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

* the DOJ knows Dr. Bruce Ivins did not use the copier they accuse him of using … to not say so is an injustice perpetrated by those officials, for which all associated should be held accountable … President Obama must support a full review of the FBI’s failed anthrax investigation

Posted by DXer on March 17, 2010


The New York Times says the FBI’s anthrax case has “too many loose ends.” Find out where some of those looses ends might have originated in my novel CASE CLOSED. Sure it’s fiction, but many readers, including a highly respected member of the U.S. Intelligence Community, think my premise is actually “quite plausible.”

* buy CASE CLOSED at amazon *


DXer says …

Office paper can be differentiated.  It is very wrong for the United States Department of Justice to accuse the late Bruce Ivins of murder — and go so far as to say he was copying the letters at the Building 1425 library on the specified dates — without disclosing that the Department of Justice knows that the paper used in that library machine does not match the paper used in the anthrax letters. (It is a simple matter to identify copies made on the machine during the time period as well as divine the paper used from invoices and photocopy exemplars made by the FBI in late 2001).  The DOJ attorneys have withheld the information due to careerist motivations rather than the furtherance of justice.  When the FBI Director Mueller and the US Attorney say the “buck stops here,” and yet these forensic findings are not disclosed, it then becomes an injustice perpetrated by those officials, and all officials in the chain of command with the relevant responsibility.

see related post … * the case of the copier that wasn’t used by Dr. Bruce Ivins to photocopy the anthrax letters


The failure to disclose such relevant exculpatory material by DOJ/FBI is enough reason, by itself, to support the review of the anthrax case proposed by Congressman Holt. President Obama must not oppose this review. In fact, if he believes in the transparency he has praised, he must support the study, wherever it goes.


26 Responses to “* the DOJ knows Dr. Bruce Ivins did not use the copier they accuse him of using … to not say so is an injustice perpetrated by those officials, for which all associated should be held accountable … President Obama must support a full review of the FBI’s failed anthrax investigation”

  1. DXer said

    If the letters to Homeland Security head Napolitano and the others were photocopied, in addition to examination of the photocopier toner, there is the matter of whether there are “track marks” — caused by the gripper grabbing the paper. On this, it would be important to get samples from the machine as quickly as possible given that track marks can change.

  2. DXer said

    The same FBI scientist, E.G. Bartick, who is expert in fiber analysis (including single acrylic fibers) is expert in photocopy toner. Below are some of his publications. Given his deep expertise and experience on such issues, the NAS panel should invite him to speak given that the subject was so central to the science used in Amerithrax.

    Given that this is the science relied upon by the FBI — and it was this evidence that was hugely exculpatory of Dr. Ivins (but simply ignored) — the manipulation of the end-product by the FBI senior scientists was in the framing of the issues to be addressed by the NAS. (It is always the framing of the issues that perhaps is the most important part of advocacy).

    This evidence was far more probative than a genetics result that served to limit things from the 1000 with access to Ames to a number not much less than that — given that the same scientists would tend to have access to the range of strains. For example, even under the FBI’s Summary, the number at USAMRIID alone who had access to the genetically matching virulent Ames was up to 377 (allowing for some duplication who had access at both building 1425 and 1477). Attorney Kemp was told the number 200 by the AUSA Ken and Rachel and so I have no idea why US Attorney Taylor claimed 100.

    Fiber analysis and photocopy toner analysis can lead to a much narrower identification. And the photocopy toner examination at least could serves to contradict the AUSA’s innuendo in the Amerithrax Summary that the USAMRIID photocopier was used.

    The NAS need not address how it relates to particular individuals — they would just be opining on whether Dr. Bartick’s science — or the science relied upon by the FBI — is sound.

    FORENSIC DISCRIMINATION OF PHOTOCOPY AND PRINTER TONERS. I. THE DEVELOPMENT OF AN INFRARED SPECTRAL LIBRARY , R.A. Merrill, E.G. Bartick, and J.H.. Taylor III, J. Analyt. and Bioanalyt. Chem. 376, 1272-1278 (2003). Click to download PDF #46. Click to download #46A.

    FORENSIC DISCRIMINATION OF PHOTOCOPY AND PRINTER TONERS, II. MULTIVARIATE STATISTICS APPLIED TO REFLECTION-ABSORPTION INFRARED SPECTROSCOPY , W.J. Eagan, S.L. Morgan, R.A. Merrill, E.G. Bartick, and J.H. Taylor III, J. Analyt. and Bioanalyt. Chem. 376, 1279-1285 (2003). Click to download PDF #47.


    FORENSIC ANALYSIS OF SINGLE FIBERS BY RAMAN SPECTROSCOPY , J.V. Miller and E.G. Bartick, Appl. Spectrosc. 55 (12), 1729-1732 (2001). Click to download PDF #42

    ANALYSIS OF PRESSURE SENSITIVE ADHESIVE TAPE I: EVALUATION OF INFRARED ATR ACCESSORY ADVANCES, R. Merrill and E.G. Bartick, J. Forensic Sci. 45(1), 93-98 (2000). Click to download PDF #39.

    STUDIES OF TECHNIQUES FOR ANALYZING PHOTOCOPY TONERS BY IR , R. Merrill, E.G. Bartick, and W. Mazzella, J. Forensic Sci. 41 (2), 264-271 (1996).

    POLARIZED INFRARED STUDY OF POLY(ETHYLENE TEREPHTHALATE) FIBERS , M.W. Tungol, E.G. Bartick, and A. Montaser, Crime Laboratory Digest 22 (3), 86 (1995).

    FORENSIC ANALYSIS OF ACRYLIC COPOLYMER FIBERS BY INFRARED MICROSCOPY , M.W. Tungol, E.G. Bartick, and A. Montaser, Appl. Spectosc. 47 (10), 1655-1658 (1993).

    ANALYSIS OF BALL POINT PEN INKS BY DIFFUSE REFLECTANCE INFRARED SPECTROMETRY , R.A. Merrill and E.G. Bartick, J. Forensic Sci. 37 (2), 528-541 (1992).

    SPECTRAL DATA BASE FOR THE IDENTIFICATION OF FIBERS BY INFRARED MICROSCOPY , M.W. Tungol, E.G. Bartick, and A. Montaser, Spectrochemica Acta Electronica , 46B , 1535E-1544E, (1991).


    Conference Proceedings – Not Refereed

    FORENSIC DISCRIMINATION OF PHOTOCOPY TONERS BY FT-INFRARED REFLECTANCE SPECTROSCOPY , E.G. Bartick, R.A. Merrill, W.J. Egan, B. K. Kochanowski, and S.L. Morgan, in Fourier Transform Spectroscopy: 11th International Conference, J.A. DeHaseth, Ed., American Institute of Physics, CP430 (1998), pp. 257-259. Click to download PDF #38.

    DIRECT ANALYSIS OF COPY TONERS WITH INFRARED MICROSCOPICAL INTERNAL REFLECTION SPECTROSCOPY , E.G. Bartick, R.A. Merrill, Advances in Forensic Sciences, Vol. 3, Forensic Criminalistics 1 , B. Jacob and W. Bonte, Editors, (Proceedings from the 13th Meeting of the International Association of Forensic Sciences), (Verlag Dr. Köster, Berlin 1995) pp. 310-313.

    -IR MICROSCOPY FOR FORENSIC FIBER ANALYSIS: THE RESULTS OF CASE STUDIES, M.W. Tungol, E.G. Bartick, and A. Montaser, Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Fourier Transform Spectroscopy, SPIE Vol. 1145, D. G. Cameron, Ed., (The International Society for Optical Engineering, Bellingham, WA, 1989) pp. 303-309.

  3. DXer said

    Notice that you don’t find Ed bloviating (as opposed to posting the written expert opinions of named PhDs) about Dr. Bartick’s examination of the photocopiers at USAMRIID. The subject of photocopy toner does not permit him to frame his lay speculation about some dead scientist not here to defend himself. He doesn’t dare mention it. The subject of the photocopiers can lead to exclusion of photocopiers — such as those at USAMRIID — to a high degree of certainty.

    Congress should ask the FBI why they steered the NAS away from considering the issue given that it was central to the science used (and then ignored) in the Amerithrax investigation. GAO’s Dr. Jason Fong should read the literature, starting with Dr. Bartick’s seminal 1993 study, and then request the expert opinions by him and his consulting scientists. Experts interested in the correct resolution of the matter should organize the literature and forward it to Dr. Fong for his convenience.

    Ablative analysis of black and colored toners using LA-ICP-TOF-MS for the forensic discrimination of photocopy and printer toners

    1. M. I. Szynkowska1,*,
    2. K. Czerski1,
    3. T. Paryjczak1,
    4. A. Parczewski2,3

    Article first published online: 19 FEB 2010

    Special Issue: Surface Science Applications in Forensic Analysis

    Volume 42, Issue 5, pages 429–437, May 2010

    Szynkowska, M. I., Czerski, K., Paryjczak, T. and Parczewski, A. (2010), Ablative analysis of black and colored toners using LA-ICP-TOF-MS for the forensic discrimination of photocopy and printer toners. Surface and Interface Analysis, 42: 429–437. doi: 10.1002/sia.3194
    Author Information

    1. 1

    Institute of General and Ecological Chemistry, Technical University of Lodz, 90-924 Lodz, Zeromskiego 116, Poland
    2. 2

    Department of Chemistry, Jagiellonian University, 30-060 Cracow, Ingardena 3, Poland
    3. 3

    Institute of Forensic Research, 31-033 Cracow, Westerplatte 9, Poland

    Email: M. I. Szynkowska (

    *Correspondence: M. I. Szynkowska, Institute of General and Ecological Chemistry, Technical University of Lodz, Zeromskiego 116, 90-924 Lodz, Poland.


    * toners;
    * isotopic analysis;
    * laser ablation (LA);
    * inductively coupled plasma time-of-flight mass spectrometry (ICP-TOF-MS);
    * chemometric data handling


    Photocopy and printer toners were analyzed using ICP-TOF-MS (inductively coupled plasma time-of-flight mass spectrometry) with laser ablation (LA). Isotopic analysis of black and colored toners allows identification and discrimination of covering materials from different producers. The results of 201 samples of black toners were analyzed according to the following chemometric methods: cluster analysis (CA) and principal component analysis (PCA). In addition, 23 samples of colored toners were tested. Chemometric manipulation of the elemental mass spectra obtained using the ‘Fingerprinting OptiMass 9500’ program showed an effective system for the rapid comparative analysis of unknown samples. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

  4. DXer said

    Rachel Lieber and Kenneth Kohl wrote in Amerithrax Summary the following innuendo:

    “In addition, during these same few weeks, Dr. Ivins exhibited an unusual pattern of access to the USAMRIID Library, where was a photocopy machine. On Sunday 16, he was in the library from 2:11 p.m. According to lab access records, also present were two other USAMRIID employees. On Saturday 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 inthe 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.”

    One looks in vain for what reasonably is expected to come next — citation to a report by FBI experts or consultants on whether the toner was a match.

    The FBI has leading experts on the subject. The science has evolved in recent years (e.g., 2009-2010 articles) to permit identification of toner to a 99% level of certainty.

    The reason a lawyer would not cite such evidence is that it does not support the innuendo.

    The NAS review is supposed to be a review of the FBI’s innuendo or the science that was important to the Amerithrax investigation.

    For those of us who have followed the matter since 2001/2002, we know that the issue of the photocopier used as always been an important focus of the FBI in its gathering of samples.

    The reason they avoid the topic is that it is exculpatory of the scientist who without scientific basis they allege used the USAMRIID machines to photocopy the mailed letters.

    If the NAS does not address the issue of the science related to photocopiers, then the GAO should do so.

    Forensic discrimination of photocopy and printer toners II. Discriminant analysis applied to infrared reflection-absorption spectroscopy
    William J. Egan1, 4, Stephen L. Morgan1, Edward G. Bartick2 , Rena A. Merrill2 and Hollis J. Taylor III3

    (1) Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, The University of South Carolina, Columbia SC 29208, USA
    (2) Counterterrorism and Forensic Science Research Unit, FBI Laboratory, FBI Academy, Quantico, VA 22135, USA
    (3) Questioned Documents Unit, FBI Laboratory, Quantico, VA 22135, USA
    (4) Present address: Vertex Pharmaceuticals, 130 Waverly Street, Cambridge, MA 02139-4242, USA

    Edward G. Bartick

  5. DXer said

    Dr. Egan’s 1998 thesis, which later formed the basis for the Analytical Chemistry article, was supported by the Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice, Department of Justice.

    Development and application of pattern recognition and calibration methods for multivariate analytical chemical data

    by Egan, William Joseph, Ph.D., University of South Carolina, 1998 , 215 pages; AAT 9841713

    Abstract (Summary)
    This dissertation deals with the application of both standard and novel multivariate statistical analyses to problems in analytical chemistry.

    A fundamental problem is the detection of multivariate outliers. Based on new theoretical insights, two novel methods for detecting multivariate outliers were developed. Both the resampling by half means method (RMH) and the smallest half volume (SHV) method are simple to use, conceptually clear, and provide results superior to the current best-performing technique, the minimum covariance determinant.

    Strategies for the classification of copy toners were developed. Reflection-absorption infrared microscopy (RA-IR), elemental analysis by x-ray dispersive scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and pyrolysis gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (py-GC/MS) were used to analyze toner samples. Multivariate discriminant analysis correctly classified 96.28% of the 430 RA-IR toner spectra. Principal component and cluster analysis of SEM data for 166 samples established 13 statistically different subgroups. Specific manufacturers were identified for 40.96% of toners for which there were both SEM and RA-IR data available. Py-GC/MS on poly(styrene:acrylate) based toners identified 8 important peaks and a small group containing 5 statistically different subgroups. For 57 toners for which both SEM and Py-GC/MS data was available, 31 could be differentiated. These results demonstrate that RA-IR, SEM, and pyrolysis GC/MS are all useful tools for characterization of copied or laser printed documents.

  6. Ike Solem said

    P.S. people who read this blog would do well to write letters and make phone calls supporting this initiative – and explain why, too:

    POGO Joins Coalition Supporting The Faster FOIA Act

    March 17, 2010

    The Honorable Patrick Leahy, Chairman
    Judiciary Committee
    United States Senate
    224 Dirksen Senate Office Building
    Washington, DC 20510

    The Honorable John Cornyn
    Judiciary Committee
    United States Senate
    152 Dirksen Senate Office Building
    Washington, DC 20510

    Dear Senators Leahy and Cornyn:

    The undersigned organizations write in support of the Faster FOIA Act, which would establish the Commission on Freedom of Information Act Processing Delays (the Commission). This advisory commission would be charged with recommending to Congress and the President steps that should be taken to reduce delays in the administration of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

    The main issue right now is probably obtaining more information from the National Academy of Sciences Committee charged with analyzing the science behind the FBI’s claims. There was a contract, there was a technical FBI contract officer, and we suppose some final report detailing the Committee’s activities (witnesses called, statements made, slides presented, etc.) is due – so why the media blackout on this?

  7. Ike Solem said

    Yes – that’s more evidence that the FBI story is fake – but the real question then becomes, who had the technological capacity to do this?

    There are a lot of photocopiers in the United States – but only two labs that I know of with the capacity to make silica-weaponized anthrax spores at 1 trillion spores/gram purity.

    • DXer said

      –It is illogical to think that someone who is uniquely capable — and known to be uniquely capable — would commit a crime. Instead, what is implicated is access to such know-how by an outsider.

      –Dugway’s simulant was made by a dairy processor in Wisconsin after being spraydried by Niro in Denmark.

      –A trillion spore concentation is just pure spores. It is the small scale that makes it doable.

      –Arguments typically have lost track of the fact that the Ivins spore prep started out as highly purified.

      –Knowledge of a state, in any event, travels in the minds of individuals. It is kept in computers. It travels by email.

      –Politics has no place in true crime analysis.

  8. DXer said

    “All four of the recovered anthrax envelopes contained a white, photocopied letter on paper cut to irregular size by trimming one to three edges of the page. The letters to the New York Post and Brokaw contain identical handwritten text, and the letters to Senators Daschle and Leahy likewise contain the same handprinted text. Three “trash marks,” or copy imperfections, of forensic value were found on the letters to Senators Daschle and Leahy, but not on the letters to the New York Post and Brokaw. These trash markings were compared to letters maintained in the FBI Anonymous Threat Letter File and to 1,014 photocopier exemplar sets collected from copy machines located inside or near the vicinity of every known biological laboratory that possessed virulent Ames anthrax in 2001. No matches were found.”

    Why were the pages cut to be irregular?

    In one of the first cases of the examination of paper, in the 18th Century the claim that an old Shakespeare manuscript had been found. Someone scrutinizing the claim noticed that numerous different sheets of paper were used – containing different watermarks. He reasoned to the King “Surely, Shakespeare by this time could afford a single ream of paper to use so that the watermarks should be consistent.” The forger then confessed — he had arranged to have some book dealers tear old pages from old books written at the time of Shakespeare’s time. Thought question: Why were the sheets cut to be irregular? Are we dealing with some criminal mastermind who took existing different pages of paper with type on and then then cut the portion with print off?

    If so (and it just a hypothesis), and examination of the paper showed that different stock were used, then it would be the differentiation of the toner that would be key. As I’ve said, both the toner and paper can be differentiated and in fact the report that Ken and Rachel are withholding EXCLUDES both the toner and paper available at the 1425 library. (And that toner is easy to determine from examination of other copies made at the time and by purchase invoices. It also could be determined and was determined by a 302 interview statement of the person who at the library who maintained the machine). That 302 interview statement of course should have been provided and would have provided if Rachel and Ken really believed their Ivins Theory.

    • DXer said

      Here is the account I meant to relay:

      Questioned Documents

      In 1795 an Englishman named William Henry Ireland made an astonishing claim: that he had in his possession a manuscript of the play Kynge Leare, written in the hand of William Shakespeare himself. Such a discovery would have been invaluable, for no manuscript version of any of Shakespeare’s plays is known to exist. A year later, however, Edward Malone was able to refute Ireland’s improbable claim. In examining the manuscript he discovered twenty distinct paper watermarks among its leaves. Surely, Malone concluded, by the time he had written King Lear, Shakespeare would have been financially secure enough to be able to purchase a single batch of paper on which to write. The hodge-podge of different papers in the Ireland manuscript could be explained only as the work of a forger, who would likely raid a variety of old manuscripts for paper that would appear authentic, which is exactly what happened. In 1805, Ireland confessed that the manuscript was a forgery and that indeed he had obtained the paper by paying a bookseller to tear pages out of old manuscripts.

  9. DXer said

    2/12/2003 Ivins 302 interview

    “IVINS usually obtained office paper from the stock which had been ordered by the Bacteriology Division. He brought it into the office in a big box and would pull out a ream when he needed it.”

  10. DXer said

    Given the DOJ’s submission of an Amerithrax Investigative Summary that contradicts reports that are being withheld, are two former assistants for the FBI well-suited to urge that the North Carolina should have made fuller disclosure of relevant forensic reports? (see new AP report) Isn’t disclosure by the US DOJ in Amerithrax precisely what is needed to maintain the DOJ/FBI credibility? Rather than undermining confidence, isn’t disclosure essential to restore confidence? And when an OMB director says — without knowing a goddamn thing about the case — that the criticism is unfair, doesn’t the Administration and White House also lose credibility?

    Ex-FBI agents set to begin review of NC crime lab
    (AP) – 3 hours ago
    RALEIGH, N.C. — Two former assistant directors of the FBI are beginning a review of North Carolina’s crime lab following revelations that led to a groundbreaking exoneration of a man wrongly accused in a 1991 murder.
    A spokeswoman for Attorney General Roy Cooper says the independent assessment will begin with meetings Thursday. Cooper ordered a review of cases dating to the 1990s.
    Past practices at the state crime lab Cooper now overseas came into focus after judges exonerated Greg Taylor after a lengthy inquiry into his claim of innocence. State Bureau of Investigation Director Robin Pendergraft has said the lab had a now-defunct policy of not automatically providing complete notes on blood test results for trials.
    Cooper has also ordered an internal review of the matter.

    • DXer said

      “During Taylor’s innocence hearing, an SBI agent testified that agents were told to write in lab reports that evidence gave chemical indications for the presence of blood when the first test for blood came back positive. Agent Duane Deaver said agents were told to use that language even when a follow-up test was negative.
      The information about a negative follow-up test would be part of an agent’s notes, but wasn’t included in the lab reports routinely provided to courts, Deaver said.

      SBI Director Robin Pendergraft later confirmed the testimony.

      One of Taylor’s attorneys praised Cooper’s decision.

      “An independent review is the only type of review that can give the public confidence,” said Chris Mumma, executive director of the N.C. Center on Actual Innocence.

      The outside review will run concurrently with an internal review that Cooper ordered last week. Cooper said he will make the results public.”

      • DXer said

        The review follows the recent exoneration of Greg Taylor, who spent 17 years in prison for a killing he did not commit. Duane Deaver, a veteran SBI crime lab analyst, told prosecutors in 1991 that a substance found on Taylor’s truck was blood. But Deaver did not reveal that the substance was not human blood, and he recently said he was simply following standard policy.

        • DXer said

          The same prosecutor involved in the controversy over the withholding of exculpatory evidence in Blackwater case led the Amerithrax prosecution. Disclosure would restore credibility — not undermine it.
          If the evidence, once disclosed, indicates Ivins is not guilty of the murders as the DOJ speculated, then that’s okay — that’s justice and everyone should favor it. But no one — no one — should favor withholding of the forensic reports on the toner, paper and “trash marks.” That would be probative evidence — in contrast to the statement relied upon by Ken and Rachel that he wrote to Dr. Mara Linscott:

          “I can kill none but myself. I can terrify none but myself, but I can love and hug and turn toward the good, all who are willing. Give[n] my long-distant and nonproductive past. Our pasts shape our futures, and mine was built on lies and craziness, and depression, and thievery, and things that make an honest man and woman cry. Alone. The farther I go, it’s alone. The state smells its carniverous death-blood sacrifice. I look into the mirror and cry out who it is. “

  11. DXer said

    Here is a 2002 study illustrating that office paper can be differentiated at the 99.9% confidence level.

    Comparison of the elemental composition of office document paper: Evidence in a homicide case
    Auteur(s) / Author(s)
    SPENCE Lindsay D. ; FRANCIS Rod B. ; TINGGI Ujang ;
    Résumé / Abstract
    Fraudulent substitution of a page within a multiple page document such as a will or business contract, the counterfeit manufacture of paper banknotes, and linking ransom or extortion notes have all been the focus of criminal investigations at one time or another. In a recent homicide investigation, document examiners were requested to compare a threatening letter received by a business partner of the deceased with paper samples seized under warrant from a suspect’s house. Through a quantitative elemental analysis of the concentrations of nine elements (Na, Mg, Al, Mn, Sr, Y, Ba, La, and Ce) within the questioned and specimen documents, determined by inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), it was concluded that (i) the paper of the threatening letter originated from a different source to that of the paper seized from the suspect’s house and (ii) all six pages of paper seized from the suspect’s house originated from the same source. This discrimination of paper is presented as both a statistical t-test analysis (99.9% confidence limit) as well as construction of an elemental fingerprint for individual replicates within the questioned and specimen sample populations. This is the first reported use of the comparison of the elemental composition of document paper, determined by ICP-MS, to assist in a criminal investigation.

  12. DXer said

    Instead of the horse-hockey innuendo and false allegation suggested by the AUSA in suggesting he used the work office machine to copy the anthrax letters (the originals weren’t sent), the FBI’s conclusion that it was not the photocopier used should be released. It was based on a longstanding expertise in the FBI’s Document Unit.

    For example, here is analyst EL James’ report “The Classification of Office Copy Machines from Physical Characteristics.”

    Now I realize that the Inspector General’s report has faulted the work of some FBI analysts supporting the Washington Field Office. But is the proper response to those findings quashing an Inspector General’s investigation of the prosecutor’s failure to disclose an analyst’s findings THAT CONTRADICT THE GOVERNMENT’S ALLEGATIONS IN A CRIME OF GRAVE SERIOUSNESS AND CENTRAL TO THE AL QAEDA-ANTHRAX THREAT FACING THIS COUNTRY?

    The Classification of Office Copy Machines from Physical Characteristics
    James, EL
    Document analyst (research), Federal Bureau of Investigation Laboratory, DC

    (Received 7 October 1986; accepted 26 November 1986)


    The identification of office copier machines has been simplified by the computerization of their class characteristics. The class characteristics examined are paper type, type of toner, reduction/enlargement capabilities, paper supply, presence of identifying marks, fusion method, and color capabilities. These known class characteristics are then compared against the established data base to limit the search to the possible manufacturers.

    questioned documents, photocopiers, classifications, fusion method, photocopy

    Paper ID: JFS11180J
    DOI: 10.1520/JFS11180J

    • DXer said

      The FBI’s Document Unit was established in 1932. The Unit Chief mentions the Amerithrax case in this interview. Don’t the Unit’s conclusions deserve more respect than to be tossed into the wastebasket by Rachel and Ken so that the dead guy who thinks the Yankees win too much can be blamed? Don’t the attorneys in the US Attorney’s Office have an obligation to disclose the forensic findings that show the photocopy they alleged was used was in fact not used? Is the Department of Justice or the Department of the Obstruction of Justice?

    • DXer said

      Here is some science relating to identification of the ink. Consider the depth in the line-up of experts that the WFO had available to it.

      In addition to the Questioned Document Unit, they had the use of the National Forensic Laboratory, United States Postal Inspection Service.

      And when anthrax is found on the slitter processing mail for the White House, you can be sure that the Questioned Documents Laboratory and International Ink Library, United States Secret Service Laboratory was also at the DOJ’s disposal. (

      These are key, highly trained players on the investigative team.

      A prosecutor will only be able to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear — and bury a key issue in a misleading footnote — if the expert work of a lot of people is hidden from view.

      There was a time when investigative reporters were able to probe these things but now they only have time to take the 92-page press release handed to them on a Friday afternoon.

      Michael and Matsumoto will be rehashing silica for the next 10 years when instead the experts and investigative reporters should be getting the dirt on hash marks.

      The science is solid:

      Jamie D. Dunn & John Allison, The Detection of Multiply Charged Dyes Using Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization Mass Spectrometry for the Forensic Examination of Pen Ink Dyes Directly from Paper, 52 Journal of Forensic Sciences 1205 (Sept. 2007) (DOI:10.1111/j.1556-4029.2007.00535.x).

      D. R. Ifa, L. M. Gumaelius, L. S. Eberlin, N. E. Manicke & R. G. Cooks, Forensic Analysis of Inks by Imaging Desorption Electrospray Ionization (DESI) Mass Spectrometry, 132 The Analyst 461 (May 2007) (DOI:10.1039/b700236j).

      Luc Brazeau & Marc Gaudreau, Ballpoint Pen Inks: The Quantitative Analysis of Ink Solvents on Paper by Solid-Phase Microextraction, 52 Journal of Forensic Sciences 209 (Jan. 2007) (DOI:10.1111/j.1556-4029.2006.00299.x).

      Roger W. Jones, Robert B. Cody & John F. McClelland, Differentiating Writing Inks Using Direct Analysis in Real Time Mass Spectrometry, 51 Journal of Forensic Sciences 915 (July 2006) (DOI:10.1111/j.1556-4029.2006.00162.x).

      Jan Andrasko, A Simple MicroThermal Desorption Device, 51 Journal of Forensic Sciences 925 (July 2006) (DOI: 10.1111/j.1556-4029.2006.00179.x).

      Gerald M. LaPorte, Marlo D. Arredondo, Tyra S. McConnell, Joseph C. Stephens, Antonio A. Cantu & Douglas K. Shaffer, An Evaluation of Matching Unknown Writing Inks with the United States International Ink Library, 51 Journal of Forensic Sciences 689 (May 2006) (DOI: 10.1111/j.1556-4029.2006.00144.x).

      M. Kunicki & J. Zieba-Palus, Application of the Micro-FTIR Spectroscopy, Raman Spectroscopy and XRF Method Examination of Inks, 158 Forensic Science International 164 (May 2006) (DOI: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2005.04.044).

      Valery N Aginsky, Using TLC and GC-MS to Determine Whether Inks Came from the Same Manufacturing Batch, 9 Journal of the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners (2006).

      O. P. Jasuja, A. K. Singla, M. K. Mand & Albert H. Lyter, III, Examination of Gel Pen Inks Using Physical and Thin Layer Chromatographic Examination, 8 Journal of the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners 83 (2005).

      Gerald M. LaPorte, Modern Approaches to the Forensic Analysis of Inkjet Printing–Physical and Chemical Examinations, 7 Journal of the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners (2004).

      Darlene C. Florence, Heidi H. Harralson & Joseph G. Barabe, An Introduction to Gel Inks: History and Analysis, 16 Journal of Forensic Document Examination 33 (2004).

      Joseph Barabe, Kenneth J. Smith & Darlene Florence, An Introduction to Ink Analysis and Characterization, 15 Journal of Forensic Document Examination (2003).

      Lindsay D. Spence, Rod B. Francis & Ujang Tinggi, Comparison of the Elemental Composition of Office Document Paper: Evidence in a Homicide Case, 47 Journal of Forensic Sciences 648 (May 2002).

      Brian B. Carney & Derek L. Hammond, The Examination and Demonstration of the Presence of Paper Fiber Patterns on Carbon Film Ribbons Using the Ken-A-Vision® Video Flex® Digital Camera, 3 Journal of the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners 82 (2000).

      Gregg M. Mokrzycki, Advances in Document Examination: The Video Spectral Comparator 2000, 1 Forensic Science Communications (Oct. 1999).

      William J. Bodziak, Edge Characteristics of Commercially Produced Paper Stock, 1 Journal of the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners 57 (1998).

      R.D. Blackledge & M.N. Gernandt, pH Pen — A Means of Comparing Paper Products, 38 Journal of Forensic Sciences 134 (Jan. 1993).

      J. Harris, Developments in the Analysis of Writing Inks on Questioned Documents, 37 Journal of Forensic Sciences 612 (Mar. 1992).

      R.L. Brunelle, Ink Dating—The State of the Art, 37 Journal of Forensic Sciences 113 (Jan. 1992).

      D.L. Duwer & B.R. Kowalski, Forensic Data Analysis by Pattern Recognition. Categorization of White Bond Papers by Elemental Composition, 47 Analytical Chemistry 526 (1975).


      Robert D. Blackledge, ed., Ink Analysis Using UV Laser Desorption Mass Spectrometry, Forensic Analysis on the Cutting Edge: New Methods for Trace Evidence Analysis (Wiley-Interscience July 2007).

      Katherine M. Koppenhaver, Forensic Document Examination, Principles and Practice (Humana Press 2007).

      Ashraf Mozayani & Carla Noziglia, eds., Introduction to Forensic Document Examination, The Forensic Laboratory Handbook: Procedures and Practice (Humana Press 2006).

      Jan Seaman Kelly & Brain S. Lindblom, Scientific Examination of Questioned Documents (2nd ed., CRC Press 2006).

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      Katherine M. Koppenhaver, Attorney’s Guide to Document Examination (Quorum Books Dec. 2001) (DOI: 10.1336/1567204708).

      Richard E. Mark, Charles Habeger, Jens Borch & M. Bruce Lyne, eds., Handbook of Physical Testing of Paper, vol. 1 (2nd ed., CRC Press Sept. 2001).

      Richard E. Mark, Charles Habeger, Jens Borch & M. Bruce Lyne, eds., Handbook of Physical Testing of Paper, vol. 2 (2nd ed., CRC Press Sept. 2001).

      Jay Levinson, Questioned Documents: A Lawyer’s Handbook (Academic Press 2001).

      Jay A. Siegel, Geoffrey C. Knupfer & Pekka J. Saukko, Document Analysis, Encyclopedia of Forensic Sciences (Academic Press 2000).

      Robert Leach & Ray Pierce, eds., The Printing Ink Manual (5th ed., Springer 1993).

  13. DXer said

    The identification of the paper, identification of the photocopier has been the subject of a well-developed body of forensic science for decades. FN/

    Given that the science now has been constantly improving — and powers of differentiation greatly enhanced — why are we hearing that Dr. Ivins thought that the New York Yankees won too much — and not that the paper on the machine he allegedly used was NOT, in fact, a match?

    Why are we hearing that Dr. Ivins edited Wikipedia and not being told that the toner in the copy machine was NOT a match?

    Why are we shown only a record indicating that Dr. Ivins liked to shower at work and worked late hours even in recent years? … instead of a record that includes the report that shows that “trash marks” on the photocopier exemplars made by the FBI shortly after the mailings on that library machine were NOT a match?

    Who is responsible for the continued withholding of the forensics report on the photocopier toner, the paper, and the “trash marks.” AUSA Rachel Carlson Lieber? AUSA Kenneth Kohl? Who?

    Are they the same person(s) who have refused to produce copies of the contemporaneously- written notes made by Ivins when the prosecutors speculate, without basis, that he was making powderized anthrax?

    If he had made handwritten notes “Went to library to read newspaper — goddamn, those Yankees won again!” would they have produced them?

    FN/ “Classification and Identification of Modern Office Copiers” was written James H. Kelly is Chief Document Examiner for the Georgia State Crime Laboratory and published in 1982 by American Board of Forensic Document Examiners, Inc.” Some early articles that had been written included James H. Kelly, “Identifying the Copying Machine Used in Preparation of Simulated Forgeries,” Journal of Forensic Sciences 18 (1974) 410 ;
    James E. Lile and Anthony R. Blair, “Photocopiers: Classification and Identification (Progress Report),” Journal of Forensic Sciences 21 (1976) 923; R. N. Totty, J. M. Dubery, I. W. Evett and I. D. Renshaw, “X-Ray Microprobe Analysis of Coated Papers Used in Photocopying Processes,” Forensic Science International 13 (1979) 31; ” Jerry D. Kelly and Paula Haville, “Procedure for the Characterization of Zinc Oxide Photocopy Papers,” Journal of Forensic Sciences 25 (1980) 118, and R. N. Totty and D. Baxendale, “Defect Marks and the Identification of Photocopying Machines,” Journal of The Forensic Science Society 21 (1981) 23.

    • DXer said

      Apart from toner, paper and “trash marks” not being a match according to my intelligence source, how often are black and white photocopies made by people using the color mode? (I don’t know).

      The reason I ask is that even in 2001, many photocopiers using the color mode embedded information expressly identifying the brand and model. For example, if you sent me a photocopy made in the color mode, using a kid’s toy called EYE-CLOPS, I might be able to identify the brand and model based on the EFF’s work on reverse engineering the codes hidden using yellow dots in color photocopy machines.

      “Government Uses Color Laser Printer Technology to Track Documents
      Practice embeds hidden, traceable data in every printed page.

      Jason Tuohey, Medill News Service

      Nov 22, 2004 4:00 am

      WASHINGTON–Next time you make a printout from your color laser printer, shine an LED flashlight beam on it and examine it closely with a magnifying glass. You might be able to see the small, scattered yellow dots printed there that could be used to trace the document back to you.

      According to experts, several printer companies quietly encode the serial number and the manufacturing code of their color laser printers and color copiers on every document those machines produce. Governments, including the United States, already use the hidden markings to track counterfeiters.

      Peter Crean, a senior research fellow at Xerox, says his company’s laser printers, copiers and multifunction workstations, such as its WorkCentre Pro series, put the “serial number of each machine coded in little yellow dots” in every printout. The millimeter-sized dots appear about every inch on a page, nestled within the printed words and margins.

      “It’s a trail back to you, like a license plate,” Crean says.

      The dots’ minuscule size, covering less than one-thousandth of the page, along with their color combination of yellow on white, makes them invisible to the naked eye, Crean says. One way to determine if your color laser is applying this tracking process is to shine a blue LED light–say, from a keychain laser flashlight–on your page and use a magnifier.


      Neither Crean nor Pagano has an estimate of how many laser printers, copiers, and multifunction devices track documents, but they say that the practice is commonplace among major printer companies.

      “The industry absolutely has been extraordinarily helpful [to law enforcement],” Pagano says.

      According to Pagano, counterfeiting cases are brought to the Secret Service, which checks the documents, determines the brand and serial number of the printer, and contacts the company. Some, like Xerox, have a customer database, and they share the information with the government.

      Crean says Xerox and the government have a good relationship. “The U.S. government had been on board all along–they would actually come out to our labs,” Crean says.


      Unlike ink jet printers, laser printers, fax machines, and copiers fire a laser through a mirror and series of lenses to embed the document or image on a page. Such devices range from a little over $100 to more than $1000, and are designed for both home and office.

      Crean says Xerox pioneered this technology about 20 years ago, to assuage fears that their color copiers could easily be used to counterfeit bills.

      “We developed the first (encoding mechanism) in house because several countries had expressed concern about allowing us to sell the printers in their country,” Crean says.

      Since then, he says, many other companies have adopted the practice.”

      • DXer said

        Abby.. now that’s a gal who knows her paper, toner and “trash marks.”

        • DXer said

          The report being withheld says things like:

          “Reams from vendor A were differentiated based on Al and Ba concentration while reams from vendor B were differentiated based on Mg, Mn, and Sr concentrations. Paper was differentiated according to vendor based on significant differences in Ba, Sr, Ce, and Nd concentrations.”

          But let’s sex it up a little to keep Ed’s interest (even though this particular scientific angle is not applicable because presumably the paper was in the black and white mode).

        • DXer said

          What will it take to get Ed interested in the forensics relating to the toner, “trash marks” and paper used?

        • DXer said

          You may remember the “Office” episode from Season 3 titled “Product Recall” involving the obscene watermark that appeared. (No, it wasn’t “FNY”). Michael addresses the media while Jim and Andy try to calm a school principal who used the affected paper to send out invitations to the prom.

          Memorable Office Quotes

          Michael Scott: We have a crisis. Apparently a disgruntled employee at the paper mill decided that it would be funny to put an obscene watermarkon our 24-pound cream letter stock. 500 boxes have gone out with the image of a beloved cartoon duck performing unspeakable acts upon a certain cartoon mouse that a lot of people like. I’ve never been a fan.

          Creed: Every week, I’m supposed to take four hours and do a quality spot-check at the paper mill. And of course the one year I blow it off, this happens.

          Michael Scott: We have a lot of angry customers out there. This puts us at Threat Level – Midnight.

          Michael Scott: Here’s the thing, when a company screws up, best thing to do is call a press conference. Alert the media, and then you control the story. Wait for the them to find out, and the story controls you. That’s what happened to O.J.

          Creed: The only difference between me and a homeless man is this job. I will do whatever it takes to survive…like I did when I was a homeless man.

          Dwight Schrute: Here are your credentials. You’ve been granted Level 3 security clearance. Don’t get too excited…that’s out of 20.

          Dwight Schrute: I grew up on a farm. I have seen animals having sex in every position imaginable. Goat on chicken. Chicken on goat. Couple of chickens doing a goat, couple of pigs watching. Whoever did this watermark got it exactly right.

        • DXer said

          Let’s consider the sophistication illustrated by a representative opinion in the field in the timeframe of the anthrax mailings by an analyst in the FBI’s Document Unit, co-authored with a Special Agent from the Washington Field Office.

          B. Trela Frost, a document analyst, at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Laboratory Division Document Uni co-authored with Special Agent KT Dwyer of the Washington FIeld Office, Federal Bureau of Investigation.

          Given the level of sophistication of the NCIS Abby-worthy analysts working for the FBI’s Document Unit, this simply is not something that the FBI is genuinely confused about.

          It’s just that the prosecutors are playing hide-the-ball.

          Office Paper DeCopier
          Trela Frost, B
          Document analyst, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Laboratory Division, Questioned Documents Unit,

          Dwyer, KT
          Special Agent, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington Field Office,

          (Received 7 April 2000; accepted 5 June 2000)

          Let me just give you an abstract:

          “DeCopier Technologies, Inc., of Framingham, MA, has developed an office paper DeCopier that uses a thermo-chemical process to soften toner and loosen its bond with paper. The toner is then brushed away and the sheet dried. The result is a “clean” sheet of paper that is ready to be reused. DeCopier Technologies, Inc. reports that this process will not only work on documents prepared by a photocopy machine or laser printer, but on transparencies, facsimiles, and other documents with toner components/entries.

          An experiment design was developed to demonstrate how the DeCopying process affects toner as well as other applications (i.e., ink, typewriting, rubber stamps, etc.) that are typically seen in documentary evidence. The results indicate that, although DeCopier Technologies’ ability to successfully remove toner from paper is currently limited to relatively few types of toner, the technology does have the potential to not only do what it purports, but also to affect various other applications found on documentary evidence. The DeCopying process affected all the additional applications, except watermarks, but did not completely remove any of them. However, the toner was removed successfully from the specimens prepared on transparencies. The extent to which the various applications were effected varied.”

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