Sunday, August 3, 2008

Anthrax was a strain in Ivins' lab--CNN

CNN notes,
The DNA linked the anthrax used in the mailing to a flask used in Bruce Ivins' lab at the U.S. Army Medical Institute of Infectious Diseases, said the source, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the case.
Maybe so, though I am awfully tired of all these "unauthorized" sources who talk anyway.

But guess what? Choosing strains is an old trick well known to those in biodefense. Perpetrators specifically select a strain that will throw suspicion on someone else. And scientists share all these strains. Back in 2001, no one knew how many labs had Ames anthrax. And now the FBI plans to indict based on Ivins' mix of strains? Anyone can mix strains.

Bottom line: this proves very little.


Anonymous said...

HOW do we go about getting Bill Moyers to interview you on all of these points you have shared with us over the last few days?

Lord knows, the MSM is not going to air you without totally
distort any of the facts you know
that are relevant and expose their propaganda around this

The man is dead- needlessly so, that much is clear. You are the best person I have found on the Internet to set the story straight, and I can think of NO ONE on the airwaves better to
give you that venue than Moyers.

It would be refreshing at the very least to have at least one
authorized source/expert voicing the FACTS.

Anonymous said...

Larisa Alexandrovna dug up some info on Jean Carol Duley that will
interest you.

sdemetri said...

New Scientist magazine posted an article by Deborah MacKenzie in May 2002 that reported that the Institute for Genomic Research in Rockville, Maryland, and a lab at the University of Northern Arizona at Flagstaff identified the attack strain as "identical" to the Ames strain at USAMRIID, Dugway Proving Grounds, and a UK biodefense lab at Porton Down. The UK strain was a non-pathogenic strain.

That article is here:

The article also reports that the work done by TIGR and at Flagstaff was done in collaboration with other labs, and therefore the attack strain could not be irrefutably linked to the USAMRIID lab at Fort Detrick. Perhaps those others labs have since been ruled out as likely sources, but I am curious as to the "new scientific" technique NPR reported on this morning that definitively linked the attack strain to Ivins' lab. The genome of the attack strain was identified in 2002 and found identical to these other cultures at USAMRIID and Dugway.

Sappho said...

Regarding unauthorized sources and journalism: Over the past two years I wrote a series of investigative journalism pieces on my alma mater, which has since been shut down. Many employees and former employees gave me documents and information off the record. They were all afraid of the administration, even the former employees, and with good reason. Their information was correct and the documents were genuine--I verified everything before publication. Contrast this to people who come forward anonymously with rumors against a dead men. Why would they be afraid? Are the journalists bothering to fact check? The whole thing stinks and the public isn't buying it. I think we deserve real answers.

Anonymous said...

This new technique is probably "pyrosequencing" a relatively new, extremely fast way of performing DNA sequencing.

This allows for a number of novel uses for genomic sequencing. Using this type of sequencing you can sequence a population of genomes looking for percentages of particular mutations present in a defined population.

When analyzing bacterial cultures, such as anthrax, these mutations will be present in different percentages even if they were derived from the same original strain. As a result it is highly likely that they were able to definitively prove that the anthrax grown at USAMRIID was used to create the spores that were mailed. Depending on how much sequencing they did, it is likely they could narrow it down to particular frozen stocks in a -80C.

Just because the stocks in Dr. Ivins' lab were used doesn't prove he mailed the letters, but at that point it becomes an issue of motive and opportunity.