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

* from DXer … what the FBI did not do … and won’t let the NAS do either (bad science or no science)

Posted by DXer on March 12, 2010

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from DXer …

what the FBI did not do …

and won’t let the NAS do either

(bad science or no science)

******

Excerpts from a comment by DXer adding to the post … * from DXer … the DOJ should disclose the 2004 article provided by Dr. Bruce Ivins to the FBI regarding silica and Bacillus spore suspensions

  • isotopic analysis … The isotopes did not support their FBI Theory and so the FBI did not even present it to the NAS so that the NAS could review their conclusion that it was inconclusive.
  • the copier in the library … one more example: when the examination of the copier in the library shows it was not the copier used, the lawyer nonetheless includes it in the accusatory Summary without disclosing that the science shows that it was NOT the copier used. Then the FBI does not have the NAS review that evidence that is exculpatory.
  • Federal Eagle envelope … the Federal Eagle envelope issue is far more narrowing than the genetics; yet the science is not presented to the NAS for review.
  • creating aerosol powderthere is not even a single expert on the (NAS) panel qualified to address the central issue of creating an aerosol powder

So it is not surprising that the lengthy FBI summary

doesn’t rely on any science.

******

18 Responses to “* from DXer … what the FBI did not do … and won’t let the NAS do either (bad science or no science)”

  1. DXer said

    As an important update and modication to this thread, note that the isotopes issues has now been addressed.

    The NAS Report notes:

    “It was not possible to identify
    the location where the spores
    were prepared.”

    ANTHRAX AND AL QAEDA: THE INFILTRATION OF US BIODEFENSE
    http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/1443811

    100+ graphics –
    http://www.anthraxandalqaeda.com

  2. DXer said

    Look at the BS garbage spin:

    “In addition, during these same few weeks, Dr. Ivins exhibited an unusual pattern of access to the USAMRIID Library, where there was a photocopying machine. On Sunday, September 16, he was in the library from 2:11 p.m. through 2:25 p.m. According to lab access records, also present were two other USAMRIID employees. On Saturday, September 22, he was present in the library from 8:22 p.m. through 8:36 p.m., with no other researchers present. Finally, on Friday, September 28, he was in the library from 10:42 p.m. through 10:55 p.m., again with no other researchers present. Each of the anthrax-laden letters was a photocopy of originals which have never been found.”

    Now Ben Friedman, the US Attorney’s Office spokesman laments in the Associate Press article today — 27 years after the fact — about the wrongful accusation for rape due to false testimony of fiber analysis. But he was the same fellow who reports that no additional materials will be released — which will include not only Ivins’ contemporaneous handwritten notes about what he was doing but the forensic report showing that this Ft. Detrick library was not the copier used. The report will show that it did not match the paper, the toner ink or the trash marks. Is such withholding of documents justice? Or if the United States Attorney’s Office for the District Of Columbia stands for the rule of law, will it upload copies of the forensic report on the copier — to include toner, ink and trash marks and the comparison showing that the Ft. Detrick copier was not a match.

  3. DXer said

    In the search warrant affidavits of Ivins home, among the items they were looking for were a “photocopy device” and “photocopy exemplars.”

    Although we can see the hugely misleading passage about him making copies at the Ft. Detrick library (showing he, in fact, was doing other library work such as researchers do), the Investigative Summary outrageously fails to disclose that

    (1) the machine he used on the dates immediately preceding the mailing was NOT a match (not toner, not trash marks and not paper) and

    (2) no photocopy exemplars matching the letters was found among Dr. Ivins extensive files of correspondence from the period.

  4. DXer said

    The Enemy Within?
    The FBI’s anthrax investigation turns on itself.

    Laura Rozen | May 19, 2002
    http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=the_enemy_within

    “Identifying the lab from which the anthrax in the letters originated will supply one major piece of the puzzle. But investigators point out that this information is far from sufficient. Indeed, the classic criminal investigator’s questions — who had not just the weapon, but the motive and the opportunity? — will most likely be addressed by thoe gumshoe special agents out in the field questioning people, gathering testimony, and testing hypotheses. Already investigators have identified the Xerox machine used to photocopy the letters sent to Democratic senators, NBC, and the New York Post last fall, a source close to the investigation said. The machine is “publicly accessible” and is in New Jersey, but in what town or what facility was not disclosed.”

    Putting aside whether the reports such as this were correct, the DOJ needs to disclose — and the NAS should review — its scientific evidence relating to the paper, ink and toner used.

    The Amerithrax Investigative Summary using the copier to implicate Ivins is intentionally misleading and without any factual basis — given that machine in fact was NOT a match.

    To the contrary, it shows he was doing other work (and the emails that were withheld until after issuance of the report show that he was extremely busy).

  5. DXer said

    When considering the science of the FBI’s handling the case of the anthrax letters, the NAS should consider its mission to include not only the anthrax, but the science relating to the letters (paper and ink). They should request the documentation from the FBI as to its conclusions about the paper and copier used.

    See, e.g., Characterization of Photocopier Toners by DSC for Forensic ApplicationsW.J. Sichina, International Marketing Manager

    • DXer said

      Not only did Ft. Detrick not buy the paper that was used, but the toner and the trash marks are not a match.

      “Trash marks are the marks left on the copy by a photocopier when a document is copied. They are caused by nicks on the drum and dirt on the glass. If the drum has a scratch or nick, it will produce a mark that is repeated at regular intervals on a paper according to the size of the drum.”

      Forensic document examination: principles and practice By Katherine Koppenhaver (2007)

  6. DXer said

    Forensic Document Analysis – Looking for Distinctive Qualities in Paper Copies
    Computer Forensics ArticlesAdd comments

    Suppose crime scene investigator’s come upon document such as a ransom note or a suicide note that has been copied in an attempt to hide the offender’s handwriting, the ink he used, or typewritten text. How can they determine that this copied piece of paper came from a particular copy machine?

    In this article, I will attempt to explain how forensic document analysts determine a link between a paper copy to the machine that produced the copy.

    A copy machine has the ability to duplicate an image from one piece of paper onto another through a complex series of events. First of all, a lens focuses the image of the original paper onto what is known as a drum that is charged up with electrons and coated with selenium or some other substance that is sensitive to light. The image is then retained on the drum as the drum is coated with toner powder. The toner powder sticks to the surface of the drum in direct relation to the degree of strength of the electrostatic charge of the electrons. This toner image is then transcribed onto a blank piece of paper (or copy) which, in turn, is exposed to a fixing agent. A fixing agent is a chemical used to “attach” the toner powder permanently on the blank piece of paper.

    For the purposes of forensic document analysis, criminal investigators can sometimes link a photocopied document to a particular copy machine by creating a comparison document to compare the photocopy against. This is due to the fact that the mechanisms inside the machine that pull the paper onto and remove it from the copy surface leave distinctive markings on the paper. Similarly, the camera lens, cover glass, or drum surface may have scratches, etches, or abnormalities that mark every copy that it creates. From time to time, these markings show up on copied paper. Forensic scientists can then identify and link this marked copy to the copier that created it and perhaps the perpetrator to the crime.

    With advancing technology, forensic scientists have many tools in its bag of tricks to link a suspect to a crime.

  7. DXer said

    http://computerforensics.doodig.com/2010/03/02/forensic-document-analysis-looking-for-distinctive-qualities-in-paper-copies/

    Forensic Document Analysis – Looking for Distinctive Qualities in Paper Copies
    Computer Forensics ArticlesAdd comments

    Suppose crime scene investigator’s come upon document such as a ransom note or a suicide note that has been copied in an attempt to hide the offender’s handwriting, the ink he used, or typewritten text. How can they determine that this copied piece of paper came from a particular copy machine?

    In this article, I will attempt to explain how forensic document analysts determine a link between a paper copy to the machine that produced the copy.

    A copy machine has the ability to duplicate an image from one piece of paper onto another through a complex series of events. First of all, a lens focuses the image of the original paper onto what is known as a drum that is charged up with electrons and coated with selenium or some other substance that is sensitive to light. The image is then retained on the drum as the drum is coated with toner powder. The toner powder sticks to the surface of the drum in direct relation to the degree of strength of the electrostatic charge of the electrons. This toner image is then transcribed onto a blank piece of paper (or copy) which, in turn, is exposed to a fixing agent. A fixing agent is a chemical used to “attach” the toner powder permanently on the blank piece of paper.

    For the purposes of forensic document analysis, criminal investigators can sometimes link a photocopied document to a particular copy machine by creating a comparison document to compare the photocopy against. This is due to the fact that the mechanisms inside the machine that pull the paper onto and remove it from the copy surface leave distinctive markings on the paper. Similarly, the camera lens, cover glass, or drum surface may have scratches, etches, or abnormalities that mark every copy that it creates. From time to time, these markings show up on copied paper. Forensic scientists can then identify and link this marked copy to the copier that created it and perhaps the perpetrator to the crime.

    With advancing technology, forensic scientists have many tools in its bag of tricks to link a suspect to a crime.

  8. DXer said

    This new United States Attorney, although highly qualified and experienced, has overwhelming responsibilities involving many complex matters.

    But if he wanted a quick way to understand what a insubstantial heap of innuendo and gossip the Amerithrax Investigative Summary is, he should turn to page 185 of

    Forensic Document Examination: Principles and Practice (Hardcover)
    ~ Katherine M. Koppenhaver (Author)

    It is the chapter on “Paper.”

    Then he should send an email Rachel and Ken and ask that they gather and provide him with the documents relating to the examination of the paper used in the anthrax letters, the papers seized from Ivins and written in 2001 etc.

    Then he can compare it to what the attorneys in his office wrote in the Investigative Summary.

    My intelligence source says that this issue, by itself, shows the Ivins Theory to be a total crock.

    • DXer said

      Relatedly, the new United States Attorney should ask for the FBI report on the ink from the toner cartridge in the library and the ink used in the letters. THEY ARE NOT THE SAME!

      If you have a kid, you might go to Radio Shack and buy yourself an EYE CLOPS. It magnifies things by 100x, 200x, and 400x.

      A line drawn with an ink pen at 400X becomes a thickly textured 3-D rope. Different inks are readily distinguishable. The same holds true for the ink used in printers and copy machines. (In fact, many printers have long had small codes that identify the printer manufacturer).

    • DXer said

      Previous reporting (right or wrong) on the xerox machine used in Amerithrax:

      “Source: Washington Post, September 14, 2003
      The Pursuit of Steven Hatfill
      By Marilyn W. Thompson

      “Agents, sometimes disguised as Xerox repairmen, looked at thousands of copiers and finally isolated one that could produce the unique smears seen on the letters, but haven’t disclosed its location.”

      Background:

      In 1944, the Battelle Memorial Institute, a non-profit organization in Columbus, Ohio, contracted with Chester Carlson to refine his new process. Over the next five years, Battelle conducted experiments to improve the process of electrophotography. In 1947, Haloid Corporation (a small New York-based manufacturer and seller of photographic paper) approached Battelle to obtain a license to develop and market a copying machine based on this technology. Haloid felt that the word “electrophotography” was too complicated and did not have good recall value. After consulting a professor of classical language at Ohio State University, Haloid and Carlson changed the name of the process to “xerography,” which was derived from Greek words that meant “dry writing.” Haloid called the new copier machines “Xerox Machines” and, in 1948, the word “Xerox” was trademarked.

      Source: Wikipedia

      Intel: The Ft. Detrick library xerox machine was determined NOT to be the xerox used to make the anthrax letters.

      In a highly misleading passage, the Amerithrax Investigative Summary makes it seems that Dr. Ivins copied the Amerithrax letters in the Ft. Detrick library. Instead, the attorney should have disclosed that the copier used by Ivins was determined not to be a match for the copier used to copy the letters.

      Favorite Office quote about the fact that the xerox copier at the machine at the Ft. Detrick library was NOT a match:

      Pam Beesly: “You know what they say about a car wreck, where it’s so awful you can’t look away? The Dundees [and the fact that the Ft. Detrick xerox machine used to pile on the innuendo about Ivins in the library making copies was NOT a match] are like a car wreck that you want to look away from but you have to stare at it because your boss is making you.”

  9. DXer said

    DC prosecutors miss target for review of FBI work
    By: SARAH KARUSH
    Associated Press
    03/12/10 8:00 PM EST

    WASHINGTON — Prosecutors in the District of Columbia said Friday they need more time to review more than 100 cases involving lab work by FBI scientists who came under fire in the 1990s — and again following the exoneration late last year of a D.C. defendant whom one of them helped convict.

    D.C. Superior Court Senior Judge Fred B. Ugast asked for the report from the U.S. attorney’s office in December, when he released Donald Eugene Gates after 28 years behind bars. DNA testing proved Gates was innocent of the rape and murder of which he was convicted.

    Following the inspector general’s report, the Justice Department embarked on a years-long review of the work of the 13 examiners, who had analyzed evidence and testified in thousands of state and federal cases around the country. Justice Department officials first asked prosecutors in cases in which the examiners had been involved whether the lab work played a significant role in obtaining the convictions. If prosecutors said they did, the department sent the lab work to forensic scientists not affiliated with the FBI for review.

    The reviews, which were often critical, were then sent back to prosecutors. Prosecturos were advised to consider whether they should be turned over to the defense under rules that require disclosure of potentially exculpatory evidence.

    In Gates’ case, prosecutors confirmed they had relied on Malone’s work to obtain Gates’ conviction. The scientific review came back in 2003 and cited flaws in Malone’s work, which purported to match hairs found on the victim’s body to hairs taken from Gates. That review apparently was never forwarded to Gates or his attorneys.

    The U.S. attorney’s office initially promised to complete its own review requested by Ugast by March 15, but officials said Friday they would not meet that deadline.

    In a letter to the Superior Court’s chief judge, Patricia A. Riley, special counsel to the U.S. attorney, said her office has reviewed 20 cases involving Malone and the other examiners. She said the office mistakenly believed that those were the only cases they had in which the 13 agents participated. However, the Justice Department recently informed the office of more than 100 additional cases in D.C., said Ben Friedman, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office.

    Note: Ben Friedman is the one who, last week, refused the request for the lab notebook pages that were written contemporaneously by Dr. Ivins describing what he was doing in the B3. Why does Mr. Friedman think it is okay to express misgivings 27 years after the fact rather than take steps within his organization to press for release of the handwritten notes made by Dr. Ivins at the time that the office attorneys, without basis, speculate he was powdering anthrax?

    Question: As another example: Why isn’t the scientific evidence relating to the copier part of the record evidence disclosed. And if it was not a match, why was the fact he made copies one day at Ft. Detrick library probative given that as a scientist doing research, he would be expected to sometimes make copies in the library.

    • DXer said

      Why didn’t Rachel and Ken disclose that the Ft. Detrick xerox machine used a different stock of paper than used in the anthrax letters? If his trip to the library rates as being part of the Investigative Summary, then why wasn’t it disclosed that it is known that the copy paper in the library was not used?

      Do they expect that Dr. Ivins bought a different ream of paper and brought it in? And yet was so clever that none of the papers he so fastidiously kept of all his work (including letters from 2001) was a match?

  10. Ike Solem said

    Here’s the reference that DX cites:

    J Forensic Sci, Sept. 2004, Vol. 49, No. 5
    Paper ID JFS2003227
    Available online at: http://www.astm.org

    Helen W. Kreuzer-Martin,1 Ph.D.; Lesley A. Chesson,1 B.S.; Michael J. Lott,1,2 B.S.;
    Janet V. Dorigan,3 Ph.D.; and James R. Ehleringer,1,2 Ph.D.

    Stable Isotope Ratios as a Tool in Microbial
    Forensics—Par t 1. Microbial Isotopic Composition
    as a Function of Growth Medium∗

    ABSTRACT: The stable isotope ratios of a seized pathogen culture could potentially reveal information about the environment in which the agent was produced. In this paper we describe general relationships between stable isotopes of carbon, nitrogen, and hydrogen in bacteriological culture media and spores of Bacillus subtilis, an endospore-forming soil bacterium. In numerous media that varied both in nutrient composition and water stable isotope ratios, medium to spore enrichment in carbon isotopes was 0.3 ± 2.0‰ (parts per thousand), and in nitrogen, 4.5 ± 0.7‰. We achieved mass balance for the contribution of hydrogen isotopes from nutrients (70%) and water (30%) to spores in independent experiments by varying the isotope ratios of nutrients or water. A model was derived for predicting the isotope ratio values of spores from those in nutrients and water.

    Stable Isotope Ratios as a Tool in Microbial Forensics — Part 2. Isotopic Variation Among
    Different Growth Media as a Tool for Sourcing Origins of Bacterial Cells or Spores∗

    ABSTRACT: Since the anthrax attacks of 2001 the need for methods to trace the origins of microbial agents has become urgent. The stable isotope ratios of bacteria record information from both the nutrients and the water used to make their culture media (1) and could potentially be used to provide information about their growth environment. We present a survey of carbon (C), nitrogen (N), and hydrogen (H) stable isotope ratios in 516 samples of bacteriological culture media. The observed variation was consistent with expected isotopic variation in the plant and animal products upon which the media are based. The variation is sufficient to translate into substantial isotope variation in cultures grown on different batches of media, and thus to allow investigators to determine whether seized media could have been used to produce seized bioweapons agents.

    How would this be handled in a forensics investigation?

    Well, say that material from the Ames culture reference flask of viable but inactive spores was shipped to five different institutes, and each cultivated the strain, induced sporulation, and purified the spores away from the culture medium. Genetically, it would be difficult to tell any of the five resulting spore samples apart – but an analysis of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen isotopes might do that.

    More to the point, a side-by-side comparison of spores collected from RMR-1029/1030 and the letter spores could easily reveal whether or not they shared the same isotopic signature, couldn’t it? Why wasn’t that done – and if it was, who did it?

    The fact that the NAS closed all the committee sessions is itself a little odd – and they didn’t even make available a list of witnesses or speakers. How can anyone possibly evaluate their work without even knowing who they called?

    • DXer said

      Aren’t a large percentage of sessions closed? (And so isn’t this the norm rather than odd? The NAS would note that its report can be evaluated upon publication of the report.

      But I think it is fair comment that is a highly selective review of evidence rather than any sort of comprehensive review. They have not reviewed perhaps the most pertinent, and highly probative evidence — such as, to take an example, testing of copy machines (not as to a particular individual but as to the availability of a science that would permit the tracking down of the machine if testing is done early on.

      Certainly this isotope ratio issue looms very large. There were additional learned articles including a later one “Bayeseian Approach.” Being such a highly selective submission of issues, the proponents of an Ivins Theory can simply sidestep issues that point to exculpatory evidence.

      Now was the time and opportunity — not 27 years from now — to get the science underlying the Ivins Theory advanced by the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia right.

      “Suspicions about FBI analysts growing,” Washington Post Staff Writer, March 14, 2010
      http://www.justice.gov/usao/dc/US_Attorney/index.html

  11. DXer said

    Ivins, by the way, told FBi agents that he used USAMRIID’s supply of distilled deionized Milli-Q water for Ames spore preparations. Milli-Q refers to water that has been purified and deionized to a high degree by a water purification systems manufactured by Millipore Corporation.

    • DXer said

      Sigh. On another occasion, I’ve lost the page now, he recalls that he instead used the house-distilled water. I think that it was his final answer of three. Anyone interviewed so often over the course of so many years is going to create a record with lots of discrepancies — discrepancies that fill our lives regularly.

  12. Ike Solem said

    Here’s the reference that DX cites:

    J Forensic Sci, Sept. 2004, Vol. 49, No. 5
    Paper ID JFS2003227
    Available online at: http://www.astm.org

    Helen W. Kreuzer-Martin,1 Ph.D.; Lesley A. Chesson,1 B.S.; Michael J. Lott,1,2 B.S.;
    Janet V. Dorigan,3 Ph.D.; and James R. Ehleringer,1,2 Ph.D.

    Stable Isotope Ratios as a Tool in Microbial
    Forensics—Par t 1. Microbial Isotopic Composition
    as a Function of Growth Medium∗

    ABSTRACT: The stable isotope ratios of a seized pathogen culture could potentially reveal information about the environment in which the agent was produced. In this paper we describe general relationships between stable isotopes of carbon, nitrogen, and hydrogen in bacteriological culture media and spores of Bacillus subtilis, an endospore-forming soil bacterium. In numerous media that varied both in nutrient composition and water stable isotope ratios, medium to spore enrichment in carbon isotopes was 0.3 ± 2.0‰ (parts per thousand), and in nitrogen, 4.5 ± 0.7‰. We achieved mass balance for the contribution of hydrogen isotopes from nutrients (70%) and water (30%) to spores in independent experiments by varying the isotope ratios of nutrients or water. A model was derived for predicting the isotope ratio values of spores from those in nutrients and water.

    Stable Isotope Ratios as a Tool in Microbial Forensics — Part 2. Isotopic Variation Among
    Different Growth Media as a Tool for Sourcing Origins of Bacterial Cells or Spores∗

    ABSTRACT: Since the anthrax attacks of 2001 the need for methods to trace the origins of microbial agents has become urgent. The stable isotope ratios of bacteria record information from both the nutrients and the water used to make their culture media (1) and could potentially be used to provide information about their growth environment. We present a survey of carbon (C), nitrogen (N), and hydrogen (H) stable isotope ratios in 516 samples of bacteriological culture media. The observed variation was consistent with expected isotopic variation in the plant and animal products upon which the media are based. The variation is sufficient to translate into substantial isotope variation in cultures grown on different batches of media, and thus to allow investigators to determine whether seized media could have been used to produce seized bioweapons agents.

    How would this be handled in a forensics investigation?

    Well, say that material from the Ames culture reference flask of viable but inactive spores was shipped to five different institutes, and each cultivated the strain, induced sporulation, and purified the spores away from the culture medium. Genetically, it would be difficult to tell any of the five resulting spore samples apart – but an analysis of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen isotopes might do that.

    More to the point, a side-by-side comparison of spores collected from RMR-1029/1030 and the letter spores could easily reveal whether or not they shared the same isotopic signature, couldn’t it? Why wasn’t that done – and if it was, who did it?

    The fact that the NAS closed all the committee session is itself a little odd – and they didn’t even make available a list of witnesses or speakers. How can anyone possibly evaluate their work without even knowing who they called?

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