Skip to comments.FBI Seeks Anthrax-Scare Culprit
Posted on 10/24/2008 10:36:28 AM PDT by Prunetacos
The FBI has posted a $100,000 reward for help in finding who sent identical letters containing what turned out to be a harmless white powder to banking offices across the country. All 50 letters, which were sent between Oct. 17 and 18, were postmarked Amarillo, Texas. FBI today released the text of the letters on its Web site: "STEAL TENS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE'S MONEY AND NOT EXPECT REPERCUSSIONS. IT'S PAYBACK TIME. WHAT YOU JUST BREATHED IN WILL KILL YOU WITHIN 10 DAYS. THANK (Redacted) AND THE FDIC FOR YOUR DEMISE."
(Excerpt) Read more at voices.washingtonpost.com ...
"People who have mailed these kinds of hoax letters in the past have received some serious jail time," said FBI Special Agent Richard Kolko. "This investigation will continue until those responsible are arrested, and we appreciate the public's support by providing information."
Don’t pay attention to Bill Ayers’ jokes! /sarc
Anthrax Investigation At New York Times
The New York Times today received an envelope that contained a “white granular substance.” Take that, liberal media! A terror threat straight out of 2002. The NYPD is on the scene. The most recent similar incident was an envelope sent to Barack Obama’s headquarters in South Philadelphia last week. The contents were harmless, though the letter included had the phrase “death to Obama.” Oh, you terrorists!
what? and they didn't try to snort it...
Doesn't the FBI have a sense of humor? People do it all the time.
There are people who are surrounded by bigots
and know it is wrong, but are afraid to be vocal against it.
These people are going to pull the lever for Obama
and they are not being polled.
White powder scares cost law enforcement time, money
USA TODAY Firefighters and federal agents have responded to more than 30,000 incidents involving suspicious powders, liquids or chemicals since 2001 in what authorities say is the terrifying legacy of the anthrax attacks after 9/11.
Postal service and law enforcement officials say thousands of the incidents are hoaxes involving white powder sent through the mail and thousands more are emergency calls to report powder found on countertops, in mailrooms and elsewhere.
"A single incident can warrant a huge response," says Billy Hayes of Washington, D.C.'s fire department. "It gets very expensive, not to mention the inconvenience."
There is no official count of the number of white powder calls in the seven years since letters poisoned with anthrax killed five people. But in just the past year, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service has responded to 2,893 incidents, many of which involved white powder, spokesman Douglas Bem says.
The FBI, which is called when a threatening note is found or when it otherwise appears a crime may have been committed, looked into more than 900 biological incidents from January 2007 to August 2008, "the majority of those incidents being white powder letters," spokesman Richard Kolko says.
The FBI released this photo of a letter that accompanied white powder sent to a bank in Oklahoma, one of about 30 such letters sent nationwide.
Late 2000 and August 2001: Hoax Letters Possibly Related to Anthrax Attacks Sent to Fox News Commentators A series of hoax anthrax letters are sent to Fox News commentators Bill OReilly and Sean Hannity. Hannity will later say he began receiving the letters in the winter of 2000 and then a second batch in August 2001. Most of them were sent from a postmark in Indianapolis, Indiana, but one or two were from Trenton, New Jersey, where the deadly anthrax letters will be sent from shortly after the 9/11 attacks. The FBI will later allow the New York Post to see copies of these letters, which have block handwriting sloping down to the right and other features remarkably similar to the later letters containing real anthrax. Hannity will later say: When I saw the Tom Daschle envelope and the Tom Brokaw envelope, I immediately was stunned. It was the exact same handwriting that I had recognized. When I saw it I said, Oh my God, thats the same guy. [New York
September 20-October 15, 2001: Hoax Anthrax Letters from St. Petersburg Initially Thought to Be Real
On September 20, 2001, a letter purporting to contain anthrax is postmarked in St. Petersburg and addressed to NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw. On September 25, Erin OConnor, an assistant to Brokaw, gets sick with cutaneous anthrax. During the first days of the anthrax investigation in early October, it will be assumed that OConnor got sick from the St. Petersburg letter. A brief handwritten note is found in the letter with some powder. The note threatened biological attacks on New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC. The letter contains misspelled phrase THE UNTHINKABEL with the Ns reversed. On October 5, two more letters are sent from St. Petersburg that resemble to earlier letter to Brokaw. For instance, it is written in the same capitalized, blocked letters, the Ns are reversed, there are similar biological threats made, and there is a powdery substance inside. One of the letters is sent to New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who is a co-author of Germs: Biological Weapons and Americas Secret War, a book published just days earlier. The other letter is to Howard Troxler, a columnist for the St. Petersburg Times. Troxler opened his letter on October 9 and Miller opened hers on October 12. But laboratory analysis soon determines that the powder in all three of the St. Petersburg letters is non-toxic. Furthermore, it is learned that a different letter containing real anthrax was sent to Tom Brokaw, explaining OConnors infection. [Vanity Fair, 9/15/2003]
Mid-November 2001: Harmless Second Anthrax Letter Sent to Sen. Daschle, Increasing Attention on Suspect Hatfill
In mid-November 2001, a second anthrax letter appears in Senator Tom Daschles office. According to a later Washington Post article, This [letter] had passed through irradiation equipment to kill anthrax spores, and the powdery material packed in the envelope tested benign. Details about the letter are scanty, but it is known that it is postmarked in mid-November from London. The white powder apparently is harmless talc. The letter contains similar language to the real anthrax letters, except the phrase Stop the bombing is added. Scientist Steven Hatfill, who is already starting to come under suspicion for the anthrax attacks (see Late 2001), is in Britain at the time, attending a specialized training course to become a UN weapons inspector in Iraq. The course takes place about 70 miles from London. This increases suspicions on Hatfill and the FBI asks British police to help retrace his every move. But it is never shown that he had anything to do with the letter. It is unknown if the letter contains any writing or other clues that would match the deadly anthrax letters. [Associated Press, 1/4/2002; Washington Post,
The copiers were a dead end for the FBI. However, the copy paper used in the mailings has an interesting side story indirectly involving Ed.
An anonymous person running a website dealing with the FBI photos of the letters which, up until that point, had been posted in the small jpeg format, petitioned the FBI to release of the full blown Tiff formated photos. To everyone’s amazement the FBI did so.
The hugh images could be analyzed and the website owner discovered what appeared to be odd images in the paper.
The images were definitely there.
He wrongly theorized that the images were “doodles” made by a careless examiner.
He made further efforts to obtain info from the FBI but was stonewalled.
His eventually apparently gave up and bequeathed his website and its great contents to Ed Lake, who never appreciated the significance of the images in the paper and wrote them off.
When he reads this he will do so again.
There were an average of two hoax letter anthrax threats per week in the year BEFORE the real attacks of 2001. And there's been about 30,000 since then.
There isn't much to go on with this case. The letter and envelope on the FBI's web site seem to have been printed with a computer. They were sent from Amarillo, Texas. The envelope shows it was postmarked at 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 18.
The culprit didn't bother to correct the spelling of "REPRERCUSSIONS" in the letter. It seems odd to blame the FDIC for anything. The FBI redacted the other person or organization we're supposed to blame. I'd like to know if all the letters were postmarked at the same time and place, if they all contained the same letter, if there's anything odd about the addresses, etc. But, the FBI has all that, so it can't be of much help.
I know some true nut cases in Texas, but I have no reason to believe they'd do anything like this.
I'd probably start with a list of people who had "tens of thousands" more than $100,000 in some bank that failed.
When he reads this he will do so again.
Yup. The images that people see in the anthrax letters are like a Rorschach test. No two people seem to see the same things. The letters were inside plastic envelopes when they were photographed. So, reflections and imperfections in the plastic could be the source of the images people see.
The most relevant part of the "copier evidence" is that the FBI denied that there ever was such a thing. CBS and the Salon.com reporter did not name their sources when they reported that the copiers had been found in New Jersey.
I suspect that someone thought they had found the copier, but there was no solid scientific evidence to prove it was the correct copy machine.
“The letters were inside plastic envelopes when they were photographed. So, reflections and imperfections in the plastic could be the source of the images people see.”
That’s what I thought you’d say, old boy. However, the images are within the copy paper, as anyone familiar with the details of printing and papermaking can tell you.
You might have an argument if many people could see the images and everyone saw the same thing.
But, only a few people could see images, and everyone who wrote me about seeing images on the anthrax letters claimed to see something different.
THREATENING LETTERS HOAX Help Us Find the Culprit 10/23/08
A photograph of one of the letters. More than 50 identical or similar letters were sent to three different financial institutions in at least 11 states. See high resolution picture.
On Monday, a series of threatening letters filled with an unknown powder started showing up at financial institutions across America, causing a massive response and ensuing multi-agency investigation led by the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in concert with state and local authorities.
Now, were releasing photographs of one of the letters and its envelope in the hopes that you might be able to help us solve
Its a pending investigation, but heres what we can tell you:
So far, weve identified more than 50 letters, nearly all of which use threatening language identical to the text shown above. The letters have all been mailed from Texas and postmarked at Amarillo.
Most of the letters contained some sort of powdery substance. All field tests to date have turned up negativethe powder appears harmless. Additional testing is taking place at regional laboratories.
The letters have been sent to at least 11 states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, and Virginia.
The following three institutions have received letters:
* Chase Bank; * The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, or FDIC, an independent federal agency; and * The U.S. Office of Thrift Supervision, which regulates all federal and many state thrift institutions.
You can help. Please study the images above and see if you recognize the phrasing of the letter, the envelope label, or any other clue that you think might help investigators. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is offering a reward of up to $100,000 for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible.
If you have any information about the letters or if you know who might have sent them, please contact authorities immediately in one of the following ways:
* Call the FBI toll free at 1-800-CALLFBI; * Contact your local FBI office; * Submit a tip anonymously on our website; * Contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 1-877-876-2455.
Meanwhile, wed like to remind everyone that sending a threatening letter with or without powdereven if its a hoaxis a serious crime. It demands a multi-agency response in each location, causing a drain on resources and diverting personnel from actual emergencies and other urgent situations.
People who have mailed these kinds of hoax letters in the past have received some serious jail time, says Special Agent Richard Kolko, Chief of the FBIs National Press Office in Washington, D.C. This investigation will continue until those responsible are arrested, and we appreciate the publics support by providing information.
I'm not making an "argument, Ed , I'm stating a fact.You're good with facts. Check with a printing & paper expert.
MAILING OF THREATENING COMMUNICATIONS
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is offering a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) who prepared and mailed more than 50 letters on or about October 17 or 18, 2008, to financial institutions throughout the United States. The letters, which were mailed from Texas and postmarked at Amarillo, contained a powdery, nonhazardous substance and an articulated threat of bodily harm.
The letters were mailed to at least 11 states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, and Virginia, and were addressed to the following three institutions:
* Chase Bank. * The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). * The U.S. Office of Thrift Supervision, which regulates federal and many state thrift institutions.
TAKE NO ACTION TO APPREHEND THIS PERSON YOURSELF. If you have any information about this incident, please contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 1-877-876-2455.
All information will be kept strictly confidential.
One should not assume that the letters originated in Texas.
Copy Fellas. I’ll post more soon.
Mail remailed by The Texas Remail Service gets mailed and postmarked at Cedar Park, Texas, which is near Austin.
I think if a remail service was used, the FBI would have figured that out fairly quickly -- although I'm not sure exactly how. And, I would think that these days a remail service would be very aware that they might be used for some kind of terrorist mailing, so they'd be on the alert for such a thing.
I don't assume that the letters were sent by someone who lives in Amarillo, but I don't have information I can use to make good guesses. I think I read somewhere that at least one of the letters mentioned the Oklahoma City bombing. If I were to pick a different city for where the mailer lives, that would be my first guess.
Then you should have no problem proving what you say is true. Show us the proof. Why ask me to find it?
“Then you should have no problem proving what you say is true.”
Any proof I provide will be dismissed by you regardless, as is your pattern with others.
I’ve given you the key words and you can find your own proof, if you’re so inclined.
In other words - I’m not playing that game with you :-)
And I'm not playing that game with you. :-)
But you brought it up. And "proof" shouldn't require that I be the one who accepts it. If it does, then it's not "proof." It's just a belief that you are trying to get me to accept.
If you really had "proof" -- or even a valid argument - what reason could there be for not showing the world? Why must I be the one who has to do the research to prove your case - or be considered "closed minded" because I won't do it?
Or are we now playing the game called "Who's best at not playing the game?"
Nice try :-)
So if a couple of senators are threatened, it’s worth a $2.5 million reward, but if its Chase and the FDIC, it’s only worth $100K?
It’s pretty obvious that its either an uninsured depositor or a shareholder at WAMU. The list of folks in that part of the world who meet that criteria shouldn’t be so long that the feds couldn’t check them all out.
If five people are murdered and seventeen others are made ill, it's worth a $2.5 million reward. If it's just another HOAX in an endless barrage of HOAXES from a vast array of nut cases, then it's only worth $100K.
Jason D. Bannan, left, supervisory special agent Scott Decker and supervisory special agent Matthew Feinberg took part in the FBI's anthrax probe.
In late October 2001, lab technician Terry Abshire placed a tray of anthrax cells under a microscope and spotted something so peculiar she had to look twice. It was two weeks after the country's worst bioterrorism attack, and Abshire, like others at the Army's Fort Detrick biodefense lab, was caught up in a frenzied search for clues that could help lead to the culprit. Down the hall, Bruce E. Ivins, the respected vaccine specialist, was looking, too.
Abshire focused her lens on a moldlike clump. Anthrax bacteria were growing here, but some of the cells were odd: strange shapes, strange textures, strange colors. These were mutants, or "morphs," genetic deviants scattered among the ordinary anthrax cells like chocolate chips in a cookie batter.
Unknowingly, Abshire had discovered a key to solving the anthrax case. But it would take nearly six years to develop the technology to allow FBI investigators to use it.
Ultimately the evolving science led investigators to Ivins and a strikingly original collection of anthrax spores that became the focus of the FBI's probe. In a series of interviews over the past month, FBI agents and scientists described, in ways that the bureau has not previously revealed, how the pieces of the forensic puzzle came together -- often in Ivins's very shadow -- and how they eventually concluded that the eccentric vaccine specialist was the culprit.
Ivins, the FBI discovered, had spent more than a year perfecting what agents called his "ultimate creation" -- his signature blend of highly lethal anthrax spores -- and guarded it so carefully that his lab assistants did not know where he kept it. When the FBI later asked Ivins for anthrax spores from his lab, he deliberately bypassed his prize spore collection, agents said, and gave them a false sample......"
Interesting article, as you point out on your site.
The highly posed, professional photo above speaks volumes as to the contents of the article - don't you think?
I'm not sure what you mean. The photo may look professional, but, to me, the article is sloppy reporting.
The article says that Ivins alone made the spores in the RMR-1029 flasks, but the FBI said in the August 18 roundtable discussion that about a third of it was made by Dugway.
The article says there was only 1 flask. But the FBI and the DOJ told us during that same roundtable discussion that there were two flasks of material made in 1997, and all but half of one flask got used up over the years.
The article says that only a few people know how to make pure spores, but it also says preparing spores is work generally left to novices and technicians. So, how hard can it be? Plus, the steps for purifying spores are well-known, so it is ILLOGICAL for only a few people to know how to do it.
What the article shows me is that the media is going to continue to provide bad information even though we now have a lot of good information. Sloppy reporters will just continue to fail to do the necessary research.
What I mean is, this piece reeks of FBI PR, i.e. “The Spore In The Grassy Knoll”.
And I do agree with your assessment.
Watchit funny fellow :-]
But you’re probably right, IMHO.
BioDefense Corporation Sees Rash of “White Powder” Incidents at Reuters, New York Times, and Major Banks as Real Bio-Chemical Assaults, Not “Hoaxes”
Oct. 28, 2008
International Security Conference/East , Javits Center — BioDefense Corporation producers of the new MAIL DEFENDER complete mailroom security solution, says, “incoming mail containing white powder discovered at Reuters, the New York Times and major financial institutions are not ‘hoaxes,’ rather they are ‘bio-chemical assaults,’ in which intent to harm, disrupt, or even kill was evident.”
“The event that almost brought chaos to the Reuters New York headquarters newsroom, October 27, 2008, was a bio-chemical assault,” said a BioDefense Corporation spokesman. “Reporters, editors, writers and even bloggers are in the bio-criminal’s ‘bull’s eye’ since they can affect public opinion, especially during this hotly contested election, and continuing bad news about the global economy.
“Unfortunately,” the spokesman added, “these very vulnerable people are simply not being protected. For example, BioDefense Corporations’ MAIL DEFENDER was actually on loan to Reuters New York as a demonstration unit, but the company’s executive in charge of security felt it did not meet their requirements. Had it been in service on Monday, October 27th, a simple letter mailed for 41 cents would not have idled more than 140 reporters for over three hours, costing this important news organization to untold millions of dollars. The New York office is the headquarters of Thomson Reuters, the parent company, and the newsroom is the firm’s second largest after London.”
Monday, October 27, 2008
“Trail of Odd Anthrax Cells Led FBI to Army Scientist: Washington Post
A front page Washington Post article from today by Joby Warrick on the Ivins case appears to present the FBI’s side of the story. I will post excerpts from the article and comment (in italics) on its inconsistencies.
Abshire focused her lens on a moldlike clump. Anthrax bacteria were growing here, but some of the cells were odd: strange shapes, strange textures, strange colors. These were mutants, or “morphs,” genetic deviants scattered among the ordinary anthrax cells like chocolate chips in a cookie batter...
Ivins, the FBI discovered, had spent more than a year perfecting what agents called his “ultimate creation” — his signature blend of highly lethal anthrax spores — and guarded it so carefully that his lab assistants did not know where he kept it...
“It was his ultimate creation,” said Jason D. Bannan, an FBI microbiologist assigned to the Amerithrax case. “This was the culmination of a lot of hard work.”
Exceptionally pure concentrations of anthrax spores were Ivins’s trademark and placed him in an exclusive class...
It was intended for garden-variety animal experiments, but the collection of anthrax spores known as RMR-1029 was anything but ordinary. Ivins, its creator, had devoted a year to perfecting it, mixing 34 different batches of bacteria-laden broth and distilling them into a single liter of pure lethality...
Ames-strain bacteria was essentially identical wherever it was found, the advisers said...
The art of “spore preparation” is a tedious job often relegated to novices and technicians.
Inconsistency: Ivins made exceptionally pure spore preparations, but his “master” prep was full of mutants.
Exaggerations: FBI agents call his flask of Ames anthrax his “ultimate creation,” but all it contained was the combined product of 34 separate small production runs at Fort Detrick and Dugway, only some of which Ivins had made. FBI advisers said that Ames was pretty much the same wherever it was found. So the claim of Ivins’ flask having special virulence, compared to other Ames batches, is doubtful.
Ivins spent a year perfecting it? How do you “perfect” 34 separate batches when you didn’t make all of them? There has been no prior evidence that the flask contained “special” Ames spores, nor does this article report any such evidence.
Furthermore, as is noted in the article, growing anthrax is usually the work of technicians, and does not require advanced skills. Growing spores is not a method of perfecting them. The recipes are widely available in the open literature. Ivins could have spent a year growing the anthrax in the flask, but he would have been accomplishing plenty of other tasks simultaneously..........”
Posted by Meryl Nass, M.D.
Fla. ruling will help widow’s anthrax lawsuit
Thursday, October 30, 2008
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. A Florida Supreme Court ruling will help the widow of an anthrax victim in her lawsuit against the federal government and a private laboratory.
Maureen Stevens claims in the $50 million suit that the government was ultimately responsible for her husband Robert’s 2001 death. He was a photo editor and died after being exposed to anthrax mailed to the Florida office of a supermarket tabloid publisher.
Justices ruled 4-1 Thursday that the defendants had a duty under Florida law to protect the public against the unauthorized release of lethal materials.
It’s an important, although preliminary, victory for the widow in her federal lawsuit against the government and an Ohio research lab.”
I don't see that she has any case against Battelle, but she might have a good case against the U.S. Government.
It appears that the case WILL go to court -- unless there is a settlement. But, it's probably going to drag on for a few more years.