Thursday, January 15, 2009

Critique of the "chemical signature" assertion and other points by Barry Kissin

Barry Kissin, an attorney in Frederick, Maryland, analyzes several assertions in Scott Shane's January 4 article, by reviewing media and other reports published since 2001. These include the unsupported claim that the "chemical signature" of the water used to grow the letter anthrax could only come from Frederick, Maryland, and that other US government and quasi-governmental biodefense laboratories have been ruled out as sources.

94 comments:

Ed Lake said...

Mr. Kissin's article is a good example of the kind of junk science that conspiracy theorists use.

Mr. Kissin opens his diatribe by questioning the statements made in Scott Shane's recent New York Times article where Shane asserted that, “By early 2004, F.B.I. scientists had discovered that out of 60 domestic and foreign water samples, only water from Frederick, Md., had the same chemical signature as the water used to grow the mailed anthrax.”

Mr. Kissin seems to believe that the water came from Ft. Detrick is a "hoax" evidently perpetrated by the U.S. government to hide the fact that the attack anthrax was weaponized and made at some illegal bioweapons facility in Utah or Ohio. His evidence of the "hoax" is just evidence that Scott Shane was almost certainly wrong in his statement, since other official government sources said other things. Yet, somehow, Mr. Kissin seems to feel that the fault must lie with the government, not with the reporter supplying the questionable information from unnamed sources.

and Mr. Kissin also writes:

"The truth is that the anthrax weaponization projects being conducted in Ohio and Utah are the only possible source of the anthrax letters, given both the genetic make-up of the mailed anthrax and the way that the mailed anthrax was processed into a weapon."

What is Mr. Kissin's evidence for this "truth"? He uses old news articles from 2001 which contained totally innaccurate information about the nature of the attack anthrax.

The fact that we now have pictures of spores "weaponized" at Dugway and pictures of the attack anthrax, and they look nothing alike, evidently doesn't change any minds when a conspiracy theory is truly believed.

Here's a link to pictures of the attack anthrax and pictures of spores "weaponized" at Dugway: http://www.anthraxinvestigation.com/AnthraxPictures.html

A lot more information and a lot more pictures will be released in scientific reports currently in the works, and in official FBI/DOJ reports when the Amerithrax case is officially closed - which will be fairly soon.

Ross Getman said...

1. In a number of patents by University of Michigan researchers in Ann Arbor, Tarek Hamouda and James R. Baker, Jr., including some filed before 9/11, the inventors thank Bruce Ivins of Ft. Detrick for supplying them with Ames. The University of Michigan patents stated: "B. anthracis spores, Ames and Vollum 1 B strains, were kindly supplied by Dr.Bruce Ivins (USAMRIID, Fort Detrick, Frederick, Md.), and prepared as previously described (Ivins et al., 1995) [using a lyophilizer]. Dr. Hamouda served as group leader on the DARPA Anti-infective project. A patent application filed April 2000 by the University of Michigan inventors explained:

"The release of such agents as biological weapons could be catastrophic in light of the fact that such diseases will readily spread the air.

In late August 2001, NanoBio relocated from a small office with 12 year-old furniture to an expanded office on Green Road located at Plymouth Park. After the mailings, DARPA reportedly asked for some of their product them to decontaminate some of the Senate offices. The company pitched hand cream to postal workers. The inventors company, NanoBio, is funded by DARPA. NanoBio received a $3,150,000 defense contract in 2003.

The University of Michigan researchers presented in part at various listed meetings and conferences in 1998 and 1999. The December 1999 article titled "A Novel Surfactant Nanoemulsion with Broad-Spectrum Sporicidal Activity of against Bacillus Species" in the Journal for Infectious Diseases states:

"B. anthracis spores, Ames and Vollum 1B strains, were supplied by Bruce Ivins (US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases [USAMRIID], Fort Detrick, Frederick, MD) and were prepared as described elsewhere. Four other strains of B. anthracis were provided by Martin Hugh-Jones (Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge."

In the acknowledgements section, the University of Michigan authors thank:

Shaun B. Jones, Jane Alexander, and Lawrence DuBois (Defense Science Office, Defense Advanced Research Project Agency) for their support.

Bruce Ivins, Patricia Fellows, Mara Linscott, Arthur Friedlander, and the staff of USAMRIID for their technical support and helpful suggestions in the performance of the initial anthrax studies. [Pat and Mara were mentioned in the police report relating to questions Mrs. Ivins was asked].

Martin-Hugh-Jones, Kimothy Smith, and Pamela Coker for supplying the characterized B. anthracis strains and the space at Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge).

Robin Kunkel (Department of Pathology, University of Michigan) for her help with electron microscopy and a couple of others for technical assistance and manuscript preparation.

The researchers found that their nanoemulsion incorporated into the growth medium completely inhibited the growth of the spores. Transmission electron microscope was used to examine the spores.

The authors explained that "The nanoemulsions can be rapidly produced in large quantities and are stable for many months *** Undiluted, they have the texture of of a semisolid cream and can be applied topically by hand or mixed with water. Diluted, they have a consistency and appearance similar to skim milk and can be sprayed to decontaminate surfaces or potentially interact with aerosolized spores before inhalation."

An earlier publication of the University of Michigan Medical school, Medicine at Michigan, (Vol. 1, No. 1, Spring 1999) described the DARPA-funded research:

"In studies with rats and mice in the U-M Medical School under the direction of James R. Baker, Jr., M.D., professor of internal medicine and director of the Center for Biologic Nanotechnology, the mixture, known as BCTP, attacked anthrax spores and healed wounds caused by a closely related species of bacteria, Bacillus cereus. (The letters BCTP stand for Bi-Component, Triton X-100 n-tributyl Phosphate.)

Dr. Baker describes the process as follows: "The tiny lipid droplets in BCTP fuse with anthrax spores, causing the spores to revert to their active bacterial state. During this process, which takes 4-5 hours, the spore's tough outer membrane changes, allowing BCTP's solvent to strip away the exterior membrane. The detergent then degrades the spores' interior contents. In scanning electron microscope images, the spores appear to explode." The rapid inactivation of anthrax bacteria and spores combined with BCTP's low toxicity thus make the emulsion a promising candidate for use as a broad-spectrum, post-exposure decontamination agent.

***

The research is sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the central research and development organization for the U.S. Department of Defense."

Dr. Baker, by email, advises me that Ivins did the studies involving Ames for them at USAMRIID. He reports: "We never had Ames and could not have it at our UM facilities." Before September 2001, it's office was described as in the basement of a downtown bank which seems to describe 912 N. Main St., Ann Arbor, just west of University of Michigan campus. [The September 26, 1998 presentation by Michael Hayes would be a reliable guide as to whether Ames was one of the virulent strains that were killed by the biocidal agent in petri dish].

An article in the Summer of 2000 in Medicine at Michigan explains:

"Victory Site: Last December [December 1999] Tarek Hamouda, Amy Shih and Jim Baker traveled to a remote military station in the Utah desert. There they demonstrated for the U.S. Army Research and Development Command the amazing ability of non-toxic nanoemulsions (petite droplets of fat mixed with water and detergent) developed at Michigan to wipe out deadly anthrax-like bacterial spores. The square vertical surfaces shown here were covered with bacterial spores; Michigan's innocuous nanoemulsion was most effective in killing the spores even when compared to highly toxic chemicals."

As Fortune magazine explained in November 2001: "Then bioterror struck.... It moved to a bland corporate park where its office has no name on the door. It yanked its street address off its Website, whose hit rate jumped from 350 a month to 1,000 a day." NanoBio was part of the solution: "in the back of NanoBio's office sit two dozen empty white 55-gallon barrels. A few days before, DARPA had asked Annis and Baker if they could make enough decontaminant to clean several anthrax-tainted offices in the Senate. NanoBio's small lab mixers will have to run day and night to fill the barrels. 'This is not the way we want to do this,' sighs [its key investor], shaking his head. 'This is all a duct-tape solution.' " James Baker, founder of Ann Arbor's NanoBio's likes to quote a Chinese proverb: "When there are no lions and tigers in the jungle, the monkeys rule."

2.
http://projects.nytimes.com/guantanamo/detainees/890-rahmatullah-sangaryar/documents/search?document_query=anthrax

“The detainee was in possession of anthrax powder and an unspecified liquid poison that he planned to distribute to al Qaida and Taliban operatives in preparation for future attacks on United States and Coalition forces.”

“The poison attacks were to target water sources, to include reservoirs.”

Question: Where did this fellow allegedly get the powdered anthrax? What strain was it? We know from the stable isotope ratios that the anthrax was grown in the Northeastern United States.

Ross Getman said...

3.

Agent Destroys Anthrax, Doesn't Hurt Animals Or The Environment
Science Daily
September 29, 1998
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/09/980929072558.htm

ScienceDaily (Sep. 29, 1998) — SAN DIEGO---BCTP looks like skim milk.
***
In a presentation at the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC) on Sept. 26, Michael Hayes, research associate in the U-M Medical School, presented experimental evidence of BCTP's ability to destroy anthrax spores both in a culture dish and in mice exposed to anthrax through a skin incision. James R. Baker Jr., M.D., professor of internal medicine and director of the Center for Biologic Nanotechnology in the U-M Medical School, directed the research study.

BCTP was developed by D. Craig Wright, M.D., chief research scientist at Novavax, Inc.---a bio-pharmaceutical company in Columbia, Md.---and president of Novavax Biologics Division. ***

***
In his conference presentation, Hayes described how even low concentrations of BCTP killed more than 90 percent of virulent strains of Bacillus anthracis spores in a culture dish. "We observed sporicidal activity with dilutions as high as one part BCTP per 1,000 parts culture media," Hayes said.

Comment: What VIRULENT STRAINS OF BACILLUS ANTHRACIS in the culture dish were killed?

What strains are identified in the audio or video copy of the ICAAC presentation as having been destroyed? Was the research using VIRULENT STRAINS OF BACILLUS ANTHRACIS done only in Ann Arbor or at that company's laboratory in Maryland.

Barry Kissin said...

I really should leave it to others to deal with the likes of Ed Lake, whose impoliteness is only exceeded by his gullibility -- or is it corruption?

But I must dash off this response: The thrust of Mr. Lake's desperate broadside is that he has compared photographs of “weaponized” spores from Dugway, and they look totally different from the spores in the anthrax letters. First off, where did these photographs of “weaponized” spores come from?? Authorities devoted to covering up the truth invoke secrecy at the drop of a hat. But here we have photographs of not only the attack anthrax, but also of what Dugway says is its weaponized anthrax being broadcast so that interested citizens like Ed Lake can put them on his website. How convenient. I wonder if Ed Lake’s sources for the photographs also provided him with his vehement point of view?

Now let’s consider this scenario. The FBI goes to Dugway and says we want to compare your weaponized anthrax to the attack anthrax. We are all supposed to accept (as Mr. Lake obviously does) that if Dugway/Battelle had produced the attack anthrax (as was clear in 2001 before the cover up took effect), Dugway/Battelle would just have handed over its samples with the same processing upon request. How ridiculous.

Despite the absence of a real investigation, enough information has emerged that establishes that the so-called “weaponized anthrax” so helpfully provided by Dugway/Battelle, the stuff with “crushed fumed silica” on the outside of the exosporium, is made with a technology that emerged before our overtly offensive program was terminated in 1969. The obvious presence of silica in the attack anthrax was used in a more sophisticated technology developed in the 1990s in the anthrax weaponization projects known to have been conducted at Dugway/Battelle, a technology that situates a “polymerized glass” on the coat of the spore (underneath the exosporium).

One other response: When are our cover-up artists going to tire of throwing around the phrase “conspiracy theorists” as if such name-calling contributes at all to principled debate? I will not launch here and now into a description of how the military, intelligence agencies and the “defense” sector of our economy have so extensively “cooperated” since before President Eisenhower felt compelled to warn us about this in 1961. I will instead merely refer to what Senator Patrick Leahy (himself the target of an anthrax letter) stated in confronting FBI Director Mueller during the Senate Judiciary hearing on Sept. 17, 2008: “These weapons that were used against Congress and the American people, and they [were] weapons . . . If [Ivins] is the one who sent the letter, I do not believe in any way, shape or manner he is the only one involved in this attack on Congress and the American people.” My parting question to Mr. Lake: Is Senator Leahy also a conspiracy theorist?

Ross Getman said...

"Kissin, a resident of the Fort Detrick area in Maryland (one of the suspected sites of origin for the anthrax), has done a remarkable amount of research on the issue that demonstrates that there is significant evidence pointing to U.S. complicity. By culling through a variety of official reports and press accounts, Kissin's conclusions have a lot more substance than your average conspiracy theory.

Kissin notes that a March 28, 2008 report on Fox News covered the FBI announcement that, after 6 years of investigation, the FBI had narrowed the suspects to "about four," at least three of whom are linked with Fort Detrick.

Kissin also cites a statement by a former Commander at Detrick to ABC News to the effect that a lot of good has come from the anthrax letters, an astounding conclusion by a person with his responsibility. But even more unbelievable is the fact that there has been no follow up on the Fox News story. No member of Congress or the media has publicly sought any further information from either the FBI or Fort Detrick since the March 28th report.

Another Kissin reference suggests that, if not Fort Detrick, then some other American military lab may be the source of the specific type of anthrax used in the attacks."
___

Attorney Kissin, who do you think was the leading anthrax scientist and the deputy USAMRIID Commander mentioned in the FoxNews report?

Ali Al-Timimi's defense counsel, the prominent First Amendment counsel on MSNBC each night, has described his client as an "anthrax weapons suspect." he has noted that there are pending motions that he cannot discuss even elliptically. (Hint: they relate to anthrax).

White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card's former assistant, Dr. Al-Timimi, was about 15 feet from the leading anthrax scientist and former USAMRIID Deputy Commander who were Battelle consultants in 1999. The pair invented a method for concentrating pathogens such as anthrax and biocidal agents etc. using silicon dioxide in the culture medium. The patent application was filed on March 14, 2001 (and an application was confidential until months later).

The FBI's WMD head Dr. Majidi has said that the "Silicon Signature" could have resulted from silicon dioxide in the culture medium.

Why does this Silicon Signature evidence complicity rather than infiltration? The motive of Ayman Zawahiri and his supporters is evidenced by plainly worded documentary evidence whereas the motive of Battelle is supported by cotton candy conjecture.

Dr. Al-Timimi shared the same maildrop and fax number as these two Battelle consultants.

I correspond with Dr. Alibek frequently and am 100% confident he and his Center for Biodefense colleagues had no involvement whatsoever in the mailings. But I haven't seen a better explanation for the Silicon Signature (notwithstanding the expertise generously offered by colleagues in proposing an antifoaming agent as the explanation). (The percentage was too high to be due to an antifoaming agent IMO).

Who do you think the FoxNews report was describing?

The current motions being briefed before federal district court that cannot be discussed relate to anthrax -- don't they? (As indicated by portions of earlier filings that have been unsealed).

If a microbiologist is coordinating with the 911 imam and Bin Laden's sheik while 15 feet from the know-how relating to concentration of anthrax using silicon dioxide -- and the forensics point to silicon dioxide in the culture medium -- it would seem obvious why his renown defense counsel describes him as an "anthrax weapons suspect."
The US DOJ cannot discuss it because he is on trial for his life under the current sedition charges.

I thought your piece linked above by Dr. Nass demolished the single sentence in the NYT article that relied on an anonymous source that was not even described or characterized. We've been down that road before (for example, in the case of anthrax-laced turtle traps and anthrax smelling bloodhounds). It is the on-the-record statement by the FBI WMD head on the water issue that warrants crediting. We are way past getting our science from anonymous sources in news articles.

You and Ed keep up the good work but keep your mind open to the infiltration by operatives supporting the jihadists. Peter Lance's XXX about the infiltration accomplished by Bin Laden's chief of intelligence is useful background reading.

Contrary to what they tell Ed, the FBI is being evasive about closing the case for good reason.

Ed Lake said...

Barry Kissin asks; "First off, where did these photographs of “weaponized” spores come from??"

They came from a March 2008 paper published by authors from the CDC and Dugway. The title was "Development of an Aerosol System for Uniformly Depositing Bacillus Anthracis Spore Particles on Surfaces."

I also exchanged emails with one of the authors to confirm a few details.

Mr. Kissin also writes: "I wonder if Ed Lake’s sources for the photographs also provided him with his vehement point of view?"

So, you think I'm part of the vast conspiracy? Is everyone who shows you evidence that your beliefs are nonsense part of a vast conspiracy?

Mr. Kissin also writes: "The obvious presence of silica in the attack anthrax was used in a more sophisticated technology developed in the 1990s in the anthrax weaponization projects known to have been conducted at Dugway/Battelle, a technology that situates a “polymerized glass” on the coat of the spore (underneath the exosporium)."

But experts at Sandia National Laboratories have repeatedly stated that the silicon in the attack anthrax was INSIDE the spore coat. It was PART OF the spore coat. It served NO weaponization purpose. It was simply silicon that was absorbed from nutrients (or water) the way you get iron in your blood when you eat raisins, or zinc when you eat peanuts.

Detailed reports of every detail of the silicon in the spores are currently in the process of being peer reviewed prior to publication in some top scientific journal. There's nothing magic about it; there's nothing sinister about it. Spores have a natural tendency to accumulate silicon in their spore coats if it is available in the environment.

Mr. Kissin asks; "My parting question to Mr. Lake: Is Senator Leahy also a conspiracy theorist?"

Senator Leahy just wants answers to the questions he has. He does NOT ASSUME that there is a massive government conspiracy covering up the facts of the case.

I have a few parting questions for you: Why do conspiracy theorists get upset when they are called conspiracy theorists? Did you not state your theory that the government is covering up the "fact" that the attack anthrax could only have been made at some lab in Utah or Ohio? Aren't you assuming that the cover up relates to some secret and illegal bioweapons program? Isn't that a conspiracy theory?

Ed Lake said...

Ross Getman writes: "Contrary to what they tell Ed, the FBI is being evasive about closing the case for good reason."

The FBI isn't being evasive about closing the case. They're being thorough. They've stated that they are in the process of closing the case. It's just taking longer than outsiders would like. Outsiders are accustomed to having all criminal cases wrapped up in an hour, just like on TV.

And the FBI has stated that they want the National Academy of Sciences to review all the science used in the case.

The problem, as I see it, is that a lot of outsiders want the FBI/DOJ to include facts and evidence which are really not part of the criminal case.

For example: The investigation of the silicon that was found in the spores went nowhere. The silicon was just something that spores pick up from the nutrients or water, and its presence in the attack anthrax didn't point to any specific person.

So, how does the FBI deal with an open question about silicon when it is irrelevant to the case? Do they spend millions of dollars to find answers just to satisfy a bunch of conspiracy theorists? Would the conspiracy theorists believe anything the FBI says?

Anonymous said...

Let's examine the FACTS here.

(1) It is a FACT that US military labs use an advanced technique of polymerized glass coating to weaponize spores. These coatings cause the individual spores to be highly hydrophobic. Liquid water droplets will not "bead up" on their surface and thus the water bridging mechanism cannot cause the spores to clump.

(2) It is a FACT that these spores look identical to uncoated spores. They do NOT look like the spores coated with fumed silica particles (a technology dating back to the 1960s) which is the picture published by Dugway.

(3) It is a FACT that polymerized glass coated spores show massive silicon and oxygen peaks in a EDX spectrum.

(4) It is a FACT that polymerized glass coatings begin with siloxane monomers (small molecules that can easily penetrate the exposporium). These small molecules penetrate the exosporium and then polymerize in situ on the spore coat. The spore coat then essentially becomes a composition of SiOx - exactly as found by Sandia.

(5) It is a FACT that although liquid water will be repelled by the spores, gaseous water can easily penetrate the polymerized glass coating and thus the spores can still germinate.

(6) It is a FACT that the FBI themselves, back in April 2002, leaked to the media that the spores were coated with polymerized glass.
http://www.ph.ucla.edu/epi/bioter/sophisticatedstrainanthrax.html
http://www.ph.ucla.edu/epi/bioter/anthraxpowdernotroutine.html
http://www.ph.ucla.edu/epi/bioter/unusualcoating.html

(7) It is a FACT that, when questioned under oath at senate hearings, Director Mueller refused to answer when asked what the concentration of silicon in the spores was. The references to "naturally occurring" silicon in other Bacillus species from the 1980s all had total elemental silicon contents of less than 0.5%.

Meryl Nass, M.D. said...

Whatever happened to the NAS review of FBI's scientific analysis? Even NAS was surprised when Mueller sprung that at a Congressional hearing.

We have seen several proposed lists of issues to be covered, but no contract or final document regarding the scope of NAS's project has seen the light of day.

Ed Lake said...

Dr. Nass asked: "Whatever happened to the NAS review of FBI's scientific analysis?"

I received an email from someone in the FBI the other day where it was stated that the NAS review has not yet begun.

Although the reason wasn't given, presumably, they are still ironing out the rules. A lot of top scientists were involved in the FBI's analysis. Are they to be excluded from the NAS review? What kind of independent analysis can you get when many top scientists are excluded? Do we really want an independent review by second level scientists?

Ross Getman said...

Ed writes:

"The FBI isn't being evasive about closing the case."

Scott S., the author of the NYT article the subject of Barry's comment, is very knowledgeable about Amerithrax, has well-placed sources, has covered it for years. He tells me that the FBI is being evasive about closing the case.

It has now been 6 months.

The US DOJ Attorney General has only a few days left on the job, and hopefully Interim US Attorney Jeff Taylor will submit his resignation this next week.

Ed Lake said...

Anonymous wrote: "(2) It is a FACT that these spores look identical to uncoated spores."

So, you think that means that the attack anthrax must have been processed using this "waterproofing" technique? Why? Because it confirms your conspiracy theory?

And if Sandia National Laboratories provides undeniable proof that the silicon was INSIDE the spore coat, not on top of the spore coat where "waterproofing" would be, I imagine that just confirms for you that Sandia is either incompetent or part of the vast government conspiracy. Right?

Anonymous also wrote: "6) It is a FACT that the FBI themselves, back in April 2002, leaked to the media that the spores were coated with polymerized glass."

So you claim. The media reports you list show the information came from (1)"Government sources," (2) "one law enforcement official," and (3) "a high-ranking government official"

The media has been a continuous source of BAD INFORMATION about the anthrax case since day one. A lot of things were believed in April of 2002 which later turned out to be totally untrue.

This discussion started because some anonymous FBI source said that the water used to create the spores came from Ft. Detrick. My own FBI source (who is not anonymous to me) says that the testing of the spores found nothing about the water that could be used as "scientific evidence" in court.

The FBI/DOJ is not a Borg Collective where every person knows what every other person knows, and when someone learns something, everyone else automatically learns it, too.

The fact that one reporter's "source" says something does NOT mean that it is the official position of the DOJ/FBI.

Ross Getman said...

Ed asks: "A lot of top scientists were involved in the FBI's analysis. Are they to be excluded from the NAS review?"

Ed, It has already been announced long ago that no scientist involved in the FBI's analysis will participate. Beyond that, complying with conflict of interest protocols is a simple matter. People need only read the relevant rules (rather than just relying on what they know to be their good faith).

Ed Lake said...

Ross Getman writes; "Scott S., the author of the NYT article the subject of Barry's comment, is very knowledgeable about Amerithrax, has well-placed sources, has covered it for years. He tells me that the FBI is being evasive about closing the case."

An opinion from a respected reporter is still just an opinion.

I received a letter from the FBI the other day (in response to an FOIA request). It said:

"The FBI is working with DOJ to begin the process of concluding the Amerithrax investigation. Once this process is complete, the FBI in conjunction with DOJ will formally close the case."

and

"Although the FBI cannot predict with absolute certainty when the Amerithrax investigation will be formally closed, we can assure you that the FBI has already begun to make initial preparations necessary to commence a FOIA review of the investigative file. As a result, the FBI plans to make document releases on a rolling basis as soon as practicable following the formal closing of the investigation."

So, "the FBI cannot predict with absolute certainty when the Amerithrax investigation will be formally closed."

A reporter might see that as being "evasive."

I see it as simply meaning "the FBI cannot predict with absolute certainty when the Amerithrax investigation will be formally closed."

Ed Lake said...

"Anonymous" appears to be the same scientist who had other junk science theories in the past. When each proved to be total nonsense, he just found another junk science theory.

Junk science theories are based upon a belief, not upon facts. (The belief in this case is that the government is hiding some secret and illegal bioweapons program.) Such theories are thrown into a discussion and argued heatedly until they are shown to be scientific nonsense. When that happens, a new argument is tried - again based upon the same belief, not upon facts.

His first junk science theory was that the attack anthrax was coated with fumed silica. That theory was described in an October 28, 2002, article in The Washington Post titled "FBI's Theory On Anthrax Is Doubted".

But fumed silica is clearly visible under a scanning electron microscope (or even a standard microscope) and no one who viewed the attack anthrax saw any sign of fumed silica. The conspiracy theorists were outraged when two top experts wrote a letter to the editor of The Post stating that there was no sign of fumed silica in the anthrax.

So, about a year later, another junk science theory was dreamed up. This time the junk science theory was that the spores were coated with very tiny particles of silica in order to keep van der Waals forces from binding the spores together. This nonsense was printed in Science Magazine in late of 2003 in an article titled " Anthrax Powder: State of the Art?

That article was also shown to be total nonsense. Click HERE.

So, now we have a third theory.

This time, the theory is that there was some kind of "waterproofing" done to the spores which put a silicon coating on the spore coat UNDER the exosporium. That explains why no one could see any sign of silica or silicon on the spores when viewed in a scanning electron microscope.

But Sandia Labs has proven that the silicon is NOT a coating. It is PART OF the spore's natural coat, incorporated as the coat was formed in the dying bacterium.

To a conspiracy theorist, however, this is just another attempt to hide the truth. They'll stand by their JUNK SCIENCE analysis until it is proven to be a junk science analysis. Then they'll find something else they can use to claim the spores were "weaponized" -- until that is proven to be nonsense, too.

After arguing with conspiracy theorists about the Amerithrax case for SEVEN years, it gets very difficult to take them seriously. But, they evidently have little problem in convincing non-scientists and other conspiracy theorists that their arguments have merit. Non-scientists believe their junk science. Conspiracy theorists believe their conspiracy theory.

Meryl Nass, M.D. said...

This is just a request for all posters to be respectful to everyone else who is posting. Name-calling and using terms like "junk science" to describe someone else's thoughts are unwarranted.

Ed Lake said...

Okay, I'll lob a few softballs.

Anonymous wrote: "(1) It is a FACT that US military labs use an advanced technique of polymerized glass coating to weaponize spores."

But aren't those simulants? And aren't simulants supposed to be harmless?

Anonymous also wrote: "(2) It is a FACT that these spores look identical to uncoated spores."

Do they? The SEM images you have sent around to people show little glassy ovoids. They look like Tic Tacs. There's no way to tell what they would look like under high resolution. They seem like they'll look like smooth ovoid pearls, which is NOT what normal spores look like.

Anonymous also wrote: "(3) It is a FACT that polymerized glass coated spores show massive silicon and oxygen peaks in a EDX spectrum."

Of course! They're coated with polymerized glass! But there's NO evidence that the attack spores were coated with polymerized glass.

Anonymous also wrote: "(4) It is a FACT that polymerized glass coatings begin with siloxane monomers (small molecules that can easily penetrate the exposporium)."

Why should anyone care? Before we can care, we need to know that this somehow pertains to the attack anthrax. You haven't established that in any way.

Anonymous also wrote: "(5) It is a FACT that although liquid water will be repelled by the spores, gaseous water can easily penetrate the polymerized glass coating and thus the spores can still germinate."

And you have proof of this? Let's see it. But, before that, let's see some proof that this somehow applies to the attack anthrax and is not just a process that is meaningless in the anthrax case. For example: Do you have evidence that Dr. Ivins used this process?

Anonymous also wrote: "(6) It is a FACT that the FBI themselves, back in April 2002, leaked to the media that the spores were coated with polymerized glass."

None of the articles you cite mention "polymerized glass."

Anonymous also wrote: "(7) It is a FACT that, when questioned under oath at senate hearings, Director Mueller refused to answer when asked what the concentration of silicon in the spores was."

As I recall, he didn't have the answer at his fingertips. So, he didn't "refuse" to answer, he just didn't have the information he would have needed to give an answer.

The concentration of silicon in the spores was reportedly "high." But, can you state with absolute certainty there are no other explanations than "weaponization" with some "waterproofing" process?

Your "facts" are mainly about some "waterproofing" process that you theorize was done with the attack anthrax. But you have absolutely NOTHING to support such a theory. All you have is a process that you learned about, and which you use as an alternative to natural processes involving nutrients and water which are supported much better by the known facts.

Anonymous said...

As Meryl points out, it's a cheap shot to use the term "junk science" - especially when the person making the comment it is scientifically illiterate.

However, the term "junk science" is justifiably used when a body such as NAS determines that "science" used by the FBI for years to convict thousands of people is, indeed, "junk science". (see below)

Let's wait and see what NAS has to say about RMR-1029 genetics, the silicon content of the attack spores and the so-called chemical or isotope signature pointing exclusively to Detrick.


http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/11/16/60minutes/main3512453.shtml

"FBI lab personnel testified that you could match these fragments to this bullet," Kroft remarks.

"Yes, that's correct," Tobin says.

Asked what he found out, Tobin tells Kroft, "It hadn't been based on science at all, but rather had been based on subjective belief for over four decades."

"So what you're saying is that this is junk science?" Kroft asks.

"That's correct," Tobin says. "It's worthless as a forensic tool."

Ross Getman said...

On Tuesday, Barack Obama takes a new job of incredible complexity and varied responsibilities. Here is the way to simplify Amerithrax and come to a correct analysis -- that the case cannot be closed based on the FBI's Ivins Theory -- in just a few minutes.

President-Elect Obama needs to ask for the CIA's February 2001 Presidential Daily Brief (”PDB”) to President Bush on the planned use of anthrax in retaliation of rendering and detention of IG and EIJ leaders.

The CIA briefed the President in “Bin Laden’s Interest in Biological and Radiological Weapons.” The PDB addresses the detention of Ayman Zawahiri's #2, Mahmoud Mahjoub, his status in the Vanguards of Conquest/Egyptian Islamic Jihad, and threats of revenge relating to the conviction and sentencing of senior militant Egyptians (including blind sheik Abdel-Rahman).

The February PDB recounts how in late January 2001, the Immigration Minister in Canada and the Justice Minister had received an anthrax threat in the form of anthrax hoax letters. The letters were sent upon the announcement of bail hearing for a detained Egyptian Islamic Jihad leader Mahjoub. Mahjoub had managed Bin Laden’s farm in Sudan and was # 2 in the Egyptian Islamic Jihad/Vanguards of Conquest.

Mahjoub's bail was denied on October 5, 2001. The anthrax mailer recruited by Ayman Zawahiri then dropped what he was doing and carried out the threat -- raced to mail the anthrax that had been readied to the two legislators deemed most responsible for the rendering of senior EIJ leaders and the appropriations propping up Egypt and Israel.

The pattern of lethal letters to newspapers in DC and NYC and people symbolically responsible for the detention of Movement leaders was the modus operandi of the Al Hayat letters bombs that had been sent in connection with WTC 1993.

Barack Obama would no more come unprepared to a decision on Amerithrax without reading this February 2001 PDB than he would go to Arthur Miller's Civil Procedure without reading the day's assignment.

Anonymous said...

It appears that no one involved with this thread has expressed a knowledge of "polymer glass" that makes any sense. The glass in polymer glass referrs only to the physical properties of the polymer which resembles glass. It isn't silicon dioxide (which most people know as sand or glass). The kind of polymer glass that would be used is most likely a complex sugar like that used in the food industry.

Ross Getman said...

I don't know anything about science, but as a food additive, Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) has the E number E900 and is used as an anti-foaming agent and an anti-caking agent.

Years ago, I spoke to one senior and highly-regarded scientist, a food researcher in the dairy industry, who worked on a US Army funded device used to concentrate and sequentially filter anthrax samples. (He had just worked on the statistics and did not have one of the prototypes in Summer 2001). I asked him about use of such an anti-foaming agent and an anti-caking agent and he said they would just it in making animal feedstuffs (by simple mixing).

I then called the scientist's associate and good friend (about whom he was very worried) who had been arrested by the FBI as a material witness in a charity investigation. (It was the one that promoted the views of Bin Laden's sheiks based in Ann Arbor). I was curious why he had been arrested. I didn't have a chance to ask him about use of such an anti-caking agent because, he said, "too much was going on."

I then spoke to the inventor of the US-Army funded device and he said it could be used to weaponize anthrax but only on a small scale.

All of this science stuff is over my head. I regret never having taken any science in college. I don't even know if Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) is
consistent with the AFIP EDX data below.

Relatedly, I don't know whether it is used in functional foodstuff, as part of a microencapsulation process, to protect a pharmaceutical from being delivered to the intended organ before being broken down by enzymes. A PhD thesis advised by Ken Alibek discussing the likely method of weaponization suggested that this was what was done. William Patrick and the former deputy USAMRIID commander are also thanked in the acknowledgements in this thesis by Ken's then assistant at the Center for Biodefense. She had been two doors down from "anthrax weapons suspect" Ali Al-Timimi.

Daschle powder:
Reading (1): C=120, Si=275, O=50
Reading (2): C=1600, Si=500, O=400
Reading (3): C=1200, Si=500, O=400

NYP powder:
Reading (1): C=500, Si=18,000, O=500
Reading (2): C=50, Si=17,000, O=50
Reading (3): C=100, Si=16,000, O=100

Ed Lake said...

Anonymous wrote: "The kind of polymer glass that would be used is most likely a complex sugar like that used in the food industry."

Evidently, this is a different "Anonymous," since the other "Anonymous" knows that the whole subject of "polymerized glass" is based upon detecting silicon and oxygen in the attack anthrax.

Does a "complex sugar" contain silicon?

Ross Getman said...

Prof. Rosenberg explained that "There is an interesting possibility that the attack spores may have been grown using a microdroplet culture technique in which microdroplets of inoculated medium are isolated by coating them with hydrophobic silica particles. This technique has the advantages of portability, growth to a high density, and minimal need to concentrate the spores. It is noteworthy that the silica particles used for the technique must first be made hydrophobic by treating their surfaces with a siloxane (silicone oil) or a silane derivative.

Dr. Popov responded that "This argument is purely hypothetical and implies a sophisticated generation of silica particles." (Nano-scale powders were commercially available beginning 2001 e.g., aerogel). Dr. P continues: "It also ignores the basics of any perpetrator—keep a low profile, and opt for the simplest technique. The microdroplet cultivation activity is highly visible and not a part of a routine experimentation. USAMRIID denies the use of dry powders. Had anybody in USAMRIID been doing it anyway?"

Dr. P is quite correct. It does not point to USAMRIID. It is not part of their routine research and it would have been highly visible. One would want to consider where use of such a siloxane was part of the research. Did the researchers who were supplied virulent Ames by Bruce Ivins as part of the DARPA vaccine and biocidal agent research ever use siloxanes as part of their oil-and-water nanoemulsions that went inside the spore? Alternatively, did the scientist arrested as a material witness use siloxanes in making dry powdered animal feedstuffs? (He routinely used silica powders in a mixing process). (Dr. Alibek and DTRA scientists have said that the same general method is used to make dry powdered anthrax).

Ross Getman said...

Bruce Ivins in an email to Pat identified a scientist who made the dry powder with properties that came closest to the Daschle product. But that powder was not made at USAMRIID. Once it comes out where the powder was made and who had access to the know-how or powder, then analysis will have advanced beyond its current panty-raid -- the-guy-is-depressed-so-he-must-be-guilty -- level.

Anonymous said...

Polymer glass does not contain silica or silicon. Polymer glass most certainly is not silicon based antifoaming agent. The reason the word polymer modifies the word glass is that it is not "glass" as most people know it. If silica is added to the polymer glass coated spores, it can be seen in electron micrographs. Nothing resembling silica was seen.

Ross Getman said...

Anonymous writes:

"Nothing resembling silica was seen."

Although I don't think it is fruitful to have one anonymous person debating science with lay persons,
the Center for Biodefense patent contemplates that the silica (e.g., nanogel) is removed from the surface of the spores by repeated centrifugation.

Ed Lake said...

The other "Anoymous" wrote: "Nothing resembling silica was seen."

Agreed. That's why the first "Anonymous" is arguing that some "waterproofing" technique using "siloxane monomers" were used. He CLAIMS they can penetrate the exosporium and coat the spore's natural coat underneath, thereby preventing such a "coating" from being seen when viewing via a scanning electron microscope.

No proof of anything is supplied by "Anonymous", of course. It's just a dreamed-up claim that he wants others to try to disprove.


BTW, insteading of pressing the "Anonymous" button when choosing an identity, why not press the Name/URL button and pick a unique name. Any name can be picked. Nothing is checked or verified. And we won't have to try to distinquish one "Anonymous" from another.

Barack Obama said...

I agree that, instead of pressing the "Anonymous" button when choosing an identity, people should press the Name/URL button and pick a unique name so we won't have to try to distinquish one "Anonymous" from another.

Why create problems if you don't have to, that's my motto.

P.S. I'm not the real Barack Obama.

Ross Getman said...

Also known as “sol gel” or “spin-on-glass,” polymerized glass is “a silane or siloxane compound that’s been dissolved in an alcohol- based solvent like ethanol.” My friend Dr. J is quoted in the Science article also saying that “Polymerized glasses are exotic materials, and nanotechnology is something you just don’t do in your basement.”

Nanotechnology was done in the Ann Arbor basement laboratory where the researchers worked who thanked Bruce Ivins for supplying virulent Ames in connection with DARPA funded work relating to developing countermeasures. (The work included an intranasal anthrax vaccine and a biocidal agent).

The researchers thanked Pat and Mara, who the police report indicates were the subject of questions by the FBI directed to Mrs. Ivins. I called Dr. Mara L. yesterday.

It seems we should ask these folks doing nanotechnology who were supplied virulent Ames by Bruce Ivins whether they ever used "polymerized glass". (Although I won't understand even after they explain it, the head of the lab there has been very patient in explaining things to me in the past and perhaps I could just cut-and-paste his answers).

The researchers did do a lot of work with dendritic polymers, but, again, these words are all greek to me.

http://www.eng.buffalo.edu/Courses/ce435/Dendrimers/Dendrimers.html

But I do understand that "[t]he synthesis of dendrimers is very difficult and expensive" -- and so it has to be a pretty special basement with some pretty smart folks.

We should also ask the lead researcher on the DARPA project there whether he knew Ayman Zawahiri at Cairo Medical when he would come to the school to recruit in a room set aside for the Egyptian Islamic Group, whether he worked with Ayman's sister Heba there on antimicrobials, and whether he was taught by Ayman's Dad, a pharmacology professor.

Dr. H. got his PhD at Cairo Medical three years before leading the DARPA project. He went to medical school there graduating in December 1982 -- and apparently was there the years in-between. (His wife was on the university faculty for those 10 years).

So he would be a fascinating resource and interview not merely on anthrax, vaccine, biocidal agents, nanoemulsions -- but also the Salafi-Jihadists who led the Egyptian Islamic Jihad/Vanguards of Conquest. All three leaders were doctors from that Cairo Medical School. He might even be able to tell us about the local charity leaders based just 1 mile away in Ann Arbor -- the individuals accused of heading fronts for Al Qaeda who were deported. ... the ones Aafia Siddiqui, who is associated with Ann Arbor addresses, knew.

Now if the public is not able to make sense of the last 5 years of Aafia Siddiqui's life -- and she knows a lot about the US-based infrastructure -- why should we be surprised we can't make sense out of Amerithrax? It's the same kettle of fish.

Was virulent Ames there? Might it have been surreptitious accessed by any of a number of Ann Arbor-based or associated supporters?

Ross Getman said...

The NanoBio scientist in charge of the DARPA project who thanked Bruce Ivins for supplying the virulent Ames used to visit Cairo from Khartoum as a child. His mother was a professor at the university in Khartoum in finance/accounting. Did he know Mahmoud Mahjoub -- the EIJ/VOC #2 who was Bin Laden's farm manager in connection with whose detention the anthrax was sent Senator Leahy and Senator Daschle? See February 2001 PDB from the CIA to President Bush.

Ross Getman said...

Selected Sources:

Press Release, "Novavax Microbicides Undergoing Testing at University of Michigan Against Biological Warfare Agents; Novavax Technology Being Supplied to U.S. Military Program At University of Michigan as Possible Defense Against Germ Warfare," March 18, 1998

Hamouda et al., "Microbiocidal effects of liposome-like microemulsions on pathogenic Gram negative bacteria." In: American Society for Microbiology, 98th General Meeting, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A., 1998; Abstract A-52. 47 (11 pages).

presentation by Michael Hayes at Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC) on September 26, 1998 summarizing how biocidal agent killed the virulent anthrax strains in petri dish

PR Newswire, "Anti-Microbial Agent Shown to Destroy Anthrax, Data Presented at ICAAC: 'New Anti-Microbial Agent Destroys Anthrax, But Doesn't Hurt Animals Or the Environment,' Say University of Michigan Scientists," September 26, 1998

"New Anti-Microbial Agent Destroys Anthrax, Kills Flu Virus," The University [of ] Record, September 30, 1998

University of Michigan Medical school, Medicine at Michigan, (Vol. 1, No. 1, Spring 1999 (describing research at Dugway in Utah)

"Novavax Receives Extension On Subcontract With the University of Michigan," Business Wire, August 2, 1999

"Nano Is Now" at Michigan -- and James Baker Is Leading The Way," Medicine at Michigan, Summer 2000

NanoBio, "Status Report: Bio-Attack Defense," October 29, 2001

"Statement of James R. , Jr., MD Ruth Dow Doan Professor of Medicine and Director of Biologic Nanotechnology, Chief, Division of Allergy & Immunology, University of Michigan, "Anthrax Decontamination," November 8, 2001 FDCH Congressional Testimony (House Science)

T. Hamouda and J.R. Baker, Jr., "Antimicrobial mechanism of action of surfactant lipid preparations in enteric Gram-negative bacilli," Journal of Applied Microbiology, Volume 89, Issue 3, Pages 397-403, Dec 25, 2001

"Clear and present? Haddad case suspiciously secret," Michigan Daily, January 9, 2002

"Global Relief Foundation tied to 1998 terrorist," Michigan Daily, May 9, 2002

"Statement of James Baker Jr. Professor Center for Biological Nanotechnology," House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Health, FDCH Congressional Testimony, March 27, 2003 ("Project Bioshield")

"Threats and Responses: A Michigan Case; U.S. Deports Charity Leader In Visa Dispute," New York Times, July 16, 2003

"Process Innovators: NanoBio Corp.," Mlive.com, October 11, 2007

Statement of Homam Albaroudi, Member, Muslim Community Association Of , July 30, 2003 in Muslim Community Association of Ann Arbor et al. v. John Ashcroft and Robert Mueller: The First Challenge to The USA PATRIOT Act

"Founder of charity enters guilty plea," Ann Arbor News, September 11, 2003

"Islamic charity leader receives sentencing," Ann Arbor News, November 14, 2003

"IANA's link to case is unclear," Ann Arbor News, April 16, 2004

Anonymous said...

For the record, the actual silane monomer used by US military labs to weaponize anthrax is dimethyldichlorosilane. It is a known FACT that the resulting spores look identical to uncoated spores (contrary to the claims of Ed Lake that they somehow look different). I will be happy to provide side-by-side pictures of these spores (coated with polymerized glass and uncoated) to Meryl if she would like to publish them on her blog. These spores were produced in a US miltary lab. I will not name this lab here, but suffice to say the polymerized glass technology is well known inside US BW labs.

As described at the link below, the dimethyldichlorosilane polymerizes into Polydimethylsiloxane, undergoing a hydrolysis reaction - taking up water and losing HCl.

http://www.silicones-science.com/chemistry_pdms.html

The mailed spores contained massive amounts of silicon - MUCH more tghan can be explained by any "naturally occurring" mechanism. The obvious conclusion from the spore coat essentially comprising pure Polydimethylsiloxane is that the above well known weaponization technology was employed in the mailed spores.

Note that, 6 months later, Director Mueller has STILL NOT responded to the question on % silicon, after receiving MULTIPLE demands from Senators Leahy, Grassley, Specter and Reps. Holt and Nadler. Ed Lake's comment that Mueller "just couldn't remember the concentration that day" is a classic dog-at-my homework excuse.

Ross Getman said...

Anonymous,

I gave you the picture of what it looked like when dimethyldichlorosilane
was added to the slurry.
It was part of a controlled experiment by my consulting scientist and his colleagues -- who now I'm going to have to pay twice as much if you try to make the pictures seem like something they are not.

It was not part of a "weaponization process." (as if the word has any illuminating meaningful). It was part of a controlled experiment making anthrax simulants in which a siliconizing solution was used in the slurry to see if that resulted in a comparable forensic signature. (Which is exactly what Sandia has been doing -- not once, but 200 times). Sandia of course knows best as to what the closest match was.

My friend creates aerosols for testing defenses. He and I were noodling what it would account for the Silicon Signature. That is, I was asking stupid questions and he was trying to help me understand). But it would be a provable error to make it out to have been part of a "weaponization" process if there is an implication that anything nefarious was done. (It was part of a Frank and Joe Hardy experiment -- without the cool video that Sandia did. My sense was that it was just as floatable without it -- the game afoot, however, was to figure out what the Silicon Signature represented.

This was all subject to contemporaneous emails and so refer to them to avoid straying from the proper characterization.

Ed Lake said...

The original Anonymous wrote; "The mailed spores contained massive amounts of silicon - MUCH more tghan can be explained by any "naturally occurring" mechanism."

So you claim. But we don't have any official word on how much silicon was in the spores. That will presumably be published when Sandia publishes their scientific reports.

The key point still is: The silicon was NOT a coating, it was INSIDE the spore coat. It was PART OF the spore coat. So, your SPECULATION about some coating process is just PURE SPECULATION until shown otherwise.

The original Anonymous also wrote: "The obvious conclusion from the spore coat essentially comprising pure Polydimethylsiloxane is that the above well known weaponization technology was employed in the mailed spores."

That is a ridiculous conclusion. You have no basis for believing that Bruce Ivins even knew about such a process, much less that he used it. It is PURE SPECULATION.

The original Anonymous also wrote: "Note that, 6 months later, Director Mueller has STILL NOT responded to the question on % silicon."

Contrary to your beliefs, a non-response is NOT a confirmation that your are right. It is just a non-response.

The politicians you list will undoubtedly bring the subject up when they hold hearings on the Amerithrax investigation. That would be a good time to clarify the questions about the silicon. Until then, or until we see the scientific reports from Sandia, your speculation will remain pure speculation.

Speculation doesn't become fact just because government officials don't respond as fast as you would like.

Ross Getman said...

Ed writes to the original Anonymous:

"You have no basis for believing that Bruce Ivins even knew about such a process, much less that he used it."

Ed is correct. There is no basis for believing that Bruce Ivins knew about such a process, much less that he used it."

(And that, my Dear Watson, is precisely the point).

Ross Getman said...

Al-Timimi's counsel, who says Al-Timimi is an "anthrax weapons suspect," reports that IANA head, Ann Arbor resident Bassem Khafagi, was questioned about Dr. Al-Timimi before 9-11 purportedly at the behest of American intelligence.
When FBI searched Al-Timimi's townhouse in February 2003, they found Ann Arbor resident Khafagi's personal papers. In fact, BK is associated with a 703 landline.

The NSA was allegedly wiretapping Al-Timimi without a warrant since on or about October 6, 2001. We don't know what FISA intercepts were also being conducted and whether those FISA intercepts were tainted by information gleaned from NSA intercepts. We can leave that to the ongoing classified briefing in federal district court.

But the open source information readily available via google is that the Ann Arbor researchers who thanked Bruce Ivins for supplying virulent Ames in connection with the DARPA research were spitting distance (3 long blocks at one point) from the founder of the charity (IANA) promoting the views of Bin Laden's sheiks.

As I recall, even before 9-11 numerous agents and agencies were conducting surveillance of the same charity here.

Any missteps allegedly made by the compartmentalized investigators of the FBI's task force, judged by hindsight, are no greater than the lapse of outside observers in connecting the dots.
It is just a replay, in full public display, of the Phoenix Memo, Zacarias Moussaoui, Ali Mohammed and similar debacles in analysis. But this time public pundits participated, even led the way.

Old Atlantic Lighthouse said...

I would like to bring up the government's own tests on how long it takes to incubate that they released in 2004 when they wanted to prove Ivins and others like him couldn't do it in a prosecution of Hatfill.

http://oai.dtic.mil/oai/oai?&verb=getRecord&metadataPrefix=html&identifier=ADA426293

http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA426293&Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf

They used a

New Brunswick c25 floor shaker incubator

See page 12 of pdf, 2.9.2.

This weighs 400 pounds.

Note they were doing 1 liter flasks. Those produce in the best runs somewhat under a gram. To produce 5 to 10 grams for the first letters would require 5 to 10 liters.

http://www.artisan-scientific.com/59721.htm

http://www.artisan-scientific.com/info/New_Brunswick_C25_Datasheet.pdf

See page 2 for photo. The unit is bigger than a man and weighs 400 pounds.

There is a smaller unit

http://www.artisan-scientific.com/57635.htm

It weights 230 pounds.

http://www.artisan-scientific.com/info/Innova_4230_Datasheet.pdf

The paper above ran at 30 deg C using the incubator shaker. So if one didn't use something that good it would take longer.

They started with 1ml of bacillus per liter of CD. So that is a factor of 1000, which is roughly 2 to the 10 power. So if you start with more you cut down the growth time needed. Even so, there doesn't appear enough time.

Look at Table 6 on page 20 of the pdf.

They checked the runs every 24 hours to see how far along they were. The best run was 3 days to produce .5238 grams for the starting liter of CD. So to get 5 grams you need 10 liters of CD. Note even if you start with more than 1 ml of bacillus you still need the 10 liters of CD to get the 5 grams.

If we take 10 generations as 3 days, we get approximately 3 generations in 1 day, i.e. a factor of 8. Divide the 5 grams by 8 and we get 5/8 grams he needed to start with to get done in 24 hours. If he had a liter flask and the ratios are the same, then he needed to use 5/8 of his reference flask, if it was full to 1 liter.

Note, he could have put some back at the end.

If things didn't go so well as this perfect run, it can't work.

He also has to do centrifuging, rinsing, re-centrifuge, and eventually lyophilize.

Every piece of equipment he used to make it go faster had to be cleaned and put back where it belongs.

To do it all in one run and get the best possible growth times he had to have the best equipment.

Note if he had the 400 pound floor incubator, then if anthrax got on the bottom of it he couldn't clean it. Even the 230 pound unit, he couldn't clean.

Did the BSL3 have these big units?

As you consider all the other steps needed, including cleanup, intermediate steps, getting the CD ready, lyophilizing, putting it in letters, covering his tracks, etc. it becomes hard to believe he did it from Friday night to Sunday the first weekend.

Table 6 in the paper records total dud runs. Some runs take 7 days. For those runs even if he started with all of the RMR 1029 flask and ran 1 day, he wouldn't get 5 grams.

Because at 7 days, you are doubling at 7/10 of a day. So if you double twice your at most 1 gram you get 4 grams. You then have to put 1 gram back, so you have 3 grams.

The paper above is sort of difficult to read and get everything out you need at one sitting. Its important to go over it more than once. That's the benchmark.

To run 10 liters, Ivins needed a big C25 style. There are other fermenter units not as good. But they likely will take longer. It still takes at least a 10 liter one. If he didn't get a perfect run, we should think 25 to 50 liter fermenter.

If you search on

"50-liter fermenter" anthrax

You get some interesting hits. That is what they had at Dugway in Utah for Project Bacchus.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/transcripts/2815bioterror.html

Ed Lake said...

Okay, the original Anonymous has posted pictures which he CLAIMS show that coated and uncoated spores look alike. But, in anyone's reality the pictures do NOT look alike at all.

For some reason, he posted the pictures as a .ppt (PowerPoint) file. I've converted them to a more accessible .jpg format. Just click HERE to view the images.

Note that neither image is high resolution. The vast differences would be even clearer in high resolution.

Note that the uncoated spores in the image on the left often have little points at or near one of the ends. Note that wrinkles/ridges can be seen on the outer surface of some of them. Note that their surfaces do NOT seem smooth. They seem like little wads of cotton, or like fuzzy Tic Tacs.

Now look at the image of the coated spores on the right. Is there ANY similarity whatsoever to the uncoated spores? The coated spores look like glossy ovoid pearls. The clump of spores at the very top appear to be fused together with coating material filling the gaps. And the spore that is farthest to the left looks misshapen, as if it might be two spores fused together by the clearly visible coating on all the spores.

If the coating is THIS VISIBLE in such low resolution photographs, the differences in high resolution would be enormous.

The only surprising thing about these photographs is why ANYONE would think the coated spores and uncoated spores look alike.

Anonymous said...

Ed Lake wrote:
"But we don't have any official word on how much silicon was in the spores. That will presumably be published when Sandia publishes their scientific reports."

His preumption is wrong. Sandia will NOT publish the silicon concentration. Sandia do not even know what the silicon concentration is. Like good old government contractors they carried out their statement of work to the letter. The FBI did not ask them to find the silicon concentration - so they didn't find it.

Presumably the reviewers of their paper will point out this shortcoming, telling them that it's impossible to ascertain if the silcion got their naturally or not without knowing this key metric.

Ed Lake said...

Old Atlantic Lighthouse wrote: "To produce 5 to 10 grams for the first letters would require 5 to 10 liters."

First, the facts now seem to indicate that the anthrax was made with plates, not with shaking flasks or a fermenter.

Second, the first letters contained a powder that was only 10 percent spores. The rest of the powder was mostly sporulation debris. It was probably created by dumping a full growth plate onto a fresh plate to speed up the process.

And, of course, no lab protocols were followed. The objective was speed, not scientific purity.

Ross Getman said...

I believe Ivins' former superivsor GA explained to me that the motor of the fermenter was seized and it was inoperable (and had been for a long time). Someone might want to confirm this in case I've misunderstood or there was more than one available.

BugMaster said...

Ed:

"First, the facts now seem to indicate that the anthrax was made with plates, not with shaking flasks or a fermenter."

What facts indicate the material came from plates, Ed?

I find it very unlikely that the procedures Ivins normally used to produce the RMR-1029 challenge material at USAMRID came off of plates. Perhaps one of his former co-workers could shed some light on this.

Ross Getman said...

Former co-workers address it , among other places, here:

http://www.baltimoreexaminer.com/local/crime/Scientific_impossibility.html

That scenario is patently impossible, Andrews says. *** “One preparation may take between three and five days — Day 1 to prepare the materials and start seed cultures, Day 2 to inoculate the spores, Day 3 to harvest, centrifuge and purify the spores. And those are the wet spores,” he says, which then need to be dried into a powder. And that would take at least another day.

“So for 10 envelopes, 100 preparations would be required to make all the mailed material at three to five days for each preparation,” he says. “Months of continuous spore preparation without doing any other work and avoiding detection? It’s ridiculous.”
Taylor also insists Ivins had access to a lyophilizer — a sophisticated machine used to dry anthrax.
Andrews mocks the suggestion that Ivins produced the fine powdered anthrax by freeze-drying the newly harvested pores in the lab’s lyophylizer. “The only lyophylizer available was a speed vac,” he says. “That’s a low-volume instrument that you can’t even fit under a hood” used to contain toxic vapors and debris.

Even with the proper equipment, mass producing a sufficient volume of spores remained dangerous. It had the potential to contaminate not only the person doing the work, but also the lab environment. “Certainly if you had makeshift equipment you wouldn’t be able to pull it off without making a mess,” Andrews says.

***

“The silicon is probably the most important scientific evidence that would lead anybody to question whether Bruce was capable of making these spores,” says Gerald P. Andrews, Ivins’ former boss.

Andrews and George Mason University professor and former Soviet bioweapons researcher Sergei Popov believe the silicon was purposely added, due to unnaturally high levels of the mineral in the spores.

Also unexplained is the presence of a unique genetic strain of the bacterium B. subtilis in the anthrax letters.

“Why wasn’t this unique B. subtilis strain looked for in Bruce’s lab — or any other lab in the BSL-3 suite?” Andrews asks. “It may, in fact, serve as a marker for where those preparations were really made.”

So far, FBI scientists have failed to produce a powdered anthrax equivalent to the toxic mix that Ivins is alleged to have turned out in the course of a few late nights and weekends in the lab at Fort Detrick.

“The only opinions that I would place any confidence in would have to come from individuals who have made the stuff, in the same quantity of the letters,” said infectious disease specialist W. Russell Byrne. “And then I would ask them to go into B3 in building 1425, work there for a couple of weeks and reproduce what they say Bruce did. That’s the only way I could, in good conscience and in the spirit of objective scientific inquiry, believe them.”

Most former co-workers (who were still there when gag orders were required) are subject to a gag order and are not available to address the matter. I am advised that they have additional exculpatory information that is dispositive but that they cannot presently share.

Anonymous said...

In looking for evidence that Bruce Ivins might have been responsible for the anthrax mailings, the FBI noted that a copy of Albert Camus' Plague was found in his home. "The Plague” was set in the Algeria. "There is an outbreak of Bubonic Plague that causes the city authorities to seal off the city until the disease is brought under control. A doctor trapped in the city records the subsequent events in a daily journal, noting how previous customs and social mores change in response." "Camus asks us, through his characters, to consider the absurdity of life when confronted with unsolvable problems." "Does making an effort have any importance when the result is the same as if one did nothing? Does being a doctor have any meaning when attempting to treat an untreatable disease?" "Even our triumphs are shown by Camus to be trivial: the city ... may celebrate when the plague peters out, but they - and we - know very well that the plague germs are still viable, ready to wreak destruction anew."

Albert Camus and The Plague, http://www.algeria.com/blog/albert-camus-and-the-plague

“The Plague” is worth reading for anyone interested in Algeria, or the recent outbreak of what has been suggested to have occurred at a jihadist camp in Algeria. We can simultaneously place ourselves in the shoes of Bruce Ivins and the jihadist fighters reportedly stricken by the disease, of whatever nature.

Al Qaeda bungles arms experimentBiological or chemical weapons, Washington Times, January 19, 2009, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/jan/19/al-qaeda-bungles-arms-experiment/


If ever there was a leader to see us through seemingly unsolvable problems, it is Barack Obama. Plague is readily treated with antibiotics.

Ed Lake said...

BugMaster wrote: "What facts indicate the material came from plates, Ed?"

I'll have to do some research, but I recall reading that Ivins normally used plates to grow bacteria. Plus, the media anthrax looked like what you'd get if you dumped a plate of growing bacteria into a fresh plate to speed up the growth process. Plus, I'm told that growing bacteria on plates is faster than growing bacteria in shaking flasks or a fermenter. Plus, a top anthrax expert keeps telling me that if you allow Bacillus anthracis to complete its sporulation cycle on plates, the bacteria will purify itself. Enzymes are released which will eat away the dead mother germs and remaining biological debris, leaving only pure spores.

Ed Lake said...

BugMaster wrote: "I find it very unlikely that the procedures Ivins normally used to produce the RMR-1029 challenge material at USAMRID came off of plates. Perhaps one of his former co-workers could shed some light on this."

Whatever Dr. Ivins did to produce the material in RMR-1029, there's no reason to believe it was his normal way of producing spores. The objective in that instance was to create a very large quantity of pure spores, nearly two liters of the stuff, evidently too large a quantity for Ft. Detrick to do it alone. They had to get help from Dugway.

The fermenter wasn't always "seized up." It may have been used back in 1997.

The BIG problem is: I believe everyone at Ft. Detrick is under a gag order to stop talking about the case in public.

It would be nice to get some inside information, but this entire case has been plagued from the beginning by getting "inside" information that is really just someone's belief, yet it's treated by the media and others as if it were holy gospel.

What we need is official statements from identified officials.

Whether we like it or not, I think we're going to have to wait for the solid facts to get printed in scientific journals and for the FBI to officially close its investigation of the Amerithrax case and formally release its findings.

Ross Getman said...

Mr. Lake is mistaken.

Gerry Andrews, Ivins' supervisor between 2000 and 2003, is not under a gag order and has addressed all these issues as quoted above and elsewhere.

Two other supervisors Jeffrey Adamovicz and Dr. W. Russell Byrne, also disagree and have spoken publicly on these issues. Jeffrey Adamovicz worked with him for more than 12 years. Dr. A was his boss from 2003 to 2004. He remembers the day the scientists opened that envelope, placed in a double-sealed bag inside a protective hood designed to deal with dangerous pathogens. “The anthrax was floating around inside the bag,” Mr. Adamovicz said. “It was very scary.” He said he turned to Dr. Ivins and said, “That stuff is amazing.” “Yes, it is unbelievable,” he recalled Dr. Ivins replying. “I have never seen anything like that.”

Dr. Ivins, his colleagues said, argued that al Qaeda was responsible. “He was very passionate about this,” former boss Jeffrey Adamovicz said.

None of these men are under a gag order contrary to what Mr. Lake suggests. Mr. Lake apparently has never contacted them to be apprised of the facts. He instead offers his own opinion even though he is not even a microbiologist.

Old Atlantic Lighthouse said...

Ed, there was some prior discussion on the number of square feet of plates it would take.

http://anthraxvaccine.blogspot.com/2008/09/comments-by-professor-sergey-popov-on.html

Based on the paper cited above,

http://oai.dtic.mil/oai/oai?&verb=getRecord&metadataPrefix=html&identifier=ADA426293

http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA426293&Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf

I came to some estimates of square feet of plates from 15 square feet on up. The paper did runs with plates and you can get some numbers there and in the prior posts on this subject.

http://anthraxvaccine.blogspot.com/2008/09/additional-comments-by-dr-popov-on.html

Popov estimates at least 100 plates per letter.

Plates take up too much space and in these volumes are a lot of work. Plus you have to have that many plates. It then takes a long time to work the plates at each stage.

...

There is also the activation time or dormancy time or time to first generation. I have searched on various terms. There are many papers on this, some sponsored by the FBI. The following search gets many interesting hits.

bacillus spores "time to germinate"

One can substitute or try phrases like anthracis, "germination time", dormancy, endospore dormancy
"spores remained dormant"

and so on. The articles I found didn't seem to hit spot on the issue of how long until exponential growth starts from the time you take spores and put them in the growth medium.

If we go back to the paper I linked to further above that did the trials of growth times, some runs were duds. It may be that it takes hours or even days to start.

Also as the container is saturated, it should slow. Hypothesis:

dN = k N(Nmax - N) dt

Nmax is the maximum number of spores the growth medium in a flask can support. If he spiked a flask with more starting spores, then he will have a slower growth rate than the average from the paper I cited which started with 1 ml of spore solution per liter of growth medium.

Old Atlantic Lighthouse said...

Ed, your point about the 10 percent or so of the first letters being actual spores is important. I was thinking this might be an issue, but didn't have time to research it or factor it in. I believe Dr. Popov mentioned something in his discussion, but I am not sure if he had a specific number. Can you document the source on the 10 percent figure?

I admire your taking on all comers in a spirited debate. We can learn a great deal from such a discussion and learning science this way is in general valuable.

Anonymouse said...

Paul Daley, "Report Says UBL-Linked Groups Possess 'Deadly' Anthrax and Plague," Melbourne Age (Internet version), June 4, 2000

Comment:

Bruce Ivins passionately argued Al Qaeda was responsible for the anthrax mailings. We know Al Qaeda has the anthrax bacteria. It was in an "extremely virulent" form according to author Suskind. Where did they get it? When? Do they have the plague?

Mohammed Islambouli, the brother of Sadat's assassin, has lived for years in Algeria, under the last name Youssef. (One of his passports was Algerian). Zawahiri not too long ago announced that Islambouli was head of the Egyptian Islamic Group followers who had joined Al Qaeda. He led a post-Bojinka cell with KSM. Where is Mohammed Islambouli now? Judy Miller is working on a story. Will she send the unconfirmed plague story back to its cave?

Ed Lake said...

Old Atlantic Lighthouse wrote: "Popov estimates at least 100 plates per letter."

Yes, but plates come in different sizes, so any such estimate is just an estimate. Plus, Popov's estimate almost certainly involves following all lab protocols. I seriously doubt that the culprit followed strict lab protocols. He was doing things as fast as he could, he wasn't doing some kind of scientific experiment that would be held up for peer review.

Ed Lake said...

Old Atlantic Lighthouse wrote; "Can you document the source on the 10 percent figure?"

I can't "document" it, but I can tell you where it came from. It came from HERE.

Note the 10% figure is both in the text and in the table he shows.

The article is from August 16, 2002, or thereabouts. The author seems to know a great deal about the attack anthrax. At the time it came out, it was a real light in the darkness.

I looked around for verfication of the numbers he provides, but I was never able to find any. However, comments by government officials seem to confirm that the media anthrax was mostly sporulation debris. I can't get any exact numbers from the government.

Ed Lake said...

Back in December, I sent an FOIA request to the FBI to get pictures of the New York Post powder, but they responded that I have to wait until the pictures/information comes out in scientific journals and/or when the FBI closes the case.

I know an FBI scientist who actually saw images of the Post powder, and he described it as looking like a pile of assorted junk with some spores mixed in.

FBIfanboy said...

"Specifically, the search may reveal additional computer files, e-mail accounts, or documentary evidence that may link Dr. Bruce Edwards Ivins to the anthrax mailings or his possible obstruction of the investigation. Furthermore, additional conspirators involved in the attacks may be identified."

Old Atlantic Lighthouse said...

Ed, thanks for the link and discussion. Of course, if you take everything in the article linked to as valid, it would tend away from Ivins in my view. But I wouldn't hold anyone to such a standard.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endospore#Formation_and_destruction

"
Reactivation of the endospore occurs when conditions are more favourable and involves activation, germination, and outgrowth. Even if an endospore is located in plentiful nutrients, it may fail to germinate unless activation has taken place. This may be triggered by heating the endospore. Germination involves the dormant endospore starting metabolic activity and thus breaking hibernation. It is commonly characterised by rupture or absorption of the spore coat, swelling of the endospore, an increase in metabolic activity, and loss of resistance to environmental stress. Outgrowth follows germination and involves the core of the endospore manufacturing new chemical components and exiting the old spore coat to develop into a fully functional vegetative bacterial cell, which can divide to produce more cells.
"

One article I saw in a search talked about 3 to 7 hours for one stage of this or maybe all 3. But some said it can be up to 60 days or never. The article I linked to above on runs found some dud runs. Even your linked article said it looked like multiple runs some duds were tried.

"
When a bacterium detects environmental conditions are becoming unfavourable it may start the process of sporulation, which takes about eight hours.
"

If the idea is to start Friday night and have spores ready Sunday morning, he is going to take 8 hours or more to activate to ready for exponential growth. But then its almost time to stop and go to work to put them to sleep, sporulation.

Ivins needed to be done Sunday morning to prepare the envelopes and clean everything up and get out.

Ivins knew the above biology already. He knew that starting with spores Friday night and ending with spores Sunday morning meant the time to grow would be zero. Moreover, he knew from long experience the time to activate was highly random and the initial growth highly random. The dud runs in the article I link to above show that.

The evidence from the article linked (by Ed) is that 10 percent of some of the first letters were spores and the rest growth material. Ivins knew that is what would happen. Ivins knew his schedule, and he knew spores to growing dividing cells back to spores by Sunday morning was a fool's errand. So why did he do it? Dr. Popov in his discussion indicates it takes days to do anything meaningful including prep time. (There is also thorough cleaning to avoid detection here.)

Alternative scenario.

Someone someplace else as part of a conspiracy started growing spores the week after 9/11 on orders from someone. They were told to grow and prepare them.

Then the order came in to take what they had and mail them right away. That is, it was unexpected to stop the growth and mail what they had. That means it wasn't Ivins. Ivins would have known he had to be back to spores Sunday morning.

So someone else in place X was told to prepare a lot of anthrax by growth. But then within a couple of days of that order they were told to stop and do sporulation and mail out what they had. This means it wasn't Ivins acting alone.

Moreover, the place was not Ivins lab, it was someplace they expected to be able to run a large fermenter or shaker incubator for 7 to 14 days like in the paper I linked to. Run to completion and test for completion like the paper did. But then they were surprised and had to sporulate what they had and mail it. That means it wasn't Ivins.

Its a classic detective story plot. (Too bad the FBI can't figure these out isn't it? But that is for the amateur detective?) We just needed to activate the little gray cells together mon ami. N'est-ce pas?

==

Searches that are interesting are

bacillus sporulation

and activation, germination, out-growth, anthracis, subtilis, etc.

Anonymous said...

If the lab notebooks supported an Ivins theory, they would have been quoted in the affidavits in support of a warrant. Relying on broad characterizations of an interview 4 years later is an indication that the documentary evidence does not support the FBI's conclusion. The notebooks would show what he was doing in the lab.

J-D said...

The anthrax weapons suspect the White House Chief of Staff's former assistant (for 2 months in 1996 his defense committee reported), he had received a letter of commendation from the White House, and had been granted a high security clearance for mathematical support work for the Navy. Now an NSA employee alleges that the Administration targeted communications of US media, including strictly domestic communications.

An NSA employee now tells Keith Olbermann of MSNBC that the agency was intercepting all US communications and targeting media. He says metadata and filters are used to hone in on calls of interest (as under the old ECHELON program in Europe). In considering whether the story is supported by the facts, Eric Lichtblau's excellent BUSH'S LAW (2008) is important background reading.

"In one of the operations that I was in, we looked at organizations, just supposedly so that we would not target them," Tice told Olbermann. "What I was finding out, though, is that the collection on those organizations was 24/7 and 365 days a year -- and it made no sense. ... I started to investigate that. That's about the time when they came after me to fire me."

When Olbermann pressed him for specifics, Tice offered, "An organization that was collected on were US news organizations and reporters and journalists."

"To what purpose?" Olbermann asked. "I mean, is there a file somewhere full of every email sent by all the reporters at the New York Times? Is there a recording somewhere of every conversation I had with my little nephew in upstate New York?"

NSA wiretapping is being briefed currently in the case of the other "anthrax weapons suspect."

282 UNDER SEAL Government's Motion for Treatment of Certain Defense Filings as Classified, filed by USA as to Ali Al-Timimi (original w/ Court Security). (tbul, ) (Entered: 01/13/2009)

281 ORDERED that pleadings 277 and 278 be and are removed from the public file and placed under seal with the Court Security Officer until further order of the Court; and, it is further ORDERED that [MSNBC legal commentator Turley] defense counsel scrupulously adhere to the Protective Order of December 3, 2004, as further violations of the Order could result in counsel losing his clearance; and, it is further ORDERED that any half sheets prepared for the public file be presented to the Court Security Officer before being tendered to the Clerk's Office to avoid any inadvertent disclosure of classified information as to Ali Al-Timimi. Signed by District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema on 12/23/2008. (jlan, ) (Entered: 12/24/2008)

271 ORDER: For the reasons stated in open court, the defendant's Motion to Compel Discovery 269 is GRANTED IN PART; and it is hereby ORDERED that the government provide a response to the five specific inquiries in the accompanying memorandum 270 . The response must include what, if any, relevant information was generated by, or is in the possession of, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Defense, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the National Security Agency; and it is further ORDERED that the defendant's Sealed Motion to De-Classify and Unseal the Government's Ex-Parte Filing and the Instant Motion 264 and his Motion to Compel Discovery of Undisclosed Surveillance Evidence 268 be and are DENIED; ***"

Anonymous said...

Simon Reeve, reporting for BBC travel last month, takes us on a guided tour of an anthrax and plague research laboratory not far from Afghanistan.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qakxo30hp6g

It is a fallacy to think that in 2001 the research laboratories containing virulent anthrax in the US -- including virulent Ames -- were any more secure. GAO did an audit of university labs a few years ago and found that they all lacked adequate security.

Ed Lake said...

It's my understanding that Ivins didn't keep any notebooks for the time when he was most likely creating the attack anthrax.

When the FBI questioned him, he didn't have any explanation for what he was doing in the lab during those long hours at night and on weekends. I believe he claimed he had "troubles at home" and would go to the lab just to get out of the house.

We don't know when he began growing the attack anthrax (assuming Ivins is the culprit), so arguments that he didn't have the time are meaningless.

The FBI says he DID have the time. The people who say he did NOT have the time are people with LESS INFORMATION, and most are people who have an interest in believing that Ivins was innocent. If Ivins made the anthrax at Ft. Detrick, everyone who worked around him failed to notice something they were supposed to notice. It's easier (and more convenient) to believe that the FBI made a mistake.

If Ivins was the culprit, he would have done things to cover his tracks. (We know he tried MULTIPLE times to mislead the investigation.) For example: As soon as it was learned that there was silicon in the attack anthrax, he would have tried to figure out where the silicon came from, and he would have changed his procedures to do his work in a way that would not leave that silicon signature.

There might be records that show that he changed procedures. As another example, there might be records that show he used one brand of agar before the attacks and another brand afterwards. There might be records of him using an unusual amount of nutrients during that time. There might be records of unusual purchases or changes in purchasing practices.

We do not know all the information the FBI has. It is ridiculous to assume that the FBI must be wrong because they undoubtedly have a lot more information than we do. That is a reason for believing they are right, not wrong.

Old Atlantic Lighthouse said...

The FBI in its released warrants or affidavits or its news conferences made it seem like the time he spent in the BSL3 was the conclusive proof he did it. Daschle said so and the FBI briefed him special. The FBI didn't say it had secret evidence of his guilt and that the time in the BSL3 was not a major part of the evidence.

According to the FBI, Ivins was in the BSL3 2 hours 15 minutes each day Friday, Sat, Sun after 9/11. That is the amount of time he would have had. It may be that he was in and out. Could he go from spores to cells back to spores to envelopes and clean everything and dismantle all makeshift equipment in that time?

If he had 5 liters of solution
on Saturday, how could he reduce it in time to powder spores? (The evidence from above is that there was an attempt to grow a lot. Note there were 5 letters in the first mailing according to current thinking according to the Wiki article.)

1) Build his own lyophilizer and dismantle it when finished.

2) Use a large capacity lyophilizer at the lab. (This seems out.)

3) Spray dryer. Likely not available.

4) Speed vac. Probably too small and might run too long?

Think about boiling a one quart pot of water on the stove until its dry. How long does that take? Note that boiling water with anthrax for over 30 minutes will likely kill it all according to sources that I found. Heating to 40 deg C without a speed vac or hood or special equipment to remove the vapor would likely take too long. There is always the contamination issue of the lab as well to consider.

He would presumably centrifuge the solution first, if he had sufficient centrifuge capacity. He then has to clean the centrifuge. All the equipment he uses has to be cleaned to avoid detection. He has to wear his suit while doing cleaning and every other step. That makes it take longer.

Does it make sense to try to make 5 grams of anthrax starting with spores in 36 hours with a limit of 2 hours 15 minutes per day in the lab?

Bucchi Boy said...

The Bucchi trade rep says that a charge results from the speed going out the nozzle and the company is not able to avoid it. (It has long been easy to get a uniform 1 micron product using a Bucchi mini-spraydryer). There are lots of people who dispute the theory it picked up its charge going through mail-sorting machines -- but I don't know anyone who disputes the suggestion by the Bucchi tech rep who says the charge results from the speed coming out the nozzle.

Bird Man said...

New blog:

http://tbirdnow.mee.nu/the_pale_horse_in_packets_bioterrorism_in_an_envelope

"I understand the science behind this, and know why they are claiming this was an American researcher, but I would suggest it far more likely that American biological weaponry fell into the hands of the enemy, or that an American scientist-notably Bruce Ivins but possibly including others-was working for Al-Qaeda; possibly under duress.This is the old ``lone crazed gunman`` routine that has served so well. While I am not a conspiracy theorist by and large, I do know that the government is prone to hiding unpleasant facts from the public in the interest of the general welfare. I suspect this was covered up to downplay the threat to the public, and to deny Al-Qaeda the prestige of striking with such a weapon of terror.

I don`t believe for a second that Ivins acted on his own.

Now, some will claim that the U.S. government did this to push the Patriot Act through, which is really tinfoil-hat stuff. Why bother sending real Anthrax at all? And if the government were to do that, why not do a better job of framing Saddam Hussein? Surely we could cobble up a (poor) Anthrax delivery system and strain that was available to Saddam. This conspiracy theory falls of its own weight.

But the crazed lone gunman just doesn`t hold water, either, and I believe that Al-Qaeda has had a robust bioterror research program."

Popeye said...

In June 2001, the good ship anthrax sailed in Annapolis, Maryland, the "sailing capital of the world." The 4th International Conference on Anthrax was held at St. John's College in historic Annapolis, Maryland, June 10 - 13, 2001. The conference was organized by the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, and managed by the American Society for Microbiology. The 74-foot classic wooden schooner was named WOODWIND. Martin Hugh-Jones had convened the conference along with Peter Turnbull, the Porton Down scientist who had led the UK conferences attended by Ayman Zawahiri's scientist, Rauf Ahmad. Reports of livestock and national park outbreaks were followed by a summary by Dr. Turnbull. Other anthrax notables who spoke included senior USAMRIID scientist Dr. Ezzell, who had one of the first looks at the Daschle product, and Dr. Paul Keim, who would play a key role in the genetic investigation. Other talks focused on cell structure and function such as the S-layer, exosporium, and germination. Theresa Koehler from the Houston Medical School gave a talk titled "The Expanding B. anthracis Toolbox" while Timothy Read from The Institute of Genome Research summarized research on The B. Anthracis Genome. Houston Medical School, the UK's biodefense facility Porton Down, and Pasteur Institute each fielded three presenters. UK scientists presented on the characteristics of the exosporium of "the highly virulent Ames strain." Researchers from Columbus, Ohio and Biological Defense Research Directorate (BDRD) of the Navy Medical Research Institute in Bethesda, assisted by Porton Down scientists from the UK, demonstrated that inoculated mice survived a challenge with b.anthracis spores. Researchers used b.anthracis containing a plasmid with a mutated lethal factor. The mice were "immunized via gene gun inoculation with eucaryotic expression plasmids encoding either the protective antigen (PA), a mutated form of lethal factor (LF) or a combination of the two." Dr. Phil Hanna from University of Michigan was there and presented, as he had been in the UK at the conference attending with Rauf Ahmad.

A Kazakhstan Ministry of Health scientist presented on the re-emergence of anthrax in Kazakhstan , which brings to mind that upon the break-up of the Soviet Union the first job offer Ken Alibek fielded was the position of Minister of Health in Kazakhstan. He protested when he realized that his new employer's job description shifted to "you know the job," and he realized that they just wanted to do what the Soviets had been secretly doing in an illegal and massive bioweapons program he had supervised as its First Deputy. After the KGB asked to meet with him, he asked to schedule the meeting in two weeks, so that he might visit his parents, and then found a secret expedited way of coming to the United States.

Pakistan Rauf Ahmad was the predator looking for the Ames strain and consulting on weaponization techniques at the UK conference. Did the Amerithrax perp attend this conference or work on any of the research presented?

In January 2002, FBI Assistant Director Van Harp told the 40,000 members of the American Society for Microbiology that it was "very likely that one or more of you know this individual." They very likely did.

Ed Lake said...

Old Atlantic Lighthouse,

First, search warrants do NOT represent conclusions. They represent the thinking at the moment. They are used to get MORE information in the hope that some conclusions can be drawn. And since search warrants represent the thinking at the moment, they can sometimes contain inaccurate information. They should NOT be used as final conclusions.

When the FBI and the DOJ stand before a group of scientists and state the facts as they know them, that is a totally different matter. That is what was done in the roundtable discussion on August 18, 2008. In that discussion, an FBI scientist officially stated:

"... we don't really have any answers for what process was used to grow additional spores or what methodology was used to dry them. I think that a lot of folks focus on the issue of lyophilizer. You can ask any of the folks and the panel members, and they will tell you that you can dry biological samples in one of dozens of ways. lyophilizer is one of them. You can let the samples heat-dry. You can let the samples -- the water evaporate. You can --"

Presumably, some effort was made to get rid of water via centrifuging or filtering BEFORE drying the spores. Your comment about boiling a quart pot of water until it's dry is a strawman argument. You just state it because you know it's ridiculous, but NO ONE ever suggested that is the way the spores were dried.

Popeye said...

Among the emails are some emails with another researcher. The scientist explains to me that "As a general overview, my lab helped discover a class of molecules that have the ability to stimulate the innate immune system. These can be used as vaccine adjuvants - materials that when added to a vaccine improve the strength, speed
and/or durability of the resulting protective response.

One of the vaccines that my lab added this adjuvant to was AVA, the vaccine against anthrax. My group collaborated with Dr. Ivins on that work. He helped provide background, ideas and reagents, and performed some studies at USAMRIID using highly infectious anthrax that I could not study in my lab. My lab did a great deal of basic immunology studying the mechanism of action of these adjuvants."

Popeye said...

On September 18, 1998, Dr. Ivins wrote a meeting concerning the 2001 Anthrax meeting he was helping to plan in his role as liaison with the ASM. He wrote: "security - we want to start a dialogue early on with the experts to benefit from their wisdom and knowledge so we can say we've done everything possible to ensure a safe meeting." Ironically, it appears that Dr. Ivins was taking the lead in ensuring that the conference was not infiltrated.

Ed Lake said...

Old Atlantic Lighthouse wrote: "Does it make sense to try to make 5 grams of anthrax starting with spores in 36 hours with a limit of 2 hours 15 minutes per day in the lab?"

No, it doesn't. And no one but you even suggests that is what the FBI says Ivins did.

Here's the exchange that took place at the roundtable discussion on August 18:
------

QUESTION: Can you tell me in your preparations how long it took you to make a spore like this as of the SI enhancer or whatever -- the drying, et cetera? How long did that take?

DR. BURANS: Basically, it would take somewhere between three and seven days.

QUESTION: That's all? How many people did it take to do that to that; to --

DR. BURANS: One person can perform the operation.
--------

Turning 3 to seven days into 36 hours is pure distorting of information.

And there was no "limit of 2 hours 15 minutes per day in the lab." That's just how much time he spent in the lab on certain critical NIGHTS from Sept. 14 to 16, 2001.

If you can only make arguments by distorting information, then you have no valid arguments.

Old Atlantic Lighthouse said...

Let's recap two competing scenarios, among more I know.

In scenario one, a lab with all the equipment to do 5 to 10 gram powder runs is set up somewhere. Workers can work without having to worry about being discovered. They have the top equipment of every type, large floor shaker incubator, big centrifuges, spray dryers and lyophilizers, test equipment, etc.

This lab is given the order to produce 5 to 10 grams. Its sets that up and starts running. But the other comes in to stop and hand over what they have to someone else.

Then in the second batch, they are given the order to prepare more. Possibly right after this aborted attempt. They just go back to work immediately.

Note that the second letters were mailed Oct 19. If you think about a 14 day run in the paper I linked to above and then days to process the powder, it could take 3 weeks going flat out to produce good powder for the next run.

In the Ivins case, Ivins didn't have the equipment the first time, nor the second. Ivins never had the good setup described above or in the paper I linked to previously. In the Ivins scenario, he doesn't start again until 2 weeks later and has only 1 week to do it. So again, he has too little time, can only work part time at it, and doesn't have the equipment.

In comparing likelihoods, each run is less likely for Ivins. So the total likelihood of Ivins is much lower looked at from this point of view.

Old Atlantic Lighthouse said...

The reason Friday Sep 14 to Sep 16 is so important is that the FBI presented this as the psychological proof Ivins did it. Daschle was briefed by the FBI and he said he believed because of the nights before the mailing.

But now we are told it wasn't even possible to prepare the anthrax in the nights before the first mailing. This is presented as if the FBI had never said or implied that. Did they go back and tell Daschle this?

The reason Friday to Sunday is so important is the chance not to be seen. If it takes 3 days (72 hours) or more to let an incubator or fermenter run in the lab, then it has to run during a weekday, Friday or Monday and possibly more.

That means others can see it. We are talking about preparing 5 grams or more in a run. That is a bigger run of anthrax than has been done at Ft. Detrick in the recent era. So it would be noticed. It would be a giant run relative to normal.

Moreover, the stats on the paper I showed show that to get 5 grams of powder one should really aim for more like 25 liters to 50 liters because its unlikely that a liter will produce a gram of powder.

The strongest evidence connecting Ivins to the mailings is the lab time. That's the FBI crown jewel of evidence. But if in fact, he would have to let a large run of 5 liters or more in a flask run (or hundreds of plates) then it is not such great evidence because it would have been noticed.

Note also for 5 grams using Dr. Popov's 100 plates per letter estimate we get 500 plates. 1 minute per plate comes to 500 minutes, longer than a 2 hour 15 minute period. So he didn't have time to manipulate 100's of plates in each step, set up, drying and scraping. Remember, you wanted to have the plates scraped. Well scraping 500 plates takes more than 2 hours 15 minutes.

That the first letters show an attempt to grow shows he needed to. That means the anthrax of the second letters had to be grown. But that means running on week days.

The first letters were unsatisfactory. So new anthrax had to be grown. If it takes 72 hours, then he had to run on a weekday, either with 200 or more plates for 2 grams (if not 400 for 4 grams) or 2 to 20 liters of material in a rotating shaking fermenter. If he used a flask only, his runtime would be longer.

To get 2 grams of powder would likely take 7 days to 14 days not 3. Then it has to be dried.

Air drying will take time. He doesn't have that on the first weekend. If he air dries he has to stop on Saturday. In which case, how did he expect to get 5 grams to grow if he was going to stop on Saturday to air dry?

Some Ivins emails have been released. Some contain extensive statistical output before 9/11/2001. So he knew how to count. They have tests of statistical significance. So he understood variability. The paper I cited before shows many runs are duds. Ivins knew that.

The FBI used the times in the lab before the mailing as its proof for Daschle. But those times are not adequate to do all the steps. So the FBI case is gone. What is the evidence left?

Ed Lake said...

This morning, I posted a long message showing point by point where Old Atlantic Lighthouse's suppositions about the time it MUST have taken to create the attack anthrax are just bad assumptions using distorted facts.

But, my message got lost somewhere. Either Dr. Nass didn't approve of my response, or she never got it.

I just don't have the energy to write it all over again.

Old Atlantic Lighthouse said...

(Hope this is not a double post of same thing)

Following is new

http://www.druckerco.com/drucker/centrifuges/horizontal.asp

Above centrifuges. The are for lab use and can handle up to 300ml at most. That is far less than the 5 liters or more that would have had to be dried. The dtic paper indicated multiple centrifuge runs of 30 minutes each. So if he had to use a 300ml capacity centrifuge he would have had to be in the lab far longer than 2 hours 15 minutes.


==previous post if double posted.

Ed, try commenting on following.

http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA426293&Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf

Page 12 of pdf methodology. Page 20 table of results.

Note that both plates (NSM) and liquid used an incubator. In each case, 3 days was the best time. But some runs were duds even after 10 to 14 days.

The person thought they could grow at least 5 grams it appears, but stopped with only .5 grams for the first letters, relying on Ed's linked source and a guess of 5 grams material. But maybe its 10 grams and 1 gram?

It appears someone expected to run 3 to 14 days and harvest a full set. Then they had to stop and give what they had to someone or use it themselves. Then immediately after that, i.e. around Sep 18 they started on the run for the second set.

Did Ivins have a centrifuge to handle 5 liters or more? The paper talks about centrifuging multiple times, each time taking 30 minutes. If Ivins had 2 hours 15 minutes max on each lab day in the first set, he doesn't have time to centrifuge the 5 liters even once if he was limited to one liter per centrifuge run. Maybe his centrifuge was even smaller than in the paper. Note the paper has a floor size shaker incubator for the liquid runs which weights 400 pounds. The paper had much better equipment than Ivins had. That means Ivins run times would be much longer and his chances to have dud runs or low yield runs much higher.

From the first run having only 10 percent spores according to Ed's source, we can infer that they needed to grow. That means the second run had to be grown between Sep 18 and Oct 6-9.

If those took 7 to 14 day runs plus centrifuging multiple times, etc. then the work likely started right after Sep 18. So it wasn't Ivins.

It seems on the first run, someone was in a hurry to dry it. This is more consistent with someone who unexpectedly had to deal with a short time horizon. If Ivins had a small centrifuge for smaller jobs than one liter than he couldn't have really expected to dry 5 liters or more. So he wouldn't have tried at all.

Dont' forget the subtilis that was different from Ivins lab. It is likely a trace of subtilis was present at the start of the run and that this grew along with the anthracis. That argues that a smaller amount of anthracis was used to start and that there had already been several days of growth, i.e. it wasn't a run from Sep 14 to Sep 15/16 but a run somewhere else started more like Sep 11 or even a few days before.

Old Atlantic Lighthouse said...

The dog that didn't bark in the night. Ivins spent only 2 hours 15 minutes each on Fri Sep 14 to Sun Sep 16 by FBI's own affidavits.

The material that was sent was not sufficiently centrifuged and washed to separate the spores from the rest. This implies the person who sent it had run out of time.

But Ivins had loads of extra time. If Ivins had a centrifuge on those days, then he could have spent extra hours centrifuging and washing. If he didn't have a centrifuge in his lab, its hard to see how he ever did it.

It appears one of the letters was more thoroughly prepared to cause inhalation anthrax. So if Ivins was doing this and did that one better, why didn't he do another one better too? He had the time. Lots of it. But he didn't. This is the dog that didn't bark in the night.

Ivins didn't do the Florida run and the New York runs at the same time on this weekend. But that was the FBI's whole argument. Moreover, Ivins had time that last weekend to do at least one letter better but didn't. So he wasn't in there just doing the letters.

Old Atlantic Lighthouse said...

Lets not forget the subtilis contamination. That indicates a test run was done with the equipment first. That equipment was at least rinsed presumably. Then the subtilis had a growth phase is likely. So there was probably a growth phase of at least a couple days and possibly 7 days.

If we look at the paper I reference before some runs go 14 days. They tested the runs at the end of each day and stopped when they reached a conversion of food to spores.

The people doing the run may have counted on 3 to 7 days and then they got a slow run and they went with what they had. So they started say Sep 11 to mail Sep 17/18 and then got to Sep 16 or so and went with what they had.

One theory (Ross Getman or Kenneth Dillon?) is that there was a transfer in Maine by Atta to someone else that took place on Sep 11. That would then explain their hoping to get a good run before Sep 17/18 but it not working out as shown by many runs in the dtic paper that don't.

So one scenario is the subtilis prep run was done before Sep 11. That ran in under 7 days. Then that group got the anthracis from Atta who got it from someone who got it from a US site that had it. Then the anthracis run was slow so they went with what they had. Then they started their next run on Sep 18 and got it ready to mail Oct 6-9.

Ross Getman said...

The former United States Attorney for the District of Columbia who was in charge of Amerithrax before Jeffrey A. Taylor, then went to the White House where he led on national security matters. Previously, he also had been FBI Director Mueller's Chief of Staff and head of the DOJ division fusing law enforcement and national security.

KW was US Attorney at the time I emailed FDA Commission Lester Crawford and CFSAN Director about a secret industry project in which benzene was known to form in certain soda under certain conditions. Exposure to heat greatly increased the benzene levels. I emailed mid-afternoon Wednesday at 2:22 p.m. FDA Commissioner Crawford resigned less than two days later, Friday morning, with no explanation. He just sent an email to employees announcing that he was resigning and walked out the building.

Senators Clinton and Kennedy demanded an explanation but he refused to say why he was resigning. He later was prosecuted for two misdemeanors and pled guilty.

Dr. Crawford was a drinking water contamination expert and would have known of benzene levels due to the Total Diet Study results he oversaw. When I emailed, I had not realized he was former chief scientific advisor for the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which carried water (but mainly soda) for the American Beverage Association. He had $62,000 in Pepsi stock and $78,000 in the stock of a food lunch distributor. I also had not known that.

The US Attorney never required an allocution revealing that Dr. Crawford had known of the benzene contamination problem that so greatly affected Coca-Cola and Pepsi worldwide. When I asked the CFSAN FDA Director why she had not taken action, she told me it was because I had not submitted data but was just pointing to secret industry documents. I had to arrange, at great expense, to have a lab here test dozens of soft drinks. At $65 a test, it was something the FDA should have done. Then I sent the data to agencies around the world. Germany was the first to move forward, disclose the results and require recalls. Numerous countries in the developed world followed.

A very similar thing has happened in Amerithrax. I contacted the United States government (the CIA) to tell them about a secret project. The same United States Attorney over the years then oversaw the suppression of the revelation. Sometimes an Administration will avoid disclosures that it deems embarrassing -- privately using various rationalizations that seem plausible to them. Here, one rationalization available was that they wanted to maintain continuing intelligence gathering platforms. They would privately reason that prevention is more important than a successful prosecution. At the end of the day, though, when the history is written, there often will be a whistleblower who will cast the motivation in a starker light. If the United States Attorney attempts to close Amerithrax based on the crock that was the subject of the August press conference by US Attorney Taylor, then he is on full notice that whistleblowers will indeed come forward. Everything already is springloaded.

Now it is being revealed by an FDA whistleblower that in 2005 the FDA also knew of a problem with mercury in Coca-Cola. Under the Administration of Barack Obama, this is a time for people to require transparency in government, strengthen protection for whistleblowers, avoid the polticization of justice, and for our high officials always to act in the public interest, not their own political interest or in the monied interests of corporations.

Oh, and please do get soda out of public schools and bring Amerithrax to a successful resolution.



Getman, "Big Soda vs. Our Kids: Better Beware of Benzene in Soda Pop," Providence Journal, March 12, 2006

http://www.commercialalert.org/issues/education/soft-drinks/big-soda-vs-our-kids-better-beware-of-benzene-in-soda-pop

Anonymous said...

In June 2001, in addition to the conference at Annapolis, a conference was held at Aberdeen Proving Ground for small businesses that might contribute to the biodefense effort. It it showcased APG's world class facillities that had the full range of relevant equipment, as well as the range of activities and research featured by presenters at such conferences. It was called "Team APG Showcase 2001" APG built a Biolevel-3 facility and, according to a Baltimore Sun report, by October 2002 had 19 virulent strains of anthrax, including Ames. The US Army and other agencies would promote small business innovation under a program (SBIR) that required that a small portion of R&D appropriations be made available for innovative projects. An example would be the 2001 grant issued DOD/Army for $70,000 titled "Wet-Vacuum Sampler For Surface Biocontamination Detection," which was awarded November 2000 to Rocky Mountain Resource Labs, Inc. of Jerome, Idaho (now named "Microbial-Vac"). Some work under that grant was subcontracted.

Let's assume for the sake of argument the processor used a Buchi 290 mini spraydryer, used a novel method to concentrate the spores, and then mixed the product with silica. ABC News, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and Kenneth Alibek have all suggested a spray dryer could have been used; moreover, that without more, could explain why there was a static charge. The US Technical Applications engineer for the Buchi spraydryer (at Brinkman) reports that "some of our products come out so electrostatically charged that we want to 'zap the charges out' and never are able to." The Buchi Product Manager for the spray dryer in Switzerland says that it "is with great probability possible to do a coating of spores on silica particles in a lab-bench spray dryer. Two reasons for this assumption: i) The systems can be used with small amount of samples and thus intended to be used with biological systems; ii) the spray drying process is used for heat sensitive products due to short retention time and mild evaporation conditions in the spraying chamber." He explained "that biological application and spray drying has quite a broad range of overlap."

There were an estimated 200 mini spray dryers in the US (when you include the 190 and 191 models, which had basically the performance parameters). There really was no competitor --the smallest Niro model was far bigger. Notwithstanding all the containment and safety features available as accessories to the Buchi 290, the processor needed to be wearing a protective suit (or at least gloves and mask). The Product Manager for the spray dryer in the US (at Brinkman) reports: "There are not really any safety features to prevent breathing of the final product. Once you are done, you remove the vessel and proceed to remove the powder from the vessel. If you don't want to breathe it in, then you would have to use a gas mask of some sort which is obviously not provided by us or Buchi."

Siloxane, according to Anonymous, reportedly was detected -- pointing to use of a hydrophobic treated fumed silica. Would it be observable by SEMs? Is that why Meselson and Alibek didn't see any silica?

The product manager for the US reports that there would also be some contamination of the spray cylinder: "Also keep in mind that the glassware does become coated with whatever you are spray drying, so you also have "containment issues" when cleaning the glassware. If it is water soluble, then we always just take the glassware to the sink and wash the product off and let it go down the sink. Some of the product on the glassware is heat destroyed product and is not viable "

Under this proposed scenario, the perp needed (1) access to Ames, (2) access to a Buchi mini spraydryer, (3) protective suit or at least mask and gloves, (4) a means of inserting the product into the envelope, and (5) he likely was a supporter of Ayman Zawahiri's goals and recruited by him, Atef, KSM, Hambali or an intermediary . A Buchi mini spray dryer would cost up to $45k with accessories and, thus, if indicated, is quite limiting.

Although I've suggested that the pilot plant scale Niro spraydryer was not used here -- and that a smaller laboratory model is indicated by the small batch used -- early in the investigation the FBI did contact Niro in Denmark about its spraydryers (according to a news report). Niro has sold over 2000 units of its Mobile Minor laboratory scale Spray Dryer -- nearly one a week for 50 years. Niro maintains a Drying Technology Center at its Columbia, MD and Copenhagen, Denmark sites, with spray dryers, fluid bed dryers, flash dryers and its fully equipped analytical lab.

The processor here likely would not only have expertise using a laboratory or pilot spray dryer in such applications that use fumed silica, siloxanes or silicon oil, but he or she would have experience with using the additive with bacteria. Without such experience -- which there is no indication Dr. Ivins had -- one likely would render the bacteria unviable by not knowing the appropriate inlet temperature or not know the right flow velocity to get the right particle size. A perpetrator would not want to have to be on a learning curve such as accusers of Hatfill or Berry or Ivins may imagined began after 9/11 -- when, they imply, the idea occurred to the mischief maker. When dealing with a deadly pathogen, you don't suddenly grab the bacteria, open up a laboratory manual, and power up a spray dryer for experiments -- super patriot or super poet or not. The perp necessarily -- prior to 9/11 -- had experience with a spray dryer and use of silica (or some other means of drying. Notwithstanding any teach-ins with William Patrick, has Dr. Ivins ever even used a mini-spray dryer with fumed silica and an anthrax simulant? Had he ever even used a fluid bed dryer?

In one report of an experiment involving biodetection equipment, after noting that "Silica is a common material for aerosolizing Anthrax spores, and would likely be found in a weaponized biological agent mixture," the researchers then add it to bacillus thuringiensis in order to test their equipment. Here, in addition to the Silicon Signature, bacillus subtilus contamination was found.

Biodetection is the key mission of the biodefense community -- Edgewood maintains a database of simulant properties. The info and equipment, including spraydrying equipment, was available to participants in the SBIR -- promoting small business innovation. So might it require learning of a state? Well, to get that, all you needed to do was go to the program that shares such research for the purpose of innovation in the area of biodefense. That is, if good old American know-how relating to its commercial applications wasn't enough (and maybe it was).

Anonymous said...

Here is a 1996 report on a study done at Edgewood involving irradiated virulent Ames provided by John Ezzell that was used in a soil suspension.

http://aem.asm.org/cgi/reprint/62/9/3474.pdf

Anonymous said...

This article discusses Ames supplied by the Battelle-managed Dugway, subtilus, and use of sheep blood agar.

Bacillus Spore Inactivation Methods Affect Detection Assays, Received 12 January 2001/Accepted 25 May 2001
http://aem.asm.org/cgi/content/full/67/8/3665

Did Battelle have virulent Ames across I-95? Edgewood tested nanoemulsion biocidal agents at Edgewood during this time period, according to a national nanobiotechnology initiative report issued June 2002.

Deep Throat said...

I noticed that the House this week included enhanced whistleblower protections for federal employees as part of the stimulus package. The measure would protect all employees from reprisal for disclosing wrongdoing, even those who work at national security-related agencies. An amendment to the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act adopts language the House passed in 2007. It would extend the protections to FBI and intelligence agency employees and scientists who speak out about research suppression.

Ellen Byrne said...

More proof:

http://www.fancast.com/tv/Hawaii-Five-O/97482/703550418/Hawaii-Five-0---Three-Dead-Cows-At-Makapuu%2C-Part-2/videos?autoPlay=false

Hennessey said...

Ellen,

"Three dead cows? Sounds like a nursery rhyme," says the Army Colonel. "Sounds like a horror story to me," says McGarrett.

When McGarrett came to see the unstable Alex Kline in the hospital after he was finally caught and Kline revealed his fiendish plan to sound the alarm, he asked Kline, "Who appointed you savior of the world?" To which Kline replied, "Who made you keeper of the law?" McGarrett's response: "Karl Rove."

Oh, wait. That was the reality show adaptation.
Later on, when McGarrett met with Wanda (played by an upbeat Loretta Swit) to solicit her help in convincing Kline not to go ahead with his plan of mass destruction, Wanda asked McGarrett how should Kline make his statement, McGarrett in his usual, idealistic way answered, "By legal and ethical processes. By orderly and vehement objection, if necessary. Girlie pictures will help increase traffic."

It's been 38 years since I saw the episode. Remind me. Is Loretta the victim, accused, an enabler, an innocent bystander. Did Alex secretly have lust in his heart for her cute friend, the blond telephone operator? What was her role?

http://www.sitcomsonline.com/photopost/showphoto.php/photo/78366/cat/1077

Short and Stout said...

Ellen,

In real life, Ed called the FBI when he saw this nursery rhyme posted on the web discussion of the matter. Written by an anonymous web poster before Dr. Ivins' first suicide attempt, it had it all: the veiled references to Ed, the Kappa sorority sisters, to troubles at home, the counseling, the long drives, Dr. Ivins' lab research on Syrian golden hamsters, the bioevangelism theme, and yes, even the allusion to the Five-O episode. The FBI is still investigating and has not closed the case. They may get the evil Wo Fat yet.

Ed Ode
(Rats Live On No Evil Star)

(A palindrome reads the same forwards and backwards)

Ma handed Edna ham
Ma is as selfless as I am

Kayak salad, Alaska yak.
Campus Motto: Bottoms up, Mac

Wow! Sis! Wow!
Wonton on salad? Alas, no, not now!

“Desserts, sis?” (Sensuousness is stressed).
Desserts I desire not, so long no lost one rise distressed.

“Do nine men interpret?” Nine men, I nod.
Doc, note I dissent. A fast never prevents a fatness. I diet on cod.

May a moody baby doom a yam?
Marge let a moody baby doom a telegram.

Oh who was it I saw, oh who?
Oozy rat in a sanitary zoo?

Was it a car or a cat I saw?
War! I saw ‘Nam — man was I raw.

We panic in a pew.
We’ll let Mom tell Lew.

‘Tis in a DeSoto sedan I sit.
To Idi Amin I am an idiot.

Race fast, safe car.
Rats live on no evil star.

Toot! Toot!
Too hot to hoot.

Stop, Syrian! I start at rats in airy spots.
Stop! Murder us not, tonsured rumpots.

Trap a rat! Stare, piper, at star apart!
Trade ye no mere moneyed art.

If I had a hi-fi!? If I had a hi-fi!?
I, madam, I made radio. So I dared! Am I mad? Am I?

Ah! A mop, a man, a map: Omaha!
Was it felt? I had a hit left, I saw.

Solo gigolos.
So many dynamos.

Oh, no! Don Ho.
Ogre, flog a golfer. Go!

Ten animals I slam in a net.
Pets, Ed, I sidestep.

Nurse, save rare vases, run!
Now, sir, a war is won.

Mad? Am I, madam?
Madam, in Eden, I’m Adam!

Reviled did I live, said I, as evil did I deliver.
Revered now I live on. O did I no evil, I wonder ever?

Satan, oscillate my metallic sonatas.
Are we not drawn onwards, we few, drawn on to new era?

Ellen Byrne said...

Hennessey and Short and Stout,

You are killing me. My sides ache from laughing.

Yes, this aired almost forty years ago but the acting, music, research, special effects, and plot rival any of today's productions. In a nutshell:

The Feds, 2 orderlies, Dr. Malden ("The Great Mind Bender" who administers truth serum), McGarret, 5-0, HPD, the National Guard, the colonel with the non-regulation hair cut, and a nurse could not break Dr. Kline (aka Arnold or Alex). They only glean the fact that the stash of deadly bacteria was hidden in a vial under a pier - in Hawaii - BRILLIANT!

McGarret devises a plan to let Kline leave the hospital so that he, Dann-o, Kono, etc, can go undercover to follow the evil scientist. Despite blending into old downtown Honolulu in suits and ties, their only break is to follow Dr. Kline and Wanda (yes, a young Loretta Switt) to Delores Sisuki's boyfriend's boat at the Marina. There, the love of this good woman convinces Alex to fess up to the location of the pier. He takes them there to retrieve the vial but IT'S GONE!

The episode has to be watched until the end - surfers, babes, a really lame fist fight, histrionics, troops all too eager to use flame throwers - something for everyone. Seeing McGarret come to the rescue hanging on to the side of a troop-carrying truck is, indeed, a thrill.

Two thumbs up, 5 stars!

Ellen Byrne said...

Hennessey,

Re: "the blond telephone operator? What was her role?"

Kappa Kappa Gamma pledge captain.

Ellen Byrne said...

Hennessey,

Re: "Did Alex secretly have lust in his heart for her cute friend, the blond telephone operator? What was her role?"

SHE was the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority pledge captain.

Old Atlantic Lighthouse said...

FBI timeline of time in lab

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121802782147216721.html

"The three days beginning Sept. 17, 2001, Dr. Ivins worked to around midnight on two nights, and remained until nearly 10 p.m. on the final night, a Sunday. Agents suggested this provided ample opportunity for him to conduct the work needed to manufacture the anthrax."

They probably mean ending Sept. 17. This shows it is the FBI theory that Ivins did the first runs on that weekend. As discussed above, this is a difficult scenario.

The times for the second "run" by Ivins in the timeline above also don't correspond well to work to be done in the lab. Ivins spends between 1 and 2 hours each on Friday, Sat and Sun which are Sep 28, 29 and 30. Then he spends 20 min on Monday Oct 1 and 23 minutes Tuesday Oct 2. Then he spends 3 hours Wed Oct 3, 3 hours 33 min Thur Oct 4 and 3 hours 42 min on Friday Oct 5.

The FBI evidently thinks he did it in that time. However, this would imply that the centrifuging didn't start until Wed. So he did his fermenter run starting Sep 27-30 and let it run until Wed night in the lab. A large fermenter going during the day in the lab for all to see. Then he centrifuges for a night or two or three. Then he needs to run the lyophilizer to get powder. That is an overnight run say. But that would imply he ran it during the weekday from Thur night to Fri night. Moreover, the lyophilizer would have contaminated the lab because it didn't have a proper hood, etc. If he made a lyophilizer and then got rid of it, that would take time and also not be well shielded.

Because baccilus has almost the same density as water it takes a long time to separate bacillus from water by centrifuging. To get good quality powder requires multiple runs of centrifuging. 5 minutes centrifuging is not enough. It has to be more like 30 minutes or more. The centrifuges in the lab may not have been for the large capacity run Ivins was doing either time. The FBI never tried to match the times in the lab, with the equipment in the lab with the tasks to be done in the order they have to be done.

"Agents suggested this provided ample opportunity for him to conduct the work needed to manufacture the anthrax."

Isn't that the true junk science here?

Ed Lake page with data on times in lab:

http://www.anthraxinvestigation.com/Update-History2008.html

Time logs for some of the days

http://www.ersnews.com/images/anthrax/doc1.jpg

http://www.ersnews.com/images/anthrax/doc2.jpg

Old Atlantic Lighthouse said...

The source Ed kindly linked to on the 10 percent of the New York letters being anthrax spores is repeated here:

http://www.albionmonitor.com/0208a/anthrax.html

One can search on vegetative, vege is enough in the article.

"
The total amount of material used in the letter attacks was about seven to ten grams. Earlier reports lean to the higher numbers and the later reports cite smaller amounts. Of this, most was comprised of harmless, dead vegetative cells and other non-infectious debris, but roughly two to three grams were pure spores -- a fact that stops researchers in their tracks. Growing anthrax bacteria is one thing, but turning living vegetative cells into dormant spores is something else.

Producing quantities of vegetative cells is difficult, but not incredibly so. The problem lies in getting the vegetative cells to turn into spores without killing them. Making purified spores in quantity is a difficult and complex task -- not just hard to do, but hard to discover how.
"

"
Alibek identified what he called the "first sample" as being largely contaminated with vegetative cells; these would be dead anthrax bacteria that didn't turn into spores. This "first sample" was probably the New York Post anthrax, though Alibek did not make that clear.
"

The important point is that the 5 to 7 grams in the letters with 10 percent spores is not growth media plus .5 to .7 grams of spores. The 5 to 7 grams were all anthrax cells, but 4.5 to 6.5 grams were dead cells and .5 grams were undead spores.

This means a full production run of growth was done to completion. It was not a matter of running for 2 days and then the growth media was sent with spores. Instead, there was a full 3 to 14 days growth run in a fermenter incubator that was completely successful. It was the attempt to turn these into spores that was faulty.

But in time terms, this means that the first weekend from Friday Sep 14 to Sun Sep 16 was not long enough to grow 5 to 7 grams of anthrax cells. They grew that full amount. Then they processed that full amount. They only got .5 grams of spores out of that processing, but the processing still took all the time of growing 5 to 7 grams of anthrax cells and then centrifuging them and the rest. They attempted those processing steps with a full set of anthrax cells of 5 to 7 grams. So they took time for those steps.

Ivins didn't have the time or equipment for this volume of 5 to 7 grams of anthrax cells. Thus Ivins didn't do it that weekend as the FBI alleged.

In addition, some in the government have understood this for a long time. They understood that there was a full growth run of 5 to 7 grams of living anthrax cells and it was only the conversion to spores that resulted in a loss of most of those 5 to 7 grams. Thus they knew Ivins could not have done it on that weekend in September that the FBI says he did.

Old Atlantic Lighthouse said...

The following discussion is in the form of a hypothesis and others can point out my errors.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/aug/08/lab-deemed-early-as-contaminated-rats-nest/

"AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES A technician at the U.S. Army's Fort Detrick biomedical research laboratory in Maryland opens a letter in December 2001 addressed to Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat. The letter was suspected of containing anthrax, based on testing before the envelope was opened.
Picture 1 of 2
[Close"

This letter is opened in a large box, which I will call a large glove box, and others can correct me on the term to use.

The procedure at Ft. Detrick was to open the Leahy letter in a glove box. They didn't just go into suite B3 wearing protective suits and open it on a counter with a letter opener.

The glove box is a sealed environment to contain the anthrax.

In producing anthrax, they presumably do it inside the same glove box shown in the picture.

This glove box is not big enough for a 10 liter fermenter.

Search "10-liter fermenter"

http://images.google.com/images?client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&channel=s&hl=en&q=%2210-liter%20fermenter%22&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wi

The FBI theory is that the 5 to 7 gram run was done in suite B3 from Friday Sep 14 to Sun Sep 16. That would require a large fermenter, of the 10 liter or more size. But such a fermenter won't fit in the glove box in Suite B3 shown in the above photo.

"5-liter fermenter"

http://images.google.com/images?um=1&hl=en&safe=off&client=firefox-a&channel=s&rls=org.mozilla%3Aen-US%3Aofficial&q=%225-liter+fermenter%22&btnG=Search+Images

Nor would a 5 liter fermenter.

The Suite B3 was designed by engineers and scientists for a specified scale of production. That scale of production was on the milliliter scale?

The statements out of Ft. Detrick suggest production of anthrax using a few small plates. When they talk about Ivins doing it, they say it would take hundreds of runs. It appears that those familiar with Suite B3 have in mind that its a milliliter scale facility.

The original design is that you do the procedures one after the other in the same glove box? I.e. you don't grow the anthrax on plates and then to centrifuge you take them to another glove box with the centrifuge. Instead, the centrifuge is in the same glove box. Its like an assembly line inside the glove box. All the steps are done one after another in the same box.

The box is built to do a certain level of production and that is designed into its size. If its milliliter scale, then its built for a small fermenter at most, for small centrifuges, etc.

You can't go take a milliliter scale glove box and put in 5 to 10 liter fermenters, centrifuges on the same scale, and a lyophilizer.

The milliliter scale design was for production on plates or small flasks, small centrifuges, and then whatever else they might do in it.

We can see from the box in the photo that the concept was to keep the anthrax in the glove box. The idea is that the suite itself is not as isolated from the rest of Ft. Detrick as a glove box is. If people walk in and out of a suite, no matter what the attempt to decontaminate them, its not as good as a glove box's ability to isolate pathogens.

Project Bacchus was designed at the 50 liter scale. Its whole design and setup was to do runs up to 50 liters. The centrifuges are the same scale. It is an assembly line, we can guess, designed for its scale of run.

Suite B3 is a milliliter scale, milligram facility.

If Ivins brought in a 10 liter fermenter and put it on the floor next to the glove box to do anthrax production runs in, that would contaminate much higher levels of anthrax all over the lab. Moreover, it doesn't make sense. Anyone walking in seeing a large fermenter in the suite would be shocked. Nor could he run with that during weekdays as is required.

Suite B3 is a milliliter scale facility. That is why Ft. Detrick people always say it would have taken hundreds of runs. The glove box and lab design are not suitable for large fermenters, centrifuges and lyophilizers.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Andrews, Dr. Ivins' supervisor at the time, I believe, has said that the fermenter had a seized motor and was inoperable. He is available by email.

If the FBI is certain of its conclusions, then it should close the case and lift the gag in effect that is preventing USAMRIID personnel from coming forward and showing the FBI's explanation to be utter crock.

Old Atlantic Lighthouse said...

Search bacillus centrifuge

http://books.google.com/books?id=dsObMVGxcwEC&pg=PA218&lpg=PA218&dq=bacillus+centrifuge&source=web&ots=ehJIyG8aOp&sig=7fnFyxWIlR2lqH8Ag0Qs1W97khM&hl=en&ei=HDiQSZPFO9-Btwfbi9mYCw&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=41&ct=result

Page 218 has formulas relating to centrifuging. Also it points out that bacteria have almost the same density as water so centrifuging takes time.

An older ref interesting to look at is

http://books.google.com/books?id=HmYSAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA406&lpg=PA406&dq=bacillus+centrifuge&source=web&ots=Z0XVlixSJB&sig=6h2Xn_HXVK1hARk1dViYvKT-LaQ&hl=en&ei=HDiQSZPFO9-Btwfbi9mYCw&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=2&ct=result

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Bacchus

"In the two-year simulation, the facility was constructed, and production of anthrax-like bacterium was successfully completed.[2] The participating scientists were able to produce about one kilogram of highly-refined bacterial particles.[2]"

Probably simulant so they didn't have to work in glove boxes. That is very hand with using a 50 liter fermenter, centrifuging and then using a large lyophilizer to convert to powder.

1 kilogram over 2 years is about 10 grams per week.

According to the FBI, Ivins produced 5 to 10 grams in the weekend from Friday Sep 14 to Sun Sep 16. That would be faster than the rate of project Bacchus.

Note the paper I cite above from dtic, if you estimate that for each liter you start you get 1/5 gram on average, then a 50 liter fermenter will produce 10 grams in a typical run, which typically is a week. This shows the dtic paper and the Bacchus project results are consistent and both point to a run time longer than Ivins had.

A partial list of reasons to think Ivins didn't do it:

(1) The time to grow is not long enough for weekend Sep 14 to Sep 16.

(2) Nor for the weekend Sep 28 to Sep 30.

(3) He would have had to run into weekdays.

(4) A fermenter big enough to do the job would not fit in his glove box so would sit on the floor or the counter in the suite. This would produce comment.

(5) Subtilis contaminant didn't match subtilis at Ft. Detrick.

(6) Silicon additive not in flask RMR1029.

(7) His glove box in Suite B3 was too small for the fermenter, centrifuge, or lyophilizer. So he would have to work outside of it. This would spread anthrax spores all over the lab.

(8) The extra matter in the envelopes in New York were dead anthrax cells showing he did a full growth run not sending growth media plus a few spores.

(9) The spore trail in Flordia is in the post offices and the AMI building. This indicates the spores came through the envelopes. There is no spore trail from NJ to Florida, indicating the Florida anthrax containing letters were mailed from Florida.

(10) Al Qaeda was in the area in Florida.

(11) The "hoax" letters from Florida came at the same time c. Sep 18 and c. Oct 5 and one was addressed to the same recipient Brokaw as from NJ.

(12) There were likely multiple letters to the AMI building and the J. Lo letter was probably one. It arrived Sep 19 which is too early to be delivered from NJ, so it was mailed from Florida.

(13) The ATTA heavy letters in the first letters were probably written by ATTA. All the mailed letters were likely written by hijackers to keep them from being identified to any who remained to mail them. The letters don't match Ivins handwriting.

(14) The FBI starting from 9/11 was under heavy pressure to not look at the links to Saudi Arabia, UAE and Pakistan. This has continued despite the mounting evidence of the hostility of all 3 in multiple instances.

(15) The FBI has acted out frustration toward medical and biology professionals in many cases since the anthrax attacks. Much of this is irrational antagonism. This includes Hatfill, Berry, Thomas Butler, Steven Kurtz, and Ivins falls into the same pattern.

(16) All the FBI searches produced nothing.

(17) The emails of Ivins are more consistent with his feeling anxiety than that he had actually done something. Someone who does something is more confident in tone.

Ellen Byrne said...

Ft. Detrick Germ Research Halted for Lab Search
http://www.wjla.com/news/stories/0209/593235.html

Monk said...

Dr. Ivins knew that the virulent Ames originally came from his flask and he knew who he had supplied virulent Ames.

Yet, "Dr. Ivins, his colleagues said, argued that al Qaeda was responsible. "He was very passionateabout this," former boss Jeffrey Adamovicz said."

online.wsj.com/article/SB121824122279026121.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

So what was Bruce's theory? (And why, oh why, couldn't he have curbed his evil desires to edit Wikipedia, post messages on YouTube, use fake screen names, write silly poetry, go places without telling his wife, and have a crush on a beautiful woman).

http://www.anthraxandalqaeda.com

Old Atlantic Lighthouse said...

The paper I link to at dtic shows the runs are 3 to 14 days and some are duds. That means the FBI can claim only one 3 day or less run not more as its magic weekend.

There is a limit of one magic X per case. One magic bullet not two. One magic weekend of production not two. Sep 14 to Sep 16 in 2 days to produce 5 grams is one magic weekend. Sep 28 to Sep 30 in 2 days to produce 2 to 4 grams is two magic weekends.

Impossible Dream.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZE4KGB6Wt4

Only one impossible dream allowed per case. So sorry Director Mueller.

(My verification word is shreess. How appropriate.)

Old Atlantic Lighthouse said...

Some questions to find out.

1) How many spores are in the RMR1029 flask now?

2) How many spores/ml?

3) In samples sent by Ivins before
and after 9/11 what were the spores/ml if sent in solution?
Were they sent in solution?

4) What are the range of growth rates of bacillus? What factors affect it?

5) How long and variable are the lags in the start of growth of bacillus?

6) How does the growth rate vary? Is it stochastic? Does is spontaneously slow and then speed up?

7) If you take 10 liter flasks and grow them separately and take a single 10 liter flask with the same starting stocks, what happens?

For example, take 10 samples and divide them in two. Put one of each in a separate 1 liter flask and the other halves in a common 10 liter flask. How do the growth rates compare? Do this separation
at the last instant.

Do bacillus have a turn off mechanism? In some cases they stop or pause growth?

8) What are the actual weights of spores and other matter in each letter?

9) Were the non spores in the first letters dead anthrax cells, indicating a growth cycle had occurred?

10) How much silicon was there in each letter? What tests were done?

11) What are the complete time sheets for Ivins from Aug 1 2001 to Dec 31 2001. Or longer. No reason to keep these secret. FOIA request can be made for them. FOIA for what is known of above in document form.

credit score estimator said...

But I must dash off this response: The thrust of Mr. Lake's desperate broadside is that he has compared photographs of “weaponized” spores from Dugway, and they look totally different from the spores in the anthrax letters. First off, where did these photographs of “weaponized” spores come from?? Authorities devoted to covering up the truth invoke secrecy at the drop of a hat. But here we have photographs of not only the attack anthrax, but also of what Dugway says is its weaponized anthrax being broadcast so that interested citizens like Ed Lake can put them on his website. How convenient. I wonder if Ed Lake’s sources for the photographs also provided him with his vehement point of view?