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

* AFIP data shows massive silicon concentrations in the Daschle and New York Post powders … does this mean the silicon was not a contaminant, but was added deliberately?

Posted by DXer on April 20, 2010

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The FBI’s case against Dr. Ivins is bogus: no evidence, no witnesses, an impossible timeline, science that proves innocence instead of guilt. So what really happened? And why? The “fictional” scenario in my novel CASE CLOSED has been judged by many readers, including a highly respected official in the U.S. Intelligence Community, as “quite plausible.”

* buy CASE CLOSED at amazon *

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AFIP data shows massive silicon concentrations

in the Daschle and New York Post powders

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After being withheld by the FBI for almost nine years, AFIP finally released their much talked about (but never seen) laboratory report on the Daschle and New York Post anthrax powders.

This is the report that resulted in USAMRIID’s major General John Parker stating “We know we found silica” and AFIP (Florabel G. Mullick, MD, ScD, SES, AFIP Principal Deputy Director and department chair ) stating “Ft Detrick sought our assistance to determine the specific components of the anthrax found in the Daschle letter.”

AFIP experts utilized an energy dispersive X-ray spectrometer (an instrument used to detect the presence of otherwise-unseen chemicals through characteristic wavelengths of X-ray light) to confirm the previously unidentifiable substance as silica. “This was a key component,” Mullick said. “Silica prevents the anthrax from aggregating, making it easier to aerosolize.”

Now we can see exactly why AFIP reached that conclusion.

  • It seems that the silicon is hardly a contaminant
  • in the New York Post powder it appears to be the MAJOR ELEMENTAL COMPONENT!
  • Which raises the question of whether it was added deliberately.

The FBI has said that AFIP got it all wrong and the silicon is really a low concentration “contaminant.”

Do these results show that AFIP was correct all along?

******

17 Responses to “* AFIP data shows massive silicon concentrations in the Daschle and New York Post powders … does this mean the silicon was not a contaminant, but was added deliberately?”

  1. DXer said

    In the newly produced civil deposition, Dr. Jahrling describes the AFIP’s finding that there was “a ton of silicon in this material.”

    Q Now, you did have occasion to, I guess, look at the attack anthrax powder, I’ll call it, for lack of a better word, correct?
    A I did.
    Q And I don’t want to get into all the particular parameters of that but who was it that asked you to get involved in that?
    A Well, okay. I asked to get involved in that and I’ll tell you exactly why. I mean I was up in the command suite then —
    Q I’m going to let you tell me why. I don’t mean to interrupt you but as a predicate question let me just ask you, why would you get involved in that if you were in virology and this involved bacteriology?
    A Okay. I was at the command suite. This was only thing we did, you know, during that period of time. And I got to thinking, you know, if I were a really nasty terrorist I would lace that anthrax powder with something else, you know, set off all the whistles and bells, it’s anthrax. And what if there’s something else in there? Let’s look at it using the electron microscope. That will be the quickest way to see if it’s pure anthrax or if it’s something else.
    And just because of my own virology background and thinking the way a terrorist might, I do to put it in an electron microscope and give it to 2 the electron microscopist to give me pictures. And when we looked at those pictures, you know, I was impressed with the purity of the stuff. I mean I had never looked at any anthrax spore to be honest with you but I mean I could tell there was a lot of them and there was nothing but them, nothing at all. What I was looking for, smallpox or another virus, was not there. It was just a big, pure wad of anthrax.

    And, um, and I don’t even recall how it came about but somebody said we ought to send that material down to the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology for elemental 13 analysis. Okay?
    So we sent it down to AFIP for elemental analysis and AFIP came back and said there’s a ton of silicon in this material. And at that point, you know, I mean silicon is something you associate with weaponized powder, not just, not just dried anthrax but somebody has shaked and baked this stuff. Somebody has0 made it even more potent. And that’s what we reported back actually to the FBI.

    Page 52.

  2. DXer said

    Al Qaeda anthrax lab director Yazid Sufaat was a military pathologist. When he left the military, he started a company that was a military contractor.

    When I google the terms ( military pathologist ) one of the first results is the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology.

    “In 2009 the Environmental Protection Agency shut down many of the labs, especially those dealing with anthrax, due to improper storage practices.”

    So I guess a first question I have been remiss in not asking Yazid was: Yazid, have you ever visited USAMRIID in the course of your work as a military pathologist doing work with bioweapons?

    Relatedly, after graduating Sac State, have you been back to the States?

  3. BugMaster said

    Another interesting google search:

    “tin catalyzed silicon”

  4. DXer said

    Percoll Density Gradient

    By 2001, I believe the manufacturer had stopped making Renagrafin-76 (and then Renocal) which does not contain silica.

    Dr. Ivins was using Hypaque-76 as an alternative density gradient. See emails to Bob explaining that they had switched to using Hypaque-76 as the density gradient. (Although I’m not a scientist, Hypaque I believe is essentially the same thing by a different name. Anonymous or Bugmaster could confirm for us that Hypaque, like renagrafin, does not contain silica.

    See, e.g., page 14 of the 310 page .pdf file which contains Bruce Ivins’ calculations for making one trillion spores (“a 12-flask run of anthrax (1X 10^12 spores”).
    “Purification of spores on Hypaque – 4 hours Bruce Ivins $ 240.00; 4 hours XXXXXXXX $180.00”

    Did the perp(s) use Percoll as the density gradient? Does that explain the Silicon Signature?

    Subject to the learned input from those scientifically trained, I believe percoll is a density gradient consisting of a colloid of poiyvinylpyrrolidone-coated silica particles. Polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP), also called Polyvidone, is a water-soluble polymer made from the monomer N-vinylpyrrolidone: PVP is soluble in water and other polar solvents. When dry it is a light flaky powder, which readily absorbs up to 40% of its weight in atmospheric water.

    If this hypothesis were valid, it might tend to point to the person who used percoll in his work as a density gradient and away from Bruce Ivins who didn’t. We can only hope that the NAS addresses this possibility that the Silicon Signature arises from the use of Percoll as the density gradient.

    • DXer said

      Percoll™ PLUS is a silica-based colloidal medium for cell
      separation by density gradient centrifugation. The silica
      particles of the medium are covalently coated with silane,
      providing product stability and long shelf life. The silane
      coating also provides low osmolality and toxicity, as well
      as low viscosity. Percoll PLUS is sterile and has low levels
      of endotoxins, making it well-suited for cell separation
      in clinical research applications. Cell separation with the
      medium is performed under gentle conditions, facilitating
      the isolation of a variety of cells, subcellular particles, and
      viruses where preservation of viability and morphological
      integrity is important. The low toxicity of Percoll PLUS
      ensures that removal of the medium from separated cellular
      particles is not usually necessary.
      After adjustment, Percoll PLUS forms iso-osmotic gradients
      within the density range of 1.0 to 1.3 g/ml. This density
      range is especially useful since most cells, subcellular
      particles, and viruses have a buoyant density of 1.0 to 1.2 g/ml
      in Percoll PLUS.
      Percoll PLUS

      Density gradients prepared from colloidal silica particles coated by polyvinylpyrrolidone (Percoll)

      Håkan Pertoftb, a, Torvard C. Laurentb, a, Torgny Lååsb, a and Lennart Kågedalb, a

      Abstract

      A new gradient medium (Percoll) for density gradient centrifugation of cells and subcellular particles is described. It consists of colloidal silica particles which have been firmly coated with a layer of polyvinylpyrrolidone. The particle population is polydisperse, and the average diameter is approximately 17 nm. Both the electrophoretic mobility of the particles and the conductivity of the solution are low, indicating a low surface charge. The colloid has a high solubility and forms clear solutions. It can be used in concentrations which give solution densities between 1.00 and 1.20 g/ml. The solutions have a low osmolality and can be mixed with electrolytes of physiological pH and ionic strength. The sedimentation properties of the particles are described. Density gradients can be formed by highspeed centrifugation. The colloid has been shown to be nontoxic for a number of cells and cell organelles.

      • anonymous said

        Thanks DXer, this is a very interesting contribution. Percoll is indeed silica based. Googling around I find that it has been used for arcane things like separating sperm in semen samples. I’m not sure it would find utility in spores – but maybe it does.
        But you are on the right track – a silicon containing compound was indeed used in the anthrax powder processing, and is an invaluable piece of evidence to trace the source of the material sent. That source is neither Dr Ivins or Fort Detrick.

        • BugMaster said

          Note also that Percoll would be much more readility obtainable.

          Renagrafin-76 is an radiological imaging agent, normally only available to medical professionals.

          Good find, DXer!

        • DXer said

          Wet and dry density of Bacillus anthracis and other Bacillus species
          Auteur(s) / Author(s)
          CARRERA M. (1) ; ZANDOMENI R. O. (2) ; SAGRIPANTI J.-L. (1) ;
          Affiliation(s) du ou des auteurs / Author(s) Affiliation(s)
          (1) Research & Technology Directorate, Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, U.S. Army Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, ETATS-UNIS
          (2) Instituto de Tecnologia Agropecuaria, CONICET, ARGENTINE
          Résumé / Abstract
          Aims: To determine the wet and dry density of spores of Bacillus anthracis and compare these values with the densities of other Bacillus species grown and sporulated under similar conditions. Methods and Results: We prepared and studied spores from several Bacillus species, including four virulent and three attenuated strains of B. anthracis, two Bacillus species commonly used to simulate B. anthracis (Bacillus atrophaeus and Bacillus subtilis) and four close neighbours (Bacillus cereus, Bacillus megate-rium, Bacillus thuringiensis and Bacillus stearothermophilus), using identical media, protocols and instruments. We determined the wet densities of all spores by measuring their buoyant density in gradients of Percoll and their dry density in gradients of two organic solvents, one of high and the other of low chemical density. The wet density of different strains of B. anthracis fell into two different groups. One group comprised strains of B. anthracis producing spores with densities between 1·162 and 1·165 gml-1and the other group included strains whose spores showed higher density values between 1·174 and 1·186 g ml-1. Both Bacillus atrophaeus and B. subtilis were denser than all the B. anthracis spores studied. Interestingly and in spite of the significant differences in wet density, the dry densities of all spore species and strains were similar. In addition, we correlated the spore density with spore volume derived from measurements made by electron microscopy analysis. There was a strong correlation (R2 = 0·95) between density and volume for the spores of all strains and species studied. Conclusions: The data presented here indicate that the two commonly used simulants of B. anthracis, B. atrophaeus and B. subtilis were considerably denser and smaller than all B. anthracis spores studied and hence, these simulants could behave aerodynamically different than B. anthracis. Bacillus thuringiensis had spore density and volume within the range observed for the various strains of B. anthracis. The clear correlation between wet density and volume of the B. anthracis spores suggest that mass differences among spore strains may be because of different amounts of water contained within wet dormant spores. Significance and Impact of the Study: Spores of nonvirulent Bacillus species are often used as simulants in the development and testing of countermeasures for biodefense against B. anthracis. The similarities and difference in density and volume that we found should assist in the selection of simulants that better resemble properties of B. anthracis and, thus more accurately represent the performance of countermeasures against this threat agent where spore density, size, volume, mass or related properties are relevant.
          Revue / Journal Title
          Journal of applied microbiology ISSN 1364-5072
          Source / Source
          2008, vol. 105, no1, pp. 68-77 [10 page(s) (article)] (1 p.1/4)

  5. Andy said

    Hi,
    does anyone know where to download the AFIP report?

  6. DXer said

    Aren’t there a lot of questions that begin with — and do not end with — Sandia’s location of the silicon as having been absorbed in the spore coat?

    Questions for the NAS experts (or other qualified experts):

    1. Why doesn’t it point to microencapsulation — a means of engineering a pathogen that makes it harder to detect and, for example, resistant to ultraviolet light, acid and more?

    2. Why doesn’t in point to use of a silanizing solution in the slurry before drying? In April 2007 the air force lab did controlled experiments in this regard and sent SEMS that look like the Daschle / Leahy product.

    3. Why doesn’t point to contamination from the use of a silicone sealant on the inside of the envelope — as is instructed in the Al Qaeda section on mailing poisonous letters. (The purpose is to avoid killing the postman).

    4. Why doesn’t it point to the processing by a dual nozzle spraydryer customarily used for processing rice hulls (which consist of silicon)?

    5. Why doesn’t it point to the microdroplet cell culture method which used silanized silica powder would be used in the cultivated medium? With the excess silica then removed by repeated centrifugation? Serge disfavors the suggestion because it would draw attention and a perp would want to keep a low profile.

    6. Why doesn’t it point to the Ames in a soil suspension that Dr. Ezzell, the FBI’s anthrax expert, provided Edgewood?

    7. Why doesn’t it point to use of aerogel as an anti-foam agent in a dual nozzle spraydryer?

  7. DXer said

    Lew Weinstein:

    Where did the FBI say that “AFIP got it all wrong and the silicon is really a low concentration “contaminant.”?

    • DXer said

      Lew,

      Do you mean to say instead that the FBI said that “There were no intentional additives combined with the bacillus anthracis spores to make then any more dispersible.”

      Because that is what I find they said when I go to the link of what the FBI said. FN/
      Now, if that is what the FBI said, how does the big spike in silicon prove that the silicon evidenced made them any more dispersible (and were added for that purpose).

      Is an exclamation point appropriate when the statement mischaracterizes what the FBI actually said?

      I would prefer you just incorporate what the FBI actually said and delete my last two posts raising the point.

      Straw man arguments should be avoided — and where made should not be made breathlessly.

      Leave that for the folks who breathlessly reported that bentonite was found even though tests had already showed that it hadn’t been found. See Ari Fleischer’s book.

      FN/

      http://www.fbi.gov/page2/august08/anthraxscience_081808.html

      First of all, let me dispel some frequently repeated erroneous information. For example:

      There were no intentional additives combined with the bacillus anthracis spores to make them any more dispersible.

    • anonymous said

      “Where did the FBI say that “AFIP got it all wrong and the silicon is really a low concentration “contaminant.”?”

      http://www.anthraxinvestigation.com/AnthraxRoundtableAnnotated.html
      BACKGROUND OFFICIAL: Okay, we’re going to get to that. We’re going to let Dr. Michael answer that. But I’m telling you what AFIP did was a bulk analysis. They would be able to tell that there was silicon and oxygen present in the prep, which would be hypothesized as silica. But their gross examinations did not show any exogenous silica —

      QUESTION: I appreciate that but obviously what Dr. Jahrling and Dr. Geisbert said they actually saw the silica on the surface of the spores.

      DR. MICHAEL: But that’s just not possible. It’s not possible.

      QUESTION: You’re saying they’re mistaken?

      BACKGROUND OFFICIAL: Yes, they are mistaken.

      ——————————————-

      Of course, this was before the AFIP data was released. We now know that there was indeed a silicon containing compound in the New York Post spores and it was exogenous.

  8. DXer said

    Why doesn’t it merely indicate use of an anti-foaming agent? See, e.g., Murrell, Chapter 7. (Murrell used an anti-foaming agent).

    Activated dimethicone, a mixture of polydimethylsiloxanes and silicon dioxide (sometimes called simethicone), is used. Over-the-counter drug as an anti-foaming agent and carminative.

    Flask 1029 tended to result in serious foaming issues when high concentrations were attempted.

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