Saturday, January 24, 2009

More pictures +/- the complete exosporium

Here (or here, if you are having trouble viewing the first set of images) is a side by side comparison of the Sandia pictures (from Anonymous) with pictures of 2 different batches of anthrax spores from another paper. One picture shows anthrax spores WITH an intact exosporium, the other WITHOUT an intact exosporium. Clearly the Sandia picture most resembles the one WITHOUT an exosporium. This contradicts Sandia's claim that their picture of the mailed spores has an intact exosporium.

131 comments:

Ed Lake said...

I don't know what other people see, but when I look at the .ppt file, all I see is the Sandia image. The left side of the screen just shows a tiny X indicator that the image is either corrupted or missing.

I'd post a .jpg version of what I see, but someone will just claim that I'm deliberately distorting things to mislead people.

Anonymous said...

Ed Lake has been in touch with Sandia labs , and Sandia confirm that their image was produced using z-contrast. z-contrast is explained here:
http://see.leeds.ac.uk/research/igt/people/lloyd/gral-1a-2a.htm

It means that areas of the SEM that appear brighter contain elements of high atomic weight. In the example above, the element iron (Fe) is clearly brighter than the element magnesium (Mg). This is becasue Fe has a higher atomic weight than Mg.

Anthrax spores consist almost entirely of carbon (C). The element silicon has an atomic weight of 28, compared with only 12 for carbon.

The Sandia picture clearly shows bright rings around the spores, which tell us that a silicon-rich coating is present.

Obviously EDS images (where x-rays rather than electrons are detected) would highlight the silicon coatings even more so.

The first thing any competent analyst would want to know when tasked with discerning if an additive may be present in any sample is to determine the AMOUNT of that additive. This is called quantitative elemental analysis, a decades old branch of analytical chemistry. For example, if a sample contains the element silicon, it is relatively easy to determine the weight percentage of the element silicon. All the elements present totaled together obviously have to come to 100%.

I doubt if any journal referee would accept Sandia's conclusions about the presence of silicon without the vital weight percentage of silicon being disclosed.

Roughly speaking, the conclusions would be the following:

less than 0.1% - trace quantities, could come from contamination

0.1%-0.5% - minor quantities, more contamination from possibly using non-distilled tap water, or from silicone grease contamination from glassware stoppers.

0.5%-1.0% - fairly high concentration - could come from using a silicon based antifoam agent in a fermenter production run.

1.0%-2.0% - highly likely that a silicon containing compound was deliberately added.

greater than 2% - certainty that a silicon congaing compound was added deliberately.

Anonymous said...

If the exosporia were missing, or were too thin to be detected at Sandia's silicon imaging conditions, that could certainly explain the lack of silicon in the exosporia.

BugMaster said...

Ed:

I noticed that some of the images you posted links to were from a journal article describing the natural accumulation of silicon in a non-anthrax bacillus. Do you have access to the entire article? If so, could you go to the "Materials and Methods" section, there should be a paragraph or so describing the exact media components used in the study.

Could you copy this section and post it, please? Perhaps this may shed a little more light on the possible sources of the silicon.

Ed Lake said...

One of the Anonymi wrote: "The Sandia picture clearly shows bright rings around the spores, which tell us that a silicon-rich coating is present."

I'm not sure that that can be concluded from the images. The spore coat is clearly very light in color in the Sandia images, but it's also known that the spore coat is very hard, which means it's probably very dense. And it is density which is really being shown by the light shading.

NOTE that in BOTH of the images posted by Anonymous, the spore coat is DARK, not light. So, clearly there is a great difference in settings for those TEM images.

Now check HERE.

You will note that the uncoated spore consists of just 3 layers.

The coated spore provided by Anonymous consists of 6 layers, IF you include the hair nap as a layer.

The TEM images from Sandia do not show the hair nap, but they DO show the other 5 layers. The shadings are merely reversed. The space between the exosporium and the spore coat is very light in the image from Anonymous, but it is DARK in the image from Sandia.

Interpreting images this way is a very questionable practice, but can anyone really say that there are only 3 layers in the TEM image from Sandia? Clearly there are only 3 layers in the spore without its exosporium.

And it is VERY clear that the spore coat is DARK on the image where there is no exosporium, and the spore coat is very LIGHT on the TEM images from Sandia. PLUS, there is clearly something else covering the spore coat in the Sandia images.

Anonymous said...

"Roughly speaking, the conclusions would be the following:

less than 0.1% - trace quantities, could come from contamination

0.1%-0.5% - minor quantities, more contamination from possibly using non-distilled tap water, or from silicone grease contamination from glassware stoppers.

0.5%-1.0% - fairly high concentration - could come from using a silicon based antifoam agent in a fermenter production run.

1.0%-2.0% - highly likely that a silicon containing compound was deliberately added.

greater than 2% - certainty that a silicon containing compound was added deliberately."

Do you have 4 citations you could share? One for each claim?

Ed Lake said...

When I wrote "the uncoated spore" and "The coated spore" I meant "the spore without the exosporium" and "the spore with the exosporium."

It's hard to break the habit of talking about coatings. :-)

Also, it seems clear that the spore with the exosporium provided by Anonymous is WET. The exposporium is fully expanded like a wet sponge.

The exosporia in the TEM images provided by Sandia are DRY and collapsed.

Ed Lake said...

BugMaster wrote: "I noticed that some of the images you posted links to were from a journal article describing the natural accumulation of silicon in a non-anthrax bacillus. Do you have access to the entire article?"

If you are talking about the 1964 article by Rouf, it's HERE.

If that's not what you're asking about, I'll be back again tomorrow. I'm a 9-5 guy. And it's almost 5, shut down time.

Anonymous said...

The layer Ed Lake labels "5" in the Sandia images is clearly just a portion of the spore exterior located at a lower vertical height as compared to the bright cross-section layer "3", since in each image the darker layer "5" is fully or partially covered up by the cross-section layer "3" at various locations in the image. I've marked up Lake's pictures with blue arrows to indicate many of the places where Lake's layer "3" covers Lake's layer "5", here. Most likely, layer "5" is just a lower, non-cross-sectional portion of the same layer as layer "3".

Anonymous said...

Ed Lake wrote:

"Also, it seems clear that the spore with the exosporium provided by Anonymous is WET."

Ed apparently doesn't understand that ALL SEM micrographs are obtained from dry samples. The sample is scanned under a very high vacuum, where liquid water cannot exist.

Anonymous said...

BugMaster, the article you seek is located here.

BugMaster said...

The bacillus article referenced an earlier article that described the growth conditions used in the study. The only component that stands out is ammonium sulfate, present at quite a high level of 5 grams / liter. (more typical 1 g/l or less). Perhaps the ammonium sulfate contained trace amounts of silica.

Agar, since it is derived from a marine seaweed (which is a plant), would be a very likely source of silica, but in the articles, it was clearly stated that the spores were produced in liquid.

The authors theorized that in their case, the trace amount of silica found in the spores was from either the glassware or from silicon grease used in some of the lab apparatus they employed.

Anonymous said...

A recent article "Tough house-arrest conditions ruled lawful," Globe and Mail, January 15, 2008 reports that it costs up to $1 million a year to conduct surveillance of Mahjoub who is house arrest after being released last year. As part of his house arrest, intelligence agents took a picture of Nintendo Wii video game, which amounted to a technical breach“ because it allegedly has Internet capacity. Absent internet capacity, however, how can Mr. Mahjoub participate and follow this discussion of 5 nm detergent micelles and exosporiums?

Alleged to have been Vanguards of Conquest #2, his bail was denied on October 5, 2001 and was immediately followed by the anthrax letters to the two Senators deemed symbolically responsible for the rendering of senior Egyptian Islamic Jihad leaders.

The attorneys for the biology teacher and former lab tech Jaballah, who was in regular contact with Zawahiri by satellite telephone, face similar problems. The biology teacher was in contact with Mabruk, the military commander who announced Zawahiri's anthrax plans and Shehata, the man in charge of civilian special operations. He too was forbidden internet access that might permit him to look at Mr. Lake's cool pictures. It was then revealed that he had DSL connection in his kitchen that was paid for by the Canadian government . The government had awarded his daughter the connection as part of a computers for kids program. The biology teacher's lawyers argued that perhaps intelligence agents had arranged for the award -- implying perhaps that it was a trick to see who might secretly contact him or what web pages he might visit. Ah, if only life were as interesting and fun as the movies, it will turn out that Dr. N is working for the CIA and has arranged this website as a honey pot sting to see who visits. :0)

Ed Lake said...

One of the Anonymi wrote: "I've marked up Lake's pictures with blue arrows to indicate many of the places where Lake's layer "3" covers Lake's layer "5", here. Most likely, layer "5" is just a lower, non-cross-sectional portion of the same layer as layer "3"."

What you are pointing out are simply places where the exosporium is touching the spore coat. There is NO overlap. Your arrows do not point to ANY overlap anywhere.

Your argument is clearly FALSE because the spore coat clearly always has a different density than the exosporium.

Your argument is clearly FALSE because the exoporium is very flexible, while the spore coat is hard and inflexible. And the TEM images from Sandia clearly show that the exoporium is distorted away from the spore coat in many places.

Your argument is clearly FALSE because the open space between the spore coat and the exosporium is clearly visible whenever the exosporium is not touching the spore coat. The open space is clearly less dense than either the exosporium OR the spore coat.

The Sandia images show spores WITH their exosporium intact beyond any doubt.

Ed Lake said...

One of the Anonymi wrote: "Ed apparently doesn't understand that ALL SEM micrographs are obtained from dry samples."

They are TEM samples, not SEM samples. TEM samples are fixed in some fixing material and micro-sliced to provide a very thin cross-section of the sample. That's what the TEM images show.

The images from the .ppt slide appear to show spores that were fully hydrated at the time they were fixed. The Sandia TEM images show spores that were DRY at the time they were fixed and sliced.

Ed Lake said...

BugMaster wrote: "The authors theorized that in their case, the trace amount of silica found in the spores was from either the glassware or from silicon grease used in some of the lab apparatus they employed."

Yes. And that was just one of two reports written in 1980 which had scientsts guessing about what the source of the silicon might be. The other report was:

K. Johnstone, et al. (1980) Location of metal ions in bacillus megaterium spores by high-resolution electron probe X-ray microanalysis. FEMS Microbiology Letters 7: 97-101.

It said,

"Detectable amounts of zinc and silicon are located in the coat, and coat plus core, respectively."

"Linescans for silicon (unpublished results) confirmed the high levels of silicon in the coats and also the resolution of the method."

"The biological significance of the silicon observed in the coats and cortex is in doubt since it may be derived from glass culture vessels."

It appears that, for a long time because of these reports, it was thought by FBI investigators that the silicon may have come from the glassware or some other form of lab contamination. But, the investigation showed that was almost certainly NOT the case.

I provided a link to the Rouf report from 1964 which actually talks about OTHER ways that silicon can get into spores. Rouf found that the silicon was coming from the WATER he used.

Near the end of the Rouf article he writes:

"The significance of the high content of Si, Zn, Mn and Cu in spores is not understood."

Until silicon was detected in the attack anthrax, those three reports were evidently the entire record of silicon being detected in spores.

Silicon is not considered an essential nutrient. Therefore, no one really had any reason to pay any attention to how it gets into spores.

Now they have a reason.

Ed Lake said...

One "Anonymous" apparently asked an different "Anonymous": "Do you have 4 citations you could share? One for each claim?"

Good question. The claims about the significance of percentages of silicon seem to be pure guesswork. At best, they are arbitrary conclusions derived from a few reports written decades ago where the sources for silicon were largely guesswork.

Ed Lake said...

FWIW, On December 17, 2004, I interviewed Dr. Ken Alibek, one of Russia's top experts on weaponized anthrax. Here's what was said when we talked about the exosporium on the spores:
--------
Lake: Matthew Meselson is quoted as saying that the exosporium on the Daschle anthrax was “highly evident”. Did you see the same thing?

Alibek: You know if …ah … I saw several micrographs. And some of them just showing spores - of course very small size spores. And a couple of pictures which were huge size. And the exposporium was seen there.

Lake: Yeah, but could you tell if the exosporium as intact. You said that the …

Alibek: When you see just a couple spores , of course you cannot say anything about the entire powder. Just according to the pictures I saw, I didn’t see any damage to the exosporium.
------

So, it is both VERY clear that the TEM image from Sandia shows the exosporium on the spores, and top experts actually saw that the exosporium was intact.

Ed Lake said...

Again, FWIW, an FBI scientist just sent me the image HERE pointing out that the exosporium is clearly visible on the Sanda TEM image.

Ed Lake said...

Once again, FWIW, a scientist at the FBI just told me he's seen the Sandia STEM images which show the locations of the silicon (and other elements).

He says they are incredibly detailed and informative, far far beyond what was shown in the 1980 document by Stewart et. al., and there is absolutely no question that the silicon is inside the spore coat and NOT in or on the exosporium.

I've been told the same sort of thing by a scientist at Sandia, so when I say that the scientific papers that are in the works will show that kind of detail, it is NOT speculation. It is what the people writing the report and the people who have seen the images are saying.

I wish I could get some idea of when the reports will be published, but that entire process seems to be buried in superstition, as if saying anything will screw up or jinx the process.

BugMaster said...

If the amount of silicon detected in the spores was consistent with the levels that were a result of trace amounts in the water, there would be no debate here, and the FBI would have been able to reproduce the silicon signature.

It had to be more than just the water.

Anonymous said...

This is in response to anonymous' request to provide citations for the statement that anything over 1% silicon content would have to be deliberate addition of an additive.

The highest concentration of silicon in any of the bacillus studies cited by the FBI as evidence that "naturally occurring" silicon occurs in anthrax is less than 0.5% silicon.


Several years ago another study was performed in an article that appeared in the Journal of Bacteriology entitled 'Mechanism of Silicate Binding to the Bacterial Cell Wall in Bacillus subtilis.' (1993 Mera and Beveridge) Figure 1 therein shows the levels of silicon in the spores after soaking in sodium silicate solution for 10 days, 17 days and 21 days. These spores were obviously not going to take up any more silicon than this. The average level expressed on the graph as 3.5 ug/ml corresponds to about 0.5 % dry weight Silicon.

Thus even with these extreme measures of soaking in potent sodium silicate solutions for weeks, the spores would STILL not take up any more than 0.5% silicon.

The term "naturally occurring" as used by the FBI is extremely misleading. There is nothing natural about growing spores in controlled man-made environments using controlled chemicals. The silicon has to come from somewhere.

Spores do not magically take up massive quantities of silicon as the 1993 Mera and Beveridge study clearly illustrates.

Of course, there is one sure way of making the spores silicon-rich. Coat them with polymerized glass starting with the siloxane monomer form.

Finally, the recent study at the below link

http://aem.asm.org/cgi/content/full/71/11/6524?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=subtilis&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=630&resourcetype=HWFIG

demonstrated they could obtain highly accurate quantitative elemental analysis of Bacillus subtilus spores - they found lots of metals present in trace amounts - and could use only tiny samples (1 mg or less). In this sample they failed to detect any silicon whatsoever (there was more silicon in the sample holder!).

BugMaster said...

Was it true that there was more silicon in the less purified material in the media mailings, or is this just speculation?

Anonymous said...

Ed Lake wrote -- What you are pointing out are simply places where the exosporium is touching the spore coat. There is NO overlap. Your arrows do not point to ANY overlap anywhere...

Just another case of Ed Lake denying reality again... It's also noteworthy that Lake's original post selectively illustrated spores not representative of Sandia's complete image...

Anonymous said...

Ed Lake wrote:

I've been told the same sort of thing by a scientist at Sandia, so when I say that the scientific papers that are in the works will show that kind of detail, it is NOT speculation... I wish I could get some idea of when the reports will be published...


These repetative arguments about what Sandia is going to write and publish in the future do nothing more than emphasize the actual facts of what Sandia hasn't published. Hearsay from Ed Lake about what he claims he was told by Sandia proves nothing.

Ed Lake said...

BugMaster wrote: "It had to be more than just the water."

YES, it HAS to be more than the water. Is anyone even talking about the Ft. Detrick water being the only possible source of the silicon? I don't think so.

All the informed talk I've seen is that the silicon most likely came from the nutrients/growth media -- AND the amount of silicon may have been increased by some anti-foaming or thickening additive in the growth media.

I think it can also be stated with near certainty that the silicon was in a water soluble form - which excludes any "waterproofing" form of silicon.

Ed Lake said...

Anonymous,

Soaking spores in sodium silicate has NOTHING to do with the attack anthrax. The silicon in the attack anthrax was accumulated as the spores were formed within the dying "mother" bacteria.

When spores are soaked in sodium silicate, the exosporium should also contain great amounts of silicon. And the amount of silicon that gets into the spore coat should be very high at the outer surface and taper off dramatically as you look deeper inside the spore coat.

I know you do not claim that the attack spores were soaked in sodium silicate, you only claim that this information has some kind of relevance to proving the silicon in the attack anthrax came from some "weaponization" process. IT DOESN'T.

Dr. Nass doesn't like it when I use this term, but you are using JUNK SCIENCE to make your arguments. You are using irrelevant information and a scattering of a few papers where silicon was detected in spores to arbitrarily manufacture some LAWS about what levels of silicon can be "natural" and what levels must confirm deliberate "weaponization".

I agree that the term "naturally occurring" can be viewed as misleading - particularly to anyone who says "There is nothing natural about growing spores in controlled man-made environments using controlled chemicals".

But, government scientists use the term "naturally occurring" to differentiate between spores that accumulated silicon via some NATURAL PROCESS versus some deliberate "weaponization" process.

The attack anthrax accumulated silicon via some NATURAL PROCESS. That can be INFERRED by the fact that the silicon accumulated almost exclusively in the spore coat where it offers some protective qualities. It can also be INFERRED by the fact that it is fairly evenly distributed through the spore coat. Silicon was a type of BUILDING BLOCK in the formation of the spore, it was NOT a layer of paint on the outside.

PLUS, silicon evenly distributed through the spore coat serves NO "weaponization" purpose that anyone can clearly define.

Ed Lake said...

As stated earlier (if my comment ever gets posted), I know that Dr. Nass does not like the term "junk science," but there is no other term for what Anonymous is doing.

After looking over the article "Mechanism of Silicate Binding to the Bacterial Cell Wall in Bacillus subtilis," it appears that Anonymous is trying to relate a paper about what happens to living Bacillus subtilis bacteria in SOIL to what happens during the formation of Bacillus anthracis spores in some growth medium such as agar.

There can be no comparison at all. They are totally unrelated processes.

It is pure "JUNK SCIENCE" to imply that any conclusions about anthrax spores can be drawn from that particular study about Bacillus subtilis bacteria.

Anonymous said...

The only person writing "junk science" on this forum is Ed Lake. Ed Lake is a non-scientist who continually spouts his beliefs about science, and most of the time is completely wrong. He stated earlier in this thread that pictures of spores with an intact exosporium were "wet". An impossibility for a SEM picture taken under high vacuum. Ed demonstrates he does not even understand basics.

If he actually understood the point of the Bacillus subtilus paper, if he actually even read it, he would see that the entire purpose of this paper was to test if subtilus spores naturally take up the element silicon and use it in their spore coats. In other words the very question that the FBI claim is a natural process. To simulate spores being in contact with silicon chemistry they soaked spores in sodium silicate.
Thus, the very experiment to prove or disprove the FBI's claim that silicon might be biologically naturally active in bacillus spores has already been done. It was done in 1993. The result is that the spores would not take up silicon in any natural chemical process to a degree greater than 0.5%.

Coating with polymerized glass is a completely different thing. In that case there is no chemistry between the spores and the siloxane monomer - they do not react chemically. The siloxane just polymerizes and stays put - under the exosporium - exactly where Sandia found it.

Ed Lake said...

BugMaster asked: "Was it true that there was more silicon in the less purified material in the media mailings, or is this just speculation?"

It's apparently true. But, my source at the FBI says that there is some dispute over those findings, and they don't have enough of the NY Post material left to do any more tests to determine the actual quantity of silicon in the Post powder. They have to destroy the material in order to do certain kinds of tests.

However, they know with absolute certainty that the actual SPORES contained the same amount of silicon as the spores in the Daschle and Leahy letters. It's the silicon in the debris that they cannot analyze at this time. Hopefully, they'll figure out how to analyzed it without having to destroy it.

Anonymous said...

I also suggest that the pharse "JUNK SCIENCE" only be use don this forum once the National Academy of Sciences have finished their report.


In a previous audit of the FBI's lead in bullet analysis they DID officlly find that the FBI were using JUNK SCIENCE.

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

Dwight Adams was the FBI lab director who commissioned the National Academy of Sciences study that ended up debunking decades of FBI testimony, some of which Kroft read back to him.



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."

BugMaster said...

Ed Lake said:

"All the informed talk I've seen is that the silicon most likely came from the nutrients/growth media -- AND the amount of silicon may have been increased by some anti-foaming or thickening additive in the growth media."

This is very close to what I have concluded as a strong possiblity as well, although there wouldn't have been any "thickening additive" beyond the agar (assuming plates were used).

The antifoam may have been added as a surfactant in the purification process. This would have required amounts far in excess of that normally used for foam control.

As far as the silicic acid (if it is in fact the source of the material incorporated into the spore coat), it may have come from a material occasionally used as a nutrient source, although in this case, it too would have been present in far greater concentrations than expected.

Anonymous said...

Ed Lake wrote:

"It's the silicon in the debris that they cannot analyze at this time."

Hmmm - that's the most interesting nugget Ed has ever provided.

An official at the briefing said "There was no exogeneous silicon".

Apparently there was.

BugMaster said...

Ed Lake wrote:

"It's the silicon in the debris that they cannot analyze at this time."

WHAT?

They never analyzed it?

Or did they, and don't what to say what they found.

Ed, could you get your source to expand on this?

Thanks.

Ellen Byrne said...

This is better than Reality TV.

Anonymous said...

BTW, it appears that Sandia National Laboratories received a great deal of publicity and profit as a result of the Anthrax Attacks -- Sandia's clean-up formulation was used to decontaminate Capitol Hill, and Sandia was hired to conduct analytical work for the FBI at least as early as Febuary of 2002. Does anyone know the extent of fees and profits Sandia has received to date?

Ed Lake said...

Anonymous wrote: "In a previous audit of the FBI's lead in bullet analysis ..."

That's more JUNK SCIENCE. You are claiming that, because some mistakes were made in some bullet analysis at the FBI labs, nothing the FBI labs ever claim ever again can be believed.

That's not even JUNK SCIENCE. It's not any kind of science whatsoever. It's PURE BIAS.

Anonymous said...

Bugmaster:
The silicon in the debris was very dramatically observed by AFIP when they performed EDS spectroscopy on the spores. Here are the results obtained by AFIP in October 2001 for the Daschle powder and the NYP powder.

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

They took readings at 3 different spots on the powder material. The Daschle powder shows silicon peaks that correspond to elemental concentrations of silicon ranging from about 3% to 10%. This can be obtained by running an EDS simulation.

But the NYP powder has elemental silicon greater than 50% and even up to 90%. What does this mean?

A spore could not contain that much silicon and still be a spore. Thus, the answer is that the silicon signals are coming from the debris, not just the spores. Indeed they indicate that ALL of the debris in the NYP post material is actually a silicon based material.

How could this happen? Here's one possible scenario:

Weh a solution of a siliconizing agent like Repelcote gets old it starts to polymerize. The dimethyldichlorosilane converts to the polymer dimethlysiloxane. This actually makes the liquid solution turn milky. The milkiness is due to tiny particles of polymer.

It could be that the perps used old Repelcote when they made the NYP powder, and ended up with lots of polymer debris in the powder.

Then when they made the Daschle powder they used fresh Repelcote and there was no residual polymer debris.

At least the FBI now seem to be acknowledging the presence of siloxane polymer in the debris.

The next logical step for them will be to back away from the "naturally occurring" statements. They must know that the National Academy of Sciences understand EDS spectra, quantitative elemental analysis and polymerization of silane monomers.

Presumably the NAS will ask to see the existing AFIP lab reports that fully analyzed the NYP powder.

It seems to me that Sandia only bothered looking at the spore coats in the NYP powder and ignored all the debris.

Whatever, we'll get all these answers from the upcoming hearings and the NAS audit.

Ed Lake said...

I wrote: "It's the silicon in the debris that they cannot analyze at this time."

And Anonymous mentioned that an official at the briefing said "There was no exogeneous silicon."

There was no exogeneous silicon on the spores. But, as one of the many Anonymi once said, there was more silicon detected in the NY Post powder than in the Leahy powder. Yet, the spores themselves contained nearly identical amounts of silicon.

Therefore, the extra silicon in the NY Post powder must have been in the debris. If you remember, the NY Post powder also contained Bacillis subtilis contamination. It was a crude powder.

It's my understanding that FBI lab tests did indeed find an unusual amount of silicon in the debris. But, after that finding, there wasn't enough debris left to thoroughly analyze it to find out what the true source was. It could have been something as simple as a stray shard of glass buried in the powder.

BugMaster asked: "Ed, could you get your source to expand on this?"

My FBI sources wasn't involved in the actual testing. All he knows is what was said in briefings. And that is summarized in what I stated above.

It's also my understanding that Sandia did not find any unusual silicon in the NY Post debris that they analyzed.

Anonymous said...

Bugmaster wrote:
"They never analyzed it?"

Yes, they did analyze it, and they determined years ago that it was polymerized glass (polysiloxane is a polymerized glass). They leaked to the media in April, 2002 that they had found an unusual chemical, but at that time they did not release the identity of this unusual chemical.

This was reported in Newsweek, CNN and the Washington Post. Then almost 18 months later it was reported in the media that this unusual chemical was polymerized glass. All links to these FACTS are given below:


http://www.ph.ucla.edu/epi/bioter/sophisticatedstrainanthrax.html
Government sources tell NEWSWEEK that the secret new analysis shows anthrax found in a letter addressed to Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy was ground to a microscopic fineness not achieved by U.S. biological-weapons experts. The Leahy anthrax -- mailed in an envelope that was recovered unopened from a Washington post office last November -- also was coated with a chemical compound unknown to experts who have worked in the field for years; the coating matches no known anthrax samples ever recovered from biological-weapons producers anywhere in the world, including Iraq and the former Soviet Union.

http://www.ph.ucla.edu/epi/bioter/anthraxpowdernotroutine.html
Washington Post
Whoever concocted the wispy white powder used in last fall's anthrax attacks followed a recipe markedly different from the ones commonly used by scientists in the United States or any other country known to have biological weapons, law enforcement sources said yesterday.

Extensive lab tests of the anthrax powder have revealed new details about how the powder was made, including the identity of a chemical used to coat the trillions of microscopic spores to keep them from clumping together. Sources close to the investigation declined to name the chemical but said its presence was something of a surprise.

http://www.ph.ucla.edu/epi/bioter/unusualcoating.html
Official: Unusual coating in anthrax mailings

From Kelli Arena, CNN Washington Bureau

Washington (CNN) -- Scientists have found a new chemical in the coating on the anthrax spores mailed to journalists and politicians last fall, a high-ranking government official said Wednesday.

The discovery of the unnamed chemical, something scientists are familiar with, was surprising, the official said.

http://cryptome.quintessenz.at/mirror/anthrax-powder.htm

About a year and a half ago, a laboratory analyzing the Senate anthrax spores for the FBI reported the discovery of what appeared to be a chemical additive that improved the bond between the silica and the spores. U.S. intelligence officers informed foreign biodefense officials that this additive was “polymerized glass.” The officials who received this briefing—biowarfare specialists who work for the governments of two NATO countries—said they had never heard of polymerized glass before.

Ed Lake said...

Ellen Byrne wrote: "This is better than Reality TV."

Yes, it is, isn't it?

I think it's an important public record to discuss these things in a forum that gets permanently recorded somewhere.

Scientific arguments appear to be normally kept out of the public eye. Reputations are at stake. And the scientist with the most data and best facts may also be the scientist with the least ability to write coherently.

Judging from the arguments I've been in, many in-person arguments among scientists probably simply end when one scientist with strong beliefs starts verbally attacking his associates and calling them names.

I LOVE debating science. I LOVE it when the facts are so clear that anyone can see them, yet, as we saw in the arguments over whether or not the exosporium was visible in the Sandia TEM image, the people who argued against what can be clearly seen will continue to argue in petty ways, never admitting that their claims were totally bogus and thoroughly disproved.

I've argued many of these same points with some of the same people on FreeRepublic.com. One such argument is HERE. Debates there would sometimes go on for months and months, and there were some people there, too, who commented on what a great public record it made.

Ed Lake said...

I just got a clarification from the FBI about the "silicon in the debris" that I mentioned.

They feel that the unusual Silicon reading in the NY Post material was a technical glitch. When they fixed the glitch, they wanted to do another test, but there wasn't enough material left to justify it.

So, in the eyes of the FBI:

The only usable information is from the Sandia results; basically Dr. Michael’s assessment is the final word. Apparently, only the Leahy material was tested at the FBI labs more than once, and it was found to have roughly 1% Silicon.

Go to my comments on my web site for further details.

Ed Lake said...

One of the many Anonymi wrote: "Hearsay from Ed Lake about what he claims he was told by Sandia proves nothing."

A scientist at Sandia just reminded me that there is going to be a Biodefense & Emerging Diseases Research Meeting in Baltimore on February 22-25. Some details about the attack anthrax as examined by Sandia and other labs will be evidently be presented at the meeting.

Unfortunately, the scientific protocols seem to indicate that if you don't attend the meeting, you will have to wait until the information is formally published to get anything you can quote.

But, if you have a theory that everyone in the government is lying about the "weaponization" of the attack anthrax, that might be the right time to corner some of the top scientists to get them to fess up.

Old Atlantic Lighthouse said...

This is a good dialogue with good contributions by many. Ed Lake is to be commended for his efforts and taking it in stride as have others.

The more steps, time taken, resources used, ideas exploited, money, etc. the more it indicates it was many who did it and not Ivins. Its clear that the silicon fits that.

One test is to look for spores with silicon in the BSL3 or look for silicon on equipment that might have been taken out. If he had leakage into BSL3 in processing then there should have been spores in BSL3 with silicon. Or there should have been silicon left from the processing. This could be under equipment, desks, etc.

Also if he took a lot of spores from the RMR1029 flask to speed up production, used silicon in processing and then put some spores back in RMR1029 to tank it back up, then there would be silicon back in RMR1029. It appears there is none. That means he likely didn't add back to RMR1029. That means his ability to use a large starting amount from it is less.

This means he needed more growing time to produce his runs. This is very important for both sets, the Sep 17-18 and the Oct 6-9 mailings. The former was on a tight schedule and did have .5 grams of bacillus anthracis spores according to some estimates.

The second run had at least 2 grams of spores. So he had to grow this and he couldn't speed up the growing by using more from the flask and then returning it. That is very important. Because it means he needed longer run times.

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

Carey, Laurie F. ; St. Amant, Diane C. ; Guelta, Mark A.

Is the paper with times for production.

For an external party, not Ivins, putting spores back in their source would not be an issue and we don't have their flask. For them it would make sense to use silicon to grow. Ivins, however had reasons not to. One is returning to the flask. The other is it would leave a signature of spores in BSL3 that could be detected and finger him. But it appears no such spores have been found in BSL3. It seems almost impossible that Ivins worked quickly to do these large volume runs without leaving spores in the lab containing the same silicon. Thus this is another proof that Ivins didn't do it.


The subtilis contaminant is another proof he didn't start with more from the RMR1029 and then put some back. So we have to count on longer runs from smaller numbers of starting spores if Ivins did it. Together with the dtic paper linked to above, that implies Ivins didn't have the time is the reasonable interpretation of the evidence.

Also there should be some subtilis spores in the BSL3 if he prepared it there. Some of those should have silicon too it would seem. Those also were not found and that's more evidence it didn't happen there.

BugMaster said...

So, Ed, could any of your sources tell us if b. subtilis genetically identical to the contaminant found in the "media mailings" was in fact isolated from the AMI building?

This is the type of question that would be hard to provide an evasive answer for.

The answer is either yes (indicating that the material was from the same lot as the other "media mailings") or no (indicating that the AMI mailings were from a separate lot mailed on a separate day.)

If your sources are not willing to disclose this to you, I'll provide the answer myself.

The answer is NO! And the reason you will not find anyone from the FBI disputing this is that it can't be disputed. (and they would rather not discuss it).

Anonymous said...

The FBI reports that the third country that virulent Ames was in Sweden.

What was that laboratory?

Anonymous said...

At the Annapolis conference organized by Dr. Ivins, a researcher from the National Defense Research Establishment in Umea, Sweden, along with two other scientists from Singapore, presented on a genome-wide analysis of bacillus anthracis. Their paper discusses the virulence plasmids and the Ames strain and so perhaps it was National Defense Research Establishment that had Ames. (An FBI affidavit identified one of the 16 labs known to have had virulent Ames to be in Sweden).

Dr. Keim has posited that any sample the size in Dr. Ivins' flask might have the same four mutations and so it important to flesh out these sorts of details. (He notes the hypothesis has not been tested).

What was the lab visited by the scientist that Ayman Zawahiri's scientist had attending the 1999 and 2000 conference on dangerous pathogens/anthrax? Senators and Congressman should find out. The scientist infiltrating the conferences for Zawahiri, Rauf Ahmad, described the lab as having thousands of pathogens, including virulent anthrax. He told Zawahiri he had successfully achieved his targets.

Did Rauf Ahmad also attend the June 2001 conference organized by Dr. Ivins? He regularly attended conferences, I'm told by a friend at DIA, on dangerous pathogens in Europe. Is there any reason to think he did not attend the Annapolis conference? I was given the dates 1999 and 2000 by the head of Sfam in Europe (the equivalent of ASM). But the director did not have record of the conference in 2001 organized by Ivins as sfam was not helping to organize it. ASM was.

In his correspondence with Ayman, the scientist said he had learned some processing tricks and made some internet connections. Who was he learning tricks on processing from? Instead of having non-experts spend more time parsing hairs on an exosporium, the public should ask that some basic questions be answered. For example, if Zawahiri's scientist visited a lab with virulent Ames, let's hear about it. It was when the DOJ/FBI started talking about extraditing him that the ISI balked and stopped cooperating with the CIA.

Anonymous said...

Ed Lake appears to have a contact inside the FBI labs who is desperately leaking information to him. The latest leak is particularly desperate.

"They feel that the unusual Silicon reading in the NY Post material was a technical glitch. When they fixed the glitch, they wanted to do another test, but there wasn't enough material left to justify it."

If Ed or this FBI contact actually knew anything about how EDS works they'd know that once samples are mounted they can be kept and stored indefinitely, mounted again and remounted in different machines. They can be remeasured once recalibrations, if required, are performed and once any "technical glitches" are fixed.

This "technical glitch" sounds look a fairy-tale that the FBI hope a gullible public will swallow. Yeah, they just mounted a sample, measured a huge amount of silicon in debris. Then they threw away the mounted sample. And, hey, guess what? There was no more other NYP material left. And then, guess, what they discovered a "technical glitch".

Discarding that originally mounted sample would be against EVERY forensic laboratory protocol.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Agiza, the former head of Vanguards of Conquest, had not planned on settling in Sweden. Dr. Agizah had been head of Vanguards of Conquest until Zawahiri took over. Agiza had been in Pakistan in the mid-1990s and had once worked closely in Egypt with Ayman Zawahiri. In 1999, while living in Iran, he was convicted in absentia by an Egyptian military court. Swedish officials prepared an expulsion order at 4 p.m. on December 18, 2001. Agiza, a 39-year old physician, was at a shop in downtown Stockholm, on his way home from his language class, when Swedish security officers grabbed him. They forced him into a waiting car. He was picked up by 6 p.m. and he was in the air by 10 p.m. In a small room at the airport, six-hooded figures took Agiza and another prisoner and changed them into dark red overalls. The men cut off his clothes, without having to remove his handcuffs and leg irons. They inserted a suppository containing a sedative while putting on diapers. Then they hung him, blindfolded and hooded, in a harness in the plane. Dr. Agiza had been convicted in his absence in 1999, together with 106 others, by a military court in Cairo for membership in the Vanguards of Conquest ("Talal al-Fateh"). The crew of the plane did not use the term "extraordinary rendition" -- they just referred to the process as "snatches." The Egyptian government had promised not to torture the suspects, but Agiza claims that they applied electric shocks through electrodes fastened to sensitive parts of his body -- to his genitals, nipples, tongue, ear lobes, and underarms. At his trial, while he admitted to having been a member of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, he argued that he opposed the use of violence and his views to that effect had been in the Pan-Arab press at the time. After his arrest, in a message dictated to his mother, he emphasized: ”I am not part of any terrorist activity in any form. And my repudiation of Ayman Al Zawahiri and Osama Bin Laden is a well-known fact in islamist circles.”

He had been picked up in 1982 in connection with Sadat's assassination, and released in 1983. He graduated from Cairo Medical School in 1986. He was in Iran in 2000, when he feared that he would be picked up due to thawing relations between Egypt and Iran. So headed for Canada. His Vanguards of Conquest colleague Mahjoub had settled there after serving as Bin Laden's farm manager in Sudan. But Mahjoub had his own problems and was detained by Canadian authorities under a security certificate. The jihadists threatened to use mailed anthrax if his bail was denied and the CIA reported the threat to President Bush in a February 2001 PDB. Mahjoub's bail was denied on October 5, 2001. The Salafi-Jihadi supporters of the blind sheikh Abdel-Rahman then rushed to send the "real deal" to the people in symbolic positions relating to his detention and to newspapers in DC and NYC, just as they had done in the Al Hayat letter bombs four years earlier.

Agiza never made it to Canada or the UK and had problems of a different sort. He had prudently got off the plane in transit in Sweden and sought refuge. He had wanted to travel to the UK but could not obtain a visa.

His rendition was just one of the opening volleys in what would prove to be a lengthy and largely unreported secret effort to find the parties responsible for the letters containing anthrax sent to US Senators and media outlets. In 1999, captured leaders of Zawahiri's Vanguards of Conquest had said that Ayman was going to use weaponized anthrax against US targets in retaliation for the rendering of EIJ leaders and supporters to places like Cairo and Amman. It was the "Leahy Law" that permitted continued appropriations to security units engaged in torture under an exception applicable to "extraordinary circumstances." The danger is that if the FBI and CIA are truly as clueless as they appear about the motive underlying the anthrax mailings, then not only has the warning gone unheeded, but the US has continued to commit the same renditions with the anthrax threat informing the debate. FBI Director Mueller can rationalize all he wants about the value of maintaining a collection platform for intelligence purposes. Outside the beltway, CYA still looks like CYA.

In September 2008, Dr. Agiza was awarded a half million dollars in damages against the Swedish government for cooperating with the CIA's rendition to Cairo. He is still in an Egyptian prison.

Anonymous said...

Ed Lake wrote:
I LOVE debating science. I LOVE it when the facts are so clear that anyone can see them, yet, as we saw in the arguments over whether or not the exosporium was visible in the Sandia TEM image, the people who argued against what can be clearly seen will continue to argue in petty ways, never admitting that their claims were totally bogus and thoroughly disproved.

Too bad Ed Lake can't seem to stick to scientific facts - and seems more interested in elementary school tactics; name calling and the like. Got news for you Lake; this isn't how scientists debate each other.

Of course when you have a failed argument and keep arguing that something can be seen in pictures that no one can see but Ed Lake and his "FBI contact" (anyone can claim to have a secret "FBI Contact")...

"...the people who argued against what can be clearly seen will continue to argue in petty ways, never admitting that their claims were totally bogus and thoroughly disproved.

Has anyone noticed all those times Lake has admitted error? How many times Lake has admitted his claims were totally bogus? Does Lake consider his "conspiracy theory", "junk science", "true believer", etc. name calling to be something other than petty?

I LOVE debating science.

Then stick to provable science.


__

Anonymous said...

As a follow up to Ed Lake's anonymous but willing secret FBI scientist contact who informed him that a "technical glitch" may have caused the very high silicon content in the NYP powder, it appears from Ed's website that the FBI scientist is referring to either ICP (inductively coupled plasma) or AA (atomic absorption) quantitative analysis, and not EDS quantitative analysis.

However, the secret FBI scientist's argument still falls flat on it's face. When ICP or AA is performed a tiny amount of sample is dissolved in solution. This solution is then used to create a master standard of fairly high volume (say 50ml), along with internal calibrated standards (known concentrations of other known elements if desired). A tiny amount of this standard (much less than 1ml) is then nebulized and measured by ICP or AA. There would be enough solution in the created master standard to perform hundreds to thousands of repeated tests by ICP or AA. Thus the argument that the powder was analyzed once and only once, and completely destroyed in the process, never allowing a second measurement, is just as bogus as any argument that a mounted SEM sample cannot be repeatedly measured again and again in quantitative EDS analysis.

Anonymous said...

In 2001, Battelle Edgewood led Battelle Columbus chem/bio vulnerability assessment (VA) and mitigation activities. For example, Battelle Edgewood in 2001 participated in baseline dispersion tests, as well as various filter media tests, in an existing, federal-client owned two-story building in Maryland in testing decontamination of anthrax at the Churchville Test Facility. We know Battelle had virulent anthrax matching the anthrax in Ivins' flask. Did Battelle Edgewood have virulent Ames in 2001?

Source:
Indoor Air Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Health Modeling and Assessment System (March 2001)

Ed Lake said...

BugMaster wrote: "So, Ed, could any of your sources tell us if b. subtilis genetically identical to the contaminant found in the "media mailings" was in fact isolated from the AMI building?"

My sources have provided no information to me about the Bacillus subtilis contamination. I doubt that they know much about it.

I've never seen any information that anyone did any tests on AMI samples to look for Bacillus subtilis contamination.

Bacillus subtilis is a very common bacteria that is found virtually everywhere. If you run a swab on a wall and do not find it, that doesn't mean it isn't on the wall. It just means it isn't on the swab. You have to thoroughly swab the entire wall to confirm that it isn't on the wall.

And then there's the floor to test. And the floor may have been cleaned a hundred times before you have reason to do any tests.

That makes it very difficult to scientifically conclude that Bacillus subtilis bacteria with a genetic match is not and never was in a specific place.

Ed Lake said...

One of the problems with getting information from other sources is that each person has his own point of view and his own memories. And I have to try to understand exactly what they are saying.

Yesterday, I mentioned that an unusual amount of silicon was seemingly detected in the NY Post powder, but its source was unknown.

That was someone's memory from a meeting long ago. Further checking determined that they now know the source.

However, I now have the problem of translating the technical jargon. Here goes:

They used an ICPOES (Inductively Coupled Plasma with Optical Emission Spectroscopy) instrument.

The NY Post sample was injected through a quartz tube.

There was an issue with carry over of Silicon following an acid wash of the tube. It evidently produced unusable (and presumably invalid) results.

They wanted to do the test over again, but there wasn't enough NY Post powder to do another test.

So, the FBI did no further tests of the NY Post powder.

That means the tests done at Sandia are the FINAL AND DEFINITIVE WORD. Sandia found NO unusual silicon in the NY Post debris.

Here is how one scientist at Sandia described the debris in the NY Post powder to me:

"The 90% debris is cells and other material from the cells and spores."

No shards of glass. No polymerized glass. No silica coatings. Just dead cells and other material from the cells and spores.

However, the spores in the NY Post powder were virtually identical to the spores in the Leahy powder. They contained equal amounts of Silicon inside the spore coat.

Ed Lake said...

Anonymous wrote:
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

--------

It's been pointed out in other forums that this information makes no sense.

If there was something like silica or "polymerized glass" in the powders, the percentage of Oxygen to Silicon should always be nearly identical.

Instead, two of the Daschle readings have a 5:4 ratio of Silicon to Oxygen, while the NY Post ratios are 180:5, 1700:5 and 160:1

It isn't the Silicon numbers that need explaining, it's the ratios.

If there was some form of silica or "polymerized glass" in the attack anthrax, and both are made from Silicon and Oxgyen in fixed ratios, why did AFIP show such an inexplicable difference between the amount of Silicon and the amount of Oxygen in the two samples?

We seem to be talking about two tests of the NY Post powder which produced inexplicable results. But, I'm beginning to wonder if we aren't really talking about two views of just ONE test that was shown to be INVALID.

Ed Lake said...

One of the various Anonymi wrote: "Of course when you have a failed argument and keep arguing that something can be seen in pictures that no one can see but Ed Lake and his "FBI contact" (anyone can claim to have a secret "FBI Contact")..."

I also have a contact at Sandia who says that the exosporium is clearly visible in the TEM image. AND HE TOOK THE PICTURE AND MANY MORE LIKE IT.

Why not contact people at Sandia and ask them? Or do you believe that they must be lying because they do not agree with you?

Does anyone else really support your claim that the TEM image from sandia does NOT show the exosporium? You assume so. But, your assumptions are not facts.

Anonymous said...

FBI leaks and misconduct have already cost taxpayers 5.8 million dollars in the anthrax case. The FBI has repeatedly apologized for its continued leaking of information. Although the FBI has told the public that they can't make further information about this case available to the public, if Ed Lake is to be believed (that's a big if), the FBI continues to leak information to Ed Lake. Despite FBI regulations forbidding such conduct, Lake brazenly brags about FBI leaks.

If the FBI has information or input relevant to public debate, the FBI should release the information or make their comments publicly and on the record. Lake's claims of FBI leaks sully the reputation of the FBI. Personally, it burns me up to think that my tax dollars might be paying the salary of one or more FBI agents who spend their work hours writing secret messages to Ed Lake. This is a matter that the FBI can and should investigate. I would urge everyone to ask Congress to see to it that the FBI investigate Lake's claims of FBI leaks.

Ed Lake said...

One of the various Anonymi wrote: "If he actually understood the point of the Bacillus subtilus paper, if he actually even read it, he would see that the entire purpose of this paper was to test if subtilus spores naturally take up the element silicon and use it in their spore coats."

I've read the paper. Have you?

Where is the word "spore" mentioned anywhere in the paper?

It's a paper about silicate binding to LIVING Bacillus subtilis bacteria cell walls.

It's a paper about "fine-grain silicate mineral development."

Ed Lake said...

Regarding: "Daschle powder:
Reading (1): C=120, Si=275, O=50" etc.

It's been confirmed to me that the "technical glitch" with the quartz tube did not occur at AFIP.

Therefore, AFIP's numbers require an explanation all by themselves -- if they really are AFIP numbers.

If real, and I assume they are, it is AFIP which needs to explain exactly what they found. The wildly different ratios of Silicon to Oxygen make the numbers inexplicable.

Until proven otherwise, they are garbage numbers.

Using garbage numbers to draw conclusions about the attack anthrax is "garbage in, garbage out."

BugMaster said...

Enough of the "links to Al Qaeda" posts, already! I don't feel they belong in this thread, these posts don't really contribute to this specific conversation.

I'm in agreement with Ed on this one.

It wasn't Al Qaeda!

If you have SPECIFIC information that relates Al Qaeda to this thread, and feel you have something to contribute, fine. But please be specific.

And by specific, I mean something that can be explained in one or two CLEAR, CONCISE, AND MOST OF ALL APPLICABLE SENTENCES!.

Otherwise, neither myself or most others want to have to wade through page after page of irrelevant (to this thread) postings.

Thank you.

Ed Lake said...

Here's something I posted to another forum back on December 31:

FWIW, the 7th Annual ASM Biodefense and Emerging Diseases Research Meeting is scheduled for February 22-25, 2009 in Baltimore, MD.

On Tuesday, February 24, 2009 there will be a “Plenary Session” titled “The Science behind the ‘Anthrax Letter’ Attack Investigation” from 8:30 AM until 12:00 PM.

The Moderators will be:
P. Keim; Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ.
J. D. Bannan; ChemicalBiological Sciences Unit, FBI, Quantico, VA.

The Presentations:

1. “The B. anthracis Ames Strain and the Development of an Investigative Strain Repository” - PAUL KEIM, PhD.; Northern Arizona Univ., Flagstaff, AZ.

2. “The Silicon Content in B. anthracis Spores Is in the Spore Coat, not Exogenously Applied” - JOSEPH R. MICHAEL; Sandia Natl. Lab., Albuquerque, NM.

3. “Comparative Genome Analysis to Identify Minor B. anthracis Mutant Components in the AnthraxLetters Spores” - JACQUES RAVEL, Ph.D.; Microbial Genomics, The Inst. for Genomic Res., Rockville, MD.

4. “A1 & A3 Assay Development” - THOMAS R. REYNOLDS, BS.; Commonwealth Biotechnologies, Inc., Richmond, VA

5. “Morph D Assay Development” - VALORIE T. RYAN, Ph.D..; Florida Division, Midwest Res. Inst., Palm Bay, FL.

6. “FBIR Process, Validations and Synopsis of the Results” - JASOJASON D. BANNAN, Ph.D..; ChemicalBiological Sciences Unit, FBI, Quantico, VA.

Ed Lake said...

Ellen Byrne wrote: "This is better than Reality TV."

It's also something like the old quiz show "What's My Line" where they had "mystery guests."

We have at least THREE different people calling themselves "Anonymous."

I think I can figure out who each one is for most of their posts, but I'd have a hard time convincing anyone else that Anonymous #1 isn't also Anonymous #2 - even though they are as different as day and night to me. And Anonymous #3 is clearly someone who was posting earlier under a different name.

Some others may be Anonymous #4, #5, etc. There's just no way to tell for sure that they're not one of the first three.

It's like some puzzle NSA analysts have to solve as they listen to cell phone chatter out of caves in Afghanistan. :-)

Anonymous said...

Ed Lake is at it again -- name calling -- this time "garbage". This is not science and it is not scientific debate. It's more Ed Lake childishness.

Enough of this. Unless he can keep his comments civil, he shouldn't be allowed to post here.

BugMaster said...

Ed:

Hundreds of swabs were taken from the AMI building. Your own website has maps of the AMI building showing the spore count results (which they obtained from viable counts of B. anthracis obtained from the swabs).

Native b. subtilis would be isolated from these swabs, and the genetically defined contaminant should have been present as well.

It wasn't found, because it wasn't there.

Someone mentioned the importance of retaining forensic evidence. They certainly should still have the swabs. The reason there will be no further analysis of the swabs is because the FBI already knows the answer.

The contaminant wasn't there.

And you are correct, Ed, no one in the FBI has said anything about this.

As long as we are discussing issues to which the FBI would prefer to answer "Never Mind!"

What ever happened to the so-called copy machine evidence?

Ed Lake said...

One of the Anonymi wrote: "Lake brazenly brags about FBI leaks."

I'm not bragging. And I don't call them leaks.

The restictions on talking about the science of the Amerithrax investigation have been formally lifted for everyone. There is no problem with an FBI agent talking about that science.

There IS a problem, however, about talking about the criminal case against Dr. Ivins. That is still an open investigation.

If I'm the only one who mentions the things I mention, it's probably because no one else cares enough to ask someone at the FBI. There are no rules against FBI personnel talking with civilians. Reporters are "civilians." And to some in the FBI, my web site classifies me as a "reporter." When I send in an FOIA request, I qualify as a reporter because I wrote a book.

When Michael Mason was the Head of the Washington Field Office of the FBI, he and I exchanged numerous emails. I quoted him in my book.

If you have a problem with the FBI, it's probably because you have never tried to talk with them, maybe because you consider them to be lying about everything and act hostile when talking with them.

By all means, ask everyone to ask Congress to investigate the "leaks" the FBI has provided me. In these troublesome economic times, everyone needs a good laugh.

Ed Lake said...

One of the Anonymi wrote: "Ed Lake is at it again -- name calling -- this time "garbage"."

Is there a better word to describe numbers that make no sense? What is it? "Garbage" is the word I've always seen used. That's why they use the term "Garbage in, garbage out."

Are you sure you aren't just trying to get rid of me because I don't agree with you and can show where you are wrong?

Deep Throat said...

"Former Dugway scientist tells all"
Tooele Transcript Bulletin Online Edition, August 7, 2003

http://www.project-112shad-fdn.com/News_96.htm

Anonymous said...

->Ed Lake

It's a leak when the information is not public. You may have quoted specific FBI personnel in the book you published, but your current leaks are not attributed to any specific person. You give the impression that you are speaking for the FBI, and you clearly are not authorized to do that. It's harmful to the agency and to the public trust in the agency.

As to your point about "the criminal case against Dr. Ivins"; the FBI is not a science agency, it's a law enforcement agency. Indeed, the FBI doesn't even have jurisdiction to investigate any matter unless there has been a violation of federal law. The entire anthrax investigation is a criminal investigation. That includes the information that you claim the FBI has released to you.

BugMaster said...

Ed:

"If you have a problem with the FBI, it's probably because you have never tried to talk with them, maybe because you consider them to be lying about everything and act hostile when talking with them."


No Comment!

Anonymous said...

BugMaster and Ed,

I don't get the impression that either of you read the microbial forensics literature, let alone the open source intelligence analysis relating to the anthrax investigation. You should at least read all the microbial forensics literature before you start splitting exosporium hairs.

Forensics data are most valuable when different techniques provide the same results. nanometer-scale secondary-ion mass spectrometer (NanoSIMS), atomic force microscopy (AFM), gene typing, and other technologies are being combined to construct an attribution profile for microorganisms turned into bioweapons. When considered together, they disprove Ed's Ivins Theory. (He was correct in his analysis about Sandra Bullock's breasts but that was a lucky guess and he does not appear to be an expert in that field).

In addition to genetically based approaches to microbial forensics addressed by Jacques Ravel's powerpoint presentation, a team at Lawrence Livermore is exploring technologies that could potentially provide other types of information on the origin and source of biological agents. “Remnants of growth media, stabilizers, or additives as well as incidental biocontaminants, such as environmental pollens that adhere to the spores, may provide clues about processes used to enhance the lethality and delivery of a biological agent,” explains Stephen Velsko. One goal of the national program is to develop a reference database of chemical and physical signatures that growth and processing methods leave on a biological agent.

Using a focused ion beam instrument, researchers can select and extract areas of a spore for further analysis with a nanometer-scale secondary-ion mass spectrometer (NanoSIMS).

For example, NanoSIMS images of the same type of spore grown in two nutrients, G agar and NB agar, show different ion concentrations of the elements phosphorus, fluorine, and chlorine, which may provide a signature. Brighter colors indicate areas of higher ion concentration. With funding from DHS, FBI, and the Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) Program, analytical chemist Peter Weber uses Livermore’s nanometer-scale secondary-ion mass spectrometer (NanoSIMS) to conduct studies on biological agents. In this technique, a sample is bombarded with an ion beam; atoms on the surface of the sample are ejected and then analyzed in the mass spectrometer. Livermore’s NanoSIMS provides a spatial resolution of 50 nanometers, 20 times better than that of conventional SIMS. Its sensitivity is 50 times better. Weber’s team is hoping to gain insight into possible links between the chemical composition of microorganisms and how, when, and where they were produced. These studies might also help resolve some of the uncertainty that exists with regard to conclusions drawn from research using surrogates of lethal pathogens. Weber says, “Biologicalweapon agents can be produced using a variety of methods. In addition to the microorganism, there may be a matrix of agents intended to enhance delivery. Plus samples collected from different environments may contain contaminants from external material.”

The team has also used a focused-ion- beam instrument to extract slices from targeted areas of a sample before analyzing the composition with NanoSIMS. Bacterial spores are composed of approximately 50 percent carbon, 15 percent nitrogen, 3 percent calcium, 1 percent phosphorus, and trace amounts of about 20 other elements.
Chemically related elements can substitute for one another. For example, strontium and barium are related to calcium and can substitute for it. Substitutions may be signatures of certain growth or processing methods. The high resolution achievable with NanoSIMS allows Weber’s team to analyze not only individual spores but also the
elemental distribution inside the spores. These analyses can reveal microstructural production signatures. Previously, only major elemental distributions could be studied. The NanoSIMS team, however, can detect the distribution of less abundant elements, such as chlorine and fluorine, to study how spore production methods may
change their distribution.

Weber’s team is studying B. thuringiensis and the Sterne vaccine strain of B. anthracis to develop a matrix of elemental and isotopic signatures for spores that have undergone various growth and processing methods. In addition, NanoSIMS is contributing to a study to determine whether diffusion rates of different elements in and out of spores could establish the date an agent was manufactured.

The Livermore team is also using atomic force microscopy (AFM) for its forensic studies. One advantage of AFM is that it can be used to image biological samples in fluids under native conditions as well as air-dried samples. A second advantage is that it can achieve resolutions of about 1 nanometer, allowing researchers to
analyze high-resolution pathogen structures. The AFM instrument has an ultrasharp tip that scans across a sample’s surface. NanoSIMS images of a Bacillus thuringiensis spore that was sectioned using a focused ion beam show ion concentrations of abundant elements such as (a) phosphorus and (b) sulfur as well as concentrations of trace elements such as (c) chlorine and (d) fluorine. Brighter colors indicate areas of higher ion concentration.

A high-resolution image of the sample’s topography is constructed as the molecules on the surface of the sample interact with those on the microscope’s tip. Livermore researchers have used AFM to study crystal growth to investigate the surface architecture and assembly of viruses and bacterial spores.

Although entire genomes have been sequenced for several Bacillus species, their spore-coat structures are not very well understood. Through funding partly from the FBI, Livermore chemist Alex Malkin and postdoctoral researcher Marco Plomp are investigating the structure–function relationships of bacterial spores. The team provided the first high-resolution AFM images of the native spore-coat structures of four Bacillus species and a Clostridium novyi-NT isolate. “We found that strikingly different spore-coat structures are a consequence of species-specific nucleation and crystallization mechanisms,” says Malkin. “These mechanisms, which regulate the assembly of the outer spore coat, are similar to those for growth of inorganic and macromolecular single crystals. We can thus apply the concepts that have been developed to study the growth of these crystals to examine the assembly of spore coats.”

The team found that the outer spore coats resembled honeycomb or rod-shaped structures, depending on the nutrient used to grow the cells. “The results established for the first time that outer coat structural patterns can be a formulation signature,” says Malkin. Leighton has produced and characterized a library of spores from the B. anthracis Sterne vaccine strain using a range of media formulations. The Livermore team applies AFM to examine the high-resolution structure of air-dried and hydrated B. anthracis spore samples. For comparison, they use killed (irradiated or chlorine dioxide–treated) Ames strain spores. “We now have the capability to conduct AFM characterization of pathogens authorized at the necessary biosecurity level to study vaccine strains of anthrax and smallpox,” says Malkin.

The team is also developing an experimental approach calledAFM-based immunolabeling. A spore’s coat is composed of about 30 proteins and, under different conditions, the coat composition changes. The team uses antibodies labeled with gold particles to characterize the influence of growth and processing conditions on
the proteomic structure of B. anthracis spore surfaces. They have also developed a technique to dissect a spore coat layer by layer. The technique has allowed researchers for the first time to define the complete architecture of the spore coat.

In short, I would credit what Anonymous says. He is channeling the original Deep Throat. Okay, what I mean is the original Anonymous is channeling a copycat Deep Throat.

Ed Lake said...

One of the Anonymi wrote: "Thus the argument that the powder was analyzed once and only once, and completely destroyed in the process, never allowing a second measurement, is just as bogus as any argument ..."

All I was told was that they wanted another test, but there wasn't enough material to do another test. I said nothing about how many times they analyzed the first test.

I made the ASSUMPTION that needing another test meant that no further VALID information could be obtained from the first test -- other than, perhaps, determining why the test was invalid.

I also said this on my site: (I believe they have to burn the sample and analyze the ash.) You say they dissolve the sample. Okay. Either way, they destroy it.

If you need to attack someone because of something I write, read what I wrote carefully, because I try to make it clear that I'm often interpreting things in fields where I am no expert. Any misinterpretation is MY fault, not the fault of my source.

Ed Lake said...

BugMaster wrote: "It wasn't found, because it wasn't there."

You are assuming it wasn't found.

You are assuming it wasn't there.

You have no basis for either assumption. The swabs were done to test for Bacillus anthracis contamination, NOT Bacillus subtilis contamination. Since Bacillus subtilis can be found almost anywhere, they presumably found plenty at AMI. They just didn't do any DNA tests to see if it matched the DNA of the Bacillus subtilis in the NY Post letter. There was no intelligent reason for going through the expense of doing such DNA tests when the odds against finding a match were enormous.

The Bacillus subtilis contamination in the NY Post powder was just a tiny fraction of the entire powder. If I recall correctly, it was less than 1%. So, you're not only hunting for a bug that is very small in number, but you're also hunting for a bug that is among countless other bugs that are nearly identical.

BugMaster also asks: "What ever happened to the so-called copy machine evidence?"

There WAS NO copy machine evidence. The media reported that there was, but THE FBI DENIED IT.

It's totally possible that some FBI agent felt that they'd found the copy machine in New Jersey and told some reporter, but if there was no scientific proof that it was the right machine, that agent's feelings are not usable in court.

Ed said...

BugMaster wrote: "It wasn't found, because it wasn't there."

And

"The contaminant wasn't there."

What is it you are trying to argue? You are clearly saying that FBI knows something about the anthrax sent to AMI but they are ... what? Covering up the information? Lying? What are you saying?

And why would they do it?

Whenever I ask such question, I get evasive answers. Evasion is evidently required because straight answers would involve stating some belief in a vast conspiracy perpetrated by tens of thousands of government employees in order to cover up some secret and illegal activity.

Or, a straight answer would involve stating some belief that anyone who goes goes to work for the government automatically drops 50 points in their IQ.

Which straight answer applies here?

BugMaster said...

Ed said:

"What is it you are trying to argue? You are clearly saying that FBI knows something about the anthrax sent to AMI but they are ... what? Covering up the information? Lying? What are you saying?

And why would they do it?"

Ed:

You have said many times on your website that "the FBI is not a borg collective". So why would they not disclose specific information? One possibility: Could there be more than a bit of dissention within the FBI itself regarding this case?

Another possibility: The FBI or any law enforcement agency normally discloses very little. That way, if outside information comes forth that wasn't previously disclosed, they can then investigate WHO disclosed said information, and HOW the undisclosed information was obtained.

And another reason: The case isn't closed!

In regards to "splitting exosporidium hairs", I have an alternative theory as to how the silicon signature was created. And said theory points away from Dr. Ivins.

As far as your view that detecting the contaminating b. subtilis at the AMI crime scene posed an almost unsurmountable challenge:

You are not a microbiologist, Ed.

Isolating the contaminant from the crime scene (had it actually been present) isn't that hard.

With the proper equipment (in this case a biosafety suite) and supplies (swabs, agar plates, sterile dilutant, sterile disposable test tubes), I could have done it myself!

Ed Lake said...

Anonymous,

Just to clarify matters:

NO ONE speaks for the FBI except Director Mueller and authorized FBI spokespersons.

I do not speak for the FBI when I mention something someone in the FBI told me.

AND the person in the FBI who told me the information probably does NOT speak for the FBI.

As BugMaster just wrote, I have stated MANY times that the FBI is NOT a Borg Collective where instantly everyone knows what everyone else knows, and everyone believes what everyone else believes.

When someone in the FBI speaks to a reporter or to a private citizen, he or she is speaking as an employee of the FBI, but NOT as an official spokesperson for the FBI. He or she is, of course, limited by rules against discussing evidence, confidential information, etc. But, there is nothing preventing a member of the FBI from discussing something that is NOT evidence and that is NOT confidential.

Even when an FBI scientist publishes an article in a scientific journal, for example, the article will almost always include a disclaimer like this:

"Opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not represent official positions of the FBI or any other entity. Names of commercial manufacturers are provided for identification only, and inclusion does not imply endorsement by the FBI."

Anonymous said...

Isn't it a bit strange that Ed Lake of all people, would say that the FBI is not vast conspiracy where everyone knows what everyone else knows when the same Ed Lake accuses everyone else of believing in a vast conspiracy perpetrated by tens of thousands of government employees ? Does this mean that Ed Lake understands that information about FBI undercover operations is disseminated only to those persons with a need to know? Does it mean that Ed Lake understands that CIA Operations involve a strictly limited number of operatives?

What is Ed Lake doing here anyway? He claims he wants to debate science. But it seem more like he is trying to stop debate and to shut up anyone who asks questions. Why is Ed Lake so threatened by anyone who questions the FBI's Mad Superhero Scientist Acting Alone Theory?

Just asking.

Anonymous said...

Ed wrote:

"BugMaster wrote: "It wasn't found, because it wasn't there."

You are assuming it wasn't found.

You are assuming it wasn't there.

You have no basis for either assumption."

Actually, Ed, I have plenty of basis for both assumptions.

The material sent to Floridia caused inhalational, not cutaneous anthrax (unlike the rest of the media mailings).

There were no accounts of any letters received at AMI with a message similar to that of the media mailings and the senate mailings (I know, Ed, you are convinced the letters were tossed without reading!).

The timeline, when one takes into account the following, makes a September 18 postdate impossible:

1.) The incubation time of inhalational anthrax.

2.) The fact that the letter to AMI was misrouted and went through a forwarding facility (just like the one sent to Leahy!).

3.) That places the actual mailing date sometime around September 11. But how much mail was moving right after 9-11. None!

I have additional reasons for my assumptions. The AMI mailing was a separate mailing of a separate batch mailed on a separate day, most likely pre-dating 9-11.

This is not as far fetched as some other pet theories on the mailings, like one person stating that a child must have addressed the letters.

Meryl Nass, M.D. said...

There is information on the incubation period for inhalation anthrax. It is to some extent dependent on the amount of anthrax inhaled. Decades ago, a high dose inhaled by a Detrick employee led to rapid symptoms and death within 24 hours.

In Sverdlovsk, the incubation period extended in some individuals up to 60 days.

BugMaster said...

Dr. Nass:

Excellent point on the incubation time. It makes sense that the higher the dose, the sooner to onset of symptoms.

But that's the problem here. If the crude media mailing material was able to cause an inhalational anthrax infection consistent with a short incubation time, why were the two individuals in Flordia the only ones to come down with inhalational anthrax? If they were actually infected from the media mailing material, wouldn't it follow that the infection resulted from what was essentially a low dose (less efficient at causing inhalation anthrax, thus causing mostly cutaneous infections) with a LONGER incubation time?

Even if you use the average incubation period from Sverdlovsk (10 days), there is a problem with the timeline if one concludes all media letters were mailed on September 18th.

Meryl Nass, M.D. said...

Bugmaster,

I think Henry Niman PhD has made excellent points about the different qualities and effects of the media, Florida and Senate letters.

I would only add that the Florida letter was not taken seriously when opened, there was no immediate cleanup, and so there was likely a much longer period during which inhalation of spores occurred.

The result might be that even with a poor quality spore product, high levels were inhaled.

OTOH, inhalation anthrax appears to require, in general, much higher spore numbers than cutaneous infections. So why were there no cutaneous Florida infections?

Cutaneous infections, imho (derived from a review of cases in many small epidemics), also require a cutaneous portal of entry--scratching a mosquito bite with a contaminated hand may provide this, for example. I do not believe the infections occur without spores contacting broken skin. So perhaps no one at AMI was scratching much that week. The incubation period for cutaneous anthrax has been much less variable than for inhalation.

BugMaster said...

Meryl:

Could it be that the crude material sent to New York was more clumpy, stickier, and would thus be more apt to stay attached to the skin? Could some of the debris also contained additional nutrient which supported sporulation and growth on a moist surface?

And in view of your hypothesis regarding the material being around a while before anyone realized it was there:

Why, still, were there no cutaneous cases in Floridia? They have mosquitos there.

This is suggestive that there were significant differences between the material that was sent to Floridia and the material that was sent to New York.

Ed Lake said...

Why not just look at the facts?

If you set aside the bizarre speculation that the AMI anthrax could only cause inhalation anthrax and the anthrax sent to New York could only cause cutaneous anthrax, the situation becomes very clear very quickly.

Here's what the anthrax cases from the media mailing look like when you sort them down by the age of the victim:

Age Location type name Onset

7 mos ABC - NY cutaneous child Sep. 29
23 NBC - NY cutaneous Casey Chamberlain Sep. 28
27 CBS - NY cutaneous Claire Fletcher Oct. 1
30 NY Post cutaneous Joanna Huden Sep. 22
32 NJ PO cutaneous Teresa Heller Sep. 27
34 NY Post cutaneous male Oct. 19
38 NBC - NY cutaneous Erin O'Connor Sep. 25
38 NY Post cutaneous Mark Cunningham Oct. 23
39 NJ PO cutaneous Richard Morgano Sep. 26
61* NYC inhalation Kathy Nguyen Oct. 25
63* AMI - FL inhalation Bob Stevens Sep. 30
73 AMI - FL inhalation Ernesto Blanco Sep. 28


This indictes that the immune systems of the victims played a large role in what happened.

Meryl Nass, M.D. said...

Ed,

This is quite interesting. From the 5 (presumed--2 were never proven) cases of inhal anthrax in Manchester, New Hampshire during the Brachman trial, alcoholism and lymphoma were risk factors for two persons, and each impairs immunity.

In animal anthrax (generally ingested) multiple authors have noted that animals in the prime of life are the most stricken.

I wonder if anyone knows the spread of cases in Sverdlovsk by age?

Meryl

BugMaster said...

Ed:

This isn't bizarre speculation here. No one has stated that they have concluded that "the AMI anthrax could only cause inhalation anthrax and the anthrax sent to New York could only cause cutaneous anthrax".

The question is: Why weren't there any / more cutaneous cases in Floridia? Could this indicate a difference between the material mailed to Florida and the material mailed to New York? Does this help support the possibility that the two were separate mailings?

Also, your age argument is compelling, but what if you add the inhalation anthrax victims from the Senate mailing, what factor does age appear to play there?

Let me add one final note: The conclusion that the letter(s) to AMI and the rest of the media letters were all part of the same lot mailed on the same day is an ASSUMPTION! There is no ACTUAL EVIDENCE to prove it, the letter(s) to AMI were never recovered.

Incidentally, since the ratio of contaminated b. subtilis to b. anthracis in the media material is known, one can use statistics to determine how many swabs from AMI would have to come up negative for the contaminant (or how many anthracis colonies would have to be isolated without finding the contaminant) before one would conclude the contaminant wasn't present.

You wouldn't prove a negative here, however, but rather could state with a X% of confidence (based on statistical calculations that determine the sample size) that the subtilis wasn't present.

You could conclude after one negative swab that it wasn't there, but your conclusion would have very low confidence level.

Ed Lake said...

When you sort the victims of the Senate mailing down by age, this is what you get:

35, Patrick O’Donnell, Cutaneous Hamilton Township mail center, NJ
43, Female, Inhalation Hamilton Township mail center, NJ
47, Joseph Curseen, Inhalation Brentwood Mail Center, D.C.

51, Linda Burch, Cutaneous Hamilton Township, NJ
55, Thomas Morris, Inhalation Brentwood Mail Center, D.C.
56, Norma Wallace, Inhalation Hamilton Township mail center, NJ
56, Unk, Inhalation Brentwood Mail Center, D.C.
57, Leroy Richmond, Inhalation Brentwood Mail Center, D.C.
59, David Hose, Inhalation State Department Mail Center, D.C.
94, Ottilie Lundgren, Inhalation Oxford, Connecticut


It's not as sharply defined as the media mailing, but the cutaneous cases are still at the low end of the age range.

More importantly, when you combine the lists, the age factor is still clearly very important. Only Linda Burch's cutaneous case falls on the wrong side of an age 40 dividing line.

Ed Lake said...

BugMaster wrote: "The conclusion that the letter(s) to AMI and the rest of the media letters were all part of the same lot mailed on the same day is an ASSUMPTION! There is no ACTUAL EVIDENCE to prove it, the letter(s) to AMI were never recovered."

It is NOT an assumption. It is what ALL of the EVIDENCE says - even though the actual letter was not found.

I lay out all the facts in my web page about the J-Lo letter. Click HERE

Ed Lake said...

Dr. Nass asks, "I wonder if anyone knows the spread of cases in Sverdlovsk by age?

Based on the data here, all but a few of the 64 deaths were people under 30. The vast majority were over 35. There were NONE under 20.

Ed Lake said...

Sverdovsk victims strictly by age HERE

Ed Lake said...

Age-Dependent Dose–Response Function. An as-yet-unexplained aspect of the Sverdlovsk outbreak is the absence of any victims under the age of 24, despite the fact that children apparently were in the path of the plume ...

Source: HERE

Other info: HERE.

Ellen Byrne said...

Here's hoping Eric Holder can pull this out of the fire.

BugMaster said...

Ed:

"BugMaster wrote: "The conclusion that the letter(s) to AMI and the rest of the media letters were all part of the same lot mailed on the same day is an ASSUMPTION! There is no ACTUAL EVIDENCE to prove it, the letter(s) to AMI were never recovered."

"It is NOT an assumption. It is what ALL of the EVIDENCE says - even though the actual letter was not found."

I should have said no actual PHYSICAL evidence.

Just like there is no actual physical evidence that links Bruce Ivins to any of the anthrax letters.

Old Atlantic Lighthouse said...

http://www.ticklethewire.com/2009/02/01/the-anthrax-suicide-washington-espionage-and-more/

Original interview by that website:

"Joseph Persichini Jr., head of the FBI’s Washington field office, sat down with ticklethewire.com editor Allan Lengel. "

Some questions are on anthrax case. About first 1/3 to 1/2 of the interview is on the anthrax case.

BugMaster said...

Allen Lengal?!! The FBI has been leaking info regarding the anthrax case through him for years!

IMHO: He is the FBI's lapdog, and as far as I am concerned, has no journalistic credibility whatsoever.

But that's only my opinion. And you know what they say about opinions. (Everyone has one!)

Anonymous said...

"Science Found Wanting in Nation’s Crime Labs," New York Times, February 4, 2009

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/05/us/05forensics.html?ref=us

Anonymous said...

This is a general response to the discussion of Ed Lake's anonymous FBI scientist leaker. Contrary to Ed's claims, these are most definitely leaks. The percentage silicon was asked for at high profile congressional hearings. Director Mueller could not or would not answer. And he has still not responded to that specific question. So why would an an anonymous FBI scientist give this information to a blogger called Ed Lake? If the FBI scientist is real his identity should be pursued. Lake characterizes the information as now publicly available. If that is the case Lake should have no issue with publishing the FBI scientist's name here.

I doubt that will happen. The information supplied by the anonymous FBI scientist makes little sense. First the anonymous FBI scientist said there was silicon in the DEBRIS of the NYP Post material. That's certainly in line with what AFIP found with EDS. EDS can localize the finding of silicon between the spores and the debris.
But then the anonymous FBI scientist claimed that they had used ICP to determine the silicon content. But that the ICP machine had a "technical glitch" and the very high silicon concentration they measured was perhaps incorrect. But unfortunately the result couldn't be repeated because all the sample was completely consumed.

This is grossly incorrect on so many counts it's difficult to know where to begin. First off, the entire sample doesn't get destroyed by ICP. This is because the sample has been dissolved and put into solution - and only a tiny fraction of that solution is used to do the ICP run. If there was a "glitch" with the machine the solution could still be used for hundreds of repeat tests.
Secondly, ICP, unlike EDS, CANNOT distinguish between spores and debris - it can only measure TOTAL silicon. So how did the anonymous FBI scientist have any knowledge that the silicon was in the debris in the first place?

If I had been asking questions at that hearing and getting stonewalled by the Director of the FBI, only to find that an anonymous FBI scientist was leaking the sought information to an internet blogger I'm afraid I wouldn't share Ed Lake's characterization of this as being "hilarious". I'd be using subpoena powers to get access to Ed Lake's email account.

Anonymous said...

Bruce Ivins appears to have attended both the 1999 and 2000 conference on dangerous pathogens attended by Ayman Zawahiri's infiltrating scientist from Pakistan. (In an email, Dr. Ivins refers to the lessons learned from the 1998 conference immediately upon returning; he undertook the planning for the June 2001 conference planned for Annapolis). In the "Dangerous Pathogens 2000 Conference," organized by Porton Down in Plymouth (UK), other themes included "Emerging Pathogens, Genomics and Bioinformatics," and "New Antimicrobial Agents." Bioinformatics was Al-Timimi's field and 2000 was the year he entered it. Virulent Ames from Bruce Ivins flask was used to develop new antimicrobial agents.

What notes did Zawahiri's infiltrating scientist Rauf Ahmad take? Given that the correspondence from 1999 between infiltrating scientist Rauf Ahmad and Zawahiri says he met some people at the 1999 conference who provided useful tips in weaponizing anthrax, and made some useful internet connections, his emails should have been a key focus of Amerithrax investigators. He likely developed his relationship with those contacts throughout 2000. Rauf Ahmad was picked up in December 2001. Who was he emailing from the conferences attended by Bruce Ivins? What was he learning? Who was sharing technical tips?

"Organisation of the Dangerous Pathogens 2000 meeting had proved even more of a challenge than the International Conference on Anthrax held at the same venue in September 1998. The meeting had attracted a substantial number of overseas delegates, including a sizeable contingent from Russia. However, Alison, our infinitely patient Meetings Administrator, had ably dealt with many thorny problems and so it was with optimism that we looked forward to our stay in Plymouth." ( http://web.archive.org/web/20000819010910/http://www.sfam.org.uk/ )

For the next year's meeting, it was Dr. Ivins who was charged with avoiding infiltrators. If he failed, it was the responsibility of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, especially the Amerithrax Task Force and the DC Field Office.

At the 2000 Autumn conference attended by Zawahiri's scientist, in his talk “From Flanders to Glanders” Tim Brooks closed his talk on a "disturbing note, namely the development of a biological weapons capability by a number of countries and the continuing threat from terrorists. This present situation will ensure that infectious disease remains a key feature of warfare for the foreseeable future." While KSM was plotting to poison a water supply in Upstate New York, Plymouth presenters were addressing the impact of clean water and science. That "session indicated the importance of producing highly trained microbiologists to continue the battle against natural or terrorist created infections."

Phil Hanna, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA, was Chairman of the next session. He explained in his report that: "The final paper of the afternoon was given by Les Baille (DERA, Porton Down), entitled, “Bacillus anthracis: a bug with attitude!”. B anthracis, the cause of anthrax, is viewed as a likely pathogen to be employed by terrorists intent on developing biological weapons. Mr Baillie presented a comprehensive overview of this model pathogen, describing its unique biology and specialised molecular mechanisms for pathogenesis and high virulence. He went on to describe modern approaches to exploit new bioinformatics for the development of potential medical counter measures to this deadly pathogen." Dr. Hanna's university colleague had trained a few years earlier with Zawahiri's sisters and father, in the field of pharmacology and antimicrobials. A few years later the scientist's research with Bruce Ivins involved virulent Ames. Given the correspondence between Rauf Ahmad and Zawahiri supplied me by DIA shows that their plan was to use the cover of universities and charities, Dr. Hanna's colleague might have key insights into who Ayman Zawahiri knew to recruit to the venture. Given he thanked Bruce Ivins for supplying virulent Ames, and thanked Mara and Pat (the subject of questioning of Mrs. Ivins), he might also have insights into the key question of access to the virulent Ames from Bruce Ivins flask. He, finally, would have key insights into the reason for the FBI's dogged interest in the Ann Arbor-based charity promoting the views of Bin Laden's sheik who had mentored Al-Timimi and was coordinating with Al-Timimi about the defense of Bin Laden's operative Zacarias Moussaoui. Al-Timimi's conversations with Bin Laden's sheik and the 911 imam coordinating strategy were allegedly intercepted by the NSA without a warrant and are expected to be addressed at a hearing this month. Al-Timimi kept the personal papers of the founder of the Ann Arbor charity in his home. The charity's headquarters was less than 1 mile from the Ann Arbor lab doing the research with Bruce Ivins.

Bioinformatics was Ali Al-Timimi's field. He had a high security clearance in 1999 while working at SRA with the former Deputy USAMRIID Commander, a prolific Ames researcher. He invented the method for concentrating anthrax using silicon dioxide in the culture medium with co-inventor Ken Alibek, a leading anthrax scientist. A FoxNews report says that the FBI's short list had narrowed to four, including a leading anthrax scientist and a former Deputy USAMRIID commander. The same FoxNews report described an email by Bruce Ivins that exclaimed that he had heard that the closest match to the mailed anthrax was made by someone connected to USAMRIID (the literature shows that the scientist would supply Ames in connection with testing biocidal agents).

In another session at the 2000 conference, Bruce Ivins would have been listening while "Tim Read (TIGR) told us that by next year the entire genome of Bacillus anthracis Ames strain would be completed. Many people are using the sequence data to identify targets for vaccines. The genetic identification of anthrax had been the subject of every annual conference since 1996.

If the FBI is certain that Bruce Ivins is responsible based on what has been disclosed so far -- based on the cotton candy conjecture of the affidavits in support of the searches -- then they appear to be no better at avoiding infiltrators than meeting administrator Alison was in planning the 2000 "Dangerous Pathogens" conference attended by Zawahiri's scientist.

Anonymous said...

The scientist on whose work the FBI says its cotton candy case hinges on will present later this month at an ASM meeting. His name is Jacques Ravel.

Dr. Jacques Ravel, Dr. Paul Keim and Dr. Jeff Leid and others authored a paper on extracellular polymeric substance in 2007.

"Phenotypic and functional characterization of Bacillus anthracis biofilms," Microbiology 153 (2007), 1693-1701
http://mic.sgmjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/153/6/1693

Biofilms are assemblages of microorganisms that are irreversibly associated with a surface and enclosed in a matrix of extracellular materials. One of the hallmarks of microorganisms living as a biofilm is the production of an extracellular polymeric substance (EPS) that is often composed of polysaccharides, proteins, enzymes and even DNA. Although the detailed function of the EPS in biofilms is still elusive, likely because each biofilm EPS is unique, it is a universal trait of microorganisms living in the biofilm mode of growth. Characteristic of microorganisms growing as biofilms, B. anthracis biofilm cells were resistant to antibiotics.

In 2006, Jeff Leid was co-chair of Flinn Foundation / Battelle Biosciences Symposium at which he and Jacques Ravel presented a paper. From 2002, Professor Leid was a Invited Member of Flinn Foundation Bioengineering Technology Platforms Committee, State of Arizona.

http://74.125.47.132/search?q=cache:E6n_qWba5csJ:www.mggen.nau.edu/Leid_vitae.pdf+%22Jacques+Ravel%22+Battelle&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=8&gl=us

Co-Chair, Flinn Foundation/Battelle Biosciences Symposium – Bioengineering Platform, Phoenix, AZ, June 2006

Anonymous said...

"What is the Battelle Study?"

In Spring 2002, the Flinn Foundation commissioned the Battelle Memorial Institute to develop a biosciences economic roadmap for the next decade.

Their efforts created the Translation Genomics Research Institute (TGen).
http://www.tgen.org/news/index.cfm?pageid=57

Senior investigator Paul Keim explains that his work will include bolstering of biodefense through improved forensic analysis.

http://www.tgen.org/research/index.cfm?pageid=77&peopleid=21

Source:
"Arizona's Bioscience Roadmap: A 10-Year Vision For Arizona In The Biosciences"

Anonymous said...

A few more observations on Sandia's work on the Anthrax Attack spores, exospoium and silicon content:

First, Sandia's Dr. Joseph R. Michael, isn't a biologist or microbiologist; his background is in the fields of materials science and metallurgy. Thus at the FBI's Science Briefing, Dr. Michael stated:

"DR. MICHAEL: The spore coat is a layer, as I understand it, that's within the spore and it's not the outermost layer of the spore..."


Michael's metallurgy and and materials science background was apparently the basis for his stated belief that quantitative information on silicon content of the anthrax spores was not possible - see the following exchange in the FBI's Science Briefing:

QUESTION: And can you tell us what the dry [weight] percentage [of silicon] was of your analysis?

DR. MICHAEL: My analysis does not --

QUESTION: Of the silicant -- that gentleman over there, who has not identified himself, said that it was a very significant spike, which is what Maj. Gen. John S. Parker, the commander, former commander, of USAMRMC said upon seeing the APHID analysis.

DR. MICHAEL: It was a significant peak in the x-ray spectra. Yes.

QUESTION: Right. But can you translate that into a number for us, please?

DR. MICHAEL: I would not translate that into a number from an SEM identification. There are significant pitfalls and problems of doing quantitative analysis --

QUESTION: The EDS would have given you that. What was the number?

DR. MICHAEL: No. The EDS cannot give you a quantitative number from a rough surface of particles. The EDS can tell you relative amounts of chemical species, but it cannot give you quantitative answers from a rough surface. If you gave me a perfectly polished surface of a metal or an alloy or a ceramic, I could tell you the quantification with EDS. With a rough surface? No. That's not possible.



Nevertheless, Stewart et al's 1980 JOURNAL OF BACTERIOLOGY, Publication explains how accurate quantitative elemental information is indeed readily obtained from microbiological SEM analyses as follows:

"Concentrations of particular elements were obtained by a least-squares analysis of the spectra, and the dry mass of the area examined was derived from the continuum region of the spectrum as described in detail previously (24). The measurement of elemental concentrations is based on the fact, pointed out by Hall (11), that for elements of atomic number greater than 10 in concentrations of less than 1 mol/kg (dry weight) in thin sections, the characteristic peak-to-continuum ratio is linearly related to the concentration-to-dry mass ratio. Thus, absolute concentrations can be obtained by comparing peak counts (after subtracting continuum background) to the standards and also to the counts obtained in a separate continuum window located where there will be few counts due to characteristic X-rays (we employed a continuum window between 1.3 and 1.64 keV, which gives best results in samples lacking aluminium). The values obtained by X-ray microanalysis were comparable to those obtained by atomic absorption analysis of bulk samples (Table 1).

Anonymous said...

Response to anonymous poster in post #99.
Excellent points you raise about Dr Michael's statements to the media at the briefing. Clearly being asked for that silicon concentration made him extremely uncomfortable.

The big question is - is he going to get away with it at his presentation to scientist peers at the upcoming meeting on February 24? Or is this meeting a set-up by the FBI where questions and discussion will not be allowed?

As Carl Sagan once said - "extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof". The FBI's claim that the massive amount of silicon in the mailed spores got their by accident and it's really not that important, Ivins "must have managed it somehow" certainly falls into the extraordinary claims" category.

Ed Lake said...

One of the Anonymi wrote: "Response to anonymous poster in post #99."

How does one find post #99? Are we supposed to count all the posts to find #99?

How does one tell one "Anonymous" from another?

I can understand people not wanting to have their actual names associated with what they post to this forum, but it gets really absurd when the only way to address a specific person's comment is to figure out the number of his post.

Is keeping your identity hidden so important that you cannot risk giving yourself a unique FALSE name by clicking on Name/URL and entering a FALSE name instead of just clicking on "Anonymous"?

Ed Lake said...

The "Anonymous" who posted at February 17, 2009 9:54 AM, is comparing apples and oranges.

The comments made at the roundtable discussion where about AFIP analyzing silicon amounts by examining whole spores. A whole spore will have an irregular surface, as Dr. Michael said.

The comments which "Anonymous" extracted from the paper by Stewart et all followed this description of how their sample was prepared:

For the spot mode analyses, cryosections were examined in a cold stage at approximately -165°C as described previously (25, 26), with the instrument operated in the conventional transmission electron
microscopy mode. In the case of cores, the beam diameter was adjusted so that it occupied most of the core region. For the cortex/coat layer, the spot was
elongated with the condenser stigmator to enable a larger area to be measured.
In this instance, beams with an aspect ratio of between about 2:1 and 5:1 were employed, with the size adjusted so that the spot lay only in the area corresponding to the cortex/coat layer. Although the ultrastructure of the specimen was not visible when the beam was finally focused, the specimen morphology could be seen with the beam slightly expanded, and so the detailed positioning of the spot did not present any difficulty. The position was checked at approximately 20-s intervals to ensure that it had not drifted (counting was, of course, stopped during these periods). Generally, areas were counted for 100 s. Concentrations of particular elements were obtained by a least-squares analysis of the
-spectra, and the dry mass of the area examined was derived from the continuum region of the spectrum as
described in detail previously (24).


In other words, Stewart et al did a "spot mode analysis" which uses a cross-section of a spore and only analyzes the energy signals in a tiny spot - a tiny fraction of the spore coat area in that cross-section.

Just looking at the map of silicon locations in that paper, you can see there are great differences in the distribution of silicon in the spore coat - which is to be expected in a biological sample.

Determining the entire mass weight of silicon in the entire spore by that method would be like trying to determine the total amount of calcium in an entire elephant by analyzing a sample scraped from the elephant's tooth.

All Stewart et al did was determine the amount of silicon in the tiny spot in the cross-section that they measured.

Ed Lake said...

At February 17, 2009 9:36 PM one of the Anonymi wrote:

Or is this meeting a set-up by the FBI where questions and discussion will not be allowed?

Answer: There will be a media room for the media to discuss questions with the presenters.

According to the ASM web site,

Members of the press are invited and encouraged to attend American Society for Microbiology (ASM) meetings and conferences.

For its 2009 Biodefense and Emerging Diseases Research Meeting, the ASM will offer a limited press room. A full online press kit, including embargoed releases and tipsheets, will be available online to preregistered media only.

Anonymous said...

As usual, Ed Lake demonstrates his complete lack of understanding of science. The Stewart paper gave spot mode analysis of elemental compositions in one table (Table 2) only to demonstrate the differences of element concentrations between the spore core and spore cortex/coat.

Simply by expanding the raster scan size, the TOTAL concentration of an element in the spores can be determined. These results are shown in Table 1 - for Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg), Manganese (Mn) and Potassium (K). Note that the results of the X-Ray total concentration are an EXCELLENT agreement with the results obtained by Atomic Absorption (which is similar to ICP). In other words - it works. Michael claims it doesn't work and this 1980 paper shows that it does.

Stewart et al didn't bother tabulatuing their total concentration results for silicon since they likely didn't think they were too important - they did show the spot scan results for silicon in Table 2. The total concentrations would be approximately an average of the core and cortex concentrations. Most silicon concentrations were less than 0.2%, with one exception where the was just less than 0.5% in the cortex.

It's absurd that a National Lab in 2009 claims that this measurement is impossible. The more likely explanation is that they feel very uncomfortable with the high silicon concentrations which are at odds with their claim of "naturally occurring"

Anonymous said...

On the issue of communications, Ed correctly quotes the website but the website is not accurate. The Press Kit exists in physical form alone this year, and the session is not being recorded or transcribed. You needed to have a Press Kit faxed to you.

Anonymous said...

Further note: The session is not being recorded or transcribed.

Anonymous said...

Hare are citations to past presentations on the same subjects by the same people.

Some 2007 ASM Biodefense Presentations

04 - Microbial Forensics
CME Logo

Location: Renaissance Ballroom
Session Time: 3:30 PM - 6:00 PM

Moderators:
S. Schutzer; Medicine, University of Medicine and Dentistry, Newark, NJ.

J. D. Bannan; FBI, Quantico, VA.

Presentations:
3:30 PM 16. Introduction: Opening Remarks
STEVEN SCHUTZER; Medicine, Univ. of Med. and Dentistry, Newark, NJ.

3:35 PM 17. Keynote Address: Current Status of Microbial Forensics
BRUCE BUDOWLE, Ph.D.; Lab Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation,
Quantico, VA.

3:55 PM 18. Scientific Investigation of Ricin Threats
DOUGLAS J. BEECHER; FBI Lab., Quantico, VA.

4:15 PM 19. Genomic Analysis of the Anthrax Strains
JACQUES RAVEL, Ph.D.; Microbial Genomics, The Inst. for Genomic
Res., Rockville, MD.

As of: February 23, 2007
4:45 PM 20. New FBI Initiatives in Defense of Weapons of Mass Destruction and
Relationships with the Scientific Community
VAHID MAJIDI; Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate, FBI,
Washington, DC.

5:00 PM 21. The Scientist as an Expert Witness in the Court
JENIFER SMITH; FBI Lab., Washington, DC.

5:15 PM 22. New Avenues for Research in Microbial Forensics
STEVEN SCHUTZER; Medicine, Univ. of Med. and Dentistry, Newark, NJ.

5:30 PM Panel Discussion
Moderator:
R. S. Murch; Research Program Development, Virginia Tech, Alexandria,
VA.


Some 2006 ASM Biodefense Presentations

2:00-5:00pm
Focus Session 1: Microbial
Forensics
Organizers: Steven E. Schutzer, MD, University of Medicine and Dentistry (UMDNJ), New Jersey Medical School and Jacques Ravel, PhD, The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR)


Real-World Investigation of Biological Crime: Combining Scientific Investigation and Traditional Forensics



Jason Bannan , PhD, Federal Bureau of Investigation


Forensic Aspects of the Human Response to Microbial Threats: Role of the Physician and Microbiologist at the Initial Stages of a Biocrime


Steven E. Schutzer, MD, UMDNJ, New Jersey Medical School

Preservation of Scientific Evidence Beginning at the Crime Scene

Terry Kerns, MS, Hazardous Materials Response Unit (HMRU). Federal Bureau of Investigation


Applying Microbiological Techniques at the Crime Scene


Douglas J. Beecher, PhD, HMRU, Federal Bureau of Investigation


Validation of Molecular Genetic Analysis

Paul Keim, PhD, Northern Arizona University


Keynote Lecture – The Current Status and Future of Microbial Forensics


Bruce Budowle, PhD, FBI Laboratory

Panel Discussion - Where Do We Go from Here and How Do We Get There?

Panelists include all above speakers and Ronald M. Atlas, PhD, University of Louisville,
Jenifer Smith, PhD, FBI Laboratory, and James P. Burans, PhD, National Bioforensic Analysis Center, DHS

Some 2005 Presentations

9:30am-12:00pm
Symposium: Risk Assessment of Biothreats: Application of Forensics and Diagnostics
Chairs:

Clare M. Fraser, Ph.D., The Inst. for Genomic Res.

Tim Brooks, Ctr. for Emergency Preparedness & Response, Porton Down, UK


Will the Real Anthrax Step Forward: the Dangers of Environmental Studies

Tim Brooks, Ctr. for Emergency Preparedness & Response, Porton Down, UK

Application of Microbial Forensics
Jacques Ravel, Ph.D., The Inst. for Genomic Res.

Anonymous said...

The ASM spokesman (from where Bruce used to live btw) has provided further clarification and correction and reports that when ASM said there was an online press kit (availableto registered journalists) what they really meant to say that there was no press kit -- not hard copy and not online.


Sort of like the FBI's case, eh? They mean the opposite of what they said in writing.

Ed Lake said...

One of the Anonymi wrote: "It's absurd that a National Lab in 2009 claims that this measurement is impossible."

Who said that? When? Are you sure you aren't simply distorting the facts again?

At the roundtable discussion on August 18, this exchange took place:

QUESTION: I appreciate that but obviously what Dr. Jahrling and Dr. Geisbert said they actually saw the silica on the surface of the spores.

DR. MICHAEL: But that's just not possible. It's not possible.


Dr. Michael was saying it was not possible for Jahrling and Geisbert to see silica on the surface of the spores. It was not possible, because there was no visible silica on the surface of the attack spores.

That "impossibility" has NOTHING to do with what you are now claiming they said was "impossible."

At that same roundtable discussion, this exchange also took place:

QUESTION: Wait, wait, wait. AFIP published a newsletter saying that they did energy-dispersive x-ray fluorescence spectrometry on the spores.

BACKGROUND OFFICIAL: Right, they did a bulk analysis of it. They could not tell where the presence of the elemental signature was coming from. They couldn't tell whether it was coming from the outside of the spores or the inside of the spores. The type of analysis they did was a bulk elemental analysis.


So, your arguments are total distortions of the facts. Bulk analyses cannot determine where the silicon is located within a spore. And NO ONE said it was impossible to do a bulk analysis.

When the "background official" was asked at the roundtable discussion about the dry weight percentage of silicon, he responded:

"It was high."

So, since tests were obviously done, clearly no one considered such tests to be "impossible."

You are creating a false argument by distorting facts.

Ed Lake said...

Oops. I found another use of the word "impossible" at the roundtable discussion:

QUESTION: And can you tell us what the dry rate percentage was of your analysis?

DR. MICHAEL: My analysis does not --

QUESTION: Of the silicant -- that gentleman over there, who has not identified himself, said that it was a very significant spike, which is what Maj. Gen. John S. Parker, the commander, former commander, of USAMRMC said upon seeing the AFIP analysis.

DR. MICHAEL: It was a significant peak in the x-ray spectra. Yes.

QUESTION: Right. But can you translate that into a number for us, please?

DR. MICHAEL: I would not translate that into a number from an SEM identification. There are significant pitfalls and problems of doing quantitative analysis --

QUESTION: The EDX would have given you that. What was the number?

DR. MICHAEL: No. The EDX cannot give you a quantitative number from a rough surface of particles. The EDX can tell you relative amounts of chemical species, but it cannot give you quantitative answers from a rough surface. If you gave me a perfectly polished surface of a metal or an alloy or a ceramic, I could tell you the quantification with EDX. With a rough surface? No. That's not possible.


So, what Dr. Michael appears to have said was that a person could determine the relative amounts for elements within materials with rough surfaces (like spores), but not the actual dry weight amounts.

So, a relative answer was that the silicon content was "high" compared to other elements. But that evidently doesn't directly translate into a dry weight percentage.

The problem seems to be that the EDX doesn't penetrate through the entire sample. Therefore, in a sample with a rough surface, you can examine material only to a certain depth.

I look at that as being like analyzing the elements in a mountain range when your instrument can only penetrate down to about 100 feet. You're going to get a false reading because the material between the detector and 100 feet is not representative of what is below 100 feet. The top 100 feet will include trees, snow and animal life. Below 100 feet, none of those materials will exist.

You can assume that everything in the top layers directly relates to what is below, but that's a dangerous assumption.

No one has anything to hide. Perhaps there will be a better or more definitive answer in today's presentations.

Ed Lake said...

One of the Anomymi wrote: The ASM spokesman (from where Bruce used to live btw) has provided further clarification and correction and reports that when ASM said there was an online press kit (availableto registered journalists) what they really meant to say that there was no press kit -- not hard copy and not online.

Sort of like the FBI's case, eh? They mean the opposite of what they said in writing.


The meeting was set up by The American Society of Microbiologists, not by the government. Pointing out that scientists can make mistakes just like everyone else shouldn't be new to anyone.

Any transcripts would come from journalists who - presumably - are allowed to take tape recorders into the presentations.

The presentations took place this morning, are now over. Who cares if the definition of a "press kit" was accurate or not?

We need to wait to see what gets printed or shown by the media in the next few days. Then we can argue about that.

If there is any dispute about what was said, we can probably get clarification from the scientists. That will end those disputes. The only disputes that will remain will be over what was imagined and what was real.

Anonymous said...

Ed Lake fits his own definition of a True Believer ("[They] feel they know beyond any doubt who sent the anthrax letters, and anyone who does not believe as they believe - ... is just not looking at the right facts.") Lake is a True Believer in the FBI's Lone Superhuman Scientist theory.

Michael clearly stated he could not derive quantitative information from an SEM due to "significant pitfalls and problems" and that he could not give quantitative answers from a rough surface, "That's not possible." But Stewart et al, had already proven that accurate quantitative data could be obtained via SEM nearly 30 years earlier.

It's clear that Michael was incorrect and poorly informed. (In Ed Lake terminology, one would call Michael's statements "garbage" and/or "junk science".)

Ed Lake said...

I'm told that there was a Q&A press session at the meeting today, and Barry Kissin apparently called the scientists liars and then stood up in the middle of the press session and gave a speech about how he didn't believe any of it.

Everyone in the science community seemed to accept the information about the silicon in the spores. It caused no arguments. Even a well-known "journalist" who has argued about the silicon in the past seemed to accept the findings.

The only unanswered questions were evidently about how the FBI was able to eliminate all the others who had access to flask RMR-1029 and how they pinpointed Ivins as the lone culprit. That information is apparently awaiting the closing of the case.

Ellen Byrne said...

Ed Lake, these are serious questions, so please don't scoff them off:

Would you ask your FBI contact why they (the FBI) turned off the security cameras before entering UAMRIID containment suites during the AMERITHRAX investigation. And was any "evidence" obtained from this fruit of a poisonous tree?

Ellen Byrne said...

Of course, I meant USAMRIID in the earlier query.

Anonymous said...

Here is the abstract for an article that Old Atlantic Lighthouse recently brought to our attention.

Accession Number : ADA426293

Title : Production of Bacillus Spores as a Simulant for Biological Warfare Agents

Descriptive Note : Final rept. Sep 2002-Sep 2003

Corporate Author : EDGEWOOD CHEMICAL BIOLOGICAL CENTER ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND MD

Personal Author(s) : Carey, Laurie F. ; St. Amant, Diane C. ; Guelta, Mark A.

Handle / proxy Url : Check NTIS Availability...

Report Date : APR 2004

Pagination or Media Count : 40

Abstract : Standards for proliferation of biological warfare (BW) agent simulants for use in development of detection and identification equipment are essential. Lack of standardized protocols for growth, processing, and product characterization will likely lead to variances in growth parameters and could induce changes in simulant characteristics that may affect instruments being developed. Thirteen media purported were evaluated to grow spores against several criteria, including growth time, ease of processing, reproducibility, and component definition. The goal is to have a chemically defined medium that will produce whole bacillus spores in the least amount of time. Three media (two liquids and one solid) were selected and tested further. Although the solid medium produced the best results, it is more advantageous to use a liquid medium. There is a liquid medium that is chemically defined that produced refractile bodies in twelve hours. Ingredient variations were tested to determine impact on sporulation levels. The spores are virtually free of all media components and debris. Particle sizing of the spores proliferated on all three of the media indicate that they are suitable for use in BW agent detector development.

Ed, could you link it? Thanks. I'll try to email a copy this morning.

Anonymous said...

Ed, here is another article to link.

Title : An Improved Method for the Production of Bacillus subtilis var. niger Spores for Use as a Simulant for Biological Warfare Agents-Quality Analysis

Corporate Author : EDGEWOOD CHEMICAL BIOLOGICAL CENTER ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND MD

Personal Author(s) : St. Amant, Diane C. ; Carey, Laurie F. ; Guelta, Mark A.

Report Date : 01 JUL 2003

Abstract : Standards for proliferation of Biological Warfare (BW) agent simulants for use in development of detection and identification equipment are essential. Lack of standardized protocols for growth, processing, and product characterization will likely lead to variances in growth parameters and could induce changes in simulant characteristics that may affect instruments being developed. We have evaluated thirteen media purported to grow spores against several criteria, including growth time, ease of processing, reproducibility, and component definition. The goal is to have a chemically defined medium that will produce whole bacillus spores in the least amount of time. Three media were selected for further testing. Spores produced from each medium were tested for viability counts, purity, particle size, identity, and appearance under electron microscope. The spores exhibited similar viability counts per dry weight, do not contain extraneous organisms, and are virtually free of debris. Particle size is comparable when grown on each medium and spores are easily aerosolized and measured by an Aerodynamic Particle Sizer (APS). Identity testing using infrared spectroscopy and PCR indicate positive identity with no major interference factors. Data indicates suitability for use in BW agent detector development.

Ed Lake said...

Ellen Byrne asked: "Would you ask your FBI contact why they (the FBI) turned off the security cameras before entering UAMRIID containment suites during the AMERITHRAX investigation."

Ellen,

My contact wouldn't have answers to questions like that. He wasn't a field agent at the time of the Amerithrax investigation. And that isn't a scientific question, it's a question about the criminal investigation, which is still considered confidential.

But, I would think the answer would be obvious.

If they turned off the security cameras, they did so to prevent people who were not part of the investigation and who were potential suspects from seeing where they were looking and what they were focusing upon.

There's no "poisonous tree." There's no law that says every step of the FBI's investigation has to be put on TV for all the world to see.

Anonymous said...

Here is link to first cited article. Note the Si peak on page C-6 relating to the subtilus.

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

Ed Lake said...

Anonymous,

My web site is about the anthrax attacks of 2001.

What relevance do those two articles about growing Bacillus subtilis as simulants have to that case?

Ed Lake said...

Anonymous,

There's a lot of information in that Edgewood paper, but it's about growing a simulant. It's not about growing the Ames strain. So, comparisons may not always be valid.

The silicon peaks in the graphs on page C-4 and C-6 both have a footnote: "(additional line over Si peak was computer generated after analysis to indicate location/presence of compound.) So, the peak is clearly not representative of reality when compared to the peak for carbon.

On page 5, it says they got an average of 1 gram of dry spores per liter of medium for their best method.

There are numerous places in the report where it's made clear that the spores will aerosolize easily and will not clump, even though they are NOT coated with silica or anything else.

On page 7 it says that the best spore producing medium produced spores faster on plates, but using plates greatly increased the preparation time.

Table 6 on page 12 appears to show that the best preparations got 90 percent spores after just 3 days.

It's interesting stuff, but can it be directly related to growing the Ames strain? Maybe. But I'm not the person to do the comparisons.

Anonymous said...

A Comparison of Decontamination Technologies for Biological Agents on Selected Commercial Surface Materials

http://bioterrorism.slu.edu/bt/key_ref/DOD/decon_tech_bio_agent.pdf

This April 2001 report (Aberdeen Proving Ground appears on bottom of first page but the authors are Dugway), reports that the best performing decontamination agents were University of Michigan (U.Mich.), Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) and Lawrence Livermore Laboratory (LLNL).

Nanoemulsion decontamination agents were tested at Edgewood according to a June 2002 biotechnology report.

Anonymous said...

So let's recap the recent conference... the imagined "match" for the silicon was not from Ft. Detrick, subtilis in Ivins samples was not the genetically distinct subtilis in the mailed anthrax, the 4 morphs only limited things to the 8 isolates (and not 1 as Ed inexplicably and speciously concluded), and the NYT was misled into falsely reporting that a unique signature of the water led to Ft. Detrick, when the isotope analysis led nowhere given the broad isotope range (and the interplay with the culture medium). So I guess that leaves -- for the case against Bruce Ivins -- the girls of Kappa Kappa Gamma and no evidence that has been disclosed. And it has now been over a half year.

Anonymous said...

Chemical composition of spores doesn't match suspect flask.

http://www.nature.com/news/2009/090225/full/news.2009.120.html

Anonymous said...

http://rockcreekfreepress.tumblr.com/post/81093004/ny-times-complicit-in-fbi-anthrax-coverup

Anonymous said...

--> Ellen Byrne

The answer to your question about the FBI shutting down the security cameras could be a bit more complicated than the answer given by Ed Lake (although Lake's answer my be perfectly correct). The problem with Lake's simple answer is that if the FBI merely sought to hide their investigative methods and goals for security purposes, it should have been easy enough to secure the camera monitoring areas, and any records for the time period. But turning off a security system entirely, particularly at a facility that contains deadly biological materials, is another issue altogether. For example, restarting a security system can cause or result in dangerous glitches; or if something had gone wrong during the shut down period, the dangers would have been much greater with no security monitoring.

So why generate new risks by shutting down the security cameras if it wasn't necessary? That question, in turn, suggests the answer that the FBI was probably doing something for which it was necessary to shut off the security cameras and/or security system.

Chances are they also modified the security system and/or cameras to aid in their future investigation -- and installation of the modifications required the system to be off. Just a guess.

Anonymous said...

It raises profound chain-of-custody issues.

The FBI should never do anything that undermines chain of custody.

It is academic given that they did not find anything.

Anonymous said...

Revising Anonymous 127's comment slightly - Turning off the security cameras would also have generated chain of custody issues in the event that the FBI had found any evidence during the time period in question. FBI standard operating procedure would have dictated a different approach in the normal course of events.

This further suggests that the FBI probably did something that required the security cameras, and/or any connected systems, such as a system network, be shut down. Installation of additional monitoring/bugging devices would fit the bill.

Ed Lake said...

One of the Anonymi wrote: "It raises profound chain-of-custody issues."

Nonsense. Chain of custody is a merely a matter of making certain that evidence never leaves the custody of people authorized to handle the evidence.

Closed circuit television has nothing to do with anything.

You're just suggesting that, because they turned off the CCTV, they must of have been doing something sinister.

Ed Lake said...

Anonymous,

What basis do you have for suggesting that when there's a CCTV present, there are different chain of custody rules?

What about all the times when there is no CCTV present? Is chain of custody broken at all those times?

Anonymous said...

Responsive to Ed Lake's latest rhetoric: "What basis do you have for suggesting that when there's a CCTV present, there are different chain of custody rules?
What about all the times when there is no CCTV present? Is chain of custody broken at all those times?"


How evidence was obtained, and chain of custody of the evidence is always relevant. If CCTV is turned off during evidence gathering, that becomes relevant and could certainly raise some issues in the mind of a jury. Competent investigators would be expected to carefully avoid creating these types of problems.

It ought to be self-evident (even to Ed Lake) that if there is no CCTV to begin with, then there is no issue.