Skip to comments.F.B.I., Laying Out Evidence, Closes Anthrax Letters Case
Posted on 02/19/2010 7:07:15 PM PST by neverdem
WASHINGTON More than eight years after anthrax-laced letters killed five people and terrorized the country, the F.B.I. on Friday closed its investigation, adding eerie new details to its case that the 2001 attacks were carried out by Bruce E. Ivins, an Army biodefense expert who killed himself in 2008.
A 92-page report, which concludes what by many measures is the largest investigation in F.B.I. history, laid out the evidence against Dr. Ivins, including his equivocal answers when asked by a friend in a recorded conversation about whether he was the anthrax mailer.
If I found out I was involved in some way... Dr. Ivins said, not finishing the sentence. I do not have any recollection of ever doing anything like that, he said, adding, I can tell you, I am not a killer at heart. But in a 2008 e-mail message to a former colleague, one of many that reflected distress, Dr. Ivins wrote, I can hurt, kill, and terrorize. He added: Go down low, low, low as you can go, then dig forever, and youll find me, my psyche.
The report disclosed for the first time the F.B.I.s theory that Dr. Ivins embedded in the notes mailed with the anthrax a complex coded message, based on DNA biochemistry, alluding to two female former colleagues with whom he was obsessed.
The report described how an F.B.I. surveillance agent watched in 2007 as Dr. Ivins threw out a article and a book, Douglas Hofstadters Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, that could betray his interest in codes, coming out of his house in Frederick, Md., at 1 a.m. in long underwear to make certain the garbage truck had taken his trash...
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
Pretty weak. The FBI couldn’t even find the guy’s supposed anthrax making equipment.
Hofstadters book is about hierarchies of complex systems and Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem regarding the perfectibility of mathematical models.
Don’t have any anthrax processing equipment, do you?
When I was growing up, I had a pretty complete home laboratory. Bunsen burners, vacuum pump, incubator, petri dishes, culture media, autoclave, test tubes, notebooks. Live mice. A centrifuge. I’m glad I don’t have it now, although sometimes I miss it.
Heck, our garbage truck driver has a phone. If we forget to put out the garbage, they give us a ring, and we jump out of bed, rush down and throw a coat over the pajamas, and wheel it out. They obviously can’t wait around for more than a minute or so.
The experience is unpleasant enough that I try VERY hard to remember to put out the garbage the night before, like I’m supposed to.
As for all that stuff about crazy emails, I’d like to see a little corroboration.
Who was the first person to die in 2001 from anthrax?
September 11 hijackers took flight lessons. Federal officials confirmed the first case of anthrax last week. By Friday, that victim, Robert Stevens, a Sun editor, had become the first person in 25 years to die from inhaled anthrax in the U.S. Yesterday state health officials said they found inhaled anthrax spores in the nasal cavity of a second employee. That man has not contracted the illness.
DR. STEVE WIERSMA, State Epidemiologist, Florida: This is not a second case. We have evidence of someone being exposed to this bacteria. That is very different than a case. We don’t believe this person is suffering from the disease caused by anthrax.
DR. JEAN MALECKI, Palm Beach County Health Department: We do know that there has to be a certain dosage, a dose of the number of spores to be inhaled to be able to come down with this disease. So yes, it is very likely you can have one or two spores and not come down with this disease.
GWEN IFILL: The flu-like symptoms of anthrax can show up within twelve hours to five days after exposure. Timely antibiotic treatment can stop the disease, but, untreated, it infects the lungs and is often fatal within days. No one knows how anthrax got into the Florida building, but yesterday, anthrax spores also were found on a computer keyboard. FBI officials sealed the building, and began treating the case as a criminal investigation. Attorney General John Ashcroft would not rule out terrorism.
JOHN ASHCROFT: We are unable to make a conclusive statement about the nature of this as either an attack or an occurrence, absent more definitive laboratory and other investigative returns. We regard this as an investigation, which could become a clear criminal investigation.
GWEN IFILL: The reports out of Florida, and scares elsewhere, have made for a jittery public.
WOMAN ON STREET: I don’t know — it is hard to avoid things, because you don’t know what. Do you not eat food? Do you not open your mail? You not open your bills and send them back? What do you do?
GWEN IFILL: But President Bush, speaking at the White House today, said the government has the situation well in hand.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: There is a system in place to notify our government, and governments, in the case of some kind of a potential biological incident or chemical incident.
And the system worked. And now the system is even working better, because we have, in essence, gone into the building, cleaned the building out, taken all the samples as possible, and are following any trail, any possible trail.
Thus far, it looks like it’s a very isolated incident. But any type of incident, any type of information that comes into our government we take very seriously.
GWEN IFILL: Since Sunday, federal officials have taken more than 100 cases of antibiotics from the national pharmaceutical stockpile and shipped them to Florida.
Anthrax is processed with silicon ("siliconized") to enhance its diffusion when exposed to air, thereby making it far more dangerous as a weapon.
Dr. Ivins did not have access to the equipment needed to siliconize anthrax. The samples recovered were weapons-grade anthrax that could only have come from a military weapons laboratory. The conclusion can only be that the terrorist(s) who sent the anthrax letters are still at large.
I don't have GEB, but I do have correspondence from someone who decoded Godel's notes in one of his books. They were in Gabelsberger, an obsolete German Shorthand. I need to learn Gabelsberger to decipher Grandfather's 1889 diary. Hope I don't have to dig out my long underwear.
From page 18 and 19 of the report:
These tests and techniques allowed scientists to make several physical findings regarding
the Bacillus anthracis spores used in the letter attacks. The spore particles had a mass median
diameter between 22 and 38 microns. They exhibited an electrostatic charge, showed no signs of
genetic engineering, and were non-hemolytic, gamma-phage susceptible, antibiotic and vaccine
sensitive, and devoid of aerosolizing enhancers (e.g., fumed silica, bentonite, or other inert
material). These characteristics were and are inconsistent with weapons-grade anthracis
produced by offensive, state-sponsored biological weapons programs.5
Spore powder concentrations ranged from 4.60 x 1010 to 2.10 x 1012 colony-forming units
per gram, an extraordinarily high concentration. In addition, the spores in the Washington, D.C.
letters were of exceptional purity. Spores of such high concentration and purity indicate that they
were derived from high quality spore preparations. Spores of this quality are often used in bio
defense research, including vaccine development. It is important to have highly concentrated
spores to challenge most effectively the vaccine being tested. Similarly, highly purified spores
are necessary to prevent obstruction of the machinery used in those experiments.6 These findings
meant that the anthrax mailer must have possessed significant technical skill.
Throughout the course of the investigation, repeated challenges have been raised to this
finding that the spores were not weaponized. The challenges have their root in an initial finding
by the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (”AFIP”) that, upon gross examination, the spores
exhibited a silicon and oxygen signal. However, subsequent analysis of the spores by Sandia
National Laboratories, using a more sensitive technology called transmission electron
microscopy (”TEM”) which enabled material characterization experts to focus its probe of the
spores to the nanometer scale determined that the silica was localized to the spore coat within
the exosporium, an area inside the spore. In other words, it was incorporated into the cell as a
natural part of the cell formation process. “The spores we examined lacked that fuzzy outer
coating that would indicate they’d been weaponized,” stated Dr. Paul Kotula of Sandia, who
personally examined the spores from the 2001 attacks. When presented with these results, Dr.
Peter Jahrling, a USAMRIID scientist who had reviewed the initial AFIP results and stated
publicly in late 2001 that the spores had been weaponized, retracted his earlier statement, telling
the Los Angeles Times on September 16, 2008, “I believe I made an honest mistake.”
Key stone cops. Wanted to sacrifice an innocent man for their careers. Really bad jog boys.
Natural contamination was an elegant theory that ran into problems after Congressman Jerry Nadler pressed FBI Director Robert Mueller in September 2008 to provide the House Judiciary Committee with a missing piece of data: the precise percentage of silicon contained in the anthrax used in the attacks.
The answer came seven months later on April 17, 2009. According to the FBI lab, 1.4% of the powder in the Leahy letter was silicon. "This is a shockingly high proportion," explained Stuart Jacobson, an expert in small particle chemistry. "It is a number one would expect from the deliberate weaponization of anthrax, but not from any conceivable accidental contamination."
Nevertheless, in an attempt to back up its theory, the FBI contracted scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Labs in California to conduct experiments in which anthrax is accidently absorbed from a media heavily laced with silicon. When the results were revealed to the National Academy Of Science in September 2009, they effectively blew the FBI's theory out of the water.
Who should we believe now? I don't know, and I'm guessing I'm not alone.
Not really unexpected since the FBI wasted years going after Steven Hatfill for this all because some bats##t crazy woman with political connections didn’t like him. What a bunch of idiots!
They pick up the garbage at 1 a.m. in Frederick Maryland? Now THAT is wierd.
At least based on the summary, I would vote not guilty if I were a juror. Considering we haven’t ever heard the defence, that’s pretty sad. Add in their initial persecution of Hatfield, and it borders on inexcusable.