The FBI’s Anthrax Case/ NYT

From the February 27 NY Times

… More problematic is the investigative work that led the F.B.I. to conclude
that only Dr. Ivins, among perhaps 100 scientists who had access to the same
flask, could have sent the letters.

The case has always been hobbled by a lack of direct evidence tying Dr. Ivins to the letters. No witnesses who saw him prepare the powdered anthrax or mail the letters. No anthrax spores in his house or car. No incriminating fingerprints, fibers or DNA. No confession to a colleague or in a suicide note, just opaque ramblings in e-mail that the F.B.I. interprets as evidence of guilt.

The agency’s 92-page report sets forth a
mass of circumstantial evidence that points to Dr. Ivins. He worked alone in the
laboratory at night and on weekends just before the mailings, outside his usual
pattern. He often made long drives to mail letters from distant post offices
using pseudonyms.

Although he was a vaccine expert, not a weapons expert, he apparently had the skill and equipment to produce the highly purified spores used in the letters. That conclusion in particular ought to be validated by independent analysis.

The cumulative weight of the evidence seems persuasive. But the F.B.I. has a troubling history of building a circumstantial case against suspects who are later exonerated. We are inclined to agree with Representative Rush Holt of New Jersey, who is calling for an independent assessment to validate the findings. Americans need to be sure that the real culprit or possible accomplices are not still at large, waiting to do damage again. And we need to head off conspiracy theories that are apt to be fostered if the only judgment available comes from an agency eager to clear its books.

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Ed Lake
Ed Lake
12 years ago

The New York Times says: "The case has always been hobbled by a lack of direct evidence tying Dr. Ivins to the letters."

In reality, there IS direct evidence tying Dr. Ivins to the letters.

The FBI's summary report describes the hidden message that Dr. Ivins put into the media letters and how Dr. Ivins attempted to destroy the evidence connecting him to that hidden message. But the FBI recovered that evidence.

Perhaps the Times didn't bother to read the FBI's summary report. Or perhaps they didn't understand it.

For my web site, I've written a description of the hidden code and its meaning to the case. You can read it by clicking HERE.

Ed

Ross Getman
Ross Getman
12 years ago

"He worked alone in thelaboratory at night and on weekends just before the mailings, outside his usual
pattern. "

Nonsense. He had an animal study. The 302 of the expert explains that it was 1 person job and would take 2 hours each day. That is what he spent. The documentary evidence reflecting that are handwritten observations he made on the health of the animals. AUSA Kenneth Kohl has mischaracterized the evidence and then failed to provide the documents as required under FOIA.

Ellen Byrne
Ellen Byrne
12 years ago

Someone is reading too much Dan Brown fiction.

Ed Lake
Ed Lake
12 years ago

"Someone is reading too much Dan Brown fiction."

It seems like the stuff of fiction, but it's documented evidence. The FBI lays it all out in their summary report. All I did is make things more readable by putting the facts in a different order, describing things step by step, and eliminating some of the more technical details.

Dismissing it as "Dan Brown fiction" is just a way of ignoring solid evidence that can only be described as DIRECT EVIDENCE of Ivins' guilt, i.e., evidence that directly connects Dr. Ivins and ONLY Dr. Ivins to the anthrax letters.

Ed

Ed Lake
Ed Lake
12 years ago

If you don't want to go to my new web page for the details. Here are a few highlights:

These letters are highlighted by someone tracing over them in the media letters:

TTT AAT TAT

Those 3-letter combinations mean:

TTT = Phenylalanine (single-letter designator F)
AAT = Asparagine (single-letter designator N)
TAT = Tyrosine (single-letter designator Y)

Is it just a coincidence that those 3-letter combinations have specific DNA meanings?

Is it just a coincidence that the single letter designators spell out FNY and four of the five media letters went to NY (New York City)?

And there's a lot more. The direct connection to Ivins is that he threw out the book where this kind of coding technique is described in detail. And Ivins followed the procedure STEP BY STEP.

Ed

Vronsky
Vronsky
12 years ago

You are certainly on to something there, Ed. Should anyone remain in any doubt about this, note that the whole message is an anagram of:

Intoxicant, whip-like neatness
Hot-headed aromatic retaliates
Alas! Large hit!

Thank god your FBI easily sees through this sort of thing. I truly can't wait to hear them produce this evidence in court – it will be sensational, and utterly conclusive, as you say.

Anonymous
Anonymous
12 years ago

1. Ed Lake obviously has no idea what "direct evidence" means. The FBI's "hidden message" theory involves a book that Ivins owned and threw away. The FBI attempts to link that book to a particular cryptology theory, and to link the cryptology theory to two of the Anthrax Attack letters. The FBI never claims that any direct evidence links Ivins, or his book, and the Anthrax Letters.

2. Moreover, the FBI's "hidden message" theory, itself, falls apart completely under scrutiny. According to the theory, there are twelve, and only twelve, letters (Ts and As) "bolded" by darkening in The Browkaw Letter and in The New York Post Letter. However the "bolded" letters in the Anthrax mailings don't match up to the FBI's theory.

In particular, the twelve "bolded" letters that convey the "hidden message", according to the FBI, include the T in NEXT at the end of line 1. But that T is neither darkened nor bolded in The Browkaw Letter. Although the T in NEXT can be seen as slightly darker in The New York Post Letter, the R in AMERICA (line 3) can be seen to be just as "bolded" as the T in NEXT, in that mailing.

Thus, the Browkaw Letter has only 11 dark letters, whereas the New York Post Letter has either 11, or at least 13 dark letters. The FBI's "hidden message" theory doesn't fit in any case.

The FBI's contentions: that Ivins owned a book tied to the debunked "hidden messages"; and that he tried to "hide" the book from investigators; also fall far short of being believable.

The book in question is a Pulitzer Prize winner that Ivins openly lent to at least one colleague in 2006. His handwritten notes were found on various pages of the book, but not on the page of the book that is critical to the FBI's theory, page 404.

Ivins threw out this book, along with numerous other biotechnology materials, shortly after the FBI searched is home, car and office. The FBI relies on a series of Ivins' activities, that are anything but stealthy or surreptitious, to support the contention he was trying to hide the book.

Ivins' surreptitious activities can be summarized as follows. Ivins knew he was under surveillance. He put the book and numerous other bio-tech materials in the trash. Later that night, just before the trash truck arrived, he stood under the light on his porch in his long underwear for several minutes. After the trash truck picked up his trash, he walked to the street, checked to be sure his trash container was empty and rolled it back to his driveway. He stood in the street for several minutes peering into a parking lot. He approached the wooded location near his home where an FBI agent was hiding and stared for several minutes.

If Ivins was trying to hide his activities, why didn't turn off the porch light? Why did he stand on the lit porch in his long underwear? Why did he openly stand in the street for several minutes? Clearly, this was not a man trying to hide his activities.

So much for the FBI's "hidden message", theory.

Anonymous
Anonymous
12 years ago

Nice Vronsky!

Vronsky,

But consider whether the code is a "smoking gun" pointing to Dr. Hatfill. For example, I believe the first line also anagrams to:

Toxin A Twin Ace Sheepskin Lint

http://luigiwarren.blogspot.com/

After questioning by the FBI about whether he did the daily JUMBLE in the newspaper, and not wanting the FBI to be confused or to falsely accuse him, perhaps Dr. H was seen throwing out the newspaper daily in his bathrobe.

Is the FBI still relying, as they did in one affidavit, on the time Dr. Ivins went out in his backyard looking for nightcrawlers?

Is there anyone who under the circumstances of the FBI's scrutiny wouldn't throw out their irrelevant pictures and documents they don't want reading about in the newspaper?

Ross
Ross
12 years ago

In October 2007, shortly before the Ivins early November 2007 search of Ivins residence and workplace, I published a poem "Ed Ode" that I had written some years earlier. I've always wondered whether I was speaking in code.

Ed Ode:
Rats Live On No Evil Star

(A palindrome reads the same forwards and backwards)

Ma handed Edna ham
Ma is as selfless as I am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Toot! Toot!
Too hot to hoot.

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

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

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

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

Solo gigolos.
So many dynamos.

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

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

Yo Bob, mug a gumbo boy!
Young Sten nets gnu! Oy!

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

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

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

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

Anonymous
Anonymous
12 years ago

1. Ed Lake obviously has no idea what "direct evidence" means. The FBI's "hidden message" theory involves a book that Ivins owned and threw away. The FBI links that book to particular cryptology theory, and attempts to link the cryptology theory to the two of the Anthrax Attack letters. The FBI never claims that any evidence directly links Ivins, or even his book, to the Anthrax Letters.

2. The FBI's "hidden message" theory, itself, completely falls apart under scrutiny. According to the theory, there are 9, and only 9, "bolded" letters in The Brokaw Letter and in The New York Post Letter. However the "bolded" letters in the anthrax mailings don't match up to the FBI's theory.

According to the FBI, the 9 "bolded" letters that convey the "hidden message" include the T in NEXT at the end of line 1. But that T is neither darkened nor bolded in The Brokaw Letter. Although the T in NEXT appears to be slightly darker in The New York Post Letter, the R in AMERICA (line 3), and/or the H in DEATH (line 3), can be seen to be just as "bolded" as the T in NEXT, in that mailing (best seen in an enlarged copy found here).

Since the Brokaw and NY Post Letters are both photocopies of the same original (never found by the FBI), it would be expected that any "bolded" letter intended to convey part of a hidden message would be clearly seen as "bolded" in both photocopies. But this is simply not the case with the T in NEXT (line 1).

In sum, the FBI's selection of the T in Next as being 1 of 9 letters forming the so called "hidden message" is arbitrary.

The FBI's contentions that Ivins owned a book tied to the debunked "hidden messages", and that he tried to "hide" the book from investigators, also fall far short of being believable. The book in question is a Pulitzer Prize winner that Ivins openly lent to at least one colleague in 2006. His handwritten notes were found on various pages of his copy of the book, but not on the page of the book critical to the FBI's theory, page 404.

Ivins threw out this book, along with numerous other biotechnology materials, shortly after the FBI searched is home, car and office. The FBI relies on a series of Ivins' activities the night he disposed of the book, to support its contention he was trying to hide the book from investigators.

Ivins knew he was under surveillance at the time he threw out the book and other materials. That night, just before the trash truck arrived, he stood under the light on his porch in his long underwear for several minutes, then went back inside. He came back outside, walked to the street, checked to be sure his trash container was empty and rolled it back to his driveway. He stood in the street for several minutes peering into a parking lot. He approached a wooded location near his home where an FBI agent was hiding and stared for several minutes.

If Ivins was trying to hide his activities, why didn't turn off the porch light? Why did he stand on the lit porch in his long underwear? Why did he openly stand in the street for several minutes? Clearly, this was not a man trying to hide his activities.

So much for the FBI's "hidden message", theory.

Savage Henry
Savage Henry
12 years ago

part II
So we should sue this bar restaurant chain for heart disease under this logic? BECAUSE THE ANAGRAM SHOWS THEY HAD PRIOR KNOWLEDGE OF THE HEALTH RISKS

Perhaps another insider or scientific visitor to Fort Detrick sometime in the years before 9/11 made a chance discovery in a long for gotten lab freezer of prepared anthrax stock/samples and took home a souvenir?

What remains after an old biologist fades away is perhaps just a freezer full of odd stuff.
No one can say with any surety that Dr. Ivins made the deadly anthrax in the mailings. All that can be trusted is the anthrax came from the lab stocks.There are hundreds of people in this intersection set Venn logic diagram

There is nothing that the FBI presented in the Anthrax case closure announcement that makes Dr Ivins appear guilty in the least……No hard evidence and Dr Ivins other then he was a bit eccentric and weird but nothing that would stand up in any court. We are all odd when put under the microscope

Fort Detrick employed Dr. Ivins to make anthrax and that is what he did.

In regards to anything criminal about Dr. Ivins- All the FBI has shown is their investigators may have hounded the frail Dr. Ivins such that he took is own life?

Final Note: Some of the anthrax letters bore a fictitious New Jersey Elementary School return address. These letters were mailed from the mailboxes on the corner of Banks Street and Nassau Street in Princeton …..this where it gets weird…. the FBI was not aware the oldest building on the Princeton Campus was referred to as "Old Elementary". Which houses the Princeton University GRADUATE SCHOOL of CREATIVE WRITING. The FBI never checked out this Elementary school directly across the street from where the deadly anthrax letters were mailed? =
-What is this; a BAD Skoobee-Doo episode?

Anonymous
Anonymous
12 years ago

A correction and an addition to my earlier Anonymous post discussing the FBI's "hidden message" theory.

1. The correction. According to the FBI's "hidden message" theory, there are nine and only nine (not twelve) bolded letters in the Brokaw and NY Post letters.

2. The addition. At least one expert interviewed by the FBI also failed to see the T in NEXT as being bolded in The NY Post Letter until the expert was suitably prompted by the FBI agents. See page 18 of the FBI's file, BEI Section 5, which reports that the expert initially identified the highlighted letters as 'TTAATTAT'. At that point, according to the report "SA [redacted] pointed out that the last 'T' in the word 'NEXT' also appears to be highlighted, and upon further examination [redacted] agreed that this 'T' appears to be highlighted."

The agents never discussed with this expert whether other letters in The NY Post mailing should also be considered as highlighted if the 'T' in 'NEXT' was to be included.

It is also to be noted that both The NY Post, and The Brokaw Letters were photocopies of a single original, never recovered by the FBI. But there is absolutely no darkening of the 'T' in NEXT in The Brokaw Letter. Since the 'T' was only slightly darkened in one photocopy (The Post Letter), and not darkened at all in the other photocopy (The Brokaw Letter), the FBI's position that that the 'T' in 'NEXT' is bolded is simply unsupported speculation when viewed in light of all relevant facts.

Anonymous
Anonymous
12 years ago

Despite the FBI's numerous denials as to the importance of the high silicon content of the anthrax attack powders, it turns out the FBI's document release tells a different story.

At least as far back as May, 2004, FBI Agents questioned Dr. Ivins regarding his possible use of "antifoam or any other chemical" (antifoaming agents are typically silicone based compositions) during production of anthrax samples, (pp. 84 and 86 of BEI Section 1). Dr. Ivins reported that he didn't use antifoaming agents in his anthrax production methods.

FBI agents also apparently queried Dr. Ivins on the high silicon content of the anthrax attack powders, since the documents further report that Dr. Ivins telephoned the FBI in August, 2004, to report that a colleague [name redacted] had given him "a scientific article abstract about Bacillus spore suspensions in which the addition of silica to the spore coat was discussed" (see p. 94 of BEI Section 1).

Ed Lake
Ed Lake
12 years ago

Anonymous wrote: "there is absolutely no darkening of the 'T' in NEXT in The Brokaw Letter."

I happen to have a much larger and clearer version of the letter as obtained via the Freedom Of Information Act. Click HERE to view the word NEXT and to see how the cross bar is thicker and darker than any other stroke in the word NEXT.

Ed

Ed Lake
Ed Lake
12 years ago

I just noticed that the large copy of the Brokaw letter that I have on my web site is a different picture that the photo you used.

Also, the photo you used is in a .pdf file which means it's nowhere near as clear and sharp as the .TIFF file from which I created my large .jpg file.

Just FYI.

Ed

Anonymous
Anonymous
12 years ago

–> Ed Lake

The question is whether the 'T' in "NEXT" is highlighted as compared to the full text in the letter. I would direct your attention to the comments of yet another expert who disagreed with the FBI's suggestion that the 'T' in "NEXT" was properly viewed as highlighted. He was of the view that if the mailer had intended to have a message in the text of the letter, the mailer would have made it clear which letters constituted the message. The expert further stated that there were other letters, in addition to 'A's and 'T's, that could be interpreted as being highlighted.

You can find the complete discussion of this issue on pdf page 22 of BEI Section 5 (reproduced below).

[Redacted] suggested that the average person might not think the 'T' in "NEXT" was highlighted. [Redacted] indicated that if the mailer intended to have a message in the text of the letters it would be clear which letters were part of the message. [Redacted] reiterated that it might be making too much out of trying to find a message in the letter. [Redacted] indicated that it was difficult to differentiate some of the highlighted 'A's and 'T's in the letter and pointed out that there were other letters that might be interpreted as being highlighted, and stated "the more you look the more unclear it is."

Anonymous
Anonymous
12 years ago

It is ironic that the FBI can claim there are nutty conspiracy theories about Ivins (See "spore on the grassy knoll" remark, and others). Considering their own theories of Ivins' guilt resting on tenuous or nonexistent coded messages in the mailed letters, all their circumstantial evidence, their changed theories on when Ivins "could have" driven to New Jersey, and basically all the "evidence" in their case, who is the nutty conspiracy theorist here? To me, the FBI's behavior represents a cynical sureness on their part, that they can sell any claim they want and the "American Public" will buy it and move on. And, except for tiny eddy whorls of debate in places like this blog and some others, this assumption would be quite correct. End of problem. It makes me sad, but I note that whenever I try to discuss the case of Dr. Ivins with people I know, I'm looked at as an oddball (perhaps I am one). Invariably the responses are, "I don't know anything about that, and I don't care", and/or "Wasn't he guilty? Didn't he commit suicide?" This trying in the media has succeeded as far as I can tell, in selling Ivins' guilt. It has certainly made me more cynical, though I cannot approach the level of cynicism I suspect the FBI of.

I firmly believe that no logical person can accept the FBI's case as anything other than a mass of fallacious arguments amounting to blatant deception. If you can't recognize the logical fallacies, spin, and outright deception in every argument the FBI has presented, or at least if you can't see most or maybe some of it, then you are not thinking logically. This stuff is obvious.

Ed Lake
Ed Lake
12 years ago

Anonymous quotes someone as saying, "if the mailer intended to have a message in the text of the letters it would be clear which letters were part of the message."

The counterpoint to that argument is that, if he made things too clear, everyone would realize for certain that the highlighted A's and T's meant something. And everyone would begin trying to decipher the meaning.

It seems clear beyond any doubt that the writer definitely highlighted A's and T's. Whether he really highlighted any other letters is disputable and depends upon careful examination and interpretation.

So, the question becomes: Why did he highlight A's and T's? Why did he do any highlighting at all? If he was trying to highlight the name "ATTA," why didn't he? Why did he highlight more A's and T's than needed to spell "ATTA?" Why didn't he just highlight the four letters in that order?

Are we supposed to believe that the highlighting is just doodling by a fanatical terrorist who was simply bored with the chore of writing a threatening letter?

My own analysis provides a very different explanation, which is supported by a LOT of undisputed facts. But that doesn't mean that it's an acceptable explanation for everyone.

Ed

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

IF Ivins was so enamoured of hidden messages, secrets, surprises, then why would he have used anthrax from his own flask? He had access to many many other sameples of anthrax from around the world. He also knew that forensic techniques could identify the origin of a sample of anthrax.

As I noted in 2008, Ivins had been a reviewer/contributor to my work on Zimbabwe's anthrax epidemic, in which the use of forensic techniques to identify the origins of the very virulent anthrax that killed at least 182 people was discussed.

Ivins would never have chosen his most famous anthrax, from which many people had received samples (i.e., there was plenty of evidence linking him to the flask) if he were a perpetrator who liked to fool people.

How can the FBI try to have it both ways???

Ed Lake
Ed Lake
12 years ago

Meryl,

You wrote:

"Ivins would never have chosen his most famous anthrax, from which many people had received samples (i.e., there was plenty of evidence linking him to the flask) if he were a perpetrator who liked to fool people.

The answer to that question came to light years ago, but it was recently made clear in an email that Dr. Ivins sent on October 18, 2001. It's on page 76 of the FBI's summary report. Ivins wrote:

"The “Ames” strain of Bacillus anthracis was sent to us in the late 1980-early 1981 time frame from the United States Department of Agriculture, Animal & Plant Health Inspection Services, National Veterinary Services Laboratories, Ames, Iowa. We were told it came from a dead cow. We were not told the specifics of the strain, specifically where it was isolated, or when it was isolated. Basically, we were told it was Bacillus anthracis that had been isolated from a clinical veterinary case. I’ve read that the strain was originally isolated in the 1950s at Iowa State University, but we were not given that information when we got the strain. I have also read that the strain is very common in veterinary labs, clinical labs, university bacteriology labs and research institutes all over the country, and that doesn't surprise me. From the literature, it seems that many places have the “Ames” strain or its derivatives. The proper place to find out the details of the strain is the USDA, not us. They sent it to us. It’s their strain, and it's their responsibility to know the details about it. Thanks!

Note that Ivins thought that the Ames strain came from the USDA in Iowa. He thought the Ames strain was a common strain used by labs all over the world. He thought that the USDA in Ames, Iowa, was place where everyone would go when they started looking for the source of the anthrax. He thought they would get all the questions.

Ivins was WRONG on all counts.

Due to a simple mistake, it was ASSUMED that the sample Ivins had came from Iowa, but it had actually come from TEXAS and was shipped directly from TEXAS to USAMRIID.

The investigation didn't uncover that critical fact until sometime in January 2002.

So, using only 20-20 hindsight it might seem strange that Ivins would use a strain that could be traced back to him, but AT THE TIME he believed it would be traced back to the USDA in Ames, Iowa.

Ed

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

Ed,

Ivins had studied dozens and dozens of anthrax strains. He was one of the world experts on strain differences. He understood plenty about how to differentiate strains from each other, even Ames strains. The VNTR method, for example, had been discussed at a conference IVINS AND I attended a full 3 years before the anthrax letters were sent.

You are way far off the mark, Ed.

Ed Lake
Ed Lake
12 years ago

Meryl,

I don't see how your response addresses the information I gave you.

Ivins THOUGHT that the Ames strain he used would be traced back to the USDA.

Ivins THOUGHT that he'd obtained that particular version of the Ames strain from the USDA and that it was a common strain.

That has nothing to do with your response about being able to distinguish one Ames strain from another.

There is only one version of the Ames strain involved.

Ivins was just mistaken regarding a KEY FACT about the Ames strain HE USED, and that's why he used that strain.

Ed

Anonymous
Anonymous
12 years ago

About that "F___NY" hidden message. I do understand that the FBI cited individuals who remembered Ivins saying that he hated NY, and he hated the NY Yankees. Still, I'm having some problems with FNY.

The mailer spent a long time growing, purifying, and drying the anthrax powder. If one believes the "hidden message" theory, the mailer also spent a great deal of time constructing the multiple step FNY message. Finally the mailer carefully wrote the letters incorporating the hidden message, photocopied them, addressed them, drove several hundred miles, and mailed them. And through all of this the mailer was driven by a deep hatred for NY and the NY Yankees.

Finally the anger would be released.

But then… he sent the FNY letters to the media? With all that hatred and the need to strike out at NY, the mailer didn't send a single letter to the the Mayor, or to the Transit Authority or to any other target representative of NY, itself? All that hatred. All those letters. All sent to the media?

One unrecovered letter even went to Dan Rather. But Bruce Ivins was said to be "partial to Dan Rather" (page 192, BEI Section 5). So he was driven by hatred for NY, but didn't send a letter to NY itself; instead, he sent a letter to Dan Rather, who he liked?

And what about PAT? Ivins was said to be infatuated with Pat. He had sent her nice gifts in the past. And so, the FNY hatred letter suddenly becomes… a love letter?

When things that make no sense at all, that don't add up at all… suddenly start making perfect sense, its probably time to take a vacation, and perhaps spend some time with a counselor. Have a sanity check.

Jean Duley, who the FBI agents consider to be of the highest integrity, intelligence, and compassion, would seem to be a perfect fit. And I'll bet she could find an opening in her busy schedule.

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

Ed,

You are incorrigible. Ivins knew there were many ways to trace anthrax beyond the strain. No knowledgeable microbiologist would make the errors you have attributed to him.

Had he wanted to hide its provenance, he would have selected anthrax unassociated with his lab, or, perhaps, mutated some anthrax to hide its origin.

Anonymous
Anonymous
12 years ago

Speaking of hidden messages… as it turns out, the FBI included their own hidden message in The Amerithrax Investigative Summary (AIS). The FBI's hidden message is found as a single paragraph on page 60 of the AIS, just following the FBI's explanation of how they came up with the "FNY" and "PAT" messages (which they refer to as "translations"). Following is the literal text of the hidden message:

"It was obviously impossible for the Task Force to determine with certainty that either of these two translations was correct. However, as the discussion that follows makes clear, the key point to the investigative analysis is that there is a hidden message, not so much what that message is."

****

I'll take a first shot at the meaning of this hidden message:

Despite what we may have said before, we don't have a clue what the hidden message is, or what it means.

Nevertheless, we're really, really, sure there is a hidden message. The message itself, and whether or not it makes sense isn't important. What's important is that there are darker letters, so there must be a hidden message somewhere. And that means Ivins wrote it. Just trust us on this.

And don't forget this; IVINS WAS CRAZY! That's right, CRAZY!

Ed Lake
Ed Lake
12 years ago

Meryl,

You are still ignoring the facts when you write: "Had he wanted to hide its provenance, he would have selected anthrax unassociated with his lab,"

IVINS THOUGHT HE DID SELECT ANTHRAX UNASSOCIATED WITH IS LAB.

Here is what Ivins wrote:

I’ve read that the strain was originally isolated in the 1950s at Iowa State University, but we were not given that information when we got the strain. I have also read that the strain is very common in veterinary labs, clinical labs, university bacteriology labs and research institutes all over the country, and that doesn't surprise me. From the literature, it seems that many places have the “Ames” strain or its derivatives. The proper place to find out the details of the strain is the USDA, not us. They sent it to us. It’s their strain, and it's their responsibility to know the details about it."

Those are Ivins' own words. He thought he was using a common strain ASSOCIATED WITH THE USDA.

"They sent it to us. It’s their strain, and it's their responsibility to know the details about it."

He was mistaken.

Ed

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

Ed,

Ivins was being ingenuous. He was not spilling his guts about Ames in an email.

Ames is considered a weapon and people do not talk a lot about it for that reason.

Ivins knew plenty about Ames, had worked with it for 20 years. I know plenty about Ames too. I won't be elaborating on it for you in an email, Ed.

Meryl

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

Excuse me, I meant to write "disingenuous"

BugMaster
BugMaster
12 years ago

Ed, seeing as it appears that you have acquired the supernatural ability of channelling the late Dr. Ivin's thoughts, could you please tell us what he was thinking when he submitted the so called "false sample"? He was fully aware of the fact that the FBI had access to the aliquots from RMR-1029 that he sent to Battelle and UMN to compare his sample against. So what did he hope to gain by submitted a false sample that would readily be recognized as false?

Anonymous
Anonymous
12 years ago

As it happens, I, a non-biologist, disagree BOTH with Mister Lake and with Dr Nass on this:

1) I think that Ivins was truthful in his email.

2) he wasn't as knowledgeable, at that time, about the distribution of the Ames strain as the investigators (and those like us looking over their shoulders) became in subsequent years. But so what?

3) Mister Lake seems to think that mutations are something rare, but they aren't ALL strains and substrains have them and Ivins certainly knew that.

4) And if you were trying to cast suspicions on another research facility you would certainly use anthrax CRIMINALLY from that very institution, not your own institution, your own lab.

Anonymous
Anonymous
12 years ago

Post by Mister Lake:

Is it just a coincidence that the single letter designators spell out FNY and four of the five media letters went to NY (New York City)?
————————————
Yes, that's exactly what it is.

Ed Lake
Ed Lake
12 years ago

BugMaster asked, "Ed, seeing as it appears that you have acquired the supernatural ability of channelling the late Dr. Ivin's thoughts, could you please tell us what he was thinking when he submitted the so called "false sample"?"

I don't claim any "supernatural abilities." I was merely discussing what Dr. Ivins wrote in an email. The email made it abundantly clear that he believed that the Ames strain came from the USDA.

I don't know what Dr. Ivins' thoughts were when he submitted the so-called "false sample." I suspect he didn't know about the mutations, and he therefore assumed that the FBI wouldn't be able to distinguish between the sample of Ames he gave them and a real sample of Ames taken from flask RMR-1029.

The first sample he submitted was from RMR-1029, but that sample was prepared the wrong way. He had no information from that experience that would tell him that mutations in RMR-1029 were the subject of interest by investigators.

I don't see how the fact that others had received samples from flask RMR-1029 would mean anything to him. It only means something in hindsight.

Ed

BugMaster
BugMaster
12 years ago

Ed:

In previous posts, you go into some detail about how Ivins only used "short runs" to minimize the chances that "mutation would occur" (BTW, Ed, this makes no sense whatsoever!).

Now you state, "I suspect he didn't know about the mutations, and he therefore assumed that the FBI wouldn't be able to distinguish between the sample of Ames he gave them and a real sample of Ames taken from flask RMR-1029."

OK, so Ivins was supposed to be aware of the possiblity of mutants being present, but yet didn't think they could be present?

You are talking in circles, Ed, and really are starting to look foolish here.

Why did Ivins submit a "false sample"?

The most likely scientific explanation:

HE DIDN'T!

The process the FBI was using (isolation from the sample of the 4 known morphotypes) to determine that it did in fact match RMR-1029 is not totally straightforward.

There are at least two scientific explanations for the FBI to conclude the morphs weren't present, and assume the sample was false (when in fact, what their procedure yielded a FALSE NEGATIVE).

The explanations involve basic microbiology, I'll explain in a later post since I am out of time for today.

That is, if you are the least bit interested in actual scientific explanations.

Anonymous
Anonymous
12 years ago

To answer Ed Lake's rhetorical query:

Is it just a coincidence that the single letter designators spell out FNY and four of the five media letters went to NY (New York City)?

No Ed. It's not coincidence at all. The FBI's own expert on hidden messages emphatically disagreed that there ever was any FNY message in the mailings. The FBI misconstrued the evidence to implicate Ivins. The FBI didn't acknowledge their expert's directly opposite opinion in even so as much as a footnote in the final report.

The real questions:

Was it just coincidence that the FBI ignored their expert's opinion that there was no FNY message in the Letters?

Was it just coincidence that the FBI failed to acknowledge their expert's differing opinion in the final Amerithrax Investigative Summary?

Ellen Byrne
Ellen Byrne
12 years ago

FBI zealots:

When the truth comes out and Bruce's name is cleared I can recommend a great therapist.

Anonymous
Anonymous
12 years ago

Boy, a therapist who seeks a restraining order! Now THAT'S tough love!……

Anonymous
Anonymous
12 years ago

Ms. Duley didn't have the credentials to call herself a social worker, please don't honor her by refering to her as a "therapist." She was an addictions counselor whose credentials did not permit her to act independently of credentialed members of the psychiatrist's team.

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