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

* Anonymous says … had scientists known about the huge concentrations of silicon and tin in the attack anthrax powders, as they should have, Bruce Ivins might be alive today

Posted by DXer on February 27, 2011

******

update from Anonymous (2/27/11) …

  • I previously had no idea that the tin concentration was 6000 ppm – I thought is probably 100ppm and interesting but not a major finding.
  • This is because the FBI withheld the information. Even from Sandia and Livermore.
  • 6000ppm is astonishing – and it tracks the silicon – the more silicon, the more tin
  • Had that information been made available to Livermore 8 years ago, as it should have been – the Livermore scientists would immediately have suspected a connection between silicon and tin. The most obvious one is that a tin catalyst was used to cure the silicone (polymerized glass). Tin is commonly used for this purpose.
  • That the FBI deliberately withheld the silicon concentrations from Congress is beyond dispute, That’s what they did – no ifs ands or buts about it.

When the FBI mislead, that simply exposes

that they have something to hide.

see …

* responses to Congressman Nadler’s questions of the FBI regarding the % of weight of the silicon in the powder used in the 2001 anthrax attacks

and

* The FBI lab director Hassell has claimed there is not enough sample to determine quantitatively how much of the element silicon was present in the New York Post powder … a paper from Pacific Northwest Labs suggests that FBI claim is not accurate

 

******

Original Post

******

from Anonymous …

  • These results are truly astonishing.
  • They should have been shared with the FBI partner labs studying additives in the spores 8 years ago. Instead the partner labs were apparently kept in the dark.
  • Scientists cannot work this way.
  • Had these scientists known about the huge concentrations of silicon and tin, the case may have been solved years ago. Bruce Ivins might be alive today.
  • It is unprecedented to find any detectable tin (Sn) in spore preparations. Only a specialized chemical like an organometallic tin compound could give such a signature.
  • The tin seems to follow the silicon – the more silicon, the more tin.
  • One obvious first hypothesis is that the silicon got there via a polymerized glass chemical – a silanol.
  • Tin is commonly used as a co-additve in such formulations – used for microenpapsulation.
  • Now that these results are finally released – perhaps scientists can do their jobs and solve this case.

******

LMW COMMENT …

  • Let’s hope somebody can solve the case, because whatever else is true, it is a certainty that the FBI has not done so.

******

** Lew’s web interview 2-7-11 … mostly about the anthrax case

* CASE CLOSED – opening scene … the DIA re-investigates the FBI’s failed case

* buy CASE CLOSED at amazon *



 

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35 Responses to “* Anonymous says … had scientists known about the huge concentrations of silicon and tin in the attack anthrax powders, as they should have, Bruce Ivins might be alive today”

  1. DXer said

    Shouldn’t documents identifying the members of the Red Team be disclosed pursuant to FOIA?

    How can there be secret advisors guiding the course of governmental law enforcement inquiry?

    This sort of situation is precisely what Federal Advisory Committee Act was designed to overcome.

    PROMISES, PROMISES: Little transparency progress

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110314/ap_on_go_pr_wh/us_sunshine_week_foia_2

    • anonymous said

      The more I think about the “Red team” the more suspicious I become. What they did by halting the forensic value of silicon to trace the true source of the spores is beyond incompetence – but rises to the level of almost criminal negligence.

      Logic gives us the following possibilities:

      (1) Spores were made in US using technology involving silicon and tin – probably microencapsulation.
      (a) FBI knows this (or at least 1 or 2 people in FBI know) – but have chosen to paper it over, leaving a science investigation with almost unbelievable shortcomings.
      or
      (b) FBI does not know this for sure and FBI have been unable to penetrate DoD classified programs – not having the authority to go there, but on the other hand perhaps not wanting to go there.

      OR

      (2) Spores were made outside US and FBI really doesn’t have a clue which nations technology was used to attack us.

      I’m not sure which of the above 3 alternatives is the most terrifying.

      • DXer said

        I don’t doubt the good faith and their expertise of the scientists.

        I just know of no exemption under FOIA that would apply and justify the withholding of documents in which they are identified.

        In fact, query whether the Federal Advisory Committee Act expressly applies, even apart from FOIA’s applicability to the FBI.

        • DXer said

          For example, if one of them was co-applicant on the international patent application for the “Microdroplet Cell Culture,” I would find that an egregious conflict of interest. That patent involved using silica in the culture medium to concentrate anthrax. It was filed in Spring 2001 and not public until a couple years later. The head of the air force lab, upon reviewing it, describes it as a microencapsulation patent. I have oft-described how Ali Al-Timimi, who was coordinating with Anwar Awlaki, shared a suite with the principal inventors Alibek and Bailey, who then were joined on the international patent by esteemed scientists. If such a scientist recommended not to look further into the Silicon Signature, I would ask that the advice be disregarded.

        • anonymous said

          “I don’t doubt the good faith and their expertise of the scientists.”

          Unfortunately I cannot agree with that. There are some scientists involved who seem to still have objectivity. I won’t name names here – but there are a few who have clearly lost objectivity. Not that they had a motive to begin (with one notable exception) with but perhaps got too swept up with massive funding and going with the storyline – even if the newly released data paints a picture that clearly shows major forensic findings were swept under the rug.

        • DXer said

          That’s fine Anonymous.

          In advocating on the point, it is always in the advocate’s interest to presume the other party’s good faith because it is very likely the decision-maker won’t feel the same heat.

          Besides, you have never taken to heart that information relating to microencapsulation in this context would be classified and that public policy weighs against rummaging around such issues recklessly. Chris H. explained that there would be some things that would not be disclosed for national security reasons.

          I don’t see why that would apply to keeping secret the FBI’s anthrax expert making dried powder out of Flask 1029 that was more pure than what was mailed to the Senators — and allowing the USAMRIID spokesman to deny it from 2001 onward. But that’s for the GAO to sort out.

          Notice that Henry Heine has expressly said that there are some things he can’t say lest he get in trouble with the FBI. Perhaps it relates to experiments with antifoam in connection with antibiotic resistance.

  2. DXer said

    The FBI’s 2007 Red Team just threw up its hands on Silicon. Microencapsulation? Percoll? Rice hull contamination? Growth in soil such as was reported by the FBI scientist in June 2001 conference?

    No hypothesis was worth pursuing so long as the straw man of “floatability” was shot down. The Silicon Signature was merely “intriguing”. 10 years and millions of dollars and we get this nonsense.

    The members of the Red Team should be identified so we can know the scientists who thought of the Silicon Signature as merely intriguing rather than important to resolve.

    • DXer said

      The report notes that Agent Decker passed on and approved the Red Team’s recommendations that no exploration of the reason for the Silicon Signature should be done. The report noted that that the Red Team’s recommendations are based solely on the scientific data and results and that therefore may be based on incomplete information and had they known additional information they might have concluded otherwise. This is such hogwash!. On the face of the report, it is acknowledging that compartmentalization may have led to the wrong result. To take a single example, Dugway or the Red Team should have been specifically asked to consider the “Microdroplet Cell Culture Method” that used silica in the culture medium to concentrate anthrax. It was used by the DARPA-funded researchers who shared a suite with Ali Al-Timimi to concentrate anthrax.

      This nonsense seems to be all on Agent Decker, the fellow who struck the CSI pose for the Wash Po article.

      The scientists who constituted the “Red Team” should be identified so that conflicts of interest can be judged.

  3. DXer said

    The FBI in December 2010 on the “reverse engineering” effort at Dugway:

    FBI/DOJ Responses to Questions Submitted by the Committee on December 21, 2010
    “Dugway re-engineering”

    As previously described to the Committee, the “reverse engineering” effort conducted at
    Dugway froving Ground (DPG) early in the investigation was conducted in an attempt to
    glean information as to what affects various production methods may have on the
    fhysical characteristics of the final spore product. Based on the significant number of
    variables inherent to producing dried spore materials, such as that seen in the mailings,
    the FBI determined that the interpretation of the results from “reverse engineering”
    efforts would be diffcult at best and further work in this area was not pursued.
    Furthermore, it must be noted that these spores were not produced with the intent of
    reproducing or understanding the silicon incorporation into the spore coat as observed in
    thè mailed rpor. material. Therefore, no conclusion as to the production methods
    potentially rrì”d to make the mailed spore material was made as a result of this work.

    • DXer said

      EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
      AMERITHRAX Sample Status for 7/26/02

      “PHASE II:

      Dugway Proving Grounds (DPG)

      A contract (A2I204248) is now in place with DPG for the production of Bacillus species by a variety of production, harvesting, drying and milling processes. Dugway is preparing their required test plan for base command approval.”

  4. DXer said

    “The most obvious one is that a tin catalyst was used to cure the silicone (polymerized glass). Tin is commonly used for this purpose.”

    Anonymous, can you cite some authority in support on this proposition?

    • anonymous said

      “Anonymous, can you cite some authority in support on this proposition?”

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      Fuel-Resistant RTV Silicone Adhesive – Feature Article – Adhesives …
      by S Bruner – Related articles
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  5. DXer said

    http://www.abc.net.au/rn/healthreport/stories/2011/3150060.htm

    U.S. anthrax scare ten years on: Did the F.B.I. get it right?

    A decade ago, a series of anthrax attacks in the U.S. – launched via now infamous envelopes lined with white powder – struck fear to a nation still reeling from 9-11.

    More recently, the U.S. National Research Council released a review of the scientific approaches and conclusions of the controversial F.B.I. investigation into the deadly attack.

    The review’s findings suggested that the F.B.I. may have got it wrong when they targeted one scientist in particular.

    Norman spoke to David Relman at the annual conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

    Comment: The transcript of the interview above will be available on Tuesday after the broadcast of the interview on Monday.

    I, too, have been conducting interviews and recently have been conducting a scientific poll of law enforcement officers regarding Ed’s theory that it is 99% certain that a First Grader wrote the letters.

    It is called “The Giggle Test.”

    A button-hole minitiature camera serves to catch a representative giggle — here it was closer to a guffaw. Audio and transcript will be uploaded after the edited rap version and music video makes it debut.

    26 Uniformed Police Officer

  6. anonymous said

    http://media.www.thebrownandwhite.com/media/storage/paper1233/news/2011/02/25/News/Gast-Heads.Panel.Discussing.Anthrax.Letters-3980440.shtml

    It sounds like Dr Gast is describing Ed Lake. For what it’s worth – I think the questions submitted by this forum to NAS had a big impact, but NAS still failed to uncover everything.

    Gast heads panel discussing anthrax letters

    By Kelsey Stocker

    Issue date: 2/25/11 Section: News

    The committee announced that the data presented did not allow a specific origin of the letters to be pinned down, contrary to what the FBI reported. The committee also opted for more public awareness of the procedures used to analyze results in the forensic science field.

    “Information like this could be a danger to the public, if the public is not scientifically aware,” Gast said. “Some people put science results on a pedestal, with all the new technology and results in genomic sequencing.”

  7. Old Atlantic said

    One of the important issues is whether fluid and aerosol properties are the same as particle size and only particle size. The NAS report seems to buy into that. Particle size appears to be measured based on such properties in one case.

    According to this theory, if you coated a spore with fumed silica on the outside perfectly, the spore would be less fluid because it was slightly bigger.

    Identifying spore size as the sole determinant of fluid and aerosol properties and using those properties solely to measure spore size seems to have occurred in the investigation. This also may have hampered it.

    • DXer said

      When characterizing the NAS report or making any point, it is best to quote the report or document so that the reader can see if the characterization is supported by the passage quoted.

    • Old Atlantic said

      From section 4.4

      “In fall 2001, Battelle Memorial Institute (BMI) evaluated size distributions of aerosolized
      particles from letter material and surrogate samples to determine whether respirable-size
      particles were present and whether the amount of such particles would have required specialized
      protocols for preparation (e.g., dispersants). Well-established commercial instruments were used
      to aerosolize the samples (AeroDisperser®, TSI, Inc.) and measure their particle size distributions
      (Aerosizer®, TSI, Inc.). The AeroDisperser uses a high-velocity gas to lift and disperse solid
      particles (powders) off a plate into the airflow. The Aerosizer measures the aerodynamic
      diameters of individual particles by accelerating the aerosol in a sonic airflow and determining
      the velocity by time of flight between two laser beams. The Aerosizer was calibrated with
      National Institute of Standards and Technology traceable particle size standards between 5 and
      20 micrometers (μm) in diameter.”

    • Old Atlantic said

      Their claimed smaller spore sizes,
      which for argument I will call
      below 1 micron, may be measuring
      that the silicon in the spore
      coat helps give a higher velocity to the spore as measured?

      Thus they are already masking the beneficial effects of the silicon in the spore coat for fluidization and falsely indicating the spore size is below
      one micron?

      I throw these out as conjectures not assertions.

      • So if they claim a measurement of a spore below one micron by fluid properties then it indicates that they are attributing to spore size what must be an increment to fluidity from the silicon in the spore coat?

    • Old Atlantic said

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17241334

      J Appl Microbiol. 2007 Feb;102(2):303-12.
      Difference between the spore sizes of Bacillus anthracis and other Bacillus species.

      Carrera M, Zandomeni RO, Fitzgibbon J, Sagripanti JL.

      Research and Technology Directorate, Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, US Army, MD, USA.

      “METHODS AND RESULTS: Spores from several Bacillus species, including seven strains of B. anthracis and six close neighbours, were prepared and studied using identical media, protocols and instruments. Here, we report the spore length and diameter distributions, as determined by transmission electron microscopy (TEM). We calculated the aspect ratio and volume of each spore. All the studied strains of B. anthracis had similar diameter (mean range between 0.81 +/- 0.08 microm and 0.86 +/- 0.08 microm). The mean lengths of the spores from different B. anthracis strains fell into two significantly different groups: one with mean spore lengths 1.26 +/- 0.13 microm or shorter, and another group of strains with mean spore lengths between 1.49 and 1.67 microm. The strains of B. anthracis that were significantly shorter also sporulated with higher yield at relatively lower temperature. The grouping of B. anthracis strains by size and sporulation temperature did not correlate with their respective virulence.”

  8. Old Atlantic said

    100s of tin cans from before the aluminum can era growing anthrax in the BSL3 for months on end would escape notice.

  9. DXer said

    “Lets get the story right this time.” — Chief, in Green Zone.

  10. BugMaster said

    Note the iron doesn’t seem to track with the silicon.

    So much for the Weber theory.

    Looks like tin-cured silicon to me.

    Percoll??

    • BugMaster said

      So how do you make colliodal silica anyway?

      Polymerize, grind, and sieve?

      Seems logical.

      Grind with silicon carbide?

      Seems logical.

  11. Anonymous said

    All of the above data in the table is compiled from FBI document B1M7 – along with dates (2002) that the reports were written.

  12. Anonymous said

    “Everything old becomes new again.”

    Hardly. What is new here is the actual ppm numbers. Something you are clueless about.

  13. Anonymous said

    “Hmm. Doesn’t this table say that Aluminum (Al) was found in all the powders, and in the Daschle powder most of all?”

    You seem to be clueless on what these ppm numbers mean. 158ppm of Al is irrelevant.

  14. DXer said

    The NAS report, at page 67, states:

    “Trace levels of several elements including aluminum, sodium, magnesium, potassium, calcium, chlorine, iron, manganese, zinc, and tin were detected in letter and surrogate samples as well as in preparation reagents. While some of these elements are ubiquitous impurities in the environment, others are less common and sometimes are used in chemical profiling in forensic investigations. The Amerithrax Science Update documents (B3D1) describe multiple efforts to link stainless steel fragments contained in letter material with production methods or other sources of stainless steel particles (e.g., drugs, growth media components, pens). As of 2005 Michael and Kotula of Sandia National Laboratories believed that the tine and iron present in the powders may have provided a useful chemical signature; however the committee was never shown any evidence to indicate that this possibility was pursued further (FBI Documents, B1M1D7) or that these discussions led to any conclusions about the source of material or production methods.”

  15. DXer said

    For example, is Dr. Dulka’s expertise on the issue relevant so that I might consult him or his chapter?

    Trace Metal Uptake by Bacillus subtilis Strain 168

    J. J. DULKA and , T. H. RISBY1
    Department of Chemistry, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802
    1 Author to whom correspondence should be sent. Current address: Department of Environmental Health Services, Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, 615 N. Wolf St., Baltimore, MD 21205.
    P. E. KOLENBRANDER
    Department of Microbiology and Cell Biology, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802
    Ultratrace Metal Analysis in Biological Sciences and Environment
    Chapter 12, pp 172–196
    C

    Abstract

    The uptake of aluminum, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, copper, iron, lead, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, silver, tin, and zinc by B. subtilis Strain 168 is reported. These data were obtained during the lag phase, exponential phase, stationary phase, and the sporulation phase of the maturation cycle of this bacterial strain. Non-flame atomic absorption spectrometry was the method of analysis for all the metals except calcium, which was determined by flame atomic absorption spectrometry. The complete microbiological and analytical procedures are described. Uptake curves as a function of moles per cell, of moles per dry weight of a cell, and of percent available are reported. The data show that these metals seem to be required for growth. No attempts were made to postulate the roles played by these metals.

    J. J. DULKA and , T. H. RISBY1
    Department of Chemistry, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802

    1 Author to whom correspondence should be sent. Current address: Department of Environmental Health Services, Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, 615 N. Wolf St., Baltimore, MD 21205.

    P. E. KOLENBRANDER
    Department of Microbiology and Cell Biology, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802
    Ultratrace Metal Analysis in Biological Sciences and Environment
    Chapter 12, pp 172–196
    Chapter DOI: 10.1021/ba-1979-0172.ch012
    Advances in Chemistry, Vol. 172

  16. DXer said

    This is the proposition I need to be educated on as a non-scientist.

    “* It is unprecedented to find any detectable tin (Sn) in spore perparations. Only a specialized chemical like an organometallic tin compound could give such a signature.”

    For example, I previously have sent scanned copies of Murrell’s landmark Chapter 7 in a famous title. Do you accept that as authoritative on tin in spores? Alternatively, in case you don’t have that Chapter handy, is there a treatise you recognize what a federal judge would deem a “learned treatise”? That would be an authority you recognize as authoritative covering this subject that I can then use to ask you questions.

    Does use of Percoll as a density gradient result in a tin signature? If so, what is the authority.

    “I don’t know” is an acceptable answer while we ask experts their opinion and search the literature.

  17. DXer said

    Anonymous, I recognize you are an expert from your credentials. But please provide citations and authority for your stated propositions. Thanks.

  18. Anonymous said

    Incidentally, the results above were obtained by the FBI in 2002. They apparently did not bother telling the non-FBI partner labs about them. The scientists in these partner labs would undoubtedly have interpreted these astonishing results quite differently than the narrative they were being fed by the FBI.

    When congress asked for the results, even they were stone-walled:

    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2011/01/20/the-fbi-lab-director-claims-there-is-not-enough-sample-here-to-determine-quantitatively-how-much-of-the-element-silicon-is-present/

  19. Old Atlantic said

    Sometimes the actual letters of an element have more and sometimes the simulants have more. Therefore they are the same. The FBI New Math.

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