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Dead Microbiologists
Topic Started: Aug 1 2008, 10:50 AM (628 Views)
Kamalam
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Ok, I don't know much about this situation other than what I've heard from the headlines, but something feels wrong about this... Another 'top microbiologist' has commited suicide after being investigated for possibly releasing anthrax as a way to test his vaccine against the toxin...

Maybe I'm X-Filing this too much, but how easy would it have been for the Army/ gov't to use this scientist as their perfect fall guy for instigating those very same tests?

Any insight or info on this would be appreciated
.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080801/ap_on_...thrax_scientist

Dead Army vaccine scientist eyed in anthrax probe

WASHINGTON - Federal prosecutors investigating the 2001 anthrax attacks were planning to indict and seek the death penalty against a top Army microbiologist who was developing a vaccine against the deadly toxin. The scientist apparently committed suicide this week.

The scientist, Bruce E. Ivins, was a leading military anthrax researcher who worked for the past 18 years at the government's biodefense labs at Fort Detrick, Md.

U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the ongoing grand jury investigation, said prosecutors were closing in on Ivins, 62. They were planning an indictment that would have sought the death penalty for the attacks, which killed five people, crippled the postal system and traumatized a nation still reeling from the Sept. 11 attacks.

Authorities were investigating whether Ivins released the anthrax as a way to test his vaccine, officials said.

The Justice Department has not yet decided whether to close the investigation, officials said, meaning it's still not certain whether Ivins acted alone or had help. One official close to the case said that decision was expected within days.

If the case is closed soon, one official said, that will indicate that Ivins was the lone suspect.

Ivins died Tuesday at Frederick Memorial Hospital in Maryland. The Los Angeles Times, which first reported that Ivins was under suspicion, said the scientist had taken a massive dose of a prescription Tylenol mixed with codeine. A woman who answered the phone at Bruce Ivins' home in Frederick declined to comment.

Tom Ivins, a brother of the scientist, told The Associated Press that his other brother, Charles, had told him that Bruce committed suicide and Tylenol might have been involved.

Tom Ivins said Friday that federal officials working on the anthrax case questioned him about his brother a year and a half ago. "They said they were investigating him," he said from Ohio, where he lives, in a CNN interview.

The Fort Detrick laboratory and its specialized scientists for years have been at the center of the FBI's investigation of the anthrax mailings. In late June, the government exonerated a colleague of Ivins, Steven Hatfill. Hatfill's name has for years had been associated with the attacks after investigators named him a "person of interest" in 2002.

The government paid Hatfill $5.82 million to settle a lawsuit contending he was falsely accused and had been made a scapegoat for the crimes.

"We are not at this time making any official statements or comments regarding this situation," said Debbie Weierman, a spokeswoman for the FBI's Washington field office, which is investigating the anthrax attacks, said Friday.

Five people died and 17 were sickened by anthrax powder in letters that were mailed to lawmakers' Capitol Hill offices, TV networks in New York, and tabloid newspaper offices in Florida. Two postal workers in a Washington mail facility, a New York hospital worker, a Florida photo editor and an elderly Connecticut woman were killed.

Associated Press Writer Dave Dishneau from Hagerstown, Md. and AP researcher Susan James in New York contributed to this story.
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Sean_
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Looks to me like the jig was up for this guy and he chose the short way out.
Don't think about all those things you fear. Just be glad to be here.

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Maverick
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A little more info on this scientist...

Scientist a `homicidal killer'

Anthrax-attack suspect feared by his therapist, judge told last month
Aug 03, 2008 04:30 AM
DAVID DISHNEAU
LARA JAKES JORDAN
Associated Press

FREDERICK, MD.–The therapist for the late scientist suspected in the 2001 anthrax attacks said Bruce Ivins had attempted to poison people and that she was "scared to death" of him, according to an audiotape posted online yesterday.

Social worker Jean Duley testified at a hearing in Frederick on July 24 in a successful bid for a protective order from Ivins. The New York Times obtained a recording of the hearing and posted it on its website.

"As far back as the year 2000, the respondent has actually attempted to murder several other people, either through poisoning. He is a revenge killer. When he feels that he's been slighted or has had – especially toward women – he plots and actually tries to carry out revenge killings," Duley said.

She added that Ivins "has been forensically diagnosed by several top psychiatrists as a sociopathic, homicidal killer. I have that in evidence. And through my working with him, I also believe that to be very true."

Duley told the judge she was "scared to death" of Ivins.

Ivins, 62, who worked at an army biodefence laboratory at Fort Detrick, Md., committed suicide last Tuesday as federal authorities were closing in after investigating him for more than a year in connection with the deaths of five people poisoned by anthrax in 2001.

Prosecutors are now mulling whether to close the anthrax poisoning investigation, possibly as early as tomorrow or Tuesday. If that happens, court documents detailing newly developed scientific evidence that recently led the government to Ivins may be unsealed.

Five people died and 17 others were sickened when anthrax-laced letters showed up at congressional offices, newsrooms and post offices soon after Sept. 11, 2001.

After investigating army scientist Steven Hatfill, the government exonerated him and paid him a $5.82 million settlement in June.

More than a year ago the FBI began looking at Ivins, who was working on an anthrax cure at the same military lab.

The army refused yesterday to say whether it had been reviewing the security clearance of the chief suspect in the anthrax attacks who had mental problems and killed himself as federal prosecutors were planning to indict him.

Ivins was removed from his lab in Maryland by police on July 10 and temporarily hospitalized, according to court records, because it was feared that he was a danger to himself and others. But it was unclear whether he was still employed by the lab at the time of his death Tuesday.

Army spokesperson Paul Boyce declined to comment on the case.

http://www.thestar.com/News/World/article/471850
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Sean_
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I think that answers your question Kam.
Don't think about all those things you fear. Just be glad to be here.

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Kamalam
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Hmmmm. Possibly. I don't have any evidence to the contrary... it's just that I don't trust the government and have seen them lie too many times to entirely believe anything. Experts notwithstanding. It's sad.
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Skookum
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Kamalam
Aug 3 2008, 04:54 PM
Hmmmm. Possibly. I don't have any evidence to the contrary... it's just that I don't trust the government and have seen them lie too many times to entirely believe anything. Experts notwithstanding. It's sad.

I think George (& others) has a very long list of microbiologists who have met untimley & mysterious or even strange deaths. IMO George gets a little carried away with his presumed conspiracy stuff sometimes; but I'm also thinking there might be basis for the suspicions involved.
I forget who the people are that have been on Coast with these ideas :redface: with a little research, might not be too hard to get a list of the names & incidents.

Guess I could go either way with this one......hard to sort out.
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Kamalam
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Oh, man... This is exactly what I was afraid of.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080805/ap_on_...x_investigation

FBI used aggressive tactics in anthrax probe

WASHINGTON - Before killing himself last week, Army scientist Bruce Ivins told friends that government agents had stalked him and his family for months, offered his son $2.5 million to rat him out and tried to turn his hospitalized daughter against him with photographs of dead anthrax victims.

The pressure on Ivins was extreme, a high-risk strategy that has failed the FBI before. The government was determined to find the villain in the 2001 anthrax attacks; it was too many years without a solution to the case that shocked and terrified a post-9/11 nation.

The last thing the FBI needed was another embarrassment. Overreaching damaged the FBI's reputation in the high-profile investigations: the Centennial Olympic Park bombing probe that falsely accused Richard Jewell; the theft of nuclear secrets and botched prosecution of scientist Wen Ho Lee; and, in this same anthrax probe, the smearing of an innocent man — Ivins' colleague Steven Hatfill.

In the current case, Ivins complained privately that FBI agents had offered his son, Andy, $2.5 million, plus "the sports car of his choice" late last year if he would turn over evidence implicating his father in the anthrax attacks, according to a former U.S. scientist who described himself as a friend of Ivins.

Ivins also said the FBI confronted Ivins' daughter, Amanda, with photographs of victims of the anthrax attacks and told her, "This is what your father did," according to the scientist, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because their conversation was confidential.

The scientist said Ivins was angered by the FBI's alleged actions, which he said included following Ivins' family on shopping trips.

Washington attorney Barry Coburn, who represents Amanda Ivins, declined to comment on the investigation. An attorney for Andy Ivins also declined to comment.

The FBI declined to describe its investigative techniques of Ivins.

FBI official John Miller said that "what we have seen over the past few days has been a mix of improper disclosures of partial information mixed with inaccurate information and then drawn into unfounded conclusions. None of that serves the victims, their families or the public."

The FBI "always moves aggressively to get to the bottom of the facts, but that does not include mistreatment of anybody and I don't know of any case where that's happened," said former FBI deputy director Weldon Kennedy, who was with the bureau for 34 years. "That doesn't mean that from time to time people don't make mistakes," he added.

Dr. W. Russell Byrne, a friend and former supervisor of Ivins at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Md., said he had heard from other Ivins associates that investigators were going after Ivins' daughter. But Byrne said those conversations were always short because people were afraid to talk.

"The FBI had asked everybody to sign these nondisclosure things," Byrne said. "They didn't want to run afoul of the FBI."

Byrne, who retired from the lab four years ago, said FBI agents interviewed him seven to 12 times since the investigation began — and he got off easy.

"I think I'm the only person at USAMRIID who didn't get polygraphed," he said.

Byrne said he was told by people who had recently worked with Ivins that the investigation had taken an emotional toll on the researcher. "One person said he'd sit at his desk and weep," he said.

Questions about the FBI's conduct come as the government takes steps that could signal an end to its investigation. On Wednesday, FBI officials plan to begin briefing family members of victims in the 2001 attacks.

The government is expected to declare the case solved but will keep it open for now, according to two U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation. Several legal and investigatory matters need to be wrapped up before the case can officially be closed, they said.

Some questions may be answered when documents related to the case are released, as soon as Wednesday. For others, the answers may be incomplete, even bizarre. Some may simply never be answered.

It is unclear how the FBI eliminated as suspects others in the lab who had access to the anthrax. It's not clear what, if any, evidence bolsters the theory that the attacks may have been a twisted effort to test a cure for the toxin. Investigators also can't place Ivins in Princeton, N.J., when the letters were mailed from a mailbox there.

Richard Schuler, attorney for anthrax victim Robert Stevens' widow, Maureen Stevens, said his client will attend Wednesday's FBI briefing with a list of questions.

"No. 1 is, 'Did Bruce Ivins mail the anthrax that killed Robert Stevens?'" Schuler said, adding, "I've got healthy skepticism."

Critics of the bureau in and out of government say that in major cases, like the anthrax investigation, it can be difficult for the bureau to stop once it embarks on a single-minded pursuit of a suspect, with any internal dissenters shut out as disloyal subordinates.

Before the FBI focused on Ivins, its sights were set on Hatfill, whose career as a bioscientist was ruined after then-Attorney General John Ashcroft named him a "person of interest" in the probe.

Hatfill sued the agency, which recently agreed to pay Hatfill nearly $6 million to settle the lawsuit.

Complaints that the FBI behaved too aggressively conflict with its straight-laced, crime-fighting image of starched agents hunting terrorists.

During its focus on Hatfill, the FBI conducted what became known as "bumper lock surveillance," in which investigators trailed Hatfill so closely that he accused agents of running over his foot with their surveillance vehicle.

FBI agents showed up once to videotape Hatfill in a hotel hallway in Tyson's Corner, Va., when Hatfill was meeting with a prospective employer, according to FBI depositions filed in Hatfill's lawsuit against the government. He didn't get the job.

One of the FBI agents who helped run the anthrax investigation, Robert Roth, said FBI Director Robert Mueller had expressed frustration with the pace of the investigation. He also acknowledged that, under FBI guidelines, targets of surveillance aren't supposed to know they're being followed.

"Generally, it's supposed to be covert," Roth told lawyers in Hatfill's lawsuit.

In the 1996 Atlanta Olympic park bombing that dragged Jewell into the limelight, the security guard became the focus of the FBI probe for three months, after initially being hailed as a hero for moving people away from the bomb before it exploded.

The bomber turned out to be anti-government extremist Eric Rudolph, who also planted three other bombs in the Atlanta area and in Birmingham, Ala. Those explosives killed a police officer, maimed a nurse and injured several other people.

In another case, the FBI used as evidence the secrets that a person tells a therapist.

In the Wen Ho Lee case, Lee became the focus of a federal probe into how China may have obtained classified nuclear warhead blueprints. Prosecutors eventually charged him only with mishandling nuclear data, and held him for nine months. In what amounted to a collapse of the government's case, prosecutors agreed to a plea bargain in which Lee pleaded guilty to one of 59 counts.

In 2004, the FBI wrongly arrested lawyer Brandon Mayfield after the Madrid terrorist bombings, due to a misidentified fingerprint. The Justice Department's internal watchdog faulted the bureau for sloppy work. Spanish authorities had doubted the validity of the fingerprint match, but the U.S. government initiated a lengthy investigation, eventually settling with Mayfield for $2 million.

Associated Press writer David Dishneau contributed to this report from Hagerstown, Md.


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Skookum
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Why am I not so surprised? :(
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Skookum
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Plague-related death of U. of C. researcher baffles family, researchers

Presence of plague bacterium offers clue, not answer, as scientists seek to determine cause

By Antonio Olivo
Tribune reporter

September 21, 2009

City health officials and the University of Chicago Medical Center on Sunday began the precautionary measures of offering antibiotics to the family, friends and co-workers of a geneticist who died last week of exposure to a plague-related bacterium.

Infectious disease experts couldn't rule out the possibility that the federally approved weakened strain of Yersiniapestis that Malcolm Casadaban was researching at the University of Chicago had somehow become dangerous.

But largely because nobody else exposed to the bacterium or to Casadaban has developed plague symptoms, it seems more likely there was something about the professor's health or genetic makeup that made him susceptible, officials said Sunday.

Further study is under way after an initial autopsy showed no obvious cause of death other than the presence of the bacterium, officials said.

"While the death of this individual researcher is terrible and tragic, there is currently no indication that his case of illness spread to anyone else," the Chicago Department of Public Health said in a statement. "There is currently no indication of a threat to public health."

Casadaban, 60, was working with a strain of Yersinia pestis that, stripped of its harmful components, has been used as a vaccine against the plague since the late 1960s.

Once the world's worst health scourge, the plague today affects 1,000 to 3,000 people per year, with most of the 10 or 15 annual cases in the U.S. occurring in rural areas of the Southwest where rodents carrying the bacterium are more common, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Casadaban, a renowned molecular geneticist with a passion for research, had been working to develop an even stronger vaccine for the plague, said his daughter Leigh, 21.

"He was a brilliant, brilliant guy," she said of her father. "He had such a love for genetics."

On the morning of Sept. 13, Casadaban developed intense flulike symptoms and arrived at the emergency room of the university's Bernard Mitchell Hospital, hospital officials said. He died 12 hours later.

Initially, doctors did not know they had a plague case on their hands, said Dr. Ken Alexander, chief of pediatric infectious disease at the medical center.

After blood test results came back Friday, the hospital notified city and state public health officials, he said.

Alexander -- who compared the bacterium Casadaban was working with to a "crocodile that doesn't have teeth" -- said the risk for an outbreak is very low.

"The more likely possibility, I'd say 999 to 1, is that there was something unusual about him," Alexander said, explaining that other strains of Yersinia bacteria linked to intestinal disease have been known to prey on people with abnormalities in their iron metabolism.

"As colleagues, we all feel we owe it to this man to find out what was different about him," Alexander said. "Given his field of research, I think that's what he would have wanted."

Casadaban's family said they were not aware of any pre-existing health problems that would have made him more susceptible to the weakened bacterium.

They remembered Casadaban as a fitness enthusiast who rode his bike to work every day and considered a family day at the Six Flags amusement park a great opportunity to log in some walking miles.

A native of New Orleans, Casadaban enjoyed teaching his family about genetics, said Leigh Casadaban, herself a genetics student at her father's alma mater, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

"He made it seem like it was all fun," she said.

Casadaban's other daughter, Brooke, 28, remembers her father as the quirky relative who showed up to family gatherings in New Orleans with new microscopes or math problems for his nieces and nephews.

Among the many topics Casadaban loved to expound upon -- the obesity gene, the "basic" nature of cloning -- her father's favorite was the notion that human beings are destined to live longer, Brooke Casadaban said.

"He really believed that life would last longer in the future," she said, noting the random nature of her father's passing. "None of us were prepared for this."

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Sean_
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Poor guy.

Keep an eye on this to see if there are any other cases springing up.
Don't think about all those things you fear. Just be glad to be here.

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Skookum
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Lists:
Dead Scientists And
Microbiologists - Master List
@RENSE.com

The total number of leading microbiologists killed in a six-month period starting soon after 9/11 was at least 15: LINK
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BeanBoy
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Maybe it's part of the stimulus plan to create jobs? :blink:
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Kamalam
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I find this latest case of the geneticist's death suspicious. They make the assumption that there was something wrong with him (or his health) such that he was vulnerable to contracting this plague virus... but friends and family describe him as a health nut, physically fit, etc.

It just doesn't add up. Yeah..... he could have some strange 999 to 1 genetic abnormality - but c'mon! The fact that he is just one of a string of scientists to die has me shaking my head. Plus... wouldn't you think these guys would have had extra detailed physical exams based on the work they do... I mean wouldn't they be more up to date on their medical hx considering?

I would not want to be a biologist or ANY scientist working for the gov't right about now! :eek:
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Skookum
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Things just don't really add up, do they? I guess anyone past 50 is pretty much subject to "natural causes"....he was 60. That's why when an 80 or 90 year old scientist drops dead it's nothing to get real excited about......unless they're found bound & gagged in the trunk of a car.

Quote:
 
Infectious disease experts couldn't rule out the possibility that the federally approved weakened strain of Yersiniapestis that Malcolm Casadaban was researching at the University of Chicago had somehow become dangerous.
.........
"There is currently no indication of a threat to public health."

Whenever I see/hear the word -"somehow"- used in an explanation it's sort of an automatic suspicion flag.
This is no joke:
A man was found dead in a police dept. interrogation room. The explanation: while he was handcuffed to the wall, he SOMEHOW managed to reach an electrical extension cord & hung himself with it.
That was a long time ago & I don't recall a name or date; but since then, "somehow" always jumps out at me.
cows don't care what time it is because the're ...... well ......... cows.
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Maverick
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Quote:
 
Whenever I see/hear the word -"somehow"- used in an explanation it's sort of an automatic suspicion flag.
This is no joke:
A man was found dead in a police dept. interrogation room. The explanation: while he was handcuffed to the wall, he SOMEHOW managed to reach an electrical extension cord & hung himself with it.
That was a long time ago & I don't recall a name or date; but since then, "somehow" always jumps out at me.


That is a very good point Skookum!
Don't take life too seriously .. no one gets out alive!
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