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

* capture of Mustafa Hawsawi and laptop with anthrax spray drying documents

Posted by DXer on March 18, 2010

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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 *

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28 Responses to “* capture of Mustafa Hawsawi and laptop with anthrax spray drying documents”

  1. DXer said

    Saudi at Guantanamo said to have admitted helping 9/11 plot
    By The Associated Press December 6, 2017 6:20 pm
    https://wtop.com/latin-america/2017/12/saudi-at-guantanamo-said-to-have-admitted-helping-911-plot/

    This is the 26th round of pretrial hearings at the base amid ongoing legal disputes over what evidence, most of it still classified, can be used against the defendants in the commission, which combines elements of civilian and military law

    Defense lawyers say statements the men made to the FBI were tainted by treatment they endured in CIA custody under a brutal interrogation program that is now widely viewed as amounting to torture. Walter Ruiz, a lawyer for al-Hawsawi, said outside court that newly disclosed notes show the two agencies worked in cooperation during interrogations at Guantanamo in 2007.

    “Their whole argument all along is that they have clean hands,” Ruiz said of the FBI. “We know now that is not the case.”

  2. DXer said

    No one who has reviewed the spraydrying instructions on Hawsawi’s computer has doubted that it was a viable means of producing the anthrax mailed in Fall 2001.

    On March 23, 2003, the Washington Post reported on documents allegedly discovered at the Abdul Qadoos Khan residence — on a seized laptop — relating to biochemical weapons. The documents indicated that Al Qaeda leaders may already have manufactured some of them. The documents at the Qadoos home reveal that Al Qaeda had a feasible production plan for anthrax. Confronted with scanned handwritten notes on the computer, Mohammed reportedly began to talk about Al Qaeda’s anthrax production program. KSM, however, denies that it was his computer — he says it was the computer of Mustafa Hawsawi, who was captured at the home the same day. In 2001, before departing for the UAE, Al-Hawsawi had worked in the Al Qaeda media center As Sahab (Clouds) in Kandahar. (The letter containing the first anthrax went to the American Media in Florida had blue and pink clouds on it.)

    Hawsawi worked under KSM who in turn worked for Zawahiri. Al-Hawsawi was a facilitator for the 9/11 attacks and its paymaster, working from the United Arab Emirates, sending thousands to Bin Al-Shibh in the summer of 2001. After 9/11, he returned to Afghanistan where he met separately with Bin Laden, Zawahiri and spokesman Abu Ghaith. KSM worked closely with al-Hawsawi and it would make perfect sense that the computer is actually al-Hawsawi’s. The fact that the anthrax spray drying documents were on that computer, however, and that he had worked under for As Sahab in Kandahar in 2000, serves to suggest that the undated documents predated 9/11, particularly given that extremely virulent anthrax was later found in Kandahar. At the same time, it suggests that Al-Hawsawi has personal knowledge relevant to anthrax.

    Hawsawi worked as a financial manager for Bin Laden when he was in Sudan. He was associated with Mahjoub, who was Bin Laden’s farm manager in Sudan. Mahjoub was the subject of the anthrax threat in January 2001 in Canada, upon announcement of his bail hearing. The day after Mahjoub’s bail was denied on October 5, 2001, the potent stuff was sent to US Senators Daschle and Leahy.

    The Washington Post explained that “What the documents and debriefings show, the first official said, is that “KSM was involved in anthrax production, and [knew] quite a bit about it.” Al Qaeda had recruited competent scientists, including a Pakistani microbiologist who the officials declined to name. “The documents describe specific timelines for producing biochemical weapons and include a bar graph depicting the parallel processes that must take place between Days 1 and 31 of manufacture. Included are inventories of equipment and indications of readiness to grow seed stocks of pathogen in nutrient baths and then dry the resulting liquid slurry into a form suitable for aerosol dispersal.” The Washington Post story notes that U.S. officials said the evidence does not indicate whether al Qaeda completed manufacture. The documents are undated and unsigned and cryptic about essential details.

    The unclassified memo below lists some of the contents of the computer that had the anthrax spraydrying docs.

    In addition to establishing him as paymaster for the hijackers, Al-Hawsawi’s computer disks reportedly also included lists of contributors worldwide, to include bank account numbers and names of organizations that have helped finance terror attacks. In press accounts, one unnamed government official confirmed that the information has yielded the identities of about a dozen suspected terrorists in the US. Thus, when former CIA Director Tenet says the anthrax planning was done in parallel in 9/11 and compartmentalization was done at the highest levels of Al Qaeda, Hawsawi’s laptop may be a graphic illustration.

    In his substituted testimony in the Moussaoui case, Al-Hawsawi says he became part of Al Qaeda’s media committee in Afghanistan in about July 2000, and KSM joined the committee in February 2001. Hawsawi lived at the media office. For about 4-5 months in 2000, Hawsawi worked as a secretary on al Qaeda’s media committee. Hawsawi’s role “was to copy compact discs and reprint articles for the brothers at the guesthouse in Qandahar. After 2000, Hawsawi worked at the direction of Sheikh Mohammed, transferring funds, and procuring goods.”

    The first time that Hawsawi was asked to be come involved in operational activities was about March 2001, when he took his second trip to the UAE. Although Sheikh Mohammed did not use the word ‘operation,’ Sheikh Mohammed told Hawsawi that he would be purchasing items, receiving and possibly sending money, and possibly meeting individuals whom Hawsawi would contact or who would contact him. Sheikh Mohammed also told Hawsawi that his stay would be lengthy, so he should rent an apartment. Sheikh Mohammed said Hawsawi did not need cover because he was carrying a Saudi passport, and it was a common practice for a Saudi to rent an apartment in the UAE. In approximately August 2001, Hawsawi, with Sheikh Mohammed’s blessing, decided to take an English course.

    Sheik Mohammed told Hawsawi that he would be in contact with individuals called ‘Abd Al-Rahman (Muhammad Atta) and the “Doctor” (Nawaf al-Hazmi). Atta called Hawsawi four times while in the US. Hawsawi says he was never in contact with Hani or Nawaf while in the US. On September 9, Ramzi bin Shibh told the date of the planned operation and urged that he return to Pakistan. He flew out on 9/11 and after a night in Karachi, flew on to Quetta.

    Hawsawi stated repeatedly that he never conducted any activity of any type with or on behalf of Moussaoui and had no knowledge of who made Moussaoui’s travel arrangements. Documents, however, reportedly show that al-Hawsawi worked with the Dublin cell to finance Moussaoui’s international travel. Hamid Aich was an EIJ operative there who once had lived with Ressam, the so-called millennium bomber, in Canada.

    The indictment of Zacarias Moussaoui named al-Hawsawi as an unindicted co-conspirator. Moussaou had tried to call KSM and Hawsawi as witnessses. That indictment reported that al-Hawsawi was born in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on Aug. 5, 1968. Hawsawi had left Kandahar for Dubai by late June 2001. The Zacarias indictment alleges that on September 11, 2001, Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi then left the UAE for Pakistan.

    Hawsawi has said that it was Qahtani who was to have been “the 20th hijacker” rather than Moussaoui. Qahtani, Hawsawi said, had trained extensively to be one of the “muscle hijackers.” Of Moussaoui, al-Hawsawi said he had seen Moussaoui at an al-Qaeda guesthouse in Kandahar, Afghanistan, sometime in the first half of 2001, but was not introduced to him and had not conducted any operations with him. At Moussaoui’s trial, the government pointed to FAA intelligence reports from the late 1990s and 2000 that noted that a hijacked airliner could be flown into a building or national landmark in the U.S., but viewed that scenario “as an option of last resort” given the motive of the attack was to free blind sheik Abdel Rahman. Flying a plane into a building would afford little time to negotiate.

    Zacarias Moussaou reportedly was in Karachi with anthrax lab tech Yazid Sufaat on February 3, 2001 when they bought air tickets through a local travel agency for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. They reportedly left on a flight for KL on February 8, 2001. Moussaoui began at the Norman, Oklahoma flight school on February 26, 2001. KSM says that Moussaoui’s inquiries about cropdusters may have related to Hambali and Sufaat’s work with anthrax.

    Another reason not to underestimate Hawsawi’s possible role in an anthrax operation is his contact with al-Marri. Al-Marri, who entered the country on September 10, 2001, was researching chemicals in connection with a “second wave.” Al-Marri was also drafting emails to KSM. Although al-Marri denies being in contact with Hawsawi, phone records show otherwise. Email evidence also confirms messages drafted by al-Marri to KSM. The fascinating and groundbreaking article this year by Susan Schmidt of the Washington Post on al-Marri notes that al-Marri picked up $13,000 in cash from al-Hawsawi. Al-Marri made the mistake of opening the briefcase containing the money in bundles and peeling off a few hundred dollars to pay his bail after being stopped on a traffic charge a couple days after 9/11.

    References to al-Hawsawi turned up in the Dublin, Ireland, office of a Saudi-backed charity suspected of having links to bin Laden upon a raid after 9/11 by Irish authorities. The fact that Hawsawi was in Dubai, United Arab Emirates as of late June 2001 — and this connection to the Dublin charity — may both be relevant in threading the anthrax needle.

    UNCLASSIFIED
    Department of Defense
    Office for the Administrative Review of the Detention of Enemy Combatants at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
    08 February 2007

    To: Personal Representative
    From: OIC, CSRT (8 Feb 07)
    Subject: Summary of Evidence for Combatant Status Review Tribunal – Al Hawsawi, Mustafa Ahmed

    1. Under the provisions of the Deputy Secretary of Defense Memorandum, dated 14 July 2006, Implementation of Combatant Status Review Tribunal Proceduresfor Enemy Combatants Detained at US. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a Tribunal has been appointed to determine if the detainee is an enemy combatant.

    2. An enemy combatant has been defined as “an individual who was part of or supporting the Taliban or al Qaida forces, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners. This includes any person who committed a belligerent act or has directly supported hostilities in aid of enemy armed forces.”

    3. The following facts support the determination that the detainee is an enemy combatant.

    a. On the morning of 11 September 200 1, four airliners traveling over the United States were hijacked. The flights hijacked were: American Airlines Flight 11, [[w:United Airlines Flight 175|United Airlines Flight 175, American Airlines Flight 77, and United Airlines Flight 93. At approximately 8:46 a.m., American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, resulting in the collapse of the tower at approximately 10:25 a.m. At approximately 9:05 a.m., United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center, resulting in the collapse of the tower at approximately 955 a.m. At approximately 9:37 a.m., American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the southwest side of the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. At approximately 10:03 aim., United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in Stoney Creek Township, Pennsylvania. These crashes and subsequent damage to the World Trade Center and the Pentagon resulted in the deaths of 2,972 persons in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

    b. According to United Arab Emirates General Postal Authority records, the detainee opended a Post Office Box, number 19738, in Sharjah United Arab Emirates on 24 June 2001. He opened the Post Office Box under the name Mustafa Ahmed Al-Hawsawi, date of birth5 August 1968. He listed his home address as 103 Shaikh Sultan Bin Saqer Street, Al-Butheena, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. He listed his mobile phone as 050-5209905.

    c. Recovered Western Union receipts show that on 8 September 2001, “9/11 hijacker” Mohamed Atta sent 2,860 United States dollars from Western Union, Safeway Store, 14100 Baltimore Avenue, Laurel, Maryland. The funds were received by the detainee at the Wall Street Exchange, Dubai, United Arab Emirates on 9 September 2001.

    d. Recovered Western Union receipts show that on 8 September 2001, “9/11 hijacker” Waleed Al-Shehri sent 5,000 United States dollars from Western Union, Food Giant Store, 1009 Fairlawn St., Laurel Maryland. The funds were received by the detainee at the Wall Street Exchange, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, on 10 September 2001.

    e. Recovered Western Union receipts show that on 9 September 2001, “9/11 hijacker” Waleed Al-Shehri sent 5,000 United States dollars from Western Union TravelEx #7201, Currency Booth Room 2250, Logan Airport, Boston, Massachusetts. The funds were received by the detainee at the Al-Ansari Exchange, Sharjah United Arab Emirates on 11 September 2001.

    f. Recovered Western Union receipts show that on on 9 September 2001, “9/11 hijacker” Marwan Al-Shehhi sent 5,000 United States dollars from Western Union Greyhound Bus Terminal #0406, 700 Atlantic Ave, Boston Massachusetts. The funds were received by the detainee at the Al-Ansari Exchange, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates on 11 September 2001.

    g. “9/11 hijacker” Mohammed Atta (Atta) sent the detainee a package with Fayez Banihammad’s Automated Teller Machine card and checkbook. One check was endorsed but not filled in, and split from the checkbook. The Federal Express receipt for this package was recovered from a trash receptacle located at a hotel utilized by Atta. The receipt indicated that the package was sent to the detainee’s Post Office box in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.

    h. On 11 September 2001, the detainee flew from Dubai, United Arab Emirates to Karachi, Pakistan via Pakistan International Airlines flight 212, according to United Arab Emirates immigration records.

    i. A handwritten 19 page telephone and address book was found in a laptop computer case associated with the detainee. The address book contained contact information of numerous al Qaida operatives. The document was discovered where a senior al Qaida operative was captured.

    j. A laptop computer hard-drive associated with the detainee contained al Qaida expense reports from February 2002 to April 2002.

    k. A laptop computer hard-drive associated with the detainee contained detailed information for the families of al Qaida operatives.

    l. A laptop computer hard-drive associated with the detainee contained detailed family information of 22 Yememi al Qaida operatives along with the the status of the operatives.

    m. A laptop computer hard-drive associated with the detainee contained al Qaida expenditure data from 1 January 2002 to 31 December 2002.

    n. A laptop computer hard-drive associated with the detainee contained a list of al Qaida members who were killed or wounded.

    o. A laptop computer hard-drive associated with the detainee contained al Qaida family allowance information from November 2002 to October 2003.

    p. A laptop computer hard-drive associated with the detainee contained detailed al Qaida expense reports from January 2002 to December 2002.

    q. A laptop computer hard-drive associated with the detainee contained detailed al Qaida United States dollars fund serial account information from 1 January 2002 to 15 May 2002.

    r. A laptop computer hard-drive associated with the detainee contained detailed al Qaida expense information through various incoming and outgoing rupee, Euro, riyal and dirham fund transactions for the period of 1 January 2002 to 31 December 2002.

    4. The detainee has the opportunity to contest his designation as an enemy combatant. The Tribunal will endeavor to arrange for the presence of any reasonably available witnesses or evidence that the detainee desires to call or introduce to prove that he is not an enemy combatant and that is deemed relevant to that issue. The Tribunal President will determine the reasonable availability and relevance of evidence or witnesses.

  3. DXer said

    Al-Hawsawi worked for KSM as part of the Al Qaeda media organization. The name of the organization means “Clouds”. One of the letters to AMI thought (see CDC report) to contain mailed anthrax had little pink and blue clouds on it.

  4. The link below considers a lengthy hypothesis to explain how Brownian motion could have striped off an artificial coating of the anthrax spores leaving silicon inside them.

    In a nutshell, an artificial coating would produce a low drag coefficient on the coated spore. This would lead to a high diffusion coefficient and a high mean and standard deviation of velocity of the artificially coated spores by a random walk diffusion process in the velocity of the spores.

    Some artificially coated spores would have higher velocities from the combined effect of high mean and standard deviation in velocity. When they collided head on, they would widen cracks and holes. The original outer coating may have had its own flaws plus only weakly been bound to the spore or to silicon inside the spore coat. Over time, the collisions would weaken the bonds.

    When the artificial coating is stripped, the drag coefficient goes up and the spore acts like a normal spore with low velocity mean and standard deviation from Brownian motion. These spores are then stable. But silicon and other elements inside them are trapped and stay in them.

    This hypothesis and mechanism reconciles the initial lab observations of high velocity spores with the later observation of silicon inside the spores but no artificial coating outside them.

    http://oldatlanticlighthouse.wordpress.com/2010/03/19/hypothesis-brownian-motion-can-strip-artifical-anthrax-coating/

    • Two distributions of spore velocity in the same sample are not stable as a general
      principle of both quantum mechanics and random processes.
      The artificially coated spores can transition to low velocity spores by losing
      the artificial coating.

      This is a one way transition. Thus over time, we expect to see the artificial coating that causes
      a high velocity distribution to be lost leaving normal spores but
      still retaining their extra silicon inside.

    • DXer said

      No.

      I recommend you read the excellent MICROBIAL FORENSICS, Bruce Budowie editor, available for free through your public library’s interlibrary loan.

      • The high velocity of the Senate spores were observed directly under the microscope in October and November 2001. The spores flew off the plate they said.

        They have seen normal spores under the microscope. So the observation of high velocity spores was a scientifically valid observation.

        The spores under the microscope were showing a velocity distribution in all directions not one direction. That is what Brownian motion is, a random walk in all directions.

        “Einstein predicted that Brownian motion of a particle in a fluid at a thermodynamic temperature T is characterized by a diffusion coefficient D = kBT / b, where kB is Boltzmann’s constant and b is the linear drag coefficient on the particle ”

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brownian_motion

        In Einstein’s 1905 article he looked at displacement directly. So he did not have a random walk on the velocity. That came later in the work of Ornstein and Uhlenbeck.

        So in October 2001, the scientists saw a high velocity distribution of the spores. This was not in one direction so it was not some em field in the lab. Instead it showed that the drag coefficient of the spores was low. The math is more complicated than the formula above, but essentially, the velocity distribution has a higher mean and standard deviation from the lower drag coefficient. This is what they observed directly in October 2001.

        The higher velocity distribution shows a lower drag coefficient. That is either the embedded silicon alone or more likely a coating on the outside. Such an artificial coating would thus mean that coated spores would have high velocity and uncoated ones low velocity. This is not an equilibrium. So over time the coating gets knocked off, leaving the silicon in the spore coat trapped.

        The outer coating would not have much to hold onto in the spore. The exposporium of the spore is not a rigid structure suitable for resisting repeated bombardments from high velocity collisions. Binding to the silicon inside would be tenuous since it was removed spatially from the outside. Moreover, any artificial covering had to be designed to break when the spore grew back into a vegetative cell which involves expansion. We know that happened, since people died from the anthrax.

        Thus the Brownian motion in velocity mechanism reconciles the direct observation of the high velocity distribution of the spores in October 2001 and the latter observation of no spore coat but silicon still trapped inside the spore coat below the exosporium.

        • DXer said

          You equate what you call “high velocity” with silica outside the exosporium — making the one necessary for the other — without any basis.

          Even to focus on the word “weaponization” — and define it in a contrived and limited way (as does Sandia and Majidi) — is misguided.

        • The basis is the OU formula. That shows high velocity means low drag coefficient.

          Low drag coefficient would appear to come from a coating. So high velocity means a coating.

        • Sandia had an indirect basis for saying no coating when they observed the spores.

          Sandia used a formula and interpreted their measurements and the formula to mean no coating at the date they examined the spores.

          The OU formula implies there was a coating based on the high velocity of the spores observed in October Nobember 2001. Both use a formula and observations to make a conclusion that a coating is there in 2001 and is not later.

          The reconciliation is that the high velocity OU Brownian motion eventually strips the coating.

        • High velocity follows from low drag coefficient. That is the formula. We know the spores have velocity as seen under the microscope in October 2001 from Brownian motion because it was in all directions at once.

          They observed a high velocity compared to normal spores. That shows a low drag coefficient through the formula of Ornstein and Uhlenbeck for the variance of velocity in terms of the drag coefficient. They are inverse.

          Thus the drag coefficient was low for Senate anthrax compared to normal anthrax spores they had seen before under the microscope. This was observed.

          The drag coefficient being low means low friction. A means for the drag coefficient to be low is an outer coating that doesn’t stick to whatever is around. Thus the high velocity of the spores observed under the microscope compared to normal spores is evidence of an outer coating that reduced the drag coefficient.

          The outer coating may or may not have been silicon although it seems likely. The outer coating had to bind to something on the spore. That could include the exosporium and the silicon in the coat.

          Brownian motion of spores and the 1930 formula of Ornstein Uhlenbeck for the velocity distribution of spores in terms of a friction drag coefficient is a basic part of spore science. The energetic motion of the spores they saw under the microscope was Brownian motion exhibiting the OU formula for the velocity distribution. Einstein won the Nobel for his simpler formula of Brownian motion. Uhlenbeck won for his work with spin.

          Having coated spores with a high velocity distribution from a low drag coefficient alongside spores that are uncoated with low velocity from a high drag coefficient will then be subject to the forces discussed which will tend to strip away the outside coating until there is equilibrium and all spores have high drag coefficient and low velocity distribution.

      • http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&ct=res&cd=12&ved=0CAoQFjABOAo&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.physik.uni-rostock.de%2Fmahnke%2Flehre%2Fss07%2Fandris_ornst-ulenb-pr.odp&rct=j&q=Ornstein+Uhlenbeck+1930&ei=WbakS8LpCYX7lwe8gP1y&usg=AFQjCNFR6eQsPw9PZeW63G_JqhVGJd20Lw

        This is a mathematical discussion of the Ornstein Uhlenbeck approach. It shows that the variance of the velocity distribution is inversely related to the frictional drag coefficient and proportional to the variance of the instantaneous Brownian motion and a damping factor from the mean reversion implied by the frictional drag effect. See around slide 10 and 11 for the final formula. See slides 3 and 4 for the set up in terms of a drag coefficient. Low drag coefficient means a low tendency of the velocity to go back to its target, in this setup zero. A high drag coefficient means a rapid tendency for the velocity to fall.

        Coating the outside of the spore to aid dispersion means in effect coating it to lower the drag coefficient. Its the mathematical definition relative to the formulas of a random walk in the velocity of the Ornstein Uhlenbeck type.

        The high velocity of the spores from Senate anthrax was observed directly in the lab under the microscope in 2001. So this is a direct observation of a low drag coefficient through the OU type formulas as exhibited in the above link.

      • In the formula discussion the velocity is a signed quantity. So positive velocity along the x axis means moving to higher x values. Here the mean of the velocity is zero since there is no preference for right over left, or up v down.

        If we define speed as the absolute value of velocity, then the speed will not have a mean of zero. As the variance of the velocity distribution increases, the mean of the speed increases as well. Thus a low drag coefficient means the mean and variance of the speed both go up. This means the mean and variance of the speed of the spore are higher the lower the drag coefficient.

        So an artificial coating increases the mean and variance of the speed of the spores. This shows up under the slide as the effect that the spores seem to be moving fast even if its in different directions. The higher variance of velocity from the lower drag coefficient thus ends up increasing the collision kinetic energy between coated spores, which are sometimes head on, i.e. they have opposite direction of velocity.

        Over time these collisions find the weaknesses, joins, holes, cracks, and loose bonds of the outer coating to the spore. Thus the outer coating becomes full of pot holes and cracks until it breaks off.

        In equilibrium, the outer coating will be gone from the spores and all the spores will have high drag coefficient and be in the same distribution of low speed, i.e. low variance of velocity around a mean velocity of zero. This is exactly what the formulas linked to show.

  5. Ike Solem said

    The NYT editorial on Feb 28 did a decent job of covering the flimsiness of the evidence:

    …The case has always been hobbled by a lack of direct evidence tying Dr. Ivins to the letters. No witnesses who saw him prepare the powdered anthrax or mail the letters. No anthrax spores in his house or car. No incriminating fingerprints, fibers or DNA. No confession to a colleague or in a suicide note, just opaque ramblings in e-mail that the F.B.I. interprets as evidence of guilt.

    Similar issues came into play with Wen Ho Lee, right? Likewise, equally murky relationships between Steven Hatfill and the letter’s “codes” were trotted out by the FBI’s advocates during the Hatfill witch hunt/ redirection era. You even see a little admission of uncertainty in the NYT editorial:

    Although he was a vaccine expert, not a weapons expert, he apparently had the skill and equipment to produce the highly purified spores used in the letters. That conclusion in particular ought to be validated by independent analysis.

    As has been pointed out over and over by numerous experts unconnected to the FBI, he didn’t have that expertise. The main goal in the FBI’s downplaying of the exclusive nature of the weaponization technology used appears to be making this “lone wolf” scenario plausible, as well as directing attention away from the CIA/DIA biological threat assessment programs that are almost certainly the true source of the material.

  6. DXer said

    In that interview they took down from the website — that had all the meaty facts like his admission that he thought the Yankees won too much — why did they ask him to come into the room and prompt such information if they knew he was represented by counsel?

    Does the fact that he was driven to suicide by his isolation and breathtaking betrayal by confidantes Mara and Pat (and his “theripist”) make the violation of his constitutional rights okay?

  7. DXer said

    Richard Mueller, the FBI Director this week testified:

    “Al-Qaida remains committed to its goal of conducting attacks inside the United States,” Mueller told a House appropriations subcommittee. “Further, al-Qaida’s continued efforts to access chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear material pose a serious threat to the United States.”

    To accomplish its goals of new attacks on the American homeland, al-Qaida “seeks to infiltrate overseas operatives who have no known nexus to terrorism into the United States using both legal and illegal methods of entry,” Mueller said.

    Mueller warned that “the margin of safety is shrinking, not growing.”

    Comment:

    Yes, and the risk is growing, not shrinking, because the FBI, for example, first requested from Bruce Ivins the documents relating to the visit by the former Zawahiri associate in 2005. See documents disclosed in February 2010.

    The risk is growing, not shrinking because the FBI has accused the guy who thought the Yankees won too much — even though its forensics reports show that the copy machine the DOJ and FBI allege he used is NOT a match for the toner, paper or “trash marks.” Yet, that fact is nowhere disclosed in the Amerithrax Investigative Summary. So once again, as in the case of the circumstances leading up to 9/11, there has been a failure of intelligence analysis combined with a lack of candor about the missteps.

    For example, why do you think the DOJ failed to disclose for nearly a decade that Jdey, carrrying bio books while Moussaoui had cropdusting manuals, was detained at the same time as Moussaoui and then released?

    Do you think it was for security reasons — or CYA reasons?

    We see careerist CYA declarations accompanying a transparent failure of analysis hidden with the 2700 pages of immaterial evidence uploaded last month. The DOJ might as well have produced 5 reams of the blank copy paper that the photocopied letters did not match — that would have been more probative evidence on the subject.

    The buck stops with Director Mueller for the FBI’s failure to release the forensic reports on the photocopier toner, paper and “trash marks.” (I’ve long been one of his biggest fans and I am hopeful the reports will be uploaded so that discussion about Amerithrax can be more informed).

  8. DXer said

    For a different point of view, physicist Richard A. Muller addresses the anthrax attacks in Physics for Future Presidents in a new April 9, 2010 edition. At at 55-60 of an 2008 edition, he emphasizes the September 10, 2001 Canadian study and the threat of cropdusters. He is mistaken in thinking that the Canadian study had been uploaded at time of anthrax mailings. Although it was dated September 10, 2001, according to one news report, it had only been been read by a score of government officials. (After the anthrax mailings, the Canadian scientists emailed it to the lead CDC investigator but he reports he was too busy to notice it or read it in his inbox).

    The study had been done in response to the anthrax threat the Immigration Minister had received after the announcement of the bail hearing of Vanguards of Conquest #2 Mahjoub in January 2001. The threat to use anthrax was the subject of the CIA briefing of President Bush in early February 2001.

    The study of the threat of mailed anthrax done by the Canadian authorities, however, had been subject of informal briefing earlier in the year in US biodefense circles. It would be worth pinning down with the authors the timing and details of its distribution. That report found that the letters leaked before opening and immediately dispersed across the room upon opening. The scientists used a simulant made at Dugway (which had been made at a dairy processor in Wisconsin). Now we are learning that the percentage of spores that had absorbed silicon into the coat in the Leahy product was far higher than that of the sample made at Dugway and that the only product Ivins graded an “A” had the highest percentage of spores with silicon absorbed in the coating. (Ivins, who examined the concentration of the mailed anthrax for authorities for the US in 2001 graded Daschle a “B” and New York Post a “C”).

  9. DXer said

    HOLT DEMANDS OBAMA ADMINISTRATION SUPPORT FURTHER AMERITHRAX INVESTIGATION
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    March 18, 2010
    Contact: Zach Goldberg
    202-225-5801 (office)

    HOLT DEMANDS OBAMA ADMINISTRATION SUPPORT FURTHER AMERITHRAX INVESTIGATION

    Also Urges Administration to Reconsider Position on Videorecording of Detainee Interrogations

    (Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (NJ-12), Chair of the Select Intelligence Oversight Panel and a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, today responded to the Obama Administration’s concerns about two provisions he included in the 2010 Intelligence Authorization Bill that passed the House. One provision would require the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community to examine the possibility of a foreign connection to the 2001 anthrax attacks. Another provision would require the videorecording of all pertinent interactions between CIA officers and detainees arrested in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
    “I am not surprised at the FBI’s opposition to [a Congressional investigation], given the fact that they have stonewalled every House and Senate member who has sought information on this investigation over last decade,” Holt wrote. “What surprises me is that an Administration that has pledged to be transparent and accountable would seek to block any review of the investigation in this matter.”

    A copy of Holt’s letter to Peter Orzag, Director of the Office of Management and Budget is below:

    March 18, 2010
    Peter Orzag
    Director
    Office of Management and Budget
    Eisenhower Executive Office Building
    Washington, D.C. 20503

    Dear. Mr. Orzag,

    I am in receipt of your letter of March 15 to Chairman Reyes regarding the Administration’s concerns over two provisions I included in the Fiscal Year 2010 Intelligence Authorization Act (H.R. 2701). Let me begin by addressing the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s claims regarding my provision on the “Amerithrax” investigation.

    As you may know, the 2001 anthrax attacks evidently originated from a postal box in my Congressional district, and they disrupted the lives of people throughout the region and the country. For months, Central New Jersey residents lived in fear of a future attack and the possibility of receiving cross-contaminated mail. Mail service was delayed and people wondered whether there was a murderer at large in their midst. Further, my own Congressional office in Washington, D.C. was shut down after it was found to be contaminated with anthrax. Therefore I have followed closely the case and the investigation.

    In the wake of the attacks and at a number of points thereafter, a number of media reports—citing government officials, usually anonymously—suggested a possible link between the attacks and foreign entities. Most of these stories attempted to link Iraq to the attacks, but questions have also been raised about whether the strain of anthrax used in the attacks had been supplied to foreign laboratories. My provision in H.R. 2701 is designed to have the DNI IG address those issues, to determine whether, in fact, all available intelligence on this topic was supplied to investigators. The provision itself is unremarkable in its scope and does not, contrary to the Bureau’s assertion, constitute Congress directing the Inspector General of the intelligence community to “replicate” a criminal investigation. However, I am not surprised at the FBI’s opposition to it, given the fact that they have stonewalled every House and Senate member who has sought information on this investigation over last decade. What surprises me is that an Administration that has pledged to be transparent and accountable would seek to block any review of the investigation in this matter.

    The Bureau has asserted repeatedly and with confidence that the “Amerithrax” investigation is the most thorough they have ever conducted—claims they made even as they were erroneously pursuing Dr. Steven Hatfill. Instructing the DNI IG to ensure that all intelligence information was in fact passed to the FBI would not “undermine public confidence” in the investigation. Many critical questions in this case remain unanswered, and there are many reason why there is not, nor ever has been, public confidence in the investigation or the FBI’s conclusions, precisely because it was botched at multiple points over more than eight years. Indeed, opposing an independent examination of any aspect of the investigation will only fuel the public’s belief that the FBI’s case could not hold up in court, and that in fact the real killer may still be at large. However, that is not the primary purpose of this provision in H.R. 2701. It is appropriate that the Intelligence Community contemplate whether it did consider this case and would consider a similar case properly to protect Americans from bioterrorist attacks. The people of central New Jersey, the Congress, and the Administration need to know that every lead—foreign and domestic—was supplied to the FBI and investigated thoroughly. My provision in H.R. 2701 would help ensure this goal is achieved, and I urge the Administration to support this provision.

    ***
    Thank you for your distinguished service to our nation.

    Sincerely,

    RUSH HOLT

  10. Ike Solem said

    Recall this? Soon afterwards, the entire FBI Amerithrax team was pushed into retirement, even threatened with “bad expense account reporting”, and a new FBI team was brought in to do the Hatfill Witch Hunt:

    Anthrax: USAMRIID to Assist in “Amerithrax” Investigation, April 11 2009 Newhouse

    “U.S. biological weapons scientists will soon begin comparing the genetic makeup of anthrax samples taken from U.S. laboratories with that of samples taken from the letters used in last fall’s attacks, Newhouse News Service reported today [April 9 2002]”

    “The researchers, from the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease at Fort Detrick, Md., will also examine the coating used to weaponize the anthrax spores for any further clues about who might be responsible, Newhouse reported.”

    “Experts, however, said genetic evidence could provide few leads for the FBI’s “Amerithrax” investigation. Even if some leads are discovered, genetic fingerprinting is still too new and prone to errors to stand up in court, they said.”

    “If I were a defense attorney, I would raise questions about the error rate of DNA technologies,” said Abigail Salyers, president of the American Society for Microbiology.”

    “The genetic fingerprinting process itself might cause problems, said Jill Trewhella, head of the bioscience division at Los Alamos National Laboratory. In order for scientists to study DNA fragments, they must first make copies, a process that can introduce errors, according to Newhouse.”

    “What’s the degree of certainty you can have comparing a DNA sequence or chemical signatures of different labs? This is not known. It’s happening now,” Salyers said, adding she is planning a conference in June to develop forensic guidelines for bioterrorism investigations.

    “The FBI has worked to ensure that any scientific evidence in the Amerithrax investigation, including genetic evidence, will stand up to scrutiny in court, according to an FBI official.”

    “We have extremely top-of-the-line experts in pathogens, molecular biology and analytical chemistry,” said Van Harp, head of the FBI investigation.

    The FBI might have to rely on scientific evidence for a big break in its investigation because thousands of interviews and a reward of $2.5 million have provided little information, Newhouse reported.

    “We all agree that the scientific analysis will be the key to identifying the source of the anthrax and putting the pieces together,” said Kevin Donovan, head of the FBI’s New York Office (Kevin Coughlin, Newhouse News Service, April 10).

    These guys were all forced out, a new team was brought in, the name Steven Hatfill was leaked to NYT reporters Kristoff and Lacy? I believe, and a whole new song-and-dance began.

    Why was that done, and on whose orders? Why did they then start claiming that they had had it all wrong about the spore coating, in what 2006?

  11. DXer said

    I have no idea why Joe Michael, who has never made an anthrax simulant, is giving an opinion on the reason for silicon in anthrax. It is not his field and not addressed by his data.

    As I’ve been explaining for years now, Kathryn Crockett, Ken Alibek’s assistant — just a couple doors down from Ali Al-Timimi — addressed the microencapsulation in her 2006 thesis, “A historical analysis of Bacillus anthracis as a biological weapon and its application to the development of nonproliferation and defense strategies.” She expressed her special thanks to bioweaponeering experts Dr. Ken Alibek and Dr. Bill Patrick. Dr. Patrick consulted with the FBI. Dr. Crockett successfully defended the thesis before a panel that included USAMRIID head and Ames strain researcher Charles Bailey, Ali Al-Timimi’s other Department colleague. In 2001 he said he did not want to discuss silica because he did not want to give terrorists any ideas. Oops! Too late. The scientist coordinating with the 911 imam and Bin Laden’s Sheik was 15 feet away.

    Dr. Crockett in her PhD thesis says that scientists who analyzed the powder through viewing micrographs or actual contact are divided over the quality of the powder. She cites Gary Matsumoto’s “Science” article in summarizing the debate. She says the FBI has vacillated on silica. The AFIP data, if released, would point to the high level of silica in the first batch of letters.

    On the issue of encapsulation, Crockett reports that “many experts who examined the powder stated the spores were encapsulated. Encapsulation involves coating bacteria with a polymer which is usually done to protect fragile bacteria from harsh conditions such as extreme heat and pressure that occurs at the time of detonation (if in a bomb), as well as from moisture and ultraviolet light. The process was not originally developed for biological weapons purposes but rather to improve the delivery of various drugs to target organs or systems before they were destroyed by enzymes in the circulatory system” (citing Alibek and Crockett, 2005). “The US and Soviet Union, however, ” she explains, “used this technique in their biological weapons programs for pathogens that were not stable in aerosol form… Since spores have hardy shells that provide the same protection as encapsulation would, there is no need to cover them with a polymer.“ She explains that one “possible explanation is that the spore was in fact encapsulated but not for protective purpose. Encapsulation also reduces the need for milling when producing a dry formulation.” She wrote: “If the perpetrator was knowledgeable of the use of encapsulation for this purpose, then he or she may have employed it because sophisticated equipment was not at his disposal.”

    Dr. Michael told National Geographic (using the word “weaponized” to narrowly refer to aiding dispersability) he does not think the silica was used for that purpose of “weaponization”, whether under the historical Dugway method from the 1990s or otherwise. Michael told FOX News, “I don’t think this exonerates (Ivins) at all.” He added, “I don’t think it’s not enough to say that he did it, as well.” Someone should ask Dr. Michael whether he’s even read the record that the FBI has uploaded.

    One military scientist who has made anthrax simulants (unlike Joe Michael) described the GMU patents to me as relating to a silicon encapsulation technique which serves to increase the viability of a wide range of pathogens. More broadly, a DIA analyst once commented to me that the internal debate seemed relatively inconsequential given the circumstantial evidence — overlooked by so many people — that US-based supporters of Al Qaeda are responsible for the mailings.

    In the past, the Sandia scientists in their public comments seemed to be making inferences and conclusions about whether the silica would be useful in making mailed anthrax — and whether it would be highly probative — that went beyond both their field of expertise and the data apparently available to them. But their powerpoints seemed solid and conservatively framed in the conclusion drawn. Now to the press Dr. Michael waxes broad again in a way that goes beyond his field and beyond his data.

    I find Peter Setlow’s commentary on the recent Japanese article about silicon encapsulation to be thoughtful and would have preferred that he address the issue before the NAS.

    I respect the government view, if it is the government’s view, that these are not issues that should be discussed public necessarily. To my way of thinking, outsiders, in my opinion, need only enough information to know whether “they got the right guy.” Presently, most people think the FBI did not — and the FBI’s interference with USAMRIID’s FOIA production in the past has only served as Exhibit A in that argument. From where I sit, for all I know, it is the FBI’s Dr. Bannan, formerly the collections scientist at the American Type Culture Collection (“ATCC”) at GMU which sponsored Al-Timimi’s program, who is supporting the decision to withhold the AFIP data. Given the government assures us that it does not relate to “weaponization,” then it would seem that there is no reason not to release it. The only previous reasons related to the fact that the investigation was ongoing and it would reveal the test that was done. (But of course the AFIP newsletter disclosed the test that was done and so that is not justification for withholding).

    Once the AFIP data is released, experts like Peter Setlow can consider the source of the reason for the silica such as whether it was putting virulent Ames soil (silica) suspension such as the FBI scientist John Ezzell did in 1996 for DARPA when he made dry powdered anthrax at Ft. Detrick. Or we can turn to the “Microdroplet Cell Culture” patent filed by Ali Al-Timimi’s Discovery Hall colleagues at the DARPA-funded Center for Biodefense and see if there is a connection. The silica would be in the culture medium and then would be removed by repeated centrifugation.

    Alternatively, experts can consider that if Flask 1030 has 6 % of spores containing the silicon signal, and flask 1030 constitute leftovers from aerosol experiments, perhaps the attack anthrax was stolen leftovers from animal aerosol challenge experiments which were left unguarded in the basement of 1412 in garbage bags until someone got around to using the autoclave. Antifoam sometimes would be used to unclog the nebulizer.

    Or we can explore the other hypotheses relating to the reason for the Silicon Signature, such as it being due to rice hull contamination (silicon) in a spraydryer. Or whether it is due to use of a silicone sealant sprayed on the inside of the envelope such as the Al Qaeda chapter on “poisonous letters” instructs be used (to avoid killing the mailman).

    I’m not a scientist which is why it seems that the data and pictures need to be released so that we can have experts like the Center for Biodefense’s Sergeui Popov and the government’s John Kiel review it. If we learned anything from 9/11, it is that there are times that information needs to be shared so that people can connect the dots. This is such a time. Any one with a conflict of interest should recuse himself from the particular aspect of Amerithrax. Anyone without the relevant qualification to address an issue should sit down and have a qualified expert, who has done controlled experiments, address the question. John Kiel is such a scientist. Head of the Air Force lab, his lab did controlled experiments on the issue independent of the FBI and could report to Congress on the issue.

    As for the defenders of Dr. Ivins (such as myself), I have to focus their attention again on the record of flask 1029. Dr. Ivins says he altered the record but does not remember doing it. If he did, wouldn’t he be indictable as an accessory after the fact and for obstruction of justice? And might alteration be motivated simply by a failure to keep proper records, or record a transfer as required by mid-1997 regulations? He specifically emailed his superior and said that he was concerned that his records would not square up with the inventory. He was told to shut up, not to repeat what he had heard at a party about the FBI’s line of inquiry — that everything was under control. Well, we’re not interested in whether someone with something to hide had everything under control. It certainly proved not to be under control for Dr. Ivins.

    So whodunnit? Let’s start with an easy question. Who told Dr. Ivins to shut up about it — that everything was under control? And why was Dr. Ivins concerned that there would be material missing from his inventory — to which his superior advised there would then be reason or justification for the missing Ames.

    • Ike Solem said

      Michael wasn’t waxing to the press, he was testifying before the NAS Committee and presenting slides on actual data – which is more than Dr. Crockett has done.

      Why hasn’t Dr. Crockett conducted that simple experiment and figured it out one way or the other?

      grow anthrax, induce sporulation – using typical media and glassware, collect the spores, dry them and see if there’s any silicon in the spore coat – an easy experiment. You certainly don’t go dig up some old paper with a silicon signature in a related species, B. cereus – a paper which speculates about silicon in the vacuum oil of the speed-vac they used to dry their spores!

      Notice also that the entire FBI claim on ‘natural silica’ in the spore coat rests on the Sandia work – they cite no other evidence, and are apparently withholding the AFIP data from scrutiny – it’s unclear if even the NAS saw it.

      • DXer said

        I am referring to his comments to the journalist writing the Science article. “The unusually high percentage of silicon-bearing spores in the attack material “is a bit of a strange thing,” says Michael. “We have no way of knowing how they were really grown.” Of course he doesn’t. He isn’t a microbiologist. He has no experience in growing anthrax. He has no experience in making an anthrax aerosol.

        John Kiel, in contrast, has done controlled experiments using a silanizing solution in the slurry before drying. And so why doesn’t Joe, being a good man, know his limitations (as an expert)? Why is he addressing how “they were really grown” when it is not his field? He doesn’t think the anomaly ” casts doubt on the broader investigation.” Um, er… Why not have the issue addressed by the expert who has done controlled experiments using a silanizing solution in the slurry address the question?

        My fourth grader doesn’t even have use for me in helping with her science project. But as an attorney I know when an expert is qualified to speak to a question and when one is not. Joe Michael is not qualified to address the function of silicon or implications of silicon in a spore coat — and what it suggests about how they were grown. It is not his field. Instead, he is qualified to address the location of the silicon. He did that. He did a superb job using cutting-edge science he and Paul Kotula were instrumental in developing and very expensive equipment. Now sit down and let a qualified expert address this other issue.

  12. Ike Solem said

    “Scientists inside and outside the government say there is clear evidence that the high levels of silicon found in the anthrax used in the 2001 letter attacks came not from anything added to “weaponize” the anthrax spores—as researchers had suggested early in the probe—but from the culture in which the spores were grown.”

    Who are these scientists? The only one on record who worked with the samples is not a microbiologist, and if true, this finding would be simple to replicate, wouldn’t it?

    Simple: grow anthrax, induce sporulation – using typical media and glassware, collect the spores, dry them and see if there’s any silicon in the spore coat – an easy experiment. You certainly don’t go dig up some old paper with a silicon signature in a related species, B. cereus – a paper which speculates about silicon in the vacuum oil of the speed-vac they used to dry their spores!

    The first actual release of FBI information on the secondsilicon analysis:

    The Anthrax Case: The Trail of the Spores

    By Yudhijit Bhattacharjee
    ScienceNOW Daily News
    18 August 2008

    …Other scientific work done by materials researcher Joseph Michael at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, convinced the FBI that silicon had not been added to the anthrax in the letters. Although preliminary analysis done at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology had indicated the presence of silicon, transmission electron microscopy by Michael and his colleagues revealed that the silicon was contained inside the spores–a natural occurrence documented in previous research–rather than a coating intended to make the anthrax more easily dispersible.

    Now, that’s never been published or subjected to any examination – the most detailed discussion is the Michael transcript before the NAS Committee, which I transcribed here, with a little commentary:

    http://biopreparat-mknaomi.blogspot.com/2010/03/complete-transcript-of-dr-joseph.html

    Here’s one argument:

    What’s interesting is, if we change the electron voltage on our microscope, as we lower the voltage we become more and more surface sensitive, okay, because the electron beam doesn’t penetrate as deeply. What you see over here is a result at 20 kV, 15 kV and 5 kV, and these are estimates of the range which the electron beam penetrates at those accelerating voltages, so this is like 3.3 microns, um, we see that as we go to lower voltages, so we’re getting more and more surface sensitive, the silicon signal goes from up here and goes down to this black line. So that’s a really preliminary indication that the silica and the silicon and oxygen, and I shouldn’t say silica, because we don’t know the stoichiometry of it, is not on the outside of the spores.

    There’s another interpretation here – namely, that when they sliced their samples up, paring them down to electron transparency with the ion beam, they were significantly changing the surface chemistry of the spores, blasting off the silicon coating and melting it into the spore interior.

    Now, see the following from Richard Preston’s Demon in the Freezer anthrax chapter, from the initial examination of the Daschle material:

    Geisbert turned a knob and zoomed in. An anthrax spore is five times larger than a smallpox particle. He was looking for bricks of pox, so he was looking for little objects, searing spore by spore. The task of finding a few particles of smallpox mixed into a million anthrax spores was like walking over a mile of stony gravel looking for a few diamonds in the rough. He saw no bricks of pox. But he noticed some sort of goop clinging to the spores. It made the spores look like fried eggs – the spores were the yolks, and the goop was the white. It was a kind of splatty stuff.

    Geisbert twisted the knob and turned up the power of the beam to get a more crisp image. As he did, he saw the goop begin to spread out of the spores. Those spores were sweating something.

    This material, then, may not be too solid. Sandia is used to slicing up semiconductors – and nowhere do they report controlling for their sample preparations. Hence, the ‘low-silicon’ argument is likely based on an artifact created during sample prep. This would not be surprising in a lab that’s never worked with biological materials before, right?

    In particular, there’s a big problem with this argument:

    ….this was another point I wanted to make, and along those lines – I’ll make it later – is, if this silica had something to do with the material’s ability to be aerosolized, one wonders why is the Leahy clumped up in big clumps, and the other ones are not, since they all look the same? So to me that’s sort of an indication that this has nothing to do with aerosolization or intentional, uh, acts to make it more aerosolizable.

    However – due to the mail contamination, the Senate contamination, we KNOW that the stuff was a very fine powder when it was in the envelope – so what happened to the powder between the discovery of the letters and the shipment of that powder to Sandia for analysis?

    You would think the NAS committee would ask – but all there is is silence. Do they have a committee report yet? Is it a roaming torpedo?

    (at the end of WWII, the oceans were full of roaming torpedos that had missed their targets but remained activated, and many ships were blown up accidentally…)

    • If the reason the silicon was added was not in anticipation a cow would eat the anthrax, then the idea that it was on the surface but Sandia or someone
      removed it in preparation makes
      the most sense.

  13. DXer said

    Science 19 March 2010:
    Vol. 327. no. 5972, p. 1435
    DOI: 10.1126/science.327.5972.1435

    News of the Week

    Anthrax Investigation:

    Silicon Mystery Endures in Solved Anthrax Case

    Yudhijit Bhattacharjee

    Scientists inside and outside the government say there is clear evidence that the high levels of silicon found in the anthrax used in the 2001 letter attacks came not from anything added to “weaponize” the anthrax spores—as researchers had suggested early in the probe—but from the culture in which the spores were grown. That evidence may have settled the issue of whether the anthrax was weaponized, at least for scientists familiar with the case. But it raises a different question: Why did the mailed anthrax have such a high proportion of spores with a silicon signature in comparison to most other anthrax samples?

    • DXer said

      –“But the Sandia study, presented last September to a National Academies panel reviewing the science behind the investigation, still leaves questions. Out of 124 spores from a letter mailed to Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Michael found the silicon-and-oxygen signature in 97—78% of the sample. The signature was present in 66% of a sample from a letter to former Senator Tom Daschle and in 65% of spores from a letter sent to the New York Post.”

      –“Out of nearly 200 other anthrax samples from different labs, none came close to displaying such a prominent silicon signature. The highest, in a sample from Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, was 29%. The researchers couldn’t find silicon in the coat of a single spore out of some 300 taken from RMR-1029, the flask in Ivins’s lab identified as the source of the bacteria used in the attacks; they concluded that all the silicon had come from the culture.”

      –“The key to the mystery likely lies in the culture medium the perpetrator used to grow the anthrax spores, says Michael. In a recent study, Japanese researchers grew colonies of Bacillus cereus—a close relative of the anthrax bacterium, B. anthracis—in culture media with and without added silicate. Spores grown in the silicate-containing culture showed silicon within the spore coat. In the absence of silicate, there was no silicon, the group reported in January in the Journal of Bacteriology.

      –One of the study’s authors, microbiologist Akio Kuroda of Hiroshima University in Japan, says the precise amount of silicon in individual spores from the anthrax letters could offer clues about the medium. “If the anthrax spores contained a high amount, the suspect must have used a medium that was supplemented with silicon or that intrinsically contained a lot of silicon,” Kuroda says.”

    • We are told that silicon helps anthrax resist stomach acid.

      We are told that Sandia found no silicon on the outside.

      We are told the silicon was added to promote lethality not dispersibility.

      So the conclusion is that the anthrax mailer intended the recipients of the letters to eat the anthrax. This despite the warning to take “penacilin”.

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