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

Posts Tagged ‘Ike Solem’

* Ike Solem & Ed Lake argue about 6 questions the FBI either has or has not answered

Posted by DXer on June 16, 2009

Lew’s new novel CASE CLOSEDCC - front cover - small

explores the FBI’s failed investigation of the 2001 anthrax case …

* see CASE CLOSED VIDEO on YouTube

* purchase CASE CLOSED (paperback)

IKE SOLEM comments …

Six Anthrax Science Questions the FBI Has Yet to Answer

  1. What were the four mutations the FBI says it used to link the anthrax in the envelopes to Bruce Ivins at USAMRIID?
  2. What are the odds of a false positive—that is, the odds that the spore populations in Ivins’s flask RMR-1029 and in the envelopes weren’t related but shared the same four mutations by chance?
  3. Eight samples had anthrax with all four mutations; one of those came from a lab other than USAMRIID. On what basis was this lab ruled out as the origin of the letters?
  4. How did the FBI rule out the possibility that others at USAMRIID with access to Ivins’s lab prepared the envelopes?
  5. How exactly did Ivins, if he was the perpetrator, produce an easily dispersible powder from his anthrax culture?
  6. What led the FBI to suspect Steven Hatfill in the earlier years of the investigation?

ED LAKE responds …

Almost all of the answers to your questions have been known for a long time.

  1. There were “well over a dozen” mutations in the attack anthrax.  Experts selected the four that were most stable and which would be most easy to detect in other samples.  Those four were used to go through the 1,070+ samples to find samples that included those mutations.  Ed: the FBI needs to identify the 4 mutations.
  2. Since mutations are basically random and occur very rarely (about once in a billion generations), the odds of the same four mutations showing up in a sample by pure chance is virtually non-existent.  It would be many trillions to one. Ed: what scientist calculated these odds?
  3. Presumably, they used the other mutations in the attack anthrax to determine the exact source.  It’s like using race to reduce the number of possible fathers in a paternity suit, and when you’ve reduced the number down that way, you then use other DNA factors to find the exact father.  If they didn’t do it that way, it was done with standard police procedures. Ed: not “presumably” … the FBI needs to say what it actually did.
  4. The same way that you reduce the number of suspects in any murder case: You check alibis, motivation, capabilities, etc.  Ed: this answer doesn’t cut it. The FBI needs to say how they ruled out others.
  5. He routinely made purified spores.  So, that wasn’t a problem.  The only thing he did that is not normally done is to dry the spores.  And there are many ways to do that.  The spores will dry all by themselves if you don’t take precautions to prevent it. Ed: this is your opinion. The FBI needs to say what they think and the basis for their conclusions.
  6. Dr. Hatfill was never a “suspect.”  A number of scientists acting as amateur detectives and led by Dr. Barbara Hatch Rosenberg decided that Dr. Hatfill was the most likely person to have sent the anthrax letters.  They campaigned for SEVEN MONTHS to get Dr. Hatfill publicly investigated.  The New York Times joined in on the campaign, and so did a few other media outlets.  The campaign included speeches at universities and at conferences, and persuading people to call their congressmen.  Eventually, after SEVEN MONTHS of campaigning, Dr. Rosenberg was called before some senate staffers who listened to her arguments, and then those staffers virtually demanded that the FBI investigate Dr. Hatfill.  About a week later, Dr. Hatfill’s apartment was publicly searched for the first time – making him a household name. Ed: Dr. Hatfill was named a “person of interest” by Attorney General Ashcroft and hounded by the FBI for years before they paid him $5.8 million to go away. The FBI are big boys who are rarely known to respond to public, media or even Congressional pressure. It isn’t logical to blame the FBI’s actions regarding Dr. Hatfill on Dr. Rosenberg.

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