Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tracing KIller Spores: The science behind the anthrax investigation.

News article from the journal Analytical Chemistry


Anonymous said...

What a difference a month can make. At the FBI Anthrax Briefing of August 18 the FBI scientists reported that the attack anthrax contained "no additives". In this article, published September 18, the FBI is backing away from is unequivocal finding of "no additives"

Now we are told, "Vahid Majidi of the FBI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate says that “no intentional additives [were] combined with the Bacillus anthracis spores to make them any more dispersible.”

Still no reports on what additives were in the attack anthrax, but now the FBI claims that the additives were not "intentional", and didn't make the spores "any more dispersible".

Since Dr. Ivins is now dead, and since he denied preparing the attack anthrax, it is unlikely the FBI determined his "intent" from him.

And what were the additives? It doesn't appear the FBI knows. But whatever, they weren't intentional.

On August 18, Dr. Majidi reported that the FBI had been able to replicate the attack anthrax powders, except for the silicon content. Dr. Majidi further said that the FBI "never aerosolized" the anthrax powders that differed in silicon content. Nevertheless, Dr. Majidi now says that the unknown but unintentional additives didn't make the spores more dispersible.

And the evidence for the finding on dispersibility? The FBI has a witness who observed the Leahy letter being opened and says “It just had the consistency of a fine powder—nothing unique or distinguishing,” No need for any special apparatus to detect, count, or otherwise measure the tiny anthrax spores that are difficult or impossible to see with the naked eye.

We also now have an explanation for the FBI's failure to replicate the anthrax attack powders. The article says, "Although FBI researchers tried to replicate the spore preparation, they were unable to make an equivalent powder. Several experts have pointed out that two significantly different batches of spores were recovered in the investigation—even the perpetrator did not reproduce the same powder."

So apparently we are to believe that the purity and dispersibility of the second anthrax attack powders were just another one of those accidents. The second attack powders were simply a failed attempt to duplicate the first batch.

This is science?

Anonymous said...

Did you see this story:

Anonymous said...

And did you see this?


Ellen Byrne said...

Regarding today's Frederick News Post article on Bruce: It was placed above the fold. One could not read "veterinary vaccine strain of anthrax " unless the paper was purchased and opened to page 2.

It must have been a slow news day here in Frederick.

Anonymous said...

How about if we just follow the lead of the Judiciary Committees who questioned FBI Director Mueller last week about Amerithrax? The questions pertaining to the validity of the investigation were few in number and sounded one theme, best expressed in Congressman Nadler’s query: How did the FBI exclude the involvement of Battelle and Dugway? Mr. Mueller’s oft-repeated reply: I will have to get back to you on that.

Senator Leahy was the most pressing – after all, he was the addressee of one of the letters. His query: Where else besides Battelle and Dugway is anthrax weaponized? Chairman Leahy rejected Mueller’s “get back to you on that.” The Senator told the FBI Director to come back after the break with an answer. Lo and behold, the FBI director comes back with an answer: As to where else anthrax is weaponized, the answer is classified.

Oh my.

I am not a trained scientist, though I am quite capable of digesting technical matter. By profession, I am a lawyer practicing in Frederick, MD (home of Fort Detrick and the late Bruce Ivins). I am also a saxophone player and an organic gardener and a life-long peace activist who believes that we are running out of time within which to insist upon and act upon the truth. The issue of exactly what were the nature, extent, and sophistication of the processing that went into the anthrax in the Senators’ letters – that issue is getting more attention than it deserves. We know that (at least) nine people contracted inhalational anthrax, and that five people died from it. We know the anthrax was substantially processed, that it was remarkably pure, and that its strain and the presence of silicon aren’t uniquely but are distinctly American.

In fact, the issue of whether the anthrax letters originated in the U.S. of A. has been officially determined, presumably based on all of the information available, including the classified information. This determination was publicly made known very soon after the anthrax letters – that this was an “inside job.” In 2002, there was some blatant
disinformation disseminated by media and government about the anthrax letters (ex. ABC News and bentonite), which disinformation played an obvious role in an across-the-board fraudulent sale of the Iraq War. But the years-long case against Hatfill relied upon the domestic determination, as does the officially dispositive case against Ivins.

The reason it took seven years for the FBI to (almost) close this case is that practically at the start of the investigation, the most likely source of the anthrax was declared off-limits – it was “off-limits” because it was classified. The “most likely source” is the place where for at least four years just before the anthrax letters, anthrax was being weaponized in classified programs. Senator Leahy actually referred (without explication) to the Sept. 4, 2001 article by William Broad at http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E02E1D71639F937A3575AC0A9679C8B63, which article is all about these up-to-then secret weaponization programs. All of these programs, whether sponsored by the CIA in West Jefferson, Ohio, or the DIA or the Army at Dugway, all of the laboratories involved, were ( and probably still are) operated by Battelle.

Furthermore, the FBI knows perfectly well from Dr. Ivins’ logs that Bruce Ivins (as ordered) was sending the celebrated RMR-1029 to Battelle periodically from 1997 into the summer of 2001. Nevertheless, the FBI wants us to share in its excitement about its “new branch of science – microbial forensics,” though it knows full well that all that said science does for us in the anthrax investigation is to narrow the number of suspects down to somewhere in the hundreds.


P.S. The news article from the journal Analytical Chemistry posted Sept. 23 by Meryl repeatedly quotes “James Burans of the National Bioforensic Analysis Center (NBFAC).” This is the same expert James Burans who told us as a part of the FBI science briefing on August 18 that the silicon in the anthrax letters was a “natural occurrence.” Anonymous in the first comment to the Sept. 23 posting refers to the FBI’s “witness who observed the Leahy letter being opened and says ‘It just had the consistency of a fine powder—nothing unique or distinguishing,’” -- said FBI witness is none other than James Burans. James Burans is indeed affiliated with the National Bioforensic Analysis Center (NBFAC). But the management and operation of the NBFAC is contracted out by the Department of Homeland Security to Battelle, and James Burans is a Battelle employee.

Anonymous said...

Barry Kissin, I think your comment deserves to be a guest post on the front page.

Anonymous said...

I've read several versions of stories re new documents in the Ivins case and in only one (the LA Times story) did I find this explanation for what is being termed a bizarre email without explanation elsewhere:

Paul F. Kemp, a lawyer whom Ivins had hired to represent him, said that the e-mail "was a note with himself to discuss with me certain information that he wanted to pass on to the FBI. He did, and I passed it on. It was an attempt to say who might have had access to the beaker" containing the RMR 1029 anthrax.

I often send emails to myself to serve of reminders of something I want to do or include in something I'm writing. Thus, the lawyer's explanation of what this email was about makes more sense to me than just shrugging it off as proof that Ivins was bonkers.

Anonymous said...

Someone named Homunculus posted a link to ERS in the blog that followed the Washington Post Article at, http://voices.washingtonpost.com/washingtonpostinvestigations/2008/09/anthrax_suspect_was_banned_fro.html?hpid=topnews This link includes so-called exclusive access records for September and October related to Bruce Ivins keycard that purports to claim there was a window of opportunity. However, there aren't any entries for the building where RMR 1029 resided from 1997 until 2003. Since Bruce would have to card out of the building where his office was located in order to access the lab where RMR 1029 was located to do his official work, there is nothing in the ERS web site that can be considered 'window of opportunity' as the access information is incomplete.

Anonymous said...

You had an article on anthrax. I think I know the source of anthrax that was in the news. It seems that Reagan in 1985 at the advice of then CIA director Bush signed a treaty with Iraq and Saddam and shipped 70 shipments of anthrax to Iraq when they were friendly. Aparently Saddam used the anthrax on the Sunni and they were killed, the USA likely blamed it on Saddam and Atta becamse angry and decided to get back at the USA. The anthrax was supposed to be used on Iran by Iraq but it went wrong and when the oil fires were lit near Kuait about 1992 Atta came over and likely entered the USA with a student Visa for flight school. He brought the anthrax with him and he studied airport security making out a map from an emperical study and tried to print it out at my place of work; and it upset him that I had seen the computer screen when he ran out of disk space and couldn't print the file. As Atta and Al Qaeda left they threw anthrax in my face and my roommate and mother died because they were old and I couldn't wash all of it out. The CIA said they would take care of everything and then left me with the impression that the Virginia Department of Health had taken a sample for the police to investigate the homicides. Atta (or who ever he actually was) threatened the Presidnet's life at the time President George H.W. Bush. The Secret Service were the ones that put me intouch with the CIA because I reported the threat on the President and the World Trade Center immediately. I was visibly shaken, and my employer was telling me to wash in the men's room and get it all out and my eyes were very bloodshot. If I had know better I never would have gone home and saved my people from dying. But I would have gotten a motel and they could have torn the hotel down later. What a waste that would be. I survived but I wrote this small recount below that should let you know how the issue should or could have been handled if local authorities had been enlisted. Believe me everybody backs off when they consider helping, nobody wants to actually die and you cannot go to the hospital. The hospitals even complain about staff infections running around the hospital at times. They are careful. Read below:

To. Congressman Bob Goodlatte
From: Andrew David Taylor, 789 North Augusta Avenue, Waynesboro, Va 22980, 540-942-2190

I would like to be compensated by the United States Federal Government for their failure and liability to carefully screen the national borders from terrorists. The United States Government is supposed to protect its borders from foreign agents. The United States Government did compensate the loved ones of the victims of the 911 tragedy but the scope of the document that compensated them didn’t take into account those who got in the way of the terrorists as the terrorists were preparing to take the four airplanes. I would like to be compensated for the loss of my mother Mary Ann Taylor, my friend Gene E. Blair and the attempt on my life as well. My residence at the time at 4501 West Ox Road had to be destroyed because of the anthrax that was used. Can you initiate a bill in the House of Representatives to see that I am compensated for the losses? Below is a witness statement that I have constructed that recounts the deadly events of 1992 that greatly influenced me. I have searched for an attorney or a lawyer that will address the facts and take a deposition.

Witness Statement

I don’t work for the Federal Government. I’m a private citizen. I’ve never been trained by the military. I was in the employ of Mounir Murad in 1992 at a place that is known as The Publisher’s Service Bureau. About 2 or 3 Islamic Jihadists (Al Qaeda) came in to our offices and printed out 50 copies of an airport security map that was designed in a desktop publishing package called Illustrator. The terrorists made a mistake and tried to spool the (native) Postscript® file from their removable Syquest drive and ran out of disk space on that drive. They had to move the Illustrator file over to the native (resident) Macintosh IIci hard disk drive. As they left they tried to kill me with anthrax and they left a computer virus on the Mac IIci. My employer Mr. Murad is very knowledgeable about computers and he saw the virus eating away the bits and pixels on the screen so he automatically reached for his Norton Utilities and killed the computer virus. He was able to extract the file that was thrown in the trashcan of the Mac’s Graphical User Interface and the file revealed the map of airport security. He imaged a map on a Canon 500 copier and then noticed a terrible smell. The Jihadists had not only thrown anthrax in my face, but they had laced the rollers of his Canon 500 with anthrax. Mr. Murad was very disappointed but he said that the copier was insured and that it would be easily replaced. I noticed that he was still under their psychological control and I asked him a few technical questions to wake him up and then I asked him if he was ok. He stated to me that he did what he did in protecting them while they were in his establishment since they had ‘drafted him’ to be their cousin. He said he knew that they were Jihadists because they were reading the book (The Koran) wrong and they were going to kill the people in New York at the World Trade Center. I went home, but I took the issue seriously and called for help from the police. I called 911. The call was eventually transferred to the Central Intelligence Agency only because I had noticed that I could not understand the conversation between Mr. Murad and the Jihadists clients and it was derived that they were foreign agents on a mission to bring down the World Trade Center. I became very sick from the anthrax and I couldn’t go back to work for a few days. My roommate Gene Elwood Blair became sick as well and died. It was a very slow process. We had to unplug the phone from the wall because we were getting really strange calls from the mental health wards that are located in Fairfax, Virginia. When I tried to report the death of Reverend Doctor Gene Elwood Blair the 911 operator kept transferring my calls to the mental health wards suicide hotlines until I finally had to state to the 911 operated that she MUST NOT transfer me to them again that in fact I had a dead body to report and that it was a murder (homicide) and that the police need to take a statement about the death. The authorities sent someone from the Virginia Department of Health that is behind the Commonwealth of Virginia Police Station on Braddock road. The CSI fellow took biological samples of the top of Gene’s upper plate that revealed a grayish mold. I told him that I had been assaulted by anthrax, and I was given permission to take care of the body for burial. I’m mildly speech impaired and there were not enough funds in Mr. Blair’s account, so I had an unknown and new friend help me sell his car and those funds were used to bury his body in Ashland, Kentucky using Laser Funeral Home. Gene’s son Michael and Gene’s grandson Jason showed up at his funeral. I was listed as Mr. Blair’s caretaker with the Veterans Administration and I thought that meant that I was responsible for his person (to watch him in his blind condition) and that I was to show interest in his homicide case but the police informed me that I was allegedly only responsible for his burial. They essentially redefined my position from being his caretaking in life and guarding his condition of visual impairment or blindness with Pars Plantitis to limit my ability to sue the Commonwealth of Virginia State Police or the Federal Bureau of Investigation for their failure to take a written report and prosecute the homicide by redefining the word ‘caretaker’. Mr. Bair was a guest in my mother’s home because he was providing the essential services of caring for my mother in her diabetic (Type I) condition. Mr. Blair was Type 2 diabetic. I also had my sister Monica (who is mentally retarded) to worry about. Mary (my mother) was apparently stricken by the anthrax as well because Gene didn’t know how contagious it was. The effects appear as a cold and he identified it as something that they call ‘The Croup’ that you get in the countryside working on a farm with animals. I believe Mary Ann Taylor was euthanized by the state but the family is saying that she didn’t die at home, but instead died at INOVA Fairfax Hospital under the supervision of Dr. Cleary her cardio-pulmonary specialist. After burying the bodies I tried to go back to work only because the Virginia Employment Commission instructed me that I had to be standing on the ground at my place of work rather than being fired over the phone. Mr. Murad was afraid of a courthouse hearing where he would be called to testify. The real problem is the County of Fairfax and the way that they don’t like you to report wrongful death. I even got an attorney called Candice McCall because I was receiving so much static from everyone. She wouldn’t address the issue of the ‘wrongful death’ in civil court explaining to me that you have to be immediate kinship to the deceased to file a suit.

When I think of former President George W. Bush I think that he was his father's son; I know because my father used to work at AMS or Army Map Service and I was doing what my father would want me to do in taking care of my mother. And I wonder what was going through his mind as he was memorializing those lost at the World Trade Center after the attacks. It should have been that Al Qaeda could be stopped. Perhaps anthrax is too effective a weapon, and perhaps we should stop production of this deadly biotoxin known as anthrax in the USA. Nobody needs that kind of weapon. It is so easily transported and you can get it through the metal detectors and I wonder how the pilots felt in the airplanes that were stolen because my brother Bruce flies TWA and I know they worry about people like Atta just waiting and looking for some small weakness in security as the planes warm up on the runway to make some political point about how they hate Americans.

The anthrax is likely produced at ATCC in Manassas, Virginia under private federal government contract and account codes that match a federal registry are require to purchase the product.