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

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

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Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

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

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

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

and Mr. Kissin also writes:

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

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

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

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

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

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

3.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

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

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

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

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

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

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who do you think the FoxNews report was describing?

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

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

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

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

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

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

Let’s examine the FACTS here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meryl Nass, M.D.
Meryl Nass, M.D.
13 years ago

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

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

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

Dr. Nass asked: “Whatever happened to the NAS review of FBI’s scientific analysis?”

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

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

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

Ed writes:

“The FBI isn’t being evasive about closing the case.”

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

It has now been 6 months.

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

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

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

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

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

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

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

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

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

and

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

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

A reporter might see that as being “evasive.”

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

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, now we have a third theory.

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

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

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

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

Meryl Nass, M.D.
Meryl Nass, M.D.
13 years ago

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

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

Okay, I’ll lob a few softballs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

None of the articles you cite mention “polymerized glass.”

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

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

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

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

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

As Meryl points out, it’s a cheap shot to use the term “junk science” – especially when the person making the comment it is scientifically illiterate.

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

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

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

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

“Yes, that’s correct,” Tobin says.

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

“So what you’re saying is that this is junk science?” Kroft asks.

“That’s correct,” Tobin says. “It’s worthless as a forensic tool.”

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

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

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

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

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

Does a “complex sugar” contain silicon?

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

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

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

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

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

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

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

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

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

Anonymous writes:

“Nothing resembling silica was seen.”

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

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

The other “Anoymous” wrote: “Nothing resembling silica was seen.”

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

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

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

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

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

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

P.S. I’m not the real Barack Obama.

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

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

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

Selected Sources:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

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

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

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

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

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

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

Anonymous,

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

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

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

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

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

Ed writes to the original Anonymous:

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

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

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

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

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

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

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

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

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

Old Atlantic Lighthouse
Old Atlantic Lighthouse
13 years ago

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

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

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

They used a

New Brunswick c25 floor shaker incubator

See page 12 of pdf, 2.9.2.

This weighs 400 pounds.

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

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

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

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

There is a smaller unit

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

It weights 230 pounds.

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

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

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

Look at Table 6 on page 20 of the pdf.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Did the BSL3 have these big units?

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

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

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

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

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

If you search on

"50-liter fermenter" anthrax

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

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

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

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

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

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

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

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

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

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

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

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

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

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

Ed:

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

What facts indicate the material came from plates, Ed?

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

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

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

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

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

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

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

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

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

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

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

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

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

The fermenter wasn’t always “seized up.” It may have been used back in 1997.

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

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

What we need is official statements from identified officials.

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

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

Mr. Lake is mistaken.

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

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

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

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

Old Atlantic Lighthouse
Old Atlantic Lighthouse
13 years ago

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

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

Based on the paper cited above,

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

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

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

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

Popov estimates at least 100 plates per letter.

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

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

bacillus spores "time to germinate"

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

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

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

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

dN = k N(Nmax – N) dt

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

Old Atlantic Lighthouse
Old Atlantic Lighthouse
13 years ago

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

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

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

Paul Daley, “Report Says UBL-Linked Groups Possess ‘Deadly’ Anthrax and Plague,” Melbourne Age (Internet version), June 4, 2000

Comment:

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

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

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