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

* is the FBI’s Amerithrax case still open, and if so, why?

Posted by DXer on June 25, 2009

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… explores the FBI’s failed investigation of the 2001 anthrax case

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is the FBI’s Amerithrax case still open, and if so, why?


FBI-DOJ press conferenceThe FBI said on August 6, 2008, after they announced that Dr. Bruce Ivins was the sole perpetrator of the 2001 anthrax attacks, that they were going to complete some investigative matters and that they would then “close the case.”

The impression which was left was that the case would soon be closed. But it seems that the FBI has not closed the case.

… Perhaps we are still in the timeframe that the FBI had in mind when they said they had some things left to do.

… Perhaps the skepticism and outright challenges that greeted the FBI’s August 2008 announcement convinced them to keep looking at alternate possibilities.

… But others suggest that it is the FBI’s realization that once they formally close the case, they will be subject to what might be an unending flood of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for information about what they investigated and did not investigate, and how they eliminated suspects other than Dr. Ivins.

Accordingly, I have addressed the following email to the FBI’s Washington DC Field Office …


On August 6, 2008, Mr. Jeffrey Taylor, the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, accompanied by Mr. Joseph Persichini, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, announced …

“We are now beginning the process of concluding this (Amerithrax) investigation. Once this process is complete, we will formally close the case.”

To the best of my knowledge, however, the case has not yet been closed.

If the Amerithrax case is in fact still open, I wonder if you could tell me the FBI’s reasons for keeping the case open, and also how many agents are currently assigned, compared to the number assigned before the August 2008 announcement.

Thank you very much for your help in this matter.




Keith Olbermann

Keith Olbermann

Keith Olberman interviews Gerald Posner – Aug 2008

“Lone scientist theory doesn’t cut it”

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4 Responses to “* is the FBI’s Amerithrax case still open, and if so, why?”

  1. DXer said

    “In 1861, Lord Acton wrote that ‘every thing secret degenerates, even the administration of justice.””
    — United States District Court Judge Mark Wolf, in “The Rise and Fall of the Bulger Empire” in United States v. Salemme et al., criminal docket 94-10287 (dated September 19, 1999)

  2. DXer said

    The articles to be published in Emerging Infectious Disease promise to be a watershed of understanding. Perhaps the case will be closed upon the publication of those articles.

    Dr. Kreuzer-Martin, in particular, has done work that had been central to the investigation but the FBI has not drawn attention to her work in support of its Ivins Theory. If the research and the Bayeseian approach she urged was inconclusive — and it would not be surprising given the flexible nature of such an approach — it will be interesting to see it all explained. I believe her work pointed to use of sheep blood agar but don’t know anything beyond the published articles.

    Kreuzer-Martin, H. W., L. A. Chesson, M. J. Lott, J. V. Dorigan, and J. R. Ehleringer, “Stable isotope ratios as a tool in microbial forensics. 2. Isotopic variation among different growth media as a tool for sourcing origins of bacterial cells or spores,” J. Forensic Sci. 49:961-967 (2004).

    Kreuzer-Martin, H. W., L. A. Chesson, M. J. Lott, and J. R. Ehleringer, “Stable isotope ratios as a tool in microbial forensics. 3. Effect of culturing on agar-containing growth media,” J. Forensic Sci. 50:1372-1379 (2005).

    Kreuzer-Martin, H. W., M. J. Lott, J. Dorigan, and J. R. Ehleringer, “Microbe forensics: oxygen and hydrogen stable isotope ratios in Bacillus subtilis cells and spores,” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 100:815-819 (2003).

    Kreuzer-Martin, H. W. et al., “Microbe forensics: Oxygen and hydrogen stable isotope ratios in Bacillus subtilis cells and spores,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,” February 4, 2003.

    • DXer said

      Jarman KH, Kreuzer-Martin HW, Wunschel DS, Valentine NB, Cliff JB, Petersen CE, Colburn HA, Wahl KL.
      Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, PO Box 999/MS K9-72, Richland, WA 99352, USA.


      In the aftermath of the 2001 anthrax letters, researchers have been exploring ways to predict the production environment of unknown-source microorganisms. Culture medium, presence of agar, culturing temperature, and drying method are just some of the broad spectrum of characteristics an investigator might like to infer. The effects of many of these factors on microorganisms are not well understood, but the complex way in which microbes interact with their environments suggests that numerous analytical techniques measuring different properties will eventually be needed for complete characterization. In this work, we present a Bayesian statistical framework for integrating disparate analytical measurements. We illustrate its application to the problem of characterizing the culture medium of Bacillus spores using three different mass spectral techniques. The results of our study suggest that integrating data in this way significantly improves the accuracy and robustness of the analyses.


      “This approach has some serious drawbacks. First, it requires a signature for the microorganism in every culture medium of interest. While it may be possible to collect such signatures when reference samples from a suspect laboratory are available, in many cases no reference samples will be available. Even if a large database of culture medium signatures could be constructed, the culture medium from an unknown sample could be made from atypical components, spiked with additional metals or other compounds, or made without following any known recipe, making a database-matching approach extremely challenging. The question then becomes one of whether a data analysis framework can be developed so that culture medium characterization is possible when traditional signatures are unavailable.”

      • DXer said

        Title is

        “Bayesian-Integrated Microbial Forensics,” Applied and Environmental Microbiology, June 2008, p. 3573-3582, Vol. 74, No. 11

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