CASE CLOSED … what really happened in the 2001 anthrax attacks?

* Ed Lake believes a child wrote the anthrax letters; which, if true, means the FBI was wrong in identifying Dr. Bruce Ivins as the sole perpetrator

Posted by DXer on May 18, 2009

Ed Lake writes …

  • In the Amerithrax case, the preponderance of facts show very clearly that a child almost certainly wrote the anthrax letters and addressed the envelopes. 
  • Yes, it is possible that the writing is that of an adult who knew exactly how to write like a child in every detail. 
  • But, while that may be “possible,” it seems extremely unlikely.

LMW COMMENT

If Ed Lake is right, and his analysis is compelling, it means that Bruce Ivins had to have accomplices if he was even involved at all.

Which, if true, means the FBI was wrong when they said on 8/6/08 that Bruce Ivins was the sole perpetrator.

CC - front cover - small

The FBI’s case is, in my judgment, a pack of misrepresentations and unsubstantiated allegations, probably purposeful. Only Congressional hearings have any chance to get at the truth.

What really happened, in the anthrax attacks, and in the FBI anthrax investigation? No one knows.

In my novel CASE CLOSED, to be published in the next few weeks, I propose a fictional scenario to explain the FBI’s inexplicable failure to solve the case. Does my story say what actually happened? Of course not. It’s a novel. But many early readers say that what I have written is “all too plausible.”

Read Ed Lake’s entire analysis of the handwriting from the anthrax letters at … http://www.anthraxinvestigation.com/WritingFacts.html

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11 Responses to “* Ed Lake believes a child wrote the anthrax letters; which, if true, means the FBI was wrong in identifying Dr. Bruce Ivins as the sole perpetrator”

  1. Anonymous Scientist said

    Sandia scientist Joe Michaeal said:
    “DR. MICHAEL: The spore coat is a layer, as I understand it, that’s within the spore and it’s not the outermost layer of the spore. So the spore had sequestered silicon and oxygen in the same location on the spore coat.”

    So even Michael is ON RECORD saying that the siloxane-like material was ON the spore coat and not INSIDE the spore. This means the spore coat essentially WAS polysiloxane. What Sandia did not understand back then was how a silicon containing additive could get there. The reason they could not understand this was because they were the wrong group to carry out this analysis in the first place – they had never looked at a biological specimen before and had absoultely zero experience of looking at cells of any kind. They didn’t know that the exosporium of spores can be thought of as a chain link fence – easily letting molecules penetrate it. That’s why the polysiloxane coating was on the coat and not surrounding the exosporium.

    As far as not all the spores containing silicon is concerend – that’s easy to explain – it could be any number of things – from polymer not seeding properly on some spores to monomer being removed with subsequent washings.

    All of this could be reverse engineered if it was chosen to do a proper investigation and not simply ignore it since it doesn’t fit a Detrick/Ivins theory.

    The Ivins theory is absurd on the face of it. The FBI harrassed many individuals and had no evidence – Hatfill, Ken Berry, Perry Mikesell, Bill Patrick. They even harrassed 2 other individuals assocaited with Detrick over the same months they were harrassing Ivins. Presumably if one of these 2 had committed suicide in the summer of 2008 they would have been conveniently chosen as the perpatrator.

    Even the FBI’s own consultant scientist agrees with that statement:

    Another FBI expert, Claire Fraser-Liggett, is professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and director of the University of Maryland Institute for Genome Sciences and an adviser to the FBI on Amerithrax.

    She asks, “What would have happened in this investigation had Dr. Hatfill not been so forceful in his response to being named a person of interest. What if he, instead of fighting back, had committed suicide because of the pressure? Would that have been the end of the investigation?” It was Fraser-Liggett’s genetic analysis of the anthrax spores in the letters led to Ivins’ flask. “The part that seems still hotly debated is whether there was sufficient evidence to name Dr. Ivins as the perpetrator,” Fraser-Liggett says. “I have complete confidence in the accuracy of our data,” Fraser-Liggett says, but she says it does not indicate Ivins is guilty.

    • Anonymous Scientist said

      Ed Lake wrote:

      “DR. MICHAEL: First of all, we did find we did find that the spores contained silicon and oxygen. Our quick SEM analysis, that’s Scanning Electron Microscopy, we detected silicon and oxygen within the spores. Later when we had thin sections for high resolution microanalysis in the scanning transmission electron microscope we then could localize that silicon and oxygen to the spore coat, which is a layer on the spore that’s within the spore itself.”

      You just proved the very point I made. Joe Michael did not understand the structure of bacillus spores when he reached his conclusions. He had no idea how silicon could have got beneath the exosporium since he had zero experience with analyzing cells under a microscope.

      If he had been allowed to discuss his findings with cell bilogists ove the last 7 years instead of having the information compartmentalized as the FBI wanted, he might have discovered that silicon containing compounds can easily penetrate cells. Wood is treated with polymerized glass to make it hydrophobic (water repellant). In the case of wood the siloxane monomer penetrates the cell walls and polymerized in situ – INSIDE the wood cells. This has all been documented using exactly the same SEM studies that Joe Michael used for the anthrax spores.

      NAS will hardly allow junk science to be applied in the Amerithrax investigation. Simply saying “well we found massive amounts of polysiloxane in the spores and we figure it must just have got there by accident, and it’s really no big deal. No such massive polysiloxane-like signatures were seen from any other Detrick anthrax preparations, but don’t worry, Ivins must have managed it accidently somehow” is junk. NAS already offically declared that the FBI were employing junk science for years to convict people with their “lead in bullets” theories. That was the last time NAS did a review of the FBI labs. It looks like this time NAS will be finding nothing much has changed at the FBI labs.

      http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/11/16/60minutes/main3512453.shtml

      Tobin says the Quantico lab was the only place in the country that did bullet lead analysis, and the assertion that you could actually match a bullet fragment to a specific batch or box of bullets went unchallenged for 40 years — until Tobin retired in 1998 and decided to do his own study, discovering that the basic premise had never actually been scientifically tested.

      “FBI lab personnel testified that you could match these fragments to this bullet,” Kroft remarks.

      “Yes, that’s correct,” Tobin says.

      Asked what he found out, Tobin tells Kroft, “It hadn’t been based on science at all, but rather had been based on subjective belief for over four decades.”

      “So what you’re saying is that this is junk science?” Kroft asks.

      “That’s correct,” Tobin says. “It’s worthless as a forensic tool.”

  2. DXer said

    Ike,

    For example, here is one scholar discussing anthrax, Al Qaeda, Mullah Omar, etc. (He has travelled there and met Mullah Omar). He is amused by the argument made by those who think of the jihadists as backward bedouins living in caves rather than skilled scientists expert in chemistry, biology and nuclear physics. Note his use of “Allah” at 5:21.

    http://www.iris.org.il/blog/archives/3051-A-Must-See-Islamic-Video-4-lbs-Anthrax-in-Small-Suitcase-Will-Kill-330,000-in-1-Hour.html
    P.S. – Sorry, forgot to tell you great post!

  3. Ike Solem said

    See this quote from Ed Lake, Feb 2002 – the first web page, archived – right after the FBI team was fired and replaced by Richard Lambert:

    http://web.archive.org/web/20020205060806/http://www.anthraxinvestigation.com/

    “It is important to note, however, that the FBI has stated “The anthrax utilized in (the Daschle letter) was much more refined, more potent, and more easily disbursed than letters (to the New York Post and NBC).”

    “Some experts speculate that the anthrax is not of different sizes but of different quantities, and that there was much less in the media letters than in the Senators’ letters. But no solid proof of this has been released. The evidence seems to indicate that the spores were of different sizes.”

    “Because the anthrax spores in the mailing to the Senators were much smaller and more deadly, they did more harm. The spores were so small that individual spores could pass through the porous paper (All paper has tiny openings or pores that are too small for the eye to see).” – Ed Lake

    That correlates with the silicon treatment on the Daschle anthrax – and isn’t it odd that we’ve heard no results at all on the silicon content of the first round of letters? Apparently, it wasn’t tested at all – and now the FBI seems bent on claiming that the two preparations were one and the same, manufactured by Ivins at the same time – and that’s just preposterous.

    • Ike Solem said

      Sorry Ed, I wasn’t very clear. The initial FBI case was broken into two parts, Amerithrax I and Amerithrax II, which was a reasonable decision – one group went to work on forensics, the other on classic detective work.

      Arthur Eberhardt – Special Agent in Charge at the Washington FBI field office under Harp. Previously had been section chief at Quantico overseeing the HMRU.

      John “Jack” Hess – FBI agent in charge of the “Amerithrax 1” case, the classic detective work portion of the Amerithrax investigation.

      David Lee Wilson – FBI agent in charge of the “Amerithrax 2” case, the scientific investigation.

      Now, it appears from the press reports on the issue that they were pulled off the case before Feb 2002, at which point a wide variety of sources began pointing fingers at a “lone wolf” theory, revealed a few months later as the Stephen Hatfill theory. Ed, you covered that intensely from 2002 onwards, for example:

      http://web.archive.org/web/20030401123521/www.anthraxinvestigation.com/clueless.html#hatfill

      It was all nonsense, wasn’t it? Don’t you wonder why such a theory was pursued, and why the other angle was dropped? Recall, from the Dec 21 story from the Washington Post:

      http://www.mapcruzin.com/news/rtk122301b.htm

      “The five labs that received the Ames strain from USAMRIID are the Army’s Dugway Proving Ground in central Utah; Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, Ohio; the University of New Mexico’s Health Sciences Center in Albuquerque; the Canadian DRES; and Porton Down.

      Battelle, a private contractor that has worked with the Pentagon in developing defenses against biological attacks, is one of several labs visited by FBI agents investigating the anthrax attacks. Katy Delaney, a Battelle spokeswoman, said the company has cooperated fully with the government’s investigation.

      “FBI agents “have interviewed people on our staff,” Delaney said, but she declined to provide information about the nature of the interviews or how many Battelle employees had been questioned. “I can say that we have continued to provide all of the information and material that has been requested by the government,” Delaney said.”

      “Battelle is a contractor at Dugway, which last week acknowledged making a powdered form of anthrax to use in testing sensors and other equipment used to defend against biological attacks.”

      Now, it turns out that Ames is apparently used as the anthrax vaccine challenge strain for all vaccine developers – i.e., they vaccinate rabbits and then expose them to the Ames strain to see if the vaccine works – look it up on Google Scholar. Thus, there may be several private labs other than the above listed ones who got the Ames strain. The two anthrax vaccine developers, Emergent Biosolutions/Bioport and Vaxgen (I knew some of the Vaxgen people from their earlier work), however, both used Battelle as their subcontractor on trials.

      Another strange issues that needs clarification is why it took so long to test all the samples, for example – the Princeton mailbox swabs came up positive in summer 2002 – that’s very poor work by any measure, especially the worst bioterror event to ever take place on U.S. soil – one that shut down Congress, no less.

      In any case, there seems no doubt that the preparations were indeed different, and that the Daschle/Leahy letters were far more dangerous…. let’s not forget the names of the dead and the almost-dead:

      Leroy Richmond – a postal employee in the Brentwood mail-sorting facility who came down with anthrax on Oct. 16, 2001. Survived under medical care.

      Thom Mayer – emergency room doctor at Inova Fairfax Hospital who correctly diagnosed Richmond’s case.

      Joseph P. Curseen, Jr. – a postal employee in the Brentwood mail-sorting facility who came down with anthrax on Oct 16, 2001. Died on October 22nd.

      Thomas L. Morris, Jr. – a postal employee in the Brentwood mail-sorting facility who came down with anthrax on Oct 16, 2001. Died on October 22nd.

      Kathy Nguyen – 61 year old woman in New York City who died of inhalation anthrax on Oct 31, 2001.

      Ottie Lungren – 94 year old woman in Connecticut who died of inhalation anthrax on Nov 24, 2001.

      All the 9/18 letter victims only developed cutaneous anthrax, except Bob Stevens. That, plus the AFIP silicon determination, points to very different preparations – and that makes Ivins and even less plausible suspect.

  4. Ike Solem said

    Whoever wrote the letters and taped the envelopes was wearing gloves and working in a clean room, and had either been vaccinated against anthrax or had taken a prophylactic antibiotic dose.

    As far as block letter handwriting analysis, that doesn’t hold much weight either. All the two letters show is that the first one was not specific enough, so the anthrax threat was not recognized – Bob Stevens at American Media didn’t even guess that he had contracted anthrax from a letter, did he?

    Then, you had a second set sent on on 10/9 with a different and highly potent aerosolized preparation, as well as a letter clearly labeled “we have this anthrax”. And, as noted, Islamic radicals don’t use “ALLAH”.

    I think the original FBI team (who only lasted for three months or so before being transferred off the case and forced into retirement, I believe) had the right answer, and everything since then has been a cover up effort, led first by Richard Lambert, and then by the third FBI team, leadership unknown, as reported in Science:

    That is as far as the science took them, the FBI conceded; conventional detective work—such as checking lab notebooks and shipment records—helped rule out everyone but Ivins who had access to the spores, says Vahid Majidi, head of the agency’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate. He declined to give details. “I’m asking you not to second guess our investigative approach,” he said.

    “Directorate” – what is this, the Soviet Union? Czars and directorates – someone is living in la-la land, I’m afraid. That’s what secrecy does, unfortunately – the poor fools end up lost in a hall of mirrors, where everything is a reflection of their own fears and desires. These vaunted “intelligence agencies”, for example, entirely missed the buildup of the Soviet biowarfare program, which existed in absolute secrecy from 1970-1989.

    Are we seeing the growth of something similar in the U.S.A? When an FBI team that looks to be on the verge of breaking open the case is sacked and replaced by someone who then switches the entire theory to one of a ‘lone-wolf terrorist’ and starts a Steven Hatfill witchhunt that persists for years, all while blocking a lawsuit against Battelle Memorial Institute, one has to wonder. BMI was the CIA and DIA contractor on the biological warfare issues, Projects Jefferson (i.e. Battelle’s aerosol microbiology / anthrax vaccine testing lab in West Jefferson Ohio) and Clear Vision.

    Battelle also manages around five of the DOE National Labs, and is the world’s largest privately held research company, on that lives almost entirely off of government grants- neither public or private, but a weird blend of both. For example, many Battelle researchers are not allowed to leave the country without permission. Spook central, in other words – and that’s why they were chosen to run CIA and DIA biowarfare “threat assessment” programs.

    It’s not okay to do this kind of thing – it all has to be dragged out into the sunlight, and the use of private contractors in the biological warfare and nuclear weapons sectors should be eliminated entirely – these people are insane.

    • DXer said

      Ike said:

      “Islamic radicals don’t use “ALLAH”.”

      Ike, you apparently have not read any of the numerous transcripts or listened to the numerous audios of Ayman Zawahiri and other Salafist-Jihadi leaders explaining their motivation.

      For example, Ayman Zawahiri starts his typical audio:

      In the Name of Allah, praise is unto Allah, Lord of all Mankind; peace and prayers upon the Prophet
      Muhammad, his family, and who followed him. Greetings to all Muslims over the world.

      http://counterterrorismblog.org/site-resources/images/SITE%20Institute%20-%201-4-07%20-%20Zawahiri%20Audio%20Support%20Somali%20Brothers.pdf

      Indeed, Ike, can you find one communication in which Ayman does not use the word Allah?

    • Ike Solem said

      Ed, you seem bent on promoting a low-tech, lone wolf theory of the event, based on very little evidence – but don’t you agree that the two preparations were very different, and that the second one could not have been prepared without access to very specific recipes and equipment?

      You definitely couldn’t do it with a lyophilizer, that’s for sure. I’ve used a lyophilizer plenty of times – the idea is pretty ludicrous. The Soviets used everything from ball-bearing grinders to jet milling machines, and still couldn’t get a very pure prep – go read Ken Alibek’s Biohazard, for example.

    • Anonymous Scientist said

      It should be very clearly pointed out that Sandia’s analysis of the spore powder does not rule out an additive being used. The very high silicon content, which the FBI could not reproduce, almost screams out deliberate addition of a silicon containing compound. The admitted level of silicon in the Leahy spores (1.5%) is much higher than the levels found in spore preparations that DID deliberately add silicon in the form of a silicone antifoam agent.
      Thus it can be immediately concluded that silicon was deliberately added. If it was deliberately added as an antifoam agent this would not be a weaponization additive – but it would still count as deliberate addition. And it immediately exonerates Detrick and Ivins as having produced this powder since they do not use antifoam agents at Detrick.

      But it is much more likely that the silicon was added as a weaponization agent. In this case a polymerized glass monomer would be added to the spores after the spore formation step, and this monomer would penetrate the exosporium and polymerize into polysiloxane on the spore coat – exactly as Sandia obsreved. It would make the spores highly hydrophobic and stop them clumping – exactly as was obsereved. The EDX spectrum shown by Sandia at the Baltimore meeting was indistinguishable from polysiloxane (polymerized glass) – as Sandia showed on one of their presentation slides.

      If and when Sandia publish their results in a peer reviewed paper any reviewer would reject any statement by the authors that the silicon “must have got their naturally and by accident” since it has no basis in science.

      They do not have to prove a negative in order to make the statement that the silicon got there naturally either. All they have to do is reproduce that level of silicon in a spore preparation using a technique that could be plausibly characterized as being accidental and not intentional. If they cannot do that then the only alternative, scientifically speaking, is to leave open the possibility that the person who made the spores did indeed treat them with polymerized glass.

      There are already papers published that demonstrate even large molecules can penetrate the exosporium of bacillus spores after the spores have formed. These papers would need to be referenced in any publication authored by Sandia on their silicon-containing spores.

      Finally, in the bigger picture, if NAS properly audit the FBI’s science case they will obtain the lab reports written by AFIP which showed that the NYP powder consisted of mostly polysiloxane.

  5. DXer said

         An October 2007 affidavit in support of a search of the home of Ft. Detrick microbiologist Bruce Ivins states:

    “In that same September 26, 2001 email, Dr. Ivins states “Osama Bin Laden has just decreed death to all Jews and all Americans” — language similar to the text of the anthrax letters postmarked two weeks later warning “DEATH TO AMERICA,” “DEATH TO ISRAEL.”

    The Postal Inspector fails to disclose that Bin Laden had decreed that and that Dr. Ivins was merely accurately describing a well- publicized news event.

         Just before the 1998 embassy bombings, Zawahiri and his Vanguards of Conquest had said that the rendering of the senior EIJ leaders would be answered in “language you can understand.” Before the military tribunal, in March 2007, KSM talked of the language of war — deaths. “Same language you use, I use. That is why the language of any war in the world is killing.” Here, the lethal letters were plainly worded.      

         The letter postmarked September 18, 2001 read:

    “09-11-01
    THIS IS NEXT
    TAKE PENACILIN NOW
    DEATH TO AMERICA
    DEATH TO ISRAEL
    ALLAH IS GREAT.”

        From the streets of Cairo to Tehran to Jakarta, on historic anniversaries (such as Jerusalem Day in Iran, the day the Israeli state was created) protesters have gathered on the streets and shouted “Death to America!” and “Death to Israel!” For the talking heads to profile it as a non-Islamist awkwardly trying to sound muslim is odd. It is in fact the common protest slogan. What surer way to avoid giving away clues than to use common short phrases or short sentences using common words. Egyptians such as Islamic Group leader and soft-spoken accountant, Taha — and Egyptian Islamic Jihad #2 Shehata and Shawqi Islambuli, brother of Sadat’s assassin — may very well have watched these protesters shouting these very chants while living in Iran after 9/11.

         The next month, the letter arriving one Friday afternoon at Senator Daschle’s office at Room 509 of the Hart Office Building had garnered little notice. It was routed up to the sixth-floor mailroom. No one opened the letter that afternoon. They were all at a talk on the threat of biochemical attacks sent through the mail. On Monday morning, however, an intern found the innocuous looking letter, postmarked October 9, 2001, at the top of a pile of a stack of mail waiting to be opened. The intern made a slight cut and immediately a small amount of powder spilled out on her skirt, shoes and the floor, as well as an intern standing next to her. She froze. The Capitol Hill officers arriving at the scene opened the letter and read it aloud:

    “09-11-01
    YOU CAN NOT STOP US.
    WE HAVE THIS ANTHRAX.
    YOU DIE NOW.
    ARE YOU AFRAID?
    DEATH TO AMERICA.
    DEATH TO ISRAEL.
    ALLAH IS GREAT.”

          Among the piles of papers of documents relating to anthrax in a house associated with a Pakistan charity was a drawing of a jet shooting down a balloon. (There were 10 copies each as if a seminar or brainstorming session was being conducted). The words “YOU ARE DEAD, BANG.” Thus, although some pundits argued that “YOU DIE NOW” in the anthrax letters does not sound like a militant islamist, the physical evidence relating to Al Qaeda’s anthrax planning suggests otherwise. Indeed, “WE HAVE THIS ANTHRAX” was starkly threatening, just like Atta’s “We have some planes” to the passengers of AA Flight 11 over the intercom.

          It turns out that Mohammed Islambouli, the brother of Sadat’s assassin, may be the final key that unlocks the Amerithrax mystery. Islambouli was part of a cell with KSM. KSM took over from the Al Qaeda military head Atef as head of the anthrax weaponization operation. The Al Qaeda spymaster, Egyptian al-Hakaymah, who wrote about Amerithrax announced Islambouli was leading those Egyptian Islamic Group members who have joined Al Qaeda to seek the release of their leader blind sheik Abdel-Rahman. Islambouli was expected to send someone from Saudi Arabia to the US to plan the next attack, as described in the December 4, 1998 Presidential Daily Brief to President Clinton that warned of a planned attack involving airplanes and other means. The 9/11 Commission Report contains a copy of the declassified December 1998 PDB which discusses Islambouli. Everyone focuses on the PDB in the summer of 2001 directed to President Bush while forgetting that there was a PDB with the same substance from December 1998 to President Clinton.

          We need to learn from history or we are doomed to repeat it.

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