m. yesterday.

Three of Berry's relatives required treatment for bruises and abrasions, he said.

DePolo said Berry was combative at the scene. When police discovered the federal agents' search warrant in his pocket, Berry vehemently denied having any involvement in any federal crime. But he did not mention anthrax, DePolo said.

"He just said he wasn't guilty of anything," he said.

After his arrest, Berry complained of feeling sick. Police said he was examined at Ocean Medical Center in Brick and then returned to the Ocean County Jail in Toms River.

People who know Berry described him yesterday as a man with many interests.

Public records show that he is a doctor and member of the American College of Emergency Physicians; a pilot who owned a single- engine 210M Centurion; an inventor; and a family man, with seven children and stepchildren from two marriages. He was also an impassioned counterterrorist who had patented a system to identify chemical and biological agents.

But Berry is also a man with a blemished past, convicted in connection with a scheme to forge the will of a fellow doctor in 2000 in New York state.

His father, a retired accountant, said his son remained in New Jersey yesterday but declined to say where.

William Berry, interviewed at the bungalow in Dover Township, said that an FBI agent named Bob Roth, informed him yesterday that the search had uncovered no evidence of anthrax.

"He said 'The house is completely free of any biological agents,'" the elder Berry said.

He expressed frustration over the search warrants and insisted that the FBI was scapegoating his son.

Berry said he erred in an earlier interview when he said his son knew Steven J. Hatfill, another medical doctor investigated by the FBI in the anthrax case.

Pat Clawson, a private investigator acting as spokesman for Hatfill, agreed. He said yesterday that Hatfill never met Berry and does not known him.

Berry and his first wife, Aileen, lived in Cheltenham Township near Philadelphia for several years in the early 1990s when he worked as an emergency room physician, according to neighbors. When the two split up, Aileen moved back to western Pennsylvania with the couple's two daughters. Berry took a job at a hospital in Wellsville, N.Y., in 1996 and eventually remarried.

Yesterday, neighbors in Masontown, about 65 miles south of Pittsburgh, said Berry rented an apartment there that he would use during weekend visits to spend time with his two daughters.

Tim Kovach, who lived next door, remembers Berry flying his airplane from his residence in Philadelphia to spend weekends at the apartment.

Kovach and another neighbor said the FBI had visited the duplex apartment building about a month ago, questioning residents and inspecting his former apartment.

Staff writers Mary Ann Spoto, Joe Ryan, Brian Donohue and Brian Murray contributed to this report.

FBI queried ex-neighbors of anthrax probe figure

By Luis Fabregas and Reid R. Frazier
PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Saturday, August 7, 2004

FBI agents have questioned the former Fayette County neighbors of a UPMC-McKeesport doctor linked to a federal investigation of the deadly 2001 anthrax attacks.

The agents did not mention anthrax when asking about Dr. Kenneth Berry two months ago, but inquired about the physician's attitude toward the government, Tim Kovach, 42, of Masontown, said Friday.

"They said they were here for a job check, but I knew (different)," said Kovach, who lives in a duplex neighboring the home where Berry for several years spent weekends. "Then at the end, they asked if he ever said anything against the government, and 'Did you ever witness him doing anything that would compromise the government?'"

Authorities investigating the anthrax attacks on Thursday searched two Wellsville, N.Y., homes used by Berry, a UPMC-McKeesport emergency room doctor and self-described bioterrorism expert. Hours later, Berry was charged with assault in a fight with four relatives at a seaside motel in Point Pleasant Beach, N.J. 

The physician has not been connected to the 2001 attacks and told police he had nothing to do with anthrax, Point Pleasant Beach police Chief Daniel DePolo said in a news conference yesterday.

Federal investigators wrapped up their daylong search of the Wellsville properties after dark, but would not reveal whether they had found anthrax, Mayor Brad Thompson said. Authorities would not say why the homes had been targeted.

"It's an ongoing investigation," said Jeff Killeen, the FBI spokesman in the Pittsburgh field office.

UPMC officials said Berry is employed by Emergency Resource Management, an arm of the hospital network. They declined to provide further information on Berry's employment, citing personnel policies.

Five people were killed and 17 fell ill in the fall of 2001, when envelopes laced with anthrax were mailed to government offices and news media.

Attempts yesterday to reach Berry by telephone and e-mail were unsuccessful.

Berry has worked at UPMC-McKeesport to supplement his income from working as director of emergency services at Jones Memorial Hospital in Wellsville, said William DiBerardino, who retired as Jones Memorial president in 2000.

An accomplished pilot, Berry flew a private plane from Philadelphia to Waynesburg, then drove to Masontown on weekends from 1993 to 1996 to visit his daughters, Nicole and Michelle, Kovach said. The physician has remarried since divorcing the mother of Nicole and Michelle, whose family lives in Masontown. He quit maintaining the duplex in 1996 or 1997, Kovach said.

When FBI agents came to the neighborhood on Smithfield Road in late May or early June, they asked whether Berry had been seen abusing family members, but did not mention anthrax, Kovach said.

Berry is the founder of Preempt Medical Counter-Terrorism, a business that trains medical professionals to respond to chemical and biological attacks. Berry in a 1997 interview with USA Today called for anthrax vaccines to be made "widely available to the population, starting in the major cities."

The physician in March received patent approval for a system to track chemical and biological agents in the air.

"He's a medical doctor who has a genuine, committed interest in bioterror issues," said David Levin, a professor at the University of Victoria in British Colombia, who is working with Berry on a proposal to test the system. Although they have spoken frequently over the telephone, Berry and Levin have not met.

"In the world of academics and science, you meet people all the time by the Internet and telephone and you have similar interests and you just sort of go with it," Levin said. "Who's to know whether he's a closet terrorist or not? You just don't make those kinds of assumptions."

Jones Memorial's DiBerardino said he ran into Berry, who was with his family, two weeks ago at a concert in a New York park.

"He didn't seem any different," DiBerardino said. "He's always very pleasant."

DiBerardino said he and Berry talked about flying -- a common interest for both. Berry also has a license to fly commercial jets, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

"He was a little different in that he was interested in airplane crashes and bioterrorism," DiBerardino said. "As far as I know, he's a decent guy, a decent doctor, but who knows? I have no reason to think he's into anything."

The physician's father, William Berry, of Newtown, Conn., told his hometown newspaper, The Star-Ledger, that his son was exhausted and upset over the house searches. He also said his son knows Dr. Steven Hatfill, a government scientist whom authorities have described as a "person of interest in the case."

Hatfill, who once worked at the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Md., has denied any wrongdoing and sued Attorney General John Ashcroft and other officials, saying his reputation was ruined. The lawsuit is pending. Berry's Web site says he presented a bioterrorism paper at Fort Detrick in January 1997.

"Hey, here's a guy being shafted by the FBI," William Berry said of his son. "It's just buying time because they have nothing on anthrax. You are looking at a setup."

Berry was released yesterday from Ocean County Jail after posting $10,000 bail on the assault charges against his relatives. He complained of illness and vomiting while in police custody, authorities said. One of the relatives was taken to a hospital for treatment, police said.

Federal agents showed up unannounced early Thursday at a one-bedroom apartment on Maple Street in Wellsville, where Berry had been a tenant, said the owner of the Victorian home, Barry Dunne. The landlord described Berry as a courteous man whom he saw only occasionally.

Dunne said Berry was his tenant in the upstairs apartment for about four months in 2001. Dunne bought the home in August 2001.

"He looked a little worn out, like most doctors," said Dunne, 43.

Dunne said Berry told him he was getting married, then moved out.

Berry has used Preempt to foster his interest in training emergency workers to respond to chemical and biological attacks. During a presentation in Sweden in June, Berry used a map of Pittsburgh to explain some of his work.

The company Web site also refers to him as president of the American Academy of Emergency Physicians. A spokeswoman for a different group, the American College of Emergency Physicians, said the group that Berry belongs to is not recognized by the American Medical Association. Berry has held a medical license to practice in Pennsylvania since 1984.

Berry is an aviation medical examiner for the Federal Aviation Administration, which means he gives physicals to those applying for pilots' licenses.

The Pittsburg Tribune-Review

FBI scours car of doctor

By Karen Roebuck
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, August 8, 2004

More than a dozen FBI agents investigating the 2001 anthrax attacks descended on Connellsville Airport Saturday to comb through a UPMC-McKeesport doctor's car.

Agents vacuumed Dr. Kenneth M. Berry's white Mercury Sable for evidence, said Frank Sero, an employee at Connellsville Airport, Fayette County.

He did not know what the agents were seeking, or what they took from the car. Forensic investigators frequently use vacuums to collect fibers, hair samples and other trace evidence.

"I can confirm that we did conduct a search of a vehicle at the Connellsville Airport," said Special Agent Jeff Killeen, of the Pittsburgh field office. "The search was in connection with the fall 2001 anthrax mailings. There was no threat to the public health or public safety from this search." 

Killeen would not say whose vehicle was searched or what was taken from the car. Agents searching the vehicle wore protective clothing to safeguard potential evidence from contamination, he said. Killeen would not say whether agents had searched any planes in connection with the case.

Authorities searched Berry's house and an apartment where he once lived in Wellsville, N.Y., south of Buffalo, along with his parents' summer home on the New Jersey shore. Two months ago, FBI agents questioned former neighbors in Masontown, Fayette County, about Berry's attitude toward the government.

Berry, 46, had worked as an emergency room doctor at UPMC-McKeesport until Friday, though an operator last night said he no longer is employed by the hospital. A University of Pittsburgh Medical Center official did not return calls seeking comment.

The physician was released from the Ocean County, N.J., jail early Friday after posting $10,000 bail on assault charges stemming from a family fight at a beach resort. Point Pleasant, N.J., police Chief Daniel DePolo said stress over the searches apparently was a factor in the dispute and that Berry told police he had nothing to do with anthrax.

Five people were killed and 17 fell ill in fall 2001, when anthrax-laced envelopes were mailed to government offices and news media.

Sero said the Berry paid him to drive the Mercury Sable shortly before Christmas to Connellsville from the Allegheny County Airport in West Mifflin. As far as he knows, the car has not been moved since then, Sero said.

Sero said he periodically did odd jobs for Berry, such as washing his plane, but did not consider him a friend.

"He's an all right guy, a typical doctor, you know what I mean? Sometimes I think doctors have more money than common sense," he said.

FBI agents questioned Sero throughout the day Friday, querying him about how well he knew Berry and his daughters Nicole and Michelle, where the physician lived and whether he kept his plane at Connellsville Airport, Sero said.

Sero said he had not seen Berry or his plane, a 1978 single-engine, fixed-wing Cessna 210 Centurion, since before Christmas.

Needing costly repairs, the four-seat plane has been grounded for six to eight months on the Allegheny County Airport tarmac, workers there said last night. They did not know whether the FBI had searched the plane.

Sero said he and others at the Connellsville Airport had refused to do some work on the plane, such as an inspection and paint touch-ups, because Berry demanded that it be done within his schedule, not theirs.

Berry flew his plane for several years from Philadelphia to Fayette County to spend weekends at a duplex in Masontown visiting his daughters, the doctor's former neighbors have said. Berry divorced the girls' mother in the mid 1990s, the neighbors said.

The physician since the 1990s has appeared at conferences as a bioterrorism expert, warning against the country's vulnerability to an anthrax attack. He presented a workshop in 1997 on a hypothetical anthrax attack in San Francisco affecting 1 million people.

In prepared remarks, Berry described anthrax as "a quintessential biologic agent," and wrote, "Weapons of mass destruction is now the number one national security threat in the United States. Let's not need a Pearl Harbor II to force us to get serious regarding WMD Domestic Preparedness."

On Sept. 28, 2001, a week before a national tabloid editor became the first person to die in the anthrax attacks, Berry applied for a provisional patent for a system designed to track and identify biological and chemical attacks.

The physician for some time worked at UPMC-McKeesport to supplement his income from his job at Jones Memorial Hospital in Wellsville, N.Y., a former Jones official said.

The New Jersey native resigned at Jones in 2001 after pleading guilty to disorderly conduct to settle forgery charges.

Karen Roebuck can be reached at kroebuck@tribweb.com or (412) 320-7939.

Instead of waking U.S. to bioterror, he woke the FBI
Sunday, August 08, 2004
BY KEVIN COUGHLIN AND JOE MALINCONICO
Star-Ledger Staff

For Kenneth M. Berry, 1999 was a very big year.

The Teaneck native hosted a conference in Washington, D.C., in which he crusaded for better training against biological attacks. He filed for patents on two systems to shield buildings from biochemical agents.

And he was charged in a forgery scheme -- a sordid episode that, an accomplice says, was meant to fund Berry's fight against bioterror.

Five years later, these strange cross-currents have splashed more mystery onto the maddening hunt for whoever is the anthrax killer.

After FBI searches last week of homes in Dover Township and Wellsville, N.Y., Berry is in the cross hairs of the same federal government he courted during the late 1990s.

Suddenly, he shares a dubious spotlight with Steven Hatfill, another crusading physician whose bio- defense career ended when authorities dubbed him a "person of interest" in the anthrax-by-mail killings that claimed five lives late in 2001.

No one has been charged or detained in the federal investigation. Both Hatfill and Berry say they are innocent, and Berry's father says his son is just the latest scapegoat in an inept federal probe.

Acquaintances say Hatfill and Berry don't know each other, yet they may find themselves forever linked -- by virtue of the counter-terrorism circles in which they traveled before 2001, and by the public spectacle of FBI agents in HazMat suits carting off their belongings.

COMMON ZEAL

The two hail from a small community of officials and self-styled experts who, after a bomb detonation during the 1996 Olympics and a nerve gas attack in Tokyo's subways, began sounding alarms in the late 1990s about America's vulnerability to weapons of mass destruction.

It's a fraternity under an FBI microscope. The FBI won't say whether it is focusing on individuals who fit a specific profile, but Hatfill and Berry do appear to share some traits.

Both were educated at foreign medical schools -- Hatfill in Zimbabwe, Berry at the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine -- and seemed driven to prove themselves.

Both liked the limelight and portrayed themselves in interviews during the 1990s as bioweapons experts.

Hatfill's colorful, soldier-of-fortune résumé, asserting adventures with foreign paramilitary groups and work with NASA in the Antarctic, has been the fodder for debate for three years.

On his Web site, Berry, 46, claims he helped with the forensics investigation of the TWA 800 crash. The Federal Aviation Administration last week said it never retained Berry in any official capacity, though it did not rule out possible volunteer work.

Berry's site also notes his leadership within the emergency medical community on issues pertaining to weapons of mass destruction. Yet despite hosting conferences in Philadelphia and Washington, Berry failed to make a lasting impression with big-name participants.

"Curt says he doesn't know him," said Angela Sowa, spokeswoman for Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.). Berry's Web site lists Weldon, whose district is west and south of Philadelphia, as a speaker at three conferences Berry organized.

How Berry, who declined to be interviewed for this story, landed on the FBI's radar screen puzzles some acquaintances. They describe a good family man with two passions: piloting his Cessna 210M Centurion and fighting bioterrorism.

"He's a low-key, charming-type guy," said Edward Wicks, a Connecticut inventor. Wicks shares a 1999 patent with Berry on a sprinkler design for pumping both water and air into contaminated buildings.

'BIZARRE STATEMENTS'

Like Hatfill, Berry also appears to be a man of contrasts.

Neighbors in rural Wellsville say he dotes on a young son. But he roughed up wife Tana and two teenage stepdaughters last week, shortly after the raid on the summer home in Dover Township, police in Point Pleasant Beach said.

Berry became a born-again Christian at age 14, according to his father, William, and spent some time in a seminary. Berry was drawn to medicine after volunteering in a Danbury, Conn., hospital.

Yet that medical career almost crumbled over a scheme to forge the will of a deceased doctor who was Berry's friend.

Berry was charged in 1999, the same year his organization PREEMPT staged its third annual biodefense conference. Sen. Sam Nunn of Georgia was listed among guest speakers making videotaped presentations at the conference. (PREEMPT is short for "Planned Response Exercises and Emergency Medical Preparedness Training.")

Berry and his PREEMPT secretary, Cathy Litzburg, were accused by authorities in New York's Allegany County of conspiring with Mary Colletta to fake a will for her late, common-law husband, Andrew Colletta.

The orthopedic surgeon had died in 1998 of a heart attack at his home near Wellsville. The forged will attempted to make Mary Colletta the beneficiary of the doctor's real estate holdings, she said. That shocked Colletta's first wife, whom the doctor had not yet divorced.

Mary Colletta said Berry tried to coax more than $1 million from her "to fight bioterrorism."

"I remember he would go on and on about bioterrorism defense and, specifically, it was the anthrax threat," Mary Colletta said in an interview Friday at her home.

"He wanted me to financially invest in a number of items, some of which had to do with communications and other equipment he needed, which I'm not going to mention," she said.

"He wanted me to go in on a small private jet with him. It was a substantial amount he wanted. In the seven-figure range."

Colletta said FBI agents visited her home Thursday and they spoke again by phone Friday. She would not discuss those conversations. But she said she handed over a taped speech, a Berry tribute to her common-law husband in which Berry made some "bizarre statements about the government."

In the will scheme, Berry initially was charged with forgery. He was allowed to plead guilty to a disorderly conduct offense and received a $300 fine. A prosecutor told the local newspaper he did not want Berry to lose his medical license. A judge approved Berry's request to seal case records, according to New York State Police Investigator William Fish.

THREE PATENTS

Andrew Colletta and Berry had become friends, Mary Colletta said, soon after both moved to Wellsville, a remote hamlet some 75 miles south of Rochester. Starting anew following a divorce from his first wife, Berry took a job in the emergency room at Jones Memorial Hospital in December 1996. He would stay at Jones Memorial Hospital until October 2001, after the will scandal.

Mary Colletta said that at first, she and her husband dismissed Berry's passionate talk about bioterrorism. But soon it became clear Berry was "on a mission."

Speaking in San Francisco at a workshop of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in September 1997, Berry said the country was not prepared for an attack involving weapons of mass destruction.

"The overall general consensus insists it is not a question of if it's going to happen, but when," Berry said, according to a transcript on his Web site.

Between March 1999 and September 2001, Berry applied for -- and would receive -- three patents related to bioterror. One was for an automated system of sensors to seal a building against biochemical attack. Another, for a system to identify attacks over a wide area, was filed only days after the first anthrax letters were processed at a Hamilton Township postal center in September 2001.

A third patent involved a modification Berry suggested to Ed Wicks, an elderly inventor he met through his father in Connecticut. It involves a sprinkler that can pump air into a contaminated building.

"What you have is just what I've been looking for!" Wicks recalled Berry saying.

During a telephone interview Friday, Wicks and his wife, Ann, said Berry would fly his plane from Wellsville to Connecticut for meetings on the patent.

Berry has not flown lately, said Gary Barnes, who operates Wellsville Municipal Airport and was questioned by the FBI in the spring. Barnes said Berry's small plane has been in stuck in Pittsburgh for months because it needs repairs.

He often commuted by plane between Wellsville and Pittsburgh, about an hour's flight, for his current job in the emergency department at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center in the Pittsburgh suburb of McKeesport.

At Jones Memorial, physician David Graham considered Berry a thorough, able colleague.

"When he passed a case on to you, he'd give you everything you needed to know and then some," Graham said.

Mary Colletta, who received five years' probation in the forgery scheme, defended Berry as a good man, not a malicious killer.

"His intentions were for a higher cause," she said. "If he was involved in anything, it must have been something that backfired on him."

Meanwhile, the probe continues: FBI agents yesterday searched a car believed to be Berry's that was parked at an airport 30 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. An agent confirmed it was in connection to the anthrax mailings.

To date, the FBI has conducted more than 5,000 interviews in its pursuit of the anthrax killer. In their zeal, agents dogged Hatfill so closely at one point that they ran over his foot.

People who follow the investigation wonder if the focus on Berry signals a break in one of the FBI's most baffling cases -- or just desperation.

Rutgers University professor Leonard Cole, author of "The Anthrax Letters," said he hopes the FBI has more evidence against Berry than it appears to have against Hatfill -- for the bureau's sake.

"If they're just making a big show, if they don't come up with anything, what kind of confidence do we have in the FBI? It's not good for them or the country," Cole said.

Staff writers Brian T. Murray, Joe Ryan and Brian Donohue contributed to this report.

Amid anthrax probe, doctor snaps

Motel stay turns violent as FBI search intensifies

By LOU MICHEL,
DAN HERBECK and BARBARA O'BRIEN
Buffalo News Staff Reporters
8/8/2004

As federal agents searched his Southern Tier homes and a family cottage on the New Jersey shore last week, Dr. Kenneth M. Berry snapped.

He had known for more than two years that the FBI was investigating him in connection with the deadly series of anthrax attacks in 2001. But now the probe was very public, spilling across the country in media reports.

As agents sifted through his possessions Thursday in his seaside bungalow in Point Pleasant Beach, N.J., a quarrel involving Berry and four family members turned violent in a nearby motel where they stayed during the search.

Elizabeth M. Goeckel, off-duty police chief of Chatham Township, N.J., who was on vacation, witnessed the incident. "I'd just finished checking in and I heard screaming," she said. "A teenage girl was running into the lobby and a man was chasing her. He was hitting her and she was screaming for help.

"Then he tackled her onto the ground, and I went over and grabbed his arm so she could get out from under him. She was fighting to get away. I told her to just go outside, and that's when I used force to restrain him with the help of a man from the motel."

The ruckus, which reportedly started over a cell phone, continued.

"A woman ran in - his girlfriend or wife - screaming that he had just thrown her and her child down into the street," Goeckel said.

Other police arrived, and Berry, 46, a physician and bioterrorism expert, was charged with four counts of assault.

This picture ran counter to the even-tempered image Berry projected in his professional life, which included the founding of an organization devoted to better prepare the country for chemical and biological attacks.

Berry was known as willing to talk to anyone who would listen about the dangers of chemical agents' being used as weapons of mass destruction.

He was a respected emergency room physician from the Allegany County village of Wellsville and a major figure in the field of terrorism prevention.

Berry organized conferences in which government officials, medical experts and emergency first responders would exchange ideas about the threats posed by anthrax and other biological agents.

That Berry finds himself under the microscope of federal law enforcement is shocking to people who know him.

No anthrax-related charges have been filed against Berry, whose case case has a parallel with that of Dr. Steven J. Hatfill, a former government scientist and bioweapons expert who is suing the government for ruining his reputation after being publicly identified as a "person of interest" in the anthrax investigation. Hatfill has not been charged in the probe.

"It's absolutely absurd," said Richard "Pastor Dick" Helms, a Wellsville minister and close friend of Berry's. "If there's anyone who cared more about protecting the American people from this kind of thing, I've never met him."

"I find it hard to believe he would ever do anything to hurt anyone," said Joan Hand, former head nurse of the emergency room Berry once ran at Wellsville's Jones Memorial Hospital.

She described Berry as "a good ER physician" and "very much in favor of an anthrax vaccine."

Hand also said, "He loved children."

"Not the way I saw it," said Goeckel, the New Jersey police chief who subdued Berry. "That was a violent attack."

Berry's first marriage ended in 1991, according to an acquaintance who asked not to be identified, because of incidents involving his temper. He has two teenage daughters from that union.

One of the daughters, Nicole Berry, 16, said she has had limited contact with her father and that her older sister, Michele, 19, has had none. They live in Masontown, Pa., in the southwestern part of the state.

"We're kind of estranged from him for reasons I don't want to get into," Nicole said Saturday.

She said that the last time she saw Berry was in January. "He came by and drove me to school," she said.

On another occasion, the younger daughter said, Berry confided in her that he was under investigation. "He told me he was under stress because he was being investigated by the FBI" and that the investigation might have been prompted because, "in his line of work, he may know people who have access to anthrax," Nicole said.

Berry, reared as an only child in Connecticut, where his father, William Berry, worked in the tire business, remarried in September 2001, according to Helms, who performed the ceremony.

His new wife had six of her own children, and they have one child together, a son.

"I have a loose memory that he and Tana married several days after 9/11. I married them in a church in Scio. Their cute baby was with them at the wedding," said Helms, 56, who describes himself as an online minister and also serves as Web master for a site run by Berry's organization, known as PREEMPT Medical Counter-Terrorism Inc.

Helms said he does not know many men who would marry a woman with six children.

"He must be quite a man to have taken on that responsibility. That says a lot for his character," Helms said.

As for the relationship with daughters from his first marriage, "Any estrangement is not by his choice," he added.

The blowup at the motel, Helms speculated, was the result of family stress compounded by the FBI investigation.

Helms said FBI agents questioned him about Berry in Wellsville several months ago.

Helms and Berry have known each other since the mid-1990s, when they were active in the Gideon Bible organization and were attending Gideon meetings in the Southern Tier.

Berry worked in the emergency room of the Wellsville hospital from December 1996 until October 2001. He left the emergency room position because he needed a break from the intensity, according to Helms.

"He also wanted to work on his patent," said Helms, referring to a system Berry had developed using a computer that combined weather data with information on chemical and biological agents to assess how they would affect certain locations.

Berry received his patent in March and eventually returned to emergency medicine. He now works in the emergency room at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in McKeesport, Pa.

"He has his own airplane and flies to work," Helms said.

Saturday, FBI agents searched a car belonging to Berry that ws parked at Connellsville Airport, about 30 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, said Frank Cero, a lineman at the airport.

Cero said Berry left the car at the airport when he was not visiting family members who live in the area. He was not sure what the agents were looking for or what they took from the airport.

Special Agent Jeff Killeen, a spokesman for the FBI office in Pittsburgh, did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

The searches come nearly three years after five people were killed and 17 fell ill when anthrax-laced envelopes were mailed to government and media offices, triggering even more fear in a country shaken by 9/11. The investigation has turned up few leads.
 

News wire services contributed to this report.

e-mail: lmichel@buffnews.com, dherbeck@buffnews.com
and bobrien@buffnews.com

Dr. Berry's family returns home to Wellsville

By JOHN ANDERSON/Wellsville Daily Reporter
Sunday, August 08, 2004

WELLSVILLE -- Dr. Kenneth W. Berry of Wellsville spent the week in New Jersey being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for alleged links to anthrax attacks in 2001 and charged with four counts of domestic abuse.

Dr. Berry was released by police, never charged with connections to anthrax and told he could return to his home in Wellsville. Instead, his wife and their children have returned to the home. A judge issued a restraining order against Dr. Berry seeing his family because of the domestic violence arrest on Thursday afternoon.

While being questioned for the domestic violence arrest, police in Point Pleasant Beach (N.J.) Police said Dr. Berry told them he had nothing to do with anthrax.

Police in Point Pleasant Beach held press conference on Friday.

"He just denied he was guilty of anything," said Point Pleasant Beach Police Chief Daniel DePolo.

Dr. Berry's father, William Berry of Newtown, Conn., said his son has been questioned by the FBI for three years about anthrax. The FBI confirmed the reason they searched Berry's house Thursday on East Pearl Street in Wellsville and his old apartment on Maple Avenue was "related to the FBI's ongoing investigation into the origin of the anthrax-laced letters mailed in September and October of 2001 which resulted in the deaths of five individuals and serious illness to 17 others."

However, the FBI wrapped up their search on Thursday night and abruptly left town without issuing comment. Some Wellsville residents have even suggested the FBI issue an apology to Dr. Berry.

His wife, Tana, was in good spirits when reached by the Daily Reporter on Saturday, but did not wish to comment on the case or the situation. She noted her house was not in the same order she left it, as the family went on vacation to New Jersey this week.

After the alleged domestic incident, two Wellsville males went to New Jersey to assist the family back home. The family did call the police on Saturday because a white sport utility vehicle would not leave the area for hours. It was a photographer from the New York Post.

Dr. Berry's whereabouts are unknown, but on Saturday, the FBI examined Berry's car Saturday at the Connellsville, Pa., Airport near Pittsburgh. Dr. Berry was living in Wellsville but doing work at the Pittsburgh Medical Center-McKeesport.

Dr. Berry founded an organization called PREEMPT Medical Counter-Terrorism in 1997. He was the director of the emergency room at Jones Memorial Hospital in Wellsville from December of 1996 to October of 2001. He filed a provisional patent for a system in October 2000 and filed the actual patent application Sept. 28, 2001, 10 days after the first anthrax letters were postmarked. He touted the system as an effective way to respond to bioterrorism attacks.

A close friend in 1999 was Mary Colletta of Wellsville. She told the Spectator that Dr. Berry was upset with the government because they did not take his research seriously.

Dr. Berry was charged by New York State Police with felony forgery in 1999 for signing a fake will of the late Dr. Andrew Colletta, who died in May of 1998 at the age of 46. On March 17, 1999, he entered a guilty plea to a violation instead of a misdemeanor so he could keep his medical license. Dr. Colletta was Mary Colletta's husband.

"Two weeks ago, the FBI showed up at my house," said Mary Colletta. "They took the hard drive from my computer, but replaced it. They were very nice people."

Colletta said she did give some information to the FBI she is not able to discuss.

"Ken was a bio defense expert and talked about the possibility of an anthrax scare," Colletta said. "I've been on Ken's plane, we've gone to Jersey. He wanted me to go in with him to buy a jet one time."

Colletta said Dr. Berry would "never do anything to hurt someone" and that "he would never send something deadly."

"He wanted to help people -- he was friends with congressmen and senators," said Colletta. "And he loved Wellsville. He came here as a good, young doctor and loved that we had a airport and a hospital."

Dr. Berry currently owns a Cessna P210 plane, friends said. When he first came to Wellsville, he had a push-pull plane, a model with an engine in the front and an engine in the back. Officials at the airport in Wellsville say the Cessna plane has not been there in a year, but the FBI did come to the airport and search his flying records.

On Thursday, Dr. Berry and his family were vacationing at a home owned by his parents in Chadwick Beach in Dover Township, N.J., when the FBI showed up with a search warrant. Dr. Berry and his family allegedly left and went to the White Sands Motel in Point Pleasant. At 1:21 p.m., Point Pleasant Police said were called.

Dr. Berry's wife allegedly gave a cell phone to the FBI while cooperating with the investigation which started a feud.

"I can't say for certain, of course, but federal authorities executing search warrants at your family's houses can make for a stressful day," Chief DePolo said. "Apparently, the fight erupted over a cell phone."

Point Pleasant Beach Police charged Dr. Berry, 46, with four counts of assault and a temporary restraining order was issued by Judge James A. Ligouri. Three of the family members were treated for injuries, police said. The Daily Reporter is not releasing the names of the victims in this incident.

Police said Dr. Berry complained of illness and vomited during his arrest. He to Brick Hospital in New Jersey where he was treated and returned to police department. He was arraigned and sent to the Ocean County Jail then paid $10,000 bail.

Joseph Tripodi, 20, of Wellsville is friends with Dr. Berry's step-daughters.

"Dr. Berry, he wasn't home a lot, but when I saw him, he was always a nice guy, I never thought anything different of him. I even helped his remove a shrub once," said Tripodi. "If he was ever mean to the family, I never saw it. I saw him a few weeks ago at the Wellsville Balloon Rally and he invited me to come up to the house and visit."

Dr. Berry's family is defending his bioterrorism work.

Attorney General John Ashcroft had labeled Dr. Steven Hatfill, a former government scientist and bioweapons expert, as a "person of interest" in the anthrax case.

"He told me that people he knew knew how to make it or had access to it, but he said he had nothing to do with it," Dr. Berry's daughter Nicole Berry told the Asbury (N.J.) Park Press.

William Berry said "Hey, here's a guy being shafted by the FBI. (The FBI is) just buying time because they have nothing on anthrax. You are looking at a setup. They have been on him for three years. They have no leads."

William Berry is a retired financial director who now serves as president of PREEMPT.

On Friday, William Berry said that an FBI agent named Bob Roth, informed him that the search in New Jersey had uncovered no evidence of anthrax.

"He (Agent Roth) said 'The house is completely free of any biological agents,' " William Berry said.

FBI Agents told Wellsville Mayor Bradley Thompson on Friday that they did not find any traces of anthrax during the preliminary search, but the investigation is still on-going. Thompson said FBI Field Agent George W. Gast told him, "The amounts of anthrax they are looking for is a trace amount and nothing anyone has to be concerned about."

Agents wearing purple gloves took several bags, boxes and children's toys from both homes in Wellsville.

FBI spokeswoman Debbie Weierman said the agency was "just there to do searches. I am unable to comment because it's a pending investigation."

According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Web site, a patent was issued in March for Berry's surveillance system, which constructs a model using weather data for different areas that shows the effect various concentrations of agents would have on that location and the people living there.

The invention uses "actual human signs and symptoms for the modeled area," by using information from clinic or hospital computers, emergency room data, 911 calls, and computer data from pharmacies, physicians and laboratories, according to a summary describing the invention on the patent and trademark Web site.

"It is a primary object of the present invention to provide a novel and improved surveillance system and method for identifying chemical, biological and nuclear/radiological attacks or hazards occurring within a large area too extensive for extensive sensor coverage," the invention summary reads.

Weierman said there are 30 FBI agents and 13 postal inspectors who only work on this case. In Wellsville, over 30 came in by a Winnebago and several unmarked sport utility vehicles and trucks from Maryland, Pennsylvania and Buffalo. The agents have conducted 5,200 interviews in connection to the anthrax letters.

Dr. Berry is a father of seven who has been married twice. He now teaches emergency room skills at a hospital affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh, his father said. Born in Teaneck, N.J., Dr. Berry moved with his family to Switzerland at age 5. They returned to New Jersey, living in Wayne, and then moved to Connecticut.

The incident on Friday at the hotel had another strange twist.

While police were called, Chatham (N.J.) Township Police Chief Elizabeth Goeckel was on vacation at the hotel. She was spying the ruckus as she waited for an elevator in the lobby of the hotel.

Chief Goeckel said she saw a man push a young woman through the doors leading into the lobby, then hit her about the face and upper body and shove her to the floor.

"She was screaming, 'Help.' When I saw that, that was going to stop. I had no emotion. I thought how can he do that to her?" Goeckel said.

Chief Goechel is 5 feet, 3 inches tall, 120 pounds. While dressed in sandals and beachwear, said she pulled the woman by the arms out from under the man. When Dr. Berry tried to stand, she grabbed him by his right arm, twisted it behind his back, then put all of her weight on his back and pinned him down.

"I used every ounce I had," she said.

A hotel worker rushed over to help her keep the 175-pound Dr. Berry pinned.

Chief Goeckel said she had had at the time Dr. Berry was being investigated by the FBI as part of the anthrax investigation.

"I didn't know who he was until I saw the paper on the Boardwalk today. I went, 'Oh, my God. That was the guy I was on top of,' " she said.

(The Associated Press and the Newark Star Ledger contributed to this story.)

FBI continues anthrax probe at Connellsville Airport
By Steve Ferris , Herald-Standard  08/08/2004

DUNBAR TWP. - FBI agents were at the Connellsville Airport for a third and final day Saturday conducting an investigation connected to the 2001 anthrax scare.

A contingent of approximately 15 agents who first arrived at the airport Thursday night spent Saturday searching a car reportedly owned by bioterrorism expert Dr. Kenneth Berry, who used it when he would visit his two daughters who live in Masontown.

Jeff Killeen, an agent based in Pittsburgh, said the car would be left at the airport after the search was completed, but he would not provide details about the investigation, which is being directed from FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C.

"We're conducting a search that's related to the anthrax incidents of 2001, and there's no danger to the public related to this search," Killeen said.

The agents were stopping vehicles that entered the operations office and hangar area, but the airport remained open throughout the weekend.

The investigation at the airport came after agents raided a home Berry owns in Wellsville, N.Y., his former apartment as well as his parents' summer home on the New Jersey shore earlier in the week.

Airport workers said Berry is a pilot who owns a plane and has been flying in and out of the airport for many years. They said he leaves the car at the facility to use after he arrives. The last time they saw him was around Christmas. The car, a white Mercury Sable, had a New York registration.

He also owned a home in Masontown, where he would stay during his visits.

The searches were conducted almost three years after five people were killed and 17 became ill when anthrax-laced envelopes were mailed to government and news media offices, increasing post-Sept. 11 terrorism fears in the country.

In 1997, Berry founded the not-for-profit Planned Response Exercises and Emergency Medical Preparedness Training (PREEMT) Medical Counter-Terrorism Inc., an organization that trains medical professionals to respond to chemical and biological attacks.

He filed a provisional patent for a system to identify chemical and biological attacks in October 2000 and filed the actual patent application Sept. 28, 2001, 10 days after the first anthrax letters were postmarked.

Although Berry has not been charged in connection with the anthrax incidents, he was arrested on domestic charges in Point Pleasant Beach, N.J., after allegedly fighting with family members in a motel while agents were searching his home. He was released on bail.

Staff at the Connellsville Airport said the FBI's arrival and investigation into Berry caught them by surprise.

Wade Haines, a maintenance worker, said Berry has been using the airport for the last 10 to 12 years and recalled he wrecked one plane he owned a number of years ago when he traveled off the side of a runway and into a ditch during a landing.

The plane, which he used to keep in a hangar at the airport, was totaled, but he walked away, Haines said.

Frank Sero, an airport lineman, said he drove Berry's car to the airport sometime around last Christmas and hasn't seen him since.

He said Berry drove the car to the airport and wanted to go to the Allegheny County Airport in West Mifflin. Sero and another man rode with Berry to the Allegheny County facility and then drove the car back to the Connellsville Airport. He said he did not know where Berry went after he left him.

Berry called Sero once since then and asked him to do some body work on the car.

FBI agents asked Sero, Haines and airport manager Sam Cortis about Berry and his car.

"They wanted to know what I knew about the vehicle and the owner," Sero said. "I know him professionally."

Agents were seeking background information about Berry and executed a search warrant on his car, Cortis said, noting that the investigators went out of their way to avoid hindering normal operations at the facility.

All three men said Berry would sit and casually chat with them over coffee for a few minutes when he had the time. He told them he was there to visit his daughters.

Cortis described Berry as a "pleasant man" who seemed like a nice guy.

Tim Kovach, who lives next door to the Smithfield Road residence Berry once owned, said Berry used the house on weekends when he came to visit his teenage daughters.

He said they would say hello and briefly talk sometimes.

"He was never here very long. I didn't see him much. He would just come and go," Kovach said.

FBI agents questioned Kovach about a month ago and wanted to know how they were acquainted and "if I every saw him do anything nutty," he said.

Kovach said the agents told him the questions were part of an employment background check.

Anthrax Probe: Two Views of FBI Investigation

Created: 8/9/2004 10:15:32 PM
Updated: 8/10/2004 10:38:36 AM
KGRZ -TV

By Rich Kellman
and Lynne Dixon
Channel 2 News

The Rev. Richard Helms has known Dr. Kenneth Berry for about eight years and describes him as a dedicated physician committed to protecting the public. "No one I know of is more intent on preventing biological terrorism than Kenneth Berry," he tells Channel 2 News.

But the wife of one of Berry's friends who died in 1998 says she believes the FBI investigation of Berry is appropriate. Mary Colletta tells Channel 2 News, "Any self-proclaimed expert on bioterrorism should expect to be investigated."

The FBI last Thursday searched Berry's Wellsville home as well as his former apartment and his parents' summer home in New Jersey. The Bureau confirmed the searches were part of an ongoing investigation related to anthrax attacks three years ago which killed five people and sickened 17.

"When this is all over," Helms said on Monday, "the FBI is going to owe Kenneth Berry an apology, and I doubt that he'll get it."

Also on Monday, Chatham Township, NJ police chief Elizabeth Goeckel related details of an incident involving Berry, his wife and a daughter that occurred last Thursday in Point Pleasant, NJ. The Berry family were on vacation as was Goeckel who was off duty.

Goeckel tells Channel 2 News she saw Berry beating a girl in the lobby of the hotel where she was staying and came to the girl's aid. She subdued and held him until local police arrived. "I jumped in to try to get the girl out of the situation," she says.

The girl turned out to be the daughter of Berry's wife. He was charged with assault and released on $10,000 bail.

How does Helms reconcile his high regard for Berry and his friend's alleged assault of the girl? "I don't know, I wasn't there," he says, "but it seemed to be a family dispute." He adds that it's likely the stress from the FBI investigation might have had something to do with Berry's actions.

Colletta says the FBI has been talking to her since last fall and made copies of her computer hard drives. "They are only seeking the truth," she says.

Mary Colletta and Berry were previously linked publicly on charges of falsifying her late husband's will. Berry pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct and the case records were sealed.

Since the late '90's, Berry has been calling for toughening national protection against biological terrorism.

In addition to searching the three residences, FBI agents have questioned people who live near a former residence of Berry's in Masontown, Fayette County, PA; and examined a car owned by Berry that was parked at the Connellsville, PA airport.

To this point, Berry has not been charged with anything related to terrorism.

Helms: FBI owes Berry big-time apology; Pastor calls Dr. Berry a 'national treasure'

By JOHN ANDERSON
Wellsville Daily Reporter
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

WELLSVILLE -- As Pastor Richard "Dick" Helms watches the coverage of the FBI investigation into his friend Dr. Kenneth Berry, he is shocked that anyone could imply Dr. Berry would be connected to deadly anthrax mailings.

The weekend after Sept. 11, 2001, Helms married Dr. Berry and his wife at the Knights Creek Church wedding chapel where he was ministering at the time.

The FBI said they searched Dr. Berry's house Thursday on East Pearl Street in Wellsville and his old apartment on Maple Avenue "related to the FBI's ongoing investigation into the origin of the anthrax-laced letters mailed in September and October of 2001, which resulted in the deaths of five individuals and serious illness to 17 others." Dr. Berry also had a summer home in New Jersey owned by his father searched, his car at the airport in Pittsburgh and an apartment he once lived in there as well. The FBI has not said if they found any traces of anthrax and they have not charged Dr. Berry in connection with anthrax.

Dr. Berry founded an organization called PREEMPT Medical Counter-Terrorism in 1997. He filed a provisional patent for a system in October 2000 and filed the actual patent application Sept. 28, 2001, 10 days after the first anthrax letters were postmarked. He touted the system as an effective way to respond to bioterrorism attacks.

Helms is the Webmaster for the PREEMPT Web site.

"They didn't find anything and they wont find anything," said Helms. "If there was anyone more dedicated to protecting the American people from biochemical terrorism, I do not know who it would be. He developed the protocol and procedures before it was fashionable. He did the training for medical and first responders -- and he did it all with little or no reimbursement -- a lot of this out of his own pocket.

"Hey, this man cares!" Helms added.

Dr. Berry was the director of the emergency room at Jones Memorial Hospital in Wellsville from December of 1996 to October of 2001. He has worked at a hospital in Pittsburgh, commuting by plane while living in Wellsville. He was married and had seven children from two relationships.

On Thursday, Dr. Berry and his family went to breakfast in New Jersey. When they returned, the FBI was searching the summer home. When the family went to a nearby hotel, a fight broke out, according to police. Dr. Berry was charged with four counts of domestic abuse and a restraining order was placed on him from seeing his family.

"I can not even comprehend or imagine the stress they are going through and it's a mixed family to begin with," said Helms. "I am very upset that has become part of the story. Ken is a super guy, he cares, you have to get to know him. There is absolutely no way he could have done this. I have two words to summarize this whole thing: absolutely absurd."

Helms does not see how Dr. Berry can go back to work at any hospital or work in his chosen field of counter terrorism.

"The FBI owes him an apology, big-time," said Helms. "They harmed him and it looks like they harmed his family. I like both the agents who are primaries in this area -- they also questioned me, because I am a Webmaster for Preempt.org."

Helms said the Web site has not been updated in a while. Not many people in Wellsville have said they were close friends with Dr. Berry, and many neighbors really didn't know him. But Helms said that is not unusual.

"He worked at the hospital he worked in counter terrorism. He didn't have time to make a lot of friends, but the ones he did make are very loyal," said Helms. "You won't find a lot of (people who were) friends with Ken Berry ... and ones he work with call him an S.O.B., but they call me that, too! Anyone who has anyone who worked for someone will have something bad said about them."

Helms said Dr. Berry could not be tied to mailing out anthrax letters in 2001.

"Want a practical reason? He was getting ready to get married!" Helms says emphatically.

Helms also defends Dr. Berry's character.

"I think they have damaged his reputation to the point the United States has lost a wonderful asset," said Helms. "He was a true American asset, if not a national treasure.

"He's a little unusual but most brilliant people are different. And he's different," Helms continued. "You get underneath that and he's got a heart the size of Texas for an American."

The Times Herald

Feds engage in public spectacle
08/10/2004

A street blocked off. Dozens of federal agents scurrying through two homes. An RV for a command center. Local police pulled in for security. Even the village mayor is pulled in.

It all adds up to ... we don’t know.

It made for good copy for a few days: Homes where Dr. Kenneth Berry lives, lived or even spent time were being searched by the FBI and the U.S. Postal Service. The FBI would only say that the searches were in relation to the antrax-laced letters which were sent to various locations in September-October 2001. The letters further dismayed an America made more than jittery by the 9/11 attacks. Five people died and 17 were sickened as a result of the anthrax letters being circulated.

No charges have ever been filed in relation to the letters.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the FBI had little to say during or after its very high-profile ransacking of Dr. Berry’s life. In Wellsville, agents sent out Mayor Bradley Thompson to comment on the fact that they would have no comment. Dr. Berry reportedly was held by the FBI for a time for questioning Thursday, but was later released. The bizarre situation was made even more so by news that Dr. Berry allegedly assaulted family members at a New Jersey Shore hotel during what must have been extremely tense moments after FBI questioning.

Meanwhile, Dr. Berry is left to twist in the winds of suspicion created by all the notice the FBI has brought down on him. Reports indicate Dr. Berry, although he hasn’t spoken publicly, denies any involvement in the anthrax letters. His father, William Berry, states flatly his son is being set up by a government desperate to demonstrate a break in a case that has baffled investigators for three years.

There are indications that Dr. Berry did things somewhat differently. His primary residence is Wellsville yet he has not had privileges at Jones Memorial Hospital since 2001 — he has commuted to work at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in McKeesport, Pa. His past includes a criminal forgery case in which he pleaded to a lesser charge and there is a hint of self-promotion in materials touting his background as an expert in responding to large-scale medical emergencies, such as a biological attack.

Nevertheless, assuming we are still operating under the premise that all are innocent until proven guilty, one could question the treatment he and his family received at the hands of federal authorities the past few days. Rather than quietly search the properties, agents swooped into Wellsville and created a public spectacle, a spectacle that only an idiot wouldn’t have been able to anticipate.

If investigators had anything solid on Dr. Berry or anyone else in relation to the anthrax letters, one assumes they would have been charged. So far, all we have is a heavy-handed display which could be interpreted by some as cheap theatrics.

Americans are united in their desire for security, but there are some who are concerned about how much power we are willing to give the government in pursuit of that security.

If no charges result from last week’s activities, those concerns will be even greater.

Authorities "Not Excited" By Results From Search Of Berry Homes

WGRZ-TV - Buffalo, NY
Posted by:  Aaron Saykin, Reporter 
Created: 8/10/2004 8:55:59 PM
Updated: 8/10/2004 8:58:18 PM

Sources from within the law enforcement community tell Channel 2 News that federal authorities are "not excited" about what they found while searching the home of Dr. Kenneth Berry in the Village of Wellsville as well as his parents summer home in New Jersey.

The information does not give a concrete idea of what investigators found (or did not find) but it strongly reinforces what Channel 2 News has been hearing since the searches last Thursday -- that Dr. Berry is, by no means, a prime suspect in the deadly anthrax attacks in the fall of 2001.

This revelation suggests to some that authorities are no closer to finding the person responsible for the attacks.

In fact, our sources tell us that investigators were not necessarily expecting to find anything during the searches of Berry's homes, which may have been used to try to rule out Berry as a suspect.

Authorities call the investigation "broad" and Berry only "a part of it."

Clearly, there is serious interest when it comes to Berry's past, namely his extensive knowledge of bio-terrorism; however, based on what authorities are telling us, it appears that after their searches, Berry seems to be a person with an unusual past... and until we hear otherwise... perhaps nothing more.

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Doctor aided Defense Dept.

By Chris Osher
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Dr. Kenneth M. Berry, the UPMC McKeesport emergency room physician whose car and home were searched recently by FBI agents investigating the 2001 anthrax attacks, served as consultant to the U.S. Department of Defense on bioterrorism issues.

Berry, 46, of Wellsville, N.Y., worked as a part-time consultant for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency at the U.S. Department of Defense, said agency spokeswoman Irene Smith.

His work was related to matters involving "chemical and biological terrorist incident responses," Smith said.

Berry's work from Oct. 9, 1998, to June 30, 2003, was coordinated by the Orlando-based Advanced Information Systems Group, a private firm that handles contracts for the federal government. 

"He did short periods of work," Smith said. "He wasn't working that entire time frame."

No other details were available.

Authorities last week searched Berry's house in Wellsville, N.Y., south of Buffalo, as well as an apartment where he once lived. Federal agents also searched his parents' summer home on the New Jersey shore. On Saturday, the FBI searched Berry's white Mercury Sable, parked at the Connellsville Airport in Fayette County.

The FBI has declined to say why it searched Berry's homes or car. Berry could not be reached for comment.

Five people were killed and 17 others fell ill in 2001 after anthrax-laced envelopes were mailed to government offices and the news media. Nobody has been charged in connection with the attacks.

Berry's wife, Tana, reached by telephone at the family home, said her husband was unavailable. She said she was not prepared to answer questions.

Berry has received three U.S. patents related to bioterrorism research. He filed for a patent for a surveillance system on Sept. 28, 2001, days after the first anthrax mailings. The system uses a computer to combine weather data with information on how various concentrations of biological or chemical agents would affect a specific location, according to the patent filing.

David Levin, a professor at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, is working with Berry on a proposal to test the system. He said Berry called him in March because Levin has conducted studies on a bacterium that is similar to anthrax.

The two never met, Levin said.

The bacterium, known as bacillus phuringiensis, has been extensively sprayed in some Canadian cities to kill tree-eating gypsy moths that are threatening the lumber industry, Levin said.

Levin studied the effects of the sprayed bacteria on public health and has been approached by American researchers who want to determine whether anthrax can be spread by using "conventional spray technology." Their research never involved the actual use of anthrax, Levin said.

"There was a question about conventional spray technology and if it could be used as a way of delivering biological weapons because some people think you need a sophisticated technology," Levin said.

Levin said Berry found out about him after reading about his work. Berry called him to ask whether he would be interested in making a proposal to the U.S. government to do follow-up studies of the bacterium using Berry's patented equipment. They have submitted a letter of intent to several agencies and to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for grant money.

Berry was released early Friday from the Ocean County Jail in New Jersey. He had been arrested on four counts of assault by the Point Pleasant Beach police department for a domestic disturbance at the White Sands Ocean Front Resort and Spa. Police said Berry assaulted four relatives, but declined to identify them.

In addition to UPMC McKeesport, Berry also worked locally at Ohio Valley General Hospital in McKees Rocks, most recently as an emergency room doctor from February 2002 through June 2003. He was employed by PhyAmerica, a Durham, N.C.-based company that staffs hospitals and in February changed its name to Sterling Healthcare.

A PhyAmerica spokesman did not return telephone messages seeking comment.

Berry previously worked part-time at Ohio Valley from November 1994 through March 1996, said hospital spokesman Greg Erhard. He was employed then by another staffing agency, Western Pennsylvania Emergency Physicians.

Erhard said he could not comment about Berry. He added that other physicians at Ohio Valley would not know Berry because another firm now provides doctors to the hospital.

Chris Osher can be reached at cosher@tribweb.com or (412) 320-7910.

Lawrence (KS) Journal-World

CDC chief tours K.C. facilities, discusses anthrax, bioterrorism

By Terry Rombeck, Journal-World

Thursday, August 12, 2004

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The head of a national agency that investigated the 2001 anthrax scare says she's convinced the attacker will be caught.

Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the FBI's work into the attacks was still "extremely active."

"There is certainly a great deal of activity going on in the investigative front as well as on the microbiology front," Gerberding said. "I think we need to stay tuned on that whole investigation."

Gerberding, with Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., on Wednesday toured several life sciences facilities in Kansas City.

Tour stops included Cerner Corp. in Kansas City, Mo., which is developing a system that collects biological information about disease outbreaks; the Kansas University Medical Center, where researchers discussed public health issues; and Bayer Health Care in Shawnee, which focuses on agroterrorism prevention.

While the anthrax attacker remains unidentified, Gerberding said the country was better prepared today for a biological attack than it was three years ago.

"There have been all kinds of examples of the strides forward since September 11, particularly in the human-to-human networking," she said. "At 9-11 there was a lot of scurrying around, trying to figure out who did what and who was in charge."

Gerberding said during the next year the CDC would be focusing on making sure local officials in metropolitan areas had systems in place for distributing vaccines if a bioterrorist attack occurred. Postal workers, polling places and drugstores all could be enlisted in the distribution process.

Kansas City officials currently are working on their plan.

"Our job is to get the supplies here and then work with people to make sure they can deliver them at the last step," Gerberding said.

Brownback said he invited Gerberding to Kansas City to highlight Kansas City's effort in the life sciences field and for Gerberding to share information about the CDC's efforts on bioterrorism.

"We're on a heightened state of alert in the nation," Brownback said. "We're on orange level in some cities. As we approach the election and as we just saw the big terrorist bust in Pakistan, we can see they are still coming after us. ... We've got to do a better job of protecting ourselves here, and that's particularly where the CDC comes in, in providing that protective shield here at home."

Using The Patriot Act To Target Patriots
By Cliff Kincaid (08/11/04)
www.aim.org (Accuracy In Media)

John Kerry voted for the anti-terrorist law, the USA Patriot Act, but now wants to change it and replace Attorney General John Ashcroft with someone “who actually upholds the Constitution of the United States.” However, the liberal critics never cite alleged “abuses” under the law involving the anthrax investigation, which has been driven by Kerry’s Democratic colleagues, Senators Patrick Leahy and Thomas Daschle.

The Patriot Act has been used to obtain search warrants against doctors and scientists who had been warning about the threat of bioterrorism in the U.S. The most prominent such cases are Dr. Steven Hatfill and now Dr. Kenneth Berry. No evidence has been produced against either man, but the highly publicized raids on their homes—and the media feeding frenzy—give the fleeting impression that the Bureau is making progress.

Yet it appears that Hatfill and Berry have become FBI targets primarily because they warned America about terrorism that the FBI and the CIA didn’t prevent.

The same FBI that falsely implicated security guard Richard Jewell in the Olympic Park bombing has made several mistakes in the anthrax case. The first mistake was assuming that Leahy and Daschle received anthrax letters because they were liberals. Leahy’s influential chief of staff, who pushed this theory, was quoted in Marilyn Thompson’s book on the case as saying the anthrax killer was a “right-wing zealot.” Daschle offered his opinion that the perpetrator probably had a U.S. military background. This fit an FBI profile of the alleged perpetrator. Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, a leading advocate of this view, met with the FBI and Leahy’s staff and pointed them toward Hatfill, a former U.S. government scientist. Her views were echoed by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and other media.

Under media assault, Hatfill was labeled a “person of interest” by Ashcroft. After losing several jobs because of government and media scrutiny, he has filed suit against the Justice Department and Kristof and the Times.

The second key FBI mistake was thinking that the Ames strain of anthrax, used in U.S. labs and found in the letters, was not available to foreign terrorists.

These mistakes explain why the Justice Department, in a 29-page report on the Patriot Act, cited dozens of cases in which the law has been beneficial but had only one anthrax-related “success” story. It said that investigators “saved valuable time” by using the Patriot Act to apply for a search warrant for American Media, Inc. in Boca Raton, Florida, the employer of the first anthrax victim.

The reference to “saving valuable time” ignores the fact that it took the FBI nearly a year after the attacks to start a crime-scene investigation of the American Media building. The decontamination of the building only started this July.

Former CIA Director James Woolsey says it is time to change the FBI assumption that the anthrax attacks were perpetrated by “a crazed solitary American microbiologist operating out of a cave” in the U.S.

Such a theory, he pointed out at a June symposium at the American Enterprise Institute, means that the perpetrator was either “a very quick crazed solitary microbiologist” or “a very lucky crazed solitary microbiologist,” because he was ready to mail his anthrax letters shortly after al Qaeda hit the U.S. on 9/11.

According to the FBI theory, this crazed scientist even wrote like an Islamic radical, putting references to “Death to Israel” and praise for Allah on the letters, only as a diversion.

Woolsey noted the evidence that in the summer before 9/11, hijacker Muhammad Atta took an associate, who turned out to be one of the other hijackers, in for medical treatment in Florida, near the first anthrax attacks and near where they lived. He had a black lesion on his leg that a doctor and experts say was anthrax-related. Woolsey said, “That raises some interesting questions which again I would suggest we should pursue rather than bury.”

Ignoring the al-Qaeda connection to the anthrax attacks, the FBI’s targeting of Berry continues the questionable behavior evident in the Hatfill case. As some of their agents wore protective suits to dramatically enter one of Berry’s homes, the FBI was telling local officials there was no danger to public health. It looked like another big show and photo opportunity, similar to what occurred when the FBI raided Hatfill’s home.

Journalists should be investigating how the Bureau obtained search warrants in the Berry case and what, if any, “evidence” is contained in them. There may be a story here about real abuses of the USA Patriot Act and why the FBI has been unable to solve this nearly three-year-old case.

Cliff Kincaid is President of America’s Survival and contributing editor of the AIM Report. A longtime investigative reporter and media critic, he currently specializes in coverage of the U.N. and other global institutions. Kincaid helps write and broadcast Accuracy In Media’s "Media Monitor" radio commentaries.

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Doctor in anthrax probe flaunted 'connections'

By Chris Osher and Luis Fabregas
Sunday, August 15, 2004

To some friends and acquaintances, Dr. Kenneth Berry appeared to be far more than an emergency room physician.

He listed prestigious names as references. He established impressive-sounding conferences to heighten public awareness about anthrax as a tool for international terrorists. And he won U.S. patents for systems to fight bioterror.

But a different picture began to emerge after the FBI recently searched homes in Dover Township, N.J., and Wellsville, N.Y., connected to Berry. They also searched Berry's white Mercury Sable parked at the Connellsville Airport in Fayette County, where his former wife and two children live.

An FBI spokesman said the searches were connected to the investigation into the 2001 anthrax mailings that killed five people, closed the Hart Senate Office Building and left the U.S. Postal Service in disarray for months. 

No one has been charged in the investigation. Berry, 46, of Wellsville, N.Y., told Point Pleasant Beach, N.J., police who arrested him on unrelated charges last week that he is innocent of wrongdoing.

Berry, an emergency room physician at UPMC McKeesport, could not be reached for comment. On Friday, hospital spokesman Frank Raczkiewicz said Berry's employment ends Nov. 8 and he will be on leave until then.

Big 'connections'

Edward Wicks, 81, of Danbury, Conn., who shares a patent with Berry for an invention that pumps air into contaminated buildings, was one who thought Berry had powerful connections.

Berry told Wicks that he flew in his private twin-engine Cessna every other week to talk with former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn and retired Adm. William J. Crowe, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"He came across as a real American who was concerned about his country," Wicks recalled.

But Crowe's spokesman, Jay Coupe, said the retired admiral "has no knowledge whatsoever of Kenneth Berry, no recollection of ever meeting him or of ever even hearing his name."

Lisa Cutler, an aide to Nunn, said the Georgia Democrat met Berry at a 1997 conference. After that, Berry wrote him several letters about the need to improve training of first responders.

"That is really the extent of any relationship that existed," Cutler said.

Jerome M. Hauer, a nationally known expert on biological and chemical terrorism, said he met Berry once or twice but was not impressed with his credentials.

"He kind of came out of nowhere," said Hauer, former director of public health preparedness for the federal Department of Health and Human Services. Hauer directed the New York Office of Emergency Management under Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Hauer said he became concerned Tuesday when he noticed Berry's Web site listed him as participating in conferences Berry planned in 1997 and 1998 in Philadelphia. Hauer said he never attended either conference.

"I was not comfortable with the conferences," Hauer said. "I felt there were other agendas for the conferences, and they were not regular training conferences, so I never went."

Berry received three patents related to bioterrorism. One involves a system that would detect a biological attack through a sensor system, which would seal a building. Another was for a system that would identify attacks over a wide area.

That patent application was filed only days after the first anthrax letters were processed at a postal center in September 2001.

Berry also formed the company PREEMPT, which stands for "Planned Response Exercises and Emergency Medical Preparedness Training." The firm held conferences around the nation urging better training for doctors and nurses in the event of a bioterror attack.

Forgery case

In 1999, Berry became ensnared in a forgery plot that one accomplice now says was an effort to raise money for Berry's fight against bioterror.

Authorities in New York's Allegany County accused Berry and his PREEMPT secretary, Cathy Litzburg, of conspiring with Mary Colletta to forge a will for the late Andrew Colletta, a prominent Wellsville physician whom Mary Colletta portrayed as her common-law husband.

But Andrew Colletta had never divorced his legal wife, Carol Colletta. Authorities learned of the forgery scheme after she began raising questions.

In a recent interview, Mary Colletta said Berry's motivation in the scheme was to raise funds to fight bioterrorism.

She said Berry tried to convince her to invest in a firm that would prepare the nation for bioterrorism attacks. He also wanted her to help him buy an airplane.

"His whole life was in protecting our nation, and to somehow get the Pentagon to listen to him," Colletta recalled.

She said the FBI asked her questions about Berry last week.

In the will scheme, Berry eventually pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and received a $300 fine, recalled the Allegany County District Attorney Terrence Parker. Colletta was convicted of perjury and sentenced to probation, Parker recalled.

The case, at Berry's request, was sealed from public view, the prosecutor recalled.

'He has a passion'

"They are going to owe this man a major apology," said Richard "Pastor Dick" Helms, a close friend of the physician. Helms said he is an ordained independent evangelical pastor who ministers over the Internet.

Helms, of Wellsville, described Berry as a nice guy who is a brilliant doctor. Berry obtained his medical degree at the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine in St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilles.

"It's not that he is fascinated with bioterrorism," Helms said. "He has a passion to protect the American people."

Berry's passion stems from a strong Catholic faith, Helms said.

Helms said Berry has six stepchildren in addition to a son with his current wife. He has two children, Michele and Nicole, from his first marriage.

Berry moved to Wellsville, N.Y., where he built a new life and remarried after a divorce in 1995 in Fayette County.

Joan Hand, a neighbor and former co-worker in Wellsville, said Berry is very firm in his beliefs.

"He was a big proponent of the anthrax vaccine," said Hand, 64, who shared an office with Berry at Jones Memorial Hospital. She was the emergency room manager.

"I can't believe that he's hurt anyone," she said. "He's in the business of saving lives."

Hand said Berry typically works four or five shifts in a row at UPMC McKeesport, then spends five days at home in Wellsville before returning to work.

At Jones Memorial he usually worked a lot of night shifts because there weren't enough doctors to fill the schedule, she said.

He worked at Jones Memorial, a 70-bed hospital south of Buffalo, from November 1996 until he resigned in October 2001, said Judy Burt, a hospital spokeswoman.

The Buffalo News

Anthrax probe puts doctor's career at risk

By DAN HERBECK
News Staff Reporter
8/15/2004

Friends say Dr. Steven J. Hatfill's career and personal life were ruined when U.S. Attorney General John G. Ashcroft called him a "person of interest" in the anthrax terrorism investigation in August 2002.

"Steve's life has been a total wreck ever since. He lost a $150,000-a-year job. He can't get a job interview anywhere," said Pat Clawson, a former CNN reporter who acts as Hatfill's spokesman. "He hasn't been charged with anything (but) nobody will touch him."

Two years later, supporters of a Wellsville physician, Dr. Kenneth M. Berry, worry that the same fate awaits Berry.

FBI agents and postal inspectors 10 days ago searched a car and three residences tied to Berry. The agents filed no charges but said the searches were part of the ongoing investigation into anthrax letter attacks that killed five people and made 17 others ill in late 2001.

No one in the federal government has called Berry a "person of interest" or made other public comments on his status. But his name has been linked to anthrax and bioterrorism in news reports all over the United States.

Is the Berry case a misstep in a long, frustrating anthrax terror investigation that is nearly three years old without an arrest to show for it?

Or is it just a matter of dogged, hard-working investigators pursuing every possible lead and refusing to give up?

Berry, 46, has declined to comment. A close friend from Wellsville, Richard "Pastor Dick" Helms, said he's convinced that if federal agents had found any valuable evidence in the searches, they would have arrested Berry immediately.

"He's not been arrested for (anthrax crimes), and he's not going to be," Helms said. "But they've harmed him terribly. Would you hire him as an emergency room doctor, or as a teacher of emergency room medicine, if you thought he might be tied up with anthrax?"

Michael A. Mason, a former Buffalo FBI supervisor who now works in Washington and heads the anthrax probe, said agents are just doing their jobs. He said 30 FBI agents and 13 postal inspectors work on the case full time, chasing leads and interviewing possible witnesses all over the country.

"This investigation has been arduous, to say the least. No one wants an investigation to take three years," he said. "We're trying to do a thorough, comprehensive and impartial job."

Since the anthrax attacks of September-October 2001, agents have interviewed at least 5,280 people and issued 4,483 subpoenas, Mason said.

"This is grunt work," he said. "The downside of it is, you can have 1,000 things to do, and 998 of them will lead to dead ends. But every day, we move forward. You knock on a door, looking for a bad guy, and if he's not there, that's one less door you have to check."

Mason declined to comment about Berry, Hatfill or another person who has been looked at. America was still in hysteria mode after the terror of Sept. 11, 2001, when anthrax-laced letters began showing up in the mail several weeks later. By the year's end, anthrax-laced letters killed five people, including two U.S. Postal Service employees, a 94-year-old woman in Connecticut, a hospital worker from New York City and a photo editor for a news magazine based in Florida.

Similar deadly letters were mailed to the offices of NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle , Sen. Patrick Leahy and other locations.

In June 2002, news reportssurfaced about Hatfill, a scientist and former bioterrorism expert for the Army. Agents searched Hatfill's Maryland home and drained a nearby pond, looking for evidence. In August 2002, Ashcroft called Hatfill a "person of interest" but declined to comment when asked if Hatfill was a suspect in the anthrax attacks.

At a news conference later that month, Hatfill said: "I want to look my fellow Americans in the eye and declare to them, I am not the anthrax killer. I had absolutely nothing to do with this terrible crime."

Two years later, Hatfill has not been charged in connection with anthrax crimes. But Clawson said he has paid a heavy price.

He was fired at the end of August 2002 from a $150,000-a-year job as director of a biomedical training program at Louisiana State University. University officials said the firing came after the government told them Hatfill could not work on projects funded by the Justice Department.

"Since then, his life has been devastated," Clawson said.

Last year, Hatfill filed a federal lawsuit against Ashcroft and the FBI, accusing them of ruining his career with unfair accusations.

Clawson denied reports alleging that Berry and Hatfill knew each other.

"My advice to (Berry) is, get good legal counsel," Clawson said. "If he's innocent, he should let the media and the government know that and be aggressive about it."

Berry has not spoken publicly since federal agents conducted searches at four locations Aug. 5. According to a spokeswoman at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in McKeesport, Pa., Berry is still employed there as an emergency room doctor. But she declined to comment on his future status at the hospital.

While not charged with anything related to anthrax, Berry faces assault charges from an incident in Point Pleasant Beach, N.J., where he allegedly attacked members of his family on the day of the FBI searches.

For at least seven years, Berry tried to persuade the federal government to better prepare for an anthrax attack or some other bioterrorism incident. Authorities believe the person behind the attacks may have been trying to shock the government into taking stronger steps to prepare.

A friend of Berry's, Mary Colletta of Wellsville, said she does not blame FBI agents for investigating the physician and agents have interviewed her about Berry.

"I've known Ken since 1996. If he did have something to do with this, it wouldn't be intended to harm anyone," Colletta said. "It would have been for a greater cause, to alert the nation, especially after 9/11."

e-mail: dherbeck@buffnews.com

Newsday

Doctor loses job amid anthrax probe

August 18, 2004, 5:05 PM EDT

PITTSBURGH -- Dr. Kenneth Berry, whose homes were recently searched by federal agents probing the unsolved 2001 anthrax attacks, has lost his job at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

"His employment ends on Nov. 8 and he will be on leave until then," UPMC spokesman Frank Raczkiewicz said Wednesday. Raczkiewicz would not elaborate.

The Rev. Richard Helms, a friend of Berry's in his hometown of Wellsville, N.Y., said Berry told him earlier this week he was disappointed at being let go from his position as an emergency room doctor.

"They made up all kinds of reasons for it, but you know as well as I do why they let him go," Helms said, referring to the anthrax investigation.

On Aug. 5, agents descended on Berry's home and a former apartment in rural western New York, as well as his parents' summer home on the New Jersey shore. An FBI spokesman said the searches were part of the anthrax investigation. The FBI has not commented on Berry's status.

That same day, Berry, who founded an organization in 1997 that trains medical professionals to respond to chemical and biological attacks, was arrested after a domestic dispute at a motel in Point Pleasant Beach, N.J. He is free on bail. The charges were unrelated to anthrax.

Several attempts to reach Berry by phone and in person have been unsuccessful. Helms said he remains out of town.

"He's being harmed tremendously and there's no reason for it," Helms said.

Five people died and 17 were sickened in the fall of 2001 in the anthrax mailings that targeted government and media officials. The attacks unsettled a nation already reeling from the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Berry is the second doctor connected to the anthrax probe to lose his job.

Dr. Steven Hatfill, who was called a "person of interest" in the anthrax probe, was placed on administrative leave from his job at Louisiana State University the day after the Justice Department's Office for Domestic Preparedness e-mailed instructions to "immediately cease and desist" from using Hatfill on any DOJ contract.

LSU fired him Sept. 3, saying it had to fulfill its obligations to funding agencies and maintain its academic integrity. The university said it was not making any judgment as to Hatfill's guilt or innocence regarding the FBI's anthrax probe.

In a lawsuit filed last August, Hatfill said Attorney General John Ashcroft and others identified him as a person of interest to detract attention from their inability to find the person responsible for sending anthrax-laced envelopes to government and media offices in October 2001. He was the only person identified that way by government officials.

FBI Took Coolers From Anthrax Investigation

The Fox News Channel
Wednesday, August 18, 2004

WASHINGTON  — When an anthrax investigation at Fort Detrick, Md., wrapped up last month, FBI agents carried out at least three coolers from the building where the dangerous bacteria is stored, a source told FOX News.

Investigators with the "Amerithrax" task force, which comprises FBI and postal service agents, took their three-years-long hunt to the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick, Md., earlier this summer. The Fort Detrick portion ended July 23.

Agents also searched computers and discs, and some equipment may have been removed from USAMRIID, sources said.

It has long been speculated that the anthrax in tainted mailings that killed five people and sickened 17 shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks was somehow stolen from the Fort Detrick labs.

In a separate development, suggesting the government's investigation continues to move forward, FOX News has learned that at least four scientists affiliated with Fort Detrick were asked to testify before a grand jury, in Washington, earlier this summer.

Law enforcement officials are unwilling to discuss this matter given the secret nature of the grand jury. A Fort Detrick spokesman would not comment directly, saying only that scientists have been fully cooperating with the investigation.

In addition, FOX News has learned some scientists at USAMRIID were questioned about the data in their lab notebooks, which include the toxic agents, procedures and personnel present for all experiments.

It is widely believed that the anthrax used in the deadly letters sent in September and October 2001 was stolen from the Army's premier bio-weapons lab. Neither Army nor FBI officials are willing to confirm this on the record. 

The site is also significant because of its connection to Steven Hatfill, a biochemist who once worked at the labs. U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft has described him as a person of interest in the case. Hatfill denies the charges and is now suing the government.

Also, Kenneth Berry, an emergency room physician and the founder of an anti-terrorism organization that trains medical professionals to respond to chemical and biological attacks, recently became the focus of FBI searches in the probe.

Berry reportedly presented a paper at Fort Detrick in 1997. He has denied any connection to the attacks.

The FBI considers the anthrax investigation its most complex ever. About a month after the Sept. 11 attacks, letters laced with the deadly bacteria were mailed to government and media offices, including to Sens. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and to The New York Post and NBC anchor Tom Brokaw.

The mailings rattled an already shaken populace, and postal and government buildings experienced closures. No one has yet been charged in the attacks.

FOX News' Catherine Herridge and Anna Stolley contributed to this report.

2004-08-19
Plane crash victim was being investigated by FBI
By Eugene Driscoll

THE NEWS-TIMES (Danbury, CT)

NEWTOWN — Those who knew Michael Keilty were shocked to learn the 40-year-old father of three was the subject of an unspecified FBI inquiry prior to the plane crash that took his life last month.

Keilty was a passenger July 10 in a twin-engine plane that crashed into a heavily forested mountain about 5 miles from Ticonderoga Municipal Airport.

He was traveling from Waterbury-Oxford Airport to New York to see his wife, Ann, who was waiting for him to join her at the family's summer house. The family's full-time residence is in the Sandy Hook section of Newtown.

While several people confirmed the FBI was investigating Keilty, authorities won't reveal the nature of the inquiry.

The FBI won't even confirm there is an investigation.

"We're not commenting at all," FBI Connecticut spokeswoman Lisa Bull said.

Keilty's brother Tim, 28, said he learned about the investigation after reading a newspaper.

"All that I can say is that when it comes to whatever my brother did in business, he was very private. He kept it to himself. What I do care about is the fact that I'm without a brother," he said.

"My niece is without a father. My sister-in-law lost her husband. That's what I'm concerned about."

Michael Keilty was the founder and chief executive officer of Atlantic Communications Inc. in Danbury.

Employees there became aware of the FBI investigation after the July crash that also killed the pilot, 76-year-old Milton Marshall.

Laurie Lee, the company's financial director, has been supervising the day-to-day operation of the business since Keilty's death.

"I've heard that the FBI was involved in investigating the crash, but any details I just do not know," she said. "To my knowledge, the FBI has not contacted any employees or been to the premises here."

Robert Ziegler, an attorney handling Keilty's estate, did not return three phone calls for comment.

Another brother, Tony Keilty, said he had not heard about the FBI investigation. He declined further comment.

No one was home Wednesday at Keilty's Sandy Hook house, where his wife, Ann, lives with her 9-year-old daughter, Sara.

Atlantic Communications serves as an answering service for doctors, lawyers and other professionals. The company has two upstate New York call centers.

In addition to the answering service, Keilty also ran a small business called ID Cam Systems. The company manufactured scanners that helped liquor stores and bars detect fake identification.

Keilty told The News-Times in 2001 that he hoped to market the scanners to the Federal Aviation Administration with the hope it could be used to bolster airport security after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

However, a deal never materialized.

Keilty is the second person this month with Newtown connections to be placed under the FBI microscope.

On Aug. 5, agents raided the New York home of Dr. Kenneth Berry, a 1975 graduate of Newtown High School. Agents also raided the New Jersey shore summer home of Berry's parents, who live in Newtown.

FBI agents said the raids were connected to the anthrax attacks of 2001, when anthrax-laced letters were sent to various media outlets and political figures.

However, the FBI did not arrest Berry or name him as a suspect.

Like Keilty, Berry also had a product he was hoping to sell to protect Americans after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Berry wanted to equip buildings with a device that detected toxic airborne biological agents like anthrax.

The Keiltys live on a small, sparsely populated cul de sac. They purchased the two-story home on three acres in 2001.

When told of the FBI investigation, a neighbor who wouldn't give her name was so surprised she asked to hear the news twice.

"He was an absolutely wonderful person," she said.

The neighbor said the Keiltys were a close family and that Keilty was a humble man who often worked from his house so he could spend more time with his family.

A relative from Florida has been staying with Ann Keilty and her daughter. Two older Keilty children are in college.

Just what caused the crash last month that killed Keilty remains under investigation, said Paul Cox, an investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board.

"At this point we are still investigating it as an accident," he said.

Cox said FBI agents discussed the crash with him.

"Yes they have but right now I'm going to keep that information to myself because I'm still investigating the accident," he said.

The plane crashed at about 9 a.m. on a clear day, according to a preliminary report filed by the NTSB.

The report states that the trip was Keilty's third trip with the 76-year-old pilot, a retired commercial airline pilot with 32,000 hours of flying under his belt.

The report states that Keilty said he had a pilot's license even though he did not have one. Keilty was considering investing in Capital Airways, the small company that owned the plane, according to the report.

Keilty's brother said he regularly flew from Connecticut to New York.

Both the neighbor and Lee, the Atlantic Communications employee, said Keilty was in good spirits the days prior to the plane crash.

"It was business as usual. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary," said Lee, who spoke with Keilty the day before he died.

Contact Eugene Driscoll at edriscoll@newstimes.com or at (203) 426-3711.

THE NATION
Anthrax Leaks Blamed on Lax Safety Habits

'Sloppy' researchers and 'disorganized' labs are cited in the Army's investigation of 2002 breaches at a federal biodefense facility.

By Charles Piller
Times Staff Writer

August 20, 2004

An Army investigation into anthrax contamination outside secure labs at the nation's chief biodefense research facility blames cavalier attitudes for the safety breach.

The anthrax leaks were detected in April 2002 at the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Ft. Detrick, Md. Officials at the facility, which served as the chief forensic lab for the 2001 anthrax mailings that killed five people, revamped security and safety rules last year.

Discovery of the leaks caused a brief scare in nearby Frederick when it was thought that a local laundry contractor could have handled contaminated garments from the lab. No one became ill.

The Army report, obtained Thursday by The Times, also showed that some researchers at the facility doubted its commitment to biosafety.

"The safety program may be more about insulating the institute from criticism than from protecting the workers," one lab supervisor told a military investigator in the detailed report completed in May 2002 and just released under the Freedom of Information Act.

The leaks were detected by a researcher who was conducting independent tests outside the chain of command, triggering the investigation.

"Other workers have mentioned that they might not report [lapses] in the future because of fallout from this episode," the supervisor said. "I think there's a serious problem."

Chuck Dasey, an institute spokesman, said the incident occurred as a new biosecurity program was being shaped.

"There was an institutewide, reenergized emphasis on safety, safety training, safety education, proper laboratory procedures," he said.

No employees were disciplined for safety violations, Dasey added.

The investigator, Col. David L. Hoover of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Md., indicated in the censored report that the contamination could have come from shipping containers for samples related to the anthrax mailings. He was unable to determine the origin of the leaks.

Three different anthrax strains — two infectious and one a harmless vaccine — were detected outside biosafety labs.

The contamination was worrisome because office workers, unlike scientists, were not always vaccinated against anthrax.

Spores were found in numerous locations in an office and changing room adjacent to a lab used to analyze evidence from the deadly mailings. More significant contamination, in a corridor and in high-security labs, was attributed partly to complacency.

Hoover concluded that "multiple episodes of contamination may have occurred" over an unknown period. Viable anthrax spores can persist for decades.

"A laboratory in which there was widespread, long-standing contamination … represents both a safety and a security threat," said Richard Ebright, a microbiologist at Rutgers University and a biological warfare expert. "Any person with access to a contaminated area would have access to the agent."

Even a small number of spores could be used to grow large quantities of anthrax, he said.

The breach was discovered by Bruce Ivins, an institute researcher.

He detected an apparent anthrax leak in December 2001, at the height of the anthrax mailings investigation, but did not report it. Ivins considered the problem solved when he cleaned the affected office with bleach.

"I didn't keep records or verify the cultures because I was concerned that records might be obtained under the Freedom of Information Act," he said in a sworn statement included in the Army report.

"I was also afraid that reporting would have raised great alarm within the institute, which at the time was very busy" working on the anthrax mailing samples.

Ivins could not be reached for comment.

According to his statement, he renewed his independent tests in April 2002. "I again personally and privately decided to check nonbiocontainment areas to see if containment may have possibly been breached," Ivins said.

His tests led to the discovery of leaked spores and the investigation.

Among the "multiple, apparently long-standing deficiencies" found by the investigator was a failure to routinely monitor or decontaminate "hot labs" where anthrax and other dangerous microbes were handled. Safety supervision was sometimes managed by personnel with inadequate training, the report said.

Researchers are "generally kind of sloppy," a lab supervisor told Hoover. "I recommend to my people to always wear [two pairs] of gloves and to remove the outer pair of gloves after working with [the] agent, since I can't be sure the lab isn't contaminated."

Another researcher noted a chaotic environment as the institute struggled to keep up with anthrax samples flowing in for testing after the mailings. The researcher, identified as chief of the special pathogens branch, compared one secure lab to " 'a rat's nest.' The countertops were dirty, the floor was dirty and the area was disorganized," the scientist told Hoover. "At that time, I made a decision not to process any more samples."

The institute upgraded monitoring and training after the 2002 discovery. It improved record-keeping and archives of dangerous microbes, began a video surveillance system and tightened access controls.

The Ft. Detrick lab plans to spend about $4 million annually on biosafety and security, according to a report last year by military officials.

Ebright, the Rutgers microbiologist, applauded the improvements. If carried out properly, he said, the institute would be far safer and more secure than university labs that use deadly microorganisms.

New York Daily News

1.5B for labs only fuels my bioterror
by Lenore Skenazy

Sunday, August 22nd, 2004

Hey! How about this idea to make America safer? Let's open a whole bunch of new flight schools and invite hundreds of people to take lessons in advanced hijacking. What's that? Sounds like a bad idea? One that would actually make us less safe? Okay then, tell me this: Why are we planning to open a whole bunch of new bioterrorism labs and invite hundreds of people to get their hands on the deadliest pathogens known to man?

That's exactly what the Bush administration is planning to do: Spend more than $1.5 billion to build at least seven big, new biosafety level-4 (BSL-4) labs to study and produce the world's worst germs.

To understand just how dangerous the germs in BSL-4 labs are, consider that anthrax requires only a BSL-2 lab. Same with the plague.

So maybe we need new high level labs to keep us safe from the worst of the worst? That's what the administration is arguing: We've got to study these germs before the terrorists do. But in fact, these labs actually would bring us closer to a biodisaster in two ways:

First of all, there's always the problem of accidents. Right now, there are only two government-run BSL-4 labs in America. That means very few places these horrible germs could accidentally escape from. Think that never happens? In April, a lab in Frederick, Md., accidentally shipped a vial of lethal anthrax to a children's hospital in Oakland. The lab workers thought the germs were dead. Oops.

Worldwide, adds Rutgers molecular biologist Richard Ebright, there have been three BSL-4 accidents in the past few months, including a SARS release in Taiwan. Bottom line: The more bioweapons labs we build, the more chance that human errors and leaks will occur.

But perhaps even more troubling than the possibility of an accident is the possibility of a deliberate infiltration by terrorists.

"The more people who have access to the most dangerous pathogens, the greater the risk that one of them - or more - will engage in nefarious activities," says Jonathan Tucker, a senior researcher at the nonpartisan Monterey Institute in California. "As we've learned from [spies] Robert Hanssen and Aldrich Ames," says Tucker, "even people with the highest security can, in fact, be unreliable."

The opportunity for a terrorist to get his hands on these germs is much greater now that so many people have hurriedly been cleared to staff this weapons lab boom. Before 2001, says Ebright, there were only 500 to 1,000 people registered for bioweapons access. Today there are 11,000 - and counting.

This is disturbing because right now it is almost impossible for a rogue group to get experience handling the most obscure and deadly pathogens. The equipment is too expensive and advanced. But once a couple of terrorists get first-class, government-paid bioweapons training - or once a terrorist group co-opts a couple of bioterror technicians - it is only a matter of their sneaking out a single cell, says Ebright. And the absconding of a single cell, he adds, would be impossible to detect.

Would anyone really do this? Consider that the 2001 anthrax attacks used a strain traceable to a biodefense laboratory and was probably perpetrated by a biodefense worker.

So, in fact, far from creating security, a proliferation of BSL-4 labs will create a proliferation of deadly weapons along with plenty of opportunity for them to be released, accidentally or not.

Rather than sinking billions into this dubious proposition, it would make far more sense to spend our bioterror dollars securing the dozens of abandoned bioweapons labs around the world. 'Tis better to address an existing threat than to start creating new ones.

eurekalert.org
Public release date: 30-Aug-2004

Researchers improve detection of diverse anthrax strains

More common public health diseases also benefit

Flagstaff, Ariz., and Rockville, MD, August 30, 2004-Scientists have capitalized on genomic data to define novel diagnostic tests and to gain insight into the evolutionary and genetic history of the deadly pathogen Bacillus anthracis (anthrax).

Researchers at Northern Arizona University (NAU), the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) used nearly 1000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) to define the genetic and evolutionary types of several anthrax isolates with extremely high resolution.

The results are scheduled for publication online this week by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"This level of detail is not possible without whole genome sequences from multiple strains," said the paper's senior author Dr. Paul Keim, Director of Pathogen Genomics at TGen and the Cowden Endowed Chair of Microbiology at NAU. "This work now provides the raw material for highly specific and sensitive tests for anthrax in human cases, animal cases and within the environment. Specific and sensitive tests for this pathogen are needed for effective bio-defense and forensic investigation into previous events."

TIGR's scientists sequenced the genomes of five isolates, or strains, of anthrax and then compared the results of each sequence to detect minute variations (SNPs). TGen and NAU researchers used that data to develop a typing, or identification, system for various anthrax strains.

"This is the first time that a new bacterial typing system has been developed from an analysis of multiple sequenced genomes of the same species," said Dr. Jacques Ravel, who led the sequencing effort at TIGR. "Comparing the sequence of entire microbial genomes is helping scientists unravel the complex evolutionary history of this lethal agent."

The SNPs described in this work were highly stable. Only one SNP was not entirely stable across the entire study, which means that diagnostic and forensic tests developed using this information will have extremely low false positive, or misidentification rates, a crucial criterion for advanced tests. False positives from anthrax environmental tests would have an inordinate impact on public health should an outbreak occur.

The work also shows for the first time that how researchers "discover" DNA fingerprints is crucial to what they can be used for. The selection of anthrax strains for whole genome sequencing was guided by prior work on the large global anthrax collection, which maximized the information that was ultimately obtained from the whole genome sequencing effort. Similar efforts without such forethought would be ineffective at defining major bacterial populations.

This study shows that diverse strains of pathogens will not be recognized unless they are contained within the scope for the discovery process.

"That the genetic relationships of anthrax have been defined to a new level of precision provides a critical step toward future detection of this potential public threat," added Keim. "In addition, this study established a model for other biothreat pathogens, and common public health related diseases such as E. coli, Strep, Staph, and Salmonella."

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The National Institutes of Health and the Department of Homeland Security provided funding for this study. The anthrax genome sequencing effort was funded by a contract from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

About NAU:

NAU has earned a solid reputation as a comprehensive university with a personal touch and an outstanding research component. The personal attention comes in many forms, including small classes with full-time professors who know their students' names and a caring and committed staff whose goal is to help every student succeed. While our emphasis is undergraduate education, we offer graduate programs and research that build from our base on the Colorado Plateau and extend to such national concerns as forest health and genetics. www.nau.edu. Internationally recognized environmental research, including disease ecology, programs give student unique training opportunities.

About TGen:

The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a not-for-profit organization whose primary mission is to make and translate genomic discoveries into advances in human health. Translational genomics research is a relatively new field employing innovative advances arising from the Human Genome Project to apply to the development of diagnostics, prognostics and therapies for cancer, neurological disorders, diabetes and other complex diseases. For more information, visit www.tgen.org.

About TIGR:

The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) is a not-for-profit research institute based in Rockville, Maryland. TIGR, which sequenced the first complete genome of a free-living organism in 1995, has been at the forefront of the genomic revolution since the institute was founded in 1992. TIGR conducts research involving the structural, functional, and comparative analysis of genomes and gene products in viruses, bacteria, archaea, and eukaryotes. www.tigr.org.

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