Washington D.C.

Four postal workers in Washington, from the Brentwood Road USPS, came down with inhalation anthrax: Mr. Leroy Richmond was acknowedged to be the first, followed by Thomas L. Morris Jr “of Suitland, a quiet religious man”, Joseph Curseen Jr “of Clinton, a devout Catholic and neighborhood volunteer”, and one other who remained anonymous. In a class-action suit filed against the USPS for misleading workers about the dangers of exposure, nine more postal employees were said to have become ill with anthrax-like symptoms. 

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Dec. 3, 2001 [New York Times] “Though he did not know it on those days, Oct. 11, 12 and 13, Mr. Richmond was already sick. He had inhaled anthrax spores, postal officials later told him, most likely on the morning of the 11th, while cleaning near a contaminated mail-sorting machine. A medical odyssey that would shake him and his family to the core and help rewrite the book on anthrax..had begun. And no one knew.
  …Anthrax succeeded in killing two of his Brentwood colleagues, men he prayed with and played cards with. In those early days when they all began to feel bad, doctors did not know that postal workers were at risk…
But, Mr. Richmond was the one who demanded medical attention, because somewhere deep inside him he knew he was ill…
   Mr. Richmond is one of 11 people who have come down with inhalation anthrax since late September, and one of six who survived…
By the time [he] reported for work at 4am on Friday Oct. 19, he had felt slightly, if vaguely, ill for four days…the previous Monday…an anthrax-laced letter was opened in Senator Tom Daschle’s office…at Brentwood three other postal workers were already ill…
After about a week in the hospital, Mr. Richmond developed a life-threatening blood disorder…[and] doctors struggled to understand what was happening to his body, and whether it was a consequence of the original anthrax infection or an unfortunate coincidence….they could not be sure.
…Mr. Richmond’s daughter…a program analyst at the Department of Health and Human Services, frequently spoke by phone from the hospital to a physician friend in California….
The plant manager from Brentwood also came by..and together they talked..of his probable exposure –all of which pointed to a case of simple bad luck” http://www.nytimes.com/2001/12/03/national/03LERO.html?pagewanted=1
 
[Mr. Richmond said] “It’s an amazement to me how two of my closest friends that I knew quite well got the anthrax bacteria and died and myself and another person got the same effect from the bacteria and lived” http://edition.cnn.com/2002/HEALTH/conditions/08/02/anthrax.survivor/index.html?related
 
Richmond checked into the hospital on Oct.19 while the Brentwood post office was still open for business. The facility didn’t close until the 21st [although employees were on the premises until the evening of the 22cd]:  “four days after Congressional offices closed, two days after Richmond was hospitalized, the same day co-worker Joselph Curseen Jr. went to an emergency room and the same day..Thomas Morris Jr. died…. Two years after the tainted letters passed through the Postal Service and up to Capitol Hill..[Daschle and Leahy] introduced the Anthrax Victims Fund Fairness Act….the measure failed”
…”[Richmond’s] primary job was processing Express Mail…[he] didn’t normally process letters, he was asked to clean up the area around the machine contaminated by the letters”…
>>the Anthrax Fairness Act sought to include the anthrax survivors and victims’ families in September 11th Victims Fund benefits.
 
“Gerry McKiernan, spokesman for the Postal Service, said the agency is ‘precluded from speaking about a federal suit’. But he pointed to reports describing how Postal Service officials were so confident there was little risk of anthrax exposure that they held a news conference in the Brentwood plant before it was closed” http://www.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/movies/bal-te.anthrax10jan10,0,6069935.story
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One of the inconsistencies of timing in the Brentwood Rd. contamination is the claim that the postal workers were exposed from a sorter-machine cleanup that used blower equipment on the morning of October 11. Mr. Richmond’s lawsuit ‘discovery’ revealed that the Daschle letter did not pass through the facility until the 12th. By then, several lawsuits were in progress and it wasn’t in anyone’s interest to reconcile this discrepancy. While Mr. Richmond was in the hospital, and memories were fresh, his Brentwood supervisor came to his bedside to help reconstruct the exact sequence of events that led to his exposure. It was agreed that Mr. Richmond’s cleaning activity on the the 11th was the cause of his infection. But in retrospect, this cause and timing could not be accurate, unless the equipment was already contaminated.
   …Mr. Richmond split his time:
[Oct 22, 2001] “Postal officials said that despite the diagnosis of anthrax in an employee, the bacteria had not been detected in swabs and other environmental testing that had been going on since Thursday [the 18th] at the sprawling Brentwood facility in Northeast Washington where about 2,000 people work. Officials said a second facility, next to Baltimore-Washington International Airport in Linthicum, Md., where Mr. Richmond also worked, had also been shut down for testing. About 150 people work at that site, which handles priority, express and air mail. The sick employee regularly traveled between the two sorting sites, officials said….Hundreds of postal workers flocked to City Hall for nasal swabs and left with plastic sandwich bags of Cipro pills that they were told to begin taking immediately.” http://www.nytimes.com/2001/10/22/national/22ANTH.html?pagewanted=1 
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>>Where was Mr. Richmond on the morning of the 12th when the Daschle letter was processed?
>>How can it be that the two fatal cases and one (or two) near fatal cases clustered so tightly in time and proximity among this small group of friends?
>>Curiously, the Brentwood employees lawsuit makes no mention of  the “Leahy Letter”, which was later found in a Capitol Hill mailbag “leaking like a sieve”. The Leahy letter was mailed and processed at the same time, following the same basic route through the system, according to the standard publicity. What happened to the Leahy letter?
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Lawsuit: Leroy Richmond v. (Postmaster) John Potter
…”Senator Daschle’s staffers were given the prescription antibiotic Ciprofloxacin Hydrochloride (“Cipro”) and provided other appropriate medical care. Id. Thereafter, the United States House of Representatives and Senate recessed, their respective buildings were closed, and remedial activities were promptly undertaken. Id. On October 16, 2001, medical personnel conducted nasal swabs of more than one thousand Capitol Hill workers and dispensed antibiotics. These safety precautions proved effective, as no employees of the House or Senate contracted inhalation anthrax. Id.
Upon investigation, Defendants discovered that the Daschle letter had passed through the Brentwood Postal Facility on October 12, 2001. Id. 8. In addition, this inquiry revealed both the approximate time the Daschle letter passed through the facility and through which specific sorter it traveled. Id. Despite this knowledge, Defendants did not close the Brentwood Facility until October 22, 2001 — roughly seven days after the discovery of the Daschle letter. Id.    14. During this seven day interim, Defendants and other government officials continued to assert that the Brentwood Facility was free from contamination, id. 10, via (1) an October 16, 2001, bulletin to Postal workers in which assurances were given about the safety of the Brentwood [Page 4] Facility, id. 9; (2) conversations with Postal officials held on October 17, 2001, in which employees were told that there was no contamination at the facility, and that closing the facility was not an option due to potential losses…
By the end of his October 16, 2001, shift, which concluded at 12:30 P.M., Richmond had developed a
cough that was worsening. Id. 9. • On October 18, 2001, Plaintiff began showing signs of a significant illness. Id. 11.
• During the morning of October 19, 2001, Plaintiff Richmond’s condition was so troublesome that he saw a
nurse at the Brentwood Facility. The nurse then referred Richmond to his private doctor, whom he saw later that same day. Id. 12.
• During the evening of October 19, 2001, Plaintiff
was preliminarily diagnosed with inhalation anthrax at Fairfax Inova Hospital. Id.”
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A more detailed account of the Daschle letter’s journey at Brentwood comes from the class-action suit:
“The letter arrived in a mail bag at Brentwood on or about Thursday Oct [date missing, but Thursday would be the 11th]….the Daschle letter was fed manually into DBCS #17 at approximately 7:10 am. The letter was then moved to the Government Mail section for delivery to the Hart Senate Office Building. Between approximately 8am and 9:40am, DBCS #17 was opened in the normal course of operations and a large blower using compressed air was used to blow debris and dust from the conveyor belts and optical reading heads of the machine. The Daschle letter was delivered to the Hart Senate Office Building at approximately noon on Friday Oct. 12.
[after being opened on the 15th] …the Daschle letter was sent to the [USAMRIID] for further testing, where Dr. John Ezzell tested it…[and] characterized the anthrax in the letter as ‘weaponized’ because it was so potent”
 
>>According to Dr. Francis Boyle, bioweapons law expert, the ‘Daschle’ anthrax contained a ‘trillion spores per gram’ and was ‘super-weaponized’, he repeatedly said, with the addition of silica.
“USAMRIID scientist Dr. John Ezzell tested the letter and concluded that, in his many years of researching anthrax, he had never seen anthrax spores so potent. Dr. Ezzell characterized the anthrax in the Daschle letter as being ‘weaponized’. Indeed, the anthrax spores were so potent that, when Dr. Ezzell opened the Daschle letter to test it, some of its contents aerosolized instantly. Dr. Ezzell immediately began taking antibiotics and took the extreme and painful measure of inhaling a bleach solution to kill any anthrax spores that he may have inhaled” http://www.judicialwatch.org/archive/2006/bwood-certandappendix.pdf
 
Daschle Letter – “The Face of Satan
 
Author/editor Marilyn Thompson describes John Ezzell’s experience:
…”the FBI turned… to one microbiologist in particular, John Ezzell, then head of the special pathogens division at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick, Md., to help them understand this deadly bacterium. In this excerpt from The Killer Strain: Anthrax and a Government Exposed (HarperCollins), Ezzell confronts what he called “The Face of Satan”–the most refined anthrax he had ever seen…
Ezzell and his team began work under a safety hood. Wearing a mask and gloves, Ezzell had confidence in his own protection. He had been vaccinated so many times that he considered himself virtually anthrax-proof.
…He told the team that for added protection they would step up laboratory safeguards before opening the letter and its inner layers of packaging.
…Ezzell removed his street clothes and pulled on green surgical scrubs. To access the lab, he had to pass through another security checkpoint by punching his personal ID number into a keypad. Once inside, he changed into lab shoes and made his way over to the biological safety cabinet.
…Wearing multiple layers of latex gloves covered by sleeve protectors, Ezzell propped up the envelope against the back of the cabinet, forming a kind of artist’s easel that would allow him to photograph the full image.
…Even though he had been studying anthrax for years, Ezzell had never actually seen the bacterium in its weaponized form. This was a powder so virulent that normal laboratory rules did not apply. “After all these years of looking, here it is,” he thought. “This is the real thing.” …Ezzell took the sterile bags to the lab’s glass window so FBI agent Darin Steele could photograph them. The images he snapped were seen around the globe.” –From the book The Killer Strain by Marilyn W. Thompson. Copyright (c) 2003. Published by arrangement with HarperCollins, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers Inc.”
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                                                                        BRENTWOOD EXPOSED
                                                                                   
“The facility was closed for 26 months while an investigation ensued and the building was decontaminated….Postal employees filed a separate class-action lawsuit…Lead plaintiff, Dena Briscoe of Clinton, Md…[said] ‘no one’s being held accountable’ ” http://www.ph.ucla.edu/EPI/bioter/anthraxoverprobpersist.html
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“At 4:39 am on Sunday, Oct. 21..Brentwood employee Thomas Morris Jr. called 911 complaining of anthrax-like symptoms. Mr. Morris died..several hours later.
…On Monday, Oct. 22..Brentwood employee Joseph Curseen went to the hospital with flu-like symptoms. Mr. Curseen died that evening…
On that day, one of the mid-level managers allegedly told a supervisor that the mid-level managers had been instructed to lie to the floor supervisors and employees about Brentwood being contaminated with anthrax. When the complaint was filed in October of 2003, Brentwood was still closed..due to contamination.” http://www.judicialwatch.org/cases/99/BriscoevPotterMemoOrder.pdf
Thomas Morris  – ” arrived at the emergency room at Southern Maryland Hospital Center in suburban Prince Georges County at 5:45 a.m. The hospital released a statement saying, “The patient was put on a ventilator and died six hours later, despite aggressive antibiotic therapy and supportive care…The man first went to the hospital on Saturday after he collapsed in church. Doctors saw nothing that suggested anthrax and sent him home with a diagnosis of the flu, The Associated Press reported. That decision was made at the hospital even though, Mr. Ridge said, federal medical surveillance teams were “on the highest alert” for anthrax cases.The other postal worker died at Greater Southeast Community Hospital in Washington. Dr. Ivan C. A. Walks, chief medical officer of the District of Columbia, said the victim’s blood cultures were consistent with anthrax. The two workers who are hospitalized with pulmonary anthrax are at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Va. They are seriously ill and are being treated aggressively with antibiotics, authorities said. One of them was identified on Sunday as Leroy Richmond, 57. The other, who entered the hospital today, has not been identified.” http://www.nytimes.com/2001/10/23/national/23ANTH.html?pagewanted=2?pagewanted=2

 
 “Dena Briscoe, head of Brentwood Exposed..[and] president of American Postal Workers Union Local 140..[said] ‘never would I have imagined a story like this…There’s no trail, there’s no evidence, there’s no closure. It just opens the wound even further.” http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/nation-world/bal-te.victims02aug02,0,1592706.story
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“Petitioners alleged that Respondents intentionally and affirmatively prevented them from pursuing their constitutionally protected remedies by: (1) lying to Petitioners that the facility was not contaminated with anthrax; and (2) intentionally threatening, intimidating and coercing Petitioners with disciplinary action, the loss of their jobs, and/or arrest if they asked questions about the Daschle letter, the safety of the facility or their own safety, requested safety instructions regarding the same, or asked to be excused from work. Petitioners allege Respondents’ conduct prevented them from timely invoking the protections and remedies afforded by their collective bargaining agreements, the Occupational Safety and Health Act (hereinafter “OSHA”) of 1970, 29 U.S.C. § 654,.. and USPS emergency response procedures, thereby causing them to continue to be exposed to the danger of injury and death from anthrax contamination at the Brentwood facility. http://www.judicialwatch.org/archive/2006/bwood-certandappendix.pdf
 
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2008
 
 

“David R. Hose Sr., of Winchester, Va., who was hospitalized after inhaling anthrax spores in 2001, was skeptical about the news about Ivins [suicide].  Hose, a former State Department mail supervisor, had filed a $12 million lawsuit against the government. He suggested that officials were trying to set up Ivins as a fall guy in a case that has been unsolved.  “Don’t believe it,” he said of the news, “The poor guy probably died of a heart attack. Would a doctor choose Tylenol as his form of suicide? That doesn’t make any sense.”  http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/01/AR2008080101625.html

 

  

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