New review of anthrax case discussed by review committee vice chair, Stanford bioterrorism expert

David Relman, vice chair of the National Academy of Science committee that reported on the FBI’s anthrax letters research last week, did some clearer speaking (compared to the committee report and his statements at the NAS press conference on 2/15) about the committee’s findings for a press release from Stanford University, where he is a professor.

…However, we also found some problems and gaps in the scientific investigation. Although the scientific evidence was supportive of a link between the letters and that flask, it did not definitively demonstrate such a relationship, for at least two reasons.

First, the FBI was looking to match the anthrax strain in the letters to what existed in labs. But large-scale production of anthrax spores encourages the emergence of just the kind of mutant strains that were found in the anthrax letters. Since labs tend to save original isolates and may not save samples of large-scale production runs, it’s possible that the samples gathered by the FBI missed mutants that arose during such runs. This possibility was not given adequate consideration.

Second, the FBI still might not have found other matches, because there’s no guarantee that the bureau had assembled a comprehensive library of lab strains: The repository of anthrax samples that the FBI created for comparison with the anthrax in the letters may not have been representative of all relevant anthrax stocks around the world. The newly revealed, but inconclusive, information about possible B. anthracis Ames at an al Qaeda overseas location highlights this issue. In addition, the instructions in the subpoena the FBI sent to scientists known to be in possession of the B. anthracis Ames strain lacked specificity, so there’s no certainty that scientists who were subpoenaed submitted samples of all the mutant strains in their possession. In light of these and other problems and gaps in the science performed as part of this investigation, our overarching finding was that it is not possible to reach a definitive conclusion about the origins of the B. anthracis in the mailings based on the available scientific evidence alone.

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11 years ago

whoo hoo ! Thanks for posting !

Barry Kissin
Barry Kissin
11 years ago

Barry Kissin
Originally published February 19, 2011 in Frederick News-Post

We didn't need the National Academy of Sciences to tell us that the government's case against Bruce Ivins is a sham.

On March 6, 2010, I began a column: "The Bruce Ivins case is a trap. If the powers that be manage to keep us occupied with analyzing and reanalyzing the numerous and glaring weaknesses in the contrived case against Ivins, they succeed in diverting attention away from [the true source of the anthrax attacks]."

The best evidence points at one source — a sector of our own military-industrial-intelligence complex — the entity President Eisenhower warned about 40 years ago. Ignoring his warning has enabled this entity to grow and fester.

On covering up the true source of the anthrax attacks, NAS almost entirely cooperated. This is most significantly illustrated in what NAS had to say about silicon. Silicon has always been a key ingredient in the U.S. method of weaponizing anthrax. Though no one says it, this central issue of silicon in Amerithrax is about whether the attack anthrax must have come out of our own up-until-then secret anthrax weaponization projects.

The NAS: "Silicon was present in the letter powders but there was no evidence of intentional addition of silicon-based dispersants." The problem is that the NAS relied on only one source of information about this, namely the FBI.

Here's a better source: "'If there is that much silicon, it had to have been [intentionally] added," [said] Jeffrey Adamovicz, [former scientist] at Fort Detrick … He added that the silicon in the attack anthrax could have been added via a large fermentor — which Battelle and other labs use" (Wall Street Journal, 1/24/10).

The NAS: "[N]o silicon was detected on the outside surface of spores where a [weaponizing] dispersant would reside. Instead, significant amounts of silicon were detected within the spore coat of some samples."

It is true that there was "no silicon detected on the outside surface," but it is false that this is "where a dispersant would reside" — that is a surpassed technology. The most modern anthrax-weaponizing technology has been referred to throughout the duration of the Amerithrax investigation by sources like Richard Spertzel, former deputy commander of USAMRIID, Kay Mereish, the chief of biological planning and operations at the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, and Science magazine.

This most modern anthrax-weaponizing technology precisely situates "significant amounts of silicon" on the "spore coat," just what the NAS found and obligingly disregarded. In other words, the anthrax was indeed intentionally weaponized with the most modern (advanced) anthrax-weaponizing technology.

What else? No one can deny that thousands upon thousands of spores passed through the pores of the paper making up two of the anthrax letters' envelopes, enough to kill by inhalational anthrax two postal workers, and that when the envelope addressed to Sen. Daschle was opened in the Hart Senate Office Building, the spores escaped and disbursed like a gas.

So who had this technology? Before the anthrax attacks, secret anthrax weaponization projects were being conducted by the CIA at Battelle's labs in West Jefferson, Ohio, and the DIA in labs managed and operated by Battelle at the Army's Dugway Proving Ground (in Utah). Both facilities had received anthrax spores from Bruce Ivins' flask RMR-1029.

"[T]o create anthrax in a dry aerosol form of the sort that can be dispersed through the air is a long and difficult process involving a lot of highly specialized machinery" (New York Times, Feb. 24, 2010).

This was not the work of any lone nut. The anthrax attacks were the product of an advanced domestic weaponization program, and the government cover-up persists.

11 years ago

Regarding mutation, the mutations are not only evidence of other possible sources, the mutations are evidence against the idea Ivins had anything to do with it. Because he had the "isolate".

This person is still fighting FBI logic that "if we didn't find it, it must be Ivins." One way they do this is by repetitive intonation of "custody and control." But who had dustody and control of the samples outside of Maryland? Does not matter because to admit other people had "custody and control" waters down the idea that the mere words "custody and control" are some kind of proof of criminal guilt due to them utterance.

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