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

* reminder … the NAS “on demand” meeting with the FBI is scheduled for Jan 14

Posted by DXer on January 13, 2011


see previous posts …

* the NAS has scheduled a CLOSED meeting for Jan 14 … presumably (the notice does not say) to hear from the FBI as to why the NAS report, which the NAS thought was complete, needs to be revised … still no word on whether FBI Director Mueller has responded to Congressman Holt’s demand to meet

* hints of conflict between the NAS and the FBI are found in the unexpected delay of the NAS report on the FBI’s anthrax science … the FBI is obviously trying to hide the truth as long as possible and the NAS is witholding documents it is required by law to release


FYI: still no answer to whether Congressman Holt

has met with FBI Director Mueller

see previous post …

* on Dec 6, 2010, Congressman Holt demanded a meeting with FBI Director Mueller within one week … a month has passed … have they met? is a meeting scheduled? no one on the Congressman’s staff will say


The FBI’s publicly presented case against Dr. Ivins is clearly bogus: no evidence, no witnesses, an impossible timeline, science that proves innocence instead of guilt. So what really happened? And why doesn’t the FBI offer America a credible story?

As regular readers of this blog well know, I can imagine only 3 possible “actual” scenarios …

  1. The FBI has more evidence against Dr. Ivins but is, for some undisclosed reason, withholding that evidence … POSSIBLE BUT NOT SO LIKELY
  2. The FBI, despite the most expensive and extensive investigation in its history, has not solved the case and has no idea who prepared and mailed the anthrax letters that killed 5 Americans in 2001 … EVEN LESS LIKELY
  3. The FBI knows who did it (not Dr. Ivins) but is covering up the actual perpetrators, for undisclosed reasons …THE MOST LIKELY SCENARIO

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 perhaps more plausible than the FBI’s unproven assertions regarding Dr. Ivins.

* buy CASE CLOSED at amazon *

194 Responses to “* reminder … the NAS “on demand” meeting with the FBI is scheduled for Jan 14”

  1. anonymous said

    Countdown: T-15 days and counting.

    Will the NAS meet their new deadline of February 2011, after the FBI apparently rejected the first NAS draft?

    Will the NAS find that the FBI findings are based on bad science?

    Will the report come out next week? Or will NAS wait until the last day of the month?

    The start date for the project is 4/24/2009.

    A report will be issued at the end of the project.

    Update 12/7/10: The project duration has been extended. The report is expected to be issued in February 2011.

  2. DXer said

    Dr. Ivins had a longstanding concern that he was missing samples but he was told to shut up about it — that everything was under control. The superior (?) told Bruce that if anything turned up missing, it would be explainable the withdrawal for purposes unknown to us. Who told him that.

    Who was Dr. Ivins writing to about the missing sample of Ames strain of anthrax? Pat? Was this 7739b or 7739b in Building 1412?

    What will it take to fill in the blanks in this email asking about weaponized anthrax that came to Detrick and then was shipped out and some was missing?

    On a clear day, you can see forever.

    Or at least you can get record of all international calls without a warrant or even a NSL.

    • DXer said

      Dr. Hamid, the lifelong friend of Dr. Hamouda and resident of Ann Arbor in 2001, four-fifths of the way through this radio interview, discusses caller’s (Mohammed’s) question about whether concern over terrorism leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy arising from anger over ignorance. He notes that the koran dictates that one must never deviate from justice due to anger. This should be the mantra, he says, of all those who go through this phase of anger.

      The public radio interviewer then asked about whether there is a risk of terrorist cell developing, noting that the caller seemed to be on the verge of that.

      Dr. Hamid notes that trying to disprove the absence of a sleeper cell is very difficult. He says he is not aware of any sleeper cell but how can he tell of something he doesn’t know about.

      Dr. Hamid is correct that engaging others will just as often lead them to agreeing with you. The merits, here, relate to the details of the research with virulent Ames supplied by Bruce Ivins that was conducted by Dr. Hamid’s lifelong friend Tarek. Given the millions received by Tarek in public funding, either the documents and details should be provided by the University of Michigan, as required by FOIA, or the money should be returned.

      Let no one at DARPA be under a misapprehension. There is going to be hard-fought litigation over documents wrongfully withheld by the FBI and others under FOIA. There are severe sanctions applicable to the spoliation of documents. It would be in everyone’s interest to get ahead of the curve and err on the side of producing the documents (that are subject to FOIA).

      No FBI scientist will want to be party to any unjustified withholding.

      [audio src="" /]

  3. anonymous said

    Countdown: T-16 days and counting.

    Will the NAS meet their new deadline of February 2011, after the FBI apparently rejected the first NAS draft?

    Will the NAS find that the FBI findings are based on bad science (just like they concluded on the “lead in bullets” study also commissioned by the FBI)?

    The start date for the project is 4/24/2009.

    A report will be issued at the end of the project.

    Update 12/7/10: The project duration has been extended. The report is expected to be issued in February 2011.

    • Old Atlantic said

      In a trial each side will make motions and ask for evidence not to be allowed. The FBI carries over this mentality during the investigation phase.

      When the FBI decided in fall 2001 that it was a lone maker/mailer to them it was like making a motion to dismiss all theories and thus evidence for a conspiracy.

      When the motion was granted, it was never revisited.

      The FBI does this all through the investigation. They made a motion that anthrax can be grown and processed in a weekend. That was accepted by themselves. At that point, the requirements of growing it longer were gone.

      The FBI made a motion that the anthrax was not weaponized. This meant no processing was required at all to make it fluid.

      The FBI made a motion that the silicon grew natural. Motion was accepted by the FBI.

      When they accept their own motions, it completely kills a branch of the investigation tree and all evidence on that branch or towards that branch is ignored.

      Then after years of these FBI internal evidence motions the NAS gets the case and it is nonsense.

  4. Anonymous said

    Countdown: T-17 days and counting.

    Will the NAS meet their new deadline of February 2011, after the FBI apparently rejected the first NAS draft?

    Will the NAS find that the FBI findings are based on bad science (just like they concluded on the “lead in bullets” study also commissioned by the FBI)?

    The start date for the project is 4/24/2009.

    A report will be issued at the end of the project.

    Update 12/7/10: The project duration has been extended. The report is expected to be issued in February 2011.

    • Old Atlantic said

      The sooner they get the report out, the less time the FBI has to get its hands on their old tax returns and their email accounts.

  5. Anonymous said

    Countdown: T-18 days and counting.

    Will the NAS meet their new deadline of February 2011, after the FBI apparently rejected the first NAS draft?

    Will the FBI be equally contentious when they see the new draft?

    Is they key scientific contention over item (3) of the study?:

    “3. chemical and dating studies that examined how, where, and when the spores may have
    been grown and what, if any, additional treatments they were subjected to”

    The start date for the project is 4/24/2009.

    A report will be issued at the end of the project.

    Update 12/7/10: The project duration has been extended. The report is expected to be issued in February 2011.

  6. anonymous said

    Countdown: T-19 days and counting.

    Will the NAS meet their new deadline of February 2011, after the FBI apparently rejected the first NAS draft?

    Will the FBI be equally contentious when they see the new draft?

    If they don’t like the new one, what will they do?

    The start date for the project is 4/24/2009.

    A report will be issued at the end of the project.

    Update 12/7/10: The project duration has been extended. The report is expected to be issued in February 2011.

  7. DXer said

    I received 549 pages from the CDC today about the Amerithrax investigation. If someone can email a full set of filings before the NAS (so that I might upload them for everyone’s convenience), I can then pay to ship (media rate) the 549 pages of CDC as part of a trade. No charge for photocopying.

    • DXer said

      I am reading discussion now of the testing of the Wallingford, CT machine in April 2002, positive results from the rafters etc. Numerous emails were produced. Underlying sampling data was provided. Not a single name, phone number nor email was redacted. A black magic marker never touched any of these pages. These are people who stand behind their work, conclusions and press statements regarding the CT sampling. Even the emails discussing the particular wording to be used in issuing press statements is provided.

      If FBI scientist Dr. Doug Beecher were to argue that the data relating to the Florida post offices needed to be withheld while he submitted an article about the sampling there, note that it would constitute a serious and actionable violation of FOIA. The CDC conclusion that is there were two routes of contamination and likely two letters containing anthrax sent to AMI. If the FBI wants to disagree with the CDC’s conclusion, and they are free to do so, then it is incumbent on the FBI to release the supporting sampling data and emails.

      • DXer said

        April 26, 2002 email from Max K. re “Wallingford Sampling” states:

        “The sampling was initiated by the USPS in response to concerns from custodial maintenance staff. The areas tested are referred to as the “High-Bay” and are only infrequently accessed. These are elevated areas (see pictures) above the machines, and include trusses, postal inspector galleries, cable trays, etc. USPS policy calls for the areas to be cleaned routinely; the Wallingford facility had never been cleaned, and there was concern that anthrax spores may be present above the previously detected contaminated machines.”

  8. Anonymous said

    Countdown: T-20 days and counting.

    Only 20 days until the end of February.

    Will the NAS meet their new deadline of February 2011, after the FBI apparently rejected the first NAS draft?

    Will the FBI be equally contentious when they see the new draft?

    If they don’t like the new one, what will they do? Delay further with a new stunt? Cancel the report completely? Claim it’s all “Classified”?

    Stay tuned for the exciting outcome.

    The start date for the project is 4/24/2009.

    A report will be issued at the end of the project.

    Update 12/7/10: The project duration has been extended. The report is expected to be issued in February 2011.

  9. DXer said

    J Occup Environ Hyg. 2011 Feb;8(2):113-22.

    Anthrax Letters in an Open Office Environment: Effects of Selected CDC Response Guidelines on Personal Exposure and Building Contamination.

    Kournikakis B, Martinez KF, McCleery RE, Shadomy SV, Ramos G.

    Defence R&D Canada-Suffield, Alberta, Canada.

    . By not leaving together with other co-workers, the risk of the letter opener cross-contaminating others was eliminated. The total potential spore aerosol exposure of the letter opener was not affected by remaining still and waiting 5 min to allow co-workers to escape first before leaving the office.

  10. DXer said

    Readers should also avail themselves of the learned insights by such folks as

    PDF of email from Milton Leitenberg, University of Maryland
    title: material for submission to the members of the NAS panel

    PDF of email from Martin Hugh-Jones with attached Word document cover letter from Martin Hugh-Jones, Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, and Stuart Jacobsen and attached Word document titled: Three Markers in the Attack Anthrax as Indicators of its Source: A Compilation of Documented Data

    I’m, of course, partial to

    PDF of email from Ross Getman
    subject: video of FBI anthrax expert discussing science

    though I meant to have Abby send it to the Pulitzer Committee, not the NAS Committee.

    Of course there is the sequel

    PDF of email from Ross Getman
    subject: Dr. Ezzell’s additional comments on science

    For those with a renewed interest in sampling, you should find interesting the comments by Barry Skolnick an independent technical analyst, who called on the committee to review the sampling methods originally used to collect anthrax from the infected facilities. Skolnick said that the committee is devoting too much attention to the microbial forensics. ‘It’s clear that [sampling] is not in the forefront of their minds.”

    You may also want to see

    32. 5/30/10
    PDF of email from Bernhard Kerscher, University of Aberdeen
    title: Amerithrax NAS

    33. 5/13/10
    PDF of email from Jacques Ravel, University of Maryland
    subject: Sequencing B. anthracis

  11. DXer said

    The MICROBIAL FORENSICS (Sept. 30, 2010) treatise discusses (p. 384, “Collection and Preservation”) the CDC and Post Office sampling which concluded two letters had been sent to AMI.

    “Key to determination of the appropriate strategy for collection of microbial forensic samples is the underlying question to be answered or mission to be accomplished. The selection of locations, equipment, or subjects to be accomplished. The selection of locations, equipment or subjects to be sampled, as well as to the methods of collection, will be determined by the purpose of the investigation. Sampling to quickly determine the presence and identity of a biological agent following a suspected attack or sampling to discern between a hoax or lethal bulk sample reires a different approach from sampling intended to determine the cleanliness of an area following decontamination after an accidental or intentional release. Sample collection strategy may be a “targeted” sampling strategy in which samples are collected from areas judged to have been most likely sites of contamination versus a “probability” sampling strategy in which samples are collected from a random area.”

    The authors explained (p. 385):

    “The USPS stated that they used a targeted method against the areas and equipment most likely to be contaminated because the collection was limited due to insufficient laboratory analytic capability. The GAO countered that the targeting approach used by the various agencies wasnot sufficient, arguing that probability sampling would have better allowed agencies to determine, with some defined level of confidence when all results are negative, whether a building was contaminated.”

    • DXer said

      Dr. Velsko co-authored with the FBI authors on validation relating to sample collection.

      Appl Environ Microbiol. 2008 Sep;74(18):5599-607. Epub 2008 Jul 25.

      Criteria for validation of methods in microbial forensics.

      Budowle B, Schutzer SE, Morse SA, Martinez KF, Chakraborty R, Marrone BL, Messenger SL, Murch RS, Jackson PJ, Williamson P, Harmon R, Velsko SP.

      UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ 07103, USA.

      “The ASTM collection method was developed to address one aspect of the response to and collection of bulk and swab samples from nonporous surfaces visibly coated with powders suspected of being biological agents, illustrating that the same analysis may be applied to different contexts. One application of the analysis attempts to determine the microorganism present at a site that is the cause of a disease or constitutes a weapon. The other application of the analysis is to determine that the microorganism or toxin is not present at the site (or at least no longer active) to evaluate whether it is safe to reenter the site. Each contextual use requires different sampling strategies. The degrees of confidence in a result will differ between these applications.”

      Here is a FBI lab publication on the issue:

      Toward a system of microbial forensics: from sample collection to interpretation of evidence.
      Budowle B, Schutzer SE, Ascher MS, Atlas RM, Burans JP, Chakraborty R, Dunn JJ, Fraser CM, Franz DR, Leighton TJ, Morse SA, Murch RS, Ravel J, Rock DL, Slezak TR, Velsko SP, Walsh AC, Walters RA.

  12. Old Atlantic said

    The shoes spread the spores theory is still unable to account for the spores in all the copier machines. The latter is accounted for by the voltage theory and the articles cited previously on this thread.

    However, if the spores were sucked up by the copy machines through electric fields, then the spores needed to be in the air.

    That would be needed to infect people as well.

    This lends support to the spores behaving like the spores in the Livermore paper. Those spores were fluidized and the paper didn’t disclose how that was done. It said that its fluidization was equivalent to weaponization.

    The spores at AMI behaved like these fluidized Livermore spores.

    That points more towards Battelle or Dugway or some site in the secret (to the Clinton White House perhaps) sites in this empire of dark labs.

    Of course, al Qaeda may also have obtained spores from such a lab since security is subversive to current forms of stupidity as Dxer has pointed out.

  13. DXer said

    Here is the peer-reviewed CDC publication chart.

    There is the entry “Envelope containing powder opened in Florida media co. headquarters with the arrow pointing to September 25.

    Then there is the peer-reviewed publication chart entry stating “Letter with powder read by index patient in Florida media co. headquarters.” That has an arrow pointing to September 19.

    First Case of Bioterrorism-Related Inhalational Anthrax in the United States, Palm Beach County, Florida, 2001

  14. DXer said

    Case of Fatal Inhalational Anthrax Due to Bioterrorism in the United States

    Larry M. Bush, M.D., Barry H. Abrams, M.D., Anne Beall, B.S., M.T., and Caroline C. Johnson, M.D.

    N Engl J Med 2001; 345:1607-1610November 29, 2001

    Coworkers report that the patient had closely examined a suspicious letter containing powder on September 19, approximately eight days before the onset of illness. (This incubation period is highly plausible, given the modal incubation period of 10 days reported in the Sverdlovsk outbreak.5) Since this case was recognized, other cases of inhalational and cutaneous anthrax have been reported in several different states. Index

    • Old Atlantic said

      Excellent find. Let me quote a little more for confirmation of other sources.

      “The presence of anthrax endospores in the patient’s work environment (e.g., in the computer keyboard), as well as in asymptomatic coworkers, confirmed the building as the site where the infection had been acquired.7 Extensive environmental samples from the patient’s home and travel destinations were negative for anthrax. Moreover, the finding of B. anthracis in regional and local postal centers that served the work site implicates one or more mailed letters or packages as the probable source of exposure.”

      Notice how the New England Journal of Medicine, peer reviewed I understand, allows the testimony of co-workers to be used.

      When a group of people sit around looking at the victim snort spores, that is actually considered evidence in a peer reviewed journal.

      If he got infected on Sep 25, 2001, then the onset of illness would be only 3 days v. the 10 day median cited in NEJM.

      This evidence strongly indicates the Sep 19 date, ie the date the J-Lo letter was opened and sniffed by the victim.

      • DXer said

        I have no problem with the Ed arguing that the CDC and Post Office and EPA and Palm Beach County Department etc and Mrs. Stevens and Stevens colleagues etc. are wrong. They may well be. But it most definitely is something that needs to be addressed by the NAS which is tasked with assessing whether the FBI reached appropriate conclusions based on the scientific conclusions reached and methods used.

        While not a scientist, I would think the key lies in interpretation of the data from the 6 post offices (and the 1 DC/PO). Might that have been cross-contamination rather than the path of two letters? That would require the expert NAS panel members to review the analysis done by the CDC authors in reaching their conclusion.

        Perhaps Ed is right that what is published in the peer reviewed journals and government reports is inconsistent with an Ivins Theory. I would have thought that crediting the second AMI letter would merely require that the FBI posit a third trip to the post office — which I would have thought was logically possible. The FBI has been so loosy-goosy with the facts and withholding of key documents that they might have well imagined, without any factual support, 3 trips rather than 2. (One thing someone might have checked, if it was available, is the mileage recorded upon oil changes). For example, notice the FBI withheld all of dr. Ivins early interviews and instead relies on their characterization of his fuzziness in recollecting details from many years earlier as to what he did on a particular night. They even took his contemporaneous notes and didn’t leave a copy!

        Dr. Ivins had an alibi for when Ed imagines he travelled — Ed thinks he must have travelled at night. In support, Ed reasons that Bruce went to Ithaca overnight but that’s not true. The testimony and traffic records show he travelled when Diane was out of town, not at night. The idea that a man can leave a small house with 3 other adults without being noticed is mistaken — especially given the national attention drawn to the fact that anthrax had been mailed from NJ.

        Ivins would trade movie clips from popular movies where young ladies were restrained. (I think he traded with someone living in a Philly apartment complex). Wasn’t Jennifer restrained in The Cell (2000)? If that were a movie seized, I would remain fascinated by the puzzle that is Amerithrax. Otherwise, I view is as just an prime example of how people do not process information well because everyone is busy with so many other things in their life. An existential threat to the United States is worth making time for on your list of things to do today.

    • Old Atlantic said

      It is important to keep in mind the alternative theory. The alternative is that the mail man kicked a spore with his shoe into the victim’s nose. If so, perhaps he should be recruited as a soccer player.

  15. DXer said

    Boca Raton postal workers tested for anthrax

    Associated Press Writer
    Published Saturday, October 13, 2001

    The FBI had not found “any evidence of other bacteria in the building” other than five locations — in the three victims, one mail bin and Stevens’ computer keyboard, Pesquera said.


    “The working theory we have right now is that a letter came into American Media. It came into the mail room, it arrived on Bob Stevens’ desk,” said National Enquirer editor Steve Coz on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

    “Somebody else opened that letter. Unfortunately for Bob Stevens, he was handed the letter and Bob Stevens is farsighted. He then brought the letter up to his eyes so he could see it. The theory is that that’s when he got the inhalation of anthrax.”

  16. DXer said

    Jean Malecki the Palm County health department director, reports

    “… two different routes that would eventually go back to the AMI building. AMI is a conglomerate. There was the National Enquirer, which had its major building in the Lantana area for years. There is still mail that goes to that old building and eventually comes back down a pathway that goes down to AMI. The pathway to the National Enquirer was contaminated with powder. There were separately contaminated facilities. That’s been independently corroborated by interviewing people.” (see Cole, p. 41)

  17. DXer said

    I rely upon the peer-reviewed study.

    Ed relies on a statement made by an investigator on October 9, 2001 — although he doesn’t give the date.

    Let’s travel back to October 9, 2001.

    October 9, 2001 –

    GWEN IFILL: No one knows how anthrax got into the Florida building, but yesterday, anthrax spores also were found on a computer keyboard. FBI officials sealed the building, and began treating the case as a criminal investigation. Attorney General John Ashcroft would not rule out terrorism.

    JOHN ASHCROFT: We are unable to make a conclusive statement about the nature of this as either an attack or an occurrence, absent more definitive laboratory and other investigative returns. We regard this as an investigation, which could become a clear criminal investigation.

    Nice science Ed!

    • DXer said

      October 9, 2001 was a time when the investigators wanted to avoid undue panic among postal workers. While the intent is commendable, then some postal workers were infected and others got angry over the early comments that were intended to be reassuring and had no scientific basis.

  18. Old Atlantic said

    FBI interview of Stephanie Daley

    SD: I opened a letter that day with powder.

    FBI: No you didn’t. You ripped it open and threw it on the floor.

    SD: I don’t remember that part.

    FBI: Witnesses are so unreliable. But we know.

    • Old Atlantic said

      FBI: Interview Ernesto Blanco

      FBI: After Daley ripped the letter open and threw it on the floor, you took your feet and stood on the letter grounding your feet into the powder for what, about ten minutes? Twenty?

      Blanco: Uh, no.

      FBI: Then you went to each copy machine and took the copy paper out of the ream and then stamped your foot onto the copy paper before putting it in the machine.

      Blanco: I don’t even put copy paper in the machines.

      FBI: We know.

      • Old Atlantic said

        And you did it right away to every copy machine. You did it before anything else. Got your powder foot into the copy paper in every machine in the building one after the other.

  19. DXer said

    Ed reports:

    “I was told that information showing the J-Lo letter did not contain anthrax and that there was only one anthrax letter delivered to AMI was presented at the 4th National Bio-Threat Conference on Dec. 8, 2010, just over a month ago. Unfortunately, however, all the data that was presented during that presentation have been embargoed until a scientific article can be peer reviewed and published. ”


    But, see, Ed? That’s precisely my point. Do you not see that you have deftly proved my point? The peer-reviewed conclusion is that there likely were two letters. Now we were promised numerous additional peer-reviewed articles would be coming a couple years ago. They never materialized. Do you really think that a promise of an additional one — with the evidence embargoed — will serve for the NAS review! Or served the ends of justice Ha! You obviously haven’t read the draft NAS report!

    • DXer said

      The scientific issue by the way is whether there likely was two (rather than one) letter. That is the issue addressed by the sampling addressed in the October 2002 EID article.

    • BugMaster said

      Ed, where in God’s name did you ever get the impression that anything submitted for peer review is under such strict embargo!

      You have claimed repeatedly that information that should have been forthcoming isn’t because of peer review!

      Christ sakes, Ed, the mission of the FBI is not “Publish or Perish!”

      I don’t think tree killing is anywhere in their unwritten organizational mission statement!

      • BugMaster said

        Ed, you have used the “FBI can’t tell us because of peer-review embargo” rationalization for years now. It is getting rather absurd.

        BTW: What if the peers reviewing this article don’t accept it? Will the authors then say:

        “Oh, wait, we have several more pages to add, here they are, please review it again”.

        The FBI needs the conclusion to be that there was one letter, opened by Stepanie Daly (?) on September 25 to support their assumptions regarding the number and timing of the mailings. (Seeing as they didn’t recover any subtilis and the material sent to AMI was more like the Senate mailing material, not the NYC material).

      • DXer said

        DR. MAJIDI — and we will follow the procedures for peer review and just to kind of manage your expectations, as I have published a number of articles in a peer review journal. You submit. You wait for reviews. You make corrections. You resubmit; and, at that point, it may get accepted for publication. It may get rejected.

        And then from there on there is a lead time to a press, so that process can be as short as — you know, half a dozen months to as long as a year and a half or two. The Human Genome Project, the last gene that was sequenced was in 2003. The paper that came out of it was in 2006.

        QUESTION: So where are you in the process? Have you submitted? You haven’t submitted yet?

        DR. MAJIDI: We have many papers that are currently in publications. They are already published.

        QUESTION: But the full sequence here?

        DR. MAJIDI: We have prepared some that are ready to be submitted and we will prepare the rest depending on — you know, as we get more material ready.

        QUESTION: The full sequence, is it ready to be submitted?

        DR. MAJIDI: Eventually, yes.

        QUESTION: These people are free of secrecy agreements to talk about their scientific results?

        DR. MAJIDI: Yeah, that’s one of the things I mention actually in the beginning, that number one, we are waiving the non-disclosure agreements, so people can talk about their scientific results.

      • DXer said

        Dr. Majidi made the comment about submitting papers and the possibility they may get rejected on August 18, 2008.
        It is now January 16, 2011 — 2 1/2 years later.

        Readers may infer that the articles were rejected given that they did not appear.

      • DXer said

        I have specific information that some have been rejected and so the plan of having a bunch published at once in the EID was not possible.

    • DXer said

      Ed, I am not relying on the 2002 report. (I have not even concerned myself with the issue).

      The FBI is relying on the article. See the list of articles the FBI cited as being relied upon.

    • Old Atlantic said

      Preprints even in quantitative biology.

    • Old Atlantic said

    • Old Atlantic said

      Has preprint servers in biology. In the old days, you would submit a paper to the publisher and they would print up copies of your article that you mailed out.

      These would be before the article was published. Copying the preprint and publishing it as your own work was considered naughty.

  20. DXer said

    Now look at what Ed has posted on the issue on his webpage and notice how he doesn’t put the dates. He says that I criticized his sources because they appeared before the reports (which appeared in October 2002 and in 2004). Instead, what I said was that they were made BEFORE THE TESTING OF THE POST OFFICES! (And I further said that the October 9-October 11 comments were harshly criticized in the literature on crisis communication). Would it have too much to ask that Ed put the dates on the comments as I repeatedly asked so that the casual reader was not misled?

    “I pointed to two news sources which showed the FBI’s analysis of the J-Lo letter:

    The first source said:

    On Tuesday the FBI dismissed reports that the anthrax that killed Sun newspaper photo editor Bob Stevens may have been sent to his office in the American Media building in a “weird love letter to Jennifer Lopez.” The letter reportedly contained a trinket and white powder.

    The second source said:

    FBI investigators apparently dismiss the Jennifer Lopez letter to AMI as a potential source of the anthrax – “We are not in the possession of the Jennifer Lopez letter but it does not appear to be a valid lead.” It was reported that the substance in the envelope turned out to be detergent.
    But, someone on Lew Weinstein’s site dismissed these dismissals because those news reports were dated before the CDC and USPS reports.”

  21. DXer said

    The goofy letter sent to the publisher of the National Enquirer and Sun tabloids in Florida sought to dissuade Jennifer Lopez from a planned marriage. “Wedding” is known Al Qaeda-speak for “event” or “attack.”

    In the Summer of 2001, Mohammed Atta was communicating with a 9-11 and CBRN planner Ramzi Binalshibh — codenamed “Jenny.”

    In contacting Ramzi electronically, Atta pretended to be writing to an imaginary girlfriend named “Jenny.”

    He used tradecraft code in these contacts — he used the code “Two sticks, a dash and a cake with a stick down” to convey to his contact the intended date of the 9/11 attack.

    Khalid Mohammed used a similar code in communicating with Ramzi Binalshibh during the period, instructing Binalshibh to send “the skirts” to “Sally”. “Sally” was the codename for Zacarias Moussaoui. See 911 Commission Report.

    KSM admits that upon the death of military commander Atef, he came to supervise the cell planning on attacking the United States with weaponized anthrax. In 2003, after the interrogation of regional operative Hambali, “extremely virulent” anthrax was found at a house in Kandahar that could be readily weaponized. Al Qaeda had virulent anthrax prior to 9/11.

    Stevens noted at the time it was especially odd given that the Sun did not deal with celebrities, which was the subject of the sister-paper Globe. Stevens’ fellow photo editor Roz Suss was looking over his shoulder: “With that Bob says to me, ‘Hey, I think there’s something gold in here. It looks like a Jewish star sticking out of the powder.’ I walked up behind him and reached over his shoulder. I pulled this little star out of what looked like a mound of powder in this letter.” “It looked like something from a Cracker Jacks box,” she says. She picked it out of the powder and tossed it in her wastebasket. Stevens’ colleague Bobby Bender recalls opening a large envelope to Jennifer Lopez, care of the Sun. In it was a cigar tube containing a cigar, a small Star of David charm, and somethiing that seemed like soap powder. According to an early National Enquirer,

    Stevens held it up to his face and then put it down on the keyboard (where traces of anthrax were found). The publisher’s wife was the real estate broker who rented to two of the hijackers. Small world, eh?

    KSM’s assistant in supervising the anthrax cell was Hambali, who along with two colleagues considered attacking an Israeli restaurant, with a Star of David above it, in the Khao San Rd. backpacker area in Bangkok.

    Jennifer Lopez’ fame had withstood a number of underperforming movies, to include the movie “The Cell” in the year 2000. In the movie, following a trail of bodies, an FBI agent tracks down and captures a disturbed serial killer. Before the killer can reveal the whereabouts of his next victim (a woman trapped in a cell on the verge of drowning), he falls into a coma. Enter FBI psychologist Lopez, who uses a radical link to the killer’s brain that could destroy her own sanity. “Her mission: Find the cell’s location before time runs out, and avoid getting trapped inside the killer’s head.” How apt.

    Mrs. Stevens explained:

    “They get strange letters sometimes, and the consensus seems to be that
    if Robert wasn’t wearing his glasses and if it was something funny, he
    would hold the letters up to his face. They think perhaps that’s how he
    got it. Just bad luck.”

    The CIA knows that wedding is Al-Qaeda-speak for an event. That, according to New York Times journalists, is why the CIA got so anxious to have the Buffalo boys arrested. Apart from an email about a “big feast,” they had started talking about a planned wedding. Interpreting such code is not without risk. The CIA kicked down the door in Bahrain and dragged him away from the altar to the horror of his bride-to-be.
    What does the J.Lo letter tell us about the sender, or senders? J.Lo is what they used to call a “sex bomb” – and the biggest one at the time. She had international fame. The vehicle had a “weird” love letter, a Star of David, maybe a cigar. Who has “issues” and weird obsessions with women, sex (with a cigar being a crude symbol) and Jewish symbolism? Atta, for example, had strict instructions in his will about what women would be allowed to do at his funeral. Follow the anomalies.

    Two of the hijackers had subscriptions to AMI publications, as did at least one other Al Qaeda operative in contact with Atta in the summer of 2001.

  22. Old Atlantic said

    Is there material on his webpage that is relevant to these discussions?

    • Old Atlantic said

      Click to access NYTAnthrax12-2009.pdf

      “Investigators found traces of anthrax on two African drums
      and an electrical outlet in the room where the event took

      Spores love that electricity.

      • Old Atlantic said

        “Dr. Talbot said, and are theorizing that the woman
        swallowed spores that were aerosolized by the drumming.”

        But there were no drums at AMI. That means the spores had to be treated to aerosolize? Consistent with Livermore using fluidized particles that they stated were equivalent to weaponized spores.

  23. Old Atlantic said


    U.S. Germ Warfare Research Pushes Treaty Limits

    By THE NEW YORK TIMES SEP 04, 2001

    This article was reported and written by Judith Miller, Stephen Engelberg and William J. Broad.

    Over the past several years, the United States has embarked on a program of secret research on biological weapons that, some officials say, tests the limits of the global treaty banning such weapons.

    Administration officials said the need to keep such projects secret was a significant reason behind President Bush’s recent rejection of a draft agreement to strengthen the germ-weapons treaty, which has been signed by 143 nations.

    The draft would require those countries to disclose where they are conducting defensive research involving gene-splicing or germs likely to be used in weapons. The sites would then be subject to international inspections.

    Many national security officials in both the Clinton and Bush administrations opposed the draft, arguing that it would give potential adversaries a road map to what the United States considers its most serious vulnerabilities.

    Among the facilities likely to be open to inspection under the draft agreement would be the West Jefferson, Ohio, laboratory of the Battelle Memorial Institute, a military contractor that has been selected to create the genetically altered anthrax.

    Several officials who served in senior posts in the Clinton administration acknowledged that the secretive efforts were so poorly coordinated that even the White House was unaware of their full scope.

    The Pentagon’s project to build a germ factory was not reported to the White House, they said. President Clinton, who developed an intense interest in germ weapons, was never briefed on the programs under way or contemplated, the officials said.

    ==end excerpt

    • BugMaster said

      So why wasn’t the New York Times targeted?

      Too obvious!?

      • Old Atlantic said

        I think the theory you outlined before that they switched to al Qaeda after 9/11 makes sense.

        Battelle may have sent it out to prevent their being shut down. Leahy and Daschle were liberal senators who might otherwise have led or gone along with shutting down Battelle.

        Battelle was shown as a rogue operation by this article. The article says even the White House didn’t know what they were up to.

        Battelle had the motive prior to 9/11 to send this. Then after 9/11, they got scared that there would be a huge hunt for them, so they switched to the al Qaeda type letters to throw off the scent.

        Or they just wanted the attention and funding. Or a bit of both.

        Then they deflected the investigation every chance they got. They also likely have thrown a lot of money around DC in the years since 9/11. A lot more than Ivins did.

      • Old Atlantic said

        The panic the FBI is in now also points to Battelle. They have all their secret information. They got into bed with Battelle.

        They have read this Livermore report on the way fluidized spores behave, which Livermore says are the same as weaponized.

        Just the fact that the FBI didn’t use these published papers to point to anthrax spores getting into the copiers out of the air is suspicious. They must have read these papers. They must know that copiers have these high voltage wires.

        The efforts the FBI is making now point to them as realizing that Battelle is the top suspect. They know they joined with them in the investigation in a way they should not have.

        The panic the FBI is showing now is most consistent with them believing it is Battelle.

        • DXer said

          It was the fellow who took Ali Al-Timimi’s office that was doing the electro-magnetic detection work.

        • DXer said

          The Microdroplet Cell Culture method that involves silica in the culture medium to conentrate growth states:

          “Ferromagnetic particles are sterilized and introduced into a non-magnetic mixing/coating vessel. Electromagnetic inductors are mounted in parallel on either side of the coating vessel. Activation of the electromagnetic inductors causes an electromagnetic field to exist within the vessel. Oscillations of this electromagnetic field are induced by the inductors. The ferromagnetic particles orient along and follow the field lines of the electromagnetic field and follow the oscillations of the field. The rapid motion of the field and particles vigorously mixes the hydrophobic particles and liquid media, inducing the formation of droplets.

          The size of the microdroplets will vary, with an optimum size for the cultivation of microorganisms, for example, usually being between 0.5 and 2.0 mm in diameter. Sizes within this range have been found to result in high concentrations of microorganisms per microdroplet. It should readily be understood by one skilled in the art, however, that the optimal size of microdroplet will vary, depending on such factors as the growth rate of the cultured cell type, the amount of optimal aeration for a given cell type, the most effective cell density for production of a given metabolite, and the like.”

        • DXer said

          But more simply a corona plasma discharge imparts a unipolar charge on the particles.

        • BugMaster said

          I wouldn’t characterize Battelle as a rogue operation at the time, a rogue element within Battelle is the most likely culprit.

          As far as the misdirection of the subsequenct investigation, however, there were a number of willing participants.

          Opps, I forgot! We are not supposed to say “Battelle” … we are to use the phrase “quasi-governmental organization” and leave it at that!

  24. Old Atlantic said

    Google tie breaker

    “september 4, 2001” J-Lo letter

    About 31,200 results (0.12 seconds)

    “september 19, 2001” J-Lo letter

    About 7,600 results (0.41 seconds)

    Over 4 to 1 in favor of September 4, 2001.

    By the way, these are good searches for people to do at home.

    The NYT released its anthrax article on September 4, 2001.

  25. DXer said

    Miami Herald, The : Front

    $2.95 – Miami Herald – Oct 4, 2006
    In mid-September 2001, Stevens opened an letter containing anthrax addressed to Jennifer Lopez care of The Sun. The deadly bacterium spread throughout the …

  26. DXer said


    Building is free of anthrax, but mystery remains

    A quarantine in the Boca Raton building contaminated by deadly anthrax is set to be lifted. But the mystery may never be solved — who contaminated it and why?


    The letter addressed to Jennifer Lopez, containing a Star of David and a bluish powder, arrived in the mailroom of The Sun newspaper in Boca Raton on Sept. 19, 2001.

    Several people handled it, including photo editor Robert Stevens. Within weeks, Stevens, 63, was dead, two others infected and more than 1,000 employees — ordered to take antibiotics for weeks — were in panic.

    The scare heightened U.S. concern over bioterrorism and turned a medical mystery into a federal criminal investigation. Powder hysteria raged across South Florida, as almost every suspicious speck became cause for alarm.

    The best criminal minds in the nation have been unable to solve the mystery of who sent the letter and why.

    Now, almost 5 ½ years later, the Boca Raton building where it all started has been cleared to open.

    The headquarters of American Media, publisher of The Sun and other supermarket tabloids including The National Enquirer and The Globe, is expected to reopen next week.

    The beige three-story building, at 5401 Broken Sound Blvd., was quarantined since the anthrax was discovered. But federal environmental experts concluded last month the building has been cleared of the deadly spores. The agency’s final report was given to the Palm Beach County Department of Health on Monday.


    In a case that has since grown cold, investigators have never found the AMI letter — or letters — suspected of contaminating the building, killing Stevens, infecting Blanco and leaving an anthrax spore in the nasal passages of a third employee, who also worked in the mailroom.

    Stevens was the first person in 75 years to die of anthrax inhalation in the United States.

    The next chapter in the anthrax mystery is likely to begin next week when Dr. Jean Malecki, director of the Palm Beach County Health Department, reviews the final report, said Tim O’Connor, a spokesman for the Palm Beach County Health Department.


    Malecki is expected to consult with state and federal health department officials before signing off on the removal of the quarantine, O’Connor said.

  27. Old Atlantic said

    The following is an example of a discussion of the J-Lo letter.

    FBI Ignored Letter in Anthrax Probe

    Phil Brennan,
    Thursday, Aug. 15, 2002

    “On its Web site, Newsweek magazine reported that on Sept. 4 AMI received a “weird love letter to Jennifer Lopez” containing a “soapy” powder and a star of David, addressed to the singer-actress c/o The Sun tabloids.

    That report is the only source of information concerning the date of receipt of the letter, or that it was addressed to Lopez specifically in care of the Sun.”

    “FBI’s Strange Reaction

    Moreover, the FBI, which dismissed the letter out of hand and denied it had any significance, for reasons not disclosed asked AMI not to go into detail about it with the media or anyone else. The whole thing just vanished from the investigative radar screen.

    The Newsweek report that the Lopez letter arrived Sept. 4th, seven days before the events of the terrorist hijacking attacks, would have assumed enormous significance had the letter been kept. It would seem to point the finger of guilt directly at the 9-11 hijackers, most of whom lurked nearby until leaving for their deadly rendezvous with the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.”

    There may be better information or sources, please feel free to link to them or reference them.

    • Old Atlantic said

      The FBI wanted this dropped because it pointed away from the lone mailer theory? They had already adopted that by this time. Just like they St. Petersburg letters are not public and are ignored. Those tend to indicate more than a single person.

  28. Old Atlantic said

    All the AMI copy machines containing anthrax spores is a critical issue.

    The copy machines absorbing spores from the air shows that the spores were in the air. This shows they were more like the fluidized spores in the Livermore paper I cited.

    The AMI letters being aerosolized is a key issue. Like Bugmaster pointing out that they contained no subtilis of the same signature as NY Post that we have been told about.

    This shows a separate batch and preparation.

    A sending prior to 9/11 is of key importance. The J-Lo letter was sent before 9/11.

    The theory of ripping open the letter in the copier room v J-Lo is a key difference.

    An anthrax that aerosolized throughout the AMI building is a very big issue.

    If this was prepared well in advance and sent before 9/11, it is distinctly important.

    If the J-Lo letter spores were aerolized and fluidized in a way similar to the Livermore experiment spores then it points towards more elaborate preparation in advance.

    The J-Lo letter is another aspect of timing.

    The J-Lo letter not containing any Islamic references is a key point. This bears on several hypotheses.

    It is difficult to know in advance how these types of issues can combine with other information.

  29. Old Atlantic said

    Al Qaeda could not know before 9/11 that the planes would succeed. They could not know that months earlier.

    Bush in August could have read out the title of the PDB, bin Laden determined to attack in the United States in public and told the airports to watch out for suspicious characters.

    They could not know until it was almost over that the planes attack would work.

    We know they looked into crop dusters as another type of terrorism.

    Mailing anthrax in the J-Lo letter the week before would give them backup if they were caught. They could not put in a warning or refer to their cause without risking an alert at the airports. It would take at least a week for any anthrax to be detected in the J-Lo letter. So it was safe to send.

    The letters after 9/11 then contained warnings in accordance with Islam and also referenced themselves. They were also meant as a warning perhaps not to invade Afghanistan.

    • Old Atlantic said

      By sending the J-Lo letter on Sep 4, 2001, al Qaeda would know that the anthrax was already being spread before 9/11. This would mean even if they were all caught and subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques, the US could still not stop this anthrax letter from having already started to spread anthrax.

      • DXer said

        The burden is on Old Atlantic in establishing the mailing date for the J-Lo letter, complete with citations to the record. I refer him to the transcripts of interviews conducted by Leonard Cole.

  30. Old Atlantic said

    For the convenience of those reading down from here. There are posts below on the issue of whether a photocopier would absorb anthrax spores from the air. A photocopier has a high voltage wire. They generate electric fields.

    Anthrax spores will tend to be deposited onto charged surfaces. This is discussed in the papers referenced below.

    Computer monitors turned on picked up 25 times as many spores as when turned off in one paper below.

    One paper is on the specific experience of the Senate Hart office building.

    The AMI building had spores in the copy machines. So one theory is the copy machines absorb spores from the air based on their high voltage wires. The other is that the spores were spilled onto the outside of sealed reams of paper in the copy room and then carried from there to the copy machines and then got into the copy machines.

    • Old Atlantic said

      If the copy machines absorbed spores from the air, then their cartridges would have been taken to the mail room for recycling. The mail room also likely contained large heavy duty copier machines that were run more frequently and longer. Thus the mail room would have been a collector for spores from other copy machines as well its own.

  31. DXer said

    With respect to the conclusion by the CDC and Post Office and EPA and GAO and FBI team that there likely were two letters containing anthrax sent to AMI, let’s review the biography of some of the world-class talent that they had leading the epidemiological investigation at the AMI building when the FBI visited AMI in August 2002. As a rule of thumb, go with the Physician Detective over the Fake Detective every time.

    Ed never bothered to email Dr. Kilbourne to tell him he disputes the conclusion of the government scientists on the issue.

    Yet, Ed relies upon the data that Dr. Kilbourne’s team generated and just disagrees with the interpretation of the experts.

    Okay. Given Ed can cite no epidemiologist who agrees with him — not a single one — there is no contrary evidence admissible under Daubert.

    Introducing… excerpt upon his membership as a Fellow of the
    American College of Medical Toxicology

    “Physician Detective: Captain Edwin M. Kilbourne, MD,


    Dr. Kilbourne graduated from Cornell University Medical
    College, completed residency training in internal medicine at the
    University of Alabama and fellowship training in epidemiology
    at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).


    Next he moved to the CDC’s Epidemiology Program Office
    (EPO) to focus on information technology applications in public
    health, particularly in the areas of electronic (MMWR) publica-
    tion, surveillance, and emerging techniques for data analysis
    using artificial intelligence. He ultimately became the Deputy
    Director of the EPO.

    In 2000, Dr. Kilbourne joined Agency for Toxic Substance and
    Disease Registry. Within three years, he became the Chief
    Medical Officer of both the NCEH and the Agency for Toxic
    Substances and Diseases Registry (ATSDR) when these centers
    were consolidated. To name only a few of the areas encom-
    passed by his program were ATSDR’s geospatial research,
    analysis and services program (GRASP); advisory body on
    health and safety for NCEH/ATSDR personnel; and oversight
    office for the CDC/Emory University Residency in Medical
    Toxicology. A notable investigation led by Dr. Kilbourne was
    that of the anthrax-contaminated AMI Building in Boca Raton,
    the largest-ever hazardous evidence–gathering operation in the
    FBI’s history.

    We are honored to welcome Dr. Kilbourne as a Fellow of the
    American College of Medical Toxicology.”

  32. Old Atlantic said

    “Charged aerosol particles can be attracted or repelled from charged surfaces or other particles. For aerosol particles that are highly charged the electric forces may exceed the gravitational force by several orders of magnitude (27). Weis et al. (25) observed that B. anthracis spores deposited on the charged monitors, indicating the influence of electrostatic effects on spore behavior. In a recent study we found that spores deposited onto plastic had a greater deposition velocity than those deposited onto steel or fiberglass duct materials, likely due to charge forces between spores and surfaces (12). Even though the deposition velocity was higher between steel and plastic potentially due in part to electrostatic charge, the reaerosolization velocity was the same. Electrostatic charge forces may affect spore deposition velocity more than spore reaerosolization, possibly due to charge dissipation once the spore deposits onto a charged surface.”

    Reaerosolization of Fluidized Spores in Ventilation Systems[down-pointing small open triangle]
    Paula Krauter* and Arthur Biermann
    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory,

    • Old Atlantic said

      Appl Environ Microbiol. 2007 April; 73(7): 2165–2172.
      Published online 2007 February 9. doi: 10.1128/AEM.02289-06.

      So the FBI should have analyzed this before 2008.

    • Old Atlantic said

      “Dominant factors affecting the deposition velocity included the static charge attraction between spores and the plastic duct, the macroroughness of folds in the plastic film, the wire helix in the plastic duct, or the joint-seam and corrugated connectors in galvanized steel. A difference of 2 orders of magnitude between the charge of plastic and that of fiberglass and steel was determined (12). The static charge from plastic was negative and may have attracted the positively charged spores. ”

      The copier has wires and in fact a charged high voltage wire. So it may have had multiple factors going for it for increasing the deposition onto the copier.

    • Old Atlantic said

      You can use find/search and the word charge to find passages on the impact of static charges or charged particles. Charge by itself will pick up these words that contain it.

  33. Old Atlantic said

    “During the second active sampling period, sequential swab samples of a computer monitor screen sampled in the off, then on position, resulted in a 25-fold increase in viable colony counts on the charged screen. Deposition of spores on the charged monitor may indicate influence of electrostatic effects on spore behavior. ”

    Secondary Aerosolization of Viable Bacillus anthracis Spores in a Contaminated US Senate Office

    1. Christopher P. Weis, PhD;
    2. Anthony J. Intrepido, MS, CIH;
    3. Aubrey K. Miller, MD, MPH;
    4. Patricia G. Cowin, MS, CIH;
    5. Mark A. Durno, BS;
    6. Joan S. Gebhardt, PhD;
    7. Robert Bull, PhD


    Thus the photocopiers at AMI when running and making copies with their high voltage wires would have absorbed anthrax spores from the air even more than this increase.

  34. Old Atlantic said

    The Florida letters seem less likely that they had a warning. This would make sense if they were sent before 9/11 by al Qaeda. Al Qaeda might have wanted to get the letters started to spread terror at the same time as 9/11. So they send them the week before.

    They would then not have any warnings in the letters before 9/11 so as not to start the authorities looking for suspicious characters.

    There is also the issue of the insertion of the anthrax spores inside a slip of paper to contain them. This does not seem to have happened that anyone remembers at AMI.

    If someone ripped open a letter of spores, spilled them everywhere, and then delivered the letter, it would have been quite a story. Especially, if it contained the warning that it was from al Qaeda and contained anthrax.

    If a letter is ripped open in the mail room, you look at it when they deliver it to you. If it contains a warning message from al Qaeda on Sep 25 saying it contains anthrax you would notice.

    The ripped letter would be a letter people would look at and they would notice the warning. The person in the mail room would have looked at the letter and seen the warning and threats.

    So 2 separate people would have had to ignore this, the person in the mail room who first opens it and the person it is delivered to. This is unlikely.

    If there was no warning in the letter and no folded paper to hold the anthrax, then it is different from the others.

    The J-Lo letter makes more sense as a way to deliver the powder.

    • Old Atlantic said

      When the anthrax was actually discovered in Florida, they did not say it was al Qaeda immediately.

      So if al Qaeda sent it before 9/11, the J-Lo letter would be a way to avoid an alert against them if the authorities were called in quickly somehow. It seems unlikely, it would be processed and anthrax detected until after 9/11 given that it had no warning of anthrax.

  35. DXer said

    Ed Lake’s confusion on the subject stems from his failure to research the facts not only relating to the Florida post offices but also to the August 2002 visit to AMI.

    It was the distinguished Cornell MD from Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC) who led the team of 30. In December of 2000, he joined the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) as Associate Administrator for Public Health. In 2002, he led a 30-person contingent from ATSDR and CDC to the anthrax-contaminated AMI Building in Boca Raton, Florida where they assisted some 60 FBI agents and scientists in a forensic analysis of the building. This effort remains the largest-ever hazardous evidence-gathering operation in FBI’s history. Dr. Kilbourne’s group assisted FBI with logistics, sampling for anthrax spores, laboratory analyses, and real-time data analyses while still in the field, permitting the most efficient use of field time and resources.

    Dr. Kilbourne was named Chief Medical Officer of CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) and of ATSDR when the leaderships of these centers were consolidated in 2003 under the Director of the CDC. As Chief Medical Officer, he led an office that contained CDC’s principal GIS and geospatial analysis group and providing federal leadership in toxicology and environmental health for NCEH/ATSDR’s key clinical partner-organizations.

    Dr. Kilbourne retired from CDC and the U.S. Public Health Service in July of 2005 and immediately accepted a position with the U.S. Department of State as Director of the Weapons Scientist Redirection Program and Director of the Iraq Interim Center for Science and Industry. In this role, he worked with Sadam’s former WMD and advanced weapons scientists in an effort to assist them both economically and in their transition to typical civilian work, thus minimizing any attraction of their working for the insurgents or for unfriendly governments in the region. Dr. Kilbourne was based in Baghdad for one year (August 2005 – August 2006).

    Dr. Kilbourne has been elected fellow in three major medical organizations, the American College of Physicians, the American College of Preventive Medicine, and the American College of Medical Toxicology. He is board-certified in these specialties (internal medicine, preventive medicine, and medical toxicology), and he holds clinical privileges at Grady Hospital and the Georgia Poison Center. At Emory University he is Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine and Adjunct Associate Professor of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. He was also elected to membership in the American Epidemiological Society and was selected by his medical colleagues to serve a seven-year term on the medical toxicology subspecialty board, which writes the certifying exam and determines requirements for U.S. physicians who wish to practice as toxicological specialists. He is the author of over 100 scientific publications, principally in the fields of epidemiology, toxicology, and environmental health. Dr. Kilbourne lives in Atlanta with his wife and 4 children.

    Dr. Kilbourne would be an excellent witness if the NAS has any doubts about the conclusion that there likely were two letters containing anthrax and two paths of contamination through the Florida Post Offices.

    Dr. Kilbourne does not dispute the finding that that there likely were two letters containing anthrax to the AMI building. Only Ed Lake does — and he is not qualified to address the issue. Old Atlantic should be addressing his questions to the experts and not Ed, whose posts just serve to confuse the good work done by the experts.

    • DXer said

      Indeed, to illustrate just how confused Ed is on the issue, the data he relies upon from the First, Second and Third Floors of the AMI building is from the very article whose conclusion he disputes.

      Ed is entitled to disagree with the army of highly trained epidemiologists. So long as he understands that is the official government scientific conclusion — that there likely were two letters containing anthrax traveling two different paths of contamination through the Florida post offices.

  36. Old Atlantic said

    Ed Lake page on J-Lo letter

    The anthrax is believed to have gotten into the copiers from reams of copy paper that had trapped airborne spores in the company’s mail room, where the paper was stored.

    Furthermore, when he opened the reams of paper, he could have caused spores to fly into his face much in the same way as it is believed Ottilie Lundgren was infected by tearing her junk mail in half, causing spores to fly into her face.

    Anthrax went into a sealed ream of paper?

    A sealed ream of paper does not have a lot of room inside it.

    The anthrax spores went into the ream of paper like Mighty Mouse? They pushed up the paper to make way
    for more spores to fit inside?

    How about copy machines have static and dynamic electricity and even magnetic fields. The spores are charged and the copier machines pull them out of the air?

    “Charging: cylindrical drum is electrostatically charged by a high voltage wire called a corona wire or a charge roller.”

    You think that high voltage wire could do it?

    The paper theory means that anthrax spores went into a ream of paper that was used in each machine. This would mean you put the anthrax letter on top of a box of reams of paper. Then the anthrax goes into every single ream of paper in the box. Then they take one ream from this box to each copier machine.

    Or they put the anthrax letter in the room and it went into every box of paper and a separate box was taken to each copy machine in the building.

    If the anthrax powder was that powerful to move into multiple boxes of copy paper, why wouldn’t it have already leaked more in the post offices?

    The theory is the anthrax went into the boxes of copy paper and from those to the copy machines and from the copy machines to the rest of the building.

    So the theory is that all the spores outside the mail room in the building got there by first going into boxes of sealed reams of copy paper, and each box got a roughly equal dose, and the boxes were distributed to separate copy machines and then each copy machine got the anthrax from its box and then spread it.

    But if this was possible, the anthrax would have leaked into letters that are not as sealed up as reams of copy paper in boxes in a store room.

    The alternative is that the anthrax was like Senate quality and it spread in the air and the copy machines pulled it out of the air because of these high voltage wire thingies they have inside them to like make the copies, you know.

    • Old Atlantic said

      I see from a closer reading of Ed’s page that the FBI thought the letter was opened in the copy room and clung to the outside of the reams of paper. This still has problems. First, why would the letter be opened? Unless it was the J-Lo letter, of course. That might interest someone.

      Second, each copy machine likely gets its own separate box, and those boxes likely have lids on them and they are taken with lids on to each copy machine.

      The store room would not have open boxes of reams of paper, rather the paper would be sealed.

      If they spilled the spores onto an open box, they would not take a separate ream from that box to a separate copy machine in each place in the building.

      • Old Atlantic said

        A mail room person might find the J-Lo letter interesting but not a letter addressed like the Princeton NJ mailed ones.

      • Old Atlantic said

        The mail guy won’t track the spores into the copy machines the way that the Livermore paper indicates the high voltage wire would pull aerosolized anthrax out of the air.

      • Old Atlantic said

        If a mailroom person opened a letter and spores pored out, would he look at the letter inside?

        Did it say this is anthrax?

        Did he give the letter to the person intended, all ripped up with powder and they looked at it with the message, this is anthrax?

        Or did this letter not contain any warning? Why?

        Why did the 2 people involved not remember it?

      • Old Atlantic said

        The AMI people remember letters they opened with powder, but not one ripped open by a guy in the mail room with powder?

      • Old Atlantic said

        Why is it that any personal testimony the FBI doesn’t like, they simply ignore?

      • Old Atlantic said

        Did Stephanie Daley open two letters with powder on the same day? One she ripped up, tossed on the floor and then forgot about.

        The other she opened and remembered. The one she remembered, was not the anthrax?

        Or she just forgot ripping it up and throwing the powder on the floor part?

    • Old Atlantic said

      Every copier has a high voltage wire. Thus every copy machine would tend to be an absorber of the anthrax.

    • Old Atlantic said

      Ed Lake J-Lo link

      • Old Atlantic said

        Ed’s page has maps of the spore dispersion, black is a spore, and gray is no spore.

        The mail room and first floor have more copy machines than the second and third floors? copy machines are heavy, so they tend to be on the first floor.

        The mail room had the copy paper, so it might also have had some heavy duty copy machines for larger jobs. Those would be used more and pull spores into them out of the air.

        • Old Atlantic said

          In general, larger, heavier and more used copy machines would be on the first floor. These would then absorb the spores. Those could then be tracked back to the mail room as copy paper boxes were taken from it and likely other copy machine supplies.

          Were unused toner cartridges from each copy machine taken back to the mail room?

          That would explain the mail room being contaminated. The copy machines pulled out the anthrax spores from the air and then the used cartridges from the copy machines were stored in the mail room prior to recycling.

    • Old Atlantic said

      In the case of the Senate office buildings, they stopped using them and the copy machines. In the case of AMI, they kept using the copy machines for weeks.

      Thus the copy machines would have absorbed spores out of the air and collected them into their cartridges which were then put in the mail room to be recycled.

    • Old Atlantic said

      Another problem with paper in the copy machines is that the ream of paper has an outside covering of paper. The spores would be on that, not on the inside.

      Thus when the ream is opened and paper put inside the copy machine, the paper will not pick up very many spores. Nor would the paper be likely to pick up spores at every copy machine in the building.

      The spilled letter would have only affected a few or really one copy machine that got the box of sealed reams it spilled on.

      Most copy machines would not be affected.

      In contrast, every copy machine has a high voltage wire and generates a great deal of static electricity as part of its intended method of making copies. That is why they put the high voltage wire there. They intend the high voltage wire to be used every time copies are made.

    • Old Atlantic said

      Reaerosolization of Fluidized Spores in Ventilation Systems[down-pointing small open triangle]
      Paula Krauter* and Arthur Biermann

      This is useful background.

      • Old Atlantic said

        “Fluidized spores are reasonable facsimiles of weaponized spores.”

        “Fluidized B. atrophaeus was introduced into the turbulent airflow (2.83 m3/min) of the test fixture. “

      • Old Atlantic said

        “Spore reaerosolization rates from this study were greater than that predicted by the Loosmore empirical model. Large numbers of spores reaerosolized from contaminated surfaces hours after the initial release. Dry fluidized spores move about faster and were not as fixed as the models predict. The 1-log decay times were shorter than what was predicted for other particle types of like size.”

      • Old Atlantic said

        “The static measurements of fluidized B. atrophaeus spores used in these tests ranged from +31.3 ± 1.1 to +31.5 ± 1.1 nC/g. Flexible plastic duct ranged from −6.29 ± 0.62 to −5.84 ± 0.56 nC/g, and steel was +0.01 ± 0.01 nC/g. Each value is the average of five measurements.”

        nC/g means nano-Coulombs per gram?

        “According to Coulomb’s Law, two point charges of +1 C, one meter apart, would experience a repulsive force of 9×109 N, a force roughly equal to the weight of 900,000 metric tons of mass.”

        Wiki Coulomb article.

        So a Coulomb is a very large charge.

        • Old Atlantic said

          Note that is 9 times 10 to the 9th power.

          So that is one of the nano factors.

          The Newton N is using a kilogram. So we have to cancel out 3 powers from the other nano factor when expressed per gram.

          1 Trillion spores per gram is a factor of 10^{-12}, so we have a spore weighing 10^{-12} grams.

          Thus the charges they found are substantial for individual spores. That fits in with the importance they find in charged objects attracting spores.

      • Old Atlantic said

        The article contains no information on how the spores were grown, centrifuged, dried or fluidized. It just says they were dry fluidized spores and that these are a close substitute for weaponized spores for their study.

    • Old Atlantic said

      Note that in certain cases, letters were opened at AMI with powder and the people testified that happened.

      The FBI says those contained no anthrax and that instead a letter was ripped open in the mail room with powder. But no one remembers that. That letter would have had to be delivered to the person ripped open with powder and presumably a threat letter in it. That would have been remembered if it had happened.

      But no the FBI discounts the actual testimony of opened letters with anthrax and instead invents a ripped letter no one remembers to try to explain the copy machines having anthrax.

      The scientific papers show that the copy machines would absorb anthrax spores from the air and this explains all of them being contaminated. This points to AMI anthrax being more like the quality of Senate office anthrax.

      • DXer said

        Old Atlantic is confused. It is not the FBI’s position that the JLo letter did not contain anthrax. That’s Ed.

        Ed was relying on October 9 and October 11, 2001 statements even before the relevant sampling was conducted.

        Moreover, Old Atlantic’s focus on the copy machines is largely irrelevant to the issue — though the thinking about fans and static electricity seems very sound. (It is not all inconsistent with the FBI’s thinking — though they also note open reams of paper were kept in the mailroom below the boxes.)

        The key issue of likely one letter or likely two issues is the central issue that risks being buried by Old Atlantic’s numerous posts on copiers.

        After the sampling of the post offices was done (after the comments in which they were trying to assure the postal workers they had nothing to fear -in October 9 and October 11), the conclusion of the CDC and Post Office and EPA and GAO — and FBI — was that there likely were two letters containing anthrax travelling two paths of contamination. Then some postal workers died and the FBI was less quick to speak to issues before the science was in. I would be glad to share specific email confirmation from the top FBI scientists if you send your email.

        • Old Atlantic said

          “open reams of paper” Do you have a reference on open reams as opposed to the normal closed reams.

          Open reams for the purpose of going to other copy machines in other locations?

          Have you ever seen reams opened in one place to be put in a copy machine on another floor?

        • Old Atlantic said

          Do you have a reference that the FBI either believes the J-Lo letter had anthrax or that they don’t consider it inconsistent with their case or the Ivins theory?

          The J-Lo letter was mailed before 9/11. When did the FBI say that Ivins mailed a letter before 9/11?

        • Old Atlantic said

          “I would be glad to share specific email confirmation from the top FBI scientists if you send your email.”

          If you can post it w/o their identification or paraphrase a post of it it that would be better, so all can see it. Or if you could summarize it and post that for all.

          Thanks for your work yet again.

  37. DXer said

    Palm Beach Post – Aug 26, 2002
    Investigators, however, believe at least two letters were mailed to the publishing ..

  38. DXer said

    The Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report in the matter involving the Frederic Whitehurst allegations concluded:

    “The FBI Laboratory has an important national law enforcement function, and it is critical that the Laboratory meet its goal of being foremost in the delivery of forensic examinations and other services to law enforcement through, among other things, a total commitment to quality. Although our investigation identified some significant problems in the Laboratory, we believe the FBI’s adoption of our systemic recommendations will help prevent the recurrence of such problems.

    This report reflects an exhaustive effort to examine the multitude of allegations and technical issues raised by Agent Whitehurst concerning Laboratory personnel and management. We concluded that most of Whitehurst’s claims were unfounded, but that some had merit. Our inquiry primarily concerned three units of the Laboratory — the Explosives, Chemistry-Toxicology, and Materials Analysis units. Findings of deficiencies in these units should not be extrapolated to other units in the Laboratory, and in the three units that were the focus of our inquiry, and in other parts of the Laboratory, we observed some examples of impressive forensic work. In addition, we identified important issues that apply throughout the Laboratory. In Part Five of this Report, we discuss the allegations directed at specific individuals. Most of the persons named in the allegations are exonerated.”

    The IG Report recommended:

    “Disagreements among examiners over forensic methods or the interpretation of results should be resolved based on pertinent scientific knowledge. If supervisors become involved in resolving such disputes, it is important that their ultimate decision be clearly communicated to the examiners involved and that it be reflected in any resulting reports.”

    The DOJ has never said that it disputed the finding that there likely were two letters sent to AMI — and two paths of contamination through the Florida post office. The DOJ should articulate its view and if it disagrees with the Post Office finding, then it should articulate its reasoning and its disagreement should be reflected in any resulting reports.

    The IG report in the Whitehurst matter recommends:

    “Reports should be clear, concise, objective and understandable. They should fully disclose the involvement of the issuing examiner in the case and all pertinent information and findings.”

    “The Laboratory should assure that case files include all notes, printouts, charts and other data or records used by examiners to reach their conclusions.”

    “Retrospective case file reviews or audits — which we distinguish from a substantive review at the time of report preparation — should be conducted periodically to assure that reports are supported by appropriate analysis and documentation.”

    “Management should promote more interaction with other laboratories through such things as technical working groups and, in appropriate cases, FBI examiners consulting with scientists from other laboratories.”

    “In responding to concerns about the quality of the Laboratory’s work, management must assure that issues are investigated promptly and thoroughly, that the investigation is conducted by appropriately qualified persons, and that any necessary corrective steps are taken. Disagreements about methodology or the interpretation of data must be resolved professionally based on pertinent scientific knowledge and the resolution must be clearly communicated to those involved.”

    The FBI has NEVER disagreed with the findings and conclusions of the Post Office and CDC regarding the sampling of the Florida Post Offices.

    Ed Lake, some webposter with no qualification to address the issue, just mistakenly made that assumption to conform to his beliefs he had formed based on an October 9 and October 11, 2001 statements made before the sampling in the post offices was even started. He filled the gap left by his failure to research the relevant government reports and lab findings with an assumption that fit his argument.

    The government scientists have concluded that there likely were two letters and two paths of contamination.
    Ed Lake, who has no scientific training, doesn’t like that because, he says, it is inconsistent with an Ivins Theory. He wants to credit only the scientific evidence that he thinks supports his conclusion.

    That’s not how the scientific method works, Ed.

    If the FBI disagreed with the conclusion from the sampling of the Florida Post Offices, by all means that should be addressed by the FBI, NAS and GAO.

    The FBI is not bound by the conclusion published by in the peer-reviewed journal EID by the government scientists. But presently it is the official stated conclusion on the issue.

  39. DXer said

    The FBI Criminal and Epidemiological Investigation Handbook, which I have on my desk, is extremely useful when discussing bioterrorism preparedness. It provides background on public health, law enforcement, and joint operations.

    Under the section “Evaluate Evidence” the manual states:

    “Like other investigations, during a biological event, the investigators never know what nuance or piece of information will be the crucial break needed to identify, arrest, and convict those responsible for the criminal act.

    From the beginning of a criminal investigation into a biological attack until the case is submitted to a jury for a verdict, all facts collected during the investigation must be verified and inconsistencies must be resolved and submitted to the prosecutor in the format and manner desired. Documents must be carefully analyzed to ensure they have been thoroughly reviewed and the information contained in the documents is interpreted correctly. Sometimes information contained in statements or reports is subject to differing interpretations. Investigators must examine the evidence for conflicting interpretations and resolve these issues as soon as possible or be prepared to explain the contradictions.”

    Here, the Post Office and CDC, the agencies responsible for sampling the Florida post offices, concluded there likely were two letters containing anthrax and two paths of contamination.

    (Ed believes that this is inconsistent with an Ivins Theory.)

    Under the FBI Criminal and Epidemiological Investigation Handbook, the contradiction must be resolved.

    Under the NAS task of issues, the contradiction must be resolved.

    Under the GAO tasking of issues, the contradiction must be resolved.

    I asked Ed for support for his claim that the FBI disputes the Post Office’s finding. (They don’t – he just mistakenly assumed that). He cited an October 9 and October 11, 2001 comment made before the testing of the Florida post offices had even been done. Those comments were repeatedly criticized in the journal articles and commentary by those in the field of crisis communication (though it is totally understandable that the situation was unprecedented and there was a steep learning curve).

    Dr. Murch was going to appear at the November 29 but then couldn’t make it — that is unfortunate because sitting next to him I could have asked him to state on camera the FBI’s position on the Post Office’s conclusion that there likely were two letters containing anthrax and two paths of contamination.

    In the meantime, I urge the NAS and GAO to answer the question based on the evidence available whether there likely was one or two letters.

    Or rather, tell us from the documents produced by the FBI position on the issue.

    As a practical matter, at trial, the issue would be settled by the CDC, Post Office, GAO and EPA reports. If Ed thinks it is bureaucratically awkward for the FBI to disagree with the conclusion of the scientists who did the sampling, he can appreciate that it would be far more awkward at trial in front of a federal district court judge.

  40. anonymous said

    • anonymous said

      Beecher gave a presentation. Beecher is probably Lake’s “secret FBI source”.

      Click to access Agenda_final.pdf

      • anonymous said

        This would be an interesting one to read:

        Brent Daniel (Los Alamos National Laboratory) Reaerosolization: What are the primary causes? Can we predict it?

      • anonymous said

        Frankly I don’t see how it’s possible to show that a letter that was never recovered (the JoLo letter) did not contain anthrax powder.

        We already know that the FBI labs have a long standing modus operandi of using junk science to reach the storylines desired by upper management.

        You can safely bet that if the FBI could somehow link Bruce Ivins to Jennifer Lopez (I’m sure they looked at every CD in his house) they would miraculously claim the JoLo letter DID contain anthrax and that Ivins was obsessed with JoLo.

      • DXer said

        “I strongly suspect that DXer has a source who informed him of the Bio-Threat conference and what was said about the J-Lo letter and that it can be proven that the J-Lo letter did NOT contain anthrax.”

        Ha! You’ve gone from your assumptions to your suspicions! Not much improvement, eh?

        To the contrary, I was just trying to get you to do get your facts straight and make the relevant inquiry (which you still have failed to do):

        (1) the Journale of Emerging Infectious Diseases is peer-reviewed and indeed was where the FBI had hoped to publish the remaining articles. It is just mind-boggling you did not know that and persisted even after I said otherwise linking authority;

        (2) You claimed the CDC did not participate in the August 2002 visit to AMI when in fact they did in a very major and important way.

        (3) the official position in the peer-reviewed literature on this precise issue is that there likely were two letters and two paths of contamination.

        (4) if it is your position that the FBI’s Ivins Theory is inconsistent with the official position stated in the peer-reviewed literature, okay. Then let’s have the world know that the FBI’s Ivin Theory is inconsistent with its peer-reviewed science.

        And my main aim was to get the NAS to address the issue.

        Did you notice that no other articles on the subject were accepted for publication?

        Ed, unlike you, I rely on the peer-reviewed literature and not unique interpretations of the data or unnamed sources or science. You relied on the very data relied upon by the expert epidemiologists in reaching the opposite conclusion! As if somehow if you took their chart showing location of postitive results in the AMI building you were somehow debunking their conclusion in the article that there likely were two letters!

        I briefed 100 document and science issues to the NAS. I emailed you a copy so you can my treatment of issues and what I think rather than make assumptions or mischaracterizations. I can email a copy to anyone who would like a copy.

    • anonymous said

      Whitehurst’s legacy still haunts the FBI lab
      By Jeff Stein
      A dozen years ago he was the central figure in the exposure of fraud and incompetence in the FBI’s crime lab.

      Now, with his original revelations reverberating far beyond Washington in state and local police departments, his name is rarely evoked.

      Fred Whitehurst was the FBI agent with a chemistry PhD who blew the whistle on mishandled evidence and misleading testimony by fellow agents in the bureau’s once-vaunted crime lab. For this he earned the enmity of many colleagues who saw him as a rat, the loss of his job, and the praise of many others who called him a hero.

      Not surprisingly, the three-tour Vietnam combat veteran with a handful of medals escaped Washington a decade ago for Bethel, North Carolina, where his ancestors first settled in 1760.

      Gone, and seemingly forgotten, Whitehurst’s revelations still haunt the criminal justice system. In just the past week, crime lab problems were reported in North Carolina, Washington State and San Francisco.

      In this city alone, as my colleague Keith Alexander recently wrote, “The U.S. attorney’s office in the District has found more than 100 cases since the mid-1970s that need to be reviewed because of potentially falsified and inaccurate tests by FBI analysts.”

      Whitehurst’s name went unmentioned by Alexander, because there was no direct link to the particular case he was focusing on. But for those of us who have tracked such cases for years – I first wrote about problems in the FBI crime lab in 1997 — Whitehurst’s legacy was palpable.

      Not that he was a saint. While the Justice Department Inspector General’s report backed up Whitehurst’s allegations of systematic problems in the crime lab, it also criticized him “for some of the same mistakes the chemist had laid at his colleagues’ door: failing to document forensic tests, overstating allegations, using ‘hyperbole and incendiary language that blurred the distinction between facts and his own speculation,’” according to an in-depth 2001 profile in the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times.

      Whitehurst, 62, says he doesn’t miss the spotlight.

      “We need not be mentioned when our work product tells the whole story,” he told me in an e-mail.

      But he’s staying busy, lecturing and working as a forensic consultant. And the FBI has made big strides in cleaning up its act, finally gaining the scientific accreditation Whitehurst advocated and building a new, $130 million crime lab in Quantico, Va.

      “And I continue to look through hundreds of thousands of FBI documents from FOIA [Freedom of Information suits] to find the victim defendants of the FBI agents (including myself) who were named in the IG report,” he said.

      “We have made the justice system question itself and that is what is important. Let the Post articles remain about injustice,” he said, “not about Frederic Whitehurst.”

  41. DXer said

    The authors in “Tracing an Attack: The Promise and Pitfalls of Microbial Forensics” (2010) write:

    “Given the serious consequences of mistaken attribution in a legal, intelligence or policy context, correctly interpreting the meaning and weight of microbial forensic evidence is critical. The law-enforcement community is well aware of the risks. Before deciding whether or not to indict a suspect, prosecutors often explore alternative interpretations of circumstantial evidence by playing devil’s advocate. … The quality of an attribution decision will depend to a large extent on the role of subject-matter experts who understand the technical limitations of the analyses used in the investigation and can convey the information effectively to the senior officials in a decision-making body. When communicating with non-scientists, microbial forensic examiners should carefully present the data and conclusions that can be drawn from them, explaining how and why the results are not necessarily unique and that other interpretations are possible.

    Even if subject-matter experts provide such contextual information, however, attribution decision-making still entails potential pitfalls. Cognitive biases, organisational culture, bureaucratic politics and politicisation all threaten the integrity of the attribution process. The stratified nature of bureaucratic decision-making also tends to eliminate important technical nuance. Laboratory results are typically reported to a low-level official, who then interprets and summarises the findings before communicating them to the next level. This process of interpretation and simplification occurs repeatedly as microbial forensic information moves up the bureaucratic hierarchy, with the inevitable result that important qualifiers and caveats are dropped. According to molecular biologist Paul Keim, who was deeply involved in the Amerithrax investigation, “any US president is going to be smart enough to understand the limitations [of microbial forensic techniques], if they have the time to learn them. [But] I would guess that they have enough time to do this and that the subtleties are lost.”

  42. DXer said

    Let’s turn now to the conclusion that the anthrax was grown within the past two years discussed in “In Tracing an Attack: The Promise by and Pitfalls of Microbial Forensics” 03 February 2010
    Gregory D. Koblentz and Jonathan B. Tucker

    “During the Amerithrax investigation, a scientist at Amerithrax investigation at Lawrence National Laboratory used radiocarbon dating to estimate, within plus or minus two years, the age of the anthrax spores used in the letters. Gregory Koblentz reasons that “In fact, this method only establishes the approximate date when the nutrient components of the growth medium were manufactured, and not when the carbon source was incorporated into the spores. Thus, the inferred date actually reflects the age of the nutrients rather than the time period when the bacteria were cultivated. Furthermore, growth media often consist of mixtures of nutrients from multiple sources and manufacturing dates. Because these ambiguities create serious problems of interpretation, current radio-carbon-dating techniques are not reliable enough to be used for attribution-decision-making.”

    The NAS will presumably be addressing this issue.

    • DXer said

      Gregory D. Koblentz is Deputy Director of the Biodefense Graduate Program and Assistant Professor of Government and Politics in the Department of Public and International Affairs at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

      The authors explain: “The anthrax bacteria isolated from the spinal fluid of Robert Stevens, the first victim of the letter attacks, were identical to standard (“wild-type”) B. anthracis Ames and did not contain the unusual morphotypes present in the dry-spore preparation sent through the mail.”

    • DXer said

      The authors of “Tracing an Attack: The Promise and Pitfalls of Microbial Forensics” further explain:

      “Also during the Amerithrax investigation, researchers analysed the oxygen isotopes present in the spores to obtain clues to the geographic source of the water used to grow them. According to the FBI, however, this analysis was inconclusive because “there were too many confounding variables to precisely match bacteria that were grown using different materials and recipes. In general, if microbial forensic evidence allows for multiple interpretations and has to be heavily qualified, it probably does not meet the Daubert standard.”

      Jonathan B. Tucker is a Senior Fellow specialising in biological- and chemical-weapons issues in the Washington DC office of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies of the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

  43. DXer said

    Anthrax: FBI Ignoring the Obvious
    Philip V. Brennan
    Thursday, Aug. 16, 2007

    The anthrax attacks are one of those enduring mysteries that fade but never go away. Only in this case, there are plenty of leads that have been carefully ignored.


    In August 2002, as part of a five-part series on the anthrax case, I wrote “FBI Rejects Link Between Anthrax, 9/11 Terrorists.” I focused on the failure of the FBI to accept the convincing evidence that the attacks were linked to the 9/11 hijackers.

    Here are some excerpts:

    One of the most intriguing aspects of the FBI’s anthrax investigation is the bureau’s apparent disinterest at the presence of al-Qaida’s Sept. 11 terrorists in the immediate vicinity of American Media Inc. (AMI) headquarters.
    The bureau seems to reject out of hand the idea that these terrorists may well have been the source of the attack on AMI that killed one employee, almost killed another and sickened a third.

    Yet there are a number of reasons why this theory could prove to be the answer to a puzzle the FBI has been unable to solve despite the most massive investigation in the bureau’s history.

    At least 15 of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers had Florida connections. Of the 19, three were in the country on expired visas, including Satam Al Suqami, who had a Florida driver’s license listing a Boynton Beach address. Boynton Beach is a few miles north of Boca Raton and AMI.

    In the summer, five suspected hijackers on the two planes that crashed into the World Trade Center – Mohamed Atta, Marwan Al-Shehhi, Wail M. Alshehri, Waleed M. Alshehri and Satam Al Suqami – bought one-month memberships at World’s gyms. Atta and Al-Shehhi paid to work out at the Delray Beach gym, the others in Boynton Beach. Delray Beach adjoins Boca Raton.

    According to news reports five of the hijackers who seized United Airlines Flight 175, which crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center, spent time in Florida. One was Marwan Al-Shehhi, Atta’s roommate. A few days before 9-11, they both got drunk in a Hollywood, Fla., bar.

    Four of the hijackers on United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania, also lived in Florida for several months. Two shared a condominium in Delray Beach. They left suddenly Labor Day weekend, the same weekend a group of suspected hijackers living in Vero Beach disappeared.

    Seven of the hijackers got Florida driver’s licenses or state identification cards. Investigators believe the hijackers were in Florida because of its numerous flight training schools, all of which have mainly foreigners as students.

    Three of the hijackers, Saeed Alghamdi, Ahmed Alnami and Hamza al Ghamdi, lived for several months in the Delray Racquet Club, a condominium complex a couple of miles from AMI’s headquarters.

    None seemed to have jobs, but several were said to be airplane mechanics, students or tourists. Some said they worked for the Saudi government-owned Saudi Arabian Airlines, a claim the Saudi government denied.

    In April, Atta was stopped by a Broward Country sheriff deputy, according to the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. Atta could not produce a driver’s license.

    Following normal procedure, the newspaper reported, the deputy wrote him a ticket. Atta never paid, and deputies never learned that Atta was on a U.S. government “watch list” of people tied to terrorism. Although none of the hijackers had jobs, some paid as much as $10,000 each for flight lessons. Condos in the Delray Beach complex rented for up to $3,000 a month.

    What seemed most important to them was their privacy. For three months in the summer of 2001, Charlie Lisa’s home in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, about 20 miles south of Boca Raton, was occupied by two of the hijackers, Amad Al Haznawi, 20, and Ziad Samir Jarrah, 26, who moved out in late August.

    Several of the hijackers rented an apartment from a real estate agent who is the wife of the Sun’s editor, Mike Irish. Four of the hijackers who attacked America on Sept. 11 tried to get government loans to finance their plots, including ringleader Mohamed Atta, who sought $650,000 to modify a crop duster, Johnelle Bryant, a U.S. Department of Agriculture loan officer, told ABC News.

    First Atta, then Marwan Al-Shehhi, Ahmed Alghamdi and Fayez Rashid Ahmed Hassan al Qadi Banihammad, all of whom died in the September attacks, tried to get loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Bryant said.

    In April or May of 2000, Atta paid a visit to Bryant, who described him as “most persistent and frightening.”

    According to Bryant, employed at the government agency for 16 years, Atta arrived in her office sometime between the end of April and the middle of May 2000, inquiring about a loan to finance an aircraft.

    “At first, he refused to speak with me,” Bryant told ABC. She remembered that Atta called her “but a female.” Bryant explained that she was the manager, but he still refused to conduct business with her. Ultimately, she said, “I told him that if he was interested in getting a farm-service agency loan in my servicing area, then he would need to deal with me.”

    During the initial applicant interview, Bryant was taking notes. “I wrote his name down, and I spelled it A-T-T-A-H, and he told me, ‘No, A-T-T-A, as in Atta boy!'”

    He said he had just arrived in the United States from Afghanistan “to start his dream, which was to go flight school and get his pilot’s license, and work both as a charter pilot and a crop duster too,” she said. He was seeking $650,000 for a crop-dusting business.

    “He wanted to finance a twin-engine six-passenger aircraft … and remove the seats,” said Bryant. “He said he was an engineer, and he wanted to build a chemical tank that would fit inside the aircraft and take up every available square inch of the aircraft except for where the pilot would be sitting.”

    There is, for example, the extraordinary account by a Florida doctor revealed by the New York Times, which reported that the physician believes a man he treated in June had skin anthrax. That man was one of the Sept. 11 hijackers, suggesting a link between Osama bin Laden’s terrorist group and the mailings.

    According to the Times, two men identified themselves as pilots when they came to the emergency room of Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale in June 2001. One, Dr. Christos Tsonas recalled, had an ugly, dark lesion on his leg that he claimed he got from bumping into a suitcase two months earlier. The doctor said at the time he thought the injury was curious, but he cleaned it and prescribed an antibiotic for infection.

    In the wake of 9/11, however, when federal investigators found the medicine among the possessions of one of the hijackers, Ahmed Alhaznawi, Dr. Tsonas reviewed the case and arrived at a new diagnosis. The lesion, he told the Times, “was consistent with cutaneous [skin] anthrax.”

    In a memo prepared by experts at the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Strategies, and circulated among top government officials the group, which interviewed Dr. Tsonas, concluded that the anthrax diagnosis “raises the possibility that the hijackers were handling anthrax and were the perpetrators of the anthrax letter attacks.”

    Assistant FBI Director John Collingwood played down the possible anthrax connection. “This was fully investigated and widely vetted among multiple agencies several months ago,” he said in a written statement. “Exhaustive testing did not support that anthrax was present anywhere the hijackers had been. While we always welcome new information, nothing new has, in fact, developed.”

    Alhaznawi died on United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania. Federal officials believe the man who accompanied him to the hospital in June was another hijacker, Ziad al-Jarrah, thought to have taken over the controls of United Flight 93, the Times said.

    Law enforcement officials told the Times that in addition to interviewing Dr. Tsonas in October and again in November, they thoroughly explored any connection between the hijackers and anthrax. They said the FBI scoured the cars, apartments and personal effects of the hijackers for evidence of the spores, but found none.

    The FBI discounts these facts, insisting that they have eliminated any connection between the the hijackers and the anthrax letter attacks but fail to explain why they have.

    The full series is available on FBI and Anthrax: Another TWA 800 in the Making? Part two: FBI Ignored Letter in Anthrax Probe. Part three: FBI Rejects Link Between Anthrax, 9-11 Terrorists. Part four: FBI Overlooks Iraq’s Connection to Anthrax Attacks. Part five: The FBI and Dr. Hatfill – A New Richard Jewell Case?

    For al-Qaida’s connection to the anthrax attacks, see Ross Getman’s blockbuster report.



    Phil Brennan is a veteran journalist and World War II Marine who writes for He is editor and publisher of Wednesday on the Web ( and was Washington columnist for National Review magazine in the 1960s.

    He also served as a staff aide for the House Republican Policy Committee and helped handle the Washington public relations operation for the Alaska Statehood Committee which won statehood for Alaska.

    He is also a trustee of the Lincoln Heritage Institute and a member of the Association For Intelligence Officers.

    • Old Atlantic said

      FBI Logic Test.

      No spores with a group al Qaeda of multiple people at multiple locations who had other helpers not part of the hijackers, none of whom were caught. Therefore they didn’t do it.

      No spores at Ivins’ home and car. Therefore, he was the lone mailer.

      Don’t try this on the SAT.

      • Old Atlantic said

        And al Qaeda were well financed.

        The FBI has not claimed to find one receipt of Ivins linking him in any way to preparation or delivery of the letters.

  44. DXer said


    The United States Postal Service Response to the General Accounting Office “Recommendations on the Anthrax Attacks of 2001” states:

    “It is not certain which of six Florida post offices was involved with processing the two letters sent to AMI, so all six were included in this category.” (August 2004)

    So would you agree that it is the position of the Post Office in 2004 that there were two anthrax-laden letters sent to AMI?

    You seem to be arguing that this finding of the Post Office (1) is inconsistent with an Ivins Theory, (2) that the Postal Inspectors on the Amerithrax Task Force do not credit the Post Office’s scientific finding, and (3) that the Post Office finding is mistaken.

    You relied on an October 9, 2001 statement by a local investigator — made before the testing of post offices had even been done — when the investigators were denying even that there was a connection to any anthrax-laden envelope.

    I hope you actually get around to asking one of the FBI scientists their position on the Post Office conclusion — rather than just assume it.

    You for example repeatedly insisted that Emerging Infectious Diseases was not peer-reviewed even though even the most cursory google search would have showed it was. Research is not one of your strengths.

    FBI scientist Doug Beecher was directly involved in such matters at the time (see CNN interview of DB alongside Bradley Perkins). I’ve recommended you ask him. In my experience, he is very responsive. His work in the article about the Senate bags was very lucid. He sent it right out by ordinary mail when asked — demonstrating considerable confidence in the Post Office.

    The reason others don’t bother is that googling quickly shows the official scientific finding made public to date.

    I also hope the NAS reaches the issue to determine whether the Post Office was right or wrong –or whether it can be reliably determined based on the methodology employed.

    The NAS may very well find that the sampling method employed in testing conducted in 2001 and 2002 was not validated and thus no reliable conclusions can be drawn on this issue.

    • DXer said

      Debra Weierman, spokeswoman for the FBI’ said 30 FBI agents and 15 postal inspectors were assigned to the anthrax investigation.

      Ed, now did all of the 15 postal inspectors disagree with the scientific conclusion of the Post Office or only some of them?

      Do you not understand that the Postal Inspectors were inextricably involved in the work by the Post Offices?

      That precisely was why their involvement was especially useful.

      • DXer said

        At the time, Dr. Ivins committed suicide, Thomas F. Dellafera had been a Postal Inspector of the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) for 21 years.

        He submitted an affidavit in support of the search of Dr. Ivins’ vehicles for for laboratory equipment, tape, ink, paper, textile fibers, Caucasian hair, trace bacillus spores, handwriting samples, photocopy samples, and all relevant documents, notes and records in various formats, as more filly described in the Attachment to this affidavit.”

        Ed Lake, are you suggesting that United States Postal Inspector Thomas F. Dellafera does not credit the Post Office conclusion on the science that two letters were sent to AMI?

        If so, what is your evidence that Agent Dellafera disputes his employer’s scientific conclusion?

        • DXer said

          The Postal Inspection Service had the same role in the testing of Florida Post Offices as in the New Jersey post offices. At the time, Tony Esposito, spokesman for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in New Jersey, said investigators had substantially narrowed down the target area from the 46 post offices and 650 collection boxes identified in the early days of the probe. Thus, the Post Office finding re “two letters” is not something you sweep under the rug — it is not something you vacuum with a HEPA vacuum cleaner and hope is forgotten.

          By all means, if the FBI now feels that the earlier finding is mistaken, it should point that out to the NAS and ask them to disregard the finding and explain why the scientific conclusion published in the peer-reviewed journal now appears to be mistaken.

          But don’t let it be overlooked because Dr. Ivins committed suicide when harassed by the testing of the semen-stained panties and a bunch of investigators find it in their self-interest to have the matter put behind them.

          Let the closing of the case — given the existential threat the United States faces on the issue — be on a principled explication of the science including this scientific finding that Ed apparently thinks is inconsistent with an Ivins Theory.

  45. DXer said

    Dr. Bartick, who I think of Abby of NCIS or Hodgins of Bones co-authored this article on latent fingerprints.

    If there was a dispute about who submitted the slants, couldn’t they have examined the fingerprints?

    Anal Bioanal Chem. 2009 Aug;394(8):2069-75. Epub 2009 May 5.

    Non-invasive detection of superimposed latent fingerprints and inter-ridge trace evidence by infrared spectroscopic imaging.

    Bhargava R, Perlman RS, Fernandez DC, Levin IW, Bartick EG.

    Laboratory of Chemical Physics, NIDDK, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-0520, USA.


    Current latent print and trace evidence collecting technologies are usually invasive and can be destructive to the original deposits. We describe a non-invasive vibrational spectroscopic approach that yields latent fingerprints that are overlaid on top of one another or that may contain trace evidence that needs to be distinguished from the print. Because of the variation in the chemical composition distribution within the fingerprint, we demonstrate that linear unmixing applied to the spectral content of the data can be used to provide images that reveal superimposed fingerprints. In addition, we demonstrate that the chemical composition of the trace evidence located in the region of the print can potentially be identified by its infrared spectrum. Thus, trace evidence found at a crime scene that previously could not be directly related to an individual, now has the potential to be directly related by its presence in the individual-identifying fingerprints.

  46. Old Atlantic said

    The government in its press conference after Ivins suicide, claimed that it had a solid case that justified all the pressure tactics it used.

    Thus the government claimed that

    1) It had secret information

    2) On the basis of that secret information it knew Ivins was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt

    3) On the basis of that secret information and their secret conclusion they applied pressure tactics to the suspect

    4) That the suspect committed suicide

    a) The suspect was guilty

    b) The suspect knew the government could prove he was guilty

    c) The suspect committed suicide to escape justice

    d) It was the suspect who acted unjustly

    e) the government was justified in its pressure tactics on the suspect because of its secret information

    f) the suicide proves he was guilty and proves the government was just in its pressure tactics and proves the government already knew the suspect was guilty and the government already knew it could prove he was guilty.

    The NAS report that was ready for the public and contained no secret information cast doubt on parts of the above.

    Based on this the DOJ/FBI stopped its release as part of a pattern of stopping release of information, violating FOIA, stonewalling the Senate and Congress, and other assertions of its right to be the judge of what information would go to any of these.

    Based on this release, the DOJ/FBI insisted on a secret session to argue to change the report’s conclusions so as not to cast doubt on the actions of the DOJ/FBI above.

  47. Old Atlantic said

    DXer said
    January 14, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    You appear unaware that closed sessions in NAS proceedings are commonplace. Why don’t you don’t take a random sample of 10 matters and tell us how many of the sessions were closed. I suspect this is fully within the norm. (I’ve done some sampling and it seemed to be).


    The context of the session matters.

    The government pressured a suspect into suicide.

    The government then hastily put together a press conference in which it made a variety of assertions to justify this pressure and its actions.

    Those assertions quickly were shown to be questionable primarily by blogs.

    The DOJ/FBI have stonewalled Congress.

    The director of the FBI took instructions over the phone from DOJ not to answer questions to the Senate after the Senate was attacked.

    The DOJ/FBI have shown a track record of ignoring evidence in the case.

    The DOJ/FBI already settled a 4.6 million case with another person who was their primary suspect seemingly almost up to the time they switched to Ivins possibly before or after his suicide.

    The DOJ/FBI put out a document on the case when closing it that contains major errors and omissions.

    DOJ/FBI have withheld information on lab notebooks on FOIA.

    FOIA was passed to be a permanent Warren Commission, which produced many volumes in one year.

    The government has used the anthrax attacks to justify its taking of rights.

    The government has used them during some periods of time to justify its plans to invade another country.

    The DOJ/FBI is trying to obtain the tweets of a vast number of people around the world.

    The DOJ/FBI is trying to get an extension of the Patriot Act including National Security Letters.

    The DOJ/FBI have claimed the right to maintain information in secret and to make decisions, decide on the limits of people’s rights, to take vast amounts of information, to pressure the financial system to act against those it dislikes or who expose its alleged acts of torture, and to demand obedience to its actions.

    The government has told its employees not to read Wikileaks documents available on the Internet.

    The government has threatened students who read the Wikileaks documents.

    The session was called after a report was written to be made public and the report contained no secret information, it was a report for the public.

    That report was withheld so the government could argue against its conclusions at the private session.

    This is directly contrary to the intention of the act. This is a report that is meant for the public, ie contains no classified information. Therefore there is no justification withholding it before this secret session to argue to change its conclusions in favor of the DOJ/FBI in all its actions.

    • DXer said

      It is the statute and stated rules that govern rather than the “context”. (As the “context”, you state issues bearing to your political beliefs. That hardly would be a useful guide given that everyone has their political views and outlook). … not in a society governed by the rule of law.

      If when you refer to Director Mueller’s answer to the Senate (if we are thinking of the question “Where else besides Dugway and Battelle have they made weaponized powder”), I believe he merely said that he would have to do it in closed session. (And I believe he consulted with someone in the audience rather than by telephone). It surely would have been awkward, for example, for him to have say to the FBI’s anthrax expert made it at USAMRIID. :0)

      You talk a mean game but haven’t filed any FOIAs. I recommend that you file FOIAs to vindicate the issues you raise and then upload the documents. For example, I don’t see that anyone has submitted a FOIA to the Palm County Department of Health or the CDC or the GAO.

      • Old Atlantic said

        I admit I am obligated to you for part of my freedom for your work doing that.
        I thank you for your work on FOIA.

        However, the public’s rights in theory do not depend on whether they used FOIA or not. They may very well in practice.

        The DOJ/FBI claimed after Ivins suicide that they had scientific proof prior to his suicide that Ivins was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

        The NAS report likely cast doubt that the DOJ/FBI had scientific proof of Ivins’ guilt beyond a reasonable doubt prior to his committing suicide.

        The stopping of publication and the secret session are intended by DOJ/FBI to get the NAS to go back on that and not to cast doubt that the DOJ/FBI possessed scientific proof prior to Ivins’ death of his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

  48. Old Atlantic said

    “Further, FACA was an attempt by congress to curtail the rampant “locker-room discussion” that had become prevalent in administrative decisions. These “locker-room discussion” are masked under titles like “task force,” “subcommittee,” and “working group” meetings, which are less than full FACA meetings and so they do not have to be open to the public. FACA declared that all administrative procedures and hearings were to be public knowledge. [1]”

  49. Old Atlantic said

    The NAS advisory work is governed by statute? Does that statute have language indicating Congress wanted to avoid the NAS being coerced?

    Didn’t Congress explicitly state it wanted public sessions and documents released and public comment during the NAS work precisely to avoid coercion by government agencies paying for the reports?

    What about the legislative history? I would bet the legislative history is full of concerns by Congress about coercion of the commissions set up by the agencies paying their bill. Congress did not want to appropriate money for these commissions so that agencies could bend the commissions to their will.

    Congress did not want secret sessions, secret document dumps, etc. precisely because it felt those were the only ways to avoid the commissions being coerced by agencies paying their costs.

    The lack of an agenda for the secret session makes it far worse. A published agenda would make it harder for the agency to use the secret session to coerce the commission.

    This is because if a topic is listed on the agenda, we the public know there is pressure on that topic. That by itself helps push back against the agency. That is what Congress wanted in the statute and the legislative history is my guess.

  50. Old Atlantic said

    The DOJ/FBI are not the top of the system. Government is not about them or for them.

    The FOIA codifies the idea of the Warren Commission, which had a massive document dump in 1964, the year after the assassination.

    This secret session is like what?

    Its like a Permanent Plumbers Act.

    They are there to coerce the Commission. I hope they make tapes.

    • DXer said

      The idea that the FBI scientists are there to coerce the panel members is very unpersuasive.
      They are there to provide a further presentation on the merits.

      Take a single example – the federal district court judge on the panel who is expert on Daubert. He is fully accustomed to hearing arguments from advocates of a particular position (and focusing on questions that need to be answered). Now, admittedly, having an opportunity for rebuttal is a highly prized opportunity in any debate.

      But it was the NAS that prevented any meaningful participation from the start and did not press hard for documents. Entire issues were left unaddressed by the NAS report — entire categories of documents went unproduced.

      The fault here with the NAS procedure lies with the panel for not having addressed the range of science issues used in Amerithrax and pressing harder for the responsive documents.

      But the GAO can play clean-up batter.

      • Old Atlantic said

        Isn’t the federal judge supposed to uphold the law?

        Why is he on a commission if he doesn’t insist on the law?

        “But it was the NAS that prevented any meaningful participation from the start and did not press hard for documents.”

        So they were afraid from the beginning. Not surprising after the way scientists are roughed up and prosecuted like Thomas Butler.

        • DXer said


          The NAS’ failure to press harder for documents is not a legal matter. As the head person explained, they have no power to force the FBI to produce additional documents. They have no subpoena power. They are just a private group consulting with the FBI. So it is all a matter of negotiation and the FBI’s good faith — which I presume. As a general guide, it was unproductive for posters on the blog to wring their hands over the 500 pages they recently produced rather than seek to press the FBI to produce 2200 or 22,000 more. Although the GAO is loathe to use its subpoena power, I recommend that if not voluntarily already provided by the DOJ, the GAO should subpoena the Amerithrax paralegal as custodian of records and ask him to bring his database with its title of document, bate number. Would Dr. Fong want to go off into unfamiliarity territory on a roadtrip without mapquesting it first?

      • Old Atlantic said

        Just doing it in secret is coercion. No agenda. No topics. No issues. That is the message in the session.

  51. DXer said

    “In all, federal agencies collected about 10,000 samples during initial testing. USPS contractors collected the majority of the samples (7,040), followed by CDC (2,313), in a total of 301 separate sampling events. Samples were also collected by EPA, the FBI, and the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (NJDHAA), a state public health laboratory, for a total of 23 additional sampling events.”

    Source: GAO, ANTHRAX DETECTION: Agencies Need to Validate Sampling Activities in Order to Increase Confidence in Negative Results


    CDC collected 10X’s more samples than the FBI and conducted 10X’s more sampling events.

    USPS collected roughly 30Xs more samples than the FBI.

    And so when the CDC and USPS conclude there were two routes through the Florida post offices and two letters sent to AMI, it is not surprising that the FBI does not disagree with the conclusion from the scientific testing.

  52. DXer said

    This week, I submitted a roadmap of the scientific and document issues in comments to the NAS.

    Distracted by the cute animals at the local zoo, I had overlooked this very issue of the two routes of contamination through the Post Office and the massive contamination on Stevens’ keyboard where he set down the letter.

    But especially given how well-suited the expert NAS and GAO scientists are to addressing such an issue, I urge the NAS and GAO to reach this issue of the two routes of contamination through the Florida Post Offices (and contamination of Steve’s keyboard) reported by the government scientists publishing in the Journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

  53. DXer said

    Ed wrote his page on whether there was one letter or two letters to AMI in February-March 2003 and merely assumes that the FBI, in returning to AMI in August 2002, somehow concluded that there were not two routes of contamination in the area of post offices.

    The FBI never announced such a conclusion.

    If the FBI scientists want to do so today before the NAS, and explain the scientific evidence that would support such a conclusion, they by all means should do so.

    Ed made an assumption that fit his beliefs and then just didn’t read the numerous government-issued reports in 2004 onward that confirmed that there were two routes of contamination — to include reports by the Post Office, the employer of the many postal inspectors who served as a good portion of the investigators on Amerithrax.

    (Ironically, at the same time, Ed insists that it is 99% certain that someone who just learned to write English that year had written the anthrax letters.)

    A more principled approach would be that the government had not validated the sampling science used and thus it could not be relied upon to determine there were two routes of contamination through the post offices.

    The problem with the lack of validation, as noted by the GAO, was the issue of false negatives, not false positives. But would leave matters of validation to the experts on the NAS panel who would have the benefit of the GAO’s earlier work on the issue. The validation issue related to not taking enough samples upon initial negative findings — that led to post office employees potentially being left with false assurances not to be concerned about contamination in the post offices such as occurred by law enforcement comments on October 9 and October 11, 2001 comments Ed Lake has relied upon for the past decade.

    Dr. Perkins was very busy, by the way, and had not opened the email sending the report on the threat of mailed anthrax from Canada explaining that the anthrax would leak through the pores of an unopened envelope. Although dated in early September 2001, there had been briefing of biodefense officials as early as the spring of 2001. As of September 2001, only an estimated 16 officials in the US knew of the report.

    Ed claims not to have known that the Journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases was not peer-reviewed and yet that has always been pointed out to him. Indeed, in addition to posting that was where the FBI wanted to post the most recent peer-reviewed studies on Amerithrax they had hoped to publish, in July 2008, on this issue, I posted to Ed:

    “Leonard Cole for the National Academy of Sciences has published a book quoting at length about the letter Stevens read, set down on his keyboard (where high concentration of anthrax was found). It was a letter with powder and a Star of David, and an odd note about Jennifer Lopez’ planned wedding. Jenny was code Atta and Ramzi used. Wedding is Al Qaeda-speak for event. You can view it as lurid, but fully quoted interviews of first-hand observers is pretty factually-oriented. The press never even reported the fact that Atta was using the Jenny code. There, moreover, is thought to have been a second letter sent to a different AMI publication based on the exposure routes through the Florida post offices. The best guide on that were CDC peer reviewed articles. The spate of CDC peer reviewed articles were not sensationalized but based on objective measurement of spores in the post offices. One AMI address had a different address and so a letter would have taken a different route. Taking a conservative approach, the FBI would focus on the fact that no letter was found — which is fine so long as intercepts are thoroughly searched for others using the Jenny code in the summer of 2001. I don’t see how you can say the terrorist threat was overstated when the documentary evidence establishes that Ayman was planning on using weaponized anthrax and the microbiologist 15 feet from the leading anthrax scientist in the world and former deputy USAMRIID and prolific Ames researcher (with Ames being the strain used). He was in contact with OBL’s sheik (the sheik subject of the 1996 declaration of war) the day before and day after the mailing. So rather than the MSM being lurid and sensationalized in reporting these facts, they in fact have never reported these facts. Not once.

    It’s hard to blame the MSM too much about Hatfill, moreover, given the leaks were coming from the fellow at the top of the criminal prosecution food chain. His daughter now represents pro bono (for free) the anthrax weapons suspect (his lawyer’s phrase) Ali Al-Timimi. The “bioevangelist” theory was first urged in the MSM by Professor Boyle, who was legal advisor to the PLO and counsel to Bosnia. His friend BHR then took up the cause. The hyped leaks were by the lead prosecutor, born in Haifa Palestine in 1948 who moved over from the CIA [in September 2001]. See his law firm biography. Hatfill was of interest because of his connections to the same people with the know-how that worked in Al-Timimi’s building at George Mason University. The GMU Center for Biodefense had the biggest biodefense award in history (Alibek’s Hadron). They used Delta Ames supplied by NIH. The attack strain used an inverted plasmid in the virulence plasmids and so it may be significant that the DARPA-funded contract used Delta (or avirulent) Ames. The attack anthrax was a mixture of two samples. Again, the MSM has not hyped these facts. The MSM has never reported them. Instead, the hyped and lurid reporting involved what was intentional misdirection involving anthrax smelling bloodhounds and drained ponds. Have you read the correspondence between Ayman Zawahiri and the Pakistani scientist helping him infiltrate UK biodefense? It dates to 1999”.

    • DXer said

      Major John B. Flood wrote “Analysis of a Postal Employee’s Right to Refuse Hazardous Work During the Crisis of 2001.”

      It addresses the chronology of events in the first half of October 2001 relating to the Canadian study, testing of Florida Boca Raton post offices, and the failure of the CDC.

      “Despite the repeated message that there were no confirmed cases of the use of the mail to send chemical or biological weapons, it is clear that authorities — including postal authorities, suspected that anthrax may have been through the mail, given the substance of the messages being sent and given the involvement of Postal Service investigators in the criminal investigation of the Florida cases as of October 8, 2001. Postal officials were clearly wrestling with a growing crisis that presented a dilemma of immense proportions: the balancing of considerations of worker safety against the public’s confidence in the safety of the mail and the devastating financial impact that a significant disruption of mail service would certainly bring. In the midst of the crisis, Postmaster General Potter told a subcommittee of the Senate Committee on appropriations that the combined losses for the postal service of responding to the anthrax crisis, along with declining revenues exasperated both by the events of September 11th and the anthrax crisis because of decrease mail use, could reach $5 billion for the fiscal year.

      fn. House Oversight Hearings, Potter statement, note 6 “Early on, when there was confusion about how and when anthrax got to American Media in Boca Raton, we saw no direct connection to the Postal Service and the system that delivers the mail.”

      Postal officials definitively knew of a link between the mail and anthrax on October 13, 2001, when they learned that the infection of an employee of NBC News in New York City had been caused by exposure to contaminated mail in her workplace.”

      For support for Ed’s argument, Ed yesterday posted the investigators’ comments on October 9 and October 11, a time when there was still the confusion.

      It was on October 15, 2001 that the Post Office told employees that anthrax spores were found in a small, non-public area of the Boca Raton post office. At this point, post officials along with the public health officials who were advising them knew that the anthrax had been carried through the mail on at least occasion (the NBC employee case), and must have realized that anthrax had escaped from an envelope or package during mail processing at the Boca Raton post office.

  54. DXer said

    On this issue of the finding by the CDC, EPA, GAO, Palm Beach County Health Department and FBI that there were two routes of contamination and thus likely two letters — and that there was a massive contamination of Stevens’ keyboard where he set down the “JLo” letter with powder — see background articles generally on the discprepancy between CDC information on the epidemiological studies and media information.

    Mebane F, Temin S, Parvanta CF. Communicating anthrax in 2001: a comparison of CDC information and print media accounts. J Health Commun. 2003;8:50–82.[Web of Science][Medline]

    Robinson SJ, Newstetter WC. Uncertain science and certain deadlines: CDC responses to the media during the anthrax attacks of 2001. J Health Commun. 2003;8:17–34.[Web of Science][Medline]

    Working Group on “Governance Dilemmas” in Bioterrorism. Leading during bioattacks and epidemics with the Public’s Trust and Help. Biosecur Bioterror. 2004;2:25–40.[CrossRef][Web of Science][Medline]

    Vanderford ML. Communication lessons learned in the emergency operations center during CDC’s anthrax response: a commentary. J Health Commun. 2003;8:11–12.[Web of Science][Medline]

    Riederer-Trainor CWT, Snook WD, Hoff GL, Griffin R, Archer R. When bioterrorism strikes: communication issues for the local health department. Health Promot Pract. 2005;6:424–429.[Abstract/Free Full Text]

    Chess C, Calia J, O’Neill K. Communication triage: an anthrax case study. Biosecur Bioterror. 2004;2:106–111.[CrossRef][Web of Science][Medline]

    Jernigan DB, Raghunathan PL, Bell BP, et al. Investigation of bioterrorism-related anthrax, United States, 2001: epidemiologic findings. Emerg Infect Dis. 2002;8:1019–1028.[Web of Science][Medline]

    Bioterrorism: Public Health Response to Anthrax Incidents of 2001. Washington, DC: US Government Accountability Office; 2003. Report GAO-04–2004.

    Fischhoff B, Gonzalez RM, Small DA, Lerner JS. Evaluating the success of terror risk communications. Biosecur Bioterror. 2003;1:255–258.[CrossRef][Medline]

    Clarke L, Chess C, Holmes R, O’Neill KM. Speaking with one voice: risk communication lessons from the US anthrax attacks. J Contingencies Crisis Manage. 2006;14:160–169.[CrossRef]

  55. Old Atlantic said

    The NAS should also report on when the government stonewalls and conceals documents like the lab books, is it healthy to get angry? Is it healthy not to?

  56. Dxer said

    The FBI does not dispute that there were two routes — two letters.

    That is just Ed.

    • Old Atlantic said

      Is that in a document? What about testing on planes, trucks, ships, trains, and mules used to transfer mail from Princeton or DC to Florida?

      And any post offices stopped at along the way by the planes, trucks, ships, trains, and mules?

      • Dxer said

        Ed cites an October 10 , 2001 source even after I cited the peer reviewed jounal article on the mistaken statements that were made before the science was done. I otoh would refer you to Rachel or Ken who have never disputed the scientific findings. See ameritrax summary from February 2010.

      • Dxer said

        The second source he cites is October 9, 2001– again, long before the science was done.

        The official position of the investigative agency is that there were two letters. See post office response to the ago

  57. Old Atlantic said

    NAS should try to get FBI on record as asserting things they don’t have evidence for.

    Are the St. Petersburg letters part of the case?

    This should have been part of the NAS review.

    Were there 2 letters in Florida?

    When were they mailed?

    The time for inhalation anthrax to set in should have been a factor in that determination, ie when the letters were sent.

    Could the Sep 4, 2001 J-Lo letter have had anthrax?

    The CDC timeline of a Sep 19, 2001 and Sep 21, 2001 separate exposures?

    Does such a chronology rule out certain production scenarios for Ivins?

    What scenarios are in and which out?

    That should be a NAS task.

    Reviewing the CDC material.

    Was testing done between Princeton and Florida? In particular, south of DC and North of Palm Beach or trucks or planes? Did those find nothing?

    The Florida letter(s) were leaking heavily.

    If it was one letter, then it leaked enough to infect 6 local post offices in Florida. I.e. it had to leak onto other letters and go to other post offices in Florida.

    But in that case, it should have been leaking from when mailed in Princeton.

    That should have led to it infecting letters and thus post offices with destinations all over the country.

    Let me repeat, if it was one letter as the FBI claim, then it was a super leaking letter to get 6 local post offices in Florida. Thus in this scenario, that letter should have been contaminating letters in Princeton that were going all over Florida and all over the place.

    What is the route to Palm Beach from Princeton? Sorted at Princeton and then directly to Palm Beach by truck or plane? Or by plane or truck to other central post offices? In that case, it should have spread to many other post offices on the trail from Princeton to Palm Beach.

    What other post offices, trucks and planes were tested? (FOIA on all that too. NAS should get it w/o FOIA as well as GAO.)

    If there were two letters to Florida from Princeton, and they leaked to the 6 local post offices in Florida, then they also should have leaked as in above scenario.

    We are left with 2 or more local letters in Florida.

    This is fundamental to the case because it gives the chance to invalidate the Ivins theory. In science, you try to disprove your own pet hypothesis, not prevent it being examined. As Feynman said, the easiest one to fool is yourself.

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