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

* GAO Should Obtain A Copy Of The FBI’s Handwriting Analysis Comparing The Letters To Atta’s

Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 22, 2012

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Muhammad Atta

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93 Responses to “* GAO Should Obtain A Copy Of The FBI’s Handwriting Analysis Comparing The Letters To Atta’s”

  1. DXer said

    Assuming a review of other exemplars confirms that it is Atta’s handwriting (and not Adnan, who was assisting him at the immigration office on his visits), note that among the other exemplars that the FBI can provide GAO is a postcard sent to USINS TSC (Immigration and Naturalization Services), in which Atta, listed as the sender of the postcard, put a horizontal line across the top and bottom line on the “I” in USINS and MESQUITE and he put a cap on the number 1s in the zipcode 851182 and 75185-1182.

    http://www.911myths.com/images/8/86/Team5_Box51_Hijacker-Primary-Docs_AA11-ChronologySaudiVisaApps.pdf

  2. DXer said

    http://www.linkedin.com/groups/FBIs-Linguistic-Behavioral-Analysis-Anthrax-4606264.S.5830139829303668738

    FBI’s Linguistic and Behavioral Analysis of the Anthrax Letters

    Comment by
    Stephen G.
    Founder & Chief Consultant at Sykes & Burrows, Co-founder & Consultant at LEADDS

    The profile is broad, almost generic. What is telling is the way of writing numbers of capitalisation of letters. This may indicate a European by birth. The fact that the date was written month, day and year would say the person has lived long enough in the US, as the international standard is day, month, year. But the formation of the “1” is a European 1. The attempts to Capitalise particularly the first letter of nouns might mean the person has his/her origins in Germany, Switzerland or Austria, as German language capitalises nouns. Could be force of habit. Coupled with the “1”, this individual may have only moved to the US late in his/her life, certainly into his/her adulthood.

    Comment: Before coming to live in the US, Atta was a student for years in German and was fluent in German.

  3. DXer said

    Armed with additional exemplars of Atta’s handwriting, GAO has the expertise in-house to make its own comparison of the handwriting.

    I have obtained from USAMRIID and uploaded numerous samples of Dr. Ivins’ handwriting — which looks nothing like the mailed anthrax letters.

  4. DXer said

    CURRENT STATE OF HANDWRITING ANALYSIS
    Forensic Handwriting Examinations: The Progression to our Current State

    Peter Tytell, Forensic Document Examiner
    Forensic Handwriting Examinations: The Progression to our Current State

    I will quote some snippets — please see the slide itself for the full context.
    http://www.nist.gov/oles/upload/Forensic-Handwriting-Examinations-Tytell.pdf

    —-

    1991 – E1422 Standard Guide for Test Methods for Forensic Writing Ink Comparison

    1995 – E1658 Standard Terminology for Expressing Conclusions of Forensic Document Examiners

    —–

    Finding Sources

    1997- Published material having been exhausted, more low hanging fruit was sought.

    SOPs drafted for ASCLD/LAB were collected as part of ASQDE program dealing with Daubert challenges.

    Objective to meld the best parts for set set of ASCLD/LAB compliant documents.

    E2290-03 Standard Guide for Examination of Handwritten Items

    E2389-05 Standard Guide for Examination of Doc

    The FBI formed the Technical Working Group on Forensic Document Examination (TWGDOC) in May 1997. At the first meeting of TWGDOC, the importance of standardizing procedures for handwriting comparison was again recgonized as a primary task. TWGDOC’s first sub-group, Standard Operating Protocols, was formed and has been meeting regularly since. From NIJ Solicitation, June 1998


    Some Items in Process in 2012

    “Standard Guide for the Examination of Line Intersections”

    (Contrast the determination in Amerithrax that the T in “NEXT” was double-lined; the letters “A” “T” “T” “A” were double-lined as if someone were suggesting that Atta was behind the letters).

    “Standard Guide for Minimum Requirements for Notes in Forensic Document Examinations”

    “Standard Practice for the Case Review of Forensic Document Examinations”

    (Compare the characterization and reporting of the examination in Amerithrax)

  5. DXer said

    At a June 2013 NIST conference, sponsored in part by the FBI, Matthias Austum spoke about D-scribe.

    GAO, has D-scribe been used on the Fall 2001 anthrax letters to compare Bruce Ivins’ handwriting?

    An examiner would have Dr. Ivins’ notebooks scanned and then could pull up any particular keyword such as “Ames”.

    http://www.nist.gov/oles/forensics/measurement-science-and-standards-in-forensic-handwriting-analysis-conference-webcast.cfm

    He discusses the textual feature extractor and an allograph feature extractor and much more.

    The question presented for GAO is: What handwriting forensic analysis was done — and did FBI apply the appropriate forensic standards?

    Moreover, the question is: When available techniques are applied today in 2014, what is the result of a properly done handwriting demonstration?

    For example, what is the result of comparison of Mohammed Atta’s handwriting? Adnan El-Shukrijumah?

  6. DXer said

    Background:

    The USG Has Denied FOIA Requests For Atta’s Handwriting Since The Fall 2001 Anthrax Mailings On Grounds It Could Interfere With Enforcement Proceedings
    Posted on November 1, 2013
    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2013/11/01/the-usg-has-denied-foia-requests-for-attas-handwriting-since-the-fall-2001-anthrax-mailings-on-grounds-it-could-interfere-with-enforcement-proceedings/

    In the formal handwriting examination conducted in the Amerithrax investigation, it was concluded that “Bruce E. Ivins probably did not write the writings appearing on the ‘anthrax’ envelopes and letters.” The Assistant US Attorney did not disclose that fact in the Amerithrax Investigative Summary.
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 13, 2013
    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2013/08/13/in-the-formal-handwriting-examination-conducted-in-the-amerithrax-investigation-it-was-concluded-that-bruce-e-ivins-probably-did-not-write-the-writings-appearing-on-the-anthrax-envelopes-and/

    GAO, for a partial review of the literature…

    Automatic handwriting recognition and writer matching on anthrax-related handwritten mail
    SN Srihari, S Lee – Frontiers in Handwriting Recognition, 2002. …, 2002 – ieeexplore.ieee.org
    Abstract A handwriting recognition technique and a handwriting identification technique
    were combined and applied on anthrax-related handwritten mail. HWAI (Handwritten
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    • DXer said

      http://www.informatik.uni-trier.de/~ley/pers/hd/s/Srihari:Sargur_N=

      Here is merely a sample of the many dozen additional publications of Sargur N. Srihari. The science has advanced far beyond a pornographer’s “I know it when I see it.”

      Sargur N. Srihari, Kirsten Singer: Role of automation in the examination of handwritten items. Pattern Recognition 47(3): 1083-1095 (2014)

      Mukta Puri, Sargur N. Srihari, Lisa Hanson: Probabilistic modeling of children’s handwriting. DRR 2014: 902103-902103-13
      • 2013

      Sargur N. Srihari, Dmitry Kovalenko, Yi Tang, Gregory R. Ball: Combining evidence using likelihood ratios in writer verification. DRR 2013

      Mukta Puri, Sargur N. Srihari, Yi Tang: Bayesian Network Structure Learning and Inference Methods for Handwriting. ICDAR 2013: 1320-1324
      • 2012

      Krishnanand Das, Sargur N. Srihari, Harish Srinivasan: Questioned document workflow for handwriting with automated tools. DRR 2012

      Yi Tang, Sargur N. Srihari, Harish Srinivasan: Handwriting individualization using distance and rarity. DRR 2012

      Sargur N. Srihari: Invited Lecture II: Evaluating the Probability of Identification in the Forensic Sciences. ICFHR 2012: 609

      Sargur N. Srihari, Kirsten Singer: Role of Automation in the Examination of Handwritten Items. ICFHR 2012: 619-624

      Gregory R. Ball, Sargur N. Srihari: Statistical characterization of handwriting characteristics using automated tools. DRR 2011: 1-10

      Sargur N. Srihari: Evaluating the Rarity of Handwriting Formations. ICDAR 2011: 618-622

      Gregory R. Ball, Harish Kasiviswanathan, Sargur N. Srihari, Aswin Narayanan: Analysis of line structure in handwritten documents using the Hough transform. DRR 2010: 1-10

      Gregory R. Ball, Danjun Pu, Roger Stritmatter, Sargur N. Srihari: Comparison of historical documents for writership. DRR 2010: 1-10

      Gregory R. Ball, Sargur N. Srihari, Roger Stritmatter: Writer Verification of Historical Documents among Cohort Writers. ICFHR 2010: 314-319

      Harish Kasiviswanathan, Gregory R. Ball, Sargur N. Srihari: Top Down Analysis of Line Structure in Handwritten Documents. ICPR 2010: 2025-2028

      Sargur N. Srihari, Gregory R. Ball: Comparison of statistical models for writer verification. DRR 2009: 1-10

      Sargur N. Srihari, Veshnu Ramakrishnan, Manavender Malgireddy, Gregory R. Ball: Identification of forgeries in handwritten petitions for ballot propositions. DRR 2009: 1-10

      Sargur N. Srihari, Gregory R. Ball: Writer Verification of Arabic Handwriting. Document Analysis Systems 2008: 28-34

      Chen Huang, Sargur N. Srihari: Word segmentation of off-line handwritten documents. DRR 2008: 68150

      Gregory R. Ball, Sargur N. Srihari: Writer adaptation in off-line Arabic handwriting recognition. DRR 2008: 681505

      Harish Srinivasan, S. Kabra, Chen Huang, Sargur N. Srihari: On Computing Strength of Evidence for Writer Verification. ICDAR 2007: 844-848

      Sargur N. Srihari, Chen Huang, Harish Srinivasan: Search engine for handwritten documents. DRR 2005: 66-75

      Sargur N. Srihari, Anantharaman Ganesh, Catalin I. Tomai, Yong-Chul Shin, Chen Huang: Information Retrieval System for Handwritten Documents. Document Analysis Systems 2004: 298-309

      Catalin I. Tomai, Kristin M. Allen, Sargur N. Srihari: Recognition of Handwritten Foreign Mail. ICDAR 2001: 882-886

      Sargur N. Srihari, Sung-Hyuk Cha, Sangjik Lee: Establishing Handwriting Individuality Using Pattern Recognition Techniques. ICDAR 2001: 1195-

      Sargur N. Srihari: Handwritten Address Interpretation: A Task of Many Pattern Recognition Problems. IJPRAI 14(5): 663-674 (2000)

    • DXer said

      CEDAR software was deployed by Lockheed in 1997 to interpret the handwritten addresses on US mail.

      In the 2002 article, the Professor explains that application of the work for forensics and writer identification was supported by the National Institute of Justice.

      Handwriting Identification on Anthraxrelated
      Envelopes

      We also have developed software (known as CEDAR
      FDE, for Forensic Document Examination) for matching
      handwriting for the purpose of determining writer-ship.
      This software was developed as part a study to quantitatively
      establish the individuality of handwriting, a project
      supported by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). We
      report here on a preliminary matching of the handwriting
      styles on the five envelopes and letters using CEDAR-FDE
      software for determining handwriting similarity.
      We have developed a set of 11 macro-features that can
      characterize a handwritten document at any level: entire
      document, paragraph, word, or character. We also have developed
      512 micro-features that are computed from a connected
      component (such as a word or character extracted
      from the writing). As a preliminary test, we applied the
      matching software using only micro-features at the character
      level to a few characters found in the images.

      • DXer said

        The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) is the research, development and evaluation agency of the United States Department of Justice. The CEDAR-FDE documents relating to analysis of the anthrax letters should have been produced pursuant to my FOIA. (The Office of Justice does not directly handle FOIA requests; requests should be directed to the relevant DOJ component).

        The CEDAR-FDE documents now should be produced to the GAO.

      • DXer said

        From the 2002 article about the research funded by the Department of Justice relating to identifying the writer of the Fall 2001 anthrax letters:

        Automatic Handwriting recognition and Writer Matching on Anthrax-related Handwritten Mail Sargur N. Srihari and Sangjik Lee Center of Excellence for Document Analysis and Recognition (CEDAR) University at Buffalo, State University of New York (SUNY) 520 Lee Entrance, Suite 202 Amherst, NY 14228, USA

        Abstract

        A handwriting recognition technique and a handwrit- ing identification technique were combined and applied on anthrax-related handwritten mail. HWAI (Handwritten Ad- dress Interpretation) system interprets the address on the anthrax-related letters. The HWAI process can be modified to provide specific alphabet images which can then be used for writer identification. Micro-level feature values from segmented characters were extracted and an identification test was conducted. Preliminary results based on automatic handwriting recognition and identification are shown.

        1. Introduction This paper reports on an analysis of the writings in re- cent anthrax-related mailings using combination of HWAI (Handwritten Address Interpretation) system and Forensic Document Examination system. Scientists at CEDAR have been conducting research on computer interpretation of postal images for nearly two decades. Also, research on software for forensic analysis of handwriting has been conducted for overtwo years [1]. The recent threat of anthrax mailings have called for combining techniques from the two areas for forensic purposes.

      • DXer said

        http://www.cedar.buffalo.edu/~srihari/talks/MSU.pdf

        The professor’s powerpoint refers to a 4% error rate based on a full page and a 16% error rate on a single word.

        Under a powerpoint on “Writer Recognition” and the anthrax letters, he asks: “Do they match writership of known writing?”

        Under FOIA, and the principles of government accountability that apply, the science used by the Department of Justice in Amerithrax is subject to review — and the documents are subject to FOIA.

        We can all look at Dr. Ivins’ lab notebooks and agree that the letters look nothing like the mailed letters.

        But the task before the GAO is to obtain and review the FBI and DOJ’s work relating to handwriting forensics so that we can understand why they chose simply to ignore the work supported by taxpayer dollars.

        SUNY Buffalo is also subject to the New York FOIL in case the FBI wants to continue to play hide-the-ball.

        Anthrax, Ayman Zawahiri and Al Qaeda: The Infiltration of US Biodefense
        http://www.amerithrax.wordpress.com
        .

      • DXer said

        Notice the approach taken by the Amerithrax prosecutors. Rather than touting Professor Srihari’s analysis that confirmed Dr. Ivins probably did not write the Fall 2001 anthrax letters, they nowhere disclosed even the Muehlberger opinion.

        Nor did they disclose Professor Srihari’s comparison to Mohammed Atta and Adnan El-Shukrijumah’s handwriting.

        Reliance on science is only principled if disclosure is made without fear or favor. Disclosure while in CYA mode does not square with government accountability.

        Cecil Adams gives us the Straight Dope on handwriting analysis:

        No forensic technique has taken more hits than handwriting analysis. In one particularly devastating federal ruling, United Statesv. Saelee (2001), the court noted that forensic handwriting analysis techniques had. seldom been tested, and that what testing had been done II raises serious questions about the reliability ‘of methods currently in use.” The experts were frequently wrong–in one test “the frue positive accuracy rate of laypersons was the same as that of handwriting examiners; both groups were correct 52 percent of the time.” The most basic principles of handwriting analysis–for example, that everyone’s handwriting is unique–had never been demonstrated. “The technique of comparing known writings with questioned documents appears to be entirely subjective and entirely lacking in controlling standards,” the court wrote. Testimony by the government’s handwriting expert was ruled inadmissible.

        Prosecutors scrambling to find scientific validation for handwriting analysis last year touted a study by Sargur Srihari, a professor of computer science at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Srihari subjected 1,500 writing samples to computer analysis. Conclusion: In 96 percent of cases, the writer of a sample could be positively identified based on quantitative features of his handwriting such as letter dimensions and pen pressure. Skeptics objected that lab results using a computer prove nothing about what a human can do in the real world, and who can argue? If expert testimony is going to send people up the river, it better be more than some mope’s prejudices dressed up as science.”

        http://documents.theblackvault.com/documents/terrorism/amerithrax/847447.pdf

        The “Straight Dope: Is handwriting analysis legit science?
        h t t p : / / w w w . s t r a i g h t d o p e . c o m /

      • DXer said

        http://spark.ieee.org/2012-issue-1/meet-sargur-srihari/

        Meet Sargur Srihari
        January, 2012

        Have you ever wondered how scientists and crime scene investigators use handwriting to solve crimes? We’ve interviewed Professor Sargur Srihari about how handwriting can be used as evidence. He created an automated system that uses computers to identify patterns in handwriting and other forensic evidence. The system is used all over the world and has helped solve crimes and has been used to convict criminals!
        Professor Srihari’s research led to the first large-scale handwritten address interpretation systems in the world. Postal services such as the U.S. Postal Service, Australia Post, and UK Royal Mail use his system to fight crimes! His work has also encouraged the acceptance of handwriting testimony in court, along with new software that is used all over the world by forensics specialists working to solve crimes.
        Sargur Srihari is a SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York. With support from the United States Postal Service for over 20 years, he founded CEDAR, the Center of Excellence for Document Analysis and Recognition, in 1991.

        Q: What is computational forensics and how is it used today in solving crimes?
        Srihari: Computational forensics is the development of mathematical and software techniques to assist the forensic scientist. It’s used today for fingerprint matching in a system known as IAFIS (integrated automatic fingerprint identification system) used by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies. It includes not only fingerprints, but also criminal histories; mug shots; scar and tattoo photos; physical characteristics like height, weight, and hair and eye color; and aliases. It is the largest biometric database in the world!
        Q: How does automation and computing improve traditional forensics work, such as fingerprinting, handwriting analysis, and DNA sampling?
        Srihari: It allows quantitative measurement that would be otherwise difficult or infeasible. For instance it is now possible to quantitatively determine the strength of forensic evidence, such as a given configuration of small parts of a fingerprint, by stating the probability of finding it in a population of a given size.

        Q: Are you surprised to find that your work is focusing on forensics?
        Srihari: It was surprising that there was lack of scientific rigor in many forensic disciplines despite the techniques used being over a hundred years old. Methods used were quite subjective and susceptible to human bias. Software to solve many common-place problems has become available only in the last few decades. Techniques from artificial intelligence, machine learning and pattern recognition can play a role in performing many tasks of the forensic examiner.

        Q: Many people wouldn’t think that a degree in engineering would point them to a CSI career – did your educational background prepare you for this field?
        Srihari: A degree in engineering is useful to develop systems for many different applications. Forensics is one of them.
        Q: Is everyone using computational forensics around the world?
        Srihari: Computational forensics is not yet mainstream. But lots of research goes on in academic settings, such as at my own lab at the State University of New York at Buffalo, and eventually the courts may allow these techniques to be applied in criminal trials.
        Q: How long have you been a member of IEEE? What prompted you to join?
        Srihari: I joined as a graduate student 40 years ago. I wanted to keep informed of new developments through IEEE publications. It was well before the internet and hard-copy magazines were the only way.

        Q: What is the most rewarding thing about the work you do?
        Srihari: It is learning about new things or ideas and seeing how they can be further developed.
        Q: Can you share a story about how a criminal has been prosecuted as a result of the work you do?
        Srihari: I was asked to testify in a federal court case about the validity of forensic handwriting comparison. It involved a government official who had claimed that her handwriting and signatures on some documents had been forged. I testified that experiments with handwriting comparison software showed that handwriting in course of business writing is sufficiently individualistic so as to be allowed in court. The defendant pleaded guilty.
        Q: What advice would you give a student who was interested in working in forensics as related to engineering and computing?
        Srihari: Prepare yourself with knowledge of probability and statistics which are important to all forensic specialties. While the job market in forensics is not large, that preparation can serve you very well wherever you end-up. To work with impression evidence such as fingerprints and footwear, knowledge of computer image processing will be useful.

    • DXer said

      Professor Srihari described his research at the Measurement Science and Standards in Forensic Handwriting Analysis Conference conference. Uploaded August 2013.

  7. DXer said

    In a FOIA response, the FBI advises DXer that no comparison of Mohammed Atta’s handwriting is among the many dozens listed that were provided the Amerithrax Task Force.

    The list of comparisons done by FBI’s handwriting analyst who found Ivins probably dId not write the anthrax letters is 22 pages long.

    Amerithrax seems the biggest counterintelligence analysis failure in the history of the United States.

  8. DXer said

    The FBI handwriting expert concluded that the handwriting used in the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings did not appear to be the handwriting of Dr. Bruce Ivins.

    I have suggested that the FBI concluded that the handwriting instead was consistent with the writing of lead hijacker Atta and that the FBI is wrongfully withholding the opinion under FOIA. FBI’s Dave Hardy decision-making under FOIA can be considered if and when the US is next attacked with anthrax.

    But separately, are there handwriting exemplars of Yazid Sufaat’s printing so that he might be excluded as the author of the letters?

    Here is an application by Atta to Eagle Jet Aviation.

    http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov/notablecases/moussaoui/exhibits/prosecution/MM00032.pdf

    Atta seems to have filled out Al-Shehhi’s form. (It is the same as on the Huffman form and the immigration form above)

    http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov/notablecases/moussaoui/exhibits/prosecution/MM00031.pdf

    This is Al-Shehhi’s handwriting.

    http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov/notablecases/moussaoui/exhibits/prosecution/MM00618.html

  9. DXer said

    The FBI’s handwriting expert in Amerithrax was the experienced and distinguished USPIS Lab Director Muehlberger, who as I recall retired in 2008.

    Didn’t Mr. Muehlberger opine that Mohammed Atta’s handwriting was consistent with the Fall 2001 anthrax letters?

    At the same time, didn’t he issue a formal opinion that the handwriting of Adnan El-Shukrijumah and Jdey was not? Is there any handwriting of Adnan or Jdey that is consistent?

    Mohammed Atta is dead and there is no FOIA exemption that appropriately applies to the immigration forms.

    Do AUSA’s Lieber and Kohl really think it was appropriate not to produce the comparison of Mohammed Atta’s handwriting — especially in light of Muehlberger’s conclusion that Bruce Ivins probably did not write the Fall 2001 anthrax letters?

    In any event, shouldn’t it be produced now without further delay pursuant to long-pending FOIA requests?

  10. DXer said

    https://muckrock.s3.amazonaws.com/foia_files/7-31-13_MR1605_REJ-E.pdf

    The USG has denied the FOIA request for Atta’s handwriting (his printing) since the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings on grounds it could interfere with enforcement proceedings. For example, the request in the thread below (COW2013000538) was denied by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on July 31, 2013.

    How would it interfere?

    Relatedly, the FBI recently denied the fifth page of Atta’s last Will and Testament that had the capital letters R O O M using printing that matched the lettering of the anthrax letters.

    Someone should bring suit under FOIA after exhausting their appeal.

    In the meantime, the GAO should obtain the documents from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in the event the FBI has not provided them to GAO.

  11. DXer said

    Former FBI WMD head Vahid Majidi told me that I could submit requests to the FBI under FOIA and could expect a response in an average of 3 months.

    I’ve pointed out that my request for the comparison of Atta’s handwriting with the Fall 2001 anthrax letters has been pending for ages.

    Others have a similar experience with respect to requests for Atta’s handwriting ever since the Fall 2001 anthrax letters.

    Indeed, have you even ever tried to find the handwritten copy of Atta’s Last Will and Testament in Arabic (other than a thumbnail) — that shows he makes all the numbers?

    (It was published in Spiegel in October 2001 but I haven’t yet seen them.)

    Here is an illustrative experence:

    https://www.muckrock.com/foi/united-states-of-america-10/mohamed-att-immigration-forms-1605/

    From Michael Morisy on July 29, 2012:
    To Whom It May Concern:

    This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I hereby request the following records:

    1) a copy of Mohamed Att¹s change of status request/application from B2
    visitor visa to an M visa for foreign student pilots in 2000 or 2001;

    2) a copy of these forms relating to Mohamed Atta: I-94 forms, I-130
    forms, I-131 forms, I-129 forms, I-539 forms including any I-20 forms noting
    transfer B-2/B-1 Visa;

    3) a copy of any applications Mohamed Atta filed for schools and any and
    all passports issued to Atta, including a copy of applications for the Conch
    Republic Passport.

    As Mohamed Att is deceased (http://j.mp/MtkR6M), no proof of identity is needed for the release of this information.

    I also request that, if appropriate, fees be waived as I believe this request is in the public interest. The requested documents will be made available to the general public free of charge as part of the public information service at MuckRock.com, processed by a representative of the news media/press and is made in the process of news gathering and not for commercial usage.

    In the event that fees cannot be waived, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

    Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 20 business days, as the statute requires.

    Sincerely,

    Michael Morisy

    From MuckRock.com to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on Aug. 28, 2012:
    To Whom It May Concern:

    I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on July 29, 2012. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

    Thank you for your help.

    From MuckRock.com to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on Sept. 27, 2012:
    To Whom It May Concern:

    I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on July 29, 2012. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

    Thank you for your help.

    From MuckRock.com to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on Oct. 27, 2012:
    To Whom It May Concern:

    I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on July 29, 2012. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

    Thank you for your help.

    From MuckRock.com to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on Nov. 26, 2012:
    To Whom It May Concern:

    I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on July 29, 2012. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

    Thank you for your help.

    From MuckRock.com to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on Jan. 15, 2013:
    To Whom It May Concern:

    I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on July 29, 2012. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

    Thank you for your help.

    From MuckRock.com to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on Feb. 14, 2013:
    To Whom It May Concern:

    I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on July 29, 2012. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

    Thank you for your help.

    From MuckRock.com to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on April 4, 2013:
    To Whom It May Concern:

    I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on July 29, 2012. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

    Thank you for your help.

    From MuckRock.com to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on May 15, 2013:
    To Whom It May Concern:

    I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on July 29, 2012. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

    Thank you for your help.

    From MuckRock.com to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on June 14, 2013:
    To Whom It May Concern:

    I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on July 29, 2012. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

    Thank you for your help.

    From MuckRock.com to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on July 14, 2013:
    To Whom It May Concern:

    I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on July 29, 2012. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

    Thank you for your help.

    From FOIA, USCIS to Michael Morisy on July 15, 2013:
    Based on the information you have provided, after conducting a search, we currently do not have a record of your request in our system. Once we receive your request in our office and it is scanned into our system, your request will be created and an acknowledgement letter will be sent to you with a control number. We create requests on a first in / first out basis. Once you receive your acknowledgement letter you my check the status of your request at the following link: FOIA Request Status Check. The estimated time posted on the USCIS web site is based on our average processing time in business days as of the date posted and includes all cases closed.

    If you would like, you may reply and attach a copy of your request to your email.

    Thank you.

    • DXer said

      Now this FOIA above is directed to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services .

      Question: What handwriting exemplars did the FBI’s expert use in doing its handwriting comparison with the Fall 2001 anthrax letters?

  12. DXer said

    The letters “A-T-T-A” were highlighted in the Fall 2001 anthrax letters.

    Mohammed Atta, in his last will and testament, made the invocation “in the name of myself…”

    One distinguished scholar wrote last month that such an invocation “in the name of myself” was very odd — even heretical.

    The professor of sociology at University of North Carolina is trying to obtain a page under FOIA that the FBI is denying on the grounds of pending enforcement proceedings.

    David Hardy in his response wrote that “that there is a pending or prospective enforcement proceeding…”

    I am always encouraged to see such distinguished scholars place on a priority on obtaining contemporaneous documents under FOIA. It all serves to get people on the same page. Mr. Hardy, IMO, should provide the page, redacted as deemed necessary to comply with FOIPA. He should not have simply withheld it entirely.

    In response to my long pending request, I look forward to Dave Hardy providing the opinion of FBI’s expert — who was the head of the USPIS Crime Laboratory — on the comparison of the handwriting with the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings.

    http://www.juancole.com/2013/09/heretical-hijackers-withheld.html

    Al-Qaeda as Fringe Cult: 12 Years Later, Heretical Text of 9/11 Hijackers Still Withheld by FBI (Kurzman)

    Posted on 09/11/2013 by Juan Cole
    Charles Kurzman writes at IslamiCommentary

    his document, a handwritten note by 9/11 organizer Muhammad Atta, opened with a heretical-sounding invocation — “In the name of God, and of myself, and of my family” — in addition to the standard invocation, “In the name of God, the compassionate, the merciful.” We know this from a government translation that was leaked to the Washington Post (left) in late September 2001.

    The FBI released four other pages of Atta’s notes on its website within weeks of 9/11, but not the Arabic original of the fifth page, on which this invocation appears. I have filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for the document six times, but the FBI refuses to make it public, even in a redacted form, on the grounds that it might “interfere with enforcement proceedings.” (See image below right)

    The FBI did not indicate what enforcement proceedings would be affected, 12 years after the event, or how the document might interfere with them. (“The role of FOIA is not to answer questions, it is to provide documents,” the FBI’s public liaison officer told me when I asked for further information. In this instance, he clarified, the FBI would not provide either answers or documents.)

    In the court of public opinion, however, the document deserves close inspection. To associate oneself and one’s family with God, as Atta’s invocation (“In the name of God, and of myself, and of my family”) seems to do, is considered impious by virtually all Muslims — a breach of the monotheism that is central to their faith. “Whoever associates others with God has committed a terrible sin,” the Qur’an declares.

    Charles Kurzman is a Professor of Sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and author of The Missing Martyrs: Why There Are So Few Muslim Terrorists (Oxford University Press, 2011). He is also co-director of UNC Chapel Hill’s Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations.

    • DXer said

      http://www.pulitzer.org/archives/6606

      “The first four pages of the document obtained by The Post are handwritten on large paper and recite some basic Islamic history about the prophet fighting infidels with 100 men against 1,000.”

      How large was it?

      [The anthrax letters were irregularly sized; cut down from larger paper].

      The fifth and last page is on standard stenographer paper that apparently had been ripped from a pad and is headed, “When you enter the plane”:

      [The FBI has not disclosed the forensic report on the paper composition of the Fall 2001 anthrax letters and comparison with exemplars taken in the course of the investigation; the FBI should so. Vahid Majidi’s claim that the FBI had disclosed all forensic reports is untrue. It has not produced ANY forensic reports on the paper composition.]

      It includes a series of prayers or exhortations. “Oh, God, open all doors for me. Oh God who answers prayers and answers those who ask you, I am asking you for your help. I am asking you for forgiveness. I am asking you to lighten my way. I am asking you to lift the burden I feel.

      “Oh God, you who open all doors, please open all doors for me, open all venues for me, open all avenues for me.”

      The author doodled on the paper, drawing a small, arrowhead-like sword. Two circles entwine the shaft, which also has serpentine swirls drawn onto it. The doodle also resembles a key.

      [Compare the sword and snake doodle on the Syracuse hoax powder letters; that perhaps just refers to cutting off the head of the snake (U.S.) … but is there some other association being made?]

      http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2012/09/fbi_tracks_15_years_of_white_p.html

      The word “ROOM” is written vertically in large double-block letters at the end.

      However, two scholars said they found “incongruous” the opening line that refers to praying “in the name of God, of myself and my family . . .” because Muslims do not pray in their name or their families’ names.

      Jonathan Brockopp, assistant professor of Islamic studies at Bard College, noted another incongruity in the statement about seeking death.

      He noted, however, that Islamic extremists have recently arrived at their own interpretations of these early Muslim teachings, and the document’s author appears to follow the extremist view.

      • DXer said

        http://www.theguardian.com/world/2001/oct/01/worlddispatch.brianwhitaker

        It is also clear that the four sides of writing on the FBI’s website are not the whole document. The first page does not begin with the words “In the name of God”, which is the way a devout Muslim would always begin such an important piece of writing.

        The Washington Post seems to have had sight of at least one extra page, which would explain how it came to publish quotations which do not appear in the Arabic version released by the FBI.

        Among these, presumably from the missing first page, it quotes the document as saying: “In the name of God, of myself and of my family …”, a formula that orthodox Muslims would regard as heretical.

        The Washington Post also describes a doodle on the paper “of a small, arrowhead-like sword. Two circles entwine the shaft, which also has serpentine swirls drawn on to it. The doodle also resembles a key.” It adds that the word “room” is written vertically in large letters at the end. None of these marks are visible on the pages released by the FBI.

        All this raises some puzzling questions, and I hope to return to it in a future column. In the meantime, I would be interested to receive emails from any religious scholars or psychologists who can contribute further to the analysis of this strange and chilling document.

    • DXer said

      Shouldn’t the FBI produce the fifth page in response to the UNC’s professor’s FOIA request so that we can see Atta’s drawing?

      Was it a Cadeceus?

      http://www.google.com/search?q=University+of+Cairo+Medical+logo&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=9ylxUoywBfPdsATYxYHoCw&ved=0CAcQ_AUoAQ&biw=1441&bih=1075#q=Cadaceus+logo&tbm=isch

  13. DXer said

    Dr. Majidi writes me that response to a FOIA takes 3 months. Ha!

    The dates of my FOIA and the FBI’s responses show him to be mistaken — as illustrated by the FBI’s failure to provide the handwriting analysis done in Amerithrax comparing Atta’s handwriting.

    I specifically have framed the few FOIA submissions to be limited to only a few pages of responsive documents — to require less than two hours search time given that the FBI has said that I otherwise would have to pay.

    The FBI did produce, however, as part of the main production a copy of the handwriting expert concluding that Bruce Ivins probably did not write the letters.

    Vahid nowhere mentions that report in his book.

  14. DXer said

    Vahid Majidi writes, in his new manuscript on Amerithrax, that:

    “The text in letters and on envelopes was analyzed by an army of specialists, including handwriting experts, psychiatric experts, cryptologists and pretty much everything else short of psychics.”

    Contrary to Dr. Majidis’ claim, the FBI in fact has not produced the handwriting comparisons subject to FOIA — such as would be permitted in response to the FOIA request for the comparison of Atta’s handwriting.

  15. DXer said

    FBI “profiler” ( as distinguished from handwriting analyst) Jim Fitzgerald examined Atta’s cursive handwriting contained in his letters giving instructions to muscle hijackers. He concluded that even the Planes Operation seems to have been highly compartmentalized.

    The FBI has not produced the report by its handwriting analyst of Atta’s printing.

    http://www.hofstra.edu/about/administration/provost/hofhrz/hofhrz_f11_leonard.html

    “Fitzgerald: 9/11 attacks on the United States

    A careful linguistic analysis of the writings of most of the 18 hijackers indicated that only several of the hijackers — presumably the four leaders, one of whom was on each of the four planes — were aware that they were on a suicide mission. Leader Mohamed Atta’s writings and inspirational talks he gave to the other hijackers prior to the seizing of the planes gave the non-ringleaders permission to steal money and jewelry from the passengers, for they were infidels and it would advance the cause of the hijackers’ struggle against the United States. This aided in maintaining control of the 12 non-ringleaders as they might have backed out of the hijacking missions. Clearly there is no motivation to steal money and jewelry if one is aware one is on a suicide mission.”

  16. DXer said

    The government’s lead expert, RJ Muelhberger, found that Bruce E. Ivins probably did not write the anthrax letters. The opinion can be found within Part 57 of the documents uploaded by the FBI to the Vault. Among that batch of documents, if you search the word “write” you will come to the document.

    http://vault.fbi.gov/Amerithrax/amerithrax-part-57-of/view

    Guess what Mr. Muehlberger found with respect to Mohammed Atta?

    Wait …. You shouldn’t have to guess or take my word for it. The document should have been produced by the FBI under FOIA but still hasn’t been. (See David Hardy’s letter to me on the subject). Instead, in the Amerithrax Investigative Summary, the AUSA simply failed to disclose that its expert concluded that Bruce E. Ivins probably did not write the letters.

    That’s very wrong and against this country’s national security interests.

    Lives of innocent civilians are at stake. Playing hide-the-ball with such an issue is absolutely unacceptable.

    The Department of Justice should produce the handwriting opinion that Mr. Muelhberger did for Mohammed Atta without further delay.

  17. DXer said

    In the formal handwriting examination conducted for Amerithrax, it was concluded that Bruce Ivins probably did not write the anthrax letters.

    Forensic Laboratory Examination Report

    United States Postal inspection Service
    Forensic Laboratory Services

    224-33 Randolph Dr

    Dulles, VA 20104-1000

    March 08, 2007

    USPlS\RJMuehlberger

    Case No. – Lab File No. 9-957-002016

    Type of Examination: Questioned Documents
    Request Date(s) 1/2007

    SA FBI Washington Field Office
    7799 Leesburg Pike
    Falls Church, VA 22043

    PROBLEM:

    ALL FBI
    PEREII-I IS
    DATE dlciil

    Determine whether or not the questioned entries appearing in the printed digital images
    (also contained on CD) of three labels; one depicting the writing “Ames strain RMR

    from Dugway Bruce Ivins (1997) 2/27/02” and two

    depicting the writing “Dugway Ames

    spores – 1997” were written by Bruce E. Ivins, whose known writings are depicted in the
    photocopies of various course of business documents.

    Determine whether or not the questioned entries appearing in the printed diqital images

    (also contained on CD) of two parcels; one addresse

    second addressed

    known writings are depicted in the photocopies ot

    |and the

    ere written by Bruce E. Ivins, whose
    arious course of business documents.

    Determine whether or not the questioned entries appearing on the “anthrax” envelopes and
    letters (photographic copies retained in the laboratory) were written by Bruce E. lvins,
    whose known writings are depicted in the photocopies of various course of business

    documents.

    FINDINGS:

    Bruce E. Ivins probably wrote the original of the questioned entries appearing in the printed

    digital images of the three labels described above.

    Bruce E. Ivins probably wrote the original of the questioned address entries appearing in the

    printed digital images of the two parcels.

    Bruce E. Ivins probably did not write the writings appearing on the “anthrax” envelopes and

    letters.

    REMARKS:

    The qualified findings expressed above are due to the lack of original documents from
    which the examination and comparisons were conducted. The submission of the original

  18. DXer said

    In hundreds of handwriting exemplars uploaded, we can see that Dr. Ivins did not write the date in the manner of the sender of the Fall 2001 anthrax letters.

    When he used all numbers, he used slash marks, not dashes.

    When he wrote the name of the month, he used what is known as the military style. (see hundreds of examples in the Lab Notebooks at USAMRIID’s FOIA Reading Room).

    The military style is opposite to the standard style in the US — in the military style, the day of the month precedes the month. For example today is 13 May 2013.

    I once worked for the government as an attorney and can assure that you it was maddening when some military person came to head the civilian agency and directed everyone to start writing dates using the military style.

  19. DXer said

    Dr. Dillon,

    Didn’t Atta write the letters, rather than Jdey?

  20. DXer said

    The FBI presumably seized Mr. Wasik’s logbook from his cab and so can compare it to the handwriting of the ricin mailer. Like Mr. Wasik, the ricin mailer was angry about regulations regarding semi-trailers and mailed crude ricin to the White House.

    Tony W. Miles
    FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER FOR D.C.
    625 Indiana Avenue, NW
    Suite 550
    Washington, DC 20004
    (202) 208-7500
    Email: tony_miles [ at ] fd.org
    is
    LEAD ATTORNEY
    ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED
    Designation: Public Defender or Community Defender Appointment

    Minute Entry for proceedings held before Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson: ORAL Motion to Appoint Counsel Tony Miles as to KRZYSZTOF WASIK (1) heard and granted; Initial Appearance as to KRZYSZTOF WASIK held on 4/10/2013; Status Conference on Forensic Screening set for 4/12/2013 at 01:30 PM in Courtroom 4 before Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson. Bond Status of Defendant: committed/commitment issued; Court Reporter: Bowles Reporting Defense Attorney: Tony Miles; US Attorney: Frederick Yette; Modified on 4/15/2013 (lm, ). (Entered: 04/12/2013)

    ORAL MOTION to Continue to Preliminary/Detention Hearing and request for further mental incompetent evauation as to KRZYSZTOF WASIK. (lm, ) (Entered: 04/12/2013)

    MINUTE ORDER granting Oral Motion to Continue Preliminary/Detention Hearing as to KRZYSZTOF WASIK (1); Preliminary/Detention Hearing set for 6/5/2013 at 01:45 PM in Courtroom 6 before Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola., (lm, ) (Entered: 04/12/2013)

    Minute Entry for proceedings held before Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson: Oral Motion for Waiver of Speedy Trial from 4/12/13-06/01/13 in the Interest of Justice XT as to KRZYSZTOF WASIK (1) heard and granted. Status Conference as to KRZYSZTOF WASIK held on 4/12/2013; Court Ordered that the defendant be committed to the custody of the Atorney General for study of forensic examination. Preliminary/Detention Hearing set for 6/5/2012 at 01:45 PM in Courtroom 6 before Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola. Bond Status of Defendant: committed/commitment issued; Court Reporter: Bowles reporting Defense Attorney: Tony Miles; US Attorney: Frederick Yette; (lm, ) (Entered: 04/15/2013)

    ORDER: Signed by Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson on 4/12/13; that the defendant KRZYSZTOF WASIK is committed to the custody of the attorney General of the United States for placement in a suitable facility for a period not to exceed thirty days. (lm, ) (Entered: 04/16/2013)

    Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson’s Order states:

    “On April 10, 2013, Defendant appeared before the undersigned for an initial appearance after an arrest for a warrant by criminal complaint. Counsel for Defendant moved for a preliminary competency screening of Defendant. Granting the unopposed request of Defendant’s counsel, the court file an order directing the District of Columbia Department of Mental Health to conduct a competency screening evaluation of Defendant….

    The Department of Mental Health completed the examination on April 11, 2013, and furnished a competency screening examination report the following day. On April 12, 2013, the parties appeared before the undersigned for a status hearing. On April 12, 2013, the parties appeared before the undersigned for a status hearing. Counsel for the Defendant moved for an examination of the mental competency of the Defendant pursuant to 18 U.S.C. Sec. 4241(a), which the government did not oppose. The undersigned granted the motion of Defendant’s counsel to continue the consolidated preliminary hearing and detention hearing, originally scheduled for April 15, 2103, until June 5, 2013. …

  21. DXer said

    While making numerous factual misstatements and omissions regarding its Ivins Theory, the FBI has withheld all documents relevant to an Al Qaeda anthrax theory — including an item as basic as the handwriting comparison done by the FBI handwriting analysis who compared the letters to this exemplar of Atta’s handwriting.

  22. DXer said

    I address the handwriting in a graphic here that uploads a key exemplar of the handwriting of a suspect.

    It makes a point-by-point, letter-by-letter, number-by-number comparison.

    http://www.amerithrax.wordpress.com

    Ed continues to falsely claim I think the handwriting looks like the handwriting of a First Grader.

    To the contrary, I think it looks like a threatening communication written in block handwriting by an adult.

    I don’t know how much simpler I can state the point.

  23. DXer said

    Comment on 2011 law review article below:

    The author emphasizes that there should be transparency. “This Article supplies those details, documenting how government agencies manipulated science at the expense of both science and justice.”

    For example, in the context of Amerithrax, the members of the Red Team that advised not pursuing the Silicon Signature should be identified. Moreover, scientists are generally expected to exchange research data as well as unique research materials that are essential to the replication or extension of reporting findings. The Lawrence Livermore experts could explain to the GAO that this was not done in connection with the Silicon Signature. Sandia and scientist JM specifically refused my request under FOIA for the underlying data.

    The documents relating to the overseas testing should have been provided and on a timely basis. If the FBI alleges contamination in its laboratory, documents relating to that contamination should have been provided so its claim and conclusion could be assessed. The documents showing that Yazid Sufaat made a conscious effort to decontaminate his labs should have been produced.

    On the issue of handwriting, the reports by the handwriting experts should be provided and exemplars of the 911 hijackers and other operatives (such as Jdey) should be made available. The handwriting analysis done relating to Dr. Ivins similarly should be produced.

    2011 –

    DAUBERT AND FORENSIC SCIENCE: THE PITFALLS OF LAW ENFORCEMENT CONTROL OF SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH
    Paul C. Giannelli*
    http://illinoislawreview.org/wp-content/ilr-content/articles/2011/1/Giannelli.pdf

    In 2009, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) published a landmark report on forensic science: Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward. The Report represents one of the most important developments in forensic science since the establishment of the crime laboratory in the 1920s. Within months, Justice Scalia cited the Report in Commonwealth v. Melendez-Diaz, noting that “[s]erious deficiencies have been found in the forensic evidence used in criminal trials” and “[f]orensic evidence is not uniquely im- mune from the risk of manipulation.” After two years of studying fingerprints, handwriting, ballistics, and other common forensic tech- niques, the Academy concluded that “some forensic science discip- lines are supported by little rigorous systematic research to validate the discipline’s basic premises and techniques.” Indeed, “only nuc lear DNA analysis has been rigorously shown to have the capacity to consistently, and with a high degree of certainty, demonstrate a con- nection between an evidentiary sample and a specific individual or source.”

    The NAS Report’s centerpiece is a proposal to establish an independent federal agency, the National Institute of Forensic Science, to control funding and research in the field. This proposal, which is now before Congress, wrests control of forensic science from law en- forcement and was attacked by government agencies before the Re- port was even released. Although the Report made clear that the De- partment of Justice, through the FBI Crime Laboratory and National Institute of Justice, had failed in its obligation to improve forensic science, the Report did not provide details of this failure. This Article supplies those details, documenting how government agencies manipulated science at the expense of both science and justice.

    “Forensic evidence is not uniquely immune from the risk of manipulation.”—Justice Scalia (2009)

    ****

    VII. CONCLUSION

    In Daubert, the Supreme Court emphasized the importance of empirical research.243 The Court quoted Hempel: “[T]he statements constituting a scientific explanation must be capable of empirical test,”244 and then Popper: “[T]he criterion of the scientific status of a theory is its fal sifiability, or refutability, or testability.”245

    In their amici brief in Daubert, the New England Journal of Medicine and other medical journals observed:

    “Good science” is a commonly accepted term used to describe the scientific community’s system of quality control which protects the community and those who rely upon it from unsubstantiated scien- tific analysis. It mandates that each proposition undergo a rigorous trilogy of publication, replication and verification before it is relied upon.246

    Such research is precisely what the NAS Report found to be lacking with many forensic techniques. In addressing the lack of funding, the Report commented: “Of the various facets of underresourcing, the com- mittee is most concerned about the knowledge base. Adding more dol- lars and people to the enterprise might reduce case backlogs, but it will not address fundamental limitations in the capabilities of forensic science disciplines to discern valid information from crime scene evidence.”247 The Report also observed:

    A body of research is required to establish the limits and measures of performance and to address the impact of sources of variability and potential bias. Such research is sorely needed, but it seems to be lacking in most of the forensic disciplines that rely on subjective assessments of matching characteristics.248

    Scientists with impeccable credentials should conduct the needed research. Moreover, they should be independent of law enforcement. The most thorough and well-reasoned reports in the field have come from impartial scientific investigations, most done by the NAS, including reports on voiceprints,249 DNA,250 polygraph,251 and bullet lead analysis.252 The process should also be transparent. Scientists “are generally expected to exchange research data as well as unique research materials that are essential to the replication or extension of reported findings.”253

  24. DXer said

    This 2010 report was funded by the U.S. Department of Justice:

    Computational Methods for Handwritten Questioned Document Examination
    Sargur N. Srihari, Ph.D. 232745 December 2010 2004-IJ-CX-K050
    https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/232745.pdf

    Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

    Abstract

    Computational approaches to the handwriting facet of questioned document (QD) examination were developed with a view towards providing a scientific basis for handwriting evidence, formalizing human expert-based approaches and validating existing methodology. Extended writing samples such as a paragraph of writing as well as signatures were considered. The task of verification, which is to determine whether two writing samples compared side-by-side, originate from the same person, was the principal problem addressed. A statistical model for writer verification was developed; it allows computing the likelihood ratio based on a variety of different feature types. Several new algorithms were developed for extended hand- writing comparison including capturing uniqueness of the writing and discretizing results into a nine-point opinion scale (ranging from identified as same to identified as different). A signature verification approach was developed to deal with a small set of learning samples. The tools developed were shown to have value in: (i) establishing that the handwriting of twins can be discriminated, (ii) providing an upper bound on the error rate of expert human examiners, since system error rate is lower than that of lay persons but higher than that of experts, (iii) automatically extracting frequencies of various letter formations so that they can be used in forensic testimony, e.g., to state a probability of random correspondence, and (iv) determining authorship of a historical document. The research led to a United States patent, two journal papers, twelve conference papers and two book chapters. Several pre sentations were made to the QD community including user workshops. The work was cited in a Daubert and a Frye hearing. The software developed was made available to the QD community by distribution media (CDs and downloads from the internet).

    ***

    2.3.2 Implications for Policy and Practice

    The summary assessment of the NAS report [1] relative to handwriting analysis is concisely stated: “The scientific basis for handwriting comparisons needs to be strengthened. Recent studies have increased our understanding of the individuality and consistency of handwrit- ing and computer studies and suggest that there may be a scientific basis for handwriting comparison, at least in the absence of intentional obfuscation or forgery. Although there has been only limited research to quantify the reliability and replicability of the practices used by trained document examiners, the Committee agrees that there may be some value in handwriting analysis”.

    In responding to the the assessment that the scientific basis for handwriting comparison needs to be strengthened, it seems clear that further research will need to be conducted. Computer-assisted handwriting analysis has been used in research, business and financial sectors for some time. A number of systems have been available to assist QD examiners in performing their work in forensic applications, either by making some tasks simpler, or by assisting in narrowing the number of items for them to review. As experience with systems like CEDAR-FOX grows, benchmarks of performance may be established, leading to the development of more testing, establishment of standards for the systems, and computation of recognized error rates.

    • DXer said

      The Courts, the NAS, and the Future of Forensic Science (2010)
      Jennifer L. Mnookin†
      http://www.law.yale.edu/documents/pdf/Alumni_Affairs/Mnookin_The_Courts_The_NAS_and_the_Future.pdf

      CONCLUSION

      What will the future hold for forensic science? If we look back on these methods and techniques twenty years from now, what will we see? It is perhaps entirely safe to predict that no matter what happens, the practices of forensic science still won’t look like the television version, so my airplane seatmate is destined for ongoing disappointment with the real world. But I do not think it is utterly unrealistic to hope that the pattern identification sciences will be on a much more substantial and solid empirical footing than they are today. Ironically, they may well look somewhat less strong than they do at present. Testifying experts will certainly no longer be able to espouse an error rate of zero, and they will likely need to give up the claim that they are able to individualize. But by acknowledging their weaknesses, and honestly assessing their capacities and limitations, they will truly be far stronger than they are at present, and far more worthy of credence and respect. Will forensic science transform itself as it should? That will depend, I believe, in significant part on judges, and whether they are prepared, at long last, to evaluate pattern identification evidence with their eyes wide open and their heads out of the sand.
      For all of our sake, I hope they are up to the challenge.

  25. DXer said

    For a thorough discussion of the studies done and the case law up until 2007, see

    Winter, 2007

    The University of Tulsa Law Review

    43 Tulsa L. Rev. 477

    LENGTH: 77685 words

    SYMPOSIUM: DAUBERT, INNOCENCE, AND THE FUTURE OF FORENSIC SCIENCE: APPENDIX: CASES INVOLVING THE RELIABILITY OF HANDWRITING IDENTIFICATION EXPERTISE SINCE THE DECISION IN DAUBERT

    NAME: D. Michael Risinger*

    BIO: * John J. Gibbons Professor of Law, Seton Hall University School of Law.

    • DXer said

      There is an early detailed 1996 article that provides a good survey of studies done up to that point to include FBI studies on examiner proficiency.

      Iowa Law Review

      October, 1996

      82 Iowa L. Rev. 21

      ARTICLE: Science and Nonscience in the Courts: Daubert Meets Handwriting Identification Expertise

      NAME: D. Michael Risinger * with Michael J. Saks **

      Excerpt:

      “Future Directions

      The future of handwriting identification experts, like their past, is closely linked to the law’s tolerance for accepting a field’s claims of expertise on their face, without requiring empirical, scientific support. Unlike normal sciences, whose value rises or falls on how well their theories and claims are empirically demonstrated, handwriting experts have been admitted on little more than their assertions of expertise. Indeed, as long as the courts did not care what the body of research showed, practitioners of handwriting identification could ignore both the lack of scientific support for their claims and even data that contradicted those claims. Put simply, if courts trust handwriting experts to be experts, little incentive exists to advance the field’s knowledge or to test its claims. And so, in the past century virtually no research of that kind has been done.

      By contrast, all it took to awaken in at least some document examiners an interest in becoming scientific was Judge McKenna’s conclusion that handwriting identification expertise was not a science. n156In the wake of United States v. Starzecpyzel, at least one organization of document examiners has expressed interest in collaborating with empirical researchers in an effort to try to place their field, for the first time, on a scientific foundation. n157 And the American Academy of Forensic Sciences scheduled a set of sessions at its subsequent annual meeting to examine the field’s shortcomings as suggested by Daubert and as detailed by Starzecpyzel. On the other hand, if a majority of the field concludes that remaining unscientific is the only way to remain dependably employed, recent interest in participating in studies may die aborning. n158 [*66]

      Thus, document examiners will dependably do only what judicial opinions make them do. How should the courts respond? Unless and until research is developed establishing the truth of the claims of forensic document examination as a field of scientific expertise, the courts might attempt to require adequate testing of each individual examiner, to ensure that person’s ability to do what she or he claims to be able to do. No tests currently exist for this purpose, however. Absent specific proof of the actual skills of a given practitioner through some yet undeveloped testing regime, one would expect the law to assume such skills do not exist.

      But experience teaches that the courts will do otherwise. That in itself is an interesting lesson about legal reality. At the very least, judges should admit no testimony concerning handwriting identification unless the proponent presented the documents from which the conclusions were derived to the expert without unnecessary contextual information, and pursuant to a handwriting lineup, or at least in some other manner without context suggestivity which meets appropriate standards to be developed and enforced by the courts. n159 [*67] “

      • DXer said

        The defense bar was feeling its oats in 2002 and 2003 at the time the handwriting of the 911 operatives was examined.

        National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Inc.
        The Champion
        November, 2002
        26 Champion 24

        “These three cases thus provide little support for admission of handwriting testimony if a court adheres to Daubert, Kumho Tire, and the amended Rule 702. Given recent victories at the district court level, the field is wide open for challenges, and the chances for exclusion of handwriting testimony have never been better. With a coordinated effort from the defense bar, these pseudo-scientists may soon find that their welcome in federal court has at long last worn out.”

        In his more recent 2007 article, Professor Risinger explained that the Daubert principles applied:

        “Many circuits were split at the time of trial, however, on whether Daubert should apply to nonscientific expert testimony. Some held that the application of Daubert is limited to scientific testimony, while others used Daubert’s guidance to ensure the reliability of all expert testimony presented at trial.

        Recently, however, in Kumho Tire Company, Ltd. v. Carmichael, the Supreme Court held that Daubert’s “gatekeeping” obligation, requiring the trial judge’s inquiry into both the expert’s relevance and reliability, applies not only to testimony based on “scientific” testimony, but to all expert testimony.

        Tulsa Law Review
        Winter, 2007
        The University of Tulsa Law Review
        43 Tulsa L. Rev. 447

  26. DXer said

    http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/lab/forensic-science-communications/fsc/jan2003/seiger.htm

    GAO might interview Danielle P. Seiger about validation of handwriting analysis. With the unit chief of the FBI’s Questioned Document Unit, she co-authored “Meeting the Daubert Challenge: A Bibliography of Handwriting Articles for the Forensic Document Examiner.”

    There is an internet poster who for 10 years has argued that the letter writer wrote smaller in writing the 7 lines in the second batch than he did when writing the 5 lines in the first batch. The internet poster reasons that therefore the letter writer must be a First Grader in his first weeks of school when he learned to write smaller! (I’m not kidding.) To the contrary, any adult will tend to write smaller when he has more material to write in the same space. Duh.

    It would be invaluable if the GAO were to publish interviews with experienced and qualified experts who have been deemed qualified experts in their chosen field by federal district courts. It is also very important that they obtain and disclose handwriting analyses done with respect to the various 911 operatives like Atta and also the one for Ivins. They should obtain and make available for production as many as possible consistent with privacy interests.

    In particular, the articles on hand printing are the most relevant. Over the years, I have tried to get the internet poste implicating a non-existent First Grader to inform himself and read the literature relating to the impact of foreign education on the handwriting of individuals learning English as a Second Language. But it is hopeless. He is a True Believer who insists a First Grader wrote the letters.

    We need to hear from well-studied examiners like Danielle.

    Caywood, D. The Impact of Foreign Education on the Handwriting of Individuals Learning English as a Second Language. Presented at the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners, Washington, DC, 1996.

    Kroon-van der Kooij, L. N. Differences Between Handwritten Characters in Relation to Various Nationalities. Presented at the International Association of Forensic Sciences,

    Levinson, J. Questioned document examination in foreign scripts, Forensic Science International (1983) 22:249-252.

    Smith, G. D. Simulations and Foreign Handwriting Influence: A Case Review. Presented at the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, 1993.

    Diana Harrison
    Unit Chief
    Danielle P. Seiger
    Questioned Document Examiner
    Questioned Documents Unit
    Federal Bureau of Investigation
    Washington, DC

    Abstract | Introduction | References | Bibliography

    Abstract

    In 1993 the United States Supreme Court decision in the case of Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., set forth a nonexclusive list of criteria for judges to use when determining whether the testimony of a proffered expert is reliable. One of these criteria is whether the theory or technique that the expert is offering has been subjected to peer review and publication. According to the court, “[p]ublication (which is but one element of peer review) is not a sine qua non of admissibility; it does not necessarily correlate with reliability . . . But submission to the scrutiny of the scientific community is a component of ‘good science,’ in part because it increases the likelihood that substantive flaws in methodology will be detected” (Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals Inc., 1993, p. 11). Additionally, the publication, presentation, and peer review of theories and techniques relied upon by a particular discipline go a long way in securing general acceptance for that discipline in the relevant scientific community, another of the factors set forth by the court in Daubert. To indicate that there has been considerable peer review, this paper offers a limited bibliography about handwriting and the basis for its examination and identification.

    Introduction

    The examination of questioned handwriting is an expertise that has been provided by major federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies for almost 100 years. During this time, handwriting examination testimony has been accepted in court on a regular basis. Recently, however, as a result of the 1993 Daubertdecision, the 1999 Kumho decision (Kumho Tire Company v. Patrick Carmichael, 1999), and a series of law review articles by three law professors, forensic document examiners have had the reliability of their testimony challenged in the courtroom. These challenges usually take one of two forms: either that there is no basis for the premise that handwriting is unique to the individual, or that document examiners do not possess an expertise that assists the trier of fact.

    This bibliography contains articles that address these issues, including the individuality of handwriting, twin studies, the physiology of handwriting, the frequency of occurrence of characteristics, and the proficiency of document examiners. This bibliography is not intended to be all-inclusive; however, it should serve as a good starting point for forensic document examiners at all levels of experience for training, research, and preparation for courtroom testimony.

    References

    Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 US, 579 (1993).

    Kumho Tire Company v. Patrick Carmichael, 526 US, 137 (1999).

    Bibliography

    Armistead, T. Issues in the identification of handprinting: A case study in anonymous death threats, Journal of Police Science and Administration (1984) 12:81-98.

    Askov, E., Otto, W., and Askov, W. A decade of research in handwriting progress and prospect, Journal of Educational Research (1970) 64:100-111.

    Baxendale, D. and Renshaw, I. D. The large-scale searching of handwriting samples, Journal of the Forensic Science Society (1979) 19:245-251.

    Beacom, M. Handwritings by the Dionne Quintuplets at the Age of Sixteen. Presented at the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners, Rochester, New York, 1979.

    Beacom, M. S. A study of handwritings by twins and other persons of multiple births, Journal of Forensic Sciences (1960) 5:121-131.

    Bensefia, A., Nosary, A., Paquet, T., and Heutte, L. Writer Identification by Writer’s Invariants. Presented at the Eighth International Workshop on Frontiers in Handwriting Recognition, Ontario, Canada, 2002.

    Berthold, N. N. Principle Number One, Uno, Eins. Presented at the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners, Chicago, Illinois, 1995.

    Berthold, N. N. and Wooton, E. X. Class Characteristics of Latin American Hand Printing. Presented at the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners, Ottawa, Canada, 1993.

    Boot, D. An investigation into the degree of similarity in the handwriting of identical and fraternal twins in New Zealand, Journal of the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners (1998) 70-81.

    Britt, S. H. and Mensh, I. N. The identification of one’s own handwriting, Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology (1943) 34:50-60.

    Carney, B. B. A Review: Variation-Range of Variation in Handwriting. Presented at the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners, Nashville, Tennessee, 1984.

    Caywood, D. The Impact of Foreign Education on the Handwriting of Individuals Learning English as a Second Language. Presented at the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners, Washington, DC, 1996.

    Cusack, C. T. The Validity of Similar Letter Substitution in an Adolescent Population. Presented at the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners, Chicago, Illinois, 1995.

    Doud, D. Foreign Writing Accents. Presented at the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners, Richmond, Virginia, 1954.

    Eagleson, O. W. The success of sixty subjects in attempting to recognize their handwriting, Journal of Applied Psychology (1937) 21:546-549.

    Eldridge, M. A., Nimmo-Smith, I., Wing, A. M., and Totty, R. N. The dependence between selected categorical measures of cursive handwriting, Journal of the Forensic Science Society (1985) 25:217-231.

    Eldridge, M. A., Nimmo-Smith, I., Wing, A. M., and Totty, R. N. The variability of selected features in cursive handwriting: Categorical measures, Journal of the Forensic Science Society (1984) 24:179-219.

    Ellen, D. M. Handwriting examination of unfamiliar scripts, International Journal of Forensic Document Examiners (1999) 5:424-429.

    Evett, I. W. and Totty, R. N. A study of the variation in the dimensions of genuine signatures, Journal of the Forensic Science Society (1985) 25:207-215.

    Franck, F. E. Handwriting is Unique: Twin Studies. Presented at the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners, Ottawa, Canada, 2000.

    Franck, F. E. and Wooton, E. X. European Hand Printing. Presented at the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners, Chicago, Illinois, 1995.

    Gamble, D. J. The handwriting of identical twins, Journal of the Canadian Society of Forensic Science (1980) 13:11-30.

    Hanlen, R. C., Manzolillo, P. A., Muehlberger, R. J., and Sperry, G. R. Survey of handwriting habit areas used by forensic document examiners: Degree of use and discriminatory
    power, Journal of the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners (1999) 45-50.

    Hanna, G. A. Preliminary classification of the writing elements of Chinese characters, Journal of Forensic Sciences (1989) 34:439-453.

    Harris, J. J. How much do people write alike: A study of signatures, Journal of Criminal Law, Criminology and Police Science (1958) 48:647-651.

    Harvey, R. and Mitchell, R. M. The Nicola Brazier murder: The role of handwriting in a large-scale investigation, Journal of the Forensic Science Society (1973) 13:157-168.

    Hecker, M. R. FISH. Presented at the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners, Savannah, Georgia, 1986.

    Hecker, M. R. and Koller, N. The Philosophy and Structure of the West German Handwriting Identification Service. Presented at the International Association of Forensic Sciences, Oxford, England, 1984.

    Hilton, O. How individual are personal writing habits? Journal of Forensic Sciences (1983) 28:683-685.

    Horan, J. J. and Horan, G. J. A Study of Numbers. Presented at the International Association of Forensic Sciences, Oxford, England, 1984.

    Horton, R. A. A study of the occurrence of certain handwriting characteristics in a random population,International Journal of Forensic Document Examiners (1996) 2:95-102.

    Huber, R. A. The Uniqueness of Writing. Presented at the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners, San Jose, California, 1990.

    Kam, M., Fielding, G., and Conn, R. Writer identification by professional document examiners, Journal of Forensic Sciences (1997) 42:778-785.

    Kam, M., Gummadidala, K., Fielding, G., and Conn, R. Signature authentication by forensic document examiners, Journal of Forensic Sciences (2001) 46:884-888.

    Kam, M., Wetstein, J., and Conn, R. Proficiency of professional document examiners in writer identification,Journal of Forensic Sciences (1994) 39:5-14.

    Keele, S. W. Movement control in skilled motor performance, Psychological Bulletin (1968) 70:387-403.

    Kroon-van der Kooij, L. N. Differences Between Handwritten Characters in Relation to Various Nationalities. Presented at the International Association of Forensic Sciences,

    Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, 1987.

    Kuennapas, T. and Janson, A. Multidimensional similarity of letters, Perceptual and Motor Skills (1969) 3-12.

    Levinson, J. Questioned document examination in foreign scripts, Forensic Science International (1983) 22:249-252.

    Ling, S. A preliminary investigation into handwriting examination by multiple measurements of letters and spacing, Forensic Science International (2002) 126:145-149.

    Livingston, O. B. Frequency of certain characteristics in handwriting, pen-printing of two hundred people,Journal of Forensic Sciences (1963) 8:250-259.

    Livingston, O. B. A handwriting and pen-printing classification system for identifying law violators, Journal of Criminal Law, Criminology and Police Science (1959) 49:487-506.

    Maguire, K. B. and Moran, T. L. Identification of Written Text Writings by the Forensic Information System for Handwriting. Presented at the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners, Washington, DC, 1996.

    McCarley, D. Crossover: Does It Exist Between English and Ideographic Characters and Are They Class or Individualizing Features? Presented at the Southwestern Association of Forensic Document Examiners, Tucson, Arizona, 1996.

    McNally, G. A. Chinese Character Signatures: Examination and Testimony. Presented at the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners, Orlando, Florida, 1991.

    Moenssens, A. A. Handwriting identification evidence in the post-Daubert World, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, Law Review (1997) 66:251-343.

    Muehlberger, R. J. Variation: A Measure of Genuineness. Presented at the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners, Boston, Massachusetts, 1982.

    Muehlberger, R. J., Newman, K. W., Regent, J., and Wichmann, J. G. A statistical examination of selected handwriting characteristics, Journal of Forensic Sciences (1977) 22:206-215.

    Nagel, R. N. and Rosenfeld, A. Computer detection of freehand forgeries, IEEE Transactions on Computers(1977) 26:895-905.

    Nemecek, J. Seeking Out Individualities in Handlettering. Presented at the Third International Meeting in Questioned Documents and the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners in conjunction with the Fifth International Meeting of Forensic Sciences, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 1969.

    Newman, H. H., Freeman, F. N., and Holzinger, K. J. Twins: A Study of Heredity and Environment. University of Chicago Press, Oxford, England, 1937.

    Peck, M., Askov, E., and Fairchild, S. H. Another decade of research in handwriting: Progress and prospect in the 1970s, Journal of Educational Research (1980) 73:283-298.

    Purtell, D. J. and Casey, M. A. The Comparison Value of Hand Printing Styles. Presented at the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners, Houston, Texas, 1981.

    Ramsey, S. L. Learning to write in the 1990s, International Journal of Forensic Document Examiners (1998) 4:329-333.

    Rhodes, E. F. The implications of kinesthetic factors in forensic handwriting comparisons. Doctoral thesis, University of California, Berkeley, 1978.

    Ridolfi, D. A. Evaluation of Class Characteristics in a Large Collected Writing Sample. Presented at the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners and the International Association of Forensic Sciences, Los Angeles, California, 1999.

    Ruenes, R. F. Perception and handwriting identification, Journal of Forensic Sciences (1967) 12:102-111.

    Schuetzner, E. M. Class characteristics of hand printing, Journal of the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners (1999) 5-33.

    Shimoda, J. Various Causes of Change in Handwriting: Their Effect on Identifications. Presented at the Conference of Crime Laboratory Directors, Chicago, Illinois, 1974.

    Shiver, F. C. Case Report: The Individuality of Handwriting Demonstrated Through the Field Screening of 1000 Writers. Presented at the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners, Washington, DC, 1996.

    Sita, J., Found, B., and Rogers, D. K. Forensic handwriting examiners’ expertise for signature comparison,Journal of Forensic Sciences (2002) 47:1117-1124.

    Smith, G. D. Simulations and Foreign Handwriting Influence: A Case Review. Presented at the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, 1993.

    Smith, K. U. and Bloom, R. The electronic handwriting analyzer and motion study of writing, Journal of Applied Psychology (1956) 40:302-306.

    Somerford, A. A Manual for Examiners of Questioned Documents. U.S. Postal Service, 1953.

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    Stevens, V. Similarities in the Handwritings of Members of One Family as Compared to Unrelated Groups.Wisconsin State Crime Laboratory, Madison, Wisconsin, 1964.

    Taylor, L. R. and Chandler, H. A system for handwriting classification, Journal of Forensic Sciences (1987) 32:1775-1781.

    Thorndike, E. L. The resemblance of young twins in handwriting, American Naturalist (1915) 49:377-379.

    Torres, B. A Study of Vietnamese Class Characteristics. Presented at the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, San Diego, California, 1987.

    Trizna, L. A. and Wooton, E. X. Hand Printing of the Middle East and the Subcontinent. Presented at the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners, Washington, DC, 1996.

    Trizna, L. A. and Wooton, E. X. Asian Hand Printing. Presented at the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, Seattle, Washington, 1995.

    Trizna, L. A. and Ziegler, L. F. African Hand Printing. Presented at the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners, Long Beach, California, 1994.

    Vastrick, T. W. The Uniqueness of Handwriting-Survey Results. Presented at the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners, Chicago, Illinois, 1995.

    Wing, A. M. and Nimmo-Smith, I. The variability of cursive handwriting measure defined along a continuum: Letter specificity, Journal of the Forensic Science Society (1987) 27:297-306.

    Welch, J. R. A Review of Handwriting Search Cases as an Indicator of the Individuality of Handwriting. Presented at the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners,

    Washington, DC, 1996.

    Wooton, E. X. A Preliminary Discussion of Research and Reference Materials Using the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service Collection of Handwriting from Other Countries.

    Presented at the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners, Long Beach, California, 1994.

    Zimmerman, J. Counting handwriting characteristics, International Journal of Forensic Document Examiners(1998) 4:318-322.

    Zlotnick, J. A statistical study of some differentiating characteristics of the handwritten letters AIT. Master’s thesis, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, 1998.

    • DXer said

      The papers of Mr. Caywood, the author of “The Impact of Foreign Education On Handwriting” are publicly available at a law library in Gulfwood, Florida. His thesis is available through Abebooks.

      The National Clearinghouse for Science, Technology & the Law (“Sharing Knowledge to Promote Justice”) has Mr. Caywood’s papers. The NCSTL Library Reference Collection was recently the recipient of a comprehensive set of books, documents, articles, photographs, reference materials and personal papers from Mr. Caywood’s estate. Mrs. Janet Caywood, his wife, generously donated the collection to the NCSTL.

      Mr. Caywood systematically collected a wealth of information regarding questioned documents over the course of lifetime. Mr. Caywood entered military service as an Infantryman in 1941 and served overseas as an instructor with the Chinese National Army, In Yunnan Province, Free China.

      Upon completion of apprentice training in general criminalistics under the commander of the U.S. Army Crime Laboratory in Frankfurt, Germany, he presented the first Questioned Documents case before a U.S Military Government Court in September 1948. Mr. Caywood went on to serve with the Army Crime Laboratories in the United States and Japan as well as repeated tours of duty with the European Crime Lab. Mr. Caywood served as an expert witness in Questioned Documents before all levels of military courts for all U.S. forces, as well as Japanese Criminal Courts, from 1948 to 1970 and later served as a private consultant and expert witness.

      Handwriting analysis is a method used by the FBI in its investigation. GAO should be addressing the methods used by the FBI, obtain the relevant documents, and publish interviews with the FBI experts.

      The FBI then should produce all non-exempt documents under FOIA.

    • DXer said

      Unit Chief Diana Harrison is interviewed here. She has explained that she and her unit worked on the Amerithrax investigation. The GAO would be remiss in not interviewing Diana as well as the handwriting examiners who issued written opinions in the matter. Danielle is one of the examiners who worked on Amerithrax.

      • DXer said

        This 1999 DIstrict Court opinion in a case in which Diana Harrison’s testimony was offered in connection with anonymous writing in a note used in a bank robbery is lucid:

        U.S. v. HINES

        United States District Court, District of Massachusetts

        June 11, 1999

        UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
        v.
        JOHANNA HINES, DEFENDANT.

        The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gertner, District Judge.

        MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

        This case raises questions concerning the application of Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 113 S.Ct. 2786, 125 L.Ed.2d 469 (1993) and Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, ___ U.S. ___, 119 S.Ct. 1167, 143 L.Ed.2d 238 (1999) to technical fields, that are not, strictly speaking, science. Two fields are involved: The first is an “old” field, handwriting analysis, which has been the subject of expert testimony for countless years. The second is a comparatively “new” field, the psychology of eyewitness identification. The government maintained that handwriting analysis is “science,” meeting the Daubert and Kumho tests, while the psychology of eyewitness identification is not. Not surprisingly, the defendant insisted that the opposite is true.

        Johannes Hines (“Hines”) is charged under 18 U.S.C. § 2113 for allegedly robbing the Broadway National Bank in Chelsea, Massachusetts on January 27, 1997.*fn1 The government’s principal evidence consisted of the eyewitness identification of the teller who was robbed, Ms. Jeanne Dunne, and the handwriting analysis of the robbery note.*fn2 In connection with the latter, the government offered Diana Harrison (“Harrison”), a document examiner with the Federal Bureau of Investigations, to testify as to the authorship of a “stick-up” note found at the scene of the crime.

        Hines sought to exclude the handwriting analysis. This testimony, defense claims, notwithstanding its venerable history, does not meet the standards of Daubert and Kumho. In the alternative, if the court permitted the jury to hear the handwriting testimony, Hines sought to have his expert — Professor Mark Denbeaux (“Denbeaux”) — testify as to the weaknesses of the methodology and the basis of Harrison’s conclusions. The government, on the other hand, argued for its handwriting expert under the applicable tests, and rejects Denbeaux.

        ***
        For the reasons set forth below, I DENIED Hines’ motion to exclude handwriting analysis to the extent that it sought to exclude the handwriting expert’s entire testimony.

        ***
        I. FRAMEWORK FOR THE ANALYSIS OF EXPERT TESTIMONY

        To some, Daubert/Kumho have considerably raised the bar for the admissibility of expert testimony. In some ways that is true; in some ways it is not. It is true that Daubert/Kumho have focused a great deal of attention on the judge’s role as a gatekeeper for expert testimony under Fed.R.Evid. 104(a). To the extent that there is more pre-trial review of expert testimony, there are bound to be more exclusions. In other ways, however, the impact of Daubert/Kumho has been the opposite — opening the door to testimony previously excluded.

        ***

        The court is to admit the testimony not only where it is relevant to the issues at bar, the usual standard under Fed.R.Evid. 401, but when certain additional requirements are met under Fed.R.Evid. 702.*fn5

        The first requirement has to do with the necessity for the testimony: expert testimony may be admitted where the inferences that are sought to be drawn are inferences that a jury could not draw on its own. The inferences may be the product of specialized information, for example, beyond the ken of the lay jury. Significantly, Daubert also emphasized the fact that expert testimony is admissible where it would “assist” the trier of fact. In the latter case, even if the inferences may be drawn by the lay juror, expert testimony may be admissible as an “aid” in that enterprise. See 509 U.S. at 591-592, 113 S.Ct. 2786. For example, the subject looks like one the jury understands from every day life, but in fact, the inferences the jury may draw are erroneous. (As I describe below, eyewitness identification, and testimony about battered women syndrome fits uniquely into this category.)

        ***
        It was not surprising, then, that the Court found the rules for admissibility of expert testimony, even with respect to scientific fields, were flexible, bearing in mind their unique setting and purposes. See Daubert, 509 U.S. at 592, 113 S.Ct. 2786. A trial judge could consider some or all of the following factors: (1) whether the expert’s technique can be or has been tested; 2) whether the method has been subjected to peer review and publication; 3) the known or potential rate of error of a technique or theory when applied; and, 4) whether there is “general acceptance” within the relevant scientific community, to the extent that one exists. See id. at 593-95, 113 S.Ct. 2786.*fn7

        Significantly, the “general acceptance test” of Frye v. United States, 54 App.D.C. 46, 293 F. 1013 (1923), although now one of many standards, was still important. Daubert’s principal focus was necessarily on new science. Its rules were intended to open the door to the admission of theories challenging existing orthodoxies. The petitioners, children born with serious birth defects, allegedly caused by their mothers’ ingestion of Bendectin during pregnancy, sought to introduce scientific studies, performed by well credentialed medical experts, that contradicted the existing “generally accepted” theory that Bendectin was not a teratogen (a substance capable of causing malformations in fetuses). See id.at 582, 113 S.Ct. 278/3.*fn8 Frye’s “general acceptance” test was inadequate to deal with new theories and approaches. Having relinquished the Frye test, the Court was obliged to map other standards.*fn9

        But the standards articulated by the majority in Daubert raised serious concerns.*fn10 The Frye test was perfectly suited to the court’s competence. The judge did not have to be a scientist. He or she only had, in effect, to count the “scientific” votes; determine what the majority accepted. Daubert/Kumho, however, required a judge, a notable generalist, to second guess a scientist. Thus, by listing the “scientific” standards and encouraging review, the decision pointed in the direction of more rigor. But, by underscoring the uniqueness of the trial setting, the “assist the trier” standard and flexibility, the decision does the opposite.
        One way of reconciling the competing vectors is this: Traditional science, generally accepted by judges for decades, may not need the same kind of rigorous analysis as “new” science which lacks the legitimacy of a chorus of sponsors. As to the latter, the Daubert analysis is critical, and the court should be an especially vigilant gatekeeper.

        Kumho*fn11 extended Daubert to non-scientific fields. In this category, for example, are the fields that are based on observations, not traditional science. See — U.S. at ___, 119 S.Ct. at 1175 (finding that some experts, for example, as cited in Amicus Brief of Solicitor General at 1998 WL 541947, testify regarding “criminal modus operandi, land valuation, drug terms, agricultural practices,” by relying upon other factors such as “personal knowledge or experience”).

        At the same time, the Court plainly recognized the limitations of the Daubert approach.*fn12 It reaffirmed Daubert’s holding that the court must be the gatekeeper, and must assure the reliability and relevance of testimony with respect to all expert testimony included in Fed.R.Evid. 702, not just scientific testing. See Kumho, ___ U.S. at ___ _ ___, 119 S.Ct. at 1174-76. But the nature of the test, notably, how much the Daubert standards are modified, was within the court’s discretion. And if the Daubert standards were flexible when applied to traditional scientific fields, surely they were flexible when applied to nonscientific, technical fields. See id. at 1175-76 (factors in Daubert may or may not be pertinent in assessing reliability); see also Black v. Food Lion Inc., 171 F.3d 308, 311-12 (5th Cir. 1999) (“[F]irst the [court] should decide whether the factors mentioned in Daubert are appropriate.”).
        Moreover, if the Daubert standard takes into account the unique trial setting — how well the lay trier will understand the testimony after examination and instructions — Kumho plainly does as well. In fact, cross examination and limiting instructions may be more effective in “technical” fields because they are more accessible to the jury, than fields with the charisma of science.

        Again, a mixed message: Apply Daubert to technical fields, even though the scientific method may not really fit, but be flexible. Moreover, in this setting, because few technical fields are as firmly established as traditional scientific ones, the new science/old science comparison is less clear. The court is plainly inviting a reexamination even of “generally accepted” venerable, technical fields.

        A. Handwriting

        Handwriting analysis is one such field. The Harrison testimony may be divided into two parts: Part 1 is Harrison’s testimony with respect to similarities between the known handwriting of Hines, and the robbery note. Part 2 is Harrison’s testimony with respect to the author of the note, that the author of the robbery note was indeed Hines. I concluded that Harrison could testify only as to the former.

        ***

        Hines challenges Harrison’s testimony under Daubert/Kumho. If I were to give special emphasis to “general acceptance” or to treat Daubert/Kumho as calling for a rigorous analysis only of new technical fields, not traditional ones, then handwriting analysis would largely pass muster. Handwriting analysis is perhaps the prototype of a technical field regularly admitted into evidence.*fn14 But, if I were to apply the Daubert/Kumho standards rigorously, looking for such things as empirical testing, rate of error, etc., the testimony would have serious problems. See U.S. v. Starzecpyzel, 880 F. Supp. 1027, 1036 (S.D.N.Y. 1995) (finding that if the court had to apply Daubert to the preferred handwriting testimony, it would have to be excluded.)

        According to Denbeaux,*fn15 handwriting analysis by experts suffers in two respects. It has never been subject to meaningful reliability or validity testing, comparing the results of the handwriting examiners’ conclusions with actual outcomes.*fn16 There is no peer review by a “competitive, unbiased community of practitioners and academics.” Starzecpyzel, 880 F. Supp. at 1038. To the extent that it has been “generally accepted,” it is not by a “financially disinterested independent community, like an academic community,” Id.; only other handwriting analysts have weighed in. It has never been shown to be more reliable than the results obtained by lay people. Some tests have been done, but all lacked a control or comparison group of lay persons. Thus, Denbeaux concludes, there is no need for expert testimony on handwriting analysis. Lay people can do as well. In this regard, I accept Denbeaux’s testimony, and the article supporting it.

        I do not believe that the government’s expert, Kam, and the studies he has cited suggest otherwise.*fn17 While Kam has conducted several interesting and important tests, purporting to validate handwriting analysis, they are not without criticism. They cannot be said to have “established” the validity of the field to any meaningful degree.

        There is no question that lay witnesses are permitted to draw inferences of authorship from handwriting. Where the lay witness is familiar with the handwriting, he or she can testify about it. No expert testimony is necessary. But just because lay witnesses can evaluate handwriting in some circumstances, does not necessarily mean that they can do it as well as an expert can in all.
        Handwriting analysis typically involves reviewing two samples, a known sample and an unknown one, to determine if they are similar. Both defense and government experts agree that unlike DNA or even fingerprints, one’s handwriting is not at all unique in the sense that it remains the same over time, or uniquely separates one individual from another. Everyone’s handwriting changes from minute to minute, day to day. At the same time, our handwriting is sufficiently similar to one another so that people can read each other’s writing. Given that variability, the expert” is obliged to make judgments — these squiggles look more like these, these lines are shaped more like these, etc. And those judgments are, as Harrison conceded, subjective.

        When a lay witness, the girlfriend of the defendant for example, says “this is my boyfriend’s writing,” her conclusion is based on having been exposed to her paramour’s handwriting countless times. Without a lay witness with that kind of expertise, the government is obliged to offer the testimony of “experts” who have looked at, and studied handwriting for years. These are, essentially, “observational” experts, taxonomists — arguably qualified because they have seen so many examples over so long.*fn18 It is not traditional, experimental science, to be sure, but Kumho’s gloss on Daubert suggests this is not necessary. I conclude that Harrison can testify to the ways in which she has found Hines’ known handwriting similar to or dissimilar from the handwriting of the robbery note; part 1 of her testimony.

        Part 2 of the Harrison testimony is, however, problematic. There is no data that suggests that handwriting analysts can say, like DNA experts, that this person is “the” author of the document. There are no meaningful, and accepted validity studies in the field.*fn19 No one has shown me Harrison’s error rate, the times she has been right, and the times she has been wrong. There is no academic field known as handwriting analysis. This is a “field” that has little efficacy outside of a courtroom. There are no peer reviews of it. Nor can one compare the opinion reached by an examiner with a standard protocol subject to validity testing, since there are no recognized standards. There is no agreement as to how many similarities it takes to declare a match, or how many differences it takes to rule it out.

        Indeed, Denbeaux draws an interesting analogy to eyewitness identification. Courts have concluded, as a matter of law, that one-on-one show-ups are unduly suggestive. Likewise, Denbeaux suggests, are one-on-one handwriting comparisons. The outcome of this analysis, for example, may be different if Harrison were given a “lineup” of similar handwriting exemplars to review, and asked to determine which of this group is most similar to the robbery note author.*fn20 Whether one adopts that specific approach or not, one thing is clear: when Harrison says, “I conclude that Hines wrote the robbery note,” she may well be going beyond her expertise.

        Moreover, the issue here is not only the validity and reliability of the expert testimony, but its validity and reliability in the context of this lay proceeding. Harrison’s account of what is similar or not similar in the handwriting of Hines and the robber can be understood and evaluated by the jury. The witness can be cross examined, as she was, about why this difference was not considered consequential, while this difference was, and the jury can draw their own conclusions. This is not rocket science, or higher math.*fn21

        Her conclusion of authorship, however, has a difference resonance: “Out of all of my experience, and training, I am saying that he is the one, the very author.” That leap may not at all be justified by the underlying data; and in the context of this case, is extraordinarily prejudicial.

        The Court faced a similar issue in United States v. McVeigh, (D.Colo.Trans.) (citing to Starzecpyzel, supra):

        [T]here is a great difference between a
        witness who has the requisite training
        and skill saying, `Look, I’ve compared
        this handwriting on this exhibit with this
        exemplar and I’ve used the techniques
        of microscoping (sic) and, you know, all
        of those things that are often involved in
        that kind of comparison, and these are
        the things I find,’ and `I see these similarities
        and these dissimilarities and so forth’ but does not go
        on to reach any sort of ultimate conclusion that this was
        written by the same person or expresses
        some probability or degree of confidence.

        The problem with . . . handwriting is
        that there is no testing of the — no
        verification-type testing of these opinion results;
        and in addition, there has never been within the
        discipline of people who practice this skill — there has
        never been any agreement on how to express the
        results. There is no standardized nomenclature,
        you know. Therefore, it seems to me that we should
        draw the distinction between somebody getting on the
        stand and saying `Yeah, written by the same person,’
        or `no, not written by the same person,’ vs. `these
        are the similarities or these are the dissimilarities’;
        and the jury can decide.

        I find Harrison’s testimony meets Fed. R.Evid. 702’s requirements to the extent that she restricts her testimony to similarities or dissimilarities between the known exemplars and the robbery note. However, she may not render an ultimate conclusion on who penned the unknown writing. See Paul, 175 F.3d 906, 910 (letting writing expert identify points of comparison that he recognized between the two writings and allowing jury to conduct its own comparison and reach its own conclusion regarding authorship of the two writings); see also McVeigh, (permitting handwriting expert to testify that two writings were consistent with each other but not permitting an ultimate conclusion as to authorship).

        ***
        II. CONCLUSION

        Accordingly, the testimony of the government’s handwriting expert was limited as described above, to identifying the similarities and dissimilarities of the known writing and the unknown. The defense expert on eyewitness identification waspermitted along with the testimony of the government witness.

        SO ORDERED.

    • DXer said

      Daniel P. Seiger greatly elaborated on their commentary in 2009 in

      “Handwriting Examination: Meeting the Challenges of Science and the Law” by Diana Harrison, Ted M. Burkes & Danielle P. Seiger (Forensic Science Communications)

      Ted M. Burkes would also be a good person for the GAO to interview on the subject.

      http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/lab/forensic-science-communications/fsc/oct2009/Zbackup/Review/2009_10_review02.htm

      Diana Harrison
      Chief
      Questioned Documents Unit
      FBI Laboratory
      Quantico, Virginia

      Ted M. Burkes
      Document Analyst/Forensic Examiner
      Questioned Documents Unit
      FBI Laboratory
      Quantico, Virginia

      Danielle P. Seiger
      Supervisory Document Analyst/Forensic Examiner
      Questioned Documents Unit
      FBI Laboratory
      Quantico, Virginia

      • DXer said

        Danielle P. Sieger was also a co-author of “A Perspective on Errors, Bias, and Interpretation in the Forensic Sciences and Direction for Continuing Advancement.”

        Readers may recall Bruce Budowie as editor of the book on MICROBIAL FORENSICS.

        Validation under Daubert, in part, concerns knowing the “error rate.”

        In the treatise on MICROBIAL FORENSICS, there was a separate chapter on Daubert.

        “A Perspective on Errors, Bias, and Interpretation in the Forensic Sciences and Direction for Continuing Advancement.”

        Bruce Budowle, Maureen C Bottrell, Stephen G Bunch, Robert Fram, Diana Harrison, Stephen Meagher, Cary T Oien, Peter E Peterson, Danielle P Seiger,Michael B Smith, Melissa A Smrz, Greg L Soltis, Robert B Stacey
        FBI Laboratory, 2501 Investigation Parkway, Quantico, VA 22135.
        Journal of Forensic Sciences (impact factor: 1.52). 06/2009; DOI:10.1111/j.1556-4029.2009.01081.x

  27. DXer said

    GAO should obtain and disclose the handwriting analysis that the FBI handwriting expert did for Atta and Jdey and Yazid Sufaat — and also the hijackers recently taught English by KSM.
    (There is one prolific poster who has focused on the fact that it appears that the writer had just learned to write English.)

    Although Sufaat rejoices in the 3000 deaths on 911 and says that his friend Moussaoui wanted to fly a plane like the other hijackers, Yazid (in chat with me and on Facebook) pleads the Fifth Amendment as to the anthrax mailings.

  28. DXer said

    Abby of NCIS could have done an excellent job explaining things about copy paper brand source identification and compared it to the brands at, say, USAMRIID, versus used at KINKOS in Maryland. In studying perfumes, she once set her boss Gibbs back $1500. OTOH, with paper should have purchased the top 30 brands for $150.

    Research Article
    Copy Paper Brand Source Identification using Commodity Scanners

    Shize Shang, Xiangwei Kong and Xin`gang You

    In print forensics, copy paper brand source identification can be used to expose the copy paper source of the forged contracts or official documents. In this study, a novel method for identifying the copy paper brand is proposed for forensics application using only a commodity scanner and without modifying the document. The scanned document image margin is cut into image blocks. After the image preprocessing, 114-D texture features are extracted from these image blocks including Gray Level Co-occurrence Matrix (GCM) features and Fourier spectrum features. The decision for each piece of paper is given by voting the decision results of the image blocks. The experimental results are provided finally to demonstrate the feasibility of the proposed method.

    There is NO evidence Dr. Ivins ever did any copying at KINKOS. Atta, OTOH, is on FILM making copies on September 7, 2001.

    • DXer said

      The New York Post

      December 10, 2001, Monday

      COPIERS EYED AS CLUE TO ANTHRAX

      BYLINE: BRAD HUNTER

      SECTION: All Editions; Pg. 024

      A photocopier’s “fingerprint” may help investigators track down the suspect responsible for sending anthrax-laced letters to two politicians.

      FBI agents have now determined that the poisoned letters sent to Sen. Patrick Leahy and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle are virtually identical, leading them to look for a possible Kinko’s connection.

      FBI sources told Time magazine that because the letter sent to Leahy was photocopied, they may stand a better chance of determining who sent it. Photocopiers tend to leave a “fingerprint” caused by tiny scratches and dirt on the machine’s glass and optical system.

      The FBI lab plans to examine the Leahy letter for these tiny anomalies and try to determine which copier the suspect or suspects may have used.

      While the agency can’t examine every copier in the country, once they get a line on suspects, they’ll be able to focus on copy businesses and libraries near their homes, Time reports.

      Of particular interest would be high-volume copy companies like Kinko’s.

      Comment: Dr. Fong at GAO should make sure that the FBI has given him the report relating to both the machines AND paper at the KINKOS at which ATTA was making copies on September 7, 2001. Also the MAIL BOX ETC. at Laurel which had a copy machine.

  29. DXer said

    GAO:

    The FBI has film of Attta making copies at KINKOS on September 7, 2001 in Maryland. The mass spec on the toner — see study the DOJ has been withholding — INCLUDES KINKOS but EXCLUDES USAMRIID. Even as high 99% level of confidence can be achieved nowadays done to the dozens of make and model of machines. If you need a foot in the door, call Dr. Bartick and encourage him until he talk with you.

    The FBI then has the record of Atta going to MAIL BOXES ETC in Laurel, Maryland the next day, on September 8, 2001 and sending excess money he had to Hawsawi (who was using an alias in UAE). Hawsawi is the fellow who had the anthrax spraydrying documents on his laptop (he was KSM’s assistant and handling logistics). Hawsawi was working with Al-Balucchi who would discuss Al Qaeda’s anthrax lab with Aafia. … who was in touch by email with Adnan El-Shukrijumah and Jdey. The FBI has not wanted to tell the public this because they caught a lot of grief for not getting into Moussaoui’s laptop. If the public had learned that they let Jdey, who had biology books when he was detained, top FBI officials would have been shit-canned. Please get the film of Atta making copies at KINKOS and the filed court documents explaining that Atta’s transfer from Mail Boxes Etc. on September 8, 2001 was to Hawsawi, the fellow with the anthrax spraydrying documents. If you really wanted to knock it out of the park, interview the Laurel, MD MBE franchisee.

    • DXer said

      GAO,

      One cannot meaningfully review a matter merely taking the issues as framed by the advocate (FBI) below.

      Here, they make no mention of the probativeness of the paper stock used in the letters — only the envelopes. One looks in vain among the investigative material for the memo to the file (that exists) identifying the brand of the photocopy.

      As to the envelopes, they say that narrows things to prestamped envelopes sold in Maryland and Virginia. As to the paper used, they make no mention in their report or in the materials about it.

      Yet, if you turn to the learning in the field, it is a matter rich with forensic potential. Turn to “Forensic Examination of Ink and Paper” by Richard L. Brunnel, Chief, Scientific Services Division, of the ATF and his co-author Robert W. Reed, M.F.S.

      The paper stock used is potentially very powerful discriminator. If one has access to the papers copied by a suspect, one can determine whether there is a match or not. Here, they have boxes full of documents copied by Dr. Ivins.

      Have you noticed that there was no mention of a match in the case of evidence that they say points to him? That is because it was not a match. Indeed, the paper was not ever used at USAMRIID or you would have heard about it.

      Instead, even anecdotally, you know that after the forensics on paper was done FBI agents continued to canvass KINKOS and MAIL BOXES (which have copy machines), which had not been excluded.

  30. FBI: “3. The author uses the words “can not,” when many people prefer to spell it as one word, “cannot.””

    “Hier stehe ich; ich kann nicht anders.”.

    Martin Luther.

    One of the most famous phrases in the German language for English speakers to know.

    kann nicht (can not) are two separate words not joined in a conjunction in German.

    Atta spent the 1990s in Germany studying at a German university.

  31. DXer said

    On September 7, 2001 shows Mohamed “Atta, Hani Hanjour, and possibly additional [Middle Eastern] males were observed at [a] Kinkos [store in] Laurel, Maryland, xeroxing passports, cutting and pasting.” There is no further explanation about this or what it might mean. An FBI account will add that video surveillance was retrieved showing “Atta and other individuals.” [FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, 4/19/2002]

    Noah Schactman, in his important and notable article, says that the fact that the federal eagle stamp was sold in 45 offices throughout Maryland and Virginia is what the FBI found compelling evidence.

    Postage Stamps Delivered Anthrax Suspect to FBI
    • By Noah Shachtman
    • March 28, 2011 |
    http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/03/postage-stamps-delivered-anthrax-suspect-to-fbi/

    At the August 2008 press conference, the US Attorney and AP created the impression that the Federal Eagle stamp was uniquely sold in Ivins’ post office (near USAMRIID) when it in fact was sold in 45 known post offices throughout Maryland and Virginia. Imagine US Attorney giving the same argument he gave to the media to a federal district court judge and then to have the claims rebutted.

    Was the federal eagle envelope sold at the Maryland and Virginia localities frequented by Atta? Such as Laurel, Maryland?

  32. FBI: “2. In writing the number one, the author chooses to use a formalized, more detailed version. He writes it as “1” instead of the simple vertical line.”

    http://www.personal.kent.edu/~rbavis/lettering.htm

    “A. Legibility – Each letter must be distinct and not have to be read in context to be understood. Industry can’t tolerate errors caused by poor drawing legibility.”

    The wiki shows the use of the 1, just like your keyboard not the letter l from your keyboard.

    In technical lettering the 1 (one) has to be distinct from the l (ell). The letter write did this.

  33. FBI: “1. The author uses dashes (“-“) in the writing of the date “09-11-01.” Many people use the slash (“/”) to separate the day/month/year.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO_8601#Dates

    “The separator used between date values (year, month, week, and day) is the hyphen, ”

    “The first edition of the ISO 8601 standard was published in 1988. It unified and replaced a number of older ISO standards on various aspects of date and time notation: ISO 2014, ISO 2015, ISO 2711, ISO 3307, and ISO 4031.[2]”

    ISO 8601 Usage Wiki page

    “Germany DIN ISO 8601:2006-09 (replaced DIN EN 28601:1993-02); related: DIN 5008:2011-04”

  34. FBI: “1. The author uses dashes (“-“) in the writing of the date “09-11-01.” Many people use the slash (“/”) to separate the day/month/year.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyphen#Usage_in_date_notation

    “In parts of Europe, the hyphen is used to delineate parts within a written date. Germans[citation needed] and Slavs also used Roman numerals for the month; 14‑VII‑1789, for example, is one way of writing the first Bastille Day, though this usage is rapidly falling out of favour. Plaques on the wall of the Moscow Kremlin are written this way. Use of hyphens, as opposed to the slashes used in the English language, is specified for international standards.

    International standard ISO 8601, which was accepted as European Standard EN 28601 and incorporated into various typographic style guides (e.g., DIN 5008 in Germany), brought about a new standard using the hyphen. Now all official European governmental documents use this. These norms prescribe writing dates using hyphens: 1789-07-14 is the new way of writing the first Bastille Day. This is also the typical date format used in large parts of Eastern Europe and Asia, although sometimes with other separators than the hyphen.”

    • DXer said

      Wow. Nice find. So without clicking through to the authority cited I see that the hyphen is standard in Europe. It would be interesting to search the handwriting analysis literature to see what percentage of people use the one or the other in their handwriting. The FBI experts likely know this — Interpol certainly likely would.

  35. http://www.vvit.org/medep.htm

    Search on engineering drawing and technical lettering. This is an institute in India. It shows how this is an international standard in engineering education.

  36. FBI: “5. The names and address on each envelope are noticeably tilted on a downward slant from left to right. This may be a characteristic seen on other envelopes he has sent. ”

    Kent State Technical Lettering

    “D. Alignment – The imaginary axis of all letters are all parallel and either vertical or inclined to
    the right at 68 degrees, no back slant.”

    This may have caused the slanting on the addresses on the envelopes.

  37. http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/history/famous-cases/anthrax-amerithrax/linguistic-behavorial-analysis-of-the-anthrax-letters

    “4. The author writes in all upper case block-style letters. However, the first letter of the first word of each sentence is written in slightly larger upper case lettering. Also, the first letter of all proper nouns (like names) is slightly larger. This is apparently the author’s way of indicating a word should be capitalized in upper case lettering. For whatever reason, he may not be comfortable or practiced in writing in lower case lettering.”

    In German, nouns are capitalized. Atta did his graduate work in Germany and worked on his thesis for years.

  38. DXer said

    Old Atlantic,

    Why don’t you try to formulate a theory, and if you come up with a cogent one, organize your thoughts and post it. We should not be reading stream of consciousness. I believe you are looking for a code theory relating to the double-lining of “A” and “T’s”.

  39. http://fbilibrary.fbiacademy.edu/

    They don’t appear to have the Daniels Free Hand Lettering book in the FBI Library.

    Lettering as a search item brings up one book from 2009.

    Technical drawing had no hits.

    • architecture drawing one book from 2006. Not a very helpful one either.

      ” Ritual house, ritual city drawing on nature’s rhythms for architecture and urban design “

  40. Did the FBI do this analysis? Did someone in the government? Mathematicians in NSA? There are math and engineering people in the US government familiar with Latex, blackboard bold, technical lettering, etc.

  41. “The GOTHIC is the most common lettering font used in freehand lettering. The reason behind this is, the width of each line element of each letter is same throughout. Either STRAIGHT GOTHIC or INCLINED GOTHIC maybe used for lettering. The angle of inclination of the letters in INCLINED GOTHIC is 15° with respect to the vertical.Vertical lines are usually drawn in an upward direction. However, drawing a number of vertical lines or lines slanted in thesame direction, the way of drawing them will begoverned.Vertical lines should be drawn with greatest control.”

    Links to following book for technical lettering from 1865

    http://www.archive.org/stream/textbookoffreeha00daniiala#page/14/mode/2up

    • Look at pages 14, 20, 21, 24, 46, 53, 54, 58, 66 (R and S), 70, 78

      (I may have switched from pages in pdf to pages in book in above list) Just page through book quickly to end using controls at the bottom.

      All the characteristics of the letter writing appear in this book on technical writing.

    • From 1909 actually.

    • Isn’t the FBI supposed to have books on writing like the one on technical writing from 1909?

      Has the FBI never seen technical drawings, engineering and architectural drawings?

      Why wouldn’t the FBI look at Atta’s engineering and architectural background and compare the writing in the letters to technical writing books like the one linked to from 1909?

      Isn’t that very book in the FBI library?

      Is it because the FBI investigation became fixated on it not being al Qaeda, so Atta’s engineering and architecture background was not used as a basis of comparing the writing to technical lettering?

  42. “1.Drawing the lower parts of the letters like B,E etc. wider than the upper parts
    or
    2. Drawing the horizontal line at the center of these letters just above their geometric axis.(Exception: In case of the letter A, the horizontal member is drawn below geometric center axis. Here along with stability one more factor is considered that is equality of areas below and above the center line. If a horizontal line is drawn exactly at the center, then the difference in the areas of the triangle above the line and the trapezium below the line is much larger. This creates an unusual effect to our eyes.)”

    The large A next to 1211 shows this lowering of the horizontal line in the A so that the triangle area is approximately that of the area contained below the line. The same appears on the Atta card filled out for the US government.

  43. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technical_lettering

    “Technical lettering is the process of forming letters, numerals, and other characters in technical drawing. It is used to describe, or provide detailed specifications for, an object. With the goals of legibility and uniformity, styles are standardized and lettering ability has little relationship to normal writing ability.”

  44. Algebra starts with A and so does Atta and architecture. Atta may have felt pride in Algebra in terms of heritage and his own education. Algebra is Arabic in root as a word.

  45. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arabic_characters_in_Unicode

  46. ftp://ftp.informatik.uni-stuttgart.de/pub/arabtex/arabtex.htm

    Copyright (c) 1990 – 2006, Klaus Lagally

    The Arabtex package for writing in Arabic using Latex appears to have started in 1990 in Germany.

    Thus Atta could have looked into it while studying in Germany.

  47. http://www.tu-harburg.de/index_e.html

    Enter latex in search box get over 2000 hits.

    This is the university that Atta studied at in Germany.

    Blackboard bold is used for set notation as well as vectors.

    Latex was widely used at German universities in the 1990s.

    Blackboard Bold is not confined to Latex. There are unicode characters for it as well.

    Atta as an architecture student and Arabic native speaker and writer would also have been interested in fonts, unicode and Latex because they can produce Arabic letters and script.

    Students at technical schools in Germany typically would write in English and their theses were often written using Latex.

  48. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackboard_bold

    Blackboard bold is a way to make vectors on the blackboard or while printing with pen or pencil on paper.

    The A in the letter is Blackboard Bold. So is the M.

    Blackboard Bold in general is a way to emphasize letters. The T’s might be considered a variant.

    The link shows the entire alphabet in blackboard bold.

    You can compare the A and M to the samples in the graphic.

  49. Mohamed Atta was an engineering and architecture student in Cairo and in Germany.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohamed_Atta#Academic_studies

    “In 1985, Atta entered Cairo University, where he studied engineering. As one of the highest-scoring students, Atta was admitted into the very selective architecture program during his senior year. In addition to his regular courses, Atta studied English at the American University in Cairo.[14] In 1990, Atta graduated with a degree in architecture,[15] and joined the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Engineers Syndicate organization.[8] For several months after graduating, Atta worked at the Urban Development Center in Cairo, where he worked on architectural, planning, and building design.

  50. DXer said

    Expert handwriting experts typically request (the originals , if possible) of five exemplars of the person’s handwriting (in this case, Atta’s printing)

    What samples exist of Atta’s handwriting?

    The I-94 is a two-part, two-sided perforated form. The top part of the form is used to record an alien’s arrival information, and the bottom part of the form is used to record an alien’s departure from the country. So without studying the DOJ IG’s report on the subject, I guess there is an i-94 for each time he came and went.

    According to a DOJ IG report, Atta had filed an I-539 on September 19, 2000, requesting to change his status from a visitor to a student. His I-539 also should be obtained so that the handwriting can be reviewed and compared to the anthrax letters.

    The GAO should obtain and publish as many exemplars of Atta’s printing as are available to the USG. For example, apartment leases.

    • DXer said

      Atta’s Venice Flying Service “Pilot Profile” appears to be another handwriting (printing) exemplar readily available. It was introduced as an exhibit in the Moussaoui trial.

  51. DXer said

    Kandahar Souvenir: Hijacker Ahmed’s Blackened Leg Lesion

    One of the hijackers, Ahmed Al-Haznawi, went to the ER on June 25, 2001 with what now appears to have been cutaneous anthrax, according to Dr. Tsonas, the doctor who treated him, and other experts. “No one is dismissing this,” said CIA Director Tenet. Alhaznawi had just arrived in the country on June 8. He had traveled with al Shehri from Dubai, United Arab Emirates via London-Gatwick, England to Miami, Florida. His exposure perhaps related to a camp he had been in Afghanistan. He said he got the blackened gash-like lesion when he bumped his leg on a suitcase two months earlier. Two months earlier he had been in camp near Kandahar (according to a videotape he later made serving as his last Will and Testament). His last will and testament is mixed in with the footage by the al-Qaeda’s Sahab Institute for Media Production that includes Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Sulaiman Abu Ghaith. There are some spiders that on rare occasions bite and cause such a blackened eschar (notably the Brown Recluse Spider found in some parts of the United States). His remains tested positive for Ames anthrax.

    Dr. Tara O’Toole of the Biodefense Center at John Hopkins, now head of biosecurity at Homeland Security, concluded it was anthrax. The former head of that group, Dr. Henderson, and National Academy of Sciences anthrax science review panel member, explained: “The probability of someone this age having such an ulcer, if he’s not an addict and doesn’t have diabetes or something like that, is very low. It certainly makes one awfully suspicious.” The FBI says no anthrax was found where the hijackers were. (The FBI tested the crash sites where the planes came down and found no traces of anthrax). Although no doubt there are some other diseases that lead to similar sores, it is reasonable to credit that it was cutaneous anthrax considering all the circumstances, to include the finding by the 9/11 Commission that ” in 2001, Sufaat would spend several months attempting to cultivate anthrax for al Qaeda in a laboratory he set up near the Kandahar airport.” Now that Kandahar reportedly is where the extremely virulent anthrax was located, it makes it more likely that the Johns Hopkins people were correct that the lesion was cautions anthrax.

    At the time, CBS reported that “U.S. troops are said to have found another biological weapons research lab near Kandahar, one that that was eyeing anthrax.” But CBS and FBI spokesman further noted that “Those searches found extensive evidence that al-Qaida wanted to develop biological weapons, but came up with no evidence the terrorist group actually had anthrax or other deadly germs, they said.” Only years later did author Suskind claim that in fact there was extremely virulent anthrax at Kandahar. Thus, a factual predicate important to assessment of the Johns Hopkins report on the leg lesion needed to be reevaluated after Hambali’s interrogation in Jordan.

    Another intriguing potential lead concerned a report about Atta’s red hands. Shortly before 9/11, Atta went to a pharmacy with red hands, as if he had been working with bleach or detergent. Delray Beach, Florida pharmacist Greg Chadderton explained:
    “There are two fellows, well dressed, and I asked if there was anything I could do to help them. And the one fellow turned over to me and he showed me his hands, and he said “They’re itching and they’re burning, do you have a cream for this?” His hands were red from this area down (indicating from wrist down) on both of his hands, they were red. Not the normal colour you and I would have from just being like this, but they were red. They weren’t blistering – they were simply red. They were red as if you had taken your hands and dunked them in a bucket of perhaps bleach or something. But they weren’t red on this side (backs of hands) where you would think. That’s what puzzled me, it was very perplexing that this side (palms?) was all red, it was almost as if he had touched something like this.”

    He was given a cream called acid mantle. The possible explanation I had found intriguing was that it was just a latex allergy from wearing gloves. Or maybe his red hands related to use of gloves while making a gas or spray later used to subdue passengers such as the red pepper spray introduced as an exhibit in the Moussaoui trial. There was another disturbing possibility suggested by his cropduster inquiries. The late Midhat Mursi aka Abu Khabab, the chemist helping Zawahiri with his Zabadi, or Curdled Milk, project, worked with a chemical additive for his pesticide/nerve agent. It increased absorption into the skin. (Saponin, a natural detergent, is used for that purpose in a variety of commercial contexts; in late 2002, a plot was foiled when an attempt to purchase 1100 pounds of saponin was noticed by a chemical company and stopped. Or maybe he just got his hands while examining nozzles that had sprayed insecticide at the airports.

    A final possibility for Atta’s red hands, however, suggested by a comparison of his handwriting on his visa application and application to Huffman Aviation, suggests an even more dire possibility. Perhaps it related to the use of chlorine bleach to decontaminate anthrax.

    Exploring these hypotheses — and what makes hands reds top and bottom — should have been part of the FBI’s science investigation and now should be reviewed by GAO.

    Amerithrax represents the greatest intelligence failure in the history of the United States. Evil prevails when good men and women do nothing.

    • DXer said

      Suspect Sought Medicine for Red Hands
      Palm Beach Post ^ | October 11,2001 | Eliot Kleinberg

      Suspect sought medicine for red hands

      By Eliot Kleinberg, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

      Thursday, October 11, 2001

      DELRAY BEACH — Mohamed Atta came in with red hands.

      Pharmacist Gregg Chatterton, co-owner of Huber Drugs, 331 E. Atlantic Ave., said he didn’t know his customer’s name at the time of the visit, sometime this summer. Nor would the man in casual clothes who spoke clear English with only a trace of an accent give Chatterton a straight answer about why his hands were red. He just needed something for them.

      Chatterton figured his customer had been around some chemicals that were basic rather than acidic, so he sold him a 1-ounce tube of a medicine called “acid mantle” for $5.49. Chatterton said he also sold Atta’s friend, Marwan Al-Shehhi, a bottle of Robitussin for a nasty chest cold and directed him to a nearby walk-in clinic.

      On Sept. 30, Chatterton looked over a woman’s shoulder and saw a newspaper spread showing the faces of the men the FBI believes hijacked four airplanes on Sept. 11. The two men who’d come to his pharmacy looking for help jumped out from the page — the FBI says Atta and Al-Shehhi piloted the planes that hit the World Trade Center towers.

      “I feel angry,” Chatterton said Wednesday. “I feel like I was used.”

      After Sept. 11, Chatterton said, a woman at the Hamlet Country Club, where some of the hijackers lived temporarily, apparently told authorities she had directed the men to Huber’s.

      In recent days, authorities from the Food and Drug Administration and the FBI have questioned Chatterton. The FBI came by Monday, Chatterton said. He said the recent anthrax case in Boca Raton had him wondering if Atta’s hand irritation was the result of exposure to chemicals such as chlorine or ammonia or from repeated hand-washing with regular soap.

      Chatterton also identified hijacking suspects Waleed Alshehri and Wail Alshehri, believed to be brothers who stayed this summer at the Homing Inn in Boynton Beach, as having come in several times to buy snacks and toiletries. He said they never came in at the same time as the men identified as Atta and Al-Shehhi.

      Chatterton said he spotted Atta and Al-Shehhi — they used different names he could not find in his records — in the cream section. He said they caught his eye because most of his customers are retirees.

      Chatterton quizzed Atta about his line of work, hoping to get clues about the source of the irritation, which had left his hands not peeling but extremely red.

      He asked if the men were in construction; the rough concrete and its chemical makeup, heavy in lime, can be irritants. The man said no. He asked if he worked with toluene or other cleaning solvents. He asked, “Do you work with some sort of chemical?” No.

      “I asked, `Do you work in a garden?’ ” He laughed, “No.”

      Finally, “He said, `Computers.’ He changed the subject. He was evasive. I had to go around in circles.”

      Chatterton finally gave up and recommended the acid cream.

      Al-Shehhi — not as talkative, his English not as good — pointed to his chest. Chatterton gave him the Robitussin and said he might need stronger medicine, which meant a prescription. He sent the men to the closest walk-in clinic, Urgi Med, at 950 S.E. Fifth Ave.

      Urgi Med officer manager Kelley Williams said she did not recognize any of the alleged hijackers but that another employee identified two to federal agents.

      Chatterton said the men returned other times for the prescription and other items, but he doesn’t remember much about those visits. He says they definitely did not ask for any of the antibiotics suggested for exposure to the anthrax bacterium.

      Dr. Richard Zemlin, who works at another walk-in clinic at 2280 W. Atlantic Ave., said he believes he treated another hijacking suspect, Ahmed Alghamdi, for indigestion. Alghamdi, who stayed for a time at a Delray Beach apartment, complained of symptoms — heartburn, gas — that seemed consistent with getting used to American food, or, in retrospect, with a case of nerves, according to the doctor. Zemlin said he recommended a bland diet and over-the-counter medications.

  52. DXer said

    What did the CIA conclude to be the reason for Atta’s inquiries about cropdusters? Moussaoui made similar inquiries. What was his reason? If Jdey was detained as same time as Moussaoui… but released… what was his relationship with Moussaoui? What was Jdey’s relationship with Atta?

    Bismarck Tribune (North Dakota)

    September 25, 2001, Tuesday, METRO EDITION

    Crop-dusters grounded again as FBI probes possible terrorist link

    BYLINE: By AMANDA RIDDLE, Associated Press Writer

    SECTION: Pg. 1A
    BELLE GLADE, Fla. — The government grounded thousands of crop-dusters across the country for a second straight day Monday amid fears the planes could be used in an airborne chemical or biological attack.

    The move came after it was learned that one of the suspected hijackers in the attack on the World Trade Center, Mohamad Atta, had shown interest in crop-dusters and that another person now in federal custody had downloaded information about the planes, Attorney General John Ashcroft said.

    The ‘intelligence community came to us and encouraged us to shut down the crop-dusters,’ Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Scott Brenner said. The FAA said the ban was in effect through 12:05 a.m. Tuesday local time.

    North Dakota has 166 operators and 281aircraft used for crop spraying, state Aeronautics Commission Director Gary Ness said.
    The planes have to be licensed and registered, and the operators have to list the people who work for them, he said. North Dakota operators may have two or three pilots, and ‘overall, they know each other,’ Ness said.

    Ashcroft told lawmakers on Capitol Hill that the FBI had gathered information raising fears that the small farm planes could be used in a biological or chemical attack. But he said there was ‘no clear indication of the time or place of these attacks.’

    It was the second time the planes have been grounded since the FAA cleared the way for most flights to resume Sept. 14, three days after terrorists slammed planes into the twin towers and the Pentagon.

    James Callan, executive director of the National Agricultural Aviation Association, said the ban covered about 3,500 agricultural aviators.

    The association posted a message from the FBI on its Web site, urging members to ‘continue to be vigilant to any suspicious activity relative to the use, training in or acquisition of dangerous chemicals or airborne application’ of the chemicals.

    The FBI is believed to be investigating a group of Middle Eastern men — including Atta — who repeatedly visited a Florida fertilizer company before the Sept. 11 attacks.

    J.D. ‘Will’ Lee, general manager of South Florida Crop Care in Belle Glade, said Monday he told FBI agents that the men, in groups of two or three, visited nearly every weekend for six or eight weeks before the attacks. The visits included the weekend before the assaults.

    Co-worker James Lester told the FBI that one of the men was Atta, who is believed to be one of the suicide hijackers aboard the first airliner to hit the trade center. He said Atta was persistent with questions about a crop-duster during a visit in February.

    ‘I recognized him because he stayed on my feet all the time. I just about had to push him away from me,’ Lester said.

    Lee said the men pestered employees with ‘odd questions’ about his 502 Air Tractor crop-duster. He said they asked about the range of the airplane, how much it could haul in chemicals, how difficult it was to fly and how much fuel it could carry.

    During one visit, they followed Lester around, asking questions while he was working on one of the planes. Another time, they carried video equipment and asked to photograph the inside of the cockpit.

    Lee said he declined their repeated requests.

    ‘I wouldn’t spend any time talking to them or telling them anything because I didn’t think it was any of their business,’ Lee said.

    In Belle Glade, a small community in the Florida Everglades surrounded by sugar cane fields, police closed one entrance to the airport where Lee’s business is based and allowed only employees to enter the second entrance.

    The Washington Post has also reported that investigators found a crop-duster manual among the possessions of Zacarias Moussaoui, who was detained after he sought flight training in Minnesota and the school grew suspicious.

    Ray Dyson, chief pilot of Southeastern Aerial Crop Service in Fort Pierce, said crop-dusting aircraft — typically carrying 200 gallons of fuel and 500 to 600 gallons of fertilizer and liquid spray — require extensive training and are extremely difficult for a novice pilot to fly.

    ‘When they’re heavily loaded they take a very deft hand to fly,’ Dyson said. ‘One false move and you fall out of the sky and crash.’

    Florida officials have checked with all registered aerial applicators about their security measures, said Terence McElroy, spokesman for the state Agriculture Department.

    When flights resume, pilots will be required to notify state officials of their flight times and aircraft tail numbers, McElroy said.

    ‘It’s damn sure going to ruin our industry and us, but it’s a small price to pay for the security of our nation,’ said Jerry White, an aerial applicator based in Orlando.

    Cutline: Associated Press

    • DXer said

      Summer 2001 Inquiries About Cropdusters and Helicopters

      Expert Kohlmann reports that “The LeT [Lashkar-e-Taiba] has also displayed persistent efforts at aimed at obtaining remote control drone aircraft, presumably in order to gather reconnaissance on enemy positions. Kohlman quotes a November 2000 Taiba Bulletin that quotes a LeT representative boasting “Lashkar-e-Taiba also made a remote control aeroplane that was caught in Occupied Kashmir. We are developing the modern technology.” Evan Kohlman reports that “one of the best accounts of the jihad in Kashmar is the book Army of Madinah in Kashmir written by “Esa al-Hindi”. He quotes Al-Hindi: “Running … straight into the enemy ranks on a well-worn battlefield is a noble and admirable action, but it needs to be complemented by all other fields of the battle arena for a successful operation… [including] Physical warfare, Drug warfare, Germ warfare, Chemical warfare, [and] Sabotage warfare.’ ”

      Authors Schwartz and University of Minnesota Professor Osterholm explained in December 2000:

      “Dozens of Websites offer information on new and used crop-dusting planes and equipment that can be fitted to almost any plane or even trucks. Most of the equipment can be found on those sites produce a highly controlled mist spray, with nozzles that can set the droplet size precisely.”

      “A quick call to the toll-free number for a state university’s agricultural service (listed, naturally on its Website) revealed that powder dispersal systems, while less popular than wet systems, are still available. One Website even provides a handy guide to the area one would expect to cover using various particle sizes, wet and dry — from thousand micron particles to half-micron particles capable of drifting almost four hundred miles.”

      It was no small irony that by the time the paperback version came out in September 2001 just a few miles away Zacarias Moussaoui had in fact downloaded such materials onto his laptop.

      Attorney General Ashcroft, on October 1, 2001 explained: “I think shortly after the September 11 events, we developed information about crop dusters and noted that there had been an interest expressed in the dispersal of chemical agents by some of the individuals who had relationships with the hijackers and were the hijackers, and we asked those who were associated with the agriculture, chemical industry, and crop dusting to begin to be more careful, to lock their airplanes, to be aware of anyone seeking to adjust the kind of way in which the nozzles would be, which would maybe require a different approach.

      President Bush, at a press conference on October 11, 2001 said:

      “We received knowledge that perhaps an al-Qaeda operative was prepared to use a crop-duster to spray a biological weapon or a chemical weapon on American people, and so we responded. We contacted every crop dust location, airports from which crop-dusters leave. We notified crop-duster manufacturers to a potential threat. We knew full well that in order for a crop-duster to become a weapon of mass destruction would require a retrofitting, and so we talked to machine shops around where crop-dusters are located.”

      Mohammed Atta and Zacarias Moussaoui reportedly made inquiries about cropdusters and a cropdusting manual was found among Moussaoui’s belongings. Ahmad Ressam, an Al Qaeda terrorist caught in the United States, revealed that Bin Laden was personally interested in using low flying aircraft to disperse biological agents. In early June 3, 2003, a CIA report concluded that the reason for Atta’s and Zacarias Moussaoui’s inquiries into cropdusters was in fact for the contemplated use in dispersing biological agents such as anthrax. Moussaoui, however, has confessed only to a plot to fly a 747 into the White House if the United States government refused to free the blind sheikh. On August 13 and 15, 2001, Moussaoui was getting practice on a 747 simulator in Minneapolis and thus the evidence has always remained ambiguous.

      In an interview with ABC News, Johnelle Bryant, a USDA employee, provided this very dramatic account of a meeting with Atta in connection with a loan he wanted for $650,000 to start a cropdusting business. Anthrax likely can be delivered using the nozzle setup that some USDA official says Atta imagined (as explained by Secretary Cohen some years ago). Secretary Cohen’s remarks were found in the Kabul home with papers relating to the aerial delivery of anthrax.

      Some investigators on the team prosecuting Zacarias Moussaoui thought he wasn’t expected to take part in the 9/11 plan as such or fly into the White House as prosecutors would allege in January 2003, but was expected instead to use a cropduster. In an e-mail dated July 31, 2001, after receiving $14,000 from Ramzi Binalshibh, Moussaoui inquired of a Minnesota school concerning a 6 month or year long cropdusting course. Although French intelligence suggests instead that there was a separate hijacking plot (of an international airline) to occur later, in light of the e-mail, use of a cropdusting plane may have been an alternative plan at least as of the end of July 2001. Khalid Mohammed reportedly has told his interrogators that Moussaoui was to be part of a second wave of attacks. He said that Moussaoui’s interest in cropdusters may have related to Yazid Sufaat’s work on anthrax.

      In a coded communication in the summer of 2001, KSM told Ramzi Binalhibh to send the “skirts” to “Sally”, apparently referring to sending funds to Zacarias Moussaoui. Moussaoui may have been considered as a substitute if one of the pilots, who had developed a strained relationship with Atta, dropped out. They were referred to as the “unhappy couple” and it was said that a divorce would be expensive. Was Moussaoui really slated for a “second wave” of similar attacks on California targets that merely involved the same modus operandi? In an email dated July 31, 2001, he was inquiring about a cropdusting course. Was this just a means of fifth plane targeting the White House. Bin Laden wanted the White House to be targeted. Atta thought it would be too difficult. Or perhaps cropdusters will be used in the future. The FBI is currently looking for a diminutive Saudi Arabian, Adnan Shukrijumah, who, at least according to some reports, was trained as a pilot and was last known to have been in Miami in late 2001. The Saudi Arabian from Florida is said to be at the level of Atta. A federal undercover agent has reported that he saw El-Shukrijumah with Atta. Jdey, also hotly sought by the FBI, was one of two other pilots. For years, it was not known by the public why Jdey had been pulled from the first wave. It turns out that the FBI had failed to disclose that Jdey had been detained at the same time as Moussaoui and then released. Moussaoui was carrying crop-duster books and Jdey had biology books.

  53. richard rowley said

    I hate to admit it but there ARE some resemblances to ATTA’s printing. I’m going to study this for a day or two. Look for DISSIMILARITIES as well.

    • DXer said

      The GAO should obtain the opinion of the expert examiner from the FBI’s Questioned Documents Unit.

      Part of government accountability is to push past the zealous prosecutor and unsupported assertions and withholding of documents to get to the work done by qualified government experts on the range of subjects — to include the expert of the FBI’s handwriting expert comparing Atta’s visa application and the anthrax letters.

      Atta’s phrasing upon the hijacking? “We have some planes.”

      If GAO were to ask for the annotated copy of index of documents created by the former Amerithrax paralegal, they would have a roadmap of key documents that the FBI has failed to produce.

  54. DXer said

    It was only recently revealed Jdey was detained as the same time as Moussaoui but then released. While Moussaoui had cropduster books, Jdey had biology books. He then went whereabouts unknown at the time of the mailings.

    How was the FBI able to exclude Abderraouf Yousef Jdey as the mailer if the FBI doesn’t know where he was and, according to former top CIA analyst Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, Jdey was released before the mailings?

    Did Jdey know Aafia? Did Jdey know Al-Timimi? Did Jdey know Slahi?

    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2011/04/27/how-was-the-fbi-able-to-exclude-abderraouf-yousef-jdey-as-the-mailer-if-the-fbi-doesnt-know-where-he-was-and-according-to-former-top-cia-analyst-rolf-mowatt-larssen-jdey-was-released-before-the/

    The FBI recently denied a FOIA request relating to documents relating to Jdey. I’ll post it within the week or so after I scan it.

    The BOLO offered at the same time as the Florida-based Jafar the Pilot is $5 million reward for his capture.

    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2010/11/29/is-abderraouf-ben-habib-jdey-the-anthrax-mailer/

    Did Atta and Jdey meet in Portland immediately before 9/11?

    What were Adnan El-Shukrijumah’s whereabouts? When the FBI asked Aafia whether she knew him, she freaked out and insisted to her husband and brother that she needed to leave the country immediately. She screamed “Do you want me killed!” “Do you want my children killed!” The new book by Deborah Scroggins has a riveting description of the first FBI interview and her reaction. She discussed Al Qaeda’s program with KSM’s husband Al-Balucchi who she married after being divorced from Ahmad, the accomplished anesthesiologist. Al-Balucchi worked with Al-Hawsawi who had the anthrax spraydrying documents on his computer.

    • Has this doc been noted before?

      http://www.judicialwatch.org/files/documents/2009/interrogation-report-07122005.pdf

      anthrax at pp. 4-5

      QRPer ..

      • DXer said

        I don’t recall seeing it or linking it. Thanks very much for the citation and link. Although I am rushing out the door now, it looks like it warrants a close reading and will turn to it shortly.

      • DXer said

        Ali,

        That’s a very quotable, authoritative discussion. Thanks again for the link. I had previously suggested that the names of Yazid’s two assistants were Barq and Wahdan and that they were captured in 2003. The President noted the two assistants had been captured (perhaps in the State of the Union) but had not named them. One was Egyptian and one was Sudanese. But my information was sole source and some years after the fact (and depended on the person’s recollection of the names without the documents available to refresh his recollection). My impression is that they were not very talented.

        It is also interesting that it points out where the information first came about Jafar the Pilot (Adnan El-Shukrijumah). I don’t recall offhand that chronology.

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