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

* TAPE: In the hundreds of pages of exemplars taken from Dr. Bruce Ivins’ home and office, FBI Laboratory Experts determined that there was not a single exemplar in which the adhesive tape used was a match with the five to nine pieces of tape affixed to each of the envelopes recovered. FBI should produce the laboratory reports to GAO on the adhesive tape used on one or more of the envelopes without further delay.

Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 8, 2012

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4 Responses to “* TAPE: In the hundreds of pages of exemplars taken from Dr. Bruce Ivins’ home and office, FBI Laboratory Experts determined that there was not a single exemplar in which the adhesive tape used was a match with the five to nine pieces of tape affixed to each of the envelopes recovered. FBI should produce the laboratory reports to GAO on the adhesive tape used on one or more of the envelopes without further delay.”

  1. DXer said

    Dr. Majidi says all the scientific reports were disclosed but that is not accurate. Papers with tape were taken from Dr. Ivins home and tested. The tape was not a match but the FBI has not disclosed the scientific reports on tape as Dr. Majidi has claimed.

    Nor has the FBI produced the reports on the fibers which similarly found: “None of the fibers matched … any fabric collected during court ordered searches.”

    The FBI has withheld exculpatory documents.

    “Not to Help Justice In Her Need Would be an Impiety.” — Plato

    Dr. Majidi has said that he always knew that Comey, now Director, had his back.

    Well, this is not about covering for each other — it is about producing under FOIA all the scientific reports as you have expressly (and mistakenly) claimed was done.

  2. DXer said

    The FBI Laboratory Director for Amerithrax writes:

    “Traditional forensic science (DNA, fingerprints, handwriting, trace evidence, etc.) played little to no role in the outcome of this seven‐year investigation.”

    The report on the testing and the documents confirming that there was no match with any of the tape taken from Dr. Ivins home and office should be disclosed.

  3. DXer said

    Mr. Eichenwald writes:

    “It was tightly sealed with an excessive amount of cellophane tape adhere to all sides.” (p. 131.)

    That was what was reported in the press at the time.

    Taped up so anthrax stayed in – New York Daily News

    articles.nydailynews.com/…/18356536_1_leahy-letter-daschle-letter-…
    Nov 20, 2001 – WASHINGTON – The anthrax-laced envelope mailed to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle was heavily reinforced with tape in an apparent …

    In his book, Daschle says that those media reports were wrong — that it was not “heavily taped and didn’t appear unusual in any way.” Tom Daschle in his book at page 147 writes:

    “Contrary to later media reports, the letter was not heavily taped and didn’t appear unusual in any way.”

    I’ve mentioned that pursuant to the Al Qaeda manual on sending poisonous substances, one should take steps to avoid killing the mailman by spraying a silicone sealant.

    Crediting the FBI, I believe we can conclude that there were 5 to 9 pieces of tape but they did not make it appear unusual.

    At the forensic level, it is important that the GAO obtain the forensic report showing no match between the tape Dr. Ivins used and the tape used in the letters.

    That is the sort of stuff that makes for sound true crime analysis — not stories about pranks a quarter century earlier.

  4. DXer said

    For a review of the literature as it existed in late 2001, when the work was done, see

    Title The discrimination of adhesive tapes for forensic casework
    Author Cindy J. Excell
    Publisher Forensic Science)–University of Auckland, 2002
    Length 450 pages

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/rcm.3575/abstract

    For work by the FBI’s oft-cited expert, Dr. Bartick, see

    Rena A. Merrill,1 B.S. and Edward G. Bartick,1 Ph.D. Analysis of Pressure Sensitive Adhesive Tape: I.
    Evaluation of Infrared ATR Accessory Advances*
    http://ed.bartick.net/39.pdf

    For a more recent article, see

    The application of isotope ratio mass spectrometry for discrimination and comparison of adhesive tapes†

    Article first published online: 28 APR 2008

    Forensic scientists are frequently requested to differentiate between, or compare, adhesive tapes from a suspect or a crime scene. The most common polymers used to back packaging tape are polypropylene and polyvinyl chloride. Much of the oriented polypropylene (OPP) needed to produce packaging tapes, regardless of the tape brand, is supplied by just a few polymer manufacturers. Consequently, the composition of the backing material varies little. Therefore, the discriminating power of classical methods (physical fit, tape dimensions, colour, morphology, FTIR, PyGC/MS, etc.) is limited. Analysis of stable isotopes using isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) has been applied in the broad area of forensics and it has been reported that isotope analysis is a valuable tool for the identification of adhesive tapes. We have tested the usefulness of this method by distinguishing different South Korean adhesive tapes produced by just a few manufacturers in the small South Korean market. Korean adhesive tapes were collected and analysed for their isotope signatures. The glue of the tapes was separated from the backing material and these sub-samples were analysed for their H- and C-isotope composition. The result shows the possibility for discriminating most tape samples, even from the same brand. Variations within single rolls have also been investigated, where no variations in H- and C-isotope composition significantly exceeding the standard deviation were found.

    For the guidelines by the Scientific Working Group on Materials Analysis (SWGMAT), see

    http://www.swgmat.org/Pressure%20Sensitive%20Tape%20guideline.pdf

    4.0 Summary of Guideline

    4.1 The information contained in this guideline is intended to assist the examiner in characterizing and comparing evidentiary tape samples. The forensic examination of pressure sensitive tape encompasses the determination of physical construction and chemical composition of tape products. General information on product variability, construction, and composition is provided. This guideline provides an overview of techniques applied to the analysis of tape components.

    4.2 Methods for the analysis of tape include examinations of physical characteristics, polarized light microscopy (PLM), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), pyrolysis gas chromatography (py-GC), scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive spectroscopy
    (SEM-EDS), X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (XRF), inductively coupled plasma (ICP) techniques, and X-ray powder diffraction (XRD). These different procedures provide complementary information and should be selected and employed in an order to obtain the most discriminating information consistent with the laboratory’s capabilities. It is assumed that the forensic examiner has a basic familiarity with instrumental techniques used in the methods described.

    4.3 Typically, a tape examination involves the comparison of samples to determine if they could share a common origin. The goal is to determine if any significant differences exist between the samples. The evaluation of tapes for class characteristics can associate known and questioned tapes to a group but not to a single, individual source. A physical end match of two tape ends provides individualizing characteristics that associate the two tapes to one another to the exclusion of all other tapes.

    4.4 Questioned tape samples may be submitted with a request to identify possible product information, manufacturing, and retailing sources. Sourcing of a questioned tape can provide valuable investigative lead information. Physical characteristics and compositional data are useful for technical inquiries to tape manufacturing companies, comparisons with various brands of tape purchased at local commercial outlets, and for searching reference databases.

    ***

    6.3.5.3 Office tape Office or stationery tape is comprised of a backing and a PSA. The most common tape backings include cellulose acetate, cellophane, and polypropylene and can range in appearance from clear glossy or matte to a translucent yellow. The PSA can be isoprene-based, acrylic-based, or styrene-isoprene copolymer-based. As mentioned in the previous tape discussions, a release coat and a primer layer may also be present.

    8.0 Methods
    This section provides an overview of suggested flow of analytical techniques to be utilized for the analysis of tape. The selection of methods is at the discretion of each examiner on a case-by- case basis and will vary depending upon sample size or condition, availability of laboratory instrumentation, and examiner training. Subsequent SWGMAT documents will address these methods in more detail specific to tape analysis.

    8.1 Physical Characteristics Macroscopic and stereomicroscopical observations (e.g., color, thickness, width, and reinforcement construction) provide initial and discriminating information for tape comparisons. Physical end matches can provide individualizing associations.

    8.2 Polarized Light Microscopy Characterization of inorganic materials and other tape additives are accomplished with the use of PLM. PLM is a useful adjunct to FTIR and elemental analysis. Optical properties of oriented polymers such as polypropylene (MOPP and BOPP) and polyester can also be determined. PLM is also used to evaluate and differentiate the reinforcement fibers of tapes (e.g., duct tape and strapping tape).

    8.3 Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy Organic and some inorganic constituents may be evaluated with the use of infrared spectroscopy. These components include the backing polymer, adhesive elastomer, plasticizers, additives, and reinforcement fibers. The use of a bench ATR (attenuated total reflectance) accessory is particularly useful for surface analysis of a larger area of the adhesive and backing.

    8.4 Elemental techniques Common analytical techniques that can be utilized for the characterization of the inorganic constituents of tapes include scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive spectroscopy (SEM/EDS), x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF), inductively coupled plasma (ICP) techniques and X-ray powder diffractometry (XRD). SEM/EDS, XRF and ICP provide elemental profiles of analyzed specimens while XRD provides crystalline structure information. Additionally, SEM has imaging capabilities to evaluate surface topography of tape backings.

    8.5 Pyrolysis gas chromatography Organic constituents may be further characterized by py-GC. This technique separates the formulation into it individual organic components. This is particularly useful when inorganic fillers in the tape obscure the FTIR interpretation. Py-GC can be coupled with mass spectrometry to obtain molecular information.

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