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

* FBI slides – D. Christian Hassell – Scientific Approaches to the 2001 Anthrax Letters Investigation

Posted by DXer on February 1, 2010

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Scientific Approaches to the 2001 Anthrax Letters Investigation

D. Christian Hassell, PhD

FBI Laboratory

30 July 2009

National Academy of Sciences


click here >>>

Hassell Slides – July 2009 – NAS

Dr. David Christian (Chris) Hassell ... FBI Laboratory Director

NOTE: Slide 14 is particularly interesting when read in context with:

Differentiation of Spores of Bacillus subtilis Grown in Different Media by Elemental Characterization Using Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry … John B. Cliff, Kristin H. Jarman, Nancy B. Valentine, Steven L. Golledge, Daniel J. Gaspar, David S. Wunschel, and Karen L. Wahl

Applied and Environmental Microbiology, November 2005, p. 6524-6530, Vol. 71, No. 11


(slides courtesy of Anonymous Scientist)


14 Responses to “* FBI slides – D. Christian Hassell – Scientific Approaches to the 2001 Anthrax Letters Investigation”

  1. Anonymous Scientist said

    FBI Disputes Wall Street Journal Column Saying Anthrax Case is Unsolved

    Suspect Bruce Ivins

    By Allan Lengel
    WASHINGTON – The FBI has fired off a letter to the Wall Street Journal disputing a guest column which questioned the FBI’s conclusion that scientist Bruce Ivins was responsible for the deadly anthrax attacks in 2001.
    The column concluded that Ivins was in all likelihood not the real culprit.
    “Monday’s opinion piece, “The Anthrax Attacks Remain Unsolved,” was filled with inaccuracies and omitted several relevant facts that are necessary for a balanced discussion of the science applied in the anthrax investigation,” said the FBI letter signed by D. Christian Hassell, Ph.D, Director of the FBI Laboratory.
    It went on to say the FBI was confident with its findings.
    Author of the controversial column, Edward Jay Epstein, who is working on a book on the 9/11 Commission, wrote recently in the Wall Street Journal that “silicon”, an element in the deadly anthrax, which is used to weaponize the material, was not available to Ivins, a scientist at the the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) in Fort Detrick, Md.
    Therefore, it wasn’t likely that he was the guy.
    Ivins killed himself in the summer of 2008 shortly before the FBI said it was about to be charge him in the case. The FBI concluded that Ivins was the guy and case essentially closed.
    “If Ivins had neither the equipment or skills to weaponize anthrax with silicon, then some other party with access to the anthrax must have done it. Even before these startling results, Sen. Leahy had told Director Mueller, ‘I do not believe in any way, shape, or manner that [Ivins] is the only person involved in this attack on Congress,’” Jay wrote in his column.
    The FBI letter, which was circulated by the agency on Wednesday, stated:
    “From the outset, the FBI’s scientific work in the anthrax case has had a foundation in validation and verification of its approach and conclusions. This process began within weeks of the initial events of 2001 and has included:
    consultation with numerous subject matter experts in technical panels;

    • BugMaster said

      Note that the FBI’s response addressed only the criticism of the science.

      There was nothing stated regarding their conclusions based on their scientific methods.

  2. DXer said

    For a citable resource on the limits of analysis and data involved in forensic microbiology, see
    Encyclopedia of Microbiology (Third Edition)
    Pages 22-34

    Forensic Microbiology1

    S.Y. Hunta, N.G. Barnabya, B. Budowlea and S. Morseb
    aFederal Bureau of Investigation, Laboratory Division, Quantico, VA, USA
    bCenters for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA

    Available online 17 February 2009.

    The use of pathogenic agents and toxins as bioweapons to commit terrorism and biocrimes has been occurring for more than two millennia. Targets are humans, animals, and plants in which serious harm, economic damage, fear, and social disruption can result from an attack. Law enforcement has a responsibility to protect against this threat by providing deterrence, prevention, interdiction, criminal investigation, and providing forensic evidence for convictions. In response, the field of microbial forensics has been created. Microbial forensics is a scientific discipline that examines microorganisms, toxins, pests, prions, or their associated ancillary products for source attribution. The field is built upon the principles applied to epidemiological investigations. A number of nucleic acid and non-nucleic acid methodologies can be employed to characterize microbial evidence. However, obtaining a level of identification comparable to human DNA analyses may not be routinely possible with microorganisms or their toxins. Thus, concepts such as a genetic ‘fingerprint’ or unique identification may never be possible because many microorganisms reproduce asexually; at least portions of their genomes are inherited in a clonal fashion. There are other genomic and ecologic dynamics of microbes to consider, such as horizontal gene transfer, the availability of less than optimal population, and phylogenetic data, and, in some instances, limited historical and epidemiological information that may impact the ability to identify a unique source for attribution. By understanding the limits of analyses and data, reliable information can be obtained to assist investigations.
    Author Keywords: anthrax; attribution; biocrime; bioterrorism; chemical analysis; epidemiology; forensic science; genetics; microbe; microbial forensics; molecular biology; pathogen; weapon

    Abbreviations: AFM, atomic force microscopy; AMS, accelerator mass spectrometry; BAMS, bio-aerosol mass spectrometry; CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; CSF, cerebrospinal fluid; DHS, Department of Homeland Security; EDX, energy dispersive X-ray microanalysis; FBI, Federal Bureau of Investigation; FMDV, foot-and-mouth disease virus; HEAT, Hazardous Evidence Analysis Team; INDELS, insertions/deletions; LC/MS, liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry; LRN, Laboratory Response Network; MALDI-TOF, matrix assisted laser desorption/ionization time of flight; MLST, multilocus sequence typing; NBACC, National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center; NBFAC, National Bioforensics Analysis Center; NIBC, National Interagency Biodefense Campus; PCR, polymerase chain reaction; PIXE, particle (proton)-induced X-ray emission; RFLP, restriction fragment length polymorphism; SEM, scanning electron microscopy; SERS, surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy; SNP, single nucleotide polymorphism; STIM, scanning transmission ion microscopy; ToF-SIMS, time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry; USDA, United States Department of Agriculture; VEE, Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus; VNTR, variable number tandem repeat; WHO, World Health Organization

    Article Outline

    • Defining Statement
    • Introduction
    • Law Enforcement/Forensic Role
    • Microbial Forensics Response
    • Microbial Forensics Tools
    • Analysis of Biological Signatures
    • Nucleic acid-based assays
    • Non-nucleic acid-based analyses
    • Biocrime Investigations
    • National Microbial Forensics Network
    • Gaps in Microbial Forensic Analyses
    • Evidence collection, handling, and storage
    • Extraction and purification of biological signatures
    • Identification of ‘unique’ signatures
    • Data interpretation
    • Conclusion
    Further Reading

  3. A.S. Chesnick said

    A comment on the FBI’S own criminal profiling methods in respect to Dr.Ivins

    If one looks at the FBI’s own profiling methods; particularly at Geographic Profiling of a Spree Killer*. Which the ANTHRAX MAILER could be loosely defined as.
    For this crime profile the Princeton area is their comfort zone …They have little to fear in this area. They travel at will, at ease and invisible.
    Accordingly to the FBI own profiling methods the killer would live within a twenty minute drive radius or even closer to the Princeton area /banks and Nassau Street mailboxes from where the deadly letters were originally mailed. Dr.Ivins could have mailed the letters from any public mailbox undetected in Washington area. ( Mail boxes at hundreds of public locations where there would be no connection to him.
    Why Princeton? Where has no prior history. Frederick, Maryland to Princeton N.J.?
    This is a time consuming drive and to say Ivins made the round trip in seven hours as speculated by the FBI is ridiculous.
    If one looks at he rush traffic patterns Ivins would have encounteredon I-95 corridor/Pa Turnpike/Philadelphia/Baltimore the densest traffic on the East coast, the rush hour and normal delays on any day would he have encountered on this yo-yo trip of a one afternoon no matter what route he took is impossible.
    This didn’t include the time in Princeton to package the anthrax in the envelopes safely and also Xerox the letters at public copier somewhere in the Princeton area; as has been reported.
    The travel timeline is completely off.Dr.Ivins could not have done this on his half day of leave. He was at the lab at Fort Detrick until noon or so and then seen back in Frederick in the early evening.
    The probability of this distance 20 minute limit profile fitting the killer’s geographic profile increases with the second mailing coming from the same mailboxes.
    This is their home turf.
    The anthrax killer lives in the Princeton area, and knows it extensively. They are very comfortable there.

    *A spree killer, also known as a rampage killer, is someone who embarks on a murderous assault on his or her victims (two or more) in a short time period in multiple locations

    • DXer said

      Hi! Welcome to the forum. It is always interesting to have fresh insights.

      IMO, the matter is way past the point of the usefulness of profiling. On profiling generally, the best source on the subject is Malcolm Gladwell’s essay in the “New Yorker” describing it as a parlor game not useful in actually solving crimes. As to additional background of the FBI’s profile, which is online, profiler James Fitzgerald’s deposition has been uploaded.

      Any theory that does not have proof of travel on those dates is weak. Of course, a theory that posits that he lives nearby does not have that difficulty. But someone associated with the US program living minutes away (like JF) would have to be really stupid to be involved because he would know he would be a prime suspect. JF, an aerobiology expert who had recently retired and lived nearby, was recently interviewed by a reporter and nothing he describes supports an Ivins Theory. The one with the pertinent information will be the scientist (PF) who refused to speak to the same reporter.

      Any theory that contradicts verifiable alibi evidence is dead-in-the-water. The FBI has refused to produce his emails from September and October 2001 that would bear on alibi evidence. Those emails, Lab Notebook 4010, credit card purchases, library records, telephone records, emails — the FBI has failed to release any of this evidence. The public should credit the FBI’s confidence in its science — which tends to exculpate Dr. Ivins. The public should also credit the FBi’s report (to date) that there is no evidence he travelled to Princeton and no direct evidence he participated in the crime.

      The public should also credit the documentary evidence from the police report explaining that Mrs. Ivins wrote him a handwritten note on the back of another note stating that she knew that he was not involved in the anthrax crimes. Thus, we know that the woman living in the same small house had no knowledge of his travel overnight. His two kids apparently also lived in the house still. It is unrealistic to think a man can be absent from a small home where three adults are living without being noticed — it would simply be too great a risk because someone might wake for a drink or go to the bathroom, or hear a car door. I am up early today and already my daughter roused from sleep and wished me good morning — and my wife also commonly knows when I’m up and asks me to turn the screen so the light doesn’t shine. The claim by the FBI that Ivins had taken a long trip to Ithaca without it being known is an entirely different kettle of fish involving travel on a weekend day. That’s different — it is quite possible to say “I’m going to work, honey,” and then go driving rather to work. (Ask any adulterer how easy it is). But we’ll have to wait until the FBI provides records relating to travel. For their sake, they should avoid positing travel on a particular day for which there is an email sent at a time he allegedly was driving. My intelligence source says that Dr. Ivins has solid alibi evidence which is why the FBI does not even dare posit specific dates of travel. When it once was leaked he travelled during the day on a particular day, the next day’s story explained he had an appointment out of the office (and there was proof).

      On profiling generally, an FBI Special Agent in the Minneapolis, MN Field Office, Harry Samit unsuccessfully appealed to his superiors for a FISA warrant that would permit him to view the contents of Moussaoui’s computer in the weeks leading up to 9/11. He wrote an August 18, 2001 email: “What does everyone think of calling in the NSDA Behavioral Assessment quacks? They probably have a psyche profile for an Islamic Martyr and could tell us if our 747 guys fit.”
      Samit’s memo had explained that Moussaoui was connected to a radical fundamentalist group in Chechnya, whose leader Ibn Khattab had ties to Bin Laden. “For this reason, it is imperative that his effects be searched in order to gather intelligence relating to these connections and to any plans for terrorist attacks against the United States or United States Persons to which he may be a party.” He wrote: “I am so desperate to get into his computer, I’ll take anything.” A colleague emailed Samit: “ thanks for the update. Very sorry that this matter was handled the way it was, but you fought the good fight. God Help us all if the next terrorist incident involves the same type of plane. take care Cathy.”

      The emails were dated September 10, 2001.

      Quoted in a June 2002 Wall Street Journal column titled “The “lone wolf” theory is evidence of the Bureau’s ineptitude,” FBI Special Agent Rowley was highly critical of the FBI in “chalking this all up to the ’20-20 hindsight is perfect’ problem.” The Minneapolis agents who arrested Zacarias Moussaoui before September 11 had quickly identified him as a terrorist threat and identified the legal grounds on which he has since been indicted. Agents in Phoenix had sounded an alarm about suspicious Arabs taking flight training. So she argues that “this is not a case of everyone in the FBI failing to appreciate the potential consequences.”

      Here, Amerithrax head Michael Rolince was being criticized for dropping the ball about Moussaoui. The FBI kept secret the fact that at the time Moussaoui was arrested with cropdusting manuals, Jdey was detained with biology textbooks. Ken Dillon has explained that Jdey, for whom there is a $5 million BOLO, was to be part of the second wave. He knew KSM and Hambali. He pulled back but not because of cold feet. Where is he? Did he enter the country at the time of the mailings? Why did Atta go to Portland? Exactly when was Jdey detained? (See WMD timeline in the Harvard report for authority he was detained at the time Moussaoui was arrested and that he had biology textbooks on him.) The BOLO for Jdey was issued at the same time as the BOLO for Aafia Siddiqui, who looks so sweet with the bouquet of roses in the picture Lew posted upon her graduating from MIT.

      NYT journalist John Schwartz and Minnesota University Professor Michael Osterholm in a book Living Terror published in December 2000 explain that bioweaponeer Ken Alibek and William Patrick each believed “he was working to match a threat from a resourceful and brilliant enemy. I keep that in mind when people ask me how anyone could do such a terrible thing: how anyone could contemplating creating chances that you could kill so many. The answer makes me terribly uncomfortable — it could be anyone, even the nicest guy you ever met.”

      The FBI’s stock profile concerning a biological agent was a lone, unstable individual. In October 2001, the profilers pretty much just reached into the filing cabinet. One Special Agent involved in profiling such incidents explained in a conference, at which Dr. Steve Hatfill was also a presenter: “The closest I’ve ever come to biological-chemical issues is when the toilet on the 37th floor gets backed up *** It isn’t the Middle Eastern people. It isn’t white supremacists. It is the lone individual, lone unstable individual. That statistically, from the cases that we have, is the biggest threat right now.”

      FBI Special Agent Fitzgerald, whose deposition Lew uploaded last week, had some early involvement in Amerithrax in issuing the “profile,” years earlier had special responsibility for scrutinizing the language of the manifesto in UNABOM. In late September 2001, his colleague from UNABOM, Kathleen Puckett turned in her study of “lone wolves” to include Kaczynski and others. Dr. Puckett sees “howling loneliness” as the key characteristic of a “lone wolf.” Before turning to work on domestic terror cases of the 1990s, her counterintelligence work typically involved Soviet spies. She would go and kibbitz the local agents on what she perceived as the personality of the subject. She retired on September 30, 2001 and handed in her study on lone wolves on her way out the door. By October, her colleague Fitzgerald was turning in a “lone wolf” profile for his assignment in Amerithrax. Judging from his comments to the media, he was one of those who was swayed based on the fact that Daschle and Leahy were Democrats.

      Hunting the American Terrorist (2007), by History Publishing is dedicated in part to the victims of the anthrax mailings. Dr. Terry Turchie and Dr. Kathleen Purkett appear to agree with the Special Agent Fitzgerald’s profile from October 2001. (Fitzgerald was their former team member) They write:
      “Then, right on the heels of 9/11, another wave of attacks paralyzed the east cost of the United States. During the week of September 18, 2001, five letters containing micronized anthrax were mailed to addresses between New York and Florida. They targeted journalists, U.S. Senators, and news magazines. As in the case of Kaczynski and Rudolph cases, the envelopes had fictional return addresses.

      Notes accompanying the mailings were supposedly from Islamic fundamentalists, and almost everyone in the government and the media quickly cast blame in that direction. For those of us who were involved in the domestic terror campaigns of the 1990s, however, the anthrax mailings had all the earmarks of a lone wolf.” One person’s lonely lone wolf is another man’s US-based dedicated islamist operating under strict principles of cell security. It seems that the FBI was making the same mistake it made in the case of the assassination of Rabbi Kahane 10 years earlier by the blind sheik’s bodyguard Nosair.

      Inexplicably, the profilers did not seem to have been persuaded after 9/11 by the open source intelligence that Zawahiri had obtained anthrax for the purpose of using it as a weapon against US targets. If intelligence analysis is an art, criminal profiling is drawing with crayons. A “profile” in connection to a person’s facial features might refer to what they look like in the dark. But, here, war had been declared. A weapon had been used by the enemy it had previously said it would use that specific weapon. Intelligence analysis, not profiling, was what was needed. The profilers apparently did not take to heart or learn the lesson of the al Hayat letter bombs in December 1996.

      James R. Fitzgerald, head of the FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit, told an interviewer: “The attacker appears to be an opportunist [who] took advantage [of the terrorist attacks].” He continued “The rhetoric [in the letters] is made to sound like what a nonterrorist thinks a terrorist sounds like. The perpetrator was probably a right-winger with an ax to grind. It’s no secret that they [the intended recipients] are Democrats. People, including the Unabomber, have used representational targets for years.” Alluding to the mistaken notion that security guard Richard Jewell was responsible for the Olympic Park bombing, Vincent Cannistraro, formerly of the CIA, explained of the profile that the FBI are “intellectually convinced they’re on the right track, but they don’t want to come up with a janitor theory that’s wrong again.” The vague profile was fine but Agent Fitzgerald’s expanded comments to the press about the profile missed the mark. FBI profiler Fitzgerald can be forgiven his early miscalculations. Such a profile likely was useful in supporting warrants in the US in connection with a variety of leads that prudently needed to be pursued. The forensics, without more, tended to point to a “domestic” source.

      The official published profile was very vague and spoke of a nonconfrontational loner carrying a grudge. Malcolm Gladwell, author of the acclaimed Blink, in his New Yorker article concludes that criminal profiling is no different than a parlor trick known by astrologers for years.

      Victims and targets were highly skeptical of the FBI’s profile. David Pecker, the AMI publisher commented:
      “I don’t believe in coincidences. I still think it was tied to al-Qaida. I don’t believe it was domestic.”

      The emphasis in the press reports has always, however, been on the suggestion that the mailer likely is “domestic” rather than foreign — a lone, male scientist who works in a lab. The profile was issued shortly after the White House meeting where it was agreed that Al Qaeda was the likely culprit, but that the theory and the possibility of a state sponsor would not be discussed. Vice President Cheney was not at all impressed by the FBI’s profile and went on television to express his skepticism. Although the FBI profile was widely criticized by experts and in editorials in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, and other newspapers and magazines, it was more flexible than its critics imagined. The Amerithrax profile of a loner with a grudge permits a variety of motivations. The FBI uses the word “domestic” to include Americans sympathetic with an extremist islamic cause.

      Outside pundits covered the entire range. Jason Pate, of the Monterey Institute of International Studies, said of the numerous private anthrax theories that have arisen:

      “We all have our pet theories. But none seems to fit the facts exactly. Dr. Rosenberg thinks it’s a disgruntled worker conspiracy. Drs. O’Toole and Inglesby think it’s Sept. 11 accomplices. I think it’s some right-wing extremists. But maybe it’s a disgruntled right-wing extremist scientist accomplice.”
      An interesting article in MIT Technology Review in March/April 2006 is based on interviews with Sergei Popov (an expert at GMU who had worked as a Russian bioweaponeer), University of Maryland researcher Milton Leitenberg, Harvard’s Matthew Meselson, Rutger’s Richard Ebright and others:

      “There are now more than 300 U.S. institutions with access to live bioweapons agents and 16,500 individuals approved to handle them,” Ebright told me. While all of those people have undergone some form of background check — to verify, for instance, that they aren’t named on a terrorist watch list and aren’t illegal aliens — it’s also true, Ebright noted, that ‘Mohammed Atta would have passed those tests without difficulty.“
      ‘That’s the most significant concern,’ Ebright agreed. ‘If al-Qaeda wished to carry out a bioweapons attack in the U.S., their simplest means of acquiring access to the materials and the knowledge would be to send individuals to train within programs involved in biodefense research.’ Ebright paused. ‘And today, every university and corporate press office is trumpeting its success in securing research funding as part of this biodefense expansion, describing exactly what’s available and where.’”

      The analytical problem is that researchers tend only to focus on their narrow field. So an analyst focused on Al Qaeda may not know anything about US biodefense programs. An analyst knowledgeable about US biodefense programs may not know anything about Egyptian Islamic Jihad. To knowledgeably address the issue of infiltration and the use of universities and charities as cover — which the documentary evidence shows Zawahiri planned to do and did in his anthrax weaponization program — requires a willingness to become knowledgeable and investigate the different substantive areas.

      Brian Levin, a domestic terrorism expert at the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, once reasoned that “the people committing these acts are foreign-based or have foreign sympathies. It would seem to me to be improbable that a domestic extremist would be able to put together such an attack in such a short period.” Was there something forensically about the anthrax that the FBI was not disclosing relating to the detection of silicon dioxide (silica) that in addition to the strain used, pointed to someone with access to US biodefense information? Was the FBI truly fixated on U.S. scientist Steve Hatfill? Or was the media merely fixated on the possible lead they are in the best position to know about? The camera trucks can get to Frederick by the 5 o’clock news and be home in time for dinner. The cooperation of the Pakistan ISI is not required to be able to film the draining of a Maryland pond. Certainly, the prosecutor heading the Amerithrax prosecution was throwing gasoline on the fire by fueling a Hatfill theory with the specious exclusives he was feeding to ABC News, Newsweek and the Washington Post. His daughter later worked for microbiologist Ali Al-Timimi pro bono on his criminal defense.

      More fundamentally, all the really interesting stuff is classified. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (”FISA”) unit in the Department of Justice has traditionally been known as the “Dark Side.” Everything coming from Khalid Mohammed, Agent Van Harp explained, was classified. To understand the matter, journalists would have to have the cooperation of someone coming over from the Dark Side — which would be a felony. The solution to the Amerithrax case did not likely lie at the intersection of Bin Laden and Saddam streets among those cubicles at Langley with desktop PCs, not unlike any other office. Nor does it lie on Sorority Row. Instead, it likely lies with the Zawahiri Task Force at Langley (if it still exists) which hopefully has an intersection of Ayman Avenue and Rahman Road. If not, we might be looking at a different crossroads altogether.

      The Report of the Joint Inquiry Into the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001— by the House Permanent Select Committee on ntelligence and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, addresses strategic analysis, training and staffing.

      Did the agents and analysts in the basement of Quantico who came up with the FBI’s profile have relevant training or input from analysts expert in Al Qaeda? Assuming they did, did an investigative bias creep into their approach to the anthrax mailings that should instead have been informed by a strategic understanding of Zawahiri’s Vanguards of Conquest and its modus operandi? Did the profilers know of the al Hayat letter bombs (related to the imprisonment of the blind sheik) and KSM’s threat to use biochemical weapons in retaliation for the detention of the blind sheik and other militant islamists? Did the profilers know of the role of Islambouli, the brother of Sadat’s assassin, in working with KSM in planning the attacks on the United States? Just as with 9/11, the correct understanding of the anthrax mailings begins with a trail that leads back to Malaysia, Khalid Mohammed, Hambali, Yazid Sufaat, Rauf Ahmad, Zacarias Moussaoui, various charities, the Albanian returnees trial, Bojinka, and even the assassination of Anwar Sadat. As George Santayana said, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Is the FBI’s failure to disclose Jdey was carrying biology textbooks and detained at the same time as Moussaoui justifiable? No. It was strictly a CYA move. The senior FBI officials did not want to have it seem that the anthrax mailings were a result of them having dropped the ball on Moussaoui.

      In its March 31, 2005 Report to the President, the Commission on Intelligence Capabilities said: “competing analysis is of no use, even counterproductive, if there is no attempt at constructive dialogue and collaboration.”

      In September 2005, Debbie Weierman, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s Washington field office said that this “globe-spanning investigation remains intensely active and broadly focused.” According to one recent letter to a Congressman rejecting the request for a briefing, the investigation has spanned six out of seven continents. The FBI had conducted 9,100 witness interviews, 67 searches and issued 6,000 grand jury subpoenas.

      In a press conference in October 2005, Director Mueller said that the FBI was pursuing all domestic and international leads. He told the public to remember Oklahoma City. Remember 9/11. Both crimes involved a hatred of US policy. He declined to say if they had a suspect. That year, FBI agents visited Asia, Africa and Afghanistan in the course of the Amerithrax investigation.

      The FBI’s profile included a US-based supporter of the militant islamists. Attorney General Ashcroft once explained that an “either-or” approach is not useful. The media has tended to overlook the fact that when the FBI uses the word “domestic” the word includes a US-based, highly-educated supporter of the militant islamists. As Ali Al-Timimi’s counsel notes in a late 2007 court filing unsealed (except for certain redacted passages) in April 2008, Al-Timimi “was considered an anthrax weapons suspect.”

      If instead of evidence, attention were to be paid to “geographic profile,” then it might be noticed that the webmaster of Al Qaeda’s mirrored website explaining the meaning of the “green birds” *(see FBI search and indictment) was 6 minutes away.

      I predict that anyone in the front of the room who tries to close the case as Dr. Bruce Ivins as the mailer will soon lose their job given the FBI’s unjustified concealment, for example, that Jdey was detained with biology textbooks at the same time Moussaoui was arrested with cropduster manuals. It was an unjustified holdback that was justified only by a desire to cover some people’s ass. At the time the BOLO for Jdey and Jafar the Pilot and Aafia was issued, the DOJ official candidly said there was information not being shared. Well, now is the time to share it. Give us the same bulls— about Dr. Ivins as the mailer and you will be suffering the consequences of the mess your predecessors made of Amerithrax.

      • A.S. Chesnick said

        Quoting here…..
        Hannibal Lecter to FBI Agent Clarice Starling:

        First principles, Clarice. Simplicity.
        Read Marcus Aurelius. Of each particular thing ask:
        What is it in itself?
        What is its true nature?
        What does he do, this man you seek?

        The ANTHRAX LETTERS were only sent out as a warning about the dangers of Bio-weapons.

        No one was supposed to die.
        The letters were sealed.
        The letters told what was in them.
        Told the person to get treatment.

        The killer we are looking for has warned us often before about the dangers of Bio-weapons and perhaps
        is still trying?

        • DXer said

          Vince Cannistraro, a former chief of CIA counter-terrorist operations, discussed the requirement of warning under the laws of jihad on NPR in connection with the Al Qaeda audiotape by Bin Laden that aired shortly before the November 2004 election. In the case of anthrax, Ayman Zawahiri likely considers that the warning required under the laws of jihad has been given.

          The Koran and hadiths provide extensive guidance on the honorable conduct of warfare. One of the leading non-muslim expert on the subject was Princeton’s Bernard Lewis. For years, Princeton University Middle Eastern history Professor Emeritus Bernard Lewis’ writing on the clash between islam and the west would be translated by the Muslim brotherhood and handed out as pamphlets outside of mosques. After the 1998 “Crusaders” statement by Bin Laden and Zawahiri, Lewis wrote a Foreign Affairs article “License to Kill, Usama Bin Ladin’s Declaration of Jihad.” “Obviously, the West must defend itself by whatever means will be effective. But in devising strategies to fight the terrorists, it would surely be useful to understand the forces that drive them.”

          After 9/11, Lewis admonished the Pentagon Defence Policy Board to consider how much worse the devastation could have been on Sept. 11 if the terrorists had used a weapon of mass destruction —such as Iraq was said to possess. In a September 27, 2001, in an Op Ed in the Wall Street Journal, the 87 year-old historian explained the use of biochemical weapons by Al Qaeda: “the laws of jihad categorically preclude wanton and indiscriminate slaughter. The warriors in the holy war are urged not to harm noncombatants, women and children, ‘unless they attack you first.’ Even such questions as missile and chemical warfare are addressed, the first in relation to mangonels and catapults, the other to the use of poison-tipped arrows and poisoning enemy water supplies. Here the jurists differ– some permit, some restrict, some forbid these forms of warfare. A point on which they insist is the need for a clear declaration of war before beginning hostilities, and for proper warning before resuming hostilities after a truce. As Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman once said in the context of criticizing Sadat’s peace with Israel: “Believers govern according to God’s laws and do not change or replace a single letter or word of them.”

          “Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors… ,” says the Koran (2:190). Post office employee and blind sheik spokesman Abdel Sattar has explained that Mustafa Hamza, who took over from Taha as Islamic Group leader after the Luxor debacle in which in 58 tourists were murdered, was asked how can you explain killing tourists. Mustafa Hamza answered in every moment and action, the group starts off by consulting with the righteous Olama. No action is initiated without fatwas from our trusted Olama — meaning scholars in the plural. In other words, before carrying out an operation, they get a fatwa. He confirmed that fatwas are important because they are authoritative statements by religious leaders declaring what is and is not Islamically permissible. Sattar had a copy of the book written by former Islamic Group leader Taha justifying the attacks that had been committed, to include Luxor. The book had been uploaded at the website maintained by London-based Vanguards of Conquest publicist Al-Sirri.

          In an essay “Islam and Terrorism,” Bilal Philips, a key religious mentor of GMU microbiology grad Ali Al-Timimi, explained the principles of islamic jurisprudence of islamic warfare:

          “Islam opposes any form of indiscriminate violence. The Quran states: “Anyone who has killed another except in retaliation, it is as if he has killed the whole of humankind.” [Quran Surah #32 Verse #5] There are strict rules regulating how war may be conducted. Prophet Muhammad forbade the killing of women, children, and old people and the destruction of Churches and Synagogues or farms. Of course, if women, children or the elderly bear arms they may be killed in self-defense.”
          “Defending Islam and the Muslim community is a primary aspect of the physical jihad which involves taking up arms against an enemy. God states in the Quran “Permission to fight has been given to those who have been attacked because they are wronged. And indeed, Allah is Most Powerful.” [Quran Surah #22 Verse #39] and “Fight in the cause of Allah against those who fight against you, but do not transgress the limits. Indeed Allah does not love transgressors.” [Quran Surah #2 Verse #190].

          As Ali Al Timimi once explained: “Modern warfare did not exist during those times when they wrote those classical books of fiqh.” The old principles therefore must be relied upon to guide the issue in new times.

          Spokesman al-Kuwaiti was giving a plain warning in the Fall 2001 threat letter — not disclosed until 2006 — that the green light had been given for US -bio attack (1) from folks that were US-based, (2) above suspicion, and (3) with access to US and UK government and intelligence information. “The Truth about the New Crusade: A Ruling on the Killing of Women and Children of the Non-Believers,” Ramzi bin al-Shibh, argues that “the sanctity of women, children, and the elderly is not absolute” and concludes that “in killing Americans who are ordinarily off limits, Muslims should not exceed four million noncombatants, or render more than ten million of them homeless.” Spokesman Abu Ghaith used the same figure in June 2002 in arguing in favor of the moral right to use biological or chemical weapons.

          A book commemorating the September 11 “raid” was published by Majallat al-Ansar and consisted of four essays. It addresses the importance that any attack comply with the laws of Sharia. “Some people see fit to raise the issue of Islamic principles of warfare. They claim that the raid does not observe those principles and that Sharia errors occurred. Some ‘modern’ legal scholars see the raid as a violation of the Sharia.” The book continued: “Everyone knows that the groups in the traditionalist mujahid movement are more committed than anyone else to Sharia in their actions. After all, their actions can cost them their dearest possession after their faith — their souls.” While purporting not to want to get entangled in a discussion of the legal technicalities, the author then addressed at length why the attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon was justified under the laws of sharia.

          Zawahiri is the grandson of the well-known “Pious Ambassador,” who was President of Cairo University. Dr. Zawahiri is reserving himself a spot in a bad place by reason of his botched analysis of the hadiths and teachings of Mohammed governing warfare (no women, children, noncombatants etc.) The same principles prohibit attacking livestock, crops or wells. Judging by the interpretive texts, it would seem that Al Qaeda and the anthrax mailer have violated the Quran and hadiths by killing noncombatant women and children, and even the aged. It cannot be persuasively argued that those noncombatant women and children and the aged attacked the jihadists first. An infant visiting ABC was infected by the anthrax.
          Before the military tribunal, KSM says the koran forbids killing children. He noted that warfare is guided by the koran and hadiths.

          The head of Egyptian Islamic Group, who approved of Sadat’s assassination and was released after a quarter-century in prison, said of 9/11:

          Islamic law and the World Trade Center was all businessmen. The killing of women and children and old people is forbidden by Islamic law and many of those were killed in the building.”

          Thus, the harshest judgment may await true believers in another world.

        • BugMaster said

          He didn’t warn Bob Stevens, Dr. Chesnick!

        • A S CHESNICK said



          Sen Leahy and Sen Daschle had an investigative hearing on bio-weapons where many well known bio evangelist testified to this fact..( a.k.a. tried to warn us)

        • DXer said

          Sending such letters to newspapers in DC and New York and people in symbolic positions relating to an attack on the World Trade Center is not merely the modus operandi of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (Vanguards of Conquest), it is their signature.

          A memo seized in the 1995 arrest proposed flying an explosive laden plane into CIA headquarters. Anyone reading the Washington Post in the mid-1990s read about the plan to fly a plane into CIA headquarters over their morning coffee. The earlier plot to fly an airliner into the Eiffel tower by some Algerians connected to Bin Laden was also notable. Condi Rice professes not to have imagined the threat even though it was publicly known and even a threat at the G-8 conference.It’s important that as a country we learn from our mistakes and not pay short shrift to the evidence on the issue of modus operandi relating to Zawahiri’s planned use of anthrax.

          This was not the first time the Egyptian islamists sent letter bombs to newspaper offices in connection with an attack on the World Trade Center. NPR set the scene. It was January 2, 1997, at 9:15 a.m. at the National Press Building in Washington, D.C. The employee of the Saudi-owned newspaper Al Hayat began to open a letter. It was a Christmas card — the kind that plays a musical tune. It was white envelope, five and a half inches by six and a half inches, with a computer-generated address label attached. It had foreign postage and a post mark — a postmark appearing to be from Alexandria, Egypt. It looked suspiciously bulky, so he set it down and called the police. Minutes later they found a similar envelope. These were the first two of four letter bombs that would arrive at Al Hayat during the day. A fifth letter bomb addressed to the paper was intercepted at a nearby post office. They all looked the same. Two similar letter bombs addressed to the “parole officer” (a position that does not exist) arrived at the federal penitentiary at Leavenworth. It seemed evident how some Grinch had spent the holidays in Alexandria, Egypt.

          Egyptian Saif Adel (Makawwi), thought to be in Iran, was involved in military planning. Adel was a colonel in the Egyptian Army’s Special Forces before joining Al Qaeda. He helped plan the 1998 attacks on the US embassies in Africa. He was also a planner in the attack on the USS Cole and has served as the liaison officer between Hezbollah and Al Qaeda. Adel assisted Atef, who had overall responsibility for Al Qaeda’s operations. According to Cairo Attorney Al-Zayyat, Makkawi had many times claimed responsibility for operations that were carried out inside Egypt but when the perpetrators were arrested, it would be al-Zawahiri’s name whose name they shouted loyalty to from the docks. After the letter al-Hayat letter bombs were sent in January 1997, Saif Adel (Makawwi) gave a statement denying responsibility on behalf of the Vanguards of Conquest. On January 7, 1997 Saif Adel purporting to be speaking for the Egyptian Vanguards of Islamic Conquest said: “Those are messages of admonishment. There is no flirtation between us and the Americans in order for us to send them such alarming messages in such a manner.” Adel said that “the Vanguards of Conquest “are heavyweight and would not embark on such childish actions.” US press and political commentaries had hinted at the Vanguards of Conquest organization’s involvement in these attempts. In his statement to Al-Hayat, perhaps referring to the Egyptian Islamic Group, Adel added “I am surprised that we in particular, and not other parties, should be accused of such an operation.”

          He got admonished by the unnamed but official spokesman for the Vanguards organization. This other spokesman chastised him as not being authorized to speak for the organization (or even being a member). “We welcome any Muslim who wants to join us, and if Makkawi wants to [join us], he will be welcomed to the Vanguards march, but through the organizational channels. But if words are not coupled with actions, we tell him: Fear God, and you can use a different name other than the Vanguards to speak on its behalf.” The spokesman denounced Makkawi’s authority to speak for the group, referring to the January 5th statement it had made denying responsibility. The spokesperson for the Vanguards of Conquest apparently was Post Office employee Sattar’s friend, Al-Sirri, based in London.

          The FBI would not speculate as to who sent the letters or why. But this was your classic “duck that walks like a duck” situation. As NPR reported at the time, “analysts say that letter bombs are rarely sent in batches, and when they are it’s generally prompted by politics, not personal animus.” Al Hayat was a well respected and moderate newspaper. It was friendly to moderate Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt. That, without more, was accurately discerned by observers at the time as sufficient to make the newspaper outlet a target of the militant islamists. The newspaper, its editor explained, does not avoid criticizing militant islamists. The Al Hayat Editor-in-Chief explained: “We’ve been opposed to all extremists in the Arab world, especially the fundamentalists.” Mohammed Salameh, a central defendant in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, was sent to Leavenworth in 1994. The other three Egyptian extremists convicted in the bombing were sent to prisons in California, Indiana and Colorado. Like the blind sheik Abdel-Rahman, Salameh had complained of his conditions and asked to be avenged. The Blind Sheik was particularly irked that the prison officials did not cut his fingernails.

          Abdel-Rahman was convicted in 1995 of seditious conspiracy, bombing conspiracy, soliciting an attack on an U.S. military installation, and soliciting the murder of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. His followers were indicted for plotting to bomb bridges, tunnels and landmarks in New York for which Rahman allegedly had given his blessings. The mailing of deadly letters in connection with an earlier attack on the World Trade Center was not merely the modus operandi of militant islamists, it was the group’s signature. It’s their calling card. Khaled Abu el-Dahab, a naturalized American, from Silicon Valley, in a confession detailed in an Egyptian defense ministry document dated October 28, 1998, explained that he was trained to make booby-trapped letters to send to important people, as well as asked to enroll in American aviation schools to learn how to fly gliders and helicopters. He was a friend of Ali Mohammed, the former special forces officer in the Egyptian army and former US Army Sergeant. The modus operandi of these militant supporters of the blind sheik was known to be planes and booby-trapped letters.

          The Al Hayat reporters and editor were not expressing an opinion — though the owner did lay out various possibilities (e.g., Iraq, Iran etc.). The owner of the paper had commanded Saudi forces during the Persian Gulf War, when Bin Laden was so upset about American troops on the Arabian peninsula. Moreover, al Hayat had recently opened up a Bureau in Jerusalem, giving it a dateline of Jerusalem rather than al Quds, which some thought blasphemous. But none of the possibilities would plausibly explain why the letter bomb was sent to Leavensworth where three of the WTC 1993 defendants were imprisoned, including Ramzi Yousef’s lieutenant who had asked that his mistreatment be avenged. (That was the criminal genius who returned to Ryder to reclaim his deposit after blowing up the truck at WTC). Egyptian security officials argued that the letters were sent from outside of Egypt, the stamps were not available in Egypt, and that the postmark was not Alexandria as reported. Whatever the place of mailing, the sender likely was someone who was upset that KSM’s and Ramzi Yousef’s associates had been imprisoned, to include, most notably, the blind sheik. Whoever is responsible for the anthrax mailings, it is a very good bet that they are upset the blind sheik is detained. That should be at the center of any classified profile of the crime.

          On December 31, 1996 Mohammed Youssef was in Egypt — having gone to Egypt months before. The al Hayat letter bombs related to the detention and alleged mistreatment of the blind sheikh and the WTC bombers were sent 10 days earlier — on the Day of Measures. In 2006, he was named as co-defendant with Hassoun, Daher, Padilla and Jayyousi. Youssef was born in Alexandria. Do authorities suspect the “Florida cell” of being involved in the al Hayat letter bombs? Kifah Jayyousi’s “Islam Report” over the years — distributed by Adham Hassoun in Florida and Kassem Daher in Canada — expressed outrage at detention/extradition due to terrorism law and also what he perceived as attacks on his religion by some newspapers. His headlines on the internet groups blazed “Just In! First Muslim Victim of New Terrorism Law!: US Agents Arrest Paralegal Of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman Without Charge Prepares To Hand Him To Egyptian Regime,” soc.religion.islam, dated April 27, 1996 and “Islam Report (Newspaper Attacks Our Religion! Act Now!,” soc.religion.islam, Apr. 16, 1996

          In connection with the January 1997 letter bombs, Ayman got the know-how to send sophisticated electronic letter bombs from Iraqi intelligence according to one item from the highly controversial Feith memo. In the al Hayat letter bombings, Ayman allowed the finger to be pointed at Libya. In the Amerithrax letters, he allowed the finger to be pointed to a United States biodefense insider by the prosecutor who would have presented to any indictment to the grand jury. Born in Haifa in 1948, the man’s daughter then came to represent microbiologist Al-Timimi pro bono.

          After the Al Hayat letter bombs to newspapers in DC and NYC and people in symbolic positions, in January 1997, both the Blind Sheikh and his paralegal, Sattar, were quoted in separate articles in Al Hayat (in Arabic) denying that they or their supporters were responsible. The Blind Sheikh commented that al Hayat was fair and balanced in its coverage and his supporters would have no reason to “hit” them. The same sort of counterintuitive theory was raised in connection with the earlier letter bombing of newspapers to DC and New York City and people in symbolic positions. Sattar noted that the bombs were mailed on December 20, one day before the brief in support of the blind sheik on appeal. He questioned whether someone (like the FBI) was trying to undermine the appeal’s prospects. This time, Mr. Sattar did not need any help making the argument with respect to the anthrax letters. Numerous people with political agendas rushed to do it for him to include counsel for Bosnia and Herzogovina and legal advisor to the PLO, professor Francis Boyle. In accusing Dr. Ivins on the occasion of his death, the FBI embraced the same sort of theory — that is, when it was not grasping at other untenable theories relating to college sororities, incorrectly perceived anti-abortion news, or perceived financial motive.

          In September 2006, in a Sahab Media production called “Knowledge is for acting,” there is a clip in which Al Quds editor Atwan refers to his visit with Bin Laden in 1996 (see also his 2006 book The Secret History of al Qaeda). He says that Bin Laden was planning to attack America “and America prisons in particular.” That was an apparent reference to the Al Hayat letter bombs sent to newspapers and prisons in January 1997. There were recurrent references to Abdel-Rahman in the tape.

        • DXer said

          Sending poisonous letter bombs is also Al Qaeda’s modus operandi in that the Al Qaeda operations manual, a version on CD-ROM, had a chapter on “Poisonous Letter.” As with the insertion of biologicals into food, the key is mass panic, not mass casualty. The chapter instructed that the inside of the envelope be wiped with silicone sealant so as to avoid killing the mailman.

          The Belgian Prime Minister and the US, British and Saudi Arabian embassies have been sent letters containing hydrazine and an arsenic derivative used in nerve gas in May 2003. This bears on modus operandi. Some argue that islamists would never merely send lethal substances through the mail (though the risk of significant casualty is low) to send a message or warning. One of the ingredients is hard to obtain, suggesting one Health Ministry spokesman to remark that “We’re not dealing with a small-time joker.” A trial of 23 suspected al-Qaeda members was in its third week. “Set our brothers free. Bastards.” Couldn’t be a threat by islamists because they only go for mass casualties — not threats. Right? One of the defendants in that trial allegedly sought hydrazine for use in producing a bomb. A 45-year old Iraqi man was arrested.

          A similar modus operandi was followed in New Zealand with cyanide in early 2002 and early 2003 by a sender purporting to be islamist.

          A December 2004 report on terrorism in the European Union noted that in July 2004, eight letters arrived at several official locations in Brussels that contained an ochre-coloured chemical substance that caused itchy eyes and breathing problems. Tests indicated that the substance was adamsite (phenarsasine). Some of the letters included “a threat letter written in (very poor) English, demanding that two recently convicted Islamic extremists are released within that month.”

          Zawahiri feels that in the usual case, the best way to get a lot of people watching is to kill the maximum number of people. But he wouldn’t disagree with the comment by Brian Jenkins that “Terrorism is theater.” Just those 10 grams cost an estimated $6 billion and have been the subject of thousands of news stories and the focus of widespread bioterrorism preparations. They were fully adequate to do the job even within the constraints of small batch production.

          The anthrax sender may not have intended to harm anyone. Stevens’ death was reported late on October 5. Whether the mailer knew of the death might depend on whether the mailing was made Saturday, October 6 — or whether it was made as late as Tuesday, October 9, the day it was postmarked after a long holiday weekend.

          Al Qaeda’s shura or policy-making council is concerned with handling its efforts in such a way as to develop and maintain the Arab hatred of the US and Israel. That requires a delicate balance and choice of suitable targets and methods. Zawahiri divines from his religious texts that it is moral to kill American civilians on the grounds that they stood silent as taxpayers while US-bought weapons were used on Palestinians. In 1998, in an interview that appeared in TIME Magazine, Bin Laden himself explained that it was Al Qaeda’s “religious duty” to obtain chemical and biological weapons, but it was up to them how to use them.

          As Dr. Jane A. Alexander of DARPA once explained at DARPA Tech, 1999:

          “Small scale attacks may be adequate to immobilize national will with panic unless reasonable defenses are available. Terrorists do not need the technological sophistication of a military offensive biological warfare program. A military offensive BW program strives for predictable effect so that military operations can be planned. Terrorists could actually benefit from the variation of the onset and outcome of the illnesses creating added panic in the public.”

          The Ann Arbor NanoBio researchers thanked Dr. Alexander for her support of the DARPA research they were doing involving the Ames strain supplied by USAMRIID’s Bruce Ivins.

          The Al Qaeda shura (policy-making council) may deem that Al Qaeda needs to choose the methods of attack carefully so that they are both are effective and calculated to gain the support of others. (Gassing the Kurds ultimately was a public relations debacle for Saddam once the world stopped looking the other way).

          There was no fatwa authorizing a mass attack using biological weapons until June 2002. Suleiman Abu Ghaith claimed that Al Qaeda has the right to murder four million Americans, in a three-part article “In the Shadow of the Lances,” posted in June 2002 on the web-site of the Center for Islamic Research and Studies, Abu Ghaith wrote:

          “The Americans have still not tasted from our hands what we have tasted from theirs. The [number of] killed in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were no more than fair exchange for the ones killed in the Al-‘Amiriya shelter in Iraq, and are but a tiny part of the exchange for those killed in Palestine, Somalia, Sudan, the Philippines, Bosnia, Kashmir, Chechnya, and Afghanistan.”

          “We have not reached parity with them. We have the right to kill four million Americans – two million of them children – and to exile twice as many and wound and cripple hundreds of thousands. Furthermore, it is our right to fight them with chemical and biological weapons, so as to afflict them with the fatal maladies that have afflicted the Muslims because of the [Americans’] chemical and biological weapons.”

  4. BugMaster said

    “The FBI is confident in the scientific findings that were reached in this investigation.”

    And he should have added:

    “Among the findings is the fact that we were unable to duplicate the silicon signature”.

    • Anonymous Scientist said

      LOL! That’s just it – there is nothing wrong with Livermore’s findings – they did some great work. The problem lies within the FBI’s interpretation of these findings. They are still sticking to the naturally occurring anthrax story – which they have to do since otherwise they’d have to admit Ivins couldn’t have made the stuff at Detrick.

      I strongly suspect that Pacific Northwest national Labs analyzed the actual attack spores for silicon content. If they did – why do you suppose the FBI would not want to release these results?

  5. anonymous scienist said

    In an unusual move the FBI have responded to last weeks article by Ed Epstein with a letter to the Wall Street Journal. The FBI scientist’s letter, with the title “Anthrax Case: FBI Used Good Science”, basically says nothing apart from “we did a good job, just trust us”. Should we have “just trusted” the FBI labs concerning lead in bullet analysis as well? At least his letter provides evidence that Epstein’s article got the attention of the folks in the Hoover Building.

    Regarding Edward Jay Epstein’s “The Anthrax Attacks Remain Unsolved” (op-ed, Jan. 25): From the outset, the FBI’s scientific work in the anthrax case has had a foundation in validation and verification of its approach and conclusions. This process began within weeks of the initial events of 2001 and has included: consultation with numerous subject matter experts in technical panels; collaboration with partner laboratories in government, academia and the private sector throughout the course of the investigation; ongoing efforts to publish our work and that of our partner labs in peer-reviewed technical journals; analytical data and reports provided to the National Academy of Sciences, so it can evaluate the scientific analysis applied to the evidence in the anthrax investigation.

    The FBI is confident in the scientific findings that were reached in this investigation. We utilized established biological and chemical analysis techniques and applied them in an innovative manner to reach these findings.

    D. Christian Hassell, Ph.D.

    The response from the FBI’s Christian Hassell is completely inadequate. Dr Hassell does not even mention the stark contrast between the 1.45% silicon found in the Leahy powder and the Livermore attempts to try to introduce silicon “accidentally” into powder preparations. Livermore tried 56 times and most of their spore preparations contained TWO ORDERS of magnitude less than what was found in the Leahy powder. In short, Dr Hassell says basically nothing in his response.

    Furthermore Dr Hassell made a statement to the National Academy of Science in July of 2009 that makes little scientific sense:

    Click to access fbi-assistant-director-hassell-statement-to-nas-7-30-09.pdf

    “There has been a great deal written regarding the presence of silicon in the samples and the location of that silicon. The FBI Laboratory used Inductively Coupled Plasma-Optical Emission Spectroscopy (ICP-OES) to quantify silicon, as well as other elements, in the Leahy letter spore powder. The results indicated the Leahy spores contained 1.45% by weight. The New York Post letter spore powder was qualitatively analyzed using ICP-OES and was found to have Silicon present in the sample. However, the limited quantity of recovered material precluded a reliable numerical measurement of any elements present within this powder. Insufficient quantities of both the Daschle and Brokaw letters spore powders precluded the analysis of these samples using this elemental analysis technique.”

    Ironically, in his presentation to NAS, Dr Hassell acknowledged the involvement of Pacific Northwest National Labs.

    This can be seen in slide 14 here:

    He should then be well aware that Pacific Northwest Labs demonstrated in 2005 that accurate quantitative Elemental Analysis can be performed on bacillus spores with samples as small as one nanogram (one nanogram is one thousandth of one millionth of a gram). The Pacific Northwest paper on this technique can be seen here:

    Differentiation of Spores of Bacillus subtilis Grown in Different Media by Elemental Characterization Using Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry, John B. Cliff, Kristin H. Jarman, Nancy B. Valentine, Steven L. Golledge, Daniel J. Gaspar, David S. Wunschel, and Karen L. Wahl, Applied and Environmental Microbiology, November 2005, p. 6524-6530, Vol. 71, No. 11

    The quantities of silicon in the ALL the recovered powders should have been known by the FBI within days of receiving them. The fact that it took seven years for the FBI to give ONE piece of data on the Leahy powder can only lead to speculation that there is something about these silicon concentrations that make them extremely uncomfortable. If there is nothing to hide, why not just reveal the numbers? As the Pacific Northwest results show – it can be done easily. These quantities of silicon are perhaps the single most important piece of forensic evidence needed to solve the case.

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