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

* silicon evidence points beyond Fort Detrick and Dr. Bruce Ivins

Posted by DXer on May 20, 2009

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******

silicon evidence points beyond Fort Detrick and Dr. Bruce Ivins

“Anonymous Scientist” writes …

  • When the FBI sought a search warrant from a judge to search Ivins’ home and Detrick they stated they were looking to find evidence including spores with a unique never-before-seen silicon signature.
  • This is contained in the affidavit released just after the news of Ivins’ death came out, stating: “Microscopic examination of the evidentiary spore powders recovered from all four letters identified an elemental signature of Silicon within the spores. This Silicon signature had not been previously described for Bacillus anthracis organisms.”

see …  http://www.ph.ucla.edu/EPI/bioter/detect/antdetect_fbiwarrant.html)

  • The silicon found in the mailed spores is very significant. The FBI admit that 1.45% silicon was found in the Leahy spores. That’s a huge amount – higher than any amount that’s ever been seen before in spore preparations – even ones where silicon has been deliberately added (which Detrick never does).
  • But the FBI NEVER DID FIND SPORES LIKE THIS IN DETRICK.  And yet their official story today is that Ivins must have managed to make them – somehow.

If the FBI cannot explain how that got there,

then they have to look beyond Detrick.

  • In addition, Sandia showed that the spores were not coated with silica nanoparticles (an old technology to weaponize spores). Instead Sandia found a layer of polysiloxane on the spore coat but under the exosprorium.
  • They couldn’t explain how it got there, but they concluded it must be some freakish “accident”.
  • However, things have advanced since the old nanoparticle technology days and a more sophisticated way to weaponize spores is to use polymerized glass –  silicon in a liquid form which polymerizes on the spore coat. That explains how it got there.
  • The FBI themselves said they found polymerized glass back in April 2002 – but today they have apparently changed their minds about that, and the FBI and Sandia are apparently ignoring that April 2002 announcement as if it never took place.

The point is – all of this points to a lab other than Detrick,

and to a scientist other than the supposed (according to the FBI) sole perpetrator Dr. Bruce Ivins.

******

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10 Responses to “* silicon evidence points beyond Fort Detrick and Dr. Bruce Ivins”

  1. Ike Solem said

    DX: “AFIP did a whole spore analysis and detected MASSIVE amounts of silica (which is indistinguishable from polysiloxane). The detected ludicrous amounts in the NYP powder.”

    If you’re trying to claim that the spore preps were identical, that’s not true – and where did you get the above information from?

    Believe me, I’ve used every search tool available in an effort to find out more about the specifics of the AFIP analysis. I guess I could file a FOIA application, but I bet it would be denied – but isn’t that what reporters are supposed to do? Ed Lake might be interested in filing one, perhaps – then we could remove the supposition and look at the real evidence.

    The only statement released so far was this, and it’s the Daschle letter only:

    “Ft Detrick sought our assistance to determine the specific components of the anthrax found in the Daschle letter,” said Florabel G. Mullick, MD, ScD, SES, AFIP Principal Deputy Director and department chair. AFIP experts utilized an energy dispersive X-ray spectrometer (an instrument used to detect the presence of otherwise-unseen chemicals through characteristic wavelengths of X-ray light) to confirm the previously unidentifiable substance as silica. “This was a key component,” Mullick said. “Silica prevents the anthrax from aggregating, making it easier to aerosolize. Significantly, we noted the absence of aluminum with the silica. This combination [bentonite] had previously been found in anthrax produced by Iraq.”

    Thus, the 9/18 letters may not have contained any silica. If so, and if the gene sequence is different from that of the 10/9 letters (while the handwriting is identical), then that clearly indicates that the culprit had access to several different preparations of anthrax, and only used the more dangerous one after the first letters failed to get much public attention. That rules out Ivins and Hatfill and points to someone much more closely affiliated with biological threat assessment. If you want to argue that Al Qaeda placed a mole inside Battelle… well, that would be a good novel.

    Ed Lake: you’re not calling Florabel Mullick a liar, are you?

    According to multiple sources, only the Dashcle anthrax letter was analyzed at AFIP. So, there’s another possible Congressional witness – Florabel Mullick. Of course, I’d rather see the extended x-ray data graph.

    Notice also the “silica prevents the anthrax from aggregating” statement, which I explained in detail to you in a previous letter.

    You’re losing credibility, Ed. Your refusal to accept basic microbiological facts sours your entire pitch. Anthrax spores have sticky coats for a very good reason, and making an aerosolized preparation requires overcoming that. Happily, it appears to be a difficult feat, not achievable in a basement lab.

    Let’s look at the timeline:

    September 18 – Someone mails letters full of crumbly granular anthrax to media figures in New York City—to Tom Brokaw of NBC, and to CBS, ABC, and the New York Post.

    October 5 – Robert Stevens, a photo editor at The Sun, in Boca Raton, Florida, dies of inhalation anthrax (from a letter that went through his mail bin).

    October 6 – CDC epidemiologist Brad Perkins and his team of investigators determine that Robert Stevens was infected through the mail, and Perkins asks for the FBI to be brought in “full force.”

    October 9 – On or slightly before this date, someone mails letters full of finely powdered weapons-grade anthrax to Senators Daschle and Leahy.

    October 15 – The Daschle letter containing powdered anthrax is opened in the Hart Senate Office Building. Usamriid scientist John Ezzell starts analysis of the powder in the letter and finds it has the characteristics of a biological weapon.

    October 16 – Usamriid scientists continue with analysis. Peter Jahrling and Tom Geisbert are drawn into the case, fearing that the Daschle letter may contain smallpox.

    October 19 – Tom Geisbert obtains the first very clear images of the Daschle powder in its dry state, and discovers, to his shock, that it looks like “moon rocks” and “skulls.”

    October 21-22 – Postal workers from the Brentwood mail-sorting facility are dying of anthrax.

    October 24 – Top-security meeting at the Roosevelt Room in the White House to discuss the anthrax terror emergency. Peter Jahrling first begins to think that the anthrax terrorist(s) could conceivably have been American, and could have manufacture the anthrax in a small lab somewhere.

    June 25, 2002 – FBI teams search the apartment of former Usamriid scientist Dr. Steven Hatfill, in Frederick, just outside the gates of Fort Detrick. The FBI says Hatfill is not a suspect in the anthrax terror event. Hatfill strongly denies any involvement in the anthrax attacks and says that he is cooperating with the FBI in order to clear his name.

    January – July 2002 – The FBI investigation into the anthrax terror attacks—Amerithrax—appears to stall out.

    Now, I’m claiming that the only reason it stalled out is because the leaders of the Amerithrax I and Amerithrax II cases were pulled off the job sometime during that time period – and I would very much like to know who was responsible for that decision – was it FBI chief Robert Muller, or someone else who made that decision?

    Did they close it down because they were getting too close to the national biological warfare establishment, i.e. the DOE-Battelle “National Security Divison” programs? Too much potential embarrassment if the world discovered that the U.S. really had been running biowarfare programs under the cover of “biological threat assessment”?

    That’s my concern here.

    • DXer said

      Let’s pick up the timeline where you left off.

      In early August 2002, the head of the District of Columbia Field Office initiated a leak investigation related to Amerithrax information. The first leak investigation concerned leak of the ridiculous Hatfill bloodhound story to Newsweek (according to email discussed in deposition of lead prosecutor Daniel Seikaly in which he repeatedly pled the Fifth Amendment). A memo from DC Field Office head Van Harp read:

      TO: OPR
      NSD
      From: Washington Field
      ADIC’s Office: Harp Van A (202) xxx-xxxx
      ***
      Title: UNSUB
      UNAUTHORIZED DISCLOSURE AND/OR
      MEDIA LEAK IN CONNECTION WITH THE
      AMERITHRAX INVESTIGATION
      ***
      [REDACTED]
      [REDACTED]
      The appearance of this information in the media affects the conduct of this investigation as well as the morale of the dedicated personnel who have expended enormous energy and effort on this investigation.
      As such, I am requesting that either a media leak or OPR investigation be initiated. In the event a leak investigation is initiated then the enclosed LRM should be hand delivered to AAG Chertoff. [REDACTED]

      The investigation was closed in October 2002. The memo read:
      Date: October 8, 2002
      To: Mr. H. Marshall Jarrett
      Counsel
      Office of Professional Responsibility
      United States Department of Justice

      From: David W. Szady
      Assistant Director
      Counterintelligence Division
      Subject: [REDACTED[
      The purpose of this memorandum is to notify your office of the closing of the FBI’s criminal investigation of the captioned media leak matter. It is the understanding of the FBI that your continued investigation of this matter will be pursued by your office.
      [REDACTED]
      ***
      After a January 9, 2003 “exclusive” report by ABC’s Brian Ross that the FBI was focusing on Hatfill and was going to conduct a second round of interviews with other former and current government scientists so that they might rule them out by the process of elimination, the FBI initiated a second media leak investigation. This time it was to proceed with “extreme zeal.”

      The memo read:
      Precedence: PRIORITY Date: 1/13/2003
      To: Director’s Office Washington Field
      From: Washington Field
      Contact Richard L. Lambert 202-xxx-xxxx
      Approved by: Harp Van
      Lambert Richard L
      Title: AMERITHRAX
      MAJOR CASE 184
      00: WFO
      Synopsis: To request the opening of new OPR media leak investigation regarding captioned case.
      [large redacted passages]
      To demonstrate the seriousness with which the FBI views this matter, it is requested that the OPR inquiry commence with an interview of IIC Rick Lambert who will waive all Fifth Amendment privileges and accede to a voluntary polygraph examination to set a tone of candor, forthrightness and cooperation.
      [redacted]
      The instant matter is the second unauthorized media disclosure to occur in this investigation. Its potential detriment to the effective prosecution of the case is substantial. Accordingly, in the interests of both specific and general deterrence, the Inspector in Charge requests that this OPR inquiry be pursued with unprecedent zeal.”

      A June 2003 email then shut the barn door long after the horse had walked through that barn door:

      From: DEBRA WEIERMAN
      To: Lisa Hodgson
      Date: Wed, June 4, 2003 12:18 PM
      Subject: AMERITHRAX INVESTIGATION
      Lisa: Please disseminate to all WFO employees. Thanks, Debbie

      For the information of all recipients, Director Mueller has ordered that no one discuss the AMERITHRAX case with any representative of the news media. The WFO and Baltimore Media Offices have released several media advisories, which were coordinated with the US Attorney and FBIHQ, to explain specific milestones in the case. However, NO FBI WFO EMPLOYEE, INCLUDING MYSELF AND INSPECTOR RICK LAMBERT, WHO IS IN CHARGE OF AMERITHRAX, IS TO RESPOND TO ANY MEDIA INQUIRIES, THE ONLY EXCEPTION IS DEBBIE WEIERMAN IN THE MEDIA OFFICE. All inquiries from reporters or journalists received by any WFO employee are to be immediately referred to Debbie at xxx-xxxx, and she will handle.

      I thank everyone at WFO for their dedication to the job and to this office. I also thank you for your cooperation in this very important matter.
      Mike Rolince

      In October 2007, the former Criminal Chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, Daniel Seikaly, was deposed in the civil rights action by Steve Hatfill about whether he was the source of leaks relating to Steve Hatfill in connection the use of bloodhounds in the anthrax investigation and the draining of ponds in Frederick, Maryland. Key stories appeared in Newsweek and Washington Post. Attorney Seikaly pled the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination in connection with most substantive questions.

      Attorney Seikaly has had a very distinguished career. In 2001, Mr. Seikaly went from being Assistant Inspector General for Investigations at the Central Intelligence Agency to Criminal Chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. There he supervised eighty-five Assistant United States Attorneys involved in the prosecution of all federal offenses in the District of Columbia. He also served as a technical expert for U.S. Department of State funded rule of law programs in Croatia, Estonia, Kazakhstan, and Thailand. Before accepting the appointment to Criminal Chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, Mr. Seikaly was Assistant Inspector General for Investigations at the Central Intelligence Agency. While with the CIA, a profile at his current law firm’s webpage explains, “he conducted and supervised numerous investigations concerning allegations of misconduct by employees, contractors and vendors involved in CIA programs. In that position, he routinely interacted with senior officials within the intelligence community, other executive branch agencies and Congress concerning intelligence investigations.” The profile continues: “From 1996 to 1998, Daniel served as an Associate Deputy Attorney General at the Department of Justice and was Director of the Department’s Executive Office for National Security. There he was responsible for the coordination and oversight of the national security activities of the Department of Justice, including intelligence operations, international law enforcement, relations with foreign countries and the use of classified information. Reporting directly to the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General and acting with their authority in national security matters, Daniel was a primary point of contact between the Department of Justice and other executive branch agencies with national security interests such as the National Security Council, the Department of State and the Department of Defense.”

      His daughter has represented Ali Al-Timimi pro bono in defense of his prosecution for sedition. (You know the one who shared the suite with the DARPA-funded inventors of the method to concentrate silica with silicon dioxide in the culture medium, such as the WMD head says is indicated by the forensics.)

      One USA article concluded: “One of the law enforcement sources says investigators sometimes wonder whether they focused on Hatfill too soon and ignored someone who deserved more attention. So much has gone into investigating Hatfill, the source says, that abandoning the focus on him ‘would be like starting all over.’ ” The press has been so focused in defending itself from the charge that it was unfair to Dr. Hatfill — and law enforcement officials have been so chastened by the civil rights suit brought by Dr. Hatfill — that five years ago there stopped being meaningful coverage of Amerithrax by the mainstream press altogether. Given that it seems the press nowadays only ever has the budget to take spin handed under the table to them by government officials anyway, perhaps the First Amendment is not as worth prioritizing, in the balance of competing interests, as it used to be.

    • Anonymous Scientist said

      “FALSE. The spores of Bacillus anthracis have a lattice-like outer coat called the exosporium which is constructed by Nature to prevent spores from sticking together.”

      Apparently someone disagrees with you:

      http://www.columbia.edu/cu/21stC/issue-3.2/osullbio.html
      “If anthrax is stirred incorrectly it may clump,” notes Meselson, “and if the cells clump you can’t make an aerosol weapon. They stick together like glue. Who would have thought of that? And I imagine that there are hundreds of little wrinkles like that. All the nonsense about ease of production ignores these facts.”

    • DXer said

      Ike,

      With regard to what Anonymous Scientist said about the NYP product, on the Silicon Signature, we can just wait until the EID articles are published.

      Whether it was

      use of sol-gel as a drying agent as Dr. Alibek once suggested,

      high silica content in the water used (which the water supplying Ft. Detrick does not have),

      cross-contamination from rice hull ash made using the same spraydryer,

      or leaching from siliconized glassware,

      from virulent Ames grown at Edgewood supplied by JE relating to research relating to anthrax in soil

      — or from the DARPA-funded patent I’ve described —

      let’s just let the EID articles clarify the issues.

      By the way, as an additional hypothesis, the standard manual instructions on poison letters advise using such a spray or sealant so as to avoid killing the mailman.

      In “Target: Terrorism: Look at Al Qaeda’s Dreadful Recipe Book,” CNN on November 15, 2001 quoted the manual:
      http://archives.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0111/15/ltm.01.html

      “Write a letter to the victim mentioning very exciting and very interesting news.”

      But absent an explanation that fits an Ivins Theory, the case is even weaker for that additional reason.

      Being a big supporter of law enforcement, the rule of law, and the FBI, I prefer to embrace the WMD head’s comment that the source of the Silicon Signature could have been in the culture medium. This would explain why it was absorbed in the coat.

      The head of the Air Force lab has done controlled experiments showing a comparable spike upon use of a siliconizing solution in the slurry prior to drying and has provided me the resulting images.

    • DXer said

      Assistant FBI Director Michael Mason for a time was head of the Amerithrax investigation as head of the DC Field Office. Joining the bureau in 1985, Special Agent Mason handled narcotics violations, violent crimes, white-collar crimes and public corruption. He has worked undercover capacity and as a sniper on SWAT teams, and he has headed up large operations at FBI Headquarters. He was especially relieved the time he did not have to shoot the suicidal Elvis impersonator in a Sears parking lot. After the September 11 terrorist attacks, he served as special assistant to FBI Director Robert Mueller. He is now assistant director in charge of the Washington, D.C., field office. Growing up in Chicago’s Roseland neighborhood, he came to Syracuse and ended up in Buffalo — then went to head the office in Sacramento, before moving on to DC. There he oversaw the office’s massive counterintelligence efforts against foreign intelligence agents based in Washington, D.C.

      In March 2004, Michael Mason explained to students gathered at his alma mater:

      “Our No. 1 job is disruption today. Now you have 100,000 pieces to a puzzle. Somebody has carted off all the box tops, and embedded inside those 100,000 pieces is a 20-piece picture of an event that you have to get out in front of and prevent before it happens while at the same time trying to preserve all the freedoms and liberties that we have come to embrace in this country.”

      “But we still have to do the job the right way. My job is to make sure that we do it the right way — that, in our zeal, we do not do anything that takes away from what defines us.”

      “If we lose confidence in our institutions, then we tear away at the very fabric that defines democracy. When you no longer trust the courts, the police, congressmen, senators, that’s the beginning of the end. That’s some of the most important work that we do.”

      “I’m living my dream every bit as much as if I were putting on my ball cap and playing at Wrigley Field.”

      While in Buffalo, harking back to his days watching Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. on television, he addressed the portrayal of the FBI in “X-Files”, suggesting that reality was just as interesting. Special Agent Fox Mulder on “X-Files” might say “There’s no such thing as coincidences.”

      Mason was in the Syracuse office, when 2:15 a.m. one night, a 115,000-volt transmission tower came crashing down not far down the street from me. Mason investigated when the tower on the nearby Onondaga Indian reservation came 50 feet from landing on a cigarette shop, near where the local residents buy their smokes.

      “This is a serious felony. It is more than just criminal mischief,” Mason said. The Niagara Mohawk spokesperson declined to comment on what caused the tower to fall. But a local Onondaga businessman Oliver Hill said he knew. The tower missed crushing his cigarette shop by about 50 feet, which had been opened without the permission of the local Onondaga tribal leaders. “There has been sabotage on that tower because on each leg there are 20 to 30 bolts,” said Hill. “All the bolts were taken out on all four legs. So when the bolts are taken out, there’s nothing to hold it up so it fell over. Yes, it was sabotage.” I didn’t call the local FBI office about the tower incident. After all, smoking kills 400,000 people a year.

      Instead, I contacted the FBI office to tell them that a Ronald Reagan mask had been found along with a bank bag where the man lay in wait with a semi-automatic — first for my brother, and then the next week my father. The FBI agent in the small local office, who did not identify himself, said something to the effect: “We killed the Closing Time Bandit who used a Ronald Reagan mask in robbing banks. So this guy can’t be responsible for those robberies.”

      Ronald Petersen had been killed Aug. 15, 1996 by FBI agents in the Rochester suburb of Henrietta while plotting another heist. The rightist, who had been tracked by a miniature television camera on a telephone pole outside his home, died in a hail of bullets. When police searched his house in Liverpool, a Syracuse suburb, they recovered 20 guns, including two Uzis, 20,000 rounds of ammunition and a cache of explosives.

      “I know. ” I said, “This guy’s parole officer says his apartment in Watertown is covered with newspaper articles glorifying famous New York State criminals. He’s trying to make you fellows look foolish. By being a copycat and making it look like you killed the wrong guy.”

      The ex-convict and three-time loser who tried to take my Dad away at gunpoint that night before Christmas got 25 years to life. Robbery was the apparent motive. That night, the police siren had come on in within seconds of the 9/11 call coming in. The gunman spent the night holed up in a nearby garage and was captured after a psychiatrist/hostage negotiator came from Syracuse and talked him out of the garage. He asked that they kneel and pray together. (I never said the gunman, a former altar boy, was very bright). So why, as a liberal, am I such a booster of the FBI and local law enforcement? Of Agent Michael Mason in particular? Because it is their job to protect our loved ones. It’s time to stop second-guessing them based on inadequate information and be supportive even if we might disagree with them. At the very least, wait until the EID articles are published and the case is closed.

      Mason had a friend in Syracuse, Kathleen Rumpf, who calls herself a “felon for peace,” having spent several months in prison for trespassing during a demonstration against the School for the Americas at Fort Benning, Ga. She has worked for years fighting for prisoner rights and other issues. When Mason showed up there one of the first things he did was meet with her. “He’s quite wonderful,” Rumpf told the Sacramento Bee in an interview from the Syracuse offices of the American Civil Liberties Union. “He was incredibly responsible and treated me with great respect.” Mason says: “I’m not complicated enough to be political. It’s too hard.”

      As part of canvassing as part of a local political campaign, I was walking up Maywood Ave in Syracuse in front of Kathleen Rumpf’s home on October 15, 2003 when my wife drove up, pointing out that the very short street had both Rumpf and the Berrigans (related to the recently deceased famed Catholic anti-nuclear pacifist). My time would be wasted urging them to vote for The Candidate. They were long-time family friends. I had been at a charity fundraiser when she ran merrily around the crowd — at the egging of one of the performers on stage — when the elder Berrigan spoke eloquently against the war in Iraq.

      This is how this liberal can be in favor of all those at the Department of Justice standing up for the rule of law. I’m opposed only to the politicization of justice that occurred at the US DOJ under the prior Administration.

      Mason gave a speech to 250 high school students gathered at the Syracuse University campus in 1998 for High School Press Day in which he explained to the students that it was important for both the FBI and the media not to rush to judgment. He drew parallels between the two professions, explaining that the most important characteristic in either profession is integrity. On another occasion, he spoke bluntly to young inmates and told them there were consequences to their actions. Another time he and the DA spoke to kids about violence at the request of area educators.

      One of his most baffling cases was a rash of thefts of two-way radios throughout the area.

      Mason realized the importance of catching a lucky break in a case. Once, in 1998, he had been working for 4 months trying to track down the 2 year old daughter who had been taken by a divorced father from the mother. He fruitlessly tracked leads that seemed to lead to Australia and London. Then one Saturday he went to work to collect his thoughts and plot a new strategy, when someone called from Montreal to describe the drunken boasting of the father in a bar in Montreal.

      Before moving on to Washington, D.C., Mason said his most memorable case was the “Closing Time Bandit,” a dangerous bank robber who left few clues. Not long before he was shot dead as 40 FBI agents surrounded him at Henrietta, New York, the robber had decorated his yard with balloons on his daughter’s birthday.

      Mason investigated teenage Animal Defense League members in connection with an attempted bombing incident at a local meat plant noting that the FBI was not targeting their beliefs, but their actions when those beliefs turned to violence. During his stay in Syracuse, his only apparent involvement in matters relating to radical islamists was to read of goings-on at the kitchen table in the morning. “Bomb focuses on radical cleric: Imprisoned sheik’s followers might have sent letter bombs,” investigators say,” Syracuse Herald-Journal, Jan. 4, 1997 It apparently did not make an impression.

      Mason once described how a bank robbery was solved by discovering that the bank note had been written by a second grader. The bank robber, Michael Davis, handed a teller at the Marine Midland Bank a note demanding money on January 5, 1990. On the bottom half, police found part of a letter to a child signed by “Santa’s Helper.” Agents traced the letter to a second grade class at Franklin Elementary School, where the bank robber’s stepson attended. The FBI then was able to match the robber’s palm print to the note. Let’s hope Mason during his tenure on Amerithrax he was working Saturdays — and has a SWAT Team at the ready (and a camera on the telephone pole outside) — and not hoping that a kid wrote the anthrax letters like Ed urges.

      How many does it take to monitor one person who needs to be closely surveilled? As many as eight agents per shift if he is mobile. Another half-dozen to listen in on his calls. Others perhaps to file wiretap reports or handle aerial surveillance. A couple supervisory agents to oversee the case. $55 an hour for an agent. $150 for a plane. A lot more for electronic surveillance.

      Consider the example of a 35 year-old fellow named Mubarak, who was a friend of Murad, a key player in Bojinka. He lived with Murad before Murad had gone to the Philippines and plotted to blow up a bunch of airliners simultaneously. And, yes, Mubarak went to flight school. Agent Michael Mason, who headed the FBI’s Sacramento Office and then came to head Amerithrax, said “there were sufficient connections that necessitated his removal to another country.”

      “If he were a U.S. citizen, he might be walking around the [Sacramento] area today,” Mason said. “But .. inasmuch as his residency in this country was an issue, that just became another arrow in my quiver to neutralize the threat.”
      The same article also provides interesting examples of associates of the likes of 9/11 hijackers Nawaf al-Hazmi, Almidhar, and Hani Hanjour.

      “What we have over the U.S. is a net,” Mason has said. “At best, what we’re doing is shrinking the mesh in the net. We’re trying to kick down the door of the person who’s going to drive the truck loaded with explosives. But can we do it in time?”

      When I told Agent Mason that I thought Zawahiri was behind the anthrax mailings, he responded by email that the FBI had not reached any conclusion but was leaving no stone unturned. While I doubt the FBI’s expressed conclusions, I would be very slow to doubt their good faith.

      Numerous illustrious legal beagles have been hard at work developing an entire new field of science that would stand up to a withering OJ-worthy scrutiny.

      “This book describes the new and growing field of Microbial Forensics-the science that will help bring to justice criminals and terrorists who use biological material to cause harm. This book describes the foundation of the field of microbial forensics and will serve as a basic primer to initiate those scientists and officials that have an interest in the topic. It covers a variety of areas from forensic science, to microbiology, to epidemiology, to bioinformatics, and to legal issues.”

      Authors of the lead chapter “Microbial Forensics include Bruce Budowie of the FBI Lab and James P. Burans. Burans, as honored by the Federal Bureau of Investigation at a Washington, D.C. ceremony in 2002 for his help during the anthrax attacks. He was a scientific consultant to the FBI on the analysis of the mailed anthrax. The Federal Law Enforcement Officer’s Association also named Burans Civilian of the Year for his assistance. He will head the new lab managed by Battelle.

      Names familiar to many who have followed Amerithrax closely include the author of “Bacterial Pathogens” Paul Keim, who has been part of FBI investigation working on the DNA sequencing of Ames and John Ezzell, author of the section on “Forensic handling of biological threat samples in the lab .”

      The most interesting chapter is “Non-DNA methods for biological signatures” with a raft of authors:.

      “Population genetics of bacteria in a forensic context” may not pinpoint the lab, without more, but Paul Keim stands ready with co-author Richard E. Lenski to explain how it can narrow the field.

      And to balance the pessimistic comments by former FBI Lab Director Murch to CBS, about whether the science could prove the Amerithrax case, rounding out the text are articles reminiscent of OJ. Joseph M. Campos offers “Quality management in forensics laboratories” and Rock Harmon writes on “Admissibility standards for scientific evidence.” A former long-time Assistant District Attorney from California, he helped develop the protocol to assist law enforcement agencies in solving previously unsolved cases through the use of DNA typing.

      Working for the HSD, the Biosecurity and Nanosciences Laboratory has built a computer database of biological signatures, an approach that in Amerithrax is complementary to Keim’s PCR technique, which focuses on DNA signatures. (PCR means polymerase chain reaction.) A detector using PCR amplifies a short stretch of a pathogen’s DNA to determine its characteristics. Dr Yoreo’s lab characterize, for example, single spores of anthrax with high sensitivity. One scientist at the lab has “correlated the growth and processing of samples with results from different techniques (e.g., atomic force microscopy that provides molecular level pictures of bio-agents)” and “looked at surrogate (i.e., harmless) samples of different strains of anthrax, then looked at harmless ‘weaponized’ anthrax surrogate samples.” “Her goal is to identify the growth medium for anthrax, then compare its signature with our library.”

      Internal newsletters indicate that the Lawrence Livermore was first enlisted to combat the Bin Laden anthrax threat in 1998 by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. And so although former FBI Lab Director Murch, who once played a key role in charting direction of DTRA research in 2001 and 2002 has been quoted in a press account saying there is no “smoking gun” in Amerithrax, these young and talented folks keep looking.

  2. Ike Solem said

    Ed, you’re completely wrong – but then, who has seen the extended x-ray data from AFIP? Why hasn’t that been released?

    It clearly looks like an effort to cover up the fact that this material was the product of a biological threat assessment program, one that involved an effort to replicate the Soviet-type anthrax powders.

    Indeed, the heavy-handed interrogations of Fort Detrick personnel were not matched by similar investigations at Dugway or at Battelle, were they?

    Speaking of people who might be called to testify before Congress on the issue of biological threat assessments, see Dr. Barry Erlick:

    In 1982 Dr. Erlick joined U.S. Army Medical Information and Intelligence Agency, renamed the Armed Forces Medical Intelligence Center (AFMIC) in 1986. Since 1982 he served in numerous senior level positions for AFMIC and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) including; Chief of the Scientific & Technical Division and Chief Scientist, AFMIC; Chief of the Department of Defense (DoD) Biological Threat Analysis Center; Chairman of the Chemical and Biological Warfare Subcommittee of the Weapons and Space Systems Intelligence Committee of the Director of Central Intelligence; and Senior Scientist and Deputy Chief of the Chemical and Biological Warfare Analysis Division, DIA. Included in his numerous national awards is the National Intelligence Medal of Achievement. He served as the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Chief Scientist for Biological and Chemical Warfare before joining the Department of Agriculture in June this year. (2001)

    Although that official bio doesn’t mention it, he was also Battelle’s Chief Scientist for Special Programs in 2002. If anyone could tell you about the relative grades of anthrax powder that were produced by the CIA, DIA and Battelle, and whether they matched the letters, I bet he could. He could also tell you how long the material could be stored after production, as well.

    You also have to admit that it is odd that samples were not collected from the labs that had the capacity to make the stuff, i.e. West Jefferson Ohio and Dugway Utah.

    http://www.apsnet.org/online/feature/biosecurity/Author.htm

    Anyway, I think it’s clear the two preparations were radically different, and that everything the FBI has done since early 2002 has been an effort at distraction, not an effort to discover who was responsible.

    • Anonymous Scientist said

      The FBI asked for vouluntary submissions. Don’t you check your facts at all?

      Also, Jeff Adamovich has already stated, right here on this blog, that he knows USAMRIID shipped MORE THAN TWO aliqouts of RMR-1029 to other institutes. So immediately we then know that the submissions to the FBI were INCOMPLETE. If they were complete then there would be even more samples that matched – more then the 8 (7 from USAMRIID and 1 from another institite that the FBI refuses to name on the grounds of national security).

      You should really check your FACTS before bloviating.

    • DXer said

      Ike,

      “Indeed, the heavy-handed interrogations of Fort Detrick personnel were not matched by similar investigations at Dugway or at Battelle, were they?”

      Much has been written about Amerithrax to include the heavy-handed interrogations and the polygraphing at Dugway or at Battelle. Perry Miksell’s death for example was described by NYT Scott Shane.

    • Anonymous Scientist said

      You are bloviating again. Both AFIP and Sandia saw “spikes on a graph” as you refer to the AFIP data (in order to somehow make it less beleiveavble).

      AFIP did a whole spore analysis and detected MASSIVE amounts of silica (which is indistinguishable from polysiloxane). The detected ludicrous amounts in the NYP powder.

      Joe Michael has apparently been asking the FBI for the AFIP data for months – but they refuse to give it to him. I wonder why?

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