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New York Times. 13 December 2001. U.S. Recently Produced Anthrax in a
Highly Lethal Powder Form.

As the investigation into the anthrax attacks widens to include federal
laboratories and contractors, government officials have acknowledged
that Army scientists in recent years have made anthrax in a powdered
form that could be used as a weapon.

[N.B.] Experts said this appeared to be the first disclosure of
government production of anthrax in its most lethal form since the
United States renounced biological weapons in 1969 and began destroying
its germ arsenal.

Officials at the Army's Dugway Proving Ground in Utah said that in 1998
scientists there turned small quantities of wet anthrax into powder to
test ways to defend against biowarfare attacks.

A spokeswoman at Dugway, Paula Nicholson, said the powdered anthrax
produced that year was a different strain from the one used in the
recent mail attacks that have killed five people. Dugway officials said
powdered anthrax was also produced in other years, but declined to say
whether any of it was the Ames strain, the type found in the letters
sent to two senators and news organizations. Government records show
that Dugway has had the Ames strain since 1992.

Dugway officials said in a statement that the F.B.I. is investigating
"the work at Dugway Proving Ground," along with that of other medical
facilities, universities and laboratories. "The Army is cooperating with
and assisting the F.B.I.'s efforts," the officials said.

The disclosure at Dugway comes as federal criminal investigators are
trying to figure out where stores of anthrax are housed around the
nation and who has the skill to create the powdered form -- a major
technical step needed to make the anthrax used in the terror attacks.

The F.B.I. declined to detail its strategy other than to say its agents
have visited some laboratories and are identifying new ones that may
have handled, or had access to, the Ames strain. "We're following every
logical lead," said one law enforcement official who spoke on the
condition of anonymity.

Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, an expert in biological weapons at the State
University of New York at Purchase and chairwoman of a bioweapons panel
at the Federation of American Scientists, a private group in Washington,
concluded recently that at least 15 institutions have worked recently
with the Ames strain.

Dr. Rosenberg, who has argued that the likeliest suspect in the anthrax
attacks is a government insider or someone in contact with an insider,
drew up her list after surveying scientific publications about anthrax
and consulting private and federal experts.

Of the 15, Dr. Rosenberg said, four are "probably more likely than the
others to have weaponization capabilities" -- the ability to turn wet
anthrax spores into a finely milled powder that could be used as a
weapon.

Dr. Rosenberg said the acknowledgment yesterday by Dugway officials that
they had produced dried anthrax was the government's only such
disclosure.

"I know of no case of the United States saying that it has made anthrax
powder," she said.

Private and federal experts are clashing over how much powdered anthrax
Dugway has made.

[N.B.] The issue is politically sensitive since some experts say
producing large quantities could be seen as violating the global treaty
banning germ weapons.

William C. Patrick III, a scientist who made germ weapons for the United
States and now consults widely on biological defenses, told a group of
American military officers in February 1999 that he taught Dugway
personnel the previous spring how to turn wet anthrax into powders,
according to a transcript of the session.

Dugway's production of dried anthrax is part of the government's secret
research program on how to defend against germ weapons, which gained
momentum in the late 1990's. The Clinton Administration began a series
of projects aimed at understanding the nation's vulnerabilities to
biowarfare and devising ways combat the threats.

Experts like Dr. Rosenberg have argued that some of these programs
violate the 1972 global treaty banning germ weapons.

It is uncertain how the disclosure by Dugway will be perceived abroad,
where some European countries have recently accused the United States of
turning its back on the germ treaty, charges that the Bush
Administration denies


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Barry Stoller
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ProletarianNews

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