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

* Mailed anthrax letters used new ink and had transient printing defects

Posted by DXer on March 20, 2011



11 Responses to “* Mailed anthrax letters used new ink and had transient printing defects”

  1. DXer said

    An affidavit states:

    “Subsequent to the attacks, an effort was made to collect all such envelopes for possible forensic examination, including the identification of defects that occur during the envelope manufacturing process. As a result of this collection, envelopes with printing defects identical to printing defects identified on the envelopes utilized in the anthrax attacks during the fall of 2001 were collected fiom the Fairfax Main post office in Fairfax, Virginia and the Cumberland and Elkton post offices in Maryland. The Fairfax Main, Cumberland, Maryland, and Elkton, Maryland post offices are supplied by the Dulles Stamp Distribution Office (SDO), located in Dulles, Virginia. The Dulles SDO distributed “federal eagle” envelopes to post offices throughout Maryland and Virginia. Given that the printing defects identified on the envelopes used in the attacks are transient, thereby being present on only a small population of the federal eagle envelopes produced, and that envelopes with identical printing defects to those identified on the envelopes used in the attacks were recovered fiom post offices serviced by the Dulles SDO, it is reasonable to conclude that the federal eagle envelopes utilized in the attacks were purchased from a post office in Maryland or Virginia.”

    • Old Atlantic said

      Fairfax Main Post Office. This appears to currently be

      10660 PAGE AVE
      FAIRFAX, VA 22030-9998

      This is in the judiciary center in downtown a Fairfax. This is for state court. (The federal court house is in Alexandria.) The Fairfax post office is a short walk or drive from the city library. It is also a short drive from George Mason’s main campus which has the best science library in Northern Virginia. You would have to drive to University of Maryland at College Park.

      Dulles has a number of high tech type companies around it.

      The NSA is also not too far from Dulles and a moderate drive from Fairfax.

      Many doctor offices are in the area. Many of them from South Asia.

      • DXer said

        Old Atlantic,

        It seems a pointless exercise, on the envelope issue, to do more than note that it was sold throughout Maryland and Virginia.

        On the nature of the defect, there is a well-written, lengthy discussion of the defect in the Amerithrax Investigative Summary. If millions were produced and the effect lasted for as little as 2,000 envelopes, it would have been fascinating to hear even more from a witness on its discovery. But the FBI and the printing company seems to have worked hard on the issue even going so far as to do a mock run where they reprinted the envelope to study the variants of the defects. Unless there is a printing defect expert with experience on the issue who questions the adequacy of their geographic sampling — or unless the discussion in the summary does not square with the documentary evidence — the GAO’s time is better spent on other issues.

        For example, on the toner issue, why is there no discussion in the Amerithrax Weekly summary reports on that issue (as distinguished from the tracks). In recent studies they often find a 99% level of certainty in being able to exclude toners. It seems that the issue lends itself well to analysis of how many of the xerox machines that Dr. Ivins has used in the past are within the group of machines indicated by the analysis of the toner. This could be examined by starting with the papers taken from his workplace and home. The issue of toner is a black hole on which there is no mention even though the FBI has a lot of expertise and background on the issue. The GAO should obtain a copy of Dr. Bartick’s report on the issue.

      • Old Atlantic said

        They could have tested the copy machines at the library at George Mason and at the Fairfax public library in Fairfax or close to the other post offices they identified it.

        • Old Atlantic said

          Faculty at George Mason and library staff at the Fairfax and GMU libraries may have copies from those machines. Can they use those to compare to the letters?

  2. DXer said

    Is the FBI representing to the GAO that all of the Amerithrax Weekly reports were produced? They suddenly stopped years before the investigation concluded. How did communication occur before and after those points?

    Shouldn’t GAO focus on the emails between Dr. Wilson, Dr. Burans, Dr. Beecher and Dr. Ezzell?

    These GAO investigators probably include some of the most experienced and savvy fact-finders anywhere. They likely appreciate that the less formal communication of email is where one learns the picture that is a more accurate picture than in sanitized formal memos. For example, if you want to know what happened to the stainless steel issue that suddenly dropped from the weekly reports, then turn to the emails. If you want to understand the toner issue, turn to Dr. Bartick’s emails and opinion.

  3. DXer said

    If the printing defect is not reviewed, then there has been no test of the science relied upon of this critical science underpinning the FBI’s conclusion.

    By way of example, if the FBI did not sample from a wide enough area, an expert might conclude that the same transient printing error. For example, if some writer displays a curved dot on their “i”, it would be misleading to point out that John Smith evidences that in his writing if one hasn’t included samples from the others who do.

    It is as important as the toner issue which was nowhere mentioned in any of the FBI documents produced to the NAS.

    • BugMaster said

      Why does the FBI assume that the “indica defects” that appear and disappear during a printing run only happened once, in a specific manner only associated with one batch of envelopes?

      • DXer said

        I wish the NAS panel had addressed it. There was one or more scientists with a deep expertise on statistics. The first thing that should be considered in plain english is the sampling that the FBI did (that is, the geographic areas from which they chose samples).

        • BugMaster said

          Exactly. If the defects are a repeated phenomena, then one would expect to find them in multiple locations.

        • BugMaster said

          The FBI determined there were two sets of print errors, one on each of the two plates used to print the letters (one plate printed one, the next from the second plate, so every other letter in the batch was printed by the same plates).

          Since the distinguishing characteristic is print errors in two plates, I would conclude that the FBI has correctly identified the print run that produced the envelopes.

          These envelopes were sold in locations in Maryland and Virginia (not just the post office Ivins used).

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