2001 Anthrax attacks/Timeline
|2001 Anthrax attacks/Timeline|
|A detailed and revealing timeline about the Amerithrax attacks, deleted from Wikipedia in April 2014, recovered from an archive at Deletionpedia.|
A timeline puts events in their proper sequence and is essential for the understanding of the anthrax attacks of 2001. The anthrax letter attacks occurred in September and October 2001, but the alleged culprit wasn't identified by the FBI and the Department of Justice until August 2008, nearly seven years later. The FBI's investigation of the alleged mailer of the lethal letters was performed out of public view, and, as a result it appeared to some that the FBI only identified Dr. Bruce Edwards Ivins as the culprit after Ivins committed suicide on July 27, 2008. The timeline shows that Ivins was mentioned in FBI reports as an "extremely sensitive suspect" on April 11, 2007. Other events in 2001 and 2002 show that Dr. Ivins was allegedly attempting to mislead the investigation by submitting unusable or false samples from the flask that was later determined to be the "murder weapon". The timeline also shows that the Ames strain used in the attacks was originally thought to be a common strain from Iowa, and it wasn't until months later that it was learned it was a rare strain from Texas - a key fact which became critical to the investigation.
The timeline also shows the sequence of events which led to Dr. Steven Jay Hatfill being identified by Attorney General John Ashcroft as a "person of interest" in August 2002. Many or most news reports after that time appear to ignore what the timeline shows: Starting within weeks after the discovery of the anthrax letters, a group of scientists playing amateur detectives, later joined by the media and some politicians, tried for eight months to get Dr. Hatfill publicly investigated by the FBI, claiming the FBI was "covering up" for the suspect who they didn't publicly name but identified by description, while the FBI kept repeating over and over that they had no firm suspects and that the theories of the amateur detectives and the media reporters were incorrect.
The timeline also shows that the way the events unfolded in the media have little to do with the actual sequence of events. The first case reported in the media was Bob Stevens in Florida, causing many people to assume that the culprit was in Florida at the time. But, later it was realized that the first cases actually occurred in New York City. They were just initially incorrectly diagnosed. Due to the timing of her case, Kathy Nguyen's inhalation infection was thought by many to be the result of cross-contamination from the second mailing in October 2001. But looking at the timeline one can see that her case is more likely related to the cluster of cutaneous cases and accidental exposures in New York City that occurred around the time Nguyen was infected and in the same general area of New York City where she was infected - all of which are known to be related to the first mailing, which occurred in September.
Pre-2001: Related events
- 1972: The Frederick Cancer Research and Development Center begins operating under the auspices of the National Cancer Institute at Fort Detrick, Frederick, Maryland. Scientists at the National Cancer Institute building would additionally research other deadly diseases such AIDS, anthrax and other ailments that could afflict U.S troops either through chemical or biological weapons.
- April 7, 1997: It is announced that Fort Detrick is one of the candidates for the site of a "multimillion-dollar vaccine storage and production center" that would protect U.S. troops against biological agents, including vaccines against bubonic plague, ebola and anthrax. The project would be a 10-year contract estimated at $500 to $700 million, and would include construction of a 35,000-square-foot (3,300 m2) building for about $10 million.
- April 12, 1997: Dr. Bruce E. Ivins writes in "The News Post" of Frederick, Maryland, that "I personally welcome the proposed vaccine facility" at Fort Detrick. "What is being proposed is a vaccine production facility, not a lethal biological agent production facility. The only way I can think of being seriously injured by anthrax or plague vaccine is to get plunked on the head by a vial of the stuff," he wrote. He described himself as "a reasonably scientifically literate private citizen living right across the street from Fort Detrick".
- November 7, 1997: The Army awards a $322 million contract to DynPort Vaccine Company, LLC, a joint venture formed specifically between Reston-based DynCorp and British-based Porton International, to develop and store a warehouse of vaccines to protect soldiers from biological warfare. About 45 percent of the 10-year contract is to be conducted at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland.
- "[David Lee] Wilson was head of the [FBI's] HMRU [Hazardous Materials Response Unit] between 1997 and 2000, and during those years the number of credible bioterror threats or incidents rose dramatically, up to roughly 200 per year, or one biological threat every couple of days. Most of them were anthrax hoaxes."
2001: The attacks
- Early September: "Some White House personnel" are given ciprofloxacin, the antibiotic of choice for anthrax, for undisclosed reasons.
- September 11: Staff accompanying Vice President Cheney to Camp David following the World Trade Center attacks are dispensed ciprofloxacin by the White House Medical Unit as "a precaution".
- "Soon after September 11", Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen is advised "in a roundabout way from a high government official" to acquire ciprofloxacin.
- September 17 or 18: Attack #1 — Five anthrax letters are believed to have been mailed around this time (Trenton, New Jersey postmark dated September 18), targeting news media: ABC News, CBS News, NBC News and the New York Post, all in New York City; and the National Enquirer at American Media, Inc. in Boca Raton, Florida, which publishes supermarket tabloids. (Only the New York Post and NBC News letters were actually found; the existence of the other three letters is inferred from the pattern of infection).
- September 19: A letter addressed to Jennifer Lopez containing a Star of David and a bluish powder arrived in the Sun's mailroom in the American Media headquarters. Several people handled the letter, and Stevens sniffed some of the powder.
- September 22–October 1: Nine people contract anthrax, but are not correctly diagnosed.
- September 24: Time Magazine asks, "Bioterrorism: The Next Threat?" NBC News reports, "At a time when the unthinkable became reality, the U.S. government is examining the possibility that an attack of an ever greater scale might be launched against America - possibly using biological or chemical weapons. U.S. officials insist no evidence exists to suggest that such an attack is inevitable. However, for years a handful of intelligence officials and military and civil defense experts have been warning that America is titanically unprepared for even relatively unsophisticated attacks involving biological agents."
- September 30: Robert Stevens, 63, photo editor at the supermarket tabloid The Sun, began feeling ill on the last day of a five-day vacation at his daughter's home in North Carolina
- October 1: American Media mail clerk Ernesto Blanco is hospitalized and diagnosed with pneumonia (in fact, he has inhaled anthrax).
- October 2: Early in the morning, Robert Stevens is admitted to the JFK Medical Center emergency room in Atlantis, Florida presenting disorientation, a high fever, vomiting and inability to speak. Later that morning a spinal tap is conducted, and based upon the box-shaped bacillus present in Mr. Stevens's spinal fluid, Dr. Larry Bush, chief of infectious diseases and his attending physician, makes an initial diagnosis of anthrax. Larry Bush contacts Dr. Jean Malecki, Director of the Palm Beach County Health Department. Over the next two days, multiple tests are conducted by labs at the local hospital, the state, and the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, all confirming Stevens is dying from anthrax.
- October 2: Egyptian-born Environmental Protection Agency scientist and former Ft. Detrick biowarfare researcher Ayaad Assaad is requested to appear before the FBI to discuss an anonymous letter from someone claiming to be a former coworker, accusing him of being "a potential biological terrorist" with "a vendetta against the U.S. government, and that if anything happens to him, he told his sons to carry on". The letter describes Assaad's personal and professional background in detail. After meeting the next day, the FBI dismisses all allegations.
- October 4: Robert Stevens is publicly confirmed to have inhalational anthrax. It is the first known case of inhalational anthrax in the U.S. since 1976. United States Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson downplays "terrorism" as a possible cause, suggesting Stevens may have contracted anthrax by drinking water from a stream. Officials emphasize that since anthrax is not contagious, there is no reason for public concern.
- October 5: Robert Stevens, 63, dies, the first fatality in the anthrax attacks. Paul Keim of Northern Arizona University determines that the strain of anthrax that killed Bob Stevens was the Ames strain.
- October 6–October 9: Attack #2 — Some time within this range, two more anthrax letters are mailed (Trenton, New Jersey postmark dated October 9), targeting Senators Daschle and Leahy. (Monday, October 8, was Columbus Day, hence no mail pickup).
- October 7: Anthrax spores are found on Robert Stevens's computer keyboard. Dr. Malecki of the Palm Beach County Health Department orders the American Media building to be closed and quarantined. Workers are tested for exposure.
- October 9: The media descends upon Iowa State University where it is falsely believed that the Ames strain was first isolated. A scientific article from 1986 provides the only source of information about the origin of the Ames strain: "Ames ..... Cow; Iowa, 1980". But no one in Iowa knows anything about any "Ames strain," and no cows died of anthrax in Iowa in 1980.
- October 10: Officials announced that a third American Media employee tested positive for exposure to anthrax.
- October 12: The (already opened) anthrax letter to NBC News is found and turned over to the FBI. Only a trace amount of anthrax remains in the letter.
- October 12: Dr. Bruce Ivins describes his understanding of the source of the Ames strain in an email: "I can tell you to whom I have sent this so-called 'Ames' strain. Please keep in mind that a) it is apparently 50 years old; b) that USAMRIID received this strain 20 years ago; c) that it is a USDA strain, not a USAMRIID strain, U.S. Army strain, or Department of Defense strain; d) the individuals primarily responsible for determining the location of the strain are located in Ames, Iowa, not in Frederick, Maryland" [Ivins emails, batch-55, page 6 
- October 12: As a precaution, after checking with the FBI, Iowa State University destroys its collection of anthrax strains, which "may have contained genetic clues valuable to the criminal inquiry".
- October 13: The NBC News letter tests positive for anthrax.
- October 14: The Guardian reports that "American investigators probing anthrax outbreaks in Florida and New York believe they have all the hallmarks of a terrorist attack - and have named Iraq as prime suspect as the source of the deadly spores. Their inquiries are adding to what US hawks say is a growing mass of evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved, possibly indirectly, with the September 11 hijackers. If investigators' fears are confirmed - and sceptics fear American hawks could be publicising the claim to press their case for strikes against Iraq - the pressure now building among senior Pentagon and White House officials in Washington for an attack may become irresistible."
- October 15: In a "featured article", the Wall Street Journal states of the anthrax mailings, "Several circumstantial links to Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network are already known" and that "Bin Laden couldn't be doing all this in Afghan caves. The leading supplier suspect has to be Iraq."
- October 15: The letter to Senator Daschle is opened. The anthrax in the letter was described as a "fine, light tan powder" which easily flew into the air.
- October 15: Ernesto Blanco was diagnosed with pulmonary anthrax, and moved to the intensive care unit. The Florida Department of Health announced that a minuscule amount of spores were found in the Boca Raton post office. They were found in a small mail sorting area where mail for American Media is handled, specifically in the throwback slot of the letter case for the American Media route. The room was sealed and cleaned.
- October 17: 31 Capitol workers (five Capitol police officers, 3 Russ Feingold staffers, 23 Tom Daschle staffers), test positive for the presence of anthrax (presumably via nasal swabs, etc.). Feingold's office is behind Daschle's in the Hart Senate Building. Anthrax spores are found in a Senate mailroom located in an office building near the Capitol. There are rumors that anthrax was found in the ventilation system of the Capitol building itself. The House of Representatives announces it will adjourn in response to the threat.
- October 18: Senator John McCain states, on the Late Show with David Letterman, that "There is some indication, and I don't have the conclusions, but some of this anthrax may — and I emphasize may — have come from Iraq."
- October 18: A White House alarm system detected dangerous levels of radioactive, chemical or biological agents, indicating exposure to Vice President Dick Cheney and others in the White House situation room. The alarm was the result of a malfunction; nevertheless the Vice President begins taking precautions against this type of attack.
- October 19: The unopened New York Post anthrax letter is found.
- October 19: Tom Ridge, Director of Homeland Security, briefs the media on "potential anthrax threats". Ridge reports the tests conducted on the anthrax found as spores at the AMI building in Florida, the material from the NBC News letter and the anthrax from the Daschle letter are all "indistinguishable", meaning they are from the same strain. Also Governor Ridge reveals the FBI has found the site (mailbox) where the letters were first placed. (This initial report may have been in error.)
- October 21, 2001: Senator Joe Lieberman, on Meet the Press, states "The stuff that is being sent out, most of it, including the stuff that went to Tom Daschle's office, is significantly refined anthrax... So it says to me that there's either a significant amount of money behind this, or this is state-sponsored, or this is stuff that was stolen from the former Soviet program."
- October 21: Brentwood (in Northeast Washington D.C.) postal employee Thomas L. Morris Jr., 55, dies.
- October 22: Brentwood postal employee Joseph P. Curseen, 47, dies.
- October 22: Ridge reports at a White House press conference on the two new deaths of postal workers possibly from anthrax exposure.
- October 23: It is confirmed that the two postal handlers died of inhalational anthrax.
- October 25: David Hose, who works at the State Department mail annex in Sterling, Virginia, is hospitalized with inhalational anthrax. The source is the Leahy anthrax letter (yet undiscovered), which was routed to the State Department mail facility in error.
- October 25: Ridge gives an update on the scientific analysis of the anthrax samples. The anthrax from the Daschle letter is described as "highly concentrated" and "pure". The material is also a "very, very fine powder" similar to talcum powder. The spore clusters are smaller when compared to the anthrax found in the New York Post sample. The opinion is the anthrax from the Daschle sample is deadlier. The New York Post sample is coarser and less concentrated than the Daschle anthrax. It is described as "clumpy and rugged" while the Daschle anthrax is "fine and floaty". Although they differ radically, Ridge emphasizes both anthrax samples are from the same Ames strain.
- October 26 - October 29: ABC News reports several times that several high-placed sources at Fort Detrick and elsewhere have told them that the anthrax samples contained bentonite, thereby implicating Saddam Hussein's biological warfare program, and explicitly contradicting official White House reports.
- October 26: The Washington Post  mistakenly reports that the Ames "strain was first isolated in Ames, Iowa, and sent in 1980 to Army researchers, who have since distributed it to various academic laboratories. The strain has spread by other routes to countless research labs around the world, making its identification relatively useless as a tool for tracking the perpetrators."
- October 29: Kathy Nguyen, a New York City hospital worker, is hospitalized with inhalational anthrax. The source of the anthrax is unknown.
- October 29: Major General John Parker at a White House briefing says silica was found in the Daschle anthrax sample. Also General Parker emphases the anthrax spore concentration in the Daschle letter was 10 times that of the New York Post letter.
- October 31: Kathy Nguyen, 61, dies.
- October 31: Major General John S. Parker testifies before the Senate Subcommittee on International Security, Proliferation and Federal Service concerning the anthrax found in the Daschle letter.
- November 7: President Bush describes the attacks as "a second wave of terrorist attacks upon our country".
- November 7: Ridge in a press briefing dismisses bentonite as a binding agent for the anthrax in the Daschle letter. He says the ingredient is silicon[sic].
- November 16: The Leahy anthrax letter is found in the impounded mail at the State Department mail facility in Sterling, Virginia.
- November 20: Ottilie Lundgren, of Connecticut, is diagnosed with inhalational anthrax. The source was most likely contaminated mail, although no anthrax was detected in her home.
- November 21: Ottilie Lundgren, 94, dies, the fifth and final person to die as a result of the mailings. This sparked major fear in the small affluent community of Oxford, Connecticut.
- December 5: The Leahy letter is opened at the American bio-facility USAMRIID, Fort Detrick, Maryland.
- December 5: The United States House of Representatives committee chairman Henry Hyde holds a hearing on the anthrax attacks and biological weapons.
2002: Related events
- January 4, 2002: Nicholas D. Kristof of The New York Times writes a column titled "Profile of a Killer"  which begins with this sentence: "I think I know who sent out the anthrax last fall." The column includes quotes from Barbara Hatch Rosenberg. Seven months later, in July, Kristof will explain in another column that he and Dr. Rosenberg were referring to Dr. Steven Hatfill.
- January 29, 2002: The news breaks that the Ames strain is NOT a common strain from Iowa that is used by labs all over the world. According to The New York Times, "The geographic gaffe was the result of a clerical error by a scientific researcher." According to The Washington Post, "The bacteria was isolated by the Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostics Laboratory at Texas A&M University and shipped to USAMRIID in May 1981." The Ames strain was never in Iowa and will turn out to be a RARE strain, not a common strain. Instead of being useless to the investigation, it will become critical to the investigation.
- February 5, 2002: Barbara Hatch Rosenberg publishes "Is The FBI Dragging Its Feet?" on the Federation of American Scientists web site. She says, "The FBI has surely known for several months that the anthrax attack was an inside job."
- February 2002: Barbara Hatch Rosenberg writes, "Analysis of the Anthrax Attacks" and posts it on the Federation of American Scientists web site with later updates.
- February 22, 2002: FBI spokeswoman Tracey Silberling says, "It is not accurate that the FBI has identified a prime suspect in the case."
- February 25, 2002: "Federal law enforcement officials denied a newspaper report that the FBI had a identified a scientist who once worked in a U.S. government laboratory as a chief suspect."
- February 26, 2002: "There is no prime suspect in this case at this time," says Bill Carter, an FBI spokesman. The Washington Post declares, "FBI Still Lacks Identifiable Suspect in Anthrax Probe." ""FBI officials over the last week have flatly discounted Rosenberg's claims."
- April 15, 2002: U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) microbiologist Bruce E. Ivins tests more than 50 samples from the men's change room, the area outside the passbox, and his own office, at Fort Detrick. All three locations test positive for Ames-strain anthrax, with heavy growth on the rubber molding surrounding the noncontainment side of a passbox. The passbox uses UV radiation to allow personnel to safely transfer materials from labs to outside areas such as hallways.
- April 16, 2002: Dr. Bruce E. Ivins notifies the USAMRIID Bacteriology Division chief of the preliminary results from his April 15 sampling. USAMRHD confirms the contamination April 16.
- April 18, 2002: Official testing finds anthrax spores in areas outside containment at Fort Detrick, including Dr. Bruce E. Ivins's office and near a passbox. A sample taken near the passbox tests positive for more than 200 spores of Ames-strain anthrax. The testing also reveals spores in a men's change room.
- May 9, 2002: A team of investigators led by Timothy Read at The Institute for Genomic Research publishes their findings on the DNA sequence of the anthrax spores used in the attacks. The report, which appears in the journal Science, finds that there are no differences between the attack strain and the original "Ames" anthrax strain from Ft. Detrick, Maryland.
- June 13, 2002: Barbara Hatch Rosenberg publishes "The Anthrax Case: What the FBI Knows" on the Federation of American Scientists web site. She says, "Early in the investigation, a number of inside experts (at least five that I know about) gave the FBI the name of one specific person as the most likely suspect."
- June 25, 2002: The FBI conducts a consensual search of Steven Hatfill's home.
- July 2, 2002: New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof writes "Anthrax? The F.B.I. Yawns." Kristof talks about a "Mr. Z" (later identified as Steven Hatfill) in his column as being someone who the FBI has interviewed and who members of the biodefense community suggest may have been involved in the attacks.
- July 12, 2002: Columnist Nicholas Kristof writes "The Anthrax Files" suggesting his "Mr. Z" may have been part of several anthrax hoaxes in the past.
- August 11, 2002: Dr. Steven Hatfill holds an outdoor press conference in Alexandria, Virginia and declares his innocence and noninvolvement in the anthrax attacks.
- December 14, 2002: The U.S. Postal Service begins to decontaminate the Brentwood mail facility 14 months after it was closed.
2003-2004: The investigation continues
- May 11, 2003: Ponds on the north side of Catoctin Mountain, near Gambrill Park Road and Tower Road in Frederick, Maryland, are under investigation by the FBI, in connection with the 2001 anthrax attacks. Divers reportedly retrieved a "clear box" with holes that could accommodate protective biological safety gloves, as well as vials wrapped in plastic from a pond in the Frederick Municipal Forest. A new theory has been developed suggesting how a criminal could have packed anthrax spores into envelopes without harming himself.
- June 9, 2003: The FBI begins to drain the Frederick, Maryland pond.
- June 28, 2003: The FBI finishes its investigation of the pond in Frederick, Maryland. Evidence found in the pond includes a bicycle, some logs, a street sign, coins, fishing lures and a handgun. The FBI takes soil samples from the bottom of the pond for testing. No anthrax is found.
- October 21, 2003: It is announced that decontamination of the Hamilton, NJ post office should begin this week.
- December 22, 2003: The Brentwood post office reopens, 26 months after the anthrax attacks.
- July 11, 2004: Almost three years after the attack, decontamination begins on the former American Media headquarters building. The decontamination began with filling the building with chlorine dioxide for 12 hours.
- November 9, 2004: Ivins's letter to the Fredrick News-Post: "First, it's clear that views like hers would put Jesus on that cross again. Second, thy loom and churn best be still, come the Sabbath. Third, you can get on board or get left behind, because that Christian Nation Express is pulling out of the station!"
- March 14, 2005: The Hamilton, NJ post office reopens, 41 months after the anthrax attacks.
- August 24, 2006: Ivins's letter to the Fredrick News-Post: "Rabbi Morris Kosman is entirely correct in summarily rejecting the demands of the Frederick Imam for a 'dialogue.' By blood and faith, Jews are God's chosen, and have no need for "dialogue" with any gentile. End of 'dialogue'."
- September 25, 2006: Five years after the attacks unnamed officials and unnamed experts speaking to the BBC claimed that the anthrax was not 'military grade'. There was no specific mention or particular denial of the use of the Ames strain.
- October 23, 2006: Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa sends a six-page letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales requesting a briefing on the anthrax investigation.
- April 11, 2007: The FBI submits a request to put Dr. Ivins under periodic surveillance. "Bruce Edwards Ivins is an extremely sensitive suspect in the 2001 anthrax attacks." (See FBI file #847444, page 67)
- September 4, 2007: Senator Patrick Leahy states in an interview with Vermont blog Vermont Daily Briefing that he is unsatisfied with the progress of the investigation and that he believes that some government officials may know more about the source of the anthrax than has been disclosed. "I think there are people within our government — certainly from the source of it — who know where it came from."
- March 19, 2008 - Dr. Ivins takes an overdose of Valium with alcohol in an apparent suicide attempt. He survives.
- March 28, 2008 - Fox News released details of an email exchange between scientists at Fort Detrick. According to Fox News, the scientists "openly discussed how the anthrax powder they were asked to analyze after the attacks was nearly identical to that made by one of their colleagues."
- May, 2008 - Dr. Bruce Ivins sends himself emails describing his two sessions before a grand jury, 3 hours on the first day, 2 hours on the next day. He describes it as a "dreadful experience" and says "The questions were very accusatory." He says they asked "Gotcha!" type questions. (See FBI file #847551, pages 19, 28, & 33)
- June 27, 2008 - The Department of Justice agrees to pay Dr. Steven Hatfill $5.8 million in damages and announces that he is no longer a "person of interest" in the anthrax case.
- Late July 2008 - The FBI informs Dr. Bruce E. Ivins that they are about to press charges against him in the anthrax case.
- July 27, 2008 - Dr. Ivins takes an overdose of acetaminophen; Ivins' wife finds him unconscious several hours later and calls the police.
- August 3, 2008 - DNA evidence links the anthrax strain used by Ivins in his Fort Detrick laboratory to the strain used in the attacks.
- August 6, 2008 - The FBI concludes that Ivins was solely responsible for the attacks and suggested that Ivins wanted to bolster support for a vaccine he helped create and that he targeted two lawmakers because they were Catholics who held pro choice views.
- August 8, 2008 - Federal prosecutors exclude Steven Hatfill from suspicion of involvement in case.
- May 7, 2009 - "The Federal Bureau of Investigation has agreed to pay $879,550 to the National Academy of Sciences for a 15-month review of its scientific work on the anthrax investigation."
- July 31, 2009 - The National Academy of Sciences' review of the FBI's scientific investigation in the Amerithrax case begins.
- September 24–35, 2009–Presentations by scientists to the National Academy of Sciences indicated, "it was clear the silicon in the spores occurred naturally and were not added to weaponize the bacteria."
- February 19, 2010 - The FBI formally closed its investigation.
- February 15, 2011 - A group of independent scientists convened by the National Academies of Sciences has concluded that scientific evidence alone is not enough to prove that Bruce Ivins was the perpetrator of the anthrax attacks that killed five people in 2001
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|Has revisionUser||Robin +|
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|Is not stub||true +|
|Source credit||Deletionpedia +|