& Changes: Sunday, April 24, 2011, thru Saturday, April 30, 2011
April 30, 2011 - Holy Moley!!! I spent all morning writing a comment for tomorrow, and then, as I was about to take a break for lunch, up popped a new article from The Palm Beach Post titled, "Doubt of anthrax suspect's role resurfaces in lawsuit." The article begins with this:
WEST PALM BEACH — Add Maureen Stevens to the list of people who don't believe troubled federal biodefense researcher Bruce Ivins killed her husband and four others in the 2001 anthrax attacks.
In court papers filed this month, attorneys representing Bob Stevens' widow said they had gathered evidence that disputes FBI claims Ivins sent five anthrax-laced letters to politicians and media outlets, including the Boca Raton-based National Enquirer, where Stevens worked as a photo editor. Ivins killed himself in 2008 as prosecutors were preparing to indict him.
Maureen Stevens' attorneys originally agreed to accept the findings of the estimated $100 million FBI investigation. But when Ivins' bosses at the military lab in Maryland insisted under oath that he lacked the time, equipment and know-how to produce the anthrax, the attorneys said they could no longer accept the findings.
They asked for permission to dispute Ivins' role in Stevens' death when the $50 million lawsuit against the federal government goes to trial in December or January. U.S. District Judge Daniel Hurley, who will decide the case, approved their request.It appears that the government's argument in the lawsuit was going to be that they were not responsible for the irrational and intentional acts of a mentally ill employee. That seems to be forcing Maureen Steven's lawyers to argue that Ivins wasn't the culprit, because Ivins' bosses at USAMRIID don't believe he had the capability to make the attack anthrax - even though the government says the facts clearly show Ivins definitely had the capability.
Cool! Facts against beliefs! That's my kind of argument! The Palm Beach Post article continues:
"I don't believe that Bruce Ivins was the perpetrator," said [Dr. William] Byrne, a former chief of bacteriology at the institute. It would have been impossible for Ivins to use lab equipment without being detected, he said.
Further, even if Ivins wasn't seen by fellow researchers, he would have left evidence, Byrne [believes]. Anthrax dust would have covered the machine he used to produce the powder.And another of Ivins' bosses has similar beliefs:
Gerald Andrews, also a chief of bacteriology when Ivins worked at the institute, agreed. During the 16 years he knew the researcher, Ivins never showed "that he understood weaponization technology of anthrax spores," Andrews [believes].
So, they don't believe that Ivins knew how to "weaponize" anthrax spores, even though the spores were not weaponized in any military definition of the term. This means that all the basic issues that have been argued by conspiracy theorists and True Believers since October of 2001 may have to be argued in court.
This could mean that Bruce Ivins will get his day in court, after all! The government says Ivins did it, and they may have to try to prove it to a jury. The defense says Ivins didn't do it, and they'll have "experts" who will try to prove he couldn't have done it. The only differences are that (1) Ivins won't be there and (2) it will be a civil trial instead of a criminal trial. So, preponderance of evidence will be the deciding factor, not the absence of any reasonable doubt. Plus, the wife of one of Ivins' victims will be defending him.
Unbelievable!!! If it was the plot for a movie, no one would ever believe it!
Nuts! There's more to the article:
Still, Schuler said, Maureen Stevens' case against the government doesn't turn on Ivins' guilt or innocence.
At its core, the case is relatively simple, he said: The government was negligent in Bob Stevens' death because it didn't provide sufficient security at the labs where anthrax was kept. In court papers, the government concedes that before the attacks, Fort Detrick didn't have cameras to monitor the labs and didn't search workers for pathogens when they were leaving the base.
"We just have to show that there was bad security," Schuler said. "We don't have to solve the crime."
Likewise, Schuler said, prosecutors won't have to prove that Ivins sent the letters, only that the government wasn't responsible. "They don't have to prove that he absolutely did it."Well, it might not be perfect, but it still looks like we might see some of the key arguments from the conspiracy theorists and True Believers hashed out in court. The biggest problem is, of course, that somewhere between 80% and 92% of all civil lawsuits get settled outside of court. So, the odds say that there will never be a trial.
April 28, 2011 - Hmm. My expertise in analyzing photograpic images is being sought in the "Obama Birth Certificate case." It turns out that the image of President Obama's birth certificate released by the White House is a .pdf file that was created in an unusual way, and, as a result, if you move the image up and down on your computer screen, you can sometimes watch the pdf software putting the image together as various "layers." Fortunately, I'm not the only "expert" who has been asked about this. Others who have more expertise in creating pdf files have given their opinions. And other "experts" have opinions about the opinions. And some good guesses.
The "birthers," of course, see all this as evidence of a forgery -- and a vast goverment conspiracy.
April 27, 2011 - President Obama has just released the "long form" of his birth certificate in an attempt to quell the idiotic conspiracy theories generated by the "birthers" and perpetuated by Republicans like Donald Trump. However, the President understands the certificate probably won't change many minds. According to the New York Times,
“Over the last two and a half years, I have watched with bemusement,” he said in brief remarks. “I’ve been puzzled by the degree to which this thing just kept on going.”
Mr. Obama said there would be a “segment of people for which, no matter what we put out, this issue will not be put to rest.” But he said that he was “speaking to the vast majority of the American people as well as to the press. We do not have time for this kind of silliness.”President Obama added that serious discussion of serious issues is difficult enough without such distractions.
We are not going to be able to do it if we just make stuff up and pretend that facts are not facts.”
Of course, everything said about the "birthers" can also be said about the Anthrax Truthers. It appears that nothing can change their minds. They just make stuff up and pretend that facts are not facts.
CBS News also has an article on the subject. It's titled "Obama birth certificate release won't kill 'birther' movement." The article includes something else which can relate to Anthrax Truthers:
Even before President Obama released his long-form birth certificate Wednesday morning, it was obvious to anyone who had examined the evidence that the president was born in the United States. Yet that didn't really matter: The "birther" movement, like the "truther" movement alleging U.S. complicity in the Sept. 11 attacks, was never really grounded in evidence. It was about distrust of the president. And no amount of evidence will make it go away.
That's a relief. The 44th president of the United States, commander-in-chief of the world's mightiest fighting force and leader of its sole superpower is a natural-born American and not an alien interloper.
The Christian Scientist Monitor's article is titled "Obama long-form birth certificate: Proof too late?" Sample:
The voice of the "birthers" has gotten so loud it's hard to imagine even this latest evidence completely silencing their bogus claim. Now, 45 percent of Republicans believe this lie, according to a New York Times/CBS poll.
MSNBC has an interesting video titled "Trump ignores Obama birth certificate." It's interesting because, like arguing with Anthrax Truthers, it shows that "birthers" will never admit to being wrong, and when proven wrong they just move on and change the subject. If someone brings up the subject again in the future, they'll forget about the proof and just go back to arguing what they always argued, suggesting that the proof wasn't really proof.
April 26, 2011 - I've been looking at the document produced by the FBI which describes which areas Bruce Ivins swabbed and cleaned without authorization in Building 1425 in December of 2001 and April of 2002, and how the areas he cleaned do not match his explanations for the cleaning. The document is in FBI/DOJ pdf file #847376 on pages 1 through 26.
The Daschle letter was first examined in the Diagnostics Systems Division (DSD). There is no map of where the DSD is located, but it was probably in the Animal Assessment Division at the opposite corner of Building 1425 from Ivins' lab, because Richard Preston's book "The Demon In The Freezer" describes how Tom Geisbert took a sample of the Daschle anthrax into "a Level 4 suite called the Submarine" to prepare it for analysis via a Transmission Electron Microscope. The "submarine" was described this way:
The Submarine is the hot morgue at USAMRIID. The main door of the Submarine is a massive plate made of steel, with a lever. It looks like a pressure door on a submarine. Pathologists wearing space suits have on one or two occasions used the Submarine for the dissection of the body of a person who was thought to have died of a hot agent, although the opportunity to this kind of postmortem exam rarely arises.
Geisbert suited up and went through the airlock into the Submarine, carrying tubes of Daschle anthrax. He walked past the autopsy room to a small lab. .....
He showered out of the suite, got dressed in civilian clothes, and brought the sample up to one of the scope rooms on the second floor,
Here is the floor plan for Suites 4 and 5 of the Animal Assessment Division in Building 1425:
I've identified the area that is most likely "the submarine" with red lettering. There appear to be two airlocks allowing access to the hallway between Suites 5 and 4. I've identified them with red lines. The stairway to the second floor is one of the two stairways marked with a red S. One is almost certainly an UP stairway to the second floor, the other a DOWN stairway to the basement. (Satellite images indicate that there was no second floor above the Animal Assessment Division or Animal Resources Area, the second floor was only above the Bacteriology and Virology Divisions.)
The room where the Daschle letter was first examined could have been in suite 4 or more likely in suite 3, where one of the eight samples from flask RMR-1029 was found (another indicator that this is the DSD area). It's possible that it was on the second floor, but I think the second floor was mostly administrative and labs which didn't require bio-containment.
One problem I'm encountering is that, in the documentation there is no consistency as to what constitutes a "suite." "Suite 5" in the floorplan above contains a "Level 4 suite" called the Submarine. The dictionary says a suite is "a group of connected rooms used as a unit." So, evidently, you can have a suite within a suite.
While all of this seems very interesting to me, the primary purpose for the research was to see if it would help clear up some inconsistencies between in-out logs and the Bacteriology Suite 3 floorplan as I noted in Sunday's comment.
The first piece of relevant information I found is on page 3:
In the fall of 2001, soon after receipt of the Daschle letter at USAMRIID, IVINS [REDACTED] conducted preliminary work with the B.a. evidence. IVINS was tasked with assessing the concentration of the anthrax powder in the Daschle letter. IVINS entered the evidence into USAMRIID's Suite B3, a BSL-3 laboratory, through the B3 pass-through box.
Okay, this seems to be another case where there is a suite within a suite, only it's a bit more confusing because it's a BioSafety Level 3 suite within Suite 3 of the Bacteriology Division. And, it's not totally clear which rooms constitute the BSL-3 "suite." But Room B303 seems a certainty to be one of them.
Below is the floor plan I produced on Sunday. Room 303 is almost certainly Ivins' BSL-3 lab.
The question of where the pass-box or pass-through box was located is answered in the FBI documents. It was in the wall of the break room. Thus, the pass-box was almost certainly in the wall between Rooms B302 and B303. The break room was apparently Room B302 and the BSL-3 lab was almost certainly Room B303. Unfortunately, this doesn't provide any answers as to the locations of the keycard scanners and the keypad used presumably to access Room B303.
But, there are a couple other bits of information in the FBI's analysis of the areas that Ivins cleaned that show why his explanations didn't match his actions. Ivins carried the Daschle letter (sealed inside a Zip-Lock bag) from the DSD area to his lab and put it in the pass-through box. He changed clothes, entered his BSL-3 lab, retrieved the letter from the pass-box, and then he proceeded to determine the concentration of spores it contained.
The FBI/DOJ's Summary Report says on page 66:
In December 2001, Dr. Ivins took it upon himself to swab the office he shared with two lab technicians for Ba contamination. He told investigators that he was concerned that the practices being used by USAMRIID to handle safely the evidentiary material from the Daschle letter were inadequate. He claimed that his junior lab technician, who had been tasked to assist the Diagnostic Systems Division (“DSD”) in its analysis, in particular had voiced safety concerns to him about how that material was being handled. So he swabbed approximately 20 areas in his office, including the junior lab tech’s desk top, her computer and her telephone.
The problem is, when Ivins swabbed down areas where he claimed he was concerned that spores may have landed as a result of improper handling of the Daschle letter by the Diagnostic Systems Division, the areas he swabbed included his office (Room #19) and atop some freezers that were located in the hallway between Bacteriology Suites 2 and 3. Furthermore, the FBI report says that Ivins' office also contained desks for his two assistants. Ivins did a lot of swabbing around his junior assistant's desk, but he did no swabbings anywhere near the Animal Assessment Division.
In transporting the Daschle letter from the AA area to his lab after the attacks, there shouldn't have been any reason for him to go into his office, nor anywhere near his assistant's desk, nor would there have been any reason for spores to have been deposited atop the freezers in the hallway between Bacteriology Suites 1 and 2. But, he may have used those areas when handling the Daschle and Leahy letters - and the media letters - before they were mailed.
Here's the map I posted on April 18 showing the entire first floor of Building 1425's research area:
As part of my comments on April 18, the main entrance was identified with a large red 1, the door to Suite 3 from the Bacteriology corridor was marked with a red 2, and the door to suite 3 from the Animal Resources corridor was marked with a red 5. The "Submarine" is now presumed to be in the room at the bottom right corner of the floorplan. The Diagnostic Systems Division is presumably in an Animal Assessment Division suite near "the Submarine."
Sometimes, a picture is definitely worth a thousand words -- or more.
April 24, 2011 - I suppose I shouldn't complain too much about how the Anthrax Truthers endlessly ask questions about the case. I have some unanswered questions, too. But there's a big difference in the types of questions they ask and the types of questions I ask. The Anthrax Truthers are on "fishing expeditions," attempting to find something - anything - they can use to argue Ivins' innocence and to support their own theories. I'm primarily just trying to understand all the details of the case. I keep running into things I don't know - minor details which do not affect Ivins' guilt or innocence - but which hamper my ability to describe Ivins' daily routines and how he went about committing his crimes.
For example, Ivins lived about a half mile from where he worked. On maps and on satellite images, it looks close enough to walk to work, but did Ivins walk to work? He was a thin, lanky guy. He looked like a walker. But, I also recall reading emails where he described various health problems. Would he walk to work to "walk-off" his health problems, or would he drive to work? Either way, it certainly doesn't affect his guilt or innocence. But, when you're trying to get inside the mind of a person in order to understand him, it's the kind of detail that you keep wondering about.
Other questions I have relate to how Ivins went about committing his crimes. I keep looking at the undated floorplan for Building 1425 trying to figure out how the in-out logs can be made to fit the floorplan. The answer seems to be: I can't make them fit. Therefore, either I'm missing some critical fact, or some reconstruction of Suite 3 in the Bacteriological Division took place after the creation of the floorplan and before the late summer of 2001.
The floorplan doesn't seem to show any Biosafety Level 3 lab. Here's the key part of the floorplan with the room numbers made more clear for Ivins' office and Suite 3 where Ivins worked:
The room numbers in red are room numbers mentioned in a July 11, 2008 search warrant as rooms used by Ivins. The following information is from page 2 of the search warrant, describing the areas to be searched:
search wall locker number 55, located in room 127, Building 1412,
United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases
(USAMRIID), Fort Detrick, Maryland. Wall locker number 55 is
labeled "Bruce Ivins", and is secured by a combination lock.
(2) A warrant to search
locker number 10, located in Room 301, Building 1425, USAMRIID,
Fort Detrick, Maryland. Wall locker number 10 is labeled "Bruce
Ivins X34927", and is secured by a combination lock.
office area of Dr. Bruce Edwards Ivins, office number 19,
located in Building 1425, USAMRIID, Fort Detrick, Maryland.
search Dr. Bruce Edwards Ivins's laboratory space in Room B303, B313 and
B505, USAMRIDD, Fort Detrick, Maryland.
The problem is that, when Ivins accessed his Biosafety Level 3 lab, the in-out log entries were:
The search warrant says Ivins' labs were in Rooms B303 and B313. B303 is probably the BSL-3 lab, and B313 is probably the BSL-2 lab. But, if B303 is the BSL-3 lab, how can the door open into the main hallway? It should open into a shower room or lounge area - possibly Room B302. Or the shower room could be the space between rooms B301 and B302. So, there must have been some reconstruction -- or I'm missing some key fact.
On the other hand, the floorplan clarifies where Ivins' office was located in relationship to his labs. Clearly, Ivins could get to his office via either exit from Suite 3. He could leave via the locker room door and walk down the Bacteriology Corridor, or he could exit through the door into the Animal Resources Corridor next to room B308, and go that way. Which door he would use would probably depend upon where he was in Suite 3 at the time.
The search warrant also mentions Room B505. Suite 5 doesn't have any locker room or changing area, so it probably isn't even a BSL-2 area. Room B505 seems to be a storage room. It's the same size as Room B308 and certainly doesn't look large enough to be a laboratory. It's possible that it's a special equipment room of some kind. But, my best guess is that it is a storage area lined with shelves holding new Petri dishes, chemicals, test tubes, notebooks, etc.
I also found a document which mentions the Cold Room and Room B304. A page from among the 9,600 pages of documents supplied by the FBI to the National Academy of Sciences contains a list of where the eight samples were found that contained the key mutations that were also in the attack anthrax.
3 of the samples were found in the "B3 Cold Room," which is probably Room B311.(Technically, there was also a 9th sample that contained the key morphs: Flask RMR-1029, which was also kept in the B3 Cold Room. And there was a 10th sample that contained the key morphs: The sample from flask RMR-1029 that Ivins produced in February of 2002, which was sent to Paul Keim at Northern Arizona University.)
1 sample was found in Room B304, the large lab next door to Ivins' lab B303.
1 sample was found in the "AA3 Cold Room," which would be in Suite 3 in the Animal Assessment Division.
1 sample was found in the first floor Cold Room in Building 1412.
1 sample was found in Room 212 in Building 1412 - possibly John Ezzell's lab.
1 sample was found in a lab at Battelle Memorial Instutute in Columbus, Ohio.
So, there are still some puzzling questions about the physical location of the keycard readers, the keypad and the doors they opened. Also, where were the autoclaves? What was the procedure for the disposal of hazardous materials?
And there are less important questions about what was in Room B505, what the B307 Airlock was used for, and whether Ivins typically drove to work or walked. Plus many others.
Some questions might be answered when I start getting back into the details of the rooms and areas that Ivins swabbed down when he attempted to clean up after himself and destroy potential evidence in December of 2001 and April of 2002.
During previous research, it didn't seem important to understand in which room in which building the Daschle letter was examined first by other scientists and then by Ivins. Now it does. It won't change anything about Ivins' obvious guilt, but it will hopefully fill in some blanks and clarify some minor details.
A "hole" in a case is some piece of evidence that says (1) someone else committed the crime or (2) someone else was involved or (3) the suspect could not have done it.
The "holes" the Anthrax Truthers claim to see in the FBI's case do not exist. The source of the Bacillus subtilis contamination in the media letters is NOT a "hole" in the FBI's case. It's just an unanswered question. Because Ivins didn't have a reality TV crew recording his every move during the attacks, there will always be some unanswered questions. They don't change the fact that the known evidence says that Ivins was the anthrax mailer.
Anthrax Truthers (the conspiracy theorist type) will probably argue forever that the B subtilis contamination must have come from some illegal weapons testing at Dugway Proving Grounds or Battelle Memorial Institute, and therefore it's a "hole in the FBI's case." In reality, it's a "hole" in the conspiracy theorists' case. The conspiracy theorists need to prove the B subtilis came from Dugway or Battelle to prove their case. They can't. Therefore, it's a "hole" in their case, it's not a hole in the FBI/DOJ's case. Unless proved otherwise by the conspiracy theorists, which is ridiculously unlikely, it's irrelevant to the FBI/DOJ's case. The same is true with the remaining questions about the silicon found in the attack anthrax. It's a hole in the conspiracy theorists' case. It's irrelevant to the FBI/DOJ's case, unless the conspiracy theorists can fill the "hole" in their own case, or pigs learn to fly, whichever comes first.
There are claims by Anthrax Truthers that Ivins didn't have the ability to commit the crimes. But the facts say he did have the ability, the equipment, the motive, the opportunity and the means. So, that is not a "hole" in the FBI's case, it's a "hole" in the Anthrax Truthers' case if they cannot prove that Ivins did not have the right abilities.
As far as I know, there is only one "hole" in the FBI/DOJ's case: The handwriting on the anthrax letters and envelopes is not Bruce Ivins' handwriting, and there is no convincing explanation anywhere in the FBI/DOJ's case documents for how Ivins managed to write the letters and so thoroughly disguise his handwriting.
It's a "hole" in the FBI/DOJ's case as described in the FBI/DOJ's Summary Report of the Amerithrax investigation. But, of course, it's not a "hole" in the FBI/DOJ's case as I see and understand it.
& Changes: Sunday, April 17, 2011, thru Saturday, April 23, 2011
April 21, 2011 - Groan! Another news article asking questions instead of providing answers appeared this morning in the Miami Herald. The title of the article is "Was FBI too quick to judge anthrax suspect the killer?" And the article is accompanied by an on-line video from TheRealNews.com titled "Did FBI Target Wrong Man as Anthrax Killer?"
The article and the video address the question of the Bacillus subtilis contaminant found in the media letters. Because B subtilis is sometimes used as a simulant for Bacillus anthacis when developing bioweapons and/or defenses against bioweapons, the assumption in these reports seems to be that the B subtilis could be proof that the anthrax in the letters came from a bioweapons lab like Dugway. And they suggest that the B subtilis contamination should have been definitively tracked down to its source.
It's a crazy and illogical piece of reporting. But it probably sells newspapers.
It's crazy and illogical because it suggests that tracking the B subtilis could lead to someone who is more obviously the anthrax killer than Bruce Ivins, in spite of all the evidence pointing to Bruce Ivins, and in spite of the fact that everyone else who could have reasonably had access to the "murder weapon" was cleared.
It's illogical because the B subtilis was found in the crude anthrax powder used in the media letters but not in the much more sophisticated and dangerous ("weapon-like") powder found in the senate letters. Therefore, it is not logical that it had anything to do with "weaponization." The non-weapon-like material was contaminated, the weapon-like material was not contaminated.
It's illogical because DNA tests of supplies of B subtilis used in all the involved labs were tested, and none matched the DNA of the bacteria in the media letters. Therefore, the data says that the B subtilis was just ordinary contamination from the environment. Here's a tidbit of information from near the very end of the Miami Herald's article:
Jacques Ravel, a lab scientist who aided the FBI while with the Institute for Genomic Research in Rockville, Md., shrugged off the b. subtilis lead as "a long shot," saying that the contaminant is found "everywhere" in the air and soil and wasn't used much at the time by bio-weapons labs.
The Miami Herald reporter counters the observations of Jacques Ravel with information of his own:
However, a 2004 paper in a science journal described a study of b. subtilis by researchers at Dugway, the Battelle Memorial Institute's operations at Dugway, and the Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. Unlike Ivins, researchers at Dugway and Battelle both worked with dry anthrax powder.
The screwball logic is: If Ivins didn't work with dry anthrax, he couldn't have made dry anthrax. And, if Dugway, Battelle and Aberdeen Proving Grounds used B subtilis, then they are more suspect than Bruce Ivins who didn't work with B subtilis. Using that same screwball logic, if Bruce Ivins didn't commit any mass murders before 2001, then he didn't know how to commit mass murder in 2001. And if Ivins didn't use contaminated anthrax in any previous murder, then he couldn't have used contaminated anthrax in the 2001 murders.
The Miami Herald reporter feels the B subtilis should have been tracked down even though the B subtilis wasn't fully identified until December of 2005, four years after the crime.
So, there were countless places to check, and there was every possibility that the source no longer existed four years after the crime -- even if it could be found. And all the other evidence found in the investigation pointed to Bruce Ivins. But, when you use motivated reasoning, the cost of an endless search for a different killer is of absolutely no concern if there is any possiblity at all of finding something that supports your beliefs.
Here's another interesting part of the report:
"It's irresponsible," said Gerry Andrews, who was Ivins' boss at the time of the mailings.
"I'd rather have a fallible, but more honest FBI, where they say he's our number one suspect, but we really don't know."
Andrews insisted, however, that Ivins and his colleagues "didn't have anything to do with it."So, Ivins' boss doesn't think Ivins had anything to do with the crime, because that would mean that Ivins' boss had allowed a homicidal sociopath to work with deadly anthrax alone in his lab at night and on weekends. Plus, Andrews doesn't think that "Ivins and his colleagues" had anything to do with the crime.
Ivins' boss seems intent upon clearing Ivins' colleagues (such as Ivins' boss) of any responsibility, and the best way to do that is to claim that Ivins couldn't have done it.
The video makes even more crazy and illogical assumptions. It assumes that "a tiny drop of anthrax" taken from some source other than flask RMR-1029 could have produced the powders in the letters, even though all the known facts say otherwise. It's an extremely remote possibility turned into an assumption by motivated reasoning.
What would the Anthrax Truthers say if, after testing thousands of samples, scientists found a match to the B subtilis in dirt from the parade ground Ivins walked past and possibly across twice a day on his way to and from work? They'd say it didn't prove anything, because hundreds of other people - including other USAMRIID scientists - also could have walked across or around that same parade ground.
Needless to say, the Anthrax Truthers will jump on the Miami Herald article as further "evidence" of the truthiness of their beliefs. To them, a case must be totally airtight, otherwise someone else must have done it - even if there is no real evidence against anyone else. The Anthrax Truthers do not believe in "circumstantial evidence," unless it is "circumstantial evidence" in support of their beliefs. Then they totally believe in "circumstantial evidence."
April 20, 2011 (B) - What is it with Truthers? All they seem to do is ask questions. And they don't seem to care about the answers. I was just pointing out to someone that Anthrax Truthers seem to ask 1,000 questions for every 1 that anyone bothers to answer. And if a question gets answered, the answer just generates a dozen more questions. Then someone sent me an email about a new book by an "Obama Truther," a.k.a. "Birther." It's titled "Where's the Birth Certificate? The Case that Barak Obama is not Eligible to be President."
How can a book that asks such a question - without also answering it - be anything but stupid and worthless?
The other day, someone wrote:
A lot of local people suspect the anthrax came from the Battele labs, and yes, they may have used the Detrick organisms -- these are not stupid people and know to cover their tracks.
Local attorney Barry JC Kissin is writing a book on the matter and has several articles on it.
I'd bet that that book will also just ask countless ridiculous questions and provide NO answers.
Evidently, that's what happens when the answers are facts, and the questioners do not want facts, they only want support for their beliefs.
April 20, 2011 (A) - Because of all the images I've been displaying lately, I seem to be running out of disk space for this web site. Since the Hatfill legal documents are no longer a subject of any discussions, today I deleted all of them to create more available disk space. However, the deletions will mean there will be another kazillion invalid links for anyone digging back into my comments from years ago. Sorry about that.
April 19, 2011 - Two people just sent me links to recent news articles that I'd missed, articles which relate to the anthrax attacks of 2001 and the Amerithrax investigation. The first is a link to an April 7 column in The Gazette by Joe Volz. It's titled "Frederick Massacre Averted?" It's a very rare type of column. Here are the opening two paragraphs:
A number of well-meaning Frederick residents have contended that Bruce Ivins, the Fort Detrick scientist suspected by the FBI of killing five persons with anthrax, could not have been the murderer and was the victim of inconclusive circumstantial evidence.
But they are wrong. All of them, according to a new report released through a nonprofit think tank, Research Strategies Network based in Vienna, Va. It's time for those Frederick residents to admit they made a mistake.And here are parts of the last two paragraphs in the column:
If anything, you could say many residents in Frederick were trying to cover up for Ivins by attacking the FBI.
But even if accusing the government of ruthless ineptness is a popular sport these days, it is wrong. We owe the FBI an apology and the Ivins family our sympathy.
I can see why none of the Anthrax Truthers brought this article to my attention, as they would have if the column had attacked the FBI.
The second article that was brought to my attention doesn't even mention the anthrax attacks or anyone connected with the attacks, but directly relates to the Anthrax Truthers and other people who defend Bruce Ivins. It's a column from yesterday's Mother Jones magazine titled "The Science of Why We Don't Believe Science."
A lot of the article is about "motivated thinking," a subject I discussed in detail back on October 17, 2010. But there is one part of this new article that I really liked:
when we think we're reasoning, we may instead be rationalizing. Or to use an analogy offered by University of Virginia psychologist Jonathan Haidt: We may think we're being scientists, but we're actually being lawyers. Our "reasoning" is a means to a predetermined end—winning our "case"—and is shot through with biases. They include "confirmation bias," in which we give greater heed to evidence and arguments that bolster our beliefs, and "disconfirmation bias," in which we expend disproportionate energy trying to debunk or refute views and arguments that we find uncongenial.
I really like the idea that scientists reason very differently from lawyers. Scientists are supposed to be open minded and objective. Lawyers, however, are supposed to defend their clients whether they are guilty or not. And they can often do their best if they don't even explore the idea that their client may be as guilty as sin. Instead of looking at the evidence, a lawyer's job may be to get the evidence thrown out of court, or to find ways to get the jury to ignore the evidence.
It's probably no coincidence that there are at least three lawyers defending Bruce Ivins -- and only one was paid to do it.
April 18, 2001 - This morning, someone provided me with a link to a floorplan for Building 1425. Unfortunately, it appears to be from the early 1990's or even from the 1970's. It certainly seems to be from a time prior to some major reconstruction. Plus, it's so small that some of the lettering on the floorplan cannot be read. I've added large numbers in red where the doors seem to match numbered doors in the diagram I posted on Sunday. Here is the floorplan:
The floorplan makes it very clear that "AR" in the in-out logs means Animal Resources Area and "AA" means Animal Assessment Division. These could be for diseases other than anthrax, since Building 1412 seems to have contained equivalent areas for animal testing of anthrax.
The floorplan seems to shows that when entering Door #2 into the locker rooms for Ivins' bacteriology lab you have the option of turning left or right, into men's or women's locker rooms. Or, in the long hallway from the main entrance there were side-by-side doors for the men's and women's locker rooms. Since we only have Ivins' in-out logs, there just wasn't any access via the women's locker room door. Here's an enlargement:
In the entire building version, I put a red question mark over an area that seems to be the B307 airlock. Every suite of labs seems to have such an airlock. In the Suites 3 & 4 view above, B307 is in the lower left corner of Suite 3. The question seems to be: What is the purpose of an airlock that is just a few feet from a normal door (#5) that exits into the same area as the airlock's outside door?
The floorplans also show side doors and emergency doors for the building.
What these floorplans do NOT show is how Ivins' bacteriology lab connected to the BSL-3 area. They don't show any shower and lounge connection to the BSL-3 area. Those may have been part of a reconstruction of Ivins part of the lab. The reconstruction could have divided "Suite 3" into two parts, with the parts on either side of the central hall.
The Suite 3 floorplan seems to have a few mysteries: There are 15 rooms, rooms 301 to 307 down the left side and rooms 308 to 315 up the right side. There appears to be a window between rooms 309 and 310, and another between rooms 312 and 313. Why? Plus, room 311 seems to have thicker walls. Why? Is this the cold room? If so, the remodeling probably left it in the same place.
Below is a satellite view of Building 1425 with the whole building floorplan area enclosed in red lines. This view may also involve some reconstruction. The location of Door #1 is shown, and a scale is also provided.
A lot of questions could be answered by someone who actually worked in these areas in September of 2001 or who visited them, but right now I'm just analyzing available data. Tracking people down and trying to question them is something that can wait until I've completed the first draft of my book and need specific questions answered before I can produce a final version. If that happens, hopefully some publisher will clear the way and arrange for the interviews.
April 17, 2011 (B) - After once again analyzing the in-out log records for the evenings Bruce Ivins spent in his lab areas between August 1 and October 10, 2001 (FBI pdf file #847547, pages 49 to 57), I worked out this general picture of where the keycard scanners and the keypad were located:
Of course, as it says at the top, the layout is NOT to scale, and the actual floor plan of the rooms may be very different in reality.
The door to Ivins' office does not require using a keycard. Also, there may be doors to rooms within the BSL-3 "hot suite" area and Ivins' Bacteriology Lab which do not require a key card to open. The graphic above only shows one such door, the door between the Locker Room and Ivins' Bacteriology Lab.
Here are the log entries for one of the critical evenings when Ivins was presumably preparing the purified spores he put into the letters to Senators Daschle and Leahy: Thursday, October 4, 2001:
Analyzing the log data, I get this picture of what Ivins did that evening:
6:10 p.m. - "1425 REAR DR IN" - Ivins enters building 1425. A guard inside the entrance checks Ivins' ID and gives him his personal keycard for use within the building. There's probably a turnstile of some kind which Ivins then uses by swiping his keycard to pass through the turnstile. The keycard is very likely worn on a cord around the neck.
Since 9 minutes pass before he uses his keycard again, he may have spent a few minutes in his office, which doesn't require his keycard to enter.
6:19 p.m. - "CORR TO BACTI IN" - Ivins swipes his key card to open door #2 and enters the Bacteriology Lab area, via the locker room. As we see later, Ivins may have left the door open or somehow prevented it from closing all the way. It took Ivins only about a minute to get out of his street clothes.
6:20 p.m. - "B301 IN/M" - He uses his keycard to open door #3 to the shower room and lounge area where he puts on lab clothes. The "room" contains more than just showers. There's a place to change in and out of lab clothes, and there appears to be a lounge area of some kind, probably with a couch and easy chairs. There is also very likely a row of small lockers with combination locks. Since it seems unlikely that keycards are taken into the shower, and they could easily become contaminated if taken into the BSL-3 area, Ivins would put his keycard in one of those lockers.
6:21 p.m. - "B301 KEYPAD" - Ivins types his personal identification number (PIN) into the keypad which opens door #4 to the BioSafety Level 3 lab. The use of a keypad is another indicator that keycards could not be taken inside.
Ivins evidently spent less than a half hour in the BSL-3 area. There is no keypad on the other side of door #4. When he left, he just turned the knob and opened the door to exit back into the "shower/lounge room." The normal procedure would be to change out of his lab clothes, put them in a bin for autoclaving, take a thorough shower, and, after retrieving his keycard from the locker, he would leave.
6:55 p.m. - "B301 OUT/M" - Ivins swipes his keycard through the reader on the inside of the "shower/lounge room" door to leave.
That entry is followed by a discrepancy of some kind. Ivins must have left his lab via door #2 (or door #5), but there is no record of it. It's possible that Ivins left the corridor door open or the door failed to generate a log entry when Ivins opened it to leave, because the next log entry shows Ivins leaving the building less than a minute after leaving the shower/lounge room. FBI documents state that occasionally the in-out log would record a p.m. time as a.m., which would cause it to be dropped from the listings of Ivins' evening accesses. That may be what happened here.
6:55 p.m. - "1425 REAR DR OUT" -Ivins passes through the turnstile, gives his keycard back to the guard, and he leaves the building.
7:22 p.m. - "1425 REAR DR IN" - Ivins returns to Building 1425 a second time that evening, again presenting his ID and getting his keycard. (Taking your keycard out of the building was reportedly cause for immediate dismissal.) He had been gone from the building for 27 minutes, which would be just enough time for him to run home to get something. Or, there is the possibility he might have gone to buy something at the Post Exchange, which is at the opposite side of Building 1425. He could have purchased Zip-Lock plastic bags, for example. But, the most likely explanation seems to be that he hauled some autoclave bags full of empty bacteriology plates to the incinerator next to Building 1412. (See further thoughts about this below.)
7:23 p.m. - "CORR TO BACTI IN" - Ivins used his keycard to re-enter the locker room.
7:23 p.m. - "B301 IN/M" - Ivins apparently doesn't need to change clothes, because only a minute after entering the building he's already entering the "shower room/lounge." The fact that he doesn't seem to have changed clothes is another indicator that Ivins had hauled materials to the incinerator.
7:25 p.m. - "B301 KEYPAD" - Ivins puts his keycard in the locker, types in his identification code into the keypad and opens door #4 to enter the BSL3 lab. Thus, only three minutes after entering the building, he enters the BSL-3 "hot suite" again.
9:24 p.m. - "B301 OUT/M" - Just under 2 hours after entering the BSL-3 "hot suite," Ivins exits the suite, tosses his lab clothes in a bin, takes a shower, retrieves his keycard and uses it to open door #3 to leave the shower room.
9:34 p.m. - "CORR TO BACTI OU" - After spending 10 minutes changing into his street clothes, and perhaps doing something in his Bacteriology lab area, Ivins leaves via the locker room door and reenters the corridor.
10:07 p.m. - "CORR TO BACTI IN" - Ivins may have spent 33 minutes in his office before returning to his lab and re-entering the locker room via door #2.
10:12 p.m. - "CORR TO BACTI OU" - Five minutes after re-entering his lab, Ivins leaves again.
10:12 p.m. - "1425 REAR DR OUT" - Ivins uses his keycard to pass through the turnstile less than a minute after leaving his lab, he gives his keycard to the guard, and he exits the building.
Thoughts about the 27 minutes Ivins was gone from Building 1425: If Ivins had obtained the spores used in the anthrax letters from plates that had been allowed to remain in autoclave bags in his lab for weeks, there were questions that always bothered me - until I stepped through the events of evening shown above and found that Ivins could have taken the autoclave bags to the incinerator during some of his evenings at work.
It's been my thinking for months that Ivins obtained the spores used in the attacks from plates that had been inoculated with anthrax spores and allowed to grow inside autoclave bags for weeks. It is known that Ivins allowed filled autoclave bags to lay around for weeks. And, it seems that Ivins could have taken one or more bags of dozens of plates and wiped the contents of the plates into a beaker at some point in time, and then put the emptied plates back into the bags.
However, one question that bothered me was: If the bags full of cleaned plates were left lying around during the day, wouldn't Ivins have been concerned that someone might notice that there were clean or emptied plates in the bags? It seemed to me that, during the day, his assistants were probably opening the bags to toss more plates into them, and in the process they might notice that there were stacks of cleaned plates inside. Ivins wouldn't want that to happen. So, on the evenings he spent cleaning the spores out of the plates into beakers, and after autoclaving the bags full of emptied plates, he would have disposed of the sterilized plates and bags by carrying them to the incinerator next to Building 1412. That way, no one would ever notice that there were cleaned plates in the autoclave bags.
That could be what Ivins did on the evening of October 4, 2001. Then, after returing from the incinerator, he spent two more hours in his BSL-3 lab purifying the spores. It would seem to explain why he doesn't appear to have changed out of his lab clothes when leaving and reentering the building.
On other occasions, Ivins may have taken the autoclave bags out of the building with him as he left for the evening, throwing them into the incinerator and then going directly home instead of back to Building 1425.
It would certainly help to have someone who actually worked in Building 1425 step through the process for disposing of autoclave bags. To avoid having people carrying soggy, sterilized autoclave bags out through a door that many non-scientists also used, the normal process could have involved putting the sterilized bags into barrels of some kind which were then transported by janitors to the incinerator via a different door. So, at this point in time, it's only an hypothesis that Ivins may have disposed of the autoclave bags by carrying them through the back entrance door to the incinerator. But the pieces certainly seem to fit.
Additional Information: There are many other doors in Building 1425 which require swiping one's keycard to open. But, they are all accessed via the various corridors and not via Ivins lab or the BSL-3 area.
There appears to have been a second door that Ivins could use to enter and leave his Bacteriology lab. When Ivins used that door (#5 on the diagram above) to exit, the log showed "CORR TO AR OUT" indicating that he was exiting into the corridor to the "AR" area. The logs show he could enter Building 1425, go a different direction and enter his lab via "CORR TO AR IN" without going through the locker room. And, he could exit that same door (#5) and re-enter via the locker room door (#2) a minute later or less. So, the AR door was just an exit into a corridor, and "AR" does not indicate "Animal Room," as some have suggested.
For example, here is the log data for the evening of September 7, 2001:
The log shows Ivins entered Building 1425, and then he used the AR door (#5) to enter his lab instead of the locker room door. A few minutes later, he left his lab via the locker room door (#2) and then re-entered his lab again 2 minutes later via the AR door. After spending more than two hours in the BSL-3 "hot suite," Ivins left the Bacteriology lab via the locker room door at 10:17 p.m., he spent over an hour in his office or somewhere else, and he finally left the building at 11:50 p.m.
Door #6 may have a keycard scanner on both sides, but, if so, going in either direction just logs "B307 AIRLOCK," and the records show Ivins using that door only two times, 3 minutes apart on September 4, 2001.
The data also indicates that there is probably a couch of some kind in the shower room and lounge area. On the evening of Sunday, September 9, 2001, Ivins entered the building at 7:51 p.m. and entered the "shower/lounge room" at 8:11 p.m. Without ever going into the "hot suite," Ivins remained in the shower/lounge room until 11:46 p.m., over three and a half hours, before leaving the building again at 11:53 p.m. This may be a instance where Ivins went to the lab to get away from his home life and just took a nap on a couch for three hours or so. He doesn't appear to have done anything else in his lab that evening -- unless the keypad malfunctioned and didn't record his access to the BSL-3 area.
The Expert Behavioral Analysis Panel report seems to say that Ivins attended group therapy sessions on Mondays in 2001. On page 79, it says he attended on Monday, September 10, 2001, and that he also attended for the next 13 consecutive weeks.
Group therapy sessions are typically held in the evenings, so that all attendees can get to them without the need to take time off from work.
The in/out log entries that are available for review show that Ivins entered Building 1425 on Monday evenings at
7:54 p.m. on September 10,
7:00 p.m. on September 17,
7:39 p.m. on September 24,
9:14 p.m. on October 1, and
9:03 p.m. on October 8 (Columbus Day).
So, in 2001, Ivins' sessions were very likely from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. each Monday evening, or possibly from 6 to 7:30. (In later years, the therapy sessions were from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.)
Ivins appears to have left the group therapy session on Monday September 17 a few minutes early. It took only about 5 minutes to travel by car from the offices of Comprehensive Counseling Associates to Building 1425 on Ft. Detrick. Ivins spent only 13 minutes in Building 1425 that evening, all of it apparently in his office, since he didn't enter his lab. It's very possible that the media letters were locked up in his office inside a thoroughly disinfected Zip-Lock bag, and that is what he'd driven to the lab to retrieve after his group therapy session. There would have been no problem with taking the letters out of the building in a pocket or inside his shirt. Then he would have put them in the glove compartment in his car. Bruce Ivins had other things to do that evening that required the use of his car, things he couldn't talk about in group therapy or with his family. Later on, after 11:30 p.m., after his family was asleep and after sending Mara Linscott an email, he drove to New Jersey to mail the media letters.
April 17, 2011 (A) - The Washington Post has an article about the anthrax case in this morning's edition. It's titled "How anthrax sleuths cracked the case by decoding genetic 'fingerprints'." The article concludes with these paragraphs:
FBI scientists then launched a massive effort to screen more than 1,000 anthrax samples for those mutations. They would eventually identify eight matches, all from a single source, a flask in Ivins’s lab marked RMR-1029.
Science had linked Ivins to the attacks as early as spring 2005, although even the compartmentalized FBI scientists didn’t know it at the time. By 2007, every other anthrax sample had been ruled out and the bureau could conclude that “Dr. Ivins, alone, mailed the anthrax letters.”
Many have since questioned that conclusion. There was no smoking gun, no irrefutable proof Ivins was even involved in the attack, let alone its sole author. A review published this year by the National Academy of Sciences found loose ends in the case — but not in the work of the Rockville and Fort Detrick scientists.I keep wondering why the hidden message and Ivins' attempt to destroy the code books isn't considered "irrefutable proof," or at least "almost irrefutable proof." It is really that difficult to understand? Or, is it just too difficult to believe that anyone would have put a hidden message in the anthrax letters?
& Changes: Sunday, April 10, 2011, thru Saturday, April 16, 2011
April 14, 2011 - Hmm. This morning, I was working on my book while also writing a comment for this coming Sunday. I was stepping through some log entries showing when Ivins entered Building 1425 and various rooms within the building. Then, after stepping through October 4, 2001, when Ivins entered Building 1425 twice in the same evening, I decided it was time to check my email. Then I also happened to check Lew Weinstein's site where I found someone who calls himself "Zicon," and who apparently worked at USAMRIID at some point in time, had just posted this information:
the building [#1425] itself that houses the flask [RMR-1029] that has a guard stationed there at all times.
Then that person receives their badge for further entry to go about the building/base… “The building security keeps everyone’s entry/exit badges for each secure area” and you can’t take the entry/exit for secure area badges home… (You can loose your job if you’re caught taking that badge out!) That’s just a known no no at usamriid…
Wow. Although I hadn't written anything about it, I'd just assumed that Ivins took his badge home with him. The fact that he couldn't means that Ivins would have had to turn in his badge to get out of Building 1425, and then get another badge if he went into Building 1412 about 120 feet away. He would do that routinely when taking aliquots of purified spores to Building 1425 for use in animal testing. It doesn't change anything, but it's a very interesting detail worth knowing.
Unfortunately, "Zicon" seems totally ignorant of when and where the contents of flask RMR-1029 were prepared. So, the rest of his reasoning is based upon that ignorance, not on his actual knowlege of how things worked in Building 1425.
And, in another recent post he seems totally ignorant of human nature and psychology. He posted this:
Someone needs to step in and overhaul WASHINGTON and Justice system.. Every president has a different motive or agenda.. Therefore the us gets further and further in debt, and criminals go free innocent people are put in prison etc etc etc..
Why can’t EVERYONE in Washington ( THE ENTIRE UNITED STATES ) be on the same page?Why indeed?! If everyone just did everything right all the time, all of our problems would be solved!!! Every 12-year-old knows that! Unfortunately, after age 12 you start to learn that things aren't always as easy as they previously seemed.
"Zicon" then wrote:
So many people are pissed off and fed up with the same ole BS the government feeds everyone starting with our current president… We need a separate system that only answers to the public that has full authority to investigate and look into anything that they see fit, or tips that lead to wrong doing and if anyone is found to be doing something wrong or illegal they loose everything, and DO NOT get one red blooded cent of any tax payers hard earned money or any benefits thereafter..
Ah, yes, a "separate system" outside of the government that "has full authority to investigate and look into anything they see fit." Kind of like a Gestapo or a KGB or The Inquisition. That would solve all of our problems! At least, a 12-year-old might think so, if he never heard of the Gestapo or the KGB or The Inquisition.
I'll bet money that "Zicon" is a "Tea Party" member. He certainly reasons like one.
April 13, 2011 - I'm constantly amazed (and greatly amused) by the screwball reasoning those on the Lunatic Fringe use to create their fantasies. For the past few weeks or so, they've been arguing and trying to prove that Ivins had plenty of justification to be in his lab at night and on weekends during September and October of 2001, even though the FBI reports said he didn't.
FBI reports say that Ivins may have checked on some mice that some other scientist was using in an experiment, but there's no reason to believe those mice had been infected with anthrax. So, the few minutes Ivins may have spent checking on the mice would account for only a few minutes out of the many many unexplained hours Ivins spent in his lab during those critical times. The Anthrax Truthers and Bruce Ivins Defenders, however, see the mice-checking as a clue to proving that Ivins was justified and had good reason to be in his lab during all those nighttime hours.
They began trying to use Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) requests to get autoclave and necropsy records for September and October of 2001. The Anthrax Truthers seem to believe that Ivins' notebook #4010 contains the proof they need, since all the pages from that notebook have not yet been released.
Records were found showing that Ivins was involved with some mice experiments in 1999 and rabbit experiments during 2001, and possibly during the times of the mailings. Putting 2 and 2 together to get 753, the Lunatic fringe somehow concluded that Ivins must have been using the autoclave to get rid of the dead rabbits during the evening times he was in his lab. Why he wouldn't do normal work during normal working hours, they don't say or care. And does it make any sense that he would autoclave animals immediately after they were found dead without doing any kind of necropsy (animal autopsy) to determine the actual cause of death. They don't say or care - or didn't think of that. They were only looking for valid reasons for Ivins to have been in his lab those critical evenings. But, at some point they must have realized or been told that Ivins wouldn't be autoclaving animals before they were necropsied. So, they apparently began to wonder if Ivins could have been performing necropsies during those evening hours.
Today, however, they learned that necropsies for anthrax are all performed in Building 1412.
That poses a major problem: Does anyone perform a necropsy to study the effects of anthrax after boiling the animal in an autoclave? Extremely unlikely. And what reason could there possibly be to transport the carcass of a necropsied rabbit all the way to Building 1425 for autoclaving, particularly since the incinerator is attached to building 1412? And, what reason would there be to house anthrax infected animals in Building 1425 if they have to be transported to Building 1412 after death for the necropsy? None.
So, it appears that anthrax infected animals (cutaneous and inhalation) were all kept in Building 1412.
Necropsies were performed in Building 1412.
Autoclaving was performed in Buildling 1412.
Incineration was performed in Buildling 1412.
In fact, there appears to be no reason whatsoever for any anthrax infected rabbits (or mice) to ever have been in Building 1425 where Ivins was spending all of those unexplained evening hours. But, the Lunatic Fringers are still looking. If he wasn't autoclaving or performing necropsies on dead animals during those evening and nighttime hours, then he must have been doing something else that was "normal" and "justified," since the beliefs of the Lunatic Fringers simply cannot accept that Ivins might have been creating the attack anthrax during those unexplained hours. And, they're going to send in FOIA request after FOIA request until the find what they look for - or until the Army and FBI say they have nothing else, at which time the Lunatic Fringers will declare that the "truth" is still being hidden from the public.
April 12, 2011 - Wired Magazine continues to release articles and audio programs to promote Noah Shachtman's recent article "Anthrax Redux: Did the Feds Nab the Wrong Guy?" in their April issue. This morning, I listened to a very interesting 31 minute "pod cast" of a talk between Shachtman and two associates (editor Rob Capps and podcast host Adam Rogers) which is also available as item #46 on their storyboard file.
The podcast is very frustrating because it seems to focus on evidence that is unclear, and not on evidence in the case that is very clear that Bruce Ivins was the anthrax killer. The podcast is also filled with bad information.
At about the 3 minute point they talk about how there are many samples of anthrax around the world and imply that almost any of those samples could have been the source for the anthrax attacks. In reality, of course, the investigators could only find 8 samples in the entire world which matched the attack anthrax, and all eight could be traced directly to Ivins' flask RMR-1029.
At the 5:40 minute mark, they talk about Ivins being a "dork" who was really no different than "dorks" found at Google or Microsoft. But Ivins wasn't just a "dork," he was also an evil sociopath who planned murders and who tried to destroy people's lives.
At the 5:50 minute mark they claim that the November 1, 2007 raid on Ivins' home was "to look for trophies" Ivins may have kept of his crime, and Shachtman says, "The only thing they found was that Ivins wore women's clothing. But they didn't find any evidence that he was actually a mass murderer." That is essentially wrong. A secondary reason for the raid was to see what Ivins might destroy after the raid to keep the FBI from finding it if the FBI came back again. And they observed Ivins throwing out the code books he used to put the hidden message in the media anthrax letters. That is nearly "smoking gun" evidence, but Shachtman never even mentions in the podcast, although it's briefly mentioned in his article without pointing out its significance.
Shachtman claims that the FBI kept finding things that were good for the tabloids but which wouldn't convince a jury. Shachtman and his colleagues seem to have totally missed most of the very solid evidence against Ivins.
They downplay the burglaries on KKG sorority houses as being nothing more than actions to "collect trophies." And the attempts to destroy Nancy Haigwood's career are dismissed as nothing more than an "obsession" with her. They seem to be totally ignorant of Ivins' plan to murder Mara Linscott.
At about the 8:30 minute mark, they talk about how most of Ivins' colleagues at USAMRIID didn't believe Ivins was the anthrax mailer, and how his colleagues "thought he was weird but not homicidally weird." In reality, his colleagues believed Ivins was weird but they were totally ignorant of the fact that he was homicidally weird.
And on and on it goes, downplaying the evidence and even distorting the evidence against Ivins - although it's probably through ignorance of the facts, not through malice. This is particularly true in their badly misinformed discussion at around the 14 minute mark about Ivins' skills and whether or not he could have made dried "weaponized" anthrax.
Nevertheless, the podcast also has some very interesting information in it.
At about the 16:00 minute mark, Shachtman starts talking about John Ezzell and how Shachtman met Dr. Ezzell at a "conference for anthrax case conspiracy kooks," i.e., the November 29, 2010 conference. Shachtman says that Ezzell stated that Bruce Ivins could have done it, quoting Ezzell as saying "If I could do it, Ivins could do it." They also make it very clear that Ezzell was cleared by the FBI and was not a suspect in the case. At some point during the conference, Ezzell explained that he has Parkinson's Disease and that affects the way he talks. Shachtman was evidently talking with Ezzell when Ezzell's heart attack began. That part of the podcast contains a lot of details about Ezzell's heart attack.
At the 21:00 minute mark the podcast host gets off onto the the subject of writing about case, and it isn't until near the very end, at the 27:50 minute mark, that things start getting interesting again. At that point, Shachtman says that he believes Ivins did it, but he feels there isn't enough evidence to convince a jury. Rob Capps says the same thing, except with less certainty. He believes Ivins probably did it, but doesn't think the evidence is anywhere near conclusive.
They don't seem to realize that in a courtroom, the primary evidence that is presented is the evidence that clearly shows that the defendant is guilty. The prosecution does not waste time presenting unclear evidence which the defense can easily attack, and the defense doesn't present the unclear evidence, either. If the defense has no clear evidence of the defendant's innocence (like an alibi), the defense tries to question and cast doubt upon the clear evidence that the prosecution presented.
It's a very interesting podcast,and I particularly enjoyed the discussion about the "kooks" at the "anthrax conspiracy conference" and how "they were all giving their theories about how al Qaeda must have been behind the anthrax attacks or no, the FBI must have done it themselves, or the FBI and al Qaeda must have been doing it together. And they kept talking about Ezzell's work [with dry spores] as evidence of some kind of coverup." In the podcast, Shachtman and the others all had a good laugh at the way the "kooks" distort facts to fit their theories.
That part was particularly enjoyable because of how clear it was that Shachtman, Capps and Rogers believe nothing the "kooks" believe, yet those same "kooks" have been using selected parts of Noah Shachtman's article as evidence that Shachtman supports them and accepts their preposterous theories.
April 10, 2011 - The Evidence vs. Beliefs list I developed last Sunday seems to have upset some Anthrax Truthers. One Truther emailed me this:
There was no harassment you can point to after 1982, is there? And so why do you say he harassed her for thirty years?
He was talking about Nancy Haigwood. Originally, I had written something like this as entry #12 on the list:
Ivins harassed KKG member Nancy Haigwood for thirty years.
Then, because there were some years when Ivins may not have harassed Haigwood, I later changed #12 to this:
Ivins repeatedly harassed KKG member Nancy Haigwood as a result of an obsession that lasted for thirty years.
I'm not certain which harassment incident in 1982 the Anthrax Truther and Defender of Bruce Ivins was talking about. It may have been the time when Ivins spray painted "KKG" on her fence and sidewalk and vandalized her husband's car. But, let's assume it was this incident from page 59 of the Expert Behavioral Analysis Panel (EBAP) report:
In April 1982, he [Bruce Ivins] wrote her [Haigwood] a letter expressing
interest in her career and suggesting an opportunity for collaboration
between her employer and USAMRIID. Although she apparently
answered cordially and professionally (a 1983 letter she wrote alludes
to this response), he nonetheless followed up with a letter to her
supervisor in which he claimed she had not replied. This failure, he
wrote the supervisor, had jeopardized the potential for a financially
So, because Nancy Haigwood wasn't interested in working with Ivins, Ivins wrote her employer that she "had jeopardized the potential for a financially beneficial arrangement" between USAMRIID and her employer. Nasty.
Of course, in the eyes of the Anthrax Truthers, since Bruce Ivins is a much maligned "innocent victim" who never did anything wrong, this incident was obviously all Haigwood's fault. And Ivins never actually said, "I am harassing you," so, it can obviously never be proved that it was "harassment" -- to the satisfaction of Defenders of Bruce Ivins.
However, last week's argument from the Anthrax Truther was that there were no harassment incidents after 1982. Can I point to any after 1982? Yes, as a matter of fact, I can. But, will Anthrax Truthers accept it as "harassment"?
In early May of 1983, Bruce Ivins sent a letter to the editors of the Frederick News-Post defending the practice of hazing in college fraternities and sororities. Ivins used Nancy Haigwood's name and address on the letter. It was published in the News-Post on May 9, 1983. Here is what was printed (as taken from pages 274 and 275 of the EBAP report):
When Nancy Haigwood learned of the letter, she protested to the News-Post that she hadn't written any such letter, and her name and address had been used fraudulently. The News-Post sent her a letter of apology, but they didn't print any kind of retraction.
But, that wasn't the end of it.
Note this part of the letter written by Bruce Ivins and sent to the News-Post:
Charges that actives are to blame for accidental injuries which sometimes occur during pledge hazing are totally without foundation. No active ever forces any pledge or initiate to do anything in a sorority or fraternity - an individual is free to depledge at any time.
Within three weeks of seeing that his letter to the News-Post had been published, Ivins contacted the mother of a college student who had died in an 1978 hazing incident (that didn't involve KKG). According to page 64 of the EBAP report:
Dr. Ivins had first written this woman in 1982, after she had become
known as an outspoken critic of hazing and had been interviewed by
Tom Brokaw on the “Today Show.” (Brokaw, it is worth adding, noted
in that interview that his co-host Jane Pauley was a KKG alumna.) On
May 29, 1983, Dr. Ivins provided this woman with a clipping of his
fraudulently signed letter. The woman gave the letter to the author of
several books on hazing, who then referred to [Nancy Haigwood] by name
in a book he was writing. The book also quoted a KKG official as saying
that [Haigwood] “does not speak for the organization and never
has” and that “it is a ‘most isolated’ occurrence to have a sorority
woman come out in favor of hazing, which is ‘strictly prohibited’ by
the national [KKG organization].”
The statements Dr. Ivins fabricated in [Haigwood's] name have
continued to be referenced and attributed to her in scholarly works,
such as the 2004 thesis, “Definitions of Hazing: Differences Among
Selected Student Organizations.” In fact, the letter triggered a libelous
cascade of publications that led to a personal repudiation of [Haigwood]
by the sorority's leadership and continuing damage to her
reputation. Interviewed in 2008, Dr. Ivins admitted to the FBI that he
had written the letter to the newspaper and had provided the clipping
to the grieving mother. He said he could not explain why.
So, in 1982, Ivins contacted a woman whose child had die in a hazing incident. Then he wrote a phony pro-hazing letter to the Frederick News-Post and signed Nancy Haigwood's name to it. Then he contacted the woman whose child had been killed and told her about the letter. That woman gave the letter to a man writing a book about hazing, who used the phony letter in his book, and he contacted the KKG sorority who condemned Haigwood for writing a letter she actually had nothing to do with. It was all just sociopathic Bruce Ivins manipulating people. Ivins manipulated the Frederick News-Post. He then manipulated the woman whose child had died. Through her, he manipulated the book writer, and that resulted in the KKG sorority denouncing Nancy Haigwood.
And Ivins' evil deeds still cause Nancy Haigwood harm to this day - even though Ivins has been dead for nearly 3 years. Researchers still find the phony letter, the invalid condemnation, and still use it in new books and papers.
The Defenders of Bruce Ivins will undoubtedly find some way to dismiss it as "just a prank" or not being "harassment." In reality, it's pure sociopathic evil.
The Defenders of Bruce Ivins will certainly dispute what happened in 2007. In that year, Ivins was repeatedly trying to get Wikipedia to create a separate entry for Nancy Haigwood as a distinguished member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. Here's one posting by Ivins using his Internet name "Jimmy Flathead":
Can there be a mutually acceptable way between members and nonmembers as far as information that's put onto the page by Archivists or others privy to information that's not publicly available. For example, what famous people are no longer members of the organization - can there be some information that allows non-members to confirm this? Candice Bergen's bios say she's a member of Kappa, but here they say no. Another example...the hazers at DePaul in 1997...were they permanently expelled from the organization, or only suspended for a certain length of time...and how can non-members confirm what the archivist says? If the information (like the deciphered ritual book) isn't publicly available, is there a way for others not in the organization to verify the information. Perhaps people can receive scanned pages from KKG that document what they've said(?) Otherwise, non-members can site only fully open sources, but members can site privileged sources and there's no way to either confirm or challenge.
Also, I'd like to see some Kappas put down for their scientific achievements. It's not my job to do it, but I can think of Dr. Nancy Haigwood and Dr. Gail Williams Wertz immediately as alumnae who have distinguished themselves. It would look good, but I'm not about to go create a Wikipedia page for them just so they can be on the Kappa page. I just get tired of seeing lots of TV and moviestars, but scientists get short shrift. jimmyflathead 03:14, 15 August 2007 (UTC)
Many organizations have been cited for hazing violations. If people want to add such information to other Wiki pages, please do so. If these pages are intended to be honest and provide a look at a bit of the negative (as well as a lot of the positive) information about organizations, then good for honesty. If they're meant solely to be commercials or advertisements, then that should be made clear, so that individuals reading the pages will know that what they read has been carefully crafted to present the organization in a totally favorable light. - jf
The questions are: Was Ivins trying to get a separate Wikipedia entry for Nancy Haigwood as part of some scheme to get into her good graces? If so, why talk about hazing? Or was Ivins trying to get a Wikipedia entry for Haigwood so he could then bring the 1983 "Defends Hazing" letter to public attention again, along with passages from the book that quoted the letter and other documents from KKG denouncing Haigwood? That would certainly be part of his standard pattern of manipulation: Manipulate people into doing something that looks entirely innocent, and then launch a vicious attack that can harm her career forever.
We'll never know what Ivins plan was, since he evidently wasn't able to manipulate Wikipedia into creating an entry for Nancy Haigwood.
The Haigwood item in my list of Evidence vs. Beliefs wasn't the only item that Anthrax Truthers didn't like. The same Anthrax Truther and Defender of Bruce Ivins also questioned item #28, which reads as follows:
One target of the media mailing was The National Enquirer. Ivins wrote about the National Enquirer in emails before the attacks, and he had a stack of Enquirers in his office.
The Anthrax Truther didn't say exactly what his complaint was, but here's my source information for that entry: It's from page 43 of the EBAP report:
Uninviting as the hot suite was, Dr. Ivins and some of his
colleagues sometimes took reading material there that was
unrelated to their research.
A colleague noted that one periodical to be found there was the
National Enquirer. Although it was brought in by one of Dr. Ivins’
technician assistants, Dr. Ivins occasionally referred to the
publication himself in emails and in conversations, and once joked
that he might someday be the subject of one of its headlines:
“Paranoid Man Works with Deadly Anthrax.”
Among the recipients of the first set of anthrax letters was the
parent company of the National Enquirer, American Media Inc.
(AMI), then based in Boca Raton, Fla. The address of the parent
company at that time — the address to which the letter was sent
— was the former address of the National Enquirer itself, as listed
in the back issues that had piled up in Dr. Ivins' office. One copy of
the paper was found in the hot suite. The letter caused the death
of photographer Robert Stevens, the first of the five fatalities from
Perhaps Anthrax Truther's dispute was that "back issues that had piled up in Dr. Ivins' office" is not the same as "a stack of Enquirers in his office."
Or maybe Anthrax Truthers and Defenders of Bruce Ivins just don't accept anything that disputes their beliefs about Ivins' "innocence" unless there are home movies of it and a dozen anti-government Truthers who are willing to testify that the home movies were not altered. And, perhaps not even then, since they consider anything that tells the truth about Bruce Ivins and his terrible and evil actions to be pro-FBI bias.
And they'll argue that the fact that Ivins had old copies of the National Enquirer with their old address in his office isn't evidence that Ivins was the anthrax mailer -- if you look at only that one item and ignore everything else that says Bruce Ivins was definitely the anthrax mailer.
& Changes: Sunday, April 3, 2011, thru Saturday, April 9, 2011
April 9, 2011 - Although it has absolutely nothing to do with the Amerithrax case, because so many people are visiting this site looking for information about the Rick McCormick coded notes I mentioned on March 31, I've decided to create a new web page about "The Mysterious Rick McCormick Code" just so I can mention a few screwball ideas about it.
April 5, 2011 - David Willman, the Pulitzer Prize winning reporter who broke the story in 2008 that Bruce Ivins, the suspected anthrax killer had committed suicide, has written a book about the Amerithrax investigation. It's coming out in July with the title "The Mirage Man: Bruce Ivins, the Anthrax Attacks, and America's Rush to War." The blurb says:
The Mirage Man reveals how this seemingly harmless if eccentric scientist [Bruce Ivins] hid a sinister secret life from his closest associates and family, and how the trail of genetic and circumstantial evidence led inexorably to him.
Engrossing and unsparing, The Mirage Man is a portrait of a deeply troubled scientist who for more than twenty years had unlimited access to the U.S. Army’s stocks of deadly anthrax. It is also the story of a struggle for control within the FBI investigation, the missteps of an overzealous press, and how a cadre of government officials disregarded scientific data while spinning the letter attacks into a basis for war.
And here's one of the three early reviews at the above link:
“Peering through David Willman’s magnifying glass into the anthrax-laced heart and soul of Bruce Ivins is chilling. Willman’s investigative chops and skilled yarn-weaving make for a compelling read. Most strikingly, Willman shows how this emotionally warped man pumped the bellows that fanned the flames of war with Iraq. It’s a haunting and heartbreaking tale.’’—Mark Thompson, national security correspondent, Time
It's certainly a book I'll read as soon as it comes out.
How will a book showing that "the circumstantial evidence led inexorably to" Bruce Ivins be viewed by the Anthrax Truthers? They have already dismissed it for their standard reasons:
"I don’t see any hint in the promotional material that Willman raises any questions about the FBI’s conclusions. Perhaps he cites enough real evidence to support his conclusions. Or perhaps he just concludes without evidence, as the FBI did." - Lew Weinstein
"I don’t think there can be any doubt that Willman is totally bought in to the FBI fairytale." - Anonymous
"I feel sorry for those who write all
these books that claim to show guilt when guilt “has not” again HAS NOT
been proven ever (In a court of LAW) end of story.. Bruce Ivins
according to any and every law written or unwritten is (wait for it)
NOT GUILTY." - Zicon
"Willman left the LA Times and signed a book deal. He had to deliver a story within a given timeframe. So like the FBI: That’s the story, and we’re sticking to it!" - BugMaster
"Any serious reporter will obtain
the lab notebook pages that Dr. Ivins wrote on the days that the DOJ
speculates he was making a powderized anthrax to mail." - DXer
April 3, 2011 - Some of the arguments from the Anthrax Truthers are becoming truly repetitious and silly. Since they absolutely refuse to look at more than one item of evidence at a time, I decided to make a list of all of the FBI's items of evidence that I can find and to show how those items are viewed by the Anthrax Truthers. I've put the list on a new supplemental page titled "Evidence vs. Beliefs."
It's possible I may have missed some items, but here's the list I developed:
There might be some question about whether or not the case against Ivins would be solid enough to convince the dumbest and most stubborn jury imaginable, but there is no question that there is an abundance of compelling evidence that Bruce Ivins was the anthrax mailer.
And, anyone who thinks that "lack of sufficient evidence" means someone is actually innocent of the crime, and that someone else must have done it, is ridiculously mistaken.
& Changes: Sunday, March 27, 2011, thru Saturday, April 2, 2011
April 2, 2011 (B) - Anti-War Radio has an interview with Noah Shachtman of Wired Magazine. The interviewer from Anti-War Radio has beliefs about that anthrax attacks that are so ridiculous that even Shachtman had to try to distance himself from some of them, specifically beliefs that the FBI drove Ivins crazy and that they somehow wanted Ivins to commit suicide. But, Shachtman also shows himself to be sorely ignorant of key facts in the case. The only things he seems to know about are flask RMR-1029 and the fact that the envelopes were bought in Virginia or Maryland.
April 2, 2011 (A) - Lawyer/conspiracy theorists Barry Kissin has released a new diatribe re-stating his unshakable belief that the "truth" about the anthrax attacks was determined shortly after the attacks, in late 2001, when very few facts were actually known. Kissin's belief:
In order to cover-up the evident connection between our secret anthrax weaponization projects and the attack anthrax, it would be necessary to negate the fact that the attack anthrax (particularly in the letters to the Senators) was weaponized.
In other words, the anthrax used in the attacks were weaponized in a way that can only be done in a secret and illegal U.S. government bioweapons facility. So, all the facts that have learned since October 2001 are just part of a vast government conspiracy to hide the "truth" about those secret and illegal activities.
I notice that there are currently six on-line comments about Barry Kissin's diatribe, and 5 of the 6 basically say they are tired of reading about Kissin's ridiculous beliefs.
March 31, 2011 - Mumble mumble, groan, groan. I don't really need anything to break my focus right now, and this is definitely off topic, even though I've been discussing for months the coding that Bruce Ivins put into the media letter and into the senate return address ZIP Code. But, this morning someone sent me an ABC News article about a code that the FBI trying to break in another case. Here's how the ABC article begins:
The FBI is looking for a few beautiful minds to help solve a murder case. If you think you have what it takes to crack a code that the best cryptanalysts in the country have failed for 12 years to master, they'd like to hear from you.
On June 30, 1999, police in St. Louis found the body of Rick McCormick, 41, who had been murdered and dumped in a field. The only clues the FBI found about the time leading up to his death came in the form of two pieces of paper in his pants pocket: Handwritten on the scraps were 30 lines of numbers and letters grouped into several sections.
McCormick was a high school drop-out -- literate and street smart -- who had written encrypted notes to himself ever since he was a child. But none of his friends or relatives had ever been given the key to his cipher, according to the FBI. Investigators suspect the notes were written up to three days before his death and unlocking the code could lead to information about the time before his death.
So, the coded message might be something the guy did as part of whatever hobby or activity or business he was involved with, and it might have nothing to do with his murder at all.
It's very clear there are patterns in the message. WLD seems to appear a lot, and a lot of groups of letters end in SE. And there's an apostrophe in (194 WLD'S NCBE) that might be a place to begin. Or you might start with these three very intriguing lines:
(FLRSE PRSE ONDE 71 NCBE)
(CDNSE PRSE ONS*E 74 NCBE) * represents an unclear character
(PRTSE PRSE ONREDE 75 NCBE)
There are just too many lines and "words" that end with the letter E. E has to have some other meaning.
The reader comments on the ABC site seem to have some very good ideas about what is needed to decode the message. For example:
The puzzle's solution is, first, sociological (Who was this guy, and what was on his mind?) Second, it is linguistic (How did he talk to people when he speaking naturally and, especially, when he was tired?) Third and only a distant third, it is a cryptographic problem.
and I like this comment very much:
the scribbled out letters indicate that the writer must have been creating the code mentally as he wrote it down, therefore simplifying the possible complexity of this particular code.
One reader's comment also has the written text converted to typed text. But I wouldn't rely on it. He converted the last line to D-W-M-Y HPL XDRLXI. But, is it a Y or is it a 4? And is it HPL or is it PTPL or PTP6? If he didn't draw M's differently everywhere else, it might even be MI6. And there is no I at the end of XDRLX.
Because the number 99.84.5 (or 99.84.52 or 22.214.171.124) seems like it could be a key, I did a Google search and found another web site devoted to decoding this material. Someone thought it might be an IP address and wrote:
I added the 2 before the une and found this. Location near Wichita, KS . On NW 120th Street. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. The plot thickens.
And what about 1/2 MUND PLSE? That 1/2 could be another key to figuring things out.
I also wondered if it could be the writing of someone with dyslexia who was writing the way that made sense to him, since there seem to be some of these signs of dyslexia in the writing:
they may insert or leave out letters, such as could-cold or star-stair.
they may say a word that has
the same letters, but in a different sequence, such as who-how,
lots-lost, saw-was, or girl-grill.
The dead man knew how to read and write,
but writing normally may have been like writing in Russian or some
foreign language he found much more difficult to comprehend.
b-d confusion is a classic warning sign. One points to the left, the other points to the right, and they are left-right confused.
b-p, n-u, or m-w confusion. One points up, the other points down. That's also directionality confusion.
Note that on the first page he uses parentheses extensively, except for lines 2 through 7 where parentheses are used to enclose material within those lines. But on the second page he uses parentheses only three times, on very short "sentences." Mostly, he circles things instead. This might be an indicator that he uses those techniques instead of indenting paragraphs, because indenting and blank lines to create paragraphs that are too confusing for a man who suffers from left-right confusion.
There are 31 lines in the two pages of coding, not including the circled P1 or the (AC5M) or whatever it is the top of the first page. 23 lines end with the letter E. 2 lines end with 1NC. 3 lines end with XL, 1 ends with XL 'R, 1 ends with (3 XoRL) or something like that, and 1 line ends with RLX. There's a pattern there in the X's, L's and R's. But I don't know what the pattern means.
In the fourth line of the first page, he has two instances where the letter "I" is written with serifs (the horizontal lines at the top and bottom). He seems to write the number one without serifs: |. So, it's 1NC, not INC. That makes me wonder if he doesn't avoid using the letter "I" unless he has to, because he too often sees it as the number 1.
I think the FBI needs to have some experts in dyslexia (and/or some people with dyslexia) look at the coded pages to see what they can figure out.
I could probably spend the rest of the week (or year) on it, but I've got to try to stop thinking about it and get back to work on things I should be working on.
March 30, 2011 - One of the complex subjects in the Expert Behavioral Analysis Panel (EBAP) report is the diagnosis of Ivins' mental condition. On page 165, they seem to say that Dr. David Irwin's diagnosis of "sociopathic" does not meet all of the items on the standard forensic psychiatry checklist for such a condition. Specifically, Ivins did not demonstrate sociopathic characteristics before the age of 15. (Or, there is just no record of it.) So, the panel settled on a dianosis of "Personality Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, with Narcissistic and Antisocial Features," which basically means Ivins fell into several different psychiatric categories. All of the information about Dr. Irwin's diagnosis is redacted, so there's no way to see exactly what he reported.
As I stated in an earlier post, while some of the evidence described in the EBAP report seems almost like "smoking gun" evidence, some of other the evidence against Bruce Ivins is fairly complex and definitely "circumstantial." For example, on page 69 it says:
Dr. Ivins was particularly interested in Gödel, Escher, Bach:
An Eternal Golden Braid, a complex book which defies easy
description but which deals in part with hidden messages and codes,
including DNA codes. Published in 1979, the book won the Pulitzer
Prize. In a June 2008 interview with investigators, Dr. Ivins described
the work, which is nonfiction, as “really cool” and volunteered that
he first may have learned of it from KKG Sister #2 in the late 1970’s
or early 1980’s.
KKG Sister #2 is Nancy Haigwood, the woman Ivins had been fixated with for nearly 30 years. And, of course, the coding process used to construct the hidden message that Ivins put into the first set of anthrax letters was taken from the book Gödel, Escher, Bach.
That's not particularly incriminating, but then there's this from page 81:
For about 18 years since she moved from Gaithersburg, Md., in the
early 1980s, KKG Sister #2 had had no contact with Dr. Ivins. On
September 21, 2001, however, three days after the first letters were
postmarked, she received an email from him at her place of work,
in Seattle. He inquired about personal matters — her sons and their
educational plans — which he had no way of knowing about, to her
knowledge. He also offered a comment about his professional life:
“since we are the primary BW [Biowarfare] research center in this
country, we are all more than a bit on edge.” Then — that very day —
he called her as well. His computer had not received a reply from
her server, he told her, so he wanted to make sure she had received
KKG Sister #2 found this sudden burst of communication disturbing.
In an interview with the FBI on January 16, 2008, Dr. Ivins said he had
sent this email to KKG Sister #2 “after the anthrax attacks” in order to
“refresh our acquaintance.” But at the time he contacted KKG Sister
#2, no one else knew there had been an anthrax attack. Dr. Ivins’ first
email to KKG Sister#2 came three days after the postmark date of the
first anthrax letters and about two weeks before the media began to
report the anthrax attacks, in early October.
Ivins sent Haigwood an email "after the anthax attacks," but at a time when only Ivins knew there had been an anthrax attack. The email and phone call from a man who had harassed her for decades frightened Haigwood, and after the American Society for Microbiology sent a letter to all of its members asking if they knew of anyone who might have sent the anthrax letters, Haigwood wrote them this on February 1, 2002 (from page 82 of the EBAP report):
I am a microbiologist and a professor at the University of
Washington. I am a member of the American Society for
Microbiology and received their e-mail appeal. I would like to
speak to someone about a former colleague of mine who
presently works with anthrax at Fort Detrick MD. When we
were at UNC Chapel Hill in the mid 1970’s, there were some
very unusual behaviors that he exhibited that were repeated
later in 1982-83. I believe that this individual is somewhat
mentally unstable and has the profile of someone who COULD
be capable of such an act. I certainly hope that I am wrong,
and no one hopes more than I that this person is not involved
in any negative way. I am very worried about being traced, as
this person is particularly adept at computer snooping. I do not
want to give out my home number or address for fear of my
personal safety and that of my children. This person has
recently contacted me via unsolicited e-mail to my work to
show that he is working on anthrax. He was concerned that his
computer did not receive a reply from our server and called to
be sure that it was me. I spoke with him briefly but certainly
do NOT have any personal relationship whatsoever. Please take
this seriously, especially the confidential nature.
The FBI contacted Haigwood, but, because they had nothing else at the time that pointed to Ivins, and probably because they were focused on suspects living in Central New Jersey, the FBI didn't pursue Ivins at that time as a suspect.
The EBAP report says this on page 123:
The evidence for the place occupied by KKG Sister #2 in Dr. Ivins’
motives also lies in the DNA codons in the fi rst set of letters.
Dr. Ivins thought that KKG Sister #2 would understand them.
During an interview with the FBI, he had falsely denied his own
knowledge of this coded language. But he had bragged about KKG
Sister #2’s: She “is a Gene Jockey who could answer any such
questions about DNA,” he said.
By sending letters with codons, he was showing off to KKG Sister #2.
That is definitely circumstantial evidence, and it certainly fits with everything else known about Ivins and his mental fixations and obsessions. There is a lot of creepy stuff in the report about the ways he harassed Haigwood, including writing letters to newspapers using her name, causing problems for her at where she worked, and ordering pornography using her husband's name.
There are other things in the report which probably cannot be considered as evidence at all, such as the way Ivins ignored the advice of his co-workers, and in December of 2002 he went to that pond in the mountains near Frederick which the FBI was draining to look for evidence against Dr. Hatfill. Ivins went as a Red Cross volunteer, but an FBI agent recognized him and asked the Red Cross to remove him from the area, since Ivins had connections to the case and it was inappropriate for him to be there. That's strange enough, but what's even stranger is that, for years after that incident, Ivins grumbled about having been removed from the site. He evidently believed that if he thought he should be there, that should be good enough for the rest of the world.
Lastly, there is information about how psychiatrists do not agree with each other. There is information that Dr. #3 (Dr. Levy) didn't even bother to read the diagnosis from Dr. #2 (Dr. Irwin) prior to beginning treatment. And, although one health care professional disagreed, after a couple weeks of examination, the psychiatrists at Sheppard-Pratt didn't see Ivins as a threat to himself or others, and they released him. Within hours of his release, Ivins was buying the Tylenol he would use for his suicide.
On page 232, there is this interesting tidbit of information about mental health care patents in general:
Patients with VIP status sometimes paradoxically receive lower quality
care, in part because the normal level of objective discernment by
medical personnel gets compromised.
Page 257 has this information about Ivins' suicide a few days after his release from Sheppard-Pratt:
Based on his laboratory tests, it appears that Dr. Ivins presented to the
hospital more than eight hours after his overdose of acetaminophen.
However, his initial abnormal laboratory findings were not due solely to
his APAP overdose; there were also complications associated with the
other medications he ingested. Dr. Ivins not only took an overdose of
acetaminophen, he also took an overdose of other medications that
caused profound sedation, as well as subsequent “pressure sores,”
rhabdomyolysis, metabolic acidosis, electrolyte abnormalities,
dehydration, and renal failure.
And, page 260 has further information:
A review of the EMS and Hospital records from July 27 to July 29
clearly shows that Dr. Ivins took an intentional overdose of multiple
medications. In so doing, we believe he followed a careful, two-step
plan, entirely consistent with XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX He took an extreme amount
of sedatives in order to lose consciousness. But knowing that he might
be found unconscious before he died and resuscitated, he also took a
fatal overdose of acetaminophen to assure that healthcare teams could
not save him.
Unless something unexpected comes up, I think that's the last of my comments about the EBAP report. It's time for me to get back to working on my book. I've got a lot of notes about information that needs to be added to the chapters I'd thought I had already completed. And, of course, I still have around 9,000 pages of FBI documents to examine.
March 29, 2011 (D) - I got what I wrote that I hoped for in my (B) comment today - unfortunately. Wired magazine has a second article about the anthrax attacks of 2001. It's titled "Did the Anthrax Attacks Kick-Start Iraq War?" It's a ho-hum piece rehashing the fact that anthrax and other Weapons of Mass Destruction were a major reason for starting the war with Iraq. And it was all bogus.
The anthrax attacks “made it possible to manufacture the argument that there was WMD in Iraq and links to Al-Qaeda,” Rep. Rush Holt, a leading Congressional critic on the anthrax investigation, tells Danger Room [Wired's blog].
No kidding. But, does that mean that some government agency was behind the attacks instead of a lone nut case like Bruce Ivins? No, it doesn't. But, there's no way to convince the Anthrax truthers who "take arbitrary 'facts'", string them together, take a great leap of 'faith' and declare 'It Must be Connected!'" The article doesn't imply any conspiracy or illegal acts. The author seems to realize it was all the result of confusion and a lack of facts. The article also says:
“I think the seminal event of the Bush administration was the anthrax attacks,” someone close to the president told me. “It was the thing that changed everything. It was the hard stare into the abyss.”
In the days that followed, a few government officials (most notably, Sen. John McCain) publicly suggested that the Saddam Hussein regime may have been behind the anthrax letters. ABC News trumpeted a bogus claim that the attack spores contained the chemical additive bentonite, a hallmark of the Iraqi anthrax program. “Some are going to be quick to pick up on this as a smoking gun,” anchor Peter Jennings said.
So, the Iraq war might be called "collateral damage" resulting from the irresponsible actions of a lone scientist who just wanted to make himself seem more important and impress a woman who didn't want anything to do with him. In many ways, that's much scarier than some crazy theory about a vast criminal conspiracy involving thousands of Americans.
March 29, 2011 (C) - Hmm. Rush Holt is once again arguing his beliefs in the media. This morning, the Trentonian has an article titled "Anthrax killer might still be on the loose, says U.S. Rep. Rush Holt." A couple key paragraphs:
“Let me put it this way: I wouldn’t want to be the lawyer taking this to court,” said U.S. Rep. Rush Holt. “Every agency would like to say the case is closed, but I’d feel a lot better if it rested on physical evidence.”
“Did Ivins do it? I’m not saying that he didn’t,” said Holt. “But the case is not as solid as the public deserves.”
The circumstantial evidence is there; most will agree. But hard evidence? Virtually non-existent.
And the last two paragraphs:
Remember the attack? Remember the feeling of being scared of your mail? Remember the feeling of seeing death in the remnants of a powdered donut? It wasn’t fun. And now, some 10 years later, we’re probably no better equipped to deal with it and no better informed when it comes to who did it, and why, and how, and when.
All we’ve got, for sure, it the what.
It the what? What? What it the what?
What does Rep. Holt want? Does he want the FBI to create some physical evidence where none exists? Or does he believe that there is always physical evidence in every crime, and the FBI just failed to look for it?
March 29, 2011 (B) - This morning, Wired magazine has published another article about the anthrax case, apparently in an effort to ward off the bad impressions given by their badly timed previous article. The new article is titled, "Postage Stamps Delivered Anthrax Suspect to FBI." That title is a bit of an overstatement, but the article ends with some information about how circumstantial evidence must be viewed:
People looking for the veritable smoking gun or for a CSI-style resolution to the anthrax case are bound to be disappointed. Put all the clues together, and a potent, if circumstantial, case emerges, investigators insist. Ivins’ swiss-cheese alibis, his violent fantasies — add them to the attack spores’ genetic fingerprint and the envelopes, and the whole starts to appear greater than the sum of the individual parts.
“Out of context, it’s all pretty unpersuasive,” says one source, close to the investigation. “Taken all together, it’s convincing.”It's a step in the right direction. Hopefully, there will be more Wired articles about more of the evidence.
However, the Wired article is a bit misleading about the "indicia defects" in the printing of the envelopes. The defects are not just in the stamp. According to page 52 of the FBI's Summary Report, the back of the envelope also contained printing. In the bottom center, there was text which read: “THIS ENVELOPE IS RECYCLABLE AND MADE WITH 100% RECYCLED PAPER, 30% POST-CONSUMER CONTENT.” There were defects in this printed lettering, too. And the defects were transient, meaning they were the result of clots of ink or bits of paper that would appear on a plate and then later disappear. That was what enabled the investigators to identify a specific batch of envelopes that went to Maryland and Virginia (and not to Ohio or Utah) as the the source of the envelopes used in the mailings.
But, most interestingly, the printer used TWO plates to print the envelopes, so every other envelope in a completed batch of envelopes contained printing from a different plate than the envelopes in between. And, the defects on the two plates were different. Thus, the FBI was able to determine that Ivins probably used the envelopes in this sequence shown below (red indicating plate #1, black indicating plate #2):
1 - Brokaw
2 - NY Post
3 - ABC
4 - CBS
5 - AMI
6 - Daschle
7 - Leahy
The "indicia defects" on the Brokaw envelope matched the defects on the Leahy envelope, and the defects on the NY Post envelope matched the defects on the Daschle envelope.
March 29, 2011 (A) - Hilarious!!! People are laughing hysterically over it. DXer is back posting endlessly and furiously to Lew Weinstein's site. The thread where it was announced that DXer had left is now gone. And it appears that all (or nearly all) of the DXer posts that Lew had deleted have been restored. The only thing missing is: an explanation.
March 28, 2011 - I've finished reading the report by the Expert Behavioral Analysis Panel. After page 106 or so, there aren't many additional items of fascinating new information like those I wrote about yesterday. After page 106, the report is mostly just about complex matters that require some careful thought on my part before I can make any comments about them. The rest are redacted pages of information from Ivins' psychiatrists, plus pages of technical details about psychology, about procedures for keeping dangerous materials secure, and about points of law about psychology and keeping dangerous materials secure.
Meanwhile, someone brought to my attention a new article about "9/11 truthers" who are really not much different than "anthrax truthers," except that 9/11 truthers generally think that anthrax truthers are nuts, and anthrax truthers generally feel that 9/11 truthers are nuts. And, among anthrax truthers, those who believe al Qaeda did it think those who believe it was a vast conspiracy by the U.S. government are nuts, and vice versa. The common tread that strings them all together is that they all think the government is either lying or incompetent or both. Only the "truthers" know the truth.
According to the 9/11 truther article:
A poll conducted this earlier this month showed that 15% of people in the US believe that collapse of the World Trade Center on 9/11 was caused by a controlled demolition. And that number gets even smaller when the missile and hologram theories are introduced.
And as many as 28% of Americans still believe that America never went to the moon. I don't recall if there has ever been a reliable poll of what Americans think about the anthrax attacks. It wouldn't surprise me if 25% believed that al Qaeda was behind the anthrax attacks. Plus, there are those who believe it was either a U.S. government plot to help start the war with Iraq or a plot to cover up some secret and illegal bioweapons program.
At the 9/11 truthers conference:
Engineer Tony Szamboti and chemist Kevin Ryan did a thorough job of questioning the credibility of the official conclusion that Building 7 collapsed from fire — even the officials who wrote it weren't initially keen on its conclusions. But there were frequent standing ovations as this information was presented, and without any debate from qualified professionals on the other side of the issue, it was hard to verify what was true and what was pabulum for a sympathetic audience.
Most glaring was the near-uniform method with which the speakers refused to answer the question, "Why?" Dr. Graeme MacQueen echoed this demurral in asking, "If Building 7 was brought down by a controlled demolition…we have to ask the question 'why?' Why have we been lied to for nine and a half years? Why did they do it? These are all valid questions, but I won't visit them today." Tune in next conference?!
There's where the conflict comes in. When you ask "Why?", almost every truther has a different answer.
As of this writing, there are 110 comments posted at the end of the 9/11 truthers article. Most of the pro-truther comments are by "polskiedukarty" who argues:
15% of Americans, but over 50% of the world, which ranks much higher in education, understand high school level physics and the impossibility of CIA mathematics.
To 9/11 truthers, people who believe hijacked airplanes piloted by al Qaeda terrorists brought down the World Trade Center towers are "sheeple" (sheep people). (One anthrax truthers calls his opponents "FBI shills.") Here's what one sheeple who calls himself "S.D" wrote about the conspiracy theorists:
Being polite here: This is what you conspiracy buffs do: Take arbitrary "facts", string them together, take a great leap of "faith" and declare "It Must be Connected!"...
The most interesting exchange I noticed is this one:
polskiedukarty: Did you see the video of the FDNY all agreeing that it was a controlled demolition on the day that it happened? Just be honest, did you see that video?
drussonyc: Just be honest - did you see a video with THE FDNY agreeing, on the day of the collapse, that it was a controlled demolition? Or did you perhaps see a video of a few in shock firefighters, marvelling at how the collapse looked like a demo (which it did). The Japanese tsunami looked like an outtake from a Michael Bay film, doesn't mean it was done by Hollywood. I've had the pleasure of meeting the fire chief on multiple occassions, rest assured he and the FDNY leadership doesnt agree with you.
Did you hear the radio show where USAMRIID scientist Henry Heine said Bruce Ivins couldn't have been the anthrax killer? Did you read the statements by Bruce Ivins where he said his subordinates could have done it?
How many experts have to believe in something before it becomes the "truth?" Or does the "truth" have nothing to do beliefs or with counting believers. Maybe it has something to do with facts.
How many facts are needed to change the mind of a "truther?" More than whatever number you have.
March 27, 2011 (D) - Ah! More NEW information! This time it's about the July 2008 events leading up to Jean Duley calling the police to report Ivins' threats to kill his coworkers. Here's what the EBAP report says starting on page 97 and through most of page 98:
Therapy group members were taken aback. According to the therapists
at the session, who were interviewed later by the FBI, some asked
him, “If you are innocent, then why are you doing what you plan to
do?” “Ivins did not reply and only smiled and was evasive. …
He thought he would be executed or go out in a ‘blaze of glory' and be
killed by police.”
“Ivins said that during the next twenty-four hours he would not do
anything, because he was not ready,” the FBI notes on the interviews
with the therapists continue. “The people in group therapy discussed
Ivins and agreed that he wanted to be killed in a ‘suicide by cop’
scenario. … After the session, one of the other therapy members
heard Dr. Ivins say, ’You will see me in the papers.’”
That same evening, shortly after the group session ended, Therapist #3
attempted without success to call Dr. #3, who was out of town. She also
contacted Dr. Ivins’ attorney, “who agreed to have Dr. Ivins come down
to his office first thing in the morning to talk to Dr. Ivins, evaluate his
condition, and if necessary have him committed.” On the morning of
July 10, Dr. #3 called back Therapist #3, who reported Dr. Ivins’ threats
“to shoot co-workers and others that had wronged him.” According to
Dr. #3, Therapist #3 “was reluctant to contact authorities.” The
psychiatrist suggested that Dr. Ivins’ attorney be contacted. When
Therapist #3 did so, for the second time, the attorney tried to dissuade
her from calling authorities to hospitalize Dr. Ivins, she said; the
attorney, she later reported, said Dr. Ivins was “fine.” That same day
Dr. #3 also spoke with the attorney, Dr. #3 later told authorities; the
attorney “pleaded” with him “not to call the authorities and just allow
Ivins time to ‘calm down.'"
In spite of the attorney’s objections, Dr. #3 later told the FBI that
after consulting a colleague, he “instructed [Therapist#3] to call the
authorities on Ivins.” Therapist #3 then informed the Frederick
Police Department of the situation.
Jean Duley is evidently "Therapist #3." This report shows a very different picture from the one the conspiracy theorists and True Believers tried to promote - that the FBI persuaded Jean Duley to call the police. On page 101, the report shows that the FBI didn't know anything about Ivins' commitment until he was already in the hospital.
FBI investigators did not question any of Dr. Ivins’ current or former
mental health care providers until the Frederick police contacted the
local FBI office to inform them they were dealing with a man who
claimed to be a prime suspect in the anthrax mailings. The local FBI
office referred the report to headquarters, which sent word to the
investigative team. Thus it was, ironically, Dr. Ivins’ own statements to
the police during the commitment proceedings — identifying himself as
a suspect in the mailings — that led the FBI to the Emergency Petition.
And it was by reading that petition, which is a public document, that
the FBI first became aware of Therapist #3.
Hmm. That seems to show that the conspiracy theorists and True Believers who were attacking and vilifying Jean Duley after she prevented Bruce Ivins from committing a second mass murder are even more stupid than I thought - and I already thought they were really really stupid.
I think that's enough commenting for today. I'll bookmark page 101 and re-start there tomorrow.
March 27, 2011 (C) - Hmm. On page 85 of the Expert Behavioral Analysis Panel report, there's a shaded box describing "An Unreported Skin Infection" that Ivins suffered on his hand around the time of the anthrax attacks. The symptoms are those of cutaneous anthrax, but there was no official diagnosis to that effect. Ivins went to his family doctor for treatment. The first prescribed treatment (cephalexin) didn't help. So, Ivins went to a second outside doctor who prescribed doxycycline, which is a much better treatment for cutaneous anthrax (the CDC recommends it over Cipro for anthrax infections). It worked. Although it was required that he report such incidents to USAMRIID in his yearly medical assessment, Ivins didn't report either prescription or treatment. Instead, he only reported that he has suffered an episode of chest pain and pneumonia.
So, it appears that there may have been another (but unreported) case of cutaneous anthrax from the 2001 anthrax mailings. The conspiracy theorists and True Believers will undoubtedly just dismiss the undiagnosed infection Ivins suffered as another meaningless "coincidence."
And, since Ivins had his anthrax shots, the question arises: How effective was the vaccine he was getting? According to a comment on page 79, Ivins had gotten his (annual?) anthrax vaccine shot on September 7, 2001, or thereabouts. Would that be like getting infected twice, once by the shot, once by live anthrax? I dunno. Plus, a source says:
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) licensed a vaccine in 1970 for workers at high risk of occupational exposure to anthrax. The vaccine is reported to be 92.5% effective in protecting against cutaneous and inhalational anthrax combined.
92.5% effective definitely isn't the same as 100% effective. And, one of our favorite "truthers," Dr. Meryl Nass, seems to believe that the anthrax vaccine has only "some" effectiveness:
Although the study calculated vaccine effectiveness as 92.5%, I believe that all that can be said is that there is some efficacy, but the actual % efficacy cannot be calculated due to the small number of cases.
So, evidently, Dr. Nass wouldn't be at all surprised if Bruce Ivins contracted cutaneous anthrax during the times the anthrax mailer was preparing the anthrax letters, even though Ivins had been vaccinated against anthrax.
March 27, 2011 (B) - I've finally found some time to continue reading the report by the Expert Behavioral Analysis Panel, and the wealth of new information continues. On page 42 there is a description of how the BSL-3 hot suite is laid out, and how you have to strip naked and get into lab clothes and shoes to go inside, and how you must shower when leaving. (This could be figured out before, but it's nice to see it stated in writing.) And on page 43 there is this:
Uninviting as the hot suite was, Dr. Ivins and some of his
colleagues sometimes took reading material there that was
unrelated to their research.
A colleague noted that one periodical to be found there was the
National Enquirer. Although it was brought in by one of Dr. Ivins’
technician assistants, Dr. Ivins occasionally referred to the
publication himself in emails and in conversations, and once joked
that he might someday be the subject of one of its headlines:
“Paranoid Man Works with Deadly Anthrax.”
Among the recipients of the first set of anthrax letters was the
parent company of the National Enquirer, American Media Inc.
(AMI), then based in Boca Raton, Fla. The address of the parent
company at that time — the address to which the letter was sent
— was the former address of the National Enquirer itself, as listed
in the back issues that had piled up in Dr. Ivins' office. One copy of
the paper was found in the hot suite. The letter caused the death
of photographer Robert Stevens, the first of the five fatalities from
This new information helps to explain why Bruce Ivins chose the National Enquirer as one of his media targets, and how he happened to use an obsolete mailing address, but, no doubt, the conspiracy theorists and True Believers will consider this to be "just another coincidence."
March 27, 2011 (A) - WOW! What a week! I don't think I've been so busy since the days in early August of 2008, after it was revealed that Dr, Bruce Ivins was the anthrax killer. And a lot of what I learned last week was totally fascinating. But, most importantly, there was a lot of NEW information made available. I thrive on new information. The report from the Expert Behavioral Analysis Panel (EBAP) is a gold mine of new information.
For example, I've been trying for months to figure out when and where Dr. David Irwin came into the case. I knew that Dr. Allen Levy was Ivins' psychiatrist from sometime in 2000 until Ivins' death in July of 2008. And, I knew the Lunatic Fringe was just spouting nonsense when they claimed that Dr. Irwin was working for the FBI when he diagnosed Ivins as "homicidal, sociopathic with clear intentions," and made that diagnosis in July of 2008. I knew the diagnosis was made in 2000. But when in 2000? I had written in the first draft of my new book that it was early in 2000, months before Ivins told his therapist about his plan to poison a "young woman" if the woman lost a soccer game. I'd figured that Dr. Irwin must have been consulted by Dr. Levy to get a "second opinion." I was part right, part wrong. I was right on the time frame, but it wasn't a "second opinion." Dr. Irwin was the second of three psychiatrists to treat Bruce Ivins. The report from the EBAP says on page 28:
Following his outpatient psychotherapy and medication treatment
with Dr. #1, Dr. Ivins appears not to have requested or received any
psychiatric care for about two decades. In 2000, however, XXXXXXXX
led him to seek out Dr. #1 again. By this time, however, she had retired. She referred
him to another psychiatrist in suburban Maryland, Dr. #2. [Dr. Irwin]
In compliance with another federal court order, similar to the one sent to
Dr. #1 and Dr. Ivins’ other therapists, Dr. #2 consented to be interviewed
by the FBI and provide his treatment records. They show that Dr. #2
conducted five treatment sessions with Dr. Ivins in the first half of 2000.
In those sessions, Dr. Ivins revealed XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
After the fifth session, Dr. #2 referred Dr. Ivins to Dr. #3 [Dr. Levy], another
Maryland psychiatrist, for reasons related to insurance coverage
For the next eight years — from May 2000 until mid-July 2008 —
Dr. #3 and his staff provided Dr. Ivins with individual psychotherapy,
group psychotherapy, and medication management. The staff
members who provided care other than medication management,
which was provided by Dr. #3, were all therapists employed in Dr. #3’s
So, Dr. Irwin began treating Ivins in February of 2000. According to The Washington Post:
E-mails between Ivins and a friend, also released by the government, show that the bioweapons researcher sought help in February 2000 from a psychiatrist who immediately prescribed antidepressants.
Then in May of 2000, Dr. Irwin referred Bruce Ivins to Dr. Allen Levy at Comprehensive Counseling Associates (CCA). And, a month later there was the talk about Ivins' plan to poison a "young woman."
Everything about Dr. #1 treating Ivins was totally new to me. She treated Ivins from September 12, 1978 until the fall of 1979. That means Ivins went to her just two weeks after he went to work for the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, MD. That was probably the first time his health care insurance covered such treatments. It was also around the same time that Ivins was doing the Kappa Kappa Gamma burglaries.
Whew! All the pieces finally fit for that part of the puzzle.
I was somewhat puzzled by the new information about the ZIP Code used on the senate letters. I felt I fully understood why Ivins put the hidden message in the media letter, but I thought the senate letter didn't contain any hidden codes, because by that time Ivins had realized that he'd killed Bob Stevens. So, playing hidden message games no longer made any sense. But, now it seems there is again a question of exact times. The senate letters were postmarked on the 9th of October, 2001, but, because of the Columbus Day holiday weekend, they may have been mailed as early as the 6th. The news broke about Bob Stevens on the 4th. But, the senate envelopes could have easily been addressed prior to the 4th. Thus, Ivins could easily have still been in his game-playing mental state when the envelopes were addressed.
Again, all the pieces fit.
And, I'm still only on page 40 of the 299 page report. What additional new information does the full report hold? I'm anxious to get back to reading it, but I keep getting sidetracked by other pressing matters.
I was also fascinated by the Expert Behavioral Analysis Panel.
When I heard that their full report was available, I couldn't find any information about it anywhere, and I contacted them to get more information. I even called them. I almost never call people I know only via the Internet. I prefer emails, because it results in documentation and because you don't have to worry about catching people at the wrong time or interrupting them when they're very busy, as phone calls so often do.
As a result of my phone calls to Patrick Walsh at the Research Strategies Network to get information, I realized that I was dealing with a group that was not a government organization, it was probably not even a place with its name on a door. It's a group of individuals who would probably meet at someone's home in the evenings to have their discussions. The report says on page 25:
The Panel met face-to-face for approximately 15 days over a five
month period from September 2009 through January 2010. Panel
members also communicated regularly through scheduled conference
calls, which continued until this report was completed.
The EBAP is a group of professionals that was formed to provide government agencies with analyses of psychiatric matters as a public service for free - except for expenses. It's a "think tank." And because they are a non-profit "think tank," they have no support structure. They have no secretaries, they have no Computer Department, they have no Payroll Department, Accounting Department, Sales Department, Advertising Department or Shipping Department. It's just nine experienced and dedicated professionals working together to help government agencies who need the type of help they can offer. Here is a list of the top notch professionals on the panel:
1. Chair: Gregory Saathoff, MD - Executive Director, Critical Incident Analysis Group, University of Virginia School of Medicine
2. Vice Chair: Gerald DeFrancisco - President, Humanitarian Services, American Red Cross
3. David Benedek, MD - Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Uniformed Services University School of Medicine
4. Anita Everett, MD -Section Director, Community and General Psychiatry, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
5. Christopher P. Holstege, MD - Chief, Division of Medical Toxicology, University of Virginia School of Medicine
6. Sally C. Johnson, MD - Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
7. J. Steven Lamberti, MD - Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Rochester Medical Center
8. Ronald Schouten, MD, JD - Director of the Law & Psychiatry Service, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard University School of Medicine
9. Joseph C. White - Senior Vice President, Chapter Operations, American National Red Cross
Because they have no
department, they apparently just have a volunteer who helps out.
That's why their
had a link to a page with their
press release, and at the bottom of that page there was a link that just went back to
their web site, instead of going to a
page with information about the members of the panel and how to
purchase the full report. It took me several calls to
make Walsh understand that no one could find that page of information
because of the wrong link at the end of their press release. And
it explains why they use Lulu.com
to distribute copies of their report. They have no publishing
capability of their own. They can't use the Government Printing
Office. So, they have to "self-publish." And, depending
upon how you do it and what your needs are, it can cost a lot of money to self-publish
(trust me on this, I know it for a
fact). Without any idea of how many books you need to fill
orders, you have to "publish on demand," which means every book can be fairly expensive
for the customer.
professionals are doing a public
service. They've provided a wealth of new information that
probably wouldn't have been made available any other way. And
they have provided a good foundation for understanding how someone like
Ivins could do what he did. He was able to prepare the
anthrax and the letters because people who should have been alarmed by
his unsupervised, night-time lab work were complacent and practically
on the job. There are lessons there for how such things might be
prevented in the future. The panel did a terrific job!
And, yet, the
conspiracy theorists and True Believers on The
Lunatic Fringe are
attacking them for what they did.
& Changes: Sunday, March 20, 2011, thru Saturday, March 26, 2011
March 26, 2011 (B) - What is the difference between a member of The Lunatic Fringe and other people? Members of the Lunatic Fringe make it their mission to convince the world that their theories and beliefs are more valid than any facts. Other people generally accept facts as facts and beliefs as beliefs, and they understand that facts and beliefs are not the same thing.
March 26, 2011 (A) - A discussion on Lew Weinstein's web site today makes me want to point out the difference between the thinking of those on The Lunatic Fringe and those who look at all the facts which say Ivins was the anthrax killer.
The people who use only their beliefs to form theories say that it is just a coincidence that ZIP Code 08852 used in the return address on the senate envelopes belongs to Monmouth Junction, NJ, where Ivins' family on his father's side came from, and the KKG fraternity with which Ivins was obsessed was founded at Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois.
In that discussion on Lew's site, Bug Master wrote:
Maybe Franklin Park had some significance to the mailer. Zip code? Maybe took a guess, knew something about the local zip code structure, got the next town down the road either deliberately or by mistake.
And Anonymous wrote:
The actual address was chosen completely at random. And presently the mailer is having a good laugh at the Monmouth “junction” somehow connecting to Bruce Ivins through ridiculous and imaginary fairy tales.
They think their theory that it is all a coincidence are just as good as the FBI's "theory" that it is not a coincidence.
But, in reality, the FBI has no such theory. The FBI and DOJ are looking at facts - all the facts. That is something the Lunatic Fringe absolutely refuses to do.
It is NOT a theory that ZIP Code 08852 belongs to Monmouth Junction, NJ, and Ivins' family was from Monmouth, NJ, and that the KKG fraternity with which Ivins was obsessed was formed at Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois. Those are solid FACTS. And, those solid FACTS are part of a vast collection of solid FACTS pointing to Ivins' guilt.
The Lunatic Fringe persists in viewing the facts in the Amerithrax case as individual facts and NOT as part of a massive collection of facts. Thus they endlessly theorize that individual facts could be just a coincidence.
No one in the FBI or anywhere else is "theorizing" that they are NOT just a coincidence. What I, the FBI and others are doing is what juries do in jury rooms. Jurors do not develop theories based upon individual facts that they do not like. They look at those facts together with all the other facts and determine the probability of it all being just an endless stream of coincidences. In the Amerithrax case, that probability is invisibly small.
No theorizing is involved - except on the part of the Lunatic Fringe. The Lunatic Fringe works with theories and beliefs. The FBI and the DOJ are working with the FACTS - all the facts. All the facts say Ivins was the anthrax killer.
However, if you want to figure out what was going on inside Ivins' mind as he did the things he did, and why he did things the way he did them, that's an area where there can be very few - if any - solid facts. That's an area for theories, speculation and the opinions of experts - such as psychiatrists, psychologists and philosophers.
March 25, 2011 (C) - This morning I found a couple emails in my inbox pointing me to a new article in the April issue of Wired Magazine titled "Anthrax Redux: Did the Feds Nab the Wrong Guy?" It's a very long article, and it was written before the release of the report from the Expert Behavioral Analysis Panel, so it contains nothing about that report and probably needs significant updating. But it contains some new information that shoots down one of my hypotheses: The reason why Ivins took the Fifth during an interview on November 1, 2007.
The Wired article doesn't provide the reason, but it does provide the identity of the person the FBI mentioned which caused Ivins to take the Fifth: Nancy Haigwood's husband. That shoots down the reason I had hypothesized.
The article says:
To rattle Ivins, the agents asked what they call a change-up question — a deliberately provocative non sequitur. Tell us about Nancy Haigwood’s husband, an agent said.
Ivins pushed away from the conference room table, crossed his arms and legs, and told the investigators he was taking the Fifth. He refused to respond to any further statements.
The reason could be something as simple as Ivins being tired of answering questions and using the Fifth as a way of stopping the questioning.
So, I've put a note at the top of the supplemental page I wrote a year ago titled "Dr. Ivins Takes The Fifth" explaining that the hypothesis in the page is wrong. I don't see any point in totally deleting the page, since being wrong is just part of doing an analyis (and part of the human condition), and we learn from our mistakes. If I were to delete it and just pretend I never constructed that hypothesis (that the name might have been the name of the child who wrote the anthrax letters), that could show that I pretend I don't make mistakes. That is certainly not true.
Along with a lot of new information, such as the names of many FBI agents working on the case, the Wired magazine article contains two mistakes in one paragraph. The paragraph says:
Ivins measured the concentration of the sample. It came out to a trillion spores per gram—three orders of magnitude more dense than anything the USAMRIID researchers had ever grown. “These are not ‘garage’ spores,” Ivins later wrote in an analysis. “Professional manufacturing techniques were used.”
Of course, Ivins said the sample contained 2.1 trillion spores per gram, not just one trillion (error #1), and that concentration was routinely produced at USAMRIID by Ivins himself (error #2), although Ivins never had the official task of drying spores he made and weighing the dried concentrations.
In another paragraph, the Wired article contains an "error" that I've made in the past:
Then there’s the problem of figuring out when Ivins could have grown the spores. In an email to colleagues on April 23, 2004—unrelated to the investigation and long before he became its prime suspect—Ivins estimated that it would take 60 hours to brew up 500 billion spores. Each anthrax letter contained up to four times that amount. This means that making enough spores for the mailings would have required between five and six months.
Not true, of course. If it takes 60 hours to get 500 billion spores, it would take just 60 hours and 20 minutes to get double that amount, and 60 hours, 40 minutes to get four times the amount. Vegetating anthrax bacteria double in number roughly every 20 minutes. The bad information may have come from Henry Heine.
Interestingly, the Wired article describes Henry Heine as "One of Ivins’ closest friends in USAMRIID’s bacteriology division" and it says, "Heine had a bunch of RMR-1029 subsamples." And:
On the day of the [November 1, 2007] search, Ivins’ security clearance was revoked, severely limiting the kind of work he could do at USAMRIID. He became convinced that Heine, his close friend and colleague, had fingered him as the anthrax mailer. Heine hadn’t, but the suspicion drove a wedge between Ivins and his drinking buddy.
The two scientists stopped talking to each other, even though they were still working together on projects. When they needed to communicate, they did so through their boss. Bowling nights and beers at the old officers’ club were out, of course. Heine even skipped the division Christmas party so Ivins could go, but Ivins didn’t show up either.That's a very different view of Henry Heine's relationship with Ivins than I've seen before. In a radio interview from February 25, 2010, Dr. Heine stated that his work at USAMRIID involved testing antibiotics. He wasn't involved with vaccines, as Ivins was. When the anthrax attacks occurred, Heine was only involved in checking to see if the attack anthrax was resistant to antibiotics. It appears he had no need to work with spores. He grew bacteria and tested antibiotics on the living bacteria. Dr. Heine put it this way: "My responsibility was to identify a set of antibiotics that would work in treatment for those people who had been exposed. Secondarily, my responsibility was to identify if there were any unusual antibiotic resistances, because that would suggest that somebody had manipulated it."
So, the details of Henry Heine's close relationship with Bruce Ivins are something else that is new in the Wired article. It is a very long article, but well worth reading, even if it seems to use Henry Heine as a key source, and even if is in need of significant revisions as a result of the newly released report from the Expert Behavioral Analysis Panel.
March 25, 2011 (B) - In a new thread on Lew Weinstein's site they are discussing the fact that "DXer" has not only stopped arguing about the anthrax case (after nearly 10 years), but "DXer" has asked Lew to delete all of his comments from the site. Since DXer probably posted at least 80% of the posts on that site, it's going to be a major project for Lew.
March 25, 2011 (A) - Dr. Meryl Nass is dismissing the report from the Expert Behavioral Analysis Panel as nothing more than "psychobabble." Click HERE for her comments and responses to her comments. Here's a sample of her thinking
Is psychobabble too strong a word to describe this outpouring of gibberish?
But, the dumbest comment Dr. Nass makes is another inexplicable and vicious attack upon Jean Duley, the therapist who notified the police and prevented Ivins from committing a second mass murder..
True to form, Representative Holt of New Jersey is also "skeptical" of the findings by the panel. In an article from the Trenton Times, he says:
“I think this just adds a little more circumstantial evidence that Ivins was the culprit,” Holt said in a telephone interview yesterday. “I don’t think it cinches the case.”
Holt added that, after rushing to conclusions in naming Dr. Steven Hatfill a “person of interest” in the case in 2002, there was little reason to believe the veracity of the FBI’s investigation into Ivins’ role in the attacks.
If the facts say it's true, but you don't want it to be true, just argue that you don't trust the people providing the facts. Does Rep. Holt also distrust everyone who provides information that supports the FBI's conclusions? It seems so.
March 24, 2011 (D) - This is from page 25 of the "Expert Behavioral Analysis Panel"report, page 35 of the pdf file:
In producing this report, panel members did not seek and did not
receive guidance from the FBI, U.S. Postal Service or any other U.S.
government agencies. The report was not reviewed by any government
official prior to its completion. Except for reimbursement for travel,
lodging and meals, Expert Panel Members received no compensation for
any of their time on this project or the resulting work product — this
But the report supports the FBI's findings, so that is enough for the Lunatic Fringe to claim bias.
March 24, 2011 (C) - I had to go back and change my (D) comment for yesterday. The 08852 ZIP Code Ivins used on the senate letters is for Monmouth Junction, New Jersey, and Ivins family on his father's side is from Monmouth, New Jersey. Plus, the KKG fraternity was founded at Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois. Coincidence? I doubt it.
March 24, 2011 (B) - Ah! There's no problem with copying and pasting from the 299 page report by the "Expert Behavioral Analysis Panel." Here's some new information about the July 9, 2008, group therapy session where Ivins told the group that he planned to murder his co-workers and go out in a "blaze of glory." I copied it from page 33 of the pdf file, page 23 of the report, and I'm pasting it here:
The two therapists who led that group therapy session were alarmed.So, contrary to some news reports and everyone on The Lunatic Fringe, the call to the police involved a lot more than just his therapist Jean Duley deciding on her own that Ivins' homicidal threats needed to be taken seriously. And the claims that the FBI told Duley to have Ivins committed are now even more preposterous than they were before.
One of them contacted Dr. Ivins’ psychiatrist, who was out of town.
After hearing what had happened, the psychiatrist instructed one of
the therapists to file an Emergency Petition for psychiatric assessment.
Dr. Ivins was involuntarily transported to Frederick Memorial Hospital
on July 10, 2008. In accordance with State of Maryland procedures,
Dr. Ivins was then examined by two physicians, who concurred that
he should be hospitalized immediately. He was transferred the next
day to a psychiatric hospital, Sheppard Pratt in Towson, Md.
Because the emergency petition is a public court document, and
because the petition referenced Dr. Ivins’ own statements that he was
already a suspect in the Amerithrax investigation, local police notified
the FBI. On July 11, FBI investigators interviewed, for the first time,
both the therapist who had sought the emergency petition and her
supervisor, the other therapist who was present in the group meeting
where Dr. Ivins had made his explicit threats. Later, the FBI also
interviewed Dr. Ivins’ psychiatrist, who had authorized the petition.
March 24, 2011 (A) - This morning, there are several more news articles about the new report from Research Strategies Network. MSNBC has an article titled "Medical records point to doctor in anthrax attacks, report says." Here are some key paragraphs:
"Dr. Ivins was psychologically disposed to undertake the mailings, his behavioral history demonstrated his potential for carrying them out, and he had the motivation and the means," they said in a report made public Wednesday.
Though many of his co-workers at the bioweapons lab in Maryland have disputed the FBI's findings, the panel found that Ivins "cultivated a persona of benign eccentricity that masked his obsessions and criminal thoughts."and
Briefing reporters on their findings, panel members also said they found no reason to question the FBI's findings that Dr. Ivins acted alone in carrying out the anthrax attacks.
The Associated Press has an article titled "Expert panel faults Army in Anthrax Case." It has this information:
The panel's report faults the investigators who screened Ivins for his security clearances and his longtime colleagues at the lab at Fort Detrick in Frederick for failing to report signs of trouble.
"Their complacency was such that in the final months of his career at USAMRIID, many of them observed his deteriorating emotional and physical condition — including a black eye from a fall due to intoxication — but did not report their observations or take other action," the report says.
"Dr. Ivins had a significant and lengthy history of psychological disturbance and diagnosable mental illness at the time he began working for USAMRIID in 1980," the report says. Those factors "would have disqualified him from a 'secret'-level security clearance had they been known. Such disqualification would have prevented him from having access to anthrax."
The Washington Times' article is titled "Panel: Anthrax-attack suspect sent up red flags," and contains this:
Asked whether Ivins was guilty and acted alone, Dr. Saathoff said that nothing his panel found “indicated otherwise.”
Dr. Saathoff said there are people familiar with Ivins who continue to stand by his innocence, but what struck the panel was Ivins‘ ability to compartmentalize.
“We were very impressed with his capacity to ‘wall-off,’” said Dr. Ronald Schouten, director of the Law and Psychiatry Service at Massachusetts General Hospital.
The Miami Herald has an article titled "FBI's anthrax suspect is likely killer, panel concludes." A key paragraph:
While titillating, the latest analysis also fails to fully close the books on the case, because no one has produced clear forensic evidence showing that Ivins dropped the letters into a mailbox in Princeton, N.J., in September and October 2001.And The New York Times has an article by Scott Shane titled "Panel on Anthrax Inquiry Finds Case Against Ivins Persuasive." Here are a couple key paragraphs:
“A man like him, who had committed repeated acts of breaking and entering as well as burglary without having been caught, would have little difficulty mailing the letters late at night or early in the morning without being seen,” the panel wrote.
It also found that Dr. Ivins, who was 62 when he died, was “homicidal” in the last weeks of his life. Only his involuntary commitment for psychiatric treatment, the panel wrote, “prevented a mass shooting and fulfillment of his promise to go out in a ‘blaze of glory,’ “ the report said.To make sure people haven't forgotten, the article by Scott Shane is also mentions this:
The F.B.I.’s investigation focused for months on another former Fort Detrick scientist,, who later sued the Justice Department and the F.B.I. for leaking confidential information about him and received a settlement worth $4.6 million in June 2008. One month later came Dr. Ivins’s suicide, by an overdose of Tylenol.
And, of course, ABC News also mentions Hatfill in their article: "Report: 2001 Anthrax Attacks were Preventable."
But, the most startling and unexpected piece of news I received this morning is that someone who has been arguing since 2001 that Muslims were behind the anthrax attacks has thrown in the towel. He emailed me: "There's no point in tilting at windmills or fighting city hall."
So, while minds haven't been changed, the number of people fighting against the facts has changed - by one.
And, while I was typing the above comment, I received a pdf copy of the 299 page report by the "Expert Behavioral Analysis Panel." So, I've got a LOT of reading to do.
March 23, 2011 (D) [MODIFIED on March 24, 2011] - Hmm. There is a lot of interesting stuff in the Executive Summary, but the most unexpected item seems to be this paragraph from page 21 of the pdf file, page 11 of the Executive Summary within the pdf file:
The return address on the letters to Senators Daschle and Leahy was also significant. As discussed in greater detail in the analysis, the ZIP Code Dr. Ivins selected likely was related to his passion for codes and laden with associations for him.
The return address ZIP Code on the senate letters was 08852. It first I thought it could be someone's birth date: August 8, 1952. But, it turns out that the code is for Monmouth, NJ, and Ivins' family on his father's side came from Monmouth, New Jersey, and the KKG fraternity was founded in Monmouth, Illinois. So, there are two connections between that ZIP code and Bruce Ivins. Can that be "just a coincidence?"
March 23, 2011 (C) - Ah! I finally found out how to get the actual report and the executive summary. The 30-page Executive Summary is HERE, and the full report is available for sale on lulu.com. Click HERE.
The full book in paper back costs $41.73 and the .pdf file costs $32.24. The 30-page Executive Summary is free.
Hmm. The Executive Summary cannot be printed and the text cannot be copied. I've never seen that before. It's going to make it difficult to discuss. Since the full book in .pdf form probably has those same features, the printed version seems like the better buy.
)(*($&^#^(!!!! You can't buy the book without becoming a member of lulu.com and providing a phone number! I was planning to buy the book today, but the idea of giving them my phone number really bugs me! The only reason they'd want it is so they can call me to try to sell me other things!
March 23, 2011 (B) - Hmm. The Research Strategies Network has just published what appear to be press release about their new report. It says:
The report was requested in a confidential order by Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. In July 2009, he asked the panel to examine “the mental health issues of Dr. Bruce Ivins and what lessons can be learned from that analysis that may be useful in preventing future bioterrorism attacks.”
So, the report wasn't produced at the request of the DOJ, but as a result of an order from a Federal Judge.
The panel furnished its report to Judge Lamberth last August, under seal. The Judge lifted the seal earlier this month and the report is being published today with redactions by the Department of Justice to protect the privacy of health professionals, law enforcement officials, and in some respects, Dr. Ivins himself. An executive summary of the report can be found at www.researchstrategiesnetwork.org.
Dr. Ivins, who projected a persona of benign eccentricity in his personal and professional life as an anthrax expert at USAMRIID in Fort Detrick, Md., portrayed himself as a far more dangerous person in meetings with a psychiatrist he saw about a year before he was hired there. Although he provided her name on disclosure forms, his revelations to this psychiatrist remained confidential to her as her records were never reviewed and she was never interviewed. She was not aware he had obtained a security clearance. The record of his treatment with her became known to Amerithrax investigative authorities only in 2008, after Dr. Ivins’ suicide. The disclosures in all likelihood would have barred his hiring because they revealed significant mental disturbance and appeared to document illegal behavior.
So, Bruce Ivins saw another psychiatrist before he was hired at USAMRIID? That would have been prior to 1981, nineteen years before his plan to murder Mara Linscott and twenty years before the anthrax mailings.
Ah! Here's an interesting part:
The report credits health care professionals who had Dr. Ivins involuntarily committed to a hospital in July 2008 with having “likely prevented a mass shooting.” Absent the professional intervention, “there is no reason to think he would not have carried out” his plan to die by police fire during such an event, the report says.
So, they credit Jean Duley with preventing a mass murder. It will be interesting to see how the conspiracy theorists and True Believers who attack and vilify Duley for telling the police about Ivins' plan will view that comment.
The report also says:
Dr. Ivins’ long tenure at USAMRIID “led to a degree of complacency toward him” that enabled him “to avoid scrutiny before and after the anthrax mailings.”
That's for certain. They allowed him to do things they shouldn't have allowed anyone to do, like leaving autoclave bags full of bacteria laying around for weeks, and working alone in his lab at night and on weekends without even questioning what he was doing.
March 23, 2011 (A) - At 11 p.m. last night, David Willman of the Los Angeles Times broke the news about what the report from Research Strategies Network says. The title of the article is "Report faults Army in 2001 anthrax mailings." The article begins with this:
The Army scientist believed responsible for the 2001 anthrax letter attacks that killed five people and crippled mail delivery in parts of the country had exhibited alarming mental problems that military officials should have noticed and acted on long before he had a chance to strike, a panel of behavioral analysts has found.
The analysts also concluded that confidential records documenting Bruce E. Ivins' psychiatric history offered "considerable additional circumstantial evidence" that he was indeed the anthrax killer.
The panel's expenses were paid by the Department of Justice, but the DOJ was not allowed to alter the report before its release (which was supposed to be this morning, but David Willman somehow got a copy last night). The panel members were allowed to examine Ivins' mental health records from his psychiatrist, and an abridged version of those records may be made public today.
March 22, 2011 (B) - The "truthers" are already busy developing their reasons to disbelieve whatever is in tomorrow's report from Research Strategies Network. Click HERE for one discussion, HERE for another. And click HERE for research on the man they say will be at the podium tomorrow.
March 22, 2011 (A) - There's going to be a news conference tomorrow where experts from Research Strategies Network will discuss aspects of the anthrax attacks from (apparently) a very different point of view. Here are the details:
NEW REPORT BY INDEPENDENT PANEL OF EXPERTS OFFERS ANALYSIS OF BEHAVIORAL ASPECTS OF THE 2001 ANTHRAX [ATTACKS]
News conference regarding the release of a special report that examines confidential material related to the 2001 anthrax attacks. (News Media Only)
In 2009, an independent Panel was convened to examine previously unreleased and confidential material relating to the 2001 anthrax attacks. The panel was made up of nine nationally prominent experts in behavioral science, toxicology, medicine, terrorism, and organizational systems and operations.
The panel's printed, bounded, 285-page report, partially redacted, will be available in limited numbers immediately following the conclusion of this press conference.
Independent Panel of National Experts; Represented by the Panel's Chairman, Vice-Chairman, and Member Representative
March 23, 2011, 8:30 a.m. EDT; 1 hour to include Q&A
University Hall (2nd Floor), The University Club of DC
1135 16th St NW
Washington, DC 20005
I could be wrong, but I think this group may have examined Bruce Ivins mental health records from his stay at Sheppard Pratt Hospital shortly before his suicide, and very possibly his records from his years of individual and group visits to Comprehensive Counseling Associates in Frederick, MD, where he twice stated plans to commit murder.
March 21, 2011 - People who do not have the CD of FBI documents sent to the NAS have asked me for more details about the calcium carbonate crystals found in the Daschle powder by scientists at Battelle. Here is the information from page 41 of B2M13.pdf (Batch2, Module 13) showing the points where they tested the crystals and what they found:
So, they found NO SILICON. They found that the elongated crystals were crystals of calcium carbonate.
My biggest question at the moment is: Why were the calcium carbonate crystals in the Daschle powder "elongated," while the calcium carbonate crystals in the New York Post powder seemed more like stones than broken sticks?
I've also been asked for more details about the morphs found in the Leahy powder. Yesterday, I wrote: " over 20 percent of the Leahy spores were morphs." Here is the breakdown from page 59 of file B1M2.pdf:
Phenotypes expressed as % of population
Small V1 1.3%
1122-26 type 1.6% (this variant may be similar to "small LL10')
"Wild-type" are normal anthrax spores. C/D, B, A and Opaque are the four morphs used to sort through all the samples in the FBI Repository to find the source used to create the spores in the anthrax letters.
I haven't yet located the same kind of information for the contents of Flask RMR-1029.
Lastly, why does the presence of the morphs and the Bacillus subtilis contamination in the environmental samples found in the AMI building tend to further rule out the notion that the J-Lo letter was a source of the anthrax infections at AMI? Because the morphs and the Bacillus subtilis are compelling evidence that the AMI anthrax came from the same batch as the Brokaw and New York Post powders. And evidence shows that the letter opened by Stephanie Dailey at AMI on September 24 or 25, 2001, was the only anthrax letter they received, because the area around her desk was thoroughly contaminated with anthrax spores, Dailey tested positive for exposure to anthrax spores, while the J-Lo letter was supposedly opened in Boca Raton on September 19, 2001, making it extremely unlikely for it to have been mailed with the found anthrax letters which were postmarked in New Jersey on September 18. Plus, of course, the person who opened the J-Lo letter tested negative for exposure, and the 3rd floor where the J-Lo letter was opened and passed around was the least contaminated area in the AMI building.
March 20, 2011 - The CD of FBI documents I received from the NAS on Thursday contains 3 main folders of documents, plus 1 folder of "Ancillary Documents," 1 folder of "Supplemental Documents" and an index, which is in the form of a .pdf file.
The 3 main folders are called "Batch 1," "Batch 2" and "Batch 3." Within each "batch" are 15 to 21 pdf files called "modules" which are identified as B1M1.pdf (Batch 1, module 1), B1M2.pdf (Batch 1, Module 2) and so on. There are also index pdf files within each of the three "batches."
Rather than just starting at the beginning and slogging my way through to the end, I decided to begin my review of the 9,600 pages of documents by skimming through the index file to see if anything of particular interest might jump out at me. Something did. I noticed that Batch 1, Module 2 contains information about the New York Post powders.
Opening that pdf file (which consists of 109 pages), the first item of interest that I found was a report by Bruce Ivins on page 3 which says that the Daschle powder contained 2.1 x 10 [to the 12th] CFUs per gram of powder material. So that official 2.1 trillion number comes from Bruce Ivins himself. (He'd also used the number in a different report that I discussed in my (A) comment on November 10, 2010, but I didn't fully accept it then. That report was on page 106 of FBI pdf file #847545. And it's on page 20 of B1M2.pdf.)
The next item of interest to attract my attention was a report on page 27 (and repeated on page 29) of B1M2.pdf. The name of the author is redacted (it's probably Peter Jahrling). The report says this about the New York Post powder:
This material contains a mixture of spores, vegetative cells, and debris. The numbers of spores is substantially less than the Daschle sample.
Several samples contained elongated crystalline materials.
Scanning electron microscope of dry powder:
The impression is confirmed that this powder is less pure than the Daschle sample with less numerous spores and more extraneous debris. There is a copious quantity of matrix material evident in some fields. This material is probably associated with the observed swelling of the powder to several times its original volume when reconstituted with aqueous diluents and the "lava lamp" effect.
Infectivity: 10-fold dilutions on TSA plates yielded titers of 2 x 10 "/gram. This is approximately 10-fold lower than the Daschle sample.
Elongated crystalline materials? Yes. It turns out that the "elongated crystals" aren't really much of a mystery. AFIP evidently didn't bother to explain the mysterious crystals they saw in the New York Post powder because they are crystals that are commonly found in spore preparations. Later in this comment, I'll explain further.
The above report says that the New York Post powder contained 1/10th the number of spores that were in the Daschle powder. And there are other reports in module B1M2 that say the same thing. A report on page 26 says there was about 1/20th the number of viable spores in the NY Post powder versus the Daschle powder. (Ivins calculated it to be 1/15th.) So, there should be no more argument about whether or not it is correct to say that the Daschle powder contained at least 10 times as many spores as the New York Post powder.
Then there's this: "There is a copious quantity of matrix material evident in some fields."
Matrix material? Looking up "matrix" in a dictionary, I found:
matrix, n. 1. originally, the womb; uterus. 2. that within which something originates, takes form, etc.
Hmm. So, all that dried material in which the spores were imbedded in the NY Post material was dried slime left over from sporulation, primarily the dissolved remains of the mother cells which created the spores?
Okay. So, I guess I'd better stop suggesting that it might be dried agar. But, do you also get all that "matrix material" when you produce spores in shaking flasks or a fermenter? Wouldn't all or most of the "matrix material" get dissolved in the water and go along with the water when you remove the water from the spores? I can see how you'd have lots of "matrix material" surrounding spores grown on plates, but it's not as easy to visualize when spores are produced in flasks or a fermenter.
Of course, "matrix material" might also mean dried agar. Other definitions might suggest that as a possible meaning, but the dried and dissolved mother cell slime seems much more applicable.
Hopefully, there will be more about it on other pages in the 9,600 pages, in other 'modules" in other batches.
Meanwhile, I noticed something else of interest. Starting on page 80 of B1M2.pdf there is a "Technical Report" dated December 22, 2006, from Patricia Worsham of USAMRIID which states that the environmental samples taken from the AMI building show the same Bacillus subtilis contamination as the New York Post and Brokaw powders. Page 84 says they found Bacillus subtilis that seemed indistinguishable from what was found in the Brokaw and NYP powders. And, they also found 3 of the 4 morphs.
Here are the statements from page 84:
Morphotypes phenotypically similar to those observed in the Leahy, Daschle, and New York Post samples were identified in an environmental isolate from the AMI building in Boca Raton, Florida.
A hemolytic non-anthracis Bacillus species that was previously isolated from the New York Post material was also observed in the AMI sample.
Ah! That's further evidence that the contents of the AMI letter were the same as the Brokaw and NY Post letters. It is evidence that the letter opened by Stephanie Dailey at AMI was the one and only anthrax letter received at AMI, and it further rules out any connection between the anthrax attacks and the J-Lo letter, which True Believers hold so dear to their hearts and beliefs.
And it is also further evidence that the Brokaw and New York Post powders were just as deadly as the AMI powder, even though there were two inhalation cases in Florida and no cutaneous cases, while in New York there were mostly cutaneous cases. The lone New York exception - Kathy Nguyen - contracted inhalation anthrax the same way Bob Stevens and Ernesto Blanco did in Florida, from a powder that was at least 90 percent harmless debris.
Over the years, I must have been in dozens of arguments with people who complained that the FBI never checked the AMI building for the Bacillus subtilis contaminants found in the Brokaw and Post letters. It was evidence that I didn't see as important, since it was totally clear to me that the AMI powder must have been from the same batch as the Brokaw and Post powders because the letters were all mailed from the same place at the same time. But, for "truthers," it was crucial to their belief that the AMI powder be different from and more potent than the Brokaw and Post powders. And now we see that the testing for Bacillus subtilis was done. And, the Bacillus subtilis was there in the AMI building, further confirming that the material for the media letters all came from the same batch.
I have no doubt, however, that the "truthers" will find some way to dismss or distort this information so they can continue believing what they want to believe. (NOTE: I had made a further comment here about what one "truther" seems to have been suggesting about the motivations of scientists who worked with the FBI on the Amerithrax investigation, and I soon received an email from him containing what appears to be a threat: "this is a reckless falsehood on which you are notice." I think he's saying that he's putting me "on notice," whatever that means. As a result, however, I deleted what I had written about "truthers" and their apparent explanations for why scientists working on the Amerithrax investigation do not agree with the "truthers.")
Another interesting item I noted in module B1M2 was information on page 59 that over 20 percent of the Leahy spores were morphs. That's a much larger percentage of morphs than I'd been assuming, although I don't recall ever making a comment about it. It's good to know for future reference. It's from a May 6, 2005 report from Dr. Patricia Worsham.
In a report from Dr. Worsham dated March 28. 2007, on pages 91 to 95, it says on page 94:
The percentage of the [Bacillus subtilis] contaminant in the New York Post material has been estimated at approximately 0.3%.
That's another interesting number to know. The tiny percentage is the reason I didn't believe they'd bother to look for Bacillus subtilis in the AMI building, even though I had been assuming that the percentage was 3 to 10 times larger.
The report shows that Dr. Worsham tried looking for Bacillus subtilis bacteria in many (or all) of the samples in the FBI Repository, but didn't find it any any. I see in the index that there is a lot more information about the testing for Bacillus subtilis. That will have to wait for some other day and some other comment from me.
At this point, I had planned to get back to working on my book, but, instead, after I finished writing the above comments, I decided to skim through a few more .pdf files from the FBI documents CD. While doing so, I found the image of crystals in the Daschle powder that "Anonymous" implied was mostly silicon when he stated, "The elongated crystals are referred to in the Amerithrax weekly reports as being composed of a silicon compound."
The image is from page 26 (or page 55) of B2M13.pdf (Batch 2, Module 13). On page 39 it says very clearly that the crystals in the image are calcium carbonate crystals. The analysis was performed at Battelle on October 19, 2001.
Here's the image that "Anonymous" put on Lew Weinstein's web site along with his text and red outlining:
Here's what calcium carbonate crystals look like:
Note that the scale is a perfect match.
And calcium carbonate crystals also come in chunks that look very much like what was seen in the New York Post powder by AFIP. Here's the SEM image from AFIP:
Here's a picture of chunks or crystals of calcium carbonate (note that the scales are a good match):
The text on page 39 of pdf file B2M13 says:
Additional particle size information can be gleaned from the SEM images seen in Images 1 through 4. Clearly the spores correspond to the indicated size of ~1.5 µm in the aerosol data, and the crystalline additive corresponds to the much larger particles.
Electron microprobe analysis of selected portions of the sample was performed to elucidate the composition of the additive(s) in the powder formulation.
The second image focused on some isolated crystal faces, and the summary elemental abundance information is shown for both spots analyzed. The presence of collocated Ca, O, and C is consistent with CaCO3, and the crystal habit seen is one of the many possible for that mineral. CaCO3 is not a recognized part of any formulation reported for FSU or U.S. programs. It has been reported as a precipitating agent for use in small scale processing of microbial pesticides by Russian workers, however. This is a potential explanation if the presence of CaCO3 is confirmed by subsequent analysis.
A chart on page 41 shows the following breakdown of the crystals by element percentages (mean averages):
So, there was NO Silicon in the elongated crystals. It is NOT a "silicon compound." The components are Calcium (Ca) combined with 1 atom of Carbon (C) and 3 atoms of Oxygen (O) making CaCO3.
Where did the calcium carbonate come from? Initially, I presumed it came from the water. Calcium carbonate is the principal cause of hard water. It's also a common substance found in rocks all over the world. I thought it might show that Ivins used tap water to wash the spores off the plates, and he may also have used tap water to wash debris off the spores. I assumed that there would be further details elsewhere in the 9,600 pages.
Anxious for another opinion, I emailed the information about the crystals to a scientist and was told that it is common for sporulation media to include calcium carbonate because spores need the calcium. So, the crystals come from the sporulation media? The scientist thought it was extremely odd that AFIP didn't mention the composition of the crystals they saw during their examination of the NY Post powder. Did they simply assume that everyone would know the crystals were calcium carbonate?
Why did "Anonymous" claim that the crystals were a "silicon compound"? Perhaps he was reading what appears to be Battelle's analysis of a clump of spores from the Daschle letter. It's on page 40. Those spores consisted of the following percentages of elements:
Does this solve the AFIP mystery? Probably. But, before saying it does, I think I'd better wait until I've gone through a lot more of the 9,600 pages of scientific data, and until more than one real expert on the subject states publicly and in writing that it truly is calcium carbonate. The "mystery" has been solved twice before, only to become unsolved again.
Interestingly and significantly, "Anonymous" didn't provide any information to enable others to find the original location of the image he used in his posting, and, of course, he also didn't provide the location of the Amerithrax weekly report which he claims states that that specific image of "elongated crystals" is a "silicon compound." But, until I find the Amerithrax weekly report he used, I can't state for certain that he deliberately misled people, even though it certainly seems that way.
And, I've used up this week's allotted time for digging through the 9,600 pages. I've got to get back to work on my new book. I spent most of last week working on it. I awoke each morning thinking about what I was going to do that day, ready and anxious to start writing. That's very different from previous weeks when I seemed to wake up nearly every morning wondering what the reaction had been to some argument I had posted the previous evening to Lew Weinstein's blog. Now, I'm totally focused on the book - when I'm not looking through the 9,600 pages of FBI data.
I'm even printing out the finished pages and putting them into a binder. It's a readable first draft, which means I'm spending a lot of time rewriting sentences to get them as "readable" as I can make them. The sentences aren't just about presenting facts, they are sentences that are meant to fit smoothly together, they're concise, they're interesting and they make you want to read more. And the paragraphs make you want to read more paragraphs. And the chapters make you want to read more chapters. At least that's my hope.
& Changes: Sunday, March 13, 2011, thru Saturday, March 19, 2011
March 17, 2011 - The CD finally arrived with the 9,600 pages of FBI documents sent to the NAS. Delivery was evidently delayed because the package was originally sent to my old address, even though my letter asking for the CD used my new address.
Anyway, I now have plenty of reading to do when I can find the time. (I'm really chugging along on my new book, and I'm currently working on the section dedicated to Ivins as he started preparing the anthrax letters. The new CD presumably relates mostly to the FBI looking at evidence that eventually pointed to Ivins as the anthrax mailer.)
Until I get to the part of my book where I'll really need to review the FBI documents, I'll try to set aside some time each week (probably on Saturday, so I can comment on it on Sunday) to review the documents. Anyone interested in obtaining a copy of the documents for themselves can do so by sending an email to the NAS to ask for instructions on how to get the CD of 9,600 FBI documents from NAS project BLSX-K-08-10-A.
March 13, 2011 (B) - Ah! A lot of free time just opened up for me to work on my book. Lew Weinstein just banned me from posting to his blog and deleted some of my recent posts questioning the reasoning behind their attacks on Jean Duley. Here is Lew's explanation for why he banned me:
I find that I not only disagree with much of what you say, but also that your unremitting and often illogical support of the FBI's unproven assertions is a distraction to continued serious study and analysis of those facts which the FBI has grudgingly released.
I certainly wouldn't want to interfere with the "serious study and analysis" of "facts" on that site. So, now they can all just agree that the FBI is wrong about everything without agreeing with each other about what is right.
March 13, 2011 (A) - I began this week working fast and furious on my new book. I was trying to figure out the order of the steps that Bruce Ivins must have gone through to construct the hidden message in the media letters. We know he used the logic and rules described in one of his favorite books, "Gödel, Escher Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid" by Douglas R. Hofstadter. But what were the individual steps that Ivins went through?
It seems a near certainty that he put together the decoded message first:
TTT = Phenylalanine (single-letter designator F)
AAT = Asparagine (single-letter designator N)
TAT = Tyrosine (single-letter designator Y)
The three letter codons (TTT, AAT and TAT) were from an article titled "The Linquistics of DNA" published in the November-December 1992 issue of American Scientist Journal. Ivins had saved the article and used it as a reference. Codes had always fascinated Ivins. (Remember, he'd even broken into Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority houses years ago to steal their secret ritual code books.) Amazingly, the three three-letter condons translated to relate to both of the female colleagues with whom he'd been fixated for years. That must have been a sheer delight for him. Spelling out PAT (for Patricia) also resulted in FNY as the single-letter designators, which ridiculed Mara's love of New York City. It's amazing that he didn't use that code elsewhere or tell people about it. (He did talk about similar codes, though.)
Codons are identified with groups of three letters, so, as his next step, he had to tell the reader of the final letter that the number 3 was important for decoding the hidden message within the letter. Writing in three word sentences would do that. So, he had to write a readable letter in three word sentences which contained words which contained A's and T's in the right order. How does one go about doing that?
He would have started by looking for a three word sentence that began with a highlighted character and ended with a highlighted character. The highlighted characters in the four corners of the letter would be another indicator that a hidden message was contained in the letter ( but only to people looking for hidden messages). Since he wanted the letter to appear to be a threat letter from Muslim terrorists, the first three word sentence to occur to him was very likely:
ALLAH IS GREAT
But that sentence couldn't be the first line. It had to be the last line or somewhere in the middle. So, what three word sentence could he write that begins with a T and ends with a T? Eventually, he came up with:
THIS IS NEXT
That posed a problem for me that I hadn't thought about before. The time needed to put together the coded message very strongly suggests that the hidden message and letter were developed long before 9/11. And, the handwriting seems to confirm that the letter was written at minimum a couple weeks before 9/11. So, what did "THIS IS NEXT" mean prior to 9/11? Next after what?
Did Bruce Ivins plan to commit some other kind of "Muslim terrorist" act and then follow it up with one or more anthrax letters containing the note? That's very possible, but I don't have any evidence to support the idea.
Perhaps Ivins constructed the coded letter after some real attack by Muslim extremists prior to 9/11.
The first one that comes to mind is the truck bomb attack upon the North Tower of the World Trade Center way back on February 26 of 1993. That probably wasn't it, although it could have been. It just seems too far back in history, and there's nothing to support any idea that Ivins was plotting destructive acts in 1993.
In December of 1999, authorities exposed an al Qaeda plan where a terrorist had entered the U.S. via Canada to blow up Los Angeles International Airport (a.k.a. LAX) on New Years Eve. The al Qaeda terrorist was caught at the immigration station in Port Angeles, Washington. It was a major news story. The terrorist actually broke free and ran a few blocks before he was tackled and caught again.
That's a definite possibility. Ivins was having serious mental issues at that time. A few months earlier, Mara Linscott had left Ft. Detrick to go back to college, a "betrayal" that had shattered Ivins' mental stability. It was just a month or so later that Ivins sought out professional help from a psychiatrist for the first time. Could he have sought out professional help because his initial plan to use the letter to send anthrax through the mails after seeing the LAX plot on TV had scared the hell out of him? When he had an opportunity to think clearly about what he was planning to do, did he realize it was totally insane? In February of 2000, Ivins went to see Dr. Allen Levy at Comprehensive Counseling Associates because Ivins decided he needed help to stop his dangerous impulses. Hmm. The pieces really fit.
The terrorist attack upon the destroyer "Cole" in Yemen occurred on October 12, 2000. That was just a few months after Ivins had planned to murder his former colleague Mara Linscott. But it's hard to see "THIS IS NEXT" referring back to that attack, since the attack didn't occur in the U.S. I'm going to stick with the LAX idea for now.
So, the facts seem to indicate that Ivins constructed the media letter to contain the coded message in response to the plan to blow up LAX, but then, for some reason, he changed his mind about implementing the plan (just as he'd changed his mind about murdering Mara Linscott in June of 2000). But, the coded message was still complete and not forgotten. It was ready for the next time he might think about sending anthrax through the mails. It could have been a typed or computer printer letter, or a letter written with his left hand instead of his right. It wasn't the final version of the letter. The facts say that version didn't get written until late August of 2001.
I also wondered about the second line of the media letter. Did Ivins first write it this way?:
TAKE PENICILLIN NOW
Or this way?:
TAKE ANTIBIOTICS NOW
And did he then realize that it was better and more in keeping with Gödel, Escher Bach to do it this way?:
TAKE PENACILIN NOW
A misspelled word with a highlighted letter right in the middle of the misspelling was a perfect device to tell people looking for hidden messages that there was one hidden here. That was pure GED reasoning.
Anyway, that's what I was doing when I got distracted by learning that information I'd been using in arguments for NINE YEARS was untrue. For NINE YEARS I'd been arguing with "truthers" that it did not take a super-sophisticated U.S. government bioweapons program to refine spores to one trillion spores per gram. For NINE YEARS, newpapers and magazines and everyone else had been saying that the anthrax in the senate letters had been refined to one trillion spores per gram. And now, suddenly, I realized that page 62 of the NAS report stated that the senate attack powders had been refined to more than TWO trillion spores per gram.
Eventually, it turned out that it wasn't a major revelation, and it didn't really alter anything important. But, for a couple days it was all I could think about. I tried to figure out all the implications, figuring them wrong and then having to go back and redo things to get them right. There were twice as many Bacillus anthracis spores in the letters than I'd been saying for NINE YEARS, but I was being told that scientists routinely purify spores of other Bacillus species to more than THREE trillion spores per gram. And since Ba bacteria double every 20 minutes or so, going from one trillion to two trillion merely took another 20 minutes -- theoretically. So, the new information was no big deal. But, it played havoc with my confidence for a day or so. (Going from 232 plates to 463 plates can't occur in 20 minutes, so I'm still a bit unsure of all the implications.)
During this time last week, I also learned that a year before the anthrax attacks, Building 1425 had temporarily housed an outpatient health clinic that served Fort Detrick service members and their families. In 2000, USAMRIID had regained the space with the opening of the Barquist Health Care Facility for the service members and families elsewhere on the Ft. Detrick grounds. That change may have played a role in why Ivins was "moved out" of his lab in Building 1412 and back into Building 1425. No big deal in that information, either.
I ended the week in a fascinating and very heated debate with a conspiracy theorist who raged at me by attacking Ivins' therapist Jean Duley with comments attached to one Internet article after another (HERE, HERE, HERE) about Duley, beginning with an attack on me and how I pick on poor Dr. Ivins by calling him a "sociopath" and a "burglar," even though Ivins was diagnosed as a sociopath by a psychiatrist and he fully admitted to numerous burglaries. Here's how the conspiracy theorist began linking me to Jean Duley:
Your fanatical campaign against Dr Ivins is truly distasteful. I seriously suggest you seek counseling. I recommend Jean Duley – a highly respected theripist.
Then he followed up with all the other posts attacking Duley, and he was joined by another "truther" as well.
The argument ended yesterday evening with me wondering about the sanity of these "truthers." (My post has since been removed, and I've been banned from the site.) Do they really think that Jean Duley did something wrong by notifying the police about Ivins' plans to kill his co-workers at USAMRIID and "go out in a blaze of glory?"
Why don't they also attack the counselor who notified the police about Ivins' plan to poison a young woman (now known to be his former colleague Mara Linscott) in June of 2000? Is it because they don't know enough about that other counselor to find things in her background that they can use for personal attacks?
But, most of all, what are they arguing? Are they arguing that Ivins should have been allowed to go through with his second plan for mass murder because he hadn't yet been tried and convicted for his first mass murder?
Are they arguing that if they don't like someone's background, that person should not be allowed to prevent a mass murder?
Earlier, one True Believer seemed to justify Ivins' plans for mass murder with this distortion of the facts:
Most anyone would be homicidal if the FBI were going to test his semen on panties and call his family
Ivins plan for mass murder was stated to his therapy group on July 9, 2008. It is not being questioned. It was a therapy group. There were 12 to 15 members of the group who witnessed Ivins state his plan for mass murder. And, the police found the bullet proof vest and other things which confirmed that Ivins' plan was real.
Yet, the truthers argue .... what? What are they arguing? That Jean Duley was wrong in stopping those plans for mass murder? Or, are they saying that they don't believe Ivins really planned to commit mass murder, and that everyone should have just let him proceed to confirm that his plans were real by committing mass murder before doing anything about it? Or are they just mindlessly arguing without even thinking about what they are saying?
Why are they vilifying someone who prevented a mass murder? Do they want to make sure that no mental health care professional ever blows the whistle and comes forward to prevent mass murders in the future?
For many years, I've been thinking about developing a list of the most STUPID arguments the conspiracy theorists and True Believers have come up with. The arguments suggesting that no one should have prevented Ivins from committing mass murder would have to be #1 on that list - - far far above every other crazy argument.
& Changes: Sunday, March 6, 2011, thru Saturday, March 12, 2011
March 11, 2011 (B) - A document describing steps done at Dugway to simulate what the anthrax mailer may have done to create the attack spores contains this description of how their agar plates of spores were created:
a. Stock spore inoculum will be spread onto large SBA plates in a concentration sufficient to promote overnight confluent growth over the entire agar surface (the amount will be determined by previous investigation). The plates will be incubated at approximately 37±2°C for a minumum of 3 days and up to 9 days (sufficient to produce a yield of 90 to 95 percent spores).
This seems to be nearly identical to and may directly relate to the Cerrera et. al. (2007) study in that Cerrera et. al. may also have allowed the growth to continue until it covered the entire agar surface. If so, that means that Ivins would have had to use several hundred plates. But, how many plates would there be in the autoclave bags in Ivins' lab at any one time? Dozens? Hundreds? That information is still missing.
March 11, 2011 (A) - I'm never going to finish my book if I keep getting distracted by other things. Right now, I'm still concerned about the minimum number of plates that would be necessary to create 3.7 trillion spores.
On page 62 of the NAS report, they used a figure of 8 billion spores per plate. (8 x 10 to the 9th) That meant that the culprit would have required 463 plates.
The NAS got their 8 billion spores number from "Cerrera et al. (2007)".
Going to the Bibliography, I find:
Cerrera, M., Zandomei, R.O., Fitzgibbon, J., and J.L. Sagripanti. (2007) Difference between the spore sizes of Bacillus anthracis and other Bacillus species. J Appl Microbiol, 102(2), 303-312.
That reference led to HERE. That link leads the full article which can be viewed by clicking HERE. And that article contains this:
Growth and preparation of spores
Pathogenic B. anthracis spores were prepared in the BSL3 facility of the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD, USA). A loopful of cells from a freshly grown agar plate was inoculated into a small volume (5 ml) of trypticase soy broth (Difco, Kansas City, MO, USA), and the culture was shaken for 6 h at 37°C in a shaker set at 230 rev min−1. Aliquots of this culture (300 μl) were spread over the surface of six 150-mm plates, containing a modified medium derived from sporulation medium S (from Schaeffer et al. 1965). The final formulation that we used consisted of: 0·8% nutrient broth (Remel, Lenexa, KS, USA), 0·2% KCl, 0·05% MgSO4, 1·5% agar (Difco, Kansas City, MO, USA), 5-mmol l−1 Ca(NO3)2, 0·01% MnCl2, 1-μM FeCl2 and 0·1% glucose. The plates were incubated inside a plastic bag to provide a humid atmosphere from 2 to 10 days or until at least 95% of the cells had formed spores free of sporangia. The degree of sporulation was judged on a daily basis by phase-contrast optical microscopy at 1000× total magnification. After adding 15 ml of cold phosphate buffered saline and incubating the plates for 10 min at room temperature, the spores were gently scraped from the plates. The spores in the suspension were pelleted by centrifugation and washed repeatedly with sterile distilled water. The spores were thoroughly washed six to ten times or until the microscopic examination indicated the absence of debris from cell lysis. After each wash, the spores were collected by low-speed centrifugation (2000 g). The spores used in this study appeared clean by microscopic examination, and did not need additional purification steps, such as lysozyme digestion (Prentice et al. 1972) or gradient centrifugation (Tamir and Gilvarg 1966).
Hmm. They grew the spores in plastic bags? That's a step in the right direction, but I have to wonder if that is some kind of standard process.
The article also says;
Most (four of the seven) strains of B. anthracis studied produced a high yield (8 × 109 or more spores per plate) when sporulated at temperatures between 36 and 37°C.
So, they used incubator temperatures. 37°C = 99°F. And that is where the 8 billion spores per plate number came from.
They watched the growth until "95% of the cells had formed spores free of sporangia." Sporangia is the "container" in which a spore is formed, i.e., the mother cell. So, they waited until enzymes had dissolved the mother cells away on 95% of the spores. Does that mean that all the bacteria had stopped reproducing? Or does it mean that in the center of the colonies all the bacteria had run out of media and were forming spores, while at the edges of the colonies there was still a lot of media left and bacteria were still growing there? I'll have to check to find out.
March 10, 2011 (C) - I can't be certain that it's the first mention of a "trillion spores per gram," but William Broad of The New York Times wrote an article dated December 3, 2001, which contained this:
"The quality of the spores is very good," said a federal science adviser who shared the Patrick report with The New York Times. "This is very high-quality stuff" -- equal, he said, in concentration to that produced by the United States military before it abandoned germ weapons.
The high quality, the adviser said, lends credence to the idea that someone with links to military laboratories or their contractors might be behind the attacks. "It's frightening to think that one of our own scientists could have done something like this," he said. "But it's definitely possible."
He said the anthrax sent to the Senate contained as many as one trillion spores per gram, a figure confirmed by an administration official.
A gram is just one-twenty-eighth of an ounce. Yet in comprising up to one trillion spores, a gram of anthrax powder has vast potential to kill. If a lethal dose is estimated conservatively at 10,000 microscopic spores, then a gram in theory could cause about 100 million deaths.Other, later mentions of a trillion spores per gram can be found HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.
March 10, 2011 (B) - The two trillion spores per gram figure used by the NAS on page 62 of their report is correct. No one I've been in contact with seems to know where the media got the one trillion spore figure from. It's just more erroneous reporting by the media. But the doubling of the numbers really isn't very significant.
In one discussion on this subject, a microbiologist wrote:
When you are dealing with numbers in the trillions, one doesn’t concern onself with a 2X difference.
I know that as a layperson, this makes no sense whatsoever.
But to a microbiologist:
1 trillion = 2 trillion
1 trillion vs 4 trillion?
A gray area.
1 trillion DOES NOT EQUAL 10 trillion.
When dealing with numbers such as these, and the uncertainty in obtaining such numbers, orders of magnitude, or perhaps half an order of magnitude is significant.
2X don’t mean shit!
That particular expert believes Ivins was innocent, yet she doesn't seen any importance to the larger number. It doesn't take twice as long to create double the number, it just takes another 20 minutes. Twenty minutes is how long it takes on average for living Bacillus anthracis bacteria to double in number.
And a microbiologist close to the investgation just wrote me:
The estimate has always been 2e12 spores per gram. The DOJ Investigative summary quotes a count of 2.1e12 per gram at the top of p 16.
Checking the top of page 16 of the Summary Report, I found it says:
When a noted bioweaponeer from the U.S. offensive bio-weapons program of the 1960s learned that the spores were dried to the concentration of 2.10 x 10 [to the 12th] colony-forming units per gram, he observed, “NOW the price of poker just went up.”
So, we're actually talking about 2.1 trillion colony forming units per gram of spores in the senate letters. That means there could be more spores in the gram of powder that were dead and couldn't form colonies, plus there might be some colonies that were formed by two or more spores, which would further increase the number of actual spores in a gram of the attack anthrax powders.
Yet, that just means that creating the spores for the attack letters required only 20 minutes longer than I previously believed, and, of course, according to the best experts it could still have been done very easily in the time Ivins had to do it. And the number of plates is probably based upon some standard time for growing bacteria on plates, whereas the culprit probably grew material on plates for weeks, unconcerned with any standards. Thus, he needed far fewer plates than the standard procedures require.
I was shaken up by the new number (two trillion spores per gram) which was twice the number that I've been using for nine years, and I didn't spend enough time to think through the actual significance of the difference. Live and learn.
March 10, 2011 (A) - While doing research yesterday, I discovered that Building 1425 was expanded or renovated significantly sometime during the 2003 to 2005 time period. That means that the pictures of Building 1425 I displayed on February 27 do not or may not show how the building looked in 2001. If there were additions made to the rear of the building, in 2001 it may have been a slightly longer walk between Building 1425 and Building 1412. But, everything else - the in-out logs, etc. - remains unchanged. Or the "renovations" may only have been to the inside of the building.
One document I found that describes some details about the expansion says:
Wilhelmsen explains that prior to the renovation, aerosol-exposed animals were removed from biosafety cabinets through a double door pass box or autoclave while contained within biohazard bags or within rodent cages draped with disinfectant-moistened cloths. The contained animals were then hand-carried or transported on a cart to the animal holding room, and passed through an open room door to a gowned technician wearing respiratoryprotective equipment.
“Originally our design included double door autoclaves to be included as part of the Class III biosafety cabinets,” says Wilhelmsen. “However in the redesign we eliminated those autoclaves to create a more comfortable environment for animals inside the cabinets.” USAMRIID installed instead a custom-designed bulk autoclave in the hallway just outside of the ABSL-3 lab. The chamber of the autoclave is over 7 feet high, 7 feet long, and 4 feet wide, which can accommodate a 2-over-2So, the implication seems to be that most autoclaves in Building 1425 before the renovation were double-door autoclaves where one door was built into the side of a biosafety cabinet or a wall, and the other side was on the other side of the wall, where the sterilized materials were removed. That seems to confirm that Ivins didn't have to go into another room to get to material that had been in autoclave bags for weeks.
nonhuman primate cage rack or comparably sized rabbit cage.
March 9, 2011 - Hmm. Demonstrating once again the occasional value of arguing with "truthers," an argument today was about how many spores were in the anthrax letters. The "truther," of course was using a number about ten times greater than what seemed correct. But, then he cited the NAS report as the source for his data.
Checking page 62 of the NAS report, I found that they used a figure of two trillion spores per gram for the letters (2 x 10 to the 12th). For the past nine years, every scientist I know has been using one trillion spores per gram (10 to the 12th). In the early days, that concentration was considered phenomenal by many people, and proof of some super-sophisticated bioweapons program. But, microbiologists explained that a spore weighs 1 trillionth of a gram, so any concentration of spores MUST be one trillion spores per gram.
Now we've got a number that is double that? I've been hunting through the NAS report looking for some explanation of where the figure came from, but, so far no luck. I've also sent the NAS an email to see if they know where it came from.
March 9, 2011 (A) - As I'd hoped, there are a bunch of news articles available this morning which analyze the newly published scientific report from the University of Maryland, and those news articles include interviews with scientists who wrote or who have read the report.
NPR has an article titled "Lab Vs. Courtroom: Different Definitions of Proof," which seems to suggest that further work is being done to confirm or to determine if it is possible to distinguish one batch of anthrax from another. That could eliminate all the concerns the NAS had about proving that flask RMR-1029 was the source of the attack anthrax. If you have 1,000 batches of anthrax and it can be scientifically proven that a sample was regrown from batch #478 and not from any other batch in the 1,000, then that would also eliminate hypothetical batch #1,001 and fantasy batch #1,002.
According to the NPR article:
It's not certain that each batch has a distinctive signature.
"We're going to go and look," [Paul Keim] says. "We're going to go look and see if there is, in fact, a unique genetic signature in every single batch. Theory says there should be."UPI has an article titled "Science behind anthrax letters revealed" with more on the same subject:
"We found unique bio-markers to help investigators track down the source of the anthrax," said Steven Salzberg, director of the University of Maryland Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology. "At first the tiny mutations were elusive. We thought we'd pieced together the 'jigsaw puzzle' of data very neatly, until we ended up with a few oddball bits left over. When we looked more closely, we found an extra copy of a critical gene."
Fortunately for them anthrax bacteria mutate slowly,said co-author Mihai Pop.
"If you isolate a colony of bacteria in a test tube, they'll slowly accumulate random mutations that make them distinct from any other samples of the same type of bacteria," Pop said.
March 8, 2011 (B) - I've plowed through the new article from researchers at the University of Maryland that I wrote about in my (A) comment earlier this morning. It was slow going, since it's all about DNA variations and extremely technical. I've found nothing to quote or cite for use in a comment here. There is a lot of detail about the morphs and how they differed from one another and from "normal" anthrax DNA, but the press release seems to provide much better quotes than the article itself.
March 8, 2011 (A) - Researchers at the University of Maryland have published a new report about their role in the Amerithrax investigation. The press release announces that it was published in yesterday's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The article titled "Bacillus anthracis comparative genome analysis in support of the Amerithrax investigation" is available for free.
The press release says:
Researchers at the Institute for Genome Sciences at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and collaborators at the FBI, the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases and Northern Arizona University have published the first scientific paper based on their investigation into the anthrax attacks of 2001.
Articles about the press release can be found HERE and HERE. The press release contains some interesting things, such as:
There were four types of these variations found in the anthrax that came in the letters. Scientists eventually discovered that the anthrax used in the attacks was the product of at least two different production batches of anthrax that had been mixed together, each with its own unique distribution of variants. Mixing the batches created a unique combination of genetic signatures that later helped them track the spore preparations back to the source flask in the lab of Dr. Ivins.The two different batches are presumably the "batch" created at Dugway and the "batch" created at Ft. Detrick, but this is the first I've heard that they could tell that some of the morphs came from one batch and some from another.
It seems that the report might contradict the findings by the NAS which indicated that nothing was conclusive regarding the link between flask RMR-1029 and the anthrax letters, but I'll have to read the actual 6 page report to make sure. I'll report on that in another comment.
March 6, 2011 (B) - This morning I wrote about unidentified rooms at USAMRIID where Ivins appears to have entered during his evening visits to Building 1425, but I don't want to leave the impression that that information is what is most important about Ivins' evening work hours during August, September and October of 2001. What is most important is his unexplained times in the Bio-Safety Level 3 (BSL-3) area identified as B301. Those are the times upon which the FBI investigation focused.
I don't know exactly what is in the BSL-3 room Ivins entered when he used the key pad, but it's the "hot" area where he could have been working on very dangerous materials. The in-out times are typically recorded as 3 log entries,
B301 IN/M - which is the time he entered the locker room.
B301 KEYPAD - which is the time he entered the BSL-3 area controlled by the keypad.
B301 OUT/M - which is the time he left the locker room.
Unfortunately, he didn't have to use the keypad to get out of the BSL-3 room, so the time between using the keypad and the time he left the locker room include the time to change clothes and maybe to take a shower.
The FBI identified 36 times that Ivins was in the BSL-3 room between August 1 and October 10. Here they are:
NOTE #1 - It seems that Ivins really began his unexplained evening activities on Monday, August 13, 2001, when he worked 3 hours and 11 minutes in the BSL-3 area for some reason of his own, and he hadn't even worked any evenings at all in the nine prior days. After the 13th, he works many evenings, sometimes entering the BSL-3 area twice in a single evening. The real surge begins on August 31 when he starts working every evening until September 11, a..k.a. 9/11.
NOTE #2 - The horrendous events of 9/11 evidently gave him pause - possibly generating a major change in plans of some kind. The facts indicate the letter had been written, but there was no date at the top. He had to add it. And it is very likely that the envelopes had not yet been addressed. He had to rethink things, he had to add the date, and he may possibly have changed or added new addressees to the list of who would be sent envelopes filled with anthrax. If he decided he needed to add more letters to his mailing, that would mean creating more anthrax powder.
NOTE #3 - Starting on Friday September 14, Ivins began a true surge of activity, working 2 hours and 15 minutes on the 14th and another 2 hours and 15 minutes on the Saturday the 15th. Then, on the evening of Sunday the 16th, he worked 2 sessions in the BSL-3 area, totalling 2 hours and 37 minutes. Then he did nothing in his lab on the evening of the 17th, when he entered Building 1425 at 7 p.m. and left again 13 minutes later. The first anthrax letters had been prepared and were ready to be mailed later that night.
NOTE #4 - There's a very interesting gap in Ivins' evening work hours after the first mailing. Ivins worked twice in the BSL-3 area on the 16th of September, and then didn't enter the BSL-3 area again in the evening until the 25th, nine days later. That's the biggest gap since the August 4 to 13 gap. He worked in his lab on most of those evenings, but not in the BSL-3 area. Evidently, he was waiting to see the effects of his action.
NOTE #5 - While it appears that Ivins may have begun doing work for the second mailing starting as early as September 25, the real surge of work for the second mailing seems to begin on October 3.
Ivins doesn't appear to have worked in the evenings at all on Saturday the 6th and Sunday the 7th of October, the times when he could have driven to New Jersey to mail the second batch of letters. Since he appears to have completed his work on the senate letters on Friday the 5th, it may have been a real decision for Ivins to actually mail the letters after the news media started reporting on the illness and then the death of Bob Stevens.
These unexplained hours when Ivins was working alone in his BSL-3 lab, and the way they fit so nicely to the anthrax mailings, are very incriminating. Combined with his lack of any alibi for the times of the mailings, they are also damning.
And, for the "truthers" who will argue that it is not uncommon for a scientist to work long hours in the evenings, I'll put a copy of the graph from the top of this web site here to show that it was uncommon for Bruce Ivins:
March 6, 2011 (A) - Unless something very unexpected and important pops up, I think I'm finished with my research into Bruce Ivins' early years prior to his going to work for the government, and I'm also done with researching his burglaries of KKG sororities while working for the government, his harassment of Nancy Haigwood in the 1980's, his search for help in dealing with his psychological problems in early 2000, and his plan to murder his former colleague Mara Linscott in June of 2000. That brings me to researching the period just before the first mailing of the anthrax letters.
The first questions I felt I needed to research were: When and why was Ivins "moved out" of Building 1412. I'd thought that Ivins' lab was in 1412 until he was moved to Building 1425. Research showed that wasn't the case.
I'm still looking for solid information to confirm it, but, as near as I can determine, Ivins always had a lab in Building 1425. However, starting some time in late 1997 and lasting until late in 2000, he also had a lab in room 115 in Building 1412. That explains how flask RMR-1029 could have been always stored in Building 1425 while Ivins seemed to be working in Building 1412 during those years. (As you may recall, Ivins originally put Building 1412 on the log sheet as the storage location for flask RMR-1029, but then later whited it out and wrote Building 1425 instead. He'd evidently planned to move all or most of his lab to Building 1412, but that never happened. So, while he may have worked primarily in Building 1412 during those three years, he still maintained a lab in Building 1425 where flask RMR-1029 was stored. And, in late 2000 he was "moved out" of Building 1412 and his primary lab once again was back in Building 1425.) His office was apparently always in 1425.
Here's a statement from a July 11, 2008 search warrant that indicates Ivins had multiple rooms in Building 1425:
I am a(n) Postal Inspector with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and have reason to believe that
• on the person of or [x] on the property or premises known as (name description and or location)
the office, wall lockers and laboratory space of Bruce Edwards Ivins inside Buildings 1412 and 1425 of the United
States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases ("USAMRIID"), located on Porter Street, Fort
Detrick, Maryland, including (I) wall locker number 55 in Room 127 of Building 1412, (2) wall locker number
10 in Room B301 of Building 1425, (3) office number 19 of Building 1425, and (4) the biocontainment laboratory
areas identified as Rooms B303, B313 and B505 located inside Building 1425
While that search warrant was issued in 2008, I've found no emails or other documentation describing any moves after 2001, so, it seems clear that, at the time of the anthrax attacks, Ivins had only a locker in the locker room in Building 1412, everything else was in Building 1425.
This shoots down one of the arguments the "truthers" have been using in attempts to justify why Ivins spent so much time in his lab in August, September and October of 2001. Their contention was that he was tending to animals used in anthrax vaccine testing. But, the facts show that belief is definitely not true. While Ivins may have been checked on some mice used by other scientists working in some shared lab area in Building 1425, the dozens of rabbits and guinea pigs being used in anthrax vaccine testing at that time were all in Building 1412, and the in-out log records show that Ivins never went into Building 1412 during any of his evening hours in August, September and October of 2001.
One of the FBI supplementary documents, pdf file #847547, contains on pages 49 to 57 all of Ivins key card in-out times for the evenings from August 1 to October 10, 2001. It's part of a lengthy FBI analysis to see if he could have been working with another scientist who was also in the building at the same time on some of those evenings.
Last week, when I displayed satellite images of the locations of Buildings 1425 and 1412 and examined photographs of the two buildings, it made clear a lot of things I'd never really thought much about before. Sometimes, going from building to building doesn't necessarily mean going outside. But, the satellite photos show it was necessary in this case. And that meant he had to use his keycard to get out of the building, leaving a record of it.
Yesterday, I looked through the months of logs to see when Ivins might have gone into someone else's lab within Building 1425 to check on mice being used in tests. That research resulted in more questions than answers.
On Monday, August 20, 2001, the logs show Ivins gained access into some kind of room that may or may not be part of his lab, but, it is without explanation. Here is the entire set of entries for the evening of August 20:
These entries seem to say that Ivins entered Building 1425 at 7:43 p.m. and probably went to his office, which doesn't require any keycard to enter. Then, 15 minutes later he went out into the corridor and entered the Bacteriology Department lab at 7:58. At 8:04 he left Bacteriology via a different door in a different part of the lab(?). Then he entered via the Bacteriology Department door again and went into the locker room (B301) for two minutes before leaving the locker room and leaving Bacteriology to return to his office for 45 minutes. Then he left the building.
It's like a puzzle. Why did he go out the "AR" door only to enter again via a different door a minute later?
One might conclude from those entries that the only reason Ivins went into his lab area that evening was to get into room "AR" whatever it is. (I keep thinking it might be Autoclave Room, but I can't verify that in any way.)
NOTE added March 8, 2001: I seriously doubt that "AR" stands for Autoclave Room. Whether Ivins was doing normal work or illegal work during all those evenings in his lab, he should have been generating a lot of material for the autoclave. Yet, there is no evidence of him frequently going into any special autoclave room. Therefore, it seems most likely that the autoclave he used was built into a wall in his lab, and he didn't have to go outside of the lab to get to it. Thus there would be no in-out entry when he took the bags out of the autoclave or from the floor in front of the autoclave to remove the spores from the plates, nor any entry when he returned the bags with the empty plates inside . "AR" probably stands for something beginning with "Administration."
Sunday, September 2, is the next time Ivins enters room "AR" in the evening. And he does it again on Monday, September 3, which was Labor Day. Then on Friday, September 7, there are these evening entries:
So, Ivins could also get into Bacteriology via the "AR" door. And he can get into the locker room that way, too. But what does it mean?
I also found two instances where he went into Room #401. The first occurrence was on the evening of August 18, the second on the evening of September 3, which was Labor Day. I have no idea what is in #401, but, since the building doesn't have four floors, it's clear that the 4 in 401 does not indicate a 4th floor room. (Nor does B505 indicate a 5th floor room.) The only thing that seems clear is that Ivins would have to swipe his badge to get out of B301 and do it again to get into B401. So, there was a hallway or some other kind of room inbetween. Interestingly, after both visits to B401 he seems to have changed into a biosafety suit and then used the keypad to enter an incubator room or other secure area. Since he didn't need a keypad to leave the incubator room, there's no way of knowing how long he was in the room controlled by the keypad.
At 10:19 p.m. on Monday, September 4, Ivins spent 45 minutes in his lab and in the keypad controlled room before he entered #B307 airlock and left 3 minutes later. Then he spent another 45 minutes in his lab including time in the keypad controlled room. Here's what the log looks like:
The most unusual part of this is that there are no other evening entries into the "airlock" during the rest of the August, September, October period covered by the log sheets. The FBI seems to have highlighted the entry into the airlock with a different color, but there's no explanation for anything, nor even a comment about it.
Still looking for other rooms he may have entered, I noticed that on Saturday September 22, which was the first Saturday after the first mailing, the logs show that Ivins visited the USAMRIID adminstrative library:
But what is "AA"? Administrative Area? That's probably a good guess.
On Friday, September 28, Ivins went through a similar process beginning at 7:16 p.m., going to the library etc. but he first visited his lab and used the keypad to get into the secure area. He didn't go to the library until 10:42 p.m. And he went through the "AR" door on that day, too. That seems to indicate that it's possible that the "A" in "AR" may also mean "administrative" and not "autoclave."
The FBI notation on the side of the log sheet indicates that Ivins' leaving the B301 locker room was erroneously recorded as an A.M. instead of P.M. time. But, to me, it looks more like there was some kind of glitch in the logging system and he left the B301 locker room at 10:05 PM, and left the Bacteriology lab at 10:36 PM. But, the FBI has more information than I have, so they are probably right. But, that leaves big questions about what "AR" really means. And comparing these entries to the September 22 entries makes one wonder if in this instance "AR" isn't really supposed to be "AA."
What does any of this mean? It means it will take a lot of time to figure out what it all means. But would the research be worthwhile? I'm not doing any kind of independent investigation, I'm just analyzing the available data.
I'm tempted to draw a map of the interior of Building 1425 based upon where the key card devices appear to be located. But, first I'll have to find some solid reason to spend the time on it. I've got other things to do that have much higher priorities. And it seems that the only important things to remember are: (1) Ivins spent a lot of unaccounted for time in the "hot" rooms of his lab on evenings and weekends during the time the anthrax powders in the anthrax letters would have been prepared, (2) he was not checking on rabbits or guinea pigs in Building 1412 as some people believe, (3) it appears that little of his unaccounted for time time was spent checking on mice for other scientists, and (4) the fact that there are some unexplained "mysteries" in the in-out log data doesn't mean the solutions to those mysteries would be relevant to the Amerithrax investigation in any way.
& Changes: Sunday, February 27, thru Saturday, March 5, 2011
March 2, 2011 (B) - In another example of why I sometimes find it productive to argue with people on the Internet (see my February 17 (A) comment), last week someone kept referring to different sized anthrax spores - some greater than 5 microns, which would therefore make them less likely to cause inhalation anthrax. And, I kept telling him that anthrax spores only come in one size. To prove me wrong - or to check his facts - he did some research and found a article I'd never seen before. The article is titled "Difference between the spores sizes of Bacillus anthracis and other Bacillus species." It should end all debate on the subject of spore sizes forever. The abstract says:
METHODS AND RESULTS: Spores from several Bacillus species, including seven strains of B. anthracis and six close neighbours, were prepared and studied using identical media, protocols and instruments. Here, we report the spore length and diameter distributions, as determined by transmission electron microscopy (TEM). We calculated the aspect ratio and volume of each spore. All the studied strains of B. anthracis had similar diameter (mean range between 0.81 +/- 0.08 microm and 0.86 +/- 0.08 microm). The mean lengths of the spores from different B. anthracis strains fell into two significantly different groups: one with mean spore lengths 1.26 +/- 0.13 microm or shorter, and another group of strains with mean spore lengths between 1.49 and 1.67 microm. The strains of B. anthracis that were significantly shorter also sporulated with higher yield at relatively lower temperature. The grouping of B. anthracis strains by size and sporulation temperature did not correlate with their respective virulence.So, a typical anthrax spore can be said to be .85 microns in diameter and 1.5 microns in length. (I'd been using 1 micron by 1.5 microns.) NONE are are in the 5+ micron range. And all the nonsensical newspaper reports from the early days of the investigation which talked about "grinding down spores" to get them to the right size were wrong. Examples can be found HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and sort of HERE. And there used to be a lot more. So, anyone doing research can still find a host of "authoritative" sources which spout absolute nonsense about this issue.
March 2, 2011 (A) - The March 1, 2011 issue of The New York Times contained a "letter to the editor" from New Jersey Representative Rush Holt calling once again for an independent commission to investigate the FBI's investigation of the anthrax attacks of 2001. Included in the letter is this:
In the anthrax case, the F.B.I.’s jumping to conclusions led to tragic consequences for a relatively limited number of people. Another bioterror attack on this country could catapult us into war if it is as poorly investigated as the last one and if, based on faulty investigation, it is attributed to the wrong foreign state. It is long past time that we learned the right lessons from the anthrax case.
I, too, want to see an independent investigation of the FBI's investigation. Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to seeing what the GAO's report will have to say. It might tell us if a larger investigation is necessary.
I also fully agree that it is long past time that we learned the right lessons from the anthrax case, but Rush Holt is part of the problem. He's a perfect example of someone who has not learned the right lessons. He seems to have begun with the idea that foreigners were behind the attacks, and no facts uncovered in the past nine years have changed his mind about anything (probably because he hasn't paid any attention to the facts). And because the FBI hasn't come around to his way of thinking, he believes the anthrax case was "poorly investigated."
Interestingly, Rush Holt was also in the news because last night he beat IBM's new super computer "Watson" in an exhibition game of "Jeopardy." Too bad there wasn't a category about the Amerithrax investigation. Since Rep. Holt doesn't seem to have any concern at all for the facts about the Amerithrax investigation, and since reciting facts is what a computer does best, such a category could have turned things around for Watson, and it would have been a very interesting contest for the public to witness.
What Representative Rush Holt needs to do is to sit down with a person who actually knows something about the anthrax investigation and have a public debate (or just a discusson) on the Anthrax investigation. Since Holt clearly doesn't have any facts to support his beliefs, such a discussion or debate would show that he is no different from the other "truthers" who dispute the FBI's findings simply because they do not believe the FBI's findings.
February 27, 2011 (B) - Last week, I had a couple conversations that are the types of conversations that make me sometimes truly enjoy arguing with conspiracy theorists and True Believers who claim to be searching for the "truth," or who claim to know the "truth" about the anthrax attacks of 2001. These "truthers" are so busy looking for things they can twist and distort to argue their beliefs that they often find things that actually show their beliefs to be false, and they talk about them without realizing what they're talking about. There were several examples last week.
One such "truther" has been arguing endlessly that Ivins had an alibi for the time of the first mailing. Click HERE for an example. I had been largely ignoring the argument, because it was clear he was just playing "word games," arguing that because Ivins had an alibi for part of the window of opportunity for mailing the first set of letters, that meant Ivins "had an alibi." Total nonsense, of course, and it wasn't worth my time to argue that "having an alibi" means there was NO time that was unaccounted for during the "window of opportunity" when Ivins could have driven to New Jersey and back to mail the letters so that they'd be postmarked on the 18th of September, 2001.
Plus, if Ivins actually had an alibi, why was he even a suspect? Why hadn't Ivins told the world that he had an alibi? Why hadn't his lawyer told the world that Ivins had an alibi? And, if his alibi was that he was at a therapy session with a dozen other people who could serve as witnesses, that would be a perfect alibi. It would be a defense lawyer's wet dream. The claim by the "truther" was such a silly claim that I didn't bother to respond -- until last week.
Since the "truther" kept insisting that I had said that Ivins had no alibi and I was now ignoring the issue, I finally relented and quoted from page 31 of the FBI/DOJ's Summary Report showing that the FBI said Ivins had no alibi for the time of the first mailing:
After Sunday night, September 16, 2001, Dr. Ivins did not again enter Suite B3 in the evening hours until September 25, 2001, nine days later. However, he took annual leave for four hours on September 17, 2001 – the first day of the mailing window – returning to his office (not the hot suites) at 7:00 p.m. that evening, for only 13 minutes, and then left for the evening. He was back at USAMRIID by 7:02 a.m. on Tuesday, September 18, 2001, and traveled with his lab technicians to Covance in Denver, Pennsylvania, to deliver vaccine. Dr. Ivins had no alibi for this first window of opportunity.
As expected, the return argument was that Ivins had a therapy session scheduled during the "window of opportunity." And, my response was that, having a scheduled therapy session doesn't mean Ivins actually showed up at the therapy session, plus the only real "window of opportunity" for Ivins to drive to New Jersey was between 7:13 p.m. on September 17 and 7:02 a.m. on September 18. That's nearly a 12 hour "window." Unless Ivins had his therapy session between 1 and 2 a.m. in the morning of the 18th, he did NOT have an alibi. (At that time of night, it probably takes about six hours to drive from Frederick to Princeton and back, but, we were using seven hours for our calculations to avoid further arguments about stopping for gas or finding the mailbox.)
That's when the "truther" with whom I was arguing produced a very interesting tidbit of information I don't recall seeing before (although I may have): He told me that, at 11:22 p.m. on Monday, September 17, 2001, Ivins sent someone an email. Having no reason to doubt what he was saying since he was arguing to prove his beliefs, I explained that this information appears to establish the time when Ivins left for New Jersey: 11:30 p.m. or thereabouts. That would give Ivins enough time to get there and back with a half hour or so to spare -- time to shower and shave and get to work.
And, although I haven't yet found the actual 11:22 p.m. email, there seems a very good chance that it was sent to Mara Linscott. The FBI summary report describes on page 46 an Ivins sent to email to Linscott on that date:
As [Ivins] noted to [Mara Linscott] in an e-mail on September 17, 2001 – the day the first letters were mailed – “I haven't been feeling so good lately because of all that's going on. I really can't talk to [my wife], and I don't say that much to [Patricia Fellows] or anyone else. The group I'm in is only moderately helpful. I'm glad some of us are going to Covance tomorrow with some vaccine. It will be good to get away. I wish I had someone here that I could really open up to at times like this.
I tried to find out if this is the 11:22 p.m. email, but the response was just an attack on me for not knowing.
The email appears to show Ivins to be very depressed. If this is the right email, Ivins was probably writing it while waiting for his wife and family to get to sleep, so he could slip out of the house unnoticed.
Page 31 of the Summary Report says:
Dr. Ivins’s own statements to investigators precluded any possibility that his wife could have provided him an alibi. For example, on February 18, 2008, Dr. Ivins stated that his wife never knew where he was, nor did she ever question him about his nocturnal wanderings.Ivins was about to commit a criminal act - an act of terorism - that could result in him being thrown into prison for the rest of his life. But, if his fantasies worked out, it was also possible that he could become a national hero for alerting America to the dangers of a bioweapons attack from Muslim extremists.
So, while his wife was asleep in another room, he poured out his feelings to Mara as he'd been doing since she left USAMRIID in the summer of 1999. According to the footnote on the bottom of page 46 of the FBI Summary Report:
Over the course of her first few years after she left USAMRIID, Former Colleague #1 [Mara Linscott] was inundated with e-mails from Dr. Ivins, literally hundreds and hundreds of them, many of extraordinary length and detail. As she stated in numerous interviews, she frequently did not reply to those e-mails for days, and when she did it was often in a cursory fashion.
Going to Covance on the 18th would have been perfect for Ivins' plan. It gave him something of an alibi for the time when the letters were postmarked (providing that no one realized that the letters could have been mailed in the middle of the night). Plus, unless he was doing the driving to Covance, he'd be able to get some sleep in the car along the way.
Needless to say, this will be a key part of my book (but I'll have to find the 11:22 p.m. email first).
The "truther's" reaction to the embarrassing realization that Ivins did NOT have an alibi was to request that the government produce all of Ivins' personal emails from his home computer and anything else that might enable the "truther" and other independent investigators of the "truth" to determine that Ivins truly did have an alibi. And the "truther" accused the government of withholding information that might help him find the evidence. (After all, the FBI must be incredibly incompetent if they didn't find it, since it must be somewhere. If it isn't, the "truther" would have to be wrong -- and, to him, that just isn't possible.) This morning, there's another such posting HERE. It's almost a demand.
In another discussion last week, I learned some new information about what Dr. John Ezzell told the group at the November 29, 2010 seminar about whether Bruce Ivins could have committed the anthrax mailings or not. Check my comments for December 12, 2010, and you'll see I had virtually given up on ever getting the information. The pieces of video provided did not include that critical part of the November 29 meeting.
But, last week, in an argument about people who believed that Ivins was guilty and people who didn't believe Ivins was guilty, I asked this question:
What about Patricia Fellows, Mara Linscott and John Ezzell? What did they think?
And, the "truther" who had provided the videos of the November 29 seminar made this comment:
Unlike you, Ed, the FBI's anthrax expert is reserving judgment. You had your mind made up when some web poster first suggested in December 2001 that a First Grader wrote the anthrax letters. Dr. Ezzell is waiting for probative evidence relating to who is responsible for the anthrax mailings of Fall 2001.
Ah! So, Dr. Ezzell told the group on November 29 that it was possible that Ivins could have sent the anthrax letters, but Dr. Ezzell was "waiting for probative evidence" before coming to any firm conclusions. That's what I had figured back in December. And the "truther" had just confirmed it. It also seemed to be confirmation that the "truther" had deliberately withheld that part of the video because what Ezzell had said conflicted with the purpose of the seminar and with the "truther's" beliefs. Typical.
It was a productive week.
February 27, 2011 (A) - Last week, I felt I needed to get a better idea of where Ivins lived and where he worked. I needed to be able to visualize his walk to work. And I needed to know where Building 1425 was located in relation to Buliding 1412, and why those buildings had those numbers.
Below is a photo of Building 1425 where Bruce Ivins worked when he allegedly prepared the anthrax letters in September and October of 2001:
Those two rows of pipe-like or smoke stack-like tubes jutting out of the roof are almost certainly "exhaust stacks" and indicate where negative pressure labs and rooms with filtered ventilators, autoclaves or/or small incinerators are located. The view is looking toward the east side of Building 1425.
Below is another view, this time looking toward the front of Building 1425. It shows another row of seven of those "exhaust stacks" closer to the center of the building:
In the rear of Building 1425 is a sidewalk leading to the back door of Building 1412. Below is a different view of Building 1412 where Ivins' lab had been located until sometime in 2000 or 2001:
The entire 1412 building is a BioSafety Level 2 area with BSL-3 (and possibly BSL-4) areas contained within. The smoke stack almost certainly indicates a large incinerator where they disposed of dead lab animals.
Other views of these buildings are HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.
Using satellite images, I also put together an overhead view showing where Buildings 1425 and 1412 were located on the Ft. Detrick grounds in relation to where Ivins lived. Below is a small image which you can click on to see a somewhat larger version.
Ivins lived at 622 Military Road, which is the road which enters the photo at about 3/4th of an inch to the right of the bottom left corner of this image. Very large views of this image show a fence on the far side of Military Road, beginning about 200 feet from Ivins' home. So, Ivins would walk across Military Road, he'd enter Ft. Detrick via the gate that was directly across from his home, and then he'd walk the 3 blocks to Building 1425. The number 1425 is the address of the entrance to the building as it is located on Porter Street (the street that begins in the lower left and ends near the upper right corner). The Post Exchange (PX) seems to be in the same building, just a different entrance at 1405 Porter Street.
Various entry logs seem to indicate that Ivins always entered Building 1425 via a back entrance, an indicator that his lab was located closer to the back entrance than the front entrance (also indicated by the "exhaust stacks"). It's probably also the "scientist's entrance." His walk to and from work appears to be little different from when he worked in Building 1412. The number 1412 is the building's address on Sultan Drive, which runs in front of the building. That would explain the even-numbered address versus the odd-numbered address for building 1425 and the fact that there doesn't appear to be any name for the two roads or driveways that run between the two buildings.
These images help me get inside Ivins' brain as he went about his daily tasks. The overhead view clearly shows why Ivins went into a panic on 9/11 worrying that one of the hijacked airliners could be heading directly toward him and his lab. That could have been a major motivator for him.
The images also show that when Ivins had to take diluted aliquots from flask RMR-1029 to Building 1412 as part of his regular work, he'd carry the safety container out the rear door of 1425, walk between two smaller buildings and up a sidewalk and into the back door of 1412. Security guards would check him over as he walked out the door of 1425, but they wouldn't have searched him or the carrying case. In theory, he could have walked home with the safety container, had lunch, and then walked back to 1412. Or he could have taken the case with him into a Burger King restaurant which was located in a building he passed on his way home. Security was virtually nil once he was outside of Building 1425 and remained so until he entered Building 1412.
It certainly could have been during one of those walks that he realized how easy it would be to take envelopes filled with anthrax spores out of Building 1425 and do whatever he wanted to do with them. When he worked in Building 1412, it wasn't necessary to take anything out of the building. But, after they moved his lab to Building 1425, he may have become the only person who was routinely allowed to take deadly pathogens out of any building on Ft. Detrick grounds.
& Changes: Sunday, February 20, thru Saturday, February 26, 2011
February 25, 2011 - Another day, another hypothesis.
I awoke this morning realizing that I'd seen "crystals" before that look something like those in the Daschle powder that Battelle examined in their SEM, producing this image:
The "crystals" I remembered are silicon carbide "whiskers." Here's what they look like in longer pieces:
Here's a picture of the crystals that were part of the AFIP report and - although not explained - appear to have been on the same specimen holder as the New York Post Powder that AFIP examined:
And, here's an image of silicon carbide crystals that look virtually identical to the crystals that were part of the AFIP report:
So, if everything is as it seems, the question is: Why were there silicon carbide crystals in the images?
It appears very certain that the crystals were not part of the powders that were in the envelopes. The crystals are not mixed with the spores and are in clusters that seem separate from the spores. Because they are vastly larger than the spores, they can be easily separated from the spores after testing. And, because silicon carbide is a very hard material, there is little danger of any contamination of the spores being examined.
So, today's hypothesis is that the silicon carbide crystals were comparison samples put onto the specimen holders with the spores to help the operator of the Energy Dispersive X-Ray spectrometer (EDX) attached to the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) find and measure the silicon in the spores. At the time, no one knew that there was no external silicon in the powders. They weren't certain what they would find.
I have no proof that this hypothesis is the correct explanation. And EDX specialists may have a heart attack over any suggestion that they would put comparison samples on the same specimen holder as a sample being examined, but it seems to be a better hypothesis than any previous hypotheses.
Of course, I've sent out some emails to SEM/EDX experts to see if this truly is a reasonable hypothesis. I haven't yet received back any replies. But, until this hypothesis is shown to be total nonsense, it's the one I'm stuck with as the "most likely" answer to the AFIP mystery.
February 24, 2011 - This morning, I received an email from a scientist with considerable experience in using a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), and he says he's never heard of anyone putting desiccants into a specimen holder with a biological sample such as anthrax spores. Neither have I. But, until a better explanation for the crystals in the New York Post and Daschle powders comes along, that's the explanation that is "most likely." I have no logical alternative explanation. And, the scientist had no alternative explanation, either. (See yesterday's comment for details.)
It also occurs to me that I've had several scientists tell me that they never heard of anyone leaving autoclave bags filled with bacterial growth laying around for weeks in a lab. They couldn't imagine that anyone would ever do such a thing, or that such a thing would ever be allowed to happen in any lab. But, Ivins did it routinely. The mysterious crystals could be a similar situation - something routinely done by some scientists, but never heard of by most scientists.
February 23, 2011 - I'm not certain of it, but there's a chance that one of the "mysteries of the AFIP report" may have been solved. That mystery was about strange crystals shown in images that were supposed to be only of the New York Post anthrax powder. Now, someone has found an image that is supposedly of how a tiny part of the Daschle powder looked when it was examined by a lab at Battelle Memorial Institute. Here's the image:
All the long, thin objects in the image that are not identified as "crystals" by red rectangles are also crystals. So, it's an image of a few tiny anthrax spores clinging to a mass of large and mysterious crystals.
You may recall that Richard Preston's book "The Demon in the Freezer" contained a description of how Battelle autoclaved the Daschle spores they received before examining them, making them worthless for certain types of tests. Autoclaving turned the spores into a mass of goop that was described as looking like a "hockey puck."
Autoclaving sterilizes with heat and steam. So, before you can put the steam-sodden spores into a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), you need to thoroughly dry them out. If the spores contain moisture, there's a good possibility that the spores may pop like popcorn when exposed to the vacuum inside the SEM.
I haven't been able to confirm anything, but since we now have two very different anthrax powders where mysterious crystals appear in images that are supposed to be only images of the attack anthrax, it seems very likely that some scientists may put a small amount of a desiccant (such as silica crystals) into the SEM specimen holder to help make certain that the spores are thoroughly dry when they go into the SEM. If true, the biggest remaining mystery would be: Why hasn't anyone mentioned this before? Why was it necessary to have to figure it out?
February 22, 2011 - Today's Boston Globe contains an editorial titled "Consider the case solved," which says this:
Ivins committed suicide, so prosecutors will never get the chance to prove the FBI’s case in court. But a National Academy of Sciences panel reviewed the scientific analysis used by the FBI to link the mailed anthrax to a sample in Ivins’s lab. And it was convincing enough. Barring a shocking new development, the anthrax case should be considered solved.
Nonetheless, the FBI’s flawed pursuit of another scientist before targeting Ivins, combined with the conclusion that the link to Ivins’s lab was not completely definitive, suggests that the case will be fodder for endless conspiracy theories.
Scientific clues as well as circumstantial evidence gathered in the FBI investigation point toward a lone perpetrator — almost certainly Ivins — and away from Al Qaeda.
Interestingly, I was in an argument yesterday where a conspiracy theorist stated to me:
almost all of the rest of the world except you, sees very clearly that the FBI case against Dr. Bruce Ivins is not even close to convincing
I find it fascinating that the various conspiracy theorists and True Believers not only ignore all the evidence against Bruce Ivins, they also ignore all the evidence that shows that they are a very small fringe group. It's some kind of "group think," where all the people in the group agree with one another, so they begin to believe they represent the entire world. And, as I've said many times before, when you dig a bit deeper, you find that every one of the conspiracy theorists and True Believers has a different theory, and the only thing they really agree upon is that the FBI is wrong, because, if the FBI is right, then the theorists must all be wrong. They also can't understand why I'm the only person who continues to argue with them. The answer to that is simple: I'm the only person who knows of their forum who has the free time to argue and who also finds it interesting and (sometimes) educational to argue with them.
February 20, 2011 (B) - A discussion on FreeRepublic.com indicates that I should point out that Ivins' plot in June of 2000 to poison his former colleague Mara Linscott was told to a different counselor, not the same counselor who listened to Ivins' plot in 2008 to murder his co-workers. Both worked for Comprehensive Counseling Associates in Frederick, but the counselor in 2000 refused to deal with Ivins after that incident, and the counselor in 2008 (Jean Duley) had only been working with Ivins for about 6 months before he told his therapy group that he planned to murder his co-workers and "go out in a blaze of glory." Two different murder plots, two different counselors -- eight years apart.
February 20, 2011 (A) - I was making very good progress on my book before the release of the NAS report brought everything to a screeching halt, requiring me to spend nearly all of my time for the rest of the week reading newspaper articles and various blogs (and parts of the NAS report), while at the same time writing multiple comments for this web site nearly every day.
Personally, I think that my analysis of the evidence showing that Bruce Ivins planned to murder his former lab assistant Mara Linscott more than a year before the anthrax attacks is far far more important to understanding the Amerithrax investigation than anything in the NAS report.
And, it looks like another big delay will be arriving to slow down my book writing efforts in a couple weeks. On Friday, I sent off a check for $5 to get the CD with 9,600 pages of FBI materials that were provided to the NAS for their review. With luck, I should get the CD at around the end of the month.
Others already have it. They talk of interesting information that has never before been mentioned. Examples:
#1 - Of the 1,070 samples of the Ames strain that were collected for the FBI repository (FBIR), 606 came from Ft. Detrick. One Ft. Detrick scientist alone had 314 of the samples, another had 262.
#2 - An FBI report says "micron sized Stainless Steel particles" were found in the New York Post powder. Other mentions about this seem to indicate it was a single "submicroscopic metal flake of unknown origin."
#3 - Spore powder "recovered in the Amerithrax investigation was not cultured for an extensive time before sporulation and subsequent weaponization." ("Weaponization" probably just means "purification," but what does "not cultured for an extensive time before sporulation" mean? Presumably, it means that the material wasn't allow to grow and reproduce for a long time in a fermenter before the conditions were changed to cause sporulation.)
The immediate question about #1 is: Was Bruce Ivins one of the two scientists who had hundreds of samples? But, so what if he was? It's an obvious question, but not an important question. We already knew his cold storage room had many containers of anthrax that the FBI rounded up when Ivins failed to provide samples of them to the FBIR.
The immediate question I had about the "Stainless Steel particles" was: Could they be related to the mysterious crystals also found in the New York Post powder? But, checking with my sources I found that it was simply a lab error. The Stainless Steel particles were from a brand new pair of tweezers taken straight from the manufacturer's sterile bag. The tweezers had the steel particles clinging to the sharpened tips. It took the lab that detected the steel particles a bit of investigating to figure out what happened, but the issue was fully resolved way back in early 2002, and the FBI was verbally informed. So, there evidently won't be any reports among the 9,600 pages of FBI documents to verify this. And, it again makes me wonder if the mysterious crystals aren't also some kind of lab error - - from a different lab.
The immediate thought I had about #3 was that it could be another indicator that the spores came from plates allowed to sit in an autoclave bag for weeks. It's my understanding that sporulation under those conditions begins very quickly, because bacteria near the center of a colony run out of nutrients very quickly (thus they form spores) while bacteria at the edges of the colony continue to grow and reproduce because they have more nutrients available to them. And, while growing material in plates at room temperatures slows everything down, the principle remains the same: You do not grow a vast quantity of bacteria before allowing sporulation to begin.
It's difficult to know what to think about the NAS report. The fact that the media produced misleading headlines like "Report casts doubt on FBI's investigation of anthrax attacks" and "Serious doubt cast in FBI's anthrax case against Bruce Ivins" and "Review Fault's F.B.I.'s Scientific Work in Anthrax Investigation" makes me wish the NAS hadn't been so precise in their review. Was it really necessary to find fault with this DOJ conclusion?:
It seems petty and even silly to suggest that the culprit didn't need "significant technical skill," even if that wasn't the intention of the comment. All it does is give the media an opportunity to create nonsensical interpretations. And the media's news reports on the Amerithrax investigation have probably been the worst, most incorrect and most misleading news reporting on any criminal case in a hundred years or more. And it continues to this day.
Today, I happened to stumble across an NAS press release from Tuesday, where they described their own report.
A National Research Council committee asked to examine the scientific approaches used and conclusions reached by the Federal Bureau of Investigation during its investigation of the 2001 Bacillus anthracis mailings has determined that it is not possible to reach a definitive conclusion about the origins of the anthrax in letters mailed to New York City and Washington, D.C., based solely on the available scientific evidence.
Findings of the committee's study include:
It is not my intention to be critical of the NAS committee. They were undoubtedly hard-working, well-meaning and dedicated professionals. I can envision them trying to figure out how to report that there was no way to tell with certainty how long it took to create the attack spores. Unfortunately, they had selected a format where they were placing their findings side-by-side with the "DOJ's conclusions." Since the FBI/DOJ's Summary Report didn't mention anything at all about how long it took to create the spore powders, the NAS committee decided to use the paragraph above as the "DOJ conclusion" to counterpoint the "Committee comment" on the scientific uncertainties the NAS saw regarding the time and the skill needed to make the spore powders. And, being dedicated scientists, they didn't concern themselves with how the media, conspiracy theorists and True Believers would interpret that finding or any other finding.
This morning's Frederick News-Post brings up the subject again:
In the Justice Department's report a year ago, it commented on the high quality of the anthrax spores and wrote that "the anthrax mailer must have possessed significant technical skill." The NRC, however, wrote last week that "the committee finds no scientific basis on which to accurately estimate the amount of time or the specific skill set needed to prepare the spore material contained in the letters," noting that the FBI never determined what method was used to create the anthrax spores.
So, did the culprit need "significant technical skill" or didn't he? Of course he did. There's just no way to tell with absolute certainty exactly how "significant" his technical skills had to be. And, there is no scientific definition of the word "significant." But, significantly, he needed to have his immunity shots up-to-date. And, significantly, he had to have the technical skills to make the spores without leaving incriminating evidence of his criminal act all over the place. And, significantly, he had to have the knowledge to locate and utilize a sample of the Ames strain which at the time was considered to be untraceable. And, significantly, he had to have the technical skill to encode a hidden message in the media anthrax letters which no one could decode until Bruce Ivins was observed throwing away the code books.
& Changes: Sunday, February 13, thru Saturday, February 19, 2011
February 19, 2011 - This morning's Frederick News-Post has an opinion piece by lawyer/conspiracy theorist Barry Kissin which had this as its opening paragraph:
We didn't need the National Academy of Sciences to tell us that the government's case against Bruce Ivins is a sham.
Then there's this paragraph in the middle:
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.
And this as its closing paragraph:
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.
So, it looks like the conspiracy theorists will persist in believing that the attack spores were weaponized with silicon, and anyone who disagrees is part of the conspiracy. And that vast conspiracy now apparently includes Paul Keim.
February 18, 2011 - I'd hoped that, by now, more newspapers would see that their initial reactions to the NAS report were misleading and self-serving, geared toward selling more newspapers by generating conflicts, instead of accurately informing the public. But, the only such article I see today is an editorial in the Washington Post which contains this luke warm acknowledgement that the NAS report makes some minor disagreements seem major:
Yet the [NAS] report itself is at times misleading. Take, for example, the FBI's assertion that Mr. Ivins deceived investigators by providing a sample purported to be from RMR-1029 but that the FBI concluded could not have come from that particular batch. "The genetic evidence that a disputed sample submitted by the suspect came from a source other than RMR-1029 was weaker" than stated by the Justice Department, the committee said. How much weaker? The NAS panel concluded that there was a 1 percent chance that the sample came from the key vial; that answer could be found only deep in the bowels of the document.
The General Accounting Office (GAO) is currently working on their own review of the Amerithrax investigation. They were waiting for the review by the NAS to be done first. Presumably, the GAO won't be nit-picking over words by claiming something cannot be "significant" if there is no way to accurately estimate with 100% accuracy whether it is "significant" or not.
The Washington Post editorial calls for a formal commission to investigate the Amerithrax investigation:
Congress should convene a nonpartisan commission staffed with individuals experienced in law enforcement to probe all of the evidence in the case, including that which the FBI claims shows Mr. Ivins had the opportunity and the wherewithal to carry out the 2001 attack. The inquiry should explore why and how the Justice Department eliminated other scientists who had access to RMR-1029 as suspects, and it should examine the security protocols at repositories for biological weapons.
The chances of such a commission being formed seem very slim. The only people who seem to want it are the news media looking for more to talk and write about so they can get more advertising to pay the bills, conspiracy theorists and True Believers who fully expect that the next investigation will prove them right, and a few people like me who just want things to be made more clear for everyone. The vast majority of the American people only seem to want to move on, so they can stop worrying about who was right and whether another anthrax attack might be imminent.
February 17, 2011 (D) - Well, it appears I'm not the only one pointing out that the NAS report does NOT say the FBI was wrong. CIDRAP News has an article titled "Anthrax expert says NRC report supports the FBI." It says:
The National Research Council's (NRC's) report on the FBI's anthrax investigation amounts to a general endorsement of the agency's scientific approach, even though the NRC found that the purely scientific evidence on the source of the anthrax used in the 2001 attacks was not conclusive, a leading anthrax expert said today.
"I actually have been telling people this is a qualified endorsement of the science in the [FBI] investigation," Paul S. Keim, PhD, a Northern Arizona University microbiologist who helped the FBI investigate the anthrax attacks, told CIDRAP News
Keim said the NRC panel is not saying the FBI was wrong, only that the scientific evidence wasn't as strong as the agency suggested.
"The FBI always said the scientific evidence wasn't definitive," he said. He said the scientific investigation yielded information about how and where the anthrax was made and the probable source.
"It was never single source; it was always linked to a set of samples constructed in US military labs," Keim said. "The [NRC] committee came back and said the FBI's conclusion and review of the data was consistent with that. Nothing they found said the FBI was wrong. They said the evidence wasn't as strong as the FBI was saying, and they're probably right with that."
Keim—who described himself as a friend of Ivins' who was surprised when the probe led to him—noted that some media headlines have said the NRC committee doubts the link to Ivins. "The committee isn't saying that. . . . All the major conclusions that the FBI came to, the committee said, 'Yeah, the evidence is consistent with that.'"And the one I agree with the most:
Keim said he hopes the NRC report will lay to rest the idea that silicon was added to the letter anthrax to facilitate its airborne dispersal, which had implied that the perpetrator had highly specialized skills.
And there's a lot more in the article.
February 17, 2011 (C) - It appears that the three month delay in releasing the report back in November resulted from the NAS focusing on an issue that really had nothing to do with the criminal case against Bruce Ivins. The issue is summarized on page 7 of their summary this way:
S.7 There was inconsistent evidence of B. anthracis Ames DNA in environmental samples
that were collected from an overseas site. (Finding 3.4)
• At the end of this study, the committee was provided limited information for the first time
about the analysis of environmental samples for B. anthracis Ames from an undisclosed
overseas site at which a terrorist group’s anthrax program was allegedly located. This
site was investigated by the FBI and other federal partners as part of the anthrax letters
investigation. The information indicates that there was inconsistent evidence of Ames
strain DNA in some of these samples, but no culturable B. anthracis. The committee
believes that the complete set of data and conclusions concerning these samples,
including all relevant classified documents, deserves a more thorough scientific review.
The FBI provided additional information about that "overseas site" and what they found, but they had to withhold some information because it was still highly classified and not for public viewing. And, since everthing the NAS uses must be available for public viewing, that leaves some material unavailable to the NAS.
And it gives those who believe that the anthrax letters were sent by al Qaeda or some Muslim terrorist some ammunition for their arguments. They can claim that the classified, unreleased documents show that al Qaeda was behind the mailings and the entire U.S. government is covering up for al Qaeda for some reason. Prior to the NAS report, that nutty theory was actually voiced by Lew Weinstein during a recent interview which can be watched by clicking HERE.
February 17, 2011 (B) - In my (A) comment yesterday, I wondered about the actual wording in the NAS report which caused a number of reporters to suggest that the FBI had declared that Bruce Ivins was the only person with the skills to produce the attack anthrax powders. For example, an article by NPR said:
The expert panel also disputed the FBI's claim that Ivins was the only person with the specialized knowledge needed to prepare the spores that were used in the attack.
That seemed like a ridiculous claim, since the FBI has been saying since November of 2001 that the spores could have been made in almost any microbiology lab by anyone with good microbiology experience.
As it turns out, it is just preposterous distortions by the media. Finding 4.1 by the NAS (on page 10 of their summary report) reads as follows:
Neither the DOJ nor the FBI ever suggested that "Ivins was the only person with the specialized knowledge needed to prepare the spores that were used in the attack." The claim by NPR is an asinine claim.
The DOJ conclusion was merely that the culprit (whoever he was) had "significant technical skill." The Committee says that there isn't any basis to estimate any "specific skill set needed to prepare the spore material in the letters."
One could interpret the Committee's comment as meaning that it's possible that a 3-year-old child could have made the attack spores. Obviously, that's ridiculous. So, some kind of skill set was required. The fact that the NAS cannot make an estimate of what the skill set might be required doesn't mean that no skill was required. It's just another example of scientists being scientists and claiming that nothing is conclusive if it's not 100% scientifically provable.
February 17, 2011 (A) - The approximately 9,500 pages of documents that the FBI provided to the NAS for their review are available on a CD for only $5. I'll definitely send for a copy. I'm just debating with myself whether it's worthwhile to send for a copy of the NAS review at the same time. It costs $44 for just the .pdf or $51.30 for a "pre-publication" printed copy, $67 for the combination, but I can read it for free by clicking HERE. And anyone can get a summary with lots of copyable material HERE. The only reason for me to buy a copy of the full report would be to enable me to copy parts from the report and and paste the parts elsewhere. And, I don't know how much of that I'm going to be doing. So, I guess I'll make that decision if or when I find a need to copy and paste lots of parts from the full report.
February 16, 2011 (B) - Anyone wishing to do so can view a replay of Tuesday's NAS presentation by clicking HERE.
February 16, 2011 (A) - Representative Rush Holt has joined in on calling for further investigation of the Amerithrax case. Holt's proposed bill can be found HERE. Senator Chuck Grassley also calls for further investigation.
And Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com shows his bias and lack of research by beginning his opinion piece this way:
For years, the FBI believed that it had identified the perpetrator of the 2001 anthrax attacks -- former Army researcher Steven Hatfill -- only to be forced to acknowledge that he wasn't involved and then pay him $5.8 million for the damage he suffered from those false accusations.
The Steven Hatfill Timeline shows a very different story that is supported by actual facts instead of opinions.
The magazine Nature points out a totally different aspect of the NAS findings:
others are disturbed that it’s proved so difficult to determine where the anthrax came from. “From a National Security perspective, we have a serious problem here,” says Randall Larsen, director of the Institute for Homeland Security. The report shows that potential terrorists “can reasonably assume that it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible to figure out who launched the attack.”
In reality, the report just shows how difficult it will be to persuade some scientists that anything has been conclusively proved. But, in the real world investigators understand that if there is a near certainty that X sent some anthrax and only a trillion to one chance that Y sent the anthrax, no one is going to sit on their hands and wait for science to eliminate that one in a trillion chance. It will be proved via traditional detective work. And if detective work cannot be 100% certain, there may still be more than enough evidence to convince a jury beyond any reasonable doubt.
The NAS report reminds me of something said at the Roundtable Discussion on August 18, 2008. Because of the limits of the science, carbon dating cannot be more accurate that 2 years - give or take. So, the anthrax spores could have been made sometime between the day of the attacks and up to two years before the attacks. But, then Dr. Majidi mentioned that the spores technically could have come from 2003 -- from the future.
DR. MAJIDI: But let me go back. Let me go back. The carbon dating is specific of the time that the organism ceases to replicate. So whenever that spore had stopped its sporulation form, that is the locked date for that organism, because we had obtained those samples in 2001, the carbon-14 concentration is 2001, plus or minus two years.
QUESTION: It could only be minus, obviously.
DR. MAJIDI: Well, no -- you know, I'm talking strictly from a scientific point of view. It could have been, you know, theoretically from 2003. It's from a strictly scientific point of view.
Talking from a strictly logical point of view, there's about the same probability that the anthrax spores came from the future as there is that Ivins was innocent.
February 15, 2011 (B) - While I was out of the office for a couple hours doing other things, the FBI produced a press release in response to the NAS findings. It's HERE.
Digging through the various newspaper articles, I found this from Scott Shane's New York Times article:
Nothing in the academy report directly refutes the conclusion of what was by most estimates the most expensive and manpower-intensive criminal investigation in American history.
The F.B.I. “has long maintained that while science played a significant role, it was the totality of the investigative process that determined the outcome of the anthrax case.” The statement said Dr. Ivins “was determined to be the perpetrator of the deadly mailings.”
In an interview, three investigators who spent years working on the case expressed frustration with the academy’s findings but said the report had raised no questions that change the conclusion about Dr. Ivins. The investigators, who were not authorized to speak on the record, said the report merely underscored the difference between pure science and the reality of gathering evidence in a criminal case.The Washington Post apparently felt it necessary to get a quote from well-known conspiracy theorist:
"This report entirely undercuts the conclusion that RMR-1029 was the source and that Ivins was the perpetrator,'' said Meryl Nass, an anthrax expert and physician at Mount Desert Island Hospital in Maine. "That evidence was totally critical to their case,'' said Nass, who added that hundreds of people had access to the flaks in Ivins's lab.
And they got a predictable quote from Ivins' lawyer:
"This shows what we've been saying all along: that it was all supposition based on conjecture based on guesswork, without any proof whatsoever,'' said Paul Kemp, a lawyer who represented Ivins in negotiations with federal prosecutors who were preparing to charge him before his death. Kemp called for congressional hearings into the investigation.
Plus, there's this statement which I'll have to research. I doubt the NAS report actually phrased things this way:
it said the authors could not verify the government's contention that only Ivins and a select group of scientists possessed the required expertise to prepare the spore-laden letters.
As I recall, it was the government's contention that many many people had the "required expertise."
But, NPR says something similar:
The expert panel also disputed the FBI's claim that Ivins was the only person with the specialized knowledge needed to prepare the spores that were used in the attack.
And The Los Angeles Times says:
Although the panel gathered by the National Research Council said it had no reason to believe that Ivins was not the perpetrator of the terrorist act, it faulted the FBI's conclusions that the perpetrator must have had a high level of skill to produce the powdered spores and that the spores must have come from Ivins' lab.
I haven't had a chance to read any of the report. I'll try to get into it tomorrow.
February 15, 2011 (A) - I watched and listened to the NAS netcast, and it was easy to see what the headlines would be:
The New York Times: "Review Faults F.B.I.'s Scientific Work in Anthrax Investigation."
Washington Post: "Anthrax report casts doubt on scientific evidence in FBI case against Bruce Ivins"
CNN: "Scientists find no answer to anthrax mystery"
USA Today: "Panel: Dead researcher not only source of anthrax spores"
NPR: "FBI Faulted for Overstating Science in Anthrax Case"
Science Magazine: Study Questions Government Case on Anthrax Attacks"
In reality, all the panel said was the the scientific evidence could not be conclusive. The panel did not totally disagree with any findings, they just stated that the findings could not be scientifically conclusive since there was too much random chance involved. There was a possibility that the four mutations could have spontanously appeared somewhere else, somewhere that the FBI knew nothing about. They would not speculate what the odds of such a happening were.
They said the FBI "overstated" their finding that flask RMR-1029 was the parent of the attack anthrax spores, but they didn't dispute that conclusion. The panel just said it couldn't be 100% scientifically proven.
They didn't look at any of the police work which determined Bruce Ivins to be the killer. They could only say that the science couldn't conclusively state anything.
But, they seemed very certain that no silicon additive was required to produce the silicon that was found in the attack anthrax. The silicon "signature" could have happened naturally from natural silicon in the growth media. They were even asked by a member of the audience if it was impossible for someone to have deliberately added silicon to the spores, and they just said - in effect - anything's possible. There was just no evidence to support such a thing.
I'll review the various news articles that summarize the findings, and I'll try going through the entire review, although I'm not certain I'll spend the money to buy a searchable .pdf copy. (You can get a free copy that is not searchable by accessing the NAS's web site.) Politicians will undoubtedly call for a review of the entire case - including the detective work - to determine if the FBI's findings are justified. I certainly would like to see such a review. The evidence clearly supports the FBI's findings, but an independent review might answer some remaining questions. Of course, nothing will stop the conspiracy theorists and True Believers. But, additional information can't hurt anything.
February 14, 2011 - Gazette.net has published the first article I've seen in 2011 that is about the anthrax attacks of 2001. The title of the article is "Report on FBI's anthrax findings to be released Tuesday." The two most interesting things I note about the article is (1) it was written by Katherine Heerbrandt, who was previously associated with the Frederick News-Post, and (2) her article says
The panel began its review in October 2008 and was scheduled to release its report in October 2010. The report was delayed so federal investigators could review it for security reasons.
Really? Could be. But, I'd certainly like to seem some verification of that statement.
February 13, 2011 (B) - According to the National Academy of Sciences, they will release their review of the science of the Amerithrax investigation on Tuesday, February 15, the day after tomorrow.
The press conference and public briefing will begin at 11 a.m. EST Tuesday, Feb. 15, at the
February 13, 2011 (A) - I seem to have made some major progress with my book during the past week. I've completed the first draft of the first chapter about Bruce Ivins. It covers everything about the KKG sorority burglaries, plus various details up to 1985, when he seemingly went into a 15 year period of "normalcy." It even seems fairly clear why Ivins went into those 15 years of "normalcy." He was evidently threatened with an arrest and prosecution if he didn't cease and desist in his harassment of the KKG sorority and its members. It's not a 100% certainty that's what happened, but it's what the evidence seems to indicate. An arrest, even on a misdemeanor harassment charge, would have ended his career. Being identified and threatened with arrest must have scared the crap out of him.
But, a sociopath is a sociopath all of his life. So, after a 15-year hiatus, Ivins returned to his sociopathic ways.
And that's where the second chapter about Ivins begins. At the moment, it covers a period roughly from 1997 to August of 2001. While doing research for the second chapter, I found something else that can't be proved with 100% certainty, but the available evidence seems very clear. It may also be something I should not mention on this web site, but should save for my new book. On the other hand, mentioning it here will allow people to challenge my analysis and possibly show me if I'm wrong. I'd rather be wrong on this web site than in a published book. So, here's what I found:
The "young woman" Bruce Ivins stated he planned to murder by poisoning in June of 2000 was evidently his former assistant, Mara Kathleen Linscott.
The FBI summary report refers to Linscott as "former colleague #1." Ivins appears to have had only two assistants in the years just prior to the anthrax attacks, Mara Linscott and Patricia Fellows ("former colleague #2"). As the junior researcher, Linscott assisted Fellows, and together they assisted Dr. Ivins. The two women and Ivins wrote scientific papers together. They reportedly shared a close working relationship, and it appears they would talk about all manner of subjects while going about their daily tasks at Ft. Detrick. That close working relationship and camaraderie made Ivins greatly dependent upon them for his mental stability -- and Ivins seems to have realized this.
Then, in the summer of 1999, Mara Linscott quit her research work at USAMRIID and returned to school to get her MD degree. It was a shattering change for Ivins. For the rest of his life after Linscott's departure, Ivins would write long, rambling emails to Mara Linscott, which probably helped him compensate for the actual workday discussions he had enjoyed but which had come to an abrupt end.
In a way, Linscott was like the woman from Kappa Kappa Gamma who has "spurned" Ivins during his college years. She could not go unpunished for deserting him.
And in 2000, Patricia Fellows was also looking for work elsewhere. That, too, would have been a great change to Ivins' work life, a change a sociopath would find very difficult to accept.
In February of 2000, Ivins sought help from a psychiatrist who immediately prescribed an antidepressant (specifically: Celexa). The psychiatrist appears to be Dr. David S. Irwin, who diagnosed Ivins as a sociopath.
According to The Washington Post, it was in June of 2000 that Ivins became a client of Comprehensive Counseling Associates, about 1-1/2 miles from where Ivins lived. The Post says:
He began weekly individual sessions with a licensed clinical professional counselor there. The counselor said she remembers him as precise and unfailingly polite, yet sometimes "very cold, without emotion."Elsewhere in the article it also says,
On his second or third visit, the counselor said, "he got bizarre." Ivins talked of a young woman living somewhere in the Northeast and said he planned to drive to watch her play in a soccer game. "I think he was infatuated or thinking about getting involved," recalled the counselor,
Bruce E. Ivins told a counselor that he was interested in a young woman who lived out of town and that he had "mixed poison" that he took with him when he went to watch her play in a soccer match.
"If she lost, he was going to poison her," said the counselor, who treated Ivins at a Frederick clinic four or five times during the summer of 2000. She said Ivins emphasized that he was a skillful scientist who "knew how to do things without people finding out."
The counselor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said in an a two-hour interview yesterday that she was so alarmed by her client's emotionless description of a specific, homicidal plan that she immediately alerted the head of her clinic and a psychiatrist who had treated Ivins, as well as the Frederick Police Department. She said the police told her that nothing could be done because she did not have the woman's address or last name.Page 44 of the FBI's Summary Report indicates that Ivins visited Mara Linscott's home around that time. Ivins wrote an email to Linscott describing aspects of the visit. The report (with real names added) says:
In an e-mail dated June 27, 2000, shortly after he returned from a trip to visit [Mara Linscott], he wrote to her:
I apologized to [Patrica Fellows] for my behavior and paranoia - that’s exactly what it was, and I have no excuse for it, only regrets and apologies - last fall. Even with the Celexa and the counseling, the depression episodes still come and go. That’s unpleasant enough. What is REALLY scary is the paranoia - you saw a brief flash of it last Tuesday night when, for no reason, I acted as I did. . . . Remember when I told you about the “metallic” taste in my mouth that I got periodically? It’s when I get these “paranoid” episodes. Of course I regret them thoroughly when they are over, but when I’m going through them, it’s as if I am a passenger on a ride. The metallic taste was there on Tuesday night. I don’t want to become mean-spirited, hateful, angry, withdrawn and paranoid, and that’s why I reach out to talk to you (a lot) and [Patricia] (somewhat). . . . I think the problems started in 1997, and by the time you left, things were very bad. Your leaving then, even though we all knew it would happen, and even though we would keep in touch, was dreadfully painful. Then came the fall problems, [Patricia]’s looking for a job, and finally my going to get professional help.
So, it is not speculation that Ivins was having an extremely difficult time adjusting to losing Mara Linscott and to the prospect of also losing Patricia Fellows. His emails couldn't be more clear about that.
The date of the email, June 27, 2000, was a Tuesday, so, the Tuesday when Ivins visited Linscott would have been June 20. That fits very neatly with the counselor's description of Ivins' counseling sessions.
Ivins told the counselor of his plans to poison a "young woman." Since Linscott had not yet gotten her MD degree, she was most likely still in her 20's, and Ivins was 54 years old.
Ivins told his counselor that the "young woman" lived "somewhere in the Northeast." Linscott was attending the medical school at the University of Buffalo, but it was June, and she was very likely at home on summer break. She has early connections to Ithaca, NY, but her later connections seem to be to Massachusetts and Rhode Island. It's roughly 420 miles from Frederick to Providence, about an 8 hour drive for Ivins -- each way.
Again, according to the Washington Post:
He did not mention that he was married and had two children, the counselor recalled. Even so, she told him it would be inappropriate for a man of his age, then in his mid-50s, to travel to watch the woman, she said.
When Ivins returned the following week, he told her he had attended the soccer game anyway. That day, she said, he told her about the poison he had made but said he had not used it because the woman's team had won. She recalled that he also said he had grudges against several people from his past who he said deserved to be punished and that he knew how to find out where anyone lived.
He told her these things with "flat affect [and] total indifference," she said. "He obviously thought about this a lot. He made the poison, took it along. It was not a crime of impulse. It was planned with cunning."
Their last session did not last the full hour. By then the counselor had alerted people that she believed Ivins was homicidal. Her client said he no longer trusted her. She said she would no longer work with him. "It's not going well with the counselor I'm going to," Ivins wrote in a late-July e-mail released yesterday.What kind of "brief flash" of "paranoia" had Ivins exhibited during his visit to Linscott? How did Ivins justify his trip to visit her on a weekday evening? What did he tell his wife and family? What did he tell his employer? There are lots of unanswered questions that might be answered someday, if the people involved open themselves up to interviews.
The talk of watching a "young woman" at a soccer game seems to have been Ivins way of talking about his plans without getting so specific that the counselor would be able to figure out exactly who Ivins was planning to kill. It's one of the ways sociopaths manipulate others. Remember the quote I cited on January 30:
"Psychiatrists are often helplessly manipulated by the psychopath; just as are the psychopaths other victims."
--Dr. Ken Magid, "High Risk, Children Without a Conscience.
But, what was happening in Bruce Ivins' life and at work at that time shows very clearly that the murder plot was connected to his work. To his credit, he was seeking psychiatric help for his murderous impulses.
The facts also show that Ivins was fixated on Linscott. So, the idea that there could have been some other "young woman" who Ivins was thinking about poisoning seems extremely unlikely. All the facts point to Linscott. It makes a lot more sense that he would plan to murder Linscott, who had abandoned him after he became dependent upon her, than some random young woman who did nothing more than lose a soccer game. Plus, poisoning someone at a soccer game is vastly more difficult than poisoning someone when you've been invited to their home for supper or for drinks.
But, was Ivins really planning to to poison Linscott? Maybe he was lying to his counselor about that, too. Maybe. But, Ivins sought psychiatric help for his barely controllable compulsions, not for chronic lying. If he did plan to poison Linscott, did she do something that caused Ivins to change his mind? Or did he just decide that he couldn't expect to get away with such a crime because too many people knew about his connection to Linscott? Perhaps Ivins had asked Linscott to keep his visit secret, but when he arrived she told him that she had told her fiancé or someone else about him coming to visit, and Ivins' reaction could have been something he would describe as a "brief flash" of paranoia. It could really have been his reaction to learning that his careful plan to poison her wouldn't work. He'd definitely be caught. There are many possibilities, but they all show Dr. Bruce Ivins to have been a dangerous sociopath.
And all the pieces fit very neatly. As always, however, I'm open to any proof that this hypothesis is incorrect. And, of course, I'm certainly looking for any evidence that gives it further support.
My problem right now is changing this analysis into part of a chapter in my new book. Their names are not a secret, but Linscott and Fellows haven't been giving many media interviews. It seems they've tried to stay out of the spotlight for the past nine years or so. I don't want to cause anyone any grief. I used their names here because people on the Internet can figure out their names any time they want to, and at least one web site dedicated to the anthrax attacks uses their names nearly every day - even preposterously suggesting that the two women may have been somehow involved with some Muslim who supposedly perpetrated the attacks. However, books aren't like the Internet. Printed books cannot be easily changed.
I definitely cannot refer to them as "Former Colleague #1" and "Former Colleague #2" in my book. It's just too difficult to remember which woman is which if you do not use their names. It was only after I started using their real names that all the pieces described above fell into place.
In my book, I'll probably only use their first names, Mara and Pat. It's Pat whose name was one interpretation of the decoded hidden message (PAT) in the media letter. It's Mara who liked New York and the New York Yankees and represented the alternative way to decode the hidden message (FNY).
This comment is about figuring things out. My new book is supposed to be about how and why Ivins did what he did, and how he was identified as the anthrax killer by the FBI. It's not about me figuring anything out.
It's extremely difficult to write the book when so many seemingly key details aren't known. Exactly where did Linscott live in June of 2000? How did Ivins display his "paranoia" during his visit to Linscott? Did Linscott and Fellows realize they were working with a dangeous sociopath who was becoming very dependent upon having them around?
Ivins' relationship with the two women is a fascinating look into sociopathy, particularly since many of his emails are available and they eliminate any doubt about how their departure from Ft. Detrick affected him. I just need to find the right approach and the right words to describe it all, making it as interesting to the reader as it has become to me.
& Changes: Sunday, February 6, thru Saturday, February 12, 2011
February 7, 2011 - Lew Weinstein's web site now has the letter that Gary Matsumoto sent to the National Academy of Sciences to influence their review. The letter describes questions (and misconceptions) Matsumoto still has about the attack anthrax and asks if the NAS found the answers to the questions. And, if not, why not?
February 6, 2011 - The most interesting thing that happened to me last week didn't involve the anthrax case. It was the 23.5 inches of snow that fell overnight on Tuesday and into Wednesday. And that was on top of the 5 or 6 inches already on the ground. It was a full-scale blizzard with winds over 40 mph. The snow drifts were nearly up to the second floor, totally burying my front door. But, I didn't have anything planned for that day, anyway, so, except for going out the back door to take some pictures, I just stayed inside and argued about anthrax on the Internet. (It's snowing again this morning, about 2 inches of new snow so far.)
Meanwhile, the arguments about the Amerithrax investigation are getting sillier and sillier. I keep wanting to just forget about the debates and focus on my book, but as soon as I try, someone posts some wildly absurd or totally false statement that I feel compelled to refute. One example is describing evidence as just "commentary."
In one crazy piece of logic, someone argued that if I could not name the FBI experts who discovered or figured out the "hidden message" in the media letters, and whose findings are described on pages 58-64 of the FBI's Summary Report, then those experts do not exist and the only real "experts" are the unidentified people who do not believe the hidden message exists or who have other interpretations for the hidden message.
In another crazy piece of logic, someone argued that if Ivins was at a group therapy session, that means he had an alibi for the time of the first mailing - which could have happened any time between 5 p.m. on September 17, 2001 and noon on September 18. It appears to be some kind of crazy word game. Ivins had an alibi for part of the time, so that means he had an alibi, and it cannot be argued that he didn't have an alibi. What kind of crazy reasoning is that?
And, of course, as they've been doing since Ivins was named as the anthrax mailer, everyone on the forum argues that the FBI has NO evidence proving Ivins' guilt. Why? Because they can dream up alternative theories for everything. The only evidence they will accept is a single fact that cannot be challenged or questioned and proves guilt beyond ANY doubt. We went around and around about what constitutes evidence in court, but they argue that things that are NOT evidence are really evidence - like the irrelevant fact that someone at Ft. Detrick (not Ivins) once made dead dried spores - and things that ARE evidence are really not evidence - like Ivins' fixation with KKG and multiple burglaries which are evidence of his sociopathic personality and disregard for the law.
One truly crazy argument still baffles me. It's difficult to even figure out what they are arguing. They seem to argue that the FBI implied in their Summary Report that Ivins used the copy machine at Ft. Detrick. But, the Summary Report just says that the FBI found no evidence that Ivins used the copy machine at Ft. Detrick for the anthrax letters. So, they ask: Why did the FBI even mention it? I did research, and I found that the FBI checked 1,014 copy machines at every location that had the Ames strain and found none that matched the markings on the senate letters. The copy machine in the library at Ft. Detrick was one of those machines. However, the main reason the FBI mentions it is evidently because in-out logs show that Ivins was in the library at Ft. Detrick during part of the 3-day period when the senate letters were mailed. It would be natural to wonder if Ivins used that copy machine in the library to make the senate anthrax letters at that time. So, the report says that there's no evidence of it.
It's now Sunday afternoon, and they're still arguing about this, and they specifically complain that I don't post the actual "innuendo" words on this web site. So, here's what the FBI wrote on page 13 of the FBI's Summary Report about the 1,014 photocopy machines they checked:
All four of the recovered anthrax envelopes contained a white, photocopied letter on paper cut to irregular size by trimming one to three edges of the page. The letters to the New York Post and Brokaw contain identical handwritten text, and the letters to Senators Daschle and Leahy likewise contain the same handprinted text. Three “trash marks,” or copy imperfections, of forensic value were found on the letters to Senators Daschle and Leahy, but not on the letters to the New York Post and Brokaw. These trash markings were compared to letters maintained in the FBI Anonymous Threat Letter File and to 1,014 photocopier exemplar sets collected from copy machines located inside or near the vicinity of every known biological laboratory that possessed virulent Ames anthrax in 2001. No matches were found.
So, it's clearly stated that they never found the photocopier that was used. But, later in the Summary report, on page 32, they mention the 69-hour window during which the second mailings could have been made:
After he left on the afternoon of Sunday, October 7, 2001, Dr. Ivins did not enter B3 again until the evening of October 9, for just 15 minutes, and then again on October 14, for one hour and 26 minutes. The scientists who evaluated the material in the letters to Senators Daschle and Leahy (i.e., the second round) found it to be far cleaner and more refined than the material in the earlier letters, which according to these experts would have required additional lab hours to create. In the 69-hour window in which the second mailings could have been made, Dr. Ivins could account for only a few hours that weekend. He had no alibi for the remaining time. 19
Footnote #19 on the same page provides additional details about the times when Ivins' whereabouts were known and documented during those 69 hours. The footnote also contains the words that are considered to be "innuendo." They are highlighted in red below:
19 In addition, during these same few weeks, Dr. Ivins exhibited an unusual pattern of access to the USAMRIID Library, where there was a photocopying machine. On Sunday, September 16, he was in the library from 2:11 p.m. through 2:25 p.m. According to lab access records, also present were two other USAMRIID employees. On Saturday, September 22, he was present in the library from 8:22 p.m. through 8:36 p.m., with no other researchers present. Finally, on Friday, September 28, he was in the library from 10:42 p.m. through 10:55 p.m., again with no other researchers present. Each of the anthrax-laden letters was a photocopy of originals which have never been found.
The six words in red are viewed as "innuendo" that Ivins used the photocopier in the library, even though it was stated earlier in the report that the photocopier used in the attacks was never found. If it's "innuendo," why would there be "innuendo" in a report that states beyond any doubt that Ivins was the anthrax killer?
Is it really "innuendo," or are the FBI authors just pointing out that there was a photocopy machine in the library where Ivins spent some key time, but there was no evidence that Ivins used it for the anthrax mailings? I won't even attempt to decipher the screwball logic one person uses about other tests that could have been done on the copier in the library to conclusively prove that it was not the copier used for the attacks.
Researching all this reminded me that Ivins used photocopy machines in some of his other criminal activities:
1. Ivins burglarized the KKG sorority house at the University of Maryland at College Park to steal their book of rituals. He photocopied it and distributed it around the campus.
2. Ivins burglarized the KKG sorority house at the North Carolina University at Chapel Hill to steal their book of rituals. He photocopied it and gave copies away via an ad in Mother Jones magazine.
3. Ivins burglarized the KKG sorority house at West Virginia University at Morgantown to steal their book of rituals. He photocopied it and gave copies away via an ad in Rolling Stone magazine.
So, why would anyone
think Ivins would have used the photocopy machine at Ft. Detrick for
any of his criminal activities? Why would he use a copy machine
where he works (and where he has to
use his key card to get to it,
leaving a record) for his most dangerous criminal act?
response to my findings was as follows:
Fascinating indeed. It was useful for Ed Lake to CONCLUSIVELY demonstrate that the photocopier in USAMRIID was NOT the one used to photocopy the anthrax letters, in spite of the FBI’s deliberate innuendo that it was.
The photocopy fabricated evidence (innuendo) wouldn't have lasted 2 seconds in court – just like the fantasies about secret codes.It's another illustration of what some people consider to be evidence. The facts are not evidence, their beliefs are evidence. They perceive "innuendo" as evidence of underhandedness by the FBI that could be used in court to free a mass murderer, but Ivins' multiple burglaries are viewed as nothing but college pranks (by a man who was 38 years old at the time of the Knoxville incident and who had been out of college for 8 years).
And the same "bizarre response" above also includes a comment that shows they are still looking to the NAS report to somehow verify all their screwball beliefs.
And the FBI’s coup-de-grace – their total junk science case – is about to happen in the next 3 weeks. That is, unless they somehow manipulate the NAS into yet another “stay of execution”.
The NAS report is due sometime this month. I received an email from them which stated this about the "Review of the Scientific Approaches used During the FBI's Investigation of the 2001 Bacillus Anthracis Mailings":
The project listed above will ultimately result in a final report. As with nearly all Academies reports, when it's publicly released, the title will be posted in the Current Projects database http://www8.nationalacademies.org/cp/ within the study's project record and the report title will be hyperlinked to take you to the report at the National Academies Press (NAP) website: ww.nap.edu
That seems to suggest that the report will be available for free to everyone. I hope that's the case. It should definitely generate some news and discussion. However, I'll probably wait for others to comment on it before I do. One nice thing about all these debates and all the controversy it that there's no chance of totally forgetting about something like the NAS report. There are people out there in Internet-Land frantically and impatiently waiting for it, so I can just wait for them to spot it and tell me about it.
A few additional comments: January ended last week. Here is my Daily Usage chart for the month:
That peak on January the 6th is the result of all the activity generated by Twitter and Facebook rumors that CNN had reported that there was anthrax in Tide detergent samples sent through the mails. It was total nonsense, but about 1,500 people visited my site looking for information about it anyway.
The chart below shows that the U.S. government and the U.S. military were both among the top 10 types of web sites sending visitors to my site during January. That's somewhat unusual.
The 2,711 hits from the Russian Federation, of course, exclude the 10,000+ hits that I blocked.
& Changes: Sunday, January 30,
2011, thru Saturday, February 5, 2011
February 4, 2011 - Someone just provided a link to an August 2008 video of Shepard Smith and the folks at Fox News discussing the way the FBI's case against Bruce Ivins was being leaked to the media in the days immediately after Ivins' suicide. It's HERE. Unfortunately, we don't know what the thoughts of those same people are today. (Since it's Fox News, they probably haven't changed their minds about anything.) Meanwhile, novelist Lew Weinstein will be on a radio show on Monday February 7 to discuss his beliefs about the case and to keep the controversy alive.
January 30, 2011 - I'm trying to focus on writing my new book, but it is extremely difficult. I keep having to do research to clarify points that I thought were clear, but, when I write the words, I see they are not clear. For example, I thought Ivins burglarized only two Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority houses, but when I started writing things down it became clear that he burglarized three - the KKG houses at WVU (West Virginia University at Morgantown), NCU (North Carolina University at Chapel Hill) and at UMCP (The University of Maryland at College Park).
But, most interesting to me was the discovery that "middle age" seemed to calm down Ivins and allow him to control his obsessions for awhile. The timeline shows that he did little that was unusual in the fifteen years between 1985, when he almost got into trouble for distributing copies of the KKG Ritual Book via Rolling Stone magazine, and 2000, when he told his mental health counselor that he planned to murder an innocent young woman.
I've also been noting Ivins' age at various points in his life. He was 29 when he got married, he was 39 in 1985 when he seemed to temporarily change his ways and gain control of his obsessions, one year short of the traditional start of "middle age," and he was 55 in 2000 when he again began uncontrolled obsessing, fourteen years into "middle age." Presumably, during the quiet 15 years he was distracted by his two growing children and kept too busy with his work at USAMRIID to let his hidden obessions turn into overt criminal actions.
I also noticed while doing some research that at least one other person didn't believe Ivins' claims that he was a paranoid schizophrenic, and she felt that it was probably Ivins' own diagnosis, not the diagnosis of any psychiatrist. This is from page 37 of FBI pdf file #847357:
IVINS informed XXXXX that he was labeled with bipolar and schizophrenic disorders; however, the disorder labels did not fit with XXXXX so XXXXX disregarded them. XXXXX was not clear whether the labels were assigned by IVINS or his doctors. XXXXX did not recall if XXXXX was aware of these labels. XXXXX thought that IVINS had a personality disorder which did not cross into "frank psychosis." Nothing in IVINS behavior made [her] worry about the technical aspects of his job performance. His condition affected his social interactions; however, his disorder did not prevent his functioning at work, nor his community involvement and work with children.
Last week, a mental health care professional emailed me some "favorite quotes" about psychopaths:
"It must be remembered that even the most severely and obviously disabled psychopath presents a technical appearance of sanity, often with high intellectual capacities and not infrequently succeeds in business or professional activities for short periods, some for considerable periods. Although they occasionally appear on casual inspection as successful members of the community, as able lawyers, executive or physicians, they do not, it seems, succeed in the sense of finding satisfaction of fulfillment in their own accomplishments. Nor do they, when the full story is known, appear to find this in an ordinary activity."
--H.Cleckley, "The Mask of Sanity"
"Psychiatrists are often helplessly manipulated by the psychopath; just as are the psychopaths other victims."
--Dr. Ken Magid, "High Risk, Children Without a Conscience."
"There are psychopathic personalities in the highest echelons of government, and even within religious hierarchies in America. You can't just assume that a person with the title judge or hospital orderly got there honestly and won't manipulate the hell out of you."
--Personal communication from Psychologist Schreibman to H. Cleckley, 2/10/86
Previously, my problem with writing about Ivins was that I didn't know enough about him, and I didn't particularly want to dig into the "creepy" personal activities of a diagnosed sociopath. My current problem seems to be trying to figure out how to put the information I've learned about Ivins into book form in an interesting and readable way, and what to include and what to exclude.
If I step sequentially through the bizarre and sometimes criminal actions by Ivins between 1975 and 1985, it can be dry and clincal. And it can be too long, since it's just the setup for a story that really begins in September of 2001.
Another idea I had was to start the book with the incident where Ivins convinced the KKG chapter in Knoxville, Tennessee to let him sing and play his guitar for them (when he was 38 years old). I initially thought he had specifically driven the 475 miles from Frederick to Knoxville (8 hours each way) to do the performance, which consisted of him singing their secret ritual songs, which shocked them and caused them to call the police (probably the campus police) to have him escort him out of the building.
But then I noticed something on page 91 of the FBI Summary Report that put a slightly different light on his visit to Knoxville, while also saying some interesting things about the Knoxville KKG building:
In an on-the-record interview in January 2008, Dr. Ivins stated that, in addition to his travels to obtain secret KKG materials, he also had in the past driven to other KKG chapter houses in places such as UVA in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the University of Cincinnati when he was home, just to walk around and look at the place. He likewise visited the University of Tennessee chapter of KKG in Knoxville, Tennessee, on one occasion when he was at that university interviewing for a fellowship. He used his KKG address list to locate the office. This chapter location was much like the one at Princeton University – in a multi-purpose campus building across the street from the university itself. Once there, he went up to the KKG office, knocked on the door, and disturbed the young women who were meeting there. He also drove around the University of Maryland KKG chapter house on a number of occasions, at one point receiving a call from an officer whose name he still recalled some 30 years later, who told him that he knew about the incident at the University of Tennessee, and that he would be watching him. Dr. Ivins also told investigators that he had attempted to visit the chapter at the University of Pennsylvania, but it had closed.
So, it makes total sense that he would have driven to the mailbox in Princeton because he wanted to put his anthrax letters into a mailbox near the KKG building. He probably also wanted to become familiar with the building at the same time -- possibly "casing it" for another burglary. And his trip to Knoxville may have been to check out the KKG building there for similar purposes.
But, it's this sentence about the Knoxville visit that confused things a bit:
Once there, he went up to the KKG office, knocked on the door, and disturbed the young women who were meeting there.
I interpret this as meaning that Ivins had driven to Knoxville to interview for a fellowship, and he visited the KKG building while there. Finding a meeting was going on, he interrupted the meeting and persuaded the women to allow him to sing and play his guitar for them. When they agreed (if they agreed), he "disturbed" them by singing their secret ritual songs, which resulted in him getting escorted from the building.
If that's how things happened, it would seem that getting the fellowship funding was a lot less important to Ivins than "disturbing" the KKG women. Or his mental condition prevented him from connecting the two actions, i.e., he couldn't see how "disturbing" the KKG women would very likely negate any chance of him getting the fellowship.
And why did he bring his guitar along to an interview for a fellowship? Is it because the fellowship wasn't really the reason he drove the 475 miles to Knoxville, it was only the excuse he gave to others for driving there?
This also shows how bold (and sociopathic) Ivins could be. He evidently interrupted a meeting just so he could shock (and ridicule) the KKG women with his sociopathic performance of their supposedly secret ritual songs. Did he know from his research that a meeting would be taking place at that particular time? Did he get invited in, or did he just barge in and start singing and playing his guitar? Did this happen on a weekend, so he'd only have to lie to his wife about why he went to Knoxville? Was the meeting during the day or in the evening? If it was in the evening, it could have been a school day. If it happened during a school day, he'd also have to lie to his bosses and co-workers at USAMRIID. And, of course he'd lie to everyone about what actually happened while he was in Knoxville.
Anyway, I had been mulling over the idea of opening the book with his trip to Knoxville, and then doing a "flashback" to previous years where I would lay out details about his home and schooling, the three burglaries (plus stealing Nancy Haigwood's lab book) and all the other sociopathic things he did regarding the KKG fraternity - and how he learned the ritual songs he sang at Knoxville. But, there are too many missing details, and I don't want to spend the time trying to find out if the Knoxville incident happened during the day, or in the evening, or on a weekend. I'm not sure I can begin the book with the Knoxville incident if I don't have all of those kinds of details. Details help make things interesting, but they can take a lot of time, and there's no guarantee that the details can be found without actually going to Knoxville and doing research there. That isn't really an option. And it really has nothing significant to do with the anthrax attacks.
I just need to stop doing research at some point and focus on writing. Right now, that is still very difficult.
& Changes: Sunday, January 23,
2011, thru Saturday, January 29, 2011
January 27, 2011 (B) - Lew Weinstein's web site is displaying a letter sent to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) by three scientists voicing their opinions about the attack anthrax. The scientists are Dr. Barbara Hatch Rosenberg (best known for her campaign to point the finger at Dr. Steven Hatfill), Dr. Stuart Jacobsen (best known for his claims in Science Magazine that tiny particles of silica were glued to the attack spores with resin) and Dr. Martin Hugh-Jones of Louisiana State University, who seems to have joined with a very odd group. The letter seems to suggest that the beliefs of conspiracy theoriests and True Believers should not be dismissed by the NAS unless they can explain the nature and source of the silicon in the attack spores, the nature and source of the Bacillus subtilis contamination in the media letters, and exactly how Ivins was able to produce the spores with the equipment he had available to him.
I don't think those matters are part of what the NAS was asked to evaluate and review. But, if the NAS doesn't comment on those matters, the conspiracy theorists will certainly claim that verifies what they have always believed: The NAS's independent review is biased in favor of the government organization that paid for the independent review - the FBI - and ignores the beliefs and theories of conspiracy theorists.
Not to be outdone, the list of documents the NAS received from outsiders shows that lawyer Ross Getman sent 5 items to the NAS (some probably voicing his firm belief that some Muslim was behind the attacks), a woman who believes the anthrax culprits were Pakistani Muslims she knew while attending Iowa State University 11 years before the attacks sent 1 item, journalist Gary Matsumoto sent 1, lawyer/conspiracy theoryist Barry Kissen sent 2 items, and others sent a few, also.
January 27, 2011 (A) - It's a bit off-topic, but someone advised me of a blog where people discuss the TV show "House." It's interesting to see knowledgeable discussions about House's fictional diagnosis of a patient and whether it was a good actual diagnosis or not. And no one saw anything wrong with teaching Cuddy's 3 or 4-year-old daughter Rachel how to cheat and lie:
House’s grudging admiration for Rachel made me smile, I’m interested to see how their relationship plays out.
Oh man, i could laugh a lot when House is asking wilson for advice the first time on how to cheat on Rachel’s test
As for House training Rachel with a dog aparatus – Cudos! So House so well done even the cheezy ending was fun to watch.
If House had stolen the password, charged the money, and put up the picture (not to punish Chase but just for fun) it would seem all in his day’s work (along with lying to the preschool folks and trying to prep Rachel).
I'm glad there are people still able to be amused by fiction without complaining about what reality would be like.
Unfortunately, that wasn't always the same situation in comments about the previous week's episode:
I liked a lot about this episode but I really got upset when Wilson called House a sociopath. That’s a clinical term that has no redeeming comedy value in my mind. Especially coming from somebody who knows what it means and knows House very well. Especially because the character has been written and portrayed more and more lately as though he really -is- a sociopath. I don’t believe that he is. I feel that you cannot have a hero who is also clinically mentally ill.
Sure, House is an ass, selfish, manipulative, insecure, in pain, socially inept, and in denial. These all have been played out with the redeeming qualities that we know about, and some that (I hope) are yet to be revealed, but being a sociopath is really impossible to come back from
But, some could see the fictional side of things:
I think you described a “sociopath” perfectly! Of course House is a sociopath. America LOOOOVES the morally challenged: Dexter, Walter of Breaking Bad, Don Draper of Mad Men, etc. They get nominated for Emmys, Golden Globes, etc…
House is possibly a little
“meaner” than the others and certainly doesn’t give a righteous rat’s
ass about anybody but himself (even Cuddy is just an accommodating
walking vagina to him), but Hugh Laurie is a lot cuter than the actors
who play the aforementioned “sociopaths.” So….
Blogger A: I agree House is
not a Sociopath. They had an episode about one before, and there is
definitively a difference. I recall House was interested in her because
I think he wanted to observe one close up.
Blogger B: She was a psychopath there is a difference between a sociopath and a psychopath.
I agree that there is a
difference between a sociopath and a psychopath, even though it's often
experts that the terms are generally interchangeable. If
there is no actual difference to some
psychologists, there is still a perceived
difference to people who enjoy fiction. Sociopaths can be funny
and more constructive than destructive - like Gregory House.
There's nothing funny or constructive about a psychopath.
A sociopath does not exhibit a significant number of behaviors that House has shown over the 7 years.
Sociopaths are humans.
means that no two are exactly alike - in fact and in fiction.
And there's something else that has been keeping me from focusing on my book: I keep wanting to mention Monday's episode of "House." I've stated in the past that, since Bruce Ivins was a diagnosed sociopath, he wouldn't have had any problem persuading a 6-year-old to write the anthrax letters and address the envelopes for him. On Monday, I wondered if the writers for "House" read this web site, since on the previous week's show they had House's friend Dr. Wilson call House a "sociopath," and on Monday's show they had Greg House manipulate the 3 or 4 year old daughter of his boss/girlfriend Dr. Cuddy into cheating on entry tests for pre-school and lying about it. House was very pleased when the child seemed able to lie flawlessly, even though she couldn't get into the pre-school class because it was filled.
I realize it's a fictional show, but they hire doctors and probably psychiatrists as advisors for all the medical jargon and techniques used on the show. It's undoubtedly pure fiction when no one has had Dr. House thrown in jail after he drugged them or did any number of other sociopathic misdeeds that are punishable by law, but that doesn't mean that the psychology is wrong. Fiction is often just exaggerated fact. Gregory House is funny and charming in his own way, and he's the best diagnostician on the planet, so his sociopathic ways are generally tolerated - even if the hospital sometimes has to put their lawyers to work to keep patients from suing them because of something House said or did.
Interestingly, in the discussions we also talked about Adrian Monk from the TV series "Monk," who had Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Someone was arguing that Ivins could have had OCD and that's why he was obsessed with certain successful women and with the KKG sorority, and why he would drive for long hours to commit burglaries, and why he thought about killing some of them. I argued that those kinds of obsessions are sociopathic obsessions and have nothing to do with OCD, but I got nowhere. I also tried to argue that getting phone calls at 4:30 in the morning from a man who is about to be indicted for mass murder, who has stated plans to commit another mass murder, and who blames you for all of his problems and for ruining his life is a "menacing" phone call even if the caller doesn't state an actual threat. But I got nowhere with that argument, either. When you get nowhere too often, it's time to change course. And that's what I'm going to try to do -- starting now.
January 24, 2011 - I'm getting emails from a Ivins supporter claiming that USA Today was wrong, that Ivins moved to Montgomery Village, MD, first, then moved out, and then Nancy Haigwood coincidentally moved in close by to where Ivins had lived. I can't verify any of this. None of the "clues" to the claimed source of this information pan out. That's typical of arguments by True Believers and conspiracy theorists. (The key source seems to be a 1983 Frederick News-Post article that isn't accessable on-line. It supposedly says that Ivins moved to Frederick in January of 1981.)
However, the AP reporter who wrote the story that appeared in USA Today could have been wrong. I can't verify what he wrote. So, for the sake of accuracy, I went back and changed that part of Sunday's comment - deleting all references to Ivins moving to be close to Haigwood. What's left is still very damning for Ivins. The questionable comment about when and where Ivins moved is just one item in a nearly endless list of Ivins' sociopathic actions. The rest seem solid.
One email I received also claims that Ivins' stalking of Nancy Haigwood for 27 years is no different than someone having a favorite movie star. Yeah, sure.
January 23, 2011 - I think I'm reaching the point where I can feel confident about describing in my new book Ivins' mental state prior to the anthrax attacks of 2001. He was definitely a sociopath. The only arguments I'm getting about that are from people who simply do not believe the facts. Ivins also appears to have had "mother issues," which might explain his obsessions with the attractive and successful women he knew.
Ivins evidently believed his mother was an "undiagnosed paranoid schizophenic." It's what he wrote on a "GreekChat forum" in 2006 using the false name "Prunetacos." The Washington Post reported on it this way:
Ivins's e-mails released by the Justice Department -- and other writings discovered by The Washington Post -- also reveal a man intensely focused on his and his family's mental health. "The skeletons are all out," he wrote in one GreekChat posting from 2006. "I'm having a devil of a time rounding them back up. Let's see . . . how about mom who was an undiagnosed paranoid schizophrenic. . . . Is that bones enough?"
Ivins also appears to have had issues with other members of his family. He criticizes his brother in that same GreekChat message, and page 157 of FBI pdf file #847444 contains this about Ivins' father and mother:
Although IVINS's father was a pharmacists, IVINS always wanted to be a scientist, even a microbiologist, from an early age. IVINS's father was at times physically "abused" by his wife; IVINS's mom stabbed his father with a fork on one occasion and "split his [the father's] head with a broom stick on XXXXX. IVINS indicated his mother was very controlling. XXXXX the past IVINS's has remarked XXXXXXXX of his subservient role in his marriage.
IVINS confided XXXXX he did not have a good relationship with his father, and his father "did not care for anyone [his wife, IVINS, or his brothers]. For this reason, IVINS had a hard time dealing with providing care for his father in his elder years. IVINS expressed anger and resentment in having to care for his aging father.
Of course, a typical sociopath is a pathological liar who is always going to tell people what he wants them to hear, so, who knows how much of it is actually true?
I found it interesting that Ivins was still obsessing over Nancy Haigwood in 2007, twenty eight years after he broke into her locker at North Carolina University and stole her lab book. In archive #1 of the Wikipedia discussion page for the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority article, using the name "Jimmy Flathead," Ivins asks in 2006:
could Dr. Nancy Logan Haigwood be added back to the list of Notable Kappas?
In archive #2 he mentioned Dr. Haigwood in a post in August of 2007:
I'd like to see some Kappas put down for their scientific achievments. It's not my job to do it, but I can think of Dr. Nancy Haigwood and Dr. Gail Williams Wertz immediately as alumae who have distinguished themselves. It would look good, but I'm not about to go create a Wikipedia page for them just so they can be on the Kappa page. I just get tired of seeing lots of TV and moviestars, but scientists get short shrift. jimmyflathead 03:14, 15 August 2007 (UTC)
And, a month later:
I'm not in favor of removing Dr. Haigwood's name from the list of notable Kappas. I believe that her accomplishments warrant her inclusion and I know for certain that she is not only a KKG member, she was the chapter adviser (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) while in graduate school. I don't believe that fame or renown must derive from an individual's GLO membership and, as such, we may barely see a reference to it when describing the chief of neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins, or a Nobel lauriate in one of the scientific fields. There is certainly sufficient knowledge that the public can obtain (such as college yearbooks and the student newspaper, "The Daily Tarheel," to verify membership.jimmyflathead 00:25, 17 September 2007 (UTC)
He also admits to having a copy of KKG's Book of Ritual, which he could only have obtained by burglary:
Eelmonkey, I'm not a member of KKG, but at one time I had a copy of the Book Of Ritual. I'm familiar with their secrets and rituals, but I don't think that the organization would want them revealed. I would respectfully suggest you ask the opinions of some of the Kappas who have posted here. jimmyflathead 19:40, 7 July 2007 (UTC)
Eelmonkey, I also want to add that unless you have a copy of the KKG Cipher (decoder), or you have a decoded copy of the Book of Ritual, simply having the Book of Ritual won't do you any good...unless you got the information from the Fraternitysecrets.com message board which has now been down for quite some time. For example, do you know about the ***** room and *** room services? Do you know the secret names of the chapter officers? Do you know the terms for voting "yes" and "no?" Do you know what the Three Ideals of KKG are and what the Spirit is? Do you know what the ΚΚΓ Greek letters stand for? (It's NOT Key to the Kingdom of God, by the way.) The ritual book without the cipher is useless to you.jimmyflathead 19:19, 8 July 2007 (UTC)Archive #3 is all about the reaction at Wikipedia and at Kappa Kappa Gamma when they learned that Jimmy Flathead was Bruce Ivins who had just been identified by the FBI as the anthrax killer. It begins with an accusation that Kappa Kappa Gamma was bribed by the FBI to give false testimony against Bruce Ivins. The accusation is struck over but not deleted. It was posted by someone using the IP address 126.96.36.199, which shows up as being located in Ranco Palos Verdes, California. The research also led to a discussion page about Ivins that I'd never seen before.
All of Bruce Ivins' attempts to change the KKG Wikipedia article are still archived, too. The last seems to be dated 27 July, 2006, when he posted this as part of the article:
In 1997, three DePauw Kappa actives were found to have hazed three pledges by burning them with cigarettes and forcing them to consume alcoholic beverages.
Someone deleted it the next day. It appears to be the second time it was deleted. "Jimmy Flathead's" earlier comments are similar, in that they say odd things about KKG and get deleted. Here's another example from 20 July 2006 where he seems to be playing games with the readers of the KKG page, since he's the one who stole the "Book of Ritual":
In 1981, photostatic copies of the deciphered KKG Book of Ritual, along with the cipher itself, were sent to the public by an individual indentifying herself as Carla Sander. Material described included the Fireside Service, Red Room Service and White Room Service.
"Carla Sander" is another name Ivins used when it suited him. It was the name on the advertisement Ivins placed in Mother Jones magazine to get free copies of KKG's ritual book, and the name on the P.O. Box where responses were to be sent. It appears to be a distorted and feminized version of Carl Scandella, who was Nancy Haigwood's boyfriend and then husband in the early 1980s'. According to USA Today:
In the summer of 1982, Haigwood moved in with Scandella, then her fiancee, in a townhouse in the Washington, D.C., suburb of Montgomery Village. On Nov. 30 that year, Scandella awoke to find the Greek letters "KKG" spray-painted on the rear window of his car and on the sidewalk and fence in front of the home. Although a police report filed by Scandella does not mention any possible suspects, Haigwood quickly concluded that Ivins was responsible.
"My address wasn't published, and I only lived there a short while before Carl and I got married and moved out of state," Haigwood said Friday. "No one knew my address or my phone number. You had to stalk me to figure this stuff out."Later, according to The New York Times, when Haigwood was living in Oregon, Ivins sent her e-mail messages which mentioned details about her sons that she had not shared with him. That scared her.
Ivins provided Haigwood with one of the Internet email addresses he used: goldenphoenix111 [at] hotmail.com. That led investigators to some posts he made to another web site: www.abovetopsecret.com. The post at that site is significant because Ivins suggests that the KKG sorority is out to get him, that they had a "Fatwa" on him. Ivins wrote:
Kappas are noted for being lovely, highly intelligent campus leaders. Unfortunately, they labeled me as an enemy decades ago, and I can only abide by their "Fatwa" on me. I like individual Kappas enormously, and love being around them. I never choose an enemy, but they've been after me since the 1960s, and REALLY after me since the late 1970s. At one time in my life, I knew more about KKG than any non-Kappa that ever lived. Unfortunately, I've forgotten a lot.
If KKG labeled Ivins as an "enemy," it was because Ivins was burglarizing their sorority houses and harassing their members. Ivins doesn't describe how KKG was expressing their "Fatwa," as a paranoid person would do. So, Ivins' comments do not seem to be any indication of paranoia, merely his distorted way of laughing at them as they reacted to his attacks and tried to stop his obsessive actions.
And then there are the things Bruce Ivins was saying just weeks before his suicide about killing and maiming Kathryn Price, a contestant on the reality TV series "The Mole," which aired early in 2001. Just click HERE and HERE. Examples:
Maybe something really dreadful will happen to Kathryn Price. If so, she will richly deserve it! The least someone could do would be to take a sharp ballpoint pin or letter opener and put her eyes out, to complete the task of making her a true mole!
With that he should have taken the hatchet and brought it down hard and sharply across her neck, severing her carotid artery and jugular vein. Then when she hits the ground, he completes the task on the other side of the neck, severing her trachea as well. The "Blind" mole is dead and Steve is a hero among heroes! I personally would have paid big money to have done it myself.
There are no dates associated with those comments, just a statement that they were four weeks before the date on the article - August 5, 2008 - which would mean they were written around July 8, the day before Ivins told his therapy group that he planned to murder his co-workers and go out in a "blaze of glory."
On the previous day, July 7, 2008, Ivins started a thread about Kathryn Price on the GreekChat forum, noting that Price was in a sorority at Kansas University and asking which sorority it was. Then he wrote:
I have a friend who's been a big fan of hers ever since "The Mole." She'd love to meet her, maybe at a book signing or at the opening of one of the movies she's written or produced. I appreciate the help. You can really, REALLY be proud of her. Did you know that she also finished second in her class at Stanford Law School? Hopefully somebody at chapter headquarters might have some more info on her. What Cindy (my friend) really wants is a picture standing beside her!
Obviously, Ivins wasn't a "big fan" of Price, and there was no Cindy. And, Ivins had evidently been obsessing about Price since "The Mole" aired in January and February of 2001. So, it can be left to the imagination as to what Ivins might have done if he had met Price at a book signing or some other function.
And, that's just some of what I found. The problem is figuring out what to use in my book, and how to use it. And, of course, there's also the problem of stopping all this endless research and actually getting back to writing the book.
& Changes: Sunday, January 16,
2011, thru Saturday, January 22, 2011
January 21, 2011 - While continuing my research into Bruce Ivins' background, I noticed an August 7, 2008 article in The New York Daily News which says:
Anthrax letters sent to two pro-choice U.S. senators listed a "Greendale" school on the return address. Probers found he [Ivins] donated to a Christian charity representing a school by the same name.That led to another article dated the same day on a web site which said:
the nation learned today that Ivins and his wife– who served as president of a local anti-abortion group– were strongly committed to the AFA [American Family Association]:Details of "the Greendale incident" lawsuit can be found HERE. It pertains to an incident in September of 1998 when a ten-year-old female student came home bruised from a spanking she received at the Greendale School.
Donations were made to AFA in the name of Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Ivins 11 times between 1993 and 1997. Another donation by the couple was recorded one month after an article about the Greendale incident appeared in the AFA Journal. The Ivins subscribed to the Journal until March 2005.
And his support for the AFA actually helped the FBI catch him:
Bureau investigators also connected the fictitious return address on the second round of anthrax letters –the "Greendale School" of Franklin Park, N.J.–to a charity well-known to Ivins. He had donated numerous times to a group called the American Family Association, which in 1999 had filed a lawsuit on behalf of parents at the Greendale Baptist Academy in Wisconsin in a dispute involving corporal punishment.
Again, this is information that has been around for a long time, and while others may have focused on it, it made little or no impression on me before now, because I was mainly focused means and opportunity, and on the science of the case. This relates more to Ivins' state of mind, which connects to motive.
The question that immediately comes to mind is: Why would Ivins deliberately use "Greendale School" in the return address on the two senate anthrax letters? I'm no mind reader - particularly the minds of the dead. He may have figured that no one could possibly make the connection - it is a very tenuous connection. Or, it could be just a "Freudian Slip," i.e., while scrambling up addresses to create a false return address that would appear real (so the anthrax filled letters couldn't be returned to an actual school if there was some problem with delivery) the name Greendale School just popped into his mind, and he used it.
It's particularly interesting to me, since I long ago noticed that there is a Greendale School in Greendale, WI, near where one of the FBI's early suspects lived at the time of the anthrax attacks. It's another instance where evidence pointing to one person can also point to another person, which conspiracy theorists and True Believers endlessly argue shows that it isn't really evidence. But it is really evidence. The early suspect had a perfect alibi for the time of the attacks. So, he couldn't have done it. But Ivins had no alibi, which means that the Greendale "circumstantial evidence" and whatever it means points to Ivins and not to the early suspect. Repeat that process dozens of times, where tenuous circumstantial evidence points to Ivins and not to another potential suspect, and the dozens of threads of tenuous evidence can be woven together to create very strong evidence for a jury.
January 20, 2011 (B) - Checking the Docket for the Stevens vs US lawsuit, I found that yesterday Maureen Stevens' lawyer filed for a 90-day extention on factual descovery, from March 1, 2011 to June 1, 2011, which the lawyers for the defense oppose. The delay would almost certainly push the trial date from December of 2011 into the spring of 2012. One reason for the requested delay is evidently because Stevens' lawyer is having difficulty locating various witnesses who are no longer employees of the government.
January 20, 2011 (A) - I'm trying to determine if Bruce Ivins committed the KKG burglaries while he was at North Carolina University (NCU) in Chapel Hill, NC, or if it was while he was working for the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS) in Bethesda, MD. FBI documents merely say it was in the "late 1970's.
Records show that Ivins was at NCU from January 1976 to July 1978. And he went to work for the USUHS on August 27, 1978 as a teaching/research associate (Post Doctral). He worked for the USUHS until he went to work for USAMRIID in December of 1980.
Other reports say it was in 1979, while he was working at USUHS, that he allegedly broke into Nancy Haigwood's locker at NCU and stole her lab book from her locker.
It's about a 5 hour drive from Bethesda to Chapel Hill. It was probably during this same period that he burglarized the KKG sorority houses at Chapel Hill and at Morgantown, West Virginia. Morgantown is a 3-1/2 hour drive from Bethesda.
And Bruce Ivins had been married 33 years when he committed suicide. So, that means he probably married Diane sometime in 1975, while he was still at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio.
If there is any doubt about Bruce Ivins being a sociopath who liked to manipulate people, according to The New York Times, Ivins had a will drawn up in 2007 that would manipulate is wife and family even after his death:
In a will he wrote last year, a few months before the Federal Bureau of Investigation focused the anthrax letters investigation on him, Dr. Ivins wrote of his wish to be cremated and have his ashes scattered. But fearing that his wife, Diane, and their two children might not honor the request, he came up with a novel way to enforce his demand: threatening to make a bequest to an organization he knew his wife opposed, Planned Parenthood.
“If my remains are not cremated and my ashes are not scattered or spread on the ground, I give to Planned Parenthood of Maryland” $50,000, Dr. Ivins wrote in the will. Court records value the estate at $143,000.The will also required that Diane Ivins provide the court with “detailed proof” that Dr. Ivins’s remains were indeed cremated and scattered. His wife's lawyers said the ashes would be scattered after the court advised them on what proof was needed.
I recall reading all this back in August of 2008, but it made little impression since I was mostly focused on evidence of guilt or innocence - specifically, means and opportunity. This is about Ivins being a sociopath, which only indirectly relates to motive. Sociopaths often have the same motives as "normal" people, but intensified. And, Ivins seems to have a history of getting away with crimes, so that history almost certainly was part of his thinking as he prepared the anthrax letters in August, September and October of 2001. (I include August because he was undoubtedly thinking of sending some kind of anthrax letter or letters before 9/11 pushed him into action.)
January 19, 2011 - I'm continuing to do research into Bruce Ivins' background, updating my Bruce Ivins Timeline page as I do so, and a few things have jumped out at me: (1) Ivins began to work with anthrax at USAMRIID in 1980. (2) It was 1982 when he seriously harrassed Nancy Haigwood. (3) It was 1983 or 1984 when Ivins asked the KKG sorority at the University of Tennessee if he could play the guitar and sing songs for them. When they agreed, he played and sang KKG ritual songs, which were supposed to be secret. He was escorted out of the place by police (probably campus police). (4) It was 1984 when Ivins allegedly placed an ad in Mother Jones magazine offering to distribute free copies of KKG's ritual book. (5) It was 1985 when Ivins was allegedly trying to distribute copies of KKG's ritual book via an ad in Rolling Stone magazine.
So, he was going all those nutty things involving KKG while he was working at USAMRIID. And, shortly before going to work for USAMRIID, he burglarized Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority houses at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and West Virginia University in Morgantown to the steal ritual books and decoding devices.
I'm having a hard time getting all the dates straight, but there's no doubt that, while he was working for USAMRIID, Bruce Ivins was also secretly traveling long distances to do very strange things regarding the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority - including going all the way to Tennessee to play the guitar and sing songs. According to page 10 of the FBI Summary report, "By his own account, many times over the years, he would drive three hours or more to visit various KKG sorority chapter houses. Once he arrived, he would look at the house for approximately ten minutes and then turn around and drive home for another three hours or more."
While all this was going on, Ivins was, of course, married and apparently doing it all without the knowlege of his wife.
And, I haven't even begun to look at his menacing Internet activities which, if I recall correctly, took place years after the anthax attacks, and, of course, also while he was working at USAMRIID.
January 18, 2011 (D) - Hmm. Someone in North Carolina is trying to update the Wikipedia article about the anthrax attacks of 2001 with claims that "three individuals" also received anthrax letters in 2001, and some "material witness" still has some of the anthrax. He or she keeps adding versions of this to the Wikipedia article (I redacted the FBI agents' names):
And to this day an apparent unknown material witness still possesses Anthrax spores that were mailed to said witness. As a result of collaboration between Special Agent xxx xxxx of the Raleigh, NC FBI and Agent xxxx xxxxx of the Charlotte, NC FBI. This evidence still remains in a private individual's possession instead of being used as evidence. When confronted with the fact that said witness was posting on an internet message board at the same time Ottillie Lundgren and Kathy Nguyen were Special Agent xxx xxxx said "That's just a coincidence."
And, evidently, no one on Earth is ever going to convince this person that it was a coincidence. 93 year old Ottilie Lundgren was on a message board? I've heard that claim before, so this person has apparently been trying to convince people of his beliefs for many years. Now he's claiming "More information to be released." Editors at Wikipedia keep deleting his changes since they aren't supported by any news articles or anything else. He or she appears to be another True Believer trying to make the world believe as he or she believes - regardless of the facts.
January 18, 2011 (C) - I was amused to see Dr. Gregory House of my favorite TV series "House" described as a "sociopath" by his best friend Dr. Wilson in last night's episode. Usually House is just described as a misanthrope. But, a man who drugs his girlfriend's mother so she'll stop talking and stop spoiling his evening is more likely a sociopath. There are certainly a lot of similarities between Gregory House and Sherlock Holmes as depicted in the recent PBS series "Sherlock" where Holmes described himself as a "high-functioning sociopath."
January 18, 2011 (B) - I'm still being attacked by Russians. On Saturday, they logged 2,496 error messages on my web site logs. Because they are blocked from my site, they can't actually view it, and the bandwidth they use is very low, but each attempt to access my site generates a log entry and a "403 error" entry on my error log. On Sunday the generated 999 error entries, and yesterday they generated 1,463 error entries. Today is looking like it will be equally busy. The "normal" number of 403 errors per day is roughly 300.
January 18, 2011 (A) - I would imagine that Bruce Ivins' psych evaluations while at Ft. Detrick will play an important role in the Maureen Stevens vs U.S. lawsuit. The only information I can find about Ivins' psych evaluations prior to his being committed in 2008 comes from an Associated Press article dated August 7, 2008, but it's an article that is no longer on-line. However, the article is summarized HERE, and it contained this:
Mental health reviews are a key part of the military's security program, but at least one former colleague at Fort Detrick has said it's usually up to scientists themselves to report their problems.
At most labs, unless scientists have been committed to a mental hospital, psychiatric issues don't factor into the security process. That's a policy decision that balances security and privacy rights.
A New York Times article from August 6, 2008, seems to confirm that, at Ft. Detrick, the scientists themselves had to report any mental problems or drug use:
An Army spokeswoman said researchers at Fort Detrick must undergo background checks by the F.B.I. before they may work with biological agents and toxins like anthrax. Employees are required to report “potentially disqualifying” medical problems or use of prescription drugs.
January 17, 2011 (B) - I'm snowed in, so I've got no choice but to work on my new book. Writing a chapter about Bruce Ivins' background and personality is forcing me to do research into areas I tended to avoid in the past. I'm finding things about Ivins that I had read long ago but fully forgot about. For example, I found this in The Washington Post:
“More than a year before the anthrax attacks that killed five people in 2001, Bruce E. Ivins told a counselor that he was interested in a young woman who lived out of town and that he had “mixed poison” that he took with him when he went to watch her play in a soccer match.
“If she lost, he was going to poison her,”
said the counselor, who treated Ivins at a Frederick clinic four or
five times during the summer of 2000. She said Ivins emphasized that he
was a skillful scientist who “knew how to do things without people
The counselor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said in an a two-hour interview yesterday that she was so alarmed by her client's emotionless description of a specific, homicidal plan that she immediately alerted the head of her clinic and a psychiatrist who had treated Ivins, as well as the Frederick Police Department. She said the police told her that nothing could be done because she did not have the woman's address or last name.
Hmmm. Evidently, that’s what Ivins was talking about on March 4, 2001, when Ivins sent an e-mail to Former Colleague #1 revealing that:
“The [therapist] I saw before I went into group wanted to get me put in jail.”
Source: Page 45 of the FBI's
You could probably make
a good diagnosis that Ivins was a sociopath from that one instance
[A sociopath has] no problem lying coolly and easily and it is almost impossible for them to be truthful on a consistent basis. Can create, and get caught up in, a complex belief about their own powers and abilities. Extremely convincing and even able to pass lie detector tests.
And another web site that contains this:
Why can a sociopath often pass a lie detector test despite being guilty?
Research suggests there may be a biological component to the sociopath’s fearlessness. Sociopaths are remarkably tolerant of electric shock (Hare & Schalling, 1978). Under tense conditions they show heart rate acceleration but few other signs of stress—no sweaty palms, for example. They typically pass a lie detector test even if they are lying. Ability to pass a lie detector test is part of the FBI’s profile for murderers who mutilate their victims, because this type of person is usually an antisocial personality.
I love it when a puzzle is largely solved and the remaining pieces all fall together very easily.
January 16, 2011 - Last week was fairly productive, but not in the way I had hoped or planned. I had hoped to get back to work on my new book, on the sections about Dr. Ivins, but I managed to get only a page or so written when I became sidetracked by on-line discussions about Dr. Ivins' mental health. During that discussion and the research prompted by it, I learned that Dr. Ivins was diagnosed as a sociopath before the anthrax mailings, which almost certainly means he was a sociopath all of his life.
But, he was also a functioning sociopath, which means he could function in society, he could hold a job, he could marry and have children, and he could appear normal to most observers.
The fictional Gordon Gekko of the movie "Wall Street" was a high-functioning sociopath. His lack of concern for other people was demonstrated in his ruthlessness in business: "Greed is good." He would have absolutely no concerns about buying a company, selling off its assets to make a profit, shutting it down and putting hundreds of people out of work. The problems of other people were of no concern to him. I've met one or two such people in the business world in my day. The terrific recent PBS series "Sherlock" reinvented Sherlock Holmes as a modern day "consulting detective" in today's London, and Sherlock described himself as a "High-functioning sociopath." He was only interested in solving mysteries. If he worried about Dr. Watson, it was because he needed Dr. Watson to run errands for him. Good help is hard to find.
In the discussions last week, when someone argued with me that Ivins didn't fit any of the ten general symptoms of a sociopath, I went through every item on the list and showed that all of them very much applied to Bruce Ivins.
The ten general symptoms of a sociopath:
* not learning from
Those discussions began with pure frustration on my part. As far as I was concerned, the issue of whether or not the J-Lo letter contained anthrax was resolved years ago: The J-Lo letter did NOT contain anthrax. I had been working on a web page about the J-Lo letter when the news broke about Bruce Ivins committing suicide and the possible closing of the Amerithrax investigation. The web page proved beyond any reasonable doubt that the J-Lo letter did not contain anthrax. The data proved it.
Yet, suddenly I was arguing endlessly with people on Lew Weinstein's web site about it because, suddenly, four different people on that site were dreaming up with one bizarre theory after another about the case based upon beliefs that the envelope sent to Jennifer Lopez c/o the Sun contained anthrax along with a love letter to Lopez, a small box of detergent, a cigar tube and a Star of David pendant. And they were using as "proof" of their beliefs the fact that this was said in a "peer reviewed" CDC report on the CDC's web site:
This report describes the investigation of the first bioterrorism-related anthrax case identified in the United States. We detected two inhalational anthrax cases (including the index case) among workers of a Florida media company. Anthrax transmission and widespread environmental contamination throughout the workplace and in six local postal facilities most likely resulted from two letters containing B. anthracis spores delivered to the workplace.
And a report the the U.S. Postal Service said this:
It is not certain which of six Florida post offices was involved with processing the two letters sent to AMI, so all six were included in this category.
The other letter of the "two letters" was the one opened by Stephanie Dailey on September 24 or 25, 2001.
I tried to argue that facts in the CDC's own report showed that the J-Lo letter didn't contain anthrax. Only the letter that Stephanie Dailey opened actually contained anthrax. Evidence: (1) The area where the J-Lo letter was opened was one of the least contaminated areas in the AMI building, and (2) the person who opened the J-Lo letter tested negative for anthrax exposure. The CDC found anthrax on Bob Stevens' computer keyboard, where he was said to have read the J-Lo letter, but the data shows that they had to test 20 times for spores to find any on the keyboard. (3) It was biased data. They believed an anthrax letter had been read there, so they tested multiple times until they found a spore to prove it. Meanwhile, (4) the areas around Stephanie Dailey's desk near the first floor mailroom were tested only 6 times, and 5 of the 6 swabs (83%) tested positive. And (5) she tested positive for anthrax exposure. So, the facts say that's where the one and only anthrax letter received at AMI was opened.
I pointed to two news sources which showed the FBI's analysis of the J-Lo letter:
The first source
On Tuesday the FBI dismissed reports that the anthrax that killed Sun newspaper photo editor Bob Stevens may have been sent to his office in the American Media building in a “weird love letter to Jennifer Lopez.” The letter reportedly contained a trinket and white powder.
The second source said:
FBI investigators apparently dismiss the Jennifer Lopez letter to AMI as a potential source of the anthrax – “We are not in the possession of the Jennifer Lopez letter but it does not appear to be a valid lead.” It was reported that the substance in the envelope turned out to be detergent.But, someone on Lew Weinstein's site dismissed these dismissals because those news reports were dated before the CDC and USPS reports. One of the True Believers kept pressing me to check my sources to see if the FBI now agreed with the CDC that there were two letters.
I'm reluctant to check with my sources about the rantings of True Believers and conspiracy theorists. My sources are busy people, and they have better things to do than to help resolve screwball disputes. But, yesterday, I finally checked. I sent an email to one of my sources, and the answer made my day.
I was told that information showing the J-Lo letter did not contain anthrax and that there was only one anthrax letter delivered to AMI was presented at the 4th National Bio-Threat Conference on Dec. 8, 2010, just over a month ago. Unfortunately, however, all the data that was presented during that presentation have been embargoed until a scientific article can be peer reviewed and published.
The peer-reviewed scientific report might contain definitive data, since the FBI went back into the AMI building in late August and early September of 2002 to specifically determine how the building became so contaminated. Here is what was said at an August 26, 2002 press briefing reported on CNN:
DR. DWIGHT ADAMS, FBI LAB SUPERVISOR: We have four main goals in reentering the AMI building. Number one, we hope to do a very comprehensive, detailed assessment of the spore contamination throughout the entire building. Number two, a very detailed assessment with regard to the mail room in particular. Both of these efforts are to generate new leads in the criminal investigation. Number three, we're looking for a dissemination device, such as a letter or letters. Again, to generate new leads for the investigation.
And finally, we are looking for large quantities of spores in order to chemically characterize those spores and compare them against the spores found in the Senator Leahy and Daschle letters.
The techniques and tools that were developed over the last few weeks have been developed in cooperation with our partners at CDC and the postal inspectors. Those tools and techniques will allow for thousands and thousands of samples to be taken that back in October, would have overwhelmed any public health laboratory in the state or the nation. But these new techniques will allow for not only qualitative sampling, but also quantitative sampling.
As far as I know, no data collected from this detailed survey of the contamination of the AMI building has ever been published. There were news reports claiming the FBI found that the building had been contaminated by people carrying copy paper from the mailroom area to the various copy machines in the building, but it's my understanding that that was just another piece of bad information from the media. In reality, the building became contaminated by people going to and from the mailroom where the floor was thoroughly contaminated with anthrax spores from the letter opened by Stephanie Dailey. But, to date, there have been no official reports providing details. However, it seems very likely that the new scientific report showing that only one anthrax letter was opened at AMI, and the J-Lo letter did not contain anthrax, will use the data from the August-September 2002 survey to come to that conclusion.
I had been working on my analysis of the J-Lo letter when the news broke about Bruce Ivins' suicide and the possible closing of the Amerithrax investigation. I never finished the analysis. But, I'll certainly do so when the new scientific article about the subject is published and I can read a copy.
Of course, people who have firm beliefs that al Qaeda was behind the attacks will claim that it's just another example of the FBI's incompentence and failure to see "the truth" that the attacks were perpetrated by al Qaeda, and the J-Lo love letter, the cigar tube, the detergent and the Star of David somehow prove that al Qaeda was behind the anthrax attacks.
And the conspiracy theorists who claim the anthrax attacks were part of a vast criminal conspiracy by tens of thousands of people in the U.S. government to justify the war in Iraq, will probably somehow find "evidence" in the report to support their beliefs, too.
I suspect there are also scientific reports going through the peer review and publication process which will confirm beyond any reasonable doubt that the attack spores were NOT weaponized in any military way.
I hope there's a scientific report going through the peer review and publication process which will show the nature of the mysterious crystals in the New York Post powder.
And, of course, the NAS report due next month should confirm that the science used in the Amerithrax case to locate flask RMR-1029 and identify it as "the murder weapon" was fully valid.
And, of course, sometime after that, the GAO report will report whatever it's going to report.
It may have been over nine years since the attacks, but it's been less than a year since the FBI and DOJ officially closed the case. There could be other scientific reports in the works that I'm totally unaware of. The only thing I can feel very certain about is that none of them are going to validate any conspiracy theory or any belief that al Qaeda or Muslims were behind the anthrax attacks of 2001.
& Changes: Sunday, January 9,
2011, thru Saturday, January 15, 2011
January 13, 2011 - A comment made by someone in a discussion yesterday caused me to visit the court docket for the Maureen Stevens vs. The United States lawsuit and to update my version of that docket. This lawsuit claims that the U.S. Government was negligent and didn't properly control the dangerous pathogens in its possession, thus allowing a government employee (Dr. Bruce Ivins) to use some of those pathogens to kill Maureen Stevens' husband, Bob Stevens.
Among other things, the docket says that the bench trial is scheduled for December 5, 2011. It also shows that there has been an ongoing battle for many months to obtain the mental health records for Dr. Bruce Ivins.
On August 23, 2010, Maureen Stevens filed a "Motion to Compell" the production of health records.
On September 8, 2010 the Government filed for a protection Order on documents related to "Discovery & Production of Mental Health Records maintained by Dr. Alan Levy and/or Comprehensive Counseling Associates."
On September 9, 2010 there was a motion to delay compelling the turnover of the documents
On October 18, 2010 the motion for a protective order was granted. And on that same day the Motion to Compell the turning over of the health records from Dr. Alan Levy was granted.
On October 26, 2010, a motion was filed to compell Dr. David S. Irwin to turn over his records regarding Bruce Ivins. A response was required by November 12th.
On November 15, 2010, there is this entry:
ORDER compelling production of records from non-party Dr. David S. Irwin and/or Shady Grove Psychiatric Group. Signed by Judge Daniel T. K. Hurley on 11/15/2010.
So, two months ago, an order was signed to require Dr. David S. Irwin to turn over his records, records which undoubtedly relate to his psychiatric sessions with Bruce Ivins. Remember, according to court records, Ivins had a "history dating to his graduate days of homicidal threats, actions, plans" and it was Ivins' psychiatrist, Dr. David S, Irwin who called him "homicidal, sociopathic with clear intentions."
I can't fully tell if either of the orders from Judge Hurley to turn over medical records has been complied with. The pscychiatrists are claiming Doctor/Patient confidentiality, but Judge Hurley denied that claim. And I don't see any action taken as a result of failure to comply with the Judge Hurley's orders. Moreover, a Protective Order was issued for the minutes of a meeting where Maureen Stevens' lawyer seems to have questioned someone about the contents of a protected document, and thus the minutes of the meeting had to be protected, too. Here's what the request for a protective order says:
During a deposition on November 4, 2010, the plaintiff sought to question a deponent
about and using the contents of documents produced under Protective Order #6 that s/he neither
authored nor received; the United States believed the Order prohibited such a use of the
documents. After discussion about whether plaintiff’s proposed use of the document was proper,
the parties contacted the Court to obtain guidance on how to proceed. A telephone status
conference was held, during which both parties’ attorneys named the deponent and another
witness identified in the protected documents. They also described the nature of the witnesses’
relationship to each other and to Ivins and the subject matter of the deponent’s and future
witnesses’ testimony. During the deposition, the parties agreed that the deposition transcript
would be covered by Protective Order #6, and all of the information discussed during the hearing
is protected under Protective Order #6.
Judge Hurley denied the motion as "moot" because the meeting wasn't held in his courtroom and therefore the judge would have to approve the release of a transcript, and he wouldn't because it's protected.
Amended Pleadings are due by 1/19/2011., Discovery is due by 3/1/2011., Expert Discovery is due by 4/20/2011., Joinder of Parties is due by 1/19/2011., and Pretrial Stipulation is due by 9/30/2011.
Maureen Stevens seems to have an excellent case, so the only question may be how much the government will pay to settle and whether or not we'll ever see any of Bruce Ivins mental health records.
January 10, 2011 - Yesterday, I posted this comment to Lew Weinstein's web site describing the endless discussions we were having:
This is like a game where you have to write things that no one can misinterpret or distort, and you’re playing against people who are determined to misinterpret and distort everything.
But, this morning the benefits of the game were proved when BugMaster pointed out that I may have misinterpreted something. And, indeed I had. Rereading this revised paragraph from page 79 of the FBI's Summary Report, it now clearly shows something different from what I orginally thought:
Based on a ‘Red Team’ recommendation, experiments were prepared at the direction of the FBI Lab to address the FBIR submission process with regard to RMR-1029. RMR-1029 was sampled 30 times in accordance with the subpoena instructions. In a few instances, fewer than three markers were detected. However, in none of the 30 attempts were no markers detected. It followed that if Dr. Ivins prepared his submission to the repository in accordance with the protocol, that submission could not miss all four of the morphological variants present in RMR-1029.
I originally thought it suggested that every one of the 1,070 samples provided to the FBI Repository (FBIR) was tested 30 times "in accordance with the subpoena instructions."
But, upon rereading, it now seems clear that the subpoena mentioned is the subpoena that authorized the confiscation of flask RMR-1029 after it was determined that Dr. Ivins' second set of slants from that flask contained NONE of the mutations that other testing had show must be in flask RMR-1029. Eight of the 1,070 samples contained the four mutations, and all eight were derived from flask RMR-1029, but the second set of slants Dr. Ivins provided in April of 2001 that were supposed to be samples taken directly from flask RMR-1029 didn't contain any of the mutations.
So, a subpoena was issued to confiscate flask RMR-1029 and to test it 30 times to determine how reasonable it would be to provide samples from that flask that contained NO mutations.
Test results showed that it was not reasonable at all. In the 30 tests done of the sample the FBI took directly from flask RMR-1029, “in none of the 30 attempts were no markers detected.” So, it was clear beyond a reasonable doubt that Ivins provided a FALSE SAMPLE in April of 2002.
January 9, 2011 - Yesterday it was pointed out to me that the main correction the FBI/DOJ made to their Summary Report could be called "significant," even though I said yesterday that it wasn't signficant. And, they could be right. Click HERE for a detailed examination of the changes.
In February of 2002, when Bruce Ivins produced his first set of four slants of the material in flask RMR-1029 for the FBIR (FBI Repository), he used the wrong kind of slant (test tube), he used the wrong kind of growth media, and he violated chain of custody rules when turning over the slants to the FBIR. Thus, two of his slants were rejected by the FBIR, and he was asked to submit new slants. The slants that were to be used by the FBIR were destroyed because they couldn't be used as evidence. (Every slant in the FBIR must be created the same way or defense lawyers will claim that different techniques caused different results, the differences weren't actually in the materials.) But only the two FBIR slants were destroyed. The two other slants which had been sent to Paul Keim's lab for a different kind of use and analysis were not destroyed.
The changes to the Summary Report show that, in addition to the violations of rules that made the slants invalid for use as evidence, Ivins also apparently didn't use a representative sample from flask RMR-1029, because the slants that were sent to Paul Keim only had 3 of the 4 key mutations in them. If Ivins had taken a representative sample from flask RMR-1029 according to instructions, all four mutations should have been in the slants.
The people who argue (without real evidence) that someone else was behind the anthrax mailings claim that Ivins didn't know the rules when he prepared the slants, because he hadn't yet received the official subpoena containing the rules. And, even though the FBI says that Bruce Ivins helped define the rules that would be used for the FBIR, that doesn't mean Ivins remembered all of the rules. And, thus, Ivins' violation of virtually every rule was pure happenstance.
And when he was told his first set of slants violated all the rules, his replacement set of slants was totally different from the contents of flask RMR-1029 because he couldn't remember the rules that time, either, even though he'd been preparing slants for use as evidence for decades. After all, it's what Ivins claimed, and there's no reason to believe Ivins would lie, even though he was a diagnosed sociopath and was shown to be lying again and again.
I really need to stop arguing with conspiracy theorists and True Believers and get back to work on my new book. I've decided that I will have to print some copies, because I need copies to send to the Copyrights Office, and I want to be able to hold a copy in my hands. And, I think there are people who will want to read paper copies instead of just reading it on Kindle. Printing a smaller number of copies will raise the cost of each copy, but I won't end up with hundreds of copies setting in my garage for years. (I'll try to get a publisher interested first, but I'm not hopeful about that. There's a better chance of getting a publisher interested after it's a success on Kindle.)
But, before I can really think about how many copies to print or what to say to publishers, I need to finish writing the book. Things came to a screeching halt when I got to the point where I needed to write about Bruce Ivins. It's easy to write about the science of the case and the evidence and other details, but what do I write about Bruce Ivins? Do I speculate on what motivated him? Do I make assumptions about the reason he put the "hidden message" in the media letters? Do I assume he used anthrax spores grown in the autoclave room, even though some proof may be found someday to show that it was done in some other way?
I've even been tempted to write it as a novel, describing a fictional scientist's thoughts as he prepares and mails the anthrax letters and then goes through the long, gut-wrenching process of being found out. I'd describe actual events as they did or could have happened in real life in the Amerithrax case.
But, a novel really requires creating an interesting fictional person out of Bruce Ivins, a fictional scientist who will fascinate the reader, a person the reader will understand and want to follow through years of lying and deceit as he tries to mislead the investigators but keeps getting tripped up by mistakes he made, by things he didn't know, and by pure chance. The problem is, I find Bruce Ivins to be "creepy," not fascinating. It's hard to make a "creepy" person the protagonist in a novel. If you have a "creepy" villain, you really need a fascinating detective to root for as he hunts down the creepy guy. As far as I know, there was no lone detective who handled key events in the Amerithrax case. Creating one would go too far into the areas of pure fiction.
So, I've got to write the book as non-fiction while also writing about things which cannot be known with certainty, like when Ivins first got the idea to send anthrax letters through the mails. The facts say it happened before 9/11, probably in late August. 9/11 just spurred him into action. But, how do I describe in a non-fiction book what he probably did without straying over the line into pure fiction?
I guess the only way to find out is to give it a try.
& Changes: Sunday, January 2,
2011, thru Saturday, January 8, 2011
January 8, 2011 - Yesterday, there were 1,202 visitors to this web site (down from 1,851 the day before), most of them still chasing information about the anthrax in Tide laundry detergent hoax.
This morning, for the first time in several days, the Russians used a new IP address to try to access my site with their weird 1 per second for 10 seconds HEAD accesses. So, I immedately blocked it and the 35,000 numbers in the same range. They seem to be running out of new numbers. But, even more strangely, they don't continue to use all the old numbers. So, they must know the old numbers no longer work. Why are they so persistent that they keep finding new IP numbers to use? What are they doing? What is it all about? I have no clue. But they are now just 2% of my "hits," down from a high of 16%.
Here are my month-to-date stats by "country" or type of visitor (.net .com .org .ru .nl .gov .edu .mil .arpa):
January 7, 2011 (C) - A review of my web site logs indicates that most newcomers visiting my site yesterday and today are looking for a CNN news story about anthrax in Tide laundry detergent packets. The false report of a "CNN breaking news story" seems to be part of the hoax information being sent around on Facebook and Twitter.
January 7, 2011 (B) - The FBI has corrected 4 items in its Summary of the Amerithrax investigation. The new version of the report mentions the four changes on two new pages added to the end of the report. I've created a new web page where the originals and the changes are compared. It's HERE. I see nothing significant in the changes.
January 7, 2011 (A) - Uh oh. This site got 1,851 visitors yesterday, and today looks almost as busy. ("Normal" is about 500 visitors a day.) The unusual number of visitors seems to be caused by items in the news unrelated to the anthrax attacks - the incendiary bombs found in Maryland and the Tide hoax. However, with all the images I've used in my comments for the past few weeks, that means that every visitor is using a lot of bandwidth. There's a danger of crashing my site or causing problems with my host. So, I have no choice but to delete all comments prior to January 1, 2011 from the main page, along with all the images those comments used. (Those comments and images are still in the history files.) I'll gradually return to showing the last four week's worth of comments as we move into the new year.
Also, I've been told by an SEM/EDX expert who I fully respect that some of my key conclusions are wrong. in my new "The Mysteries of the AFIP Report page." But, so far he hasn't explained where I'm wrong. So, there appears to be a definite possibility that I misread or misinterpreted some key piece of information somewhere. Or, very possibly, AFIP produced some totally incorrect information, and I'm using that incorrect information in my analysis.
January 6, 2011 - I just finished the first draft of a new web page I've decided to call "The Mysteries of the AFIP Report." It summarizes all the material I've been writing about for the past couple weeks, and it corrects things I may have previously been wrong about. As always, I'm looking for anyone who can prove that what I wrote in the report is wrong. If it can be proven wrong, I'll make corrections. Unfortunately, the new page is mostly about "mysteries," not about conclusions or firm results of an analysis. So, I'm also looking for information to help solve the "mysteries."
January 5, 2011 - After reading some of the screwball arguments on Lew Weinstein's web site, I decided it may be time for a picture that may truely be worth a thousand words. Here is the image of the cluster of crystals from the New York Post powder photographed by AFIP and an image of Bacillus anthracis spores at roughly the same scale:
And to save another thousand words, here is an image of a single (presumably silicon carbide) crystal from the New York Post powder next to a weaponized spore from Dugway covered with hundreds of fumed silica particles. Both objects are shown at roughly the same scale:
As can be clearly seen, it's not logical to claim that the attack spores were "weaponized" with silicon carbide crystals.
January 2, 2011 - The reason it's taking me so long to create a new web page about the the AFIP "report" is because I keep learning new facts, and those new facts often show that my previous thoughts were wrong. For example, I was wrong in calling "the AFIP report" a "report." It's actually a compilation of 2 reports and a lot of supporting documents. So, it really should be called "the AFIP package." It's evidently a "package" of documents that AFIP assembled on February 5, 2010, shortly before the FBI closed the Amerithrax investigation. Page 1 is a description of the contents of the "package." Page 32 is a report sent to USAMRIID dated October 25, 2001, and pages 33-41 are a report sent to the FBI dated November 26, 2001.
It's interesting that AFIP wrote this about the Daschle powder to USAMRIID on October 25, 2001:
It is not possible to distinguish between silica and silicates (clays).
But, the next day they were sent samples of various "standard materials" from some archive to use for comparisons. So, when AFIP wrote the report to the FBI, the above sentence was changed to this:
Distinguishing among the various possibilities would require additional work with standard materials.
Live and learn. AFIP scientists evidently learned you can distinguish between silica and silicates if you have "standard material" samples to use for comparisons.
When I first started analyzing the AFIP "package," I was mostly evaluating how things looked to me. In scientific terms, I was using the "morphology" of things for my analysis. For example, the crystals in some of the New York Post images looked like silicon carbide crystals (and that seemed to fit other evidence). But, a scientist informed me:
I can show you lots of different materials that all look very similar but have different chemistry. So the morphology really proves almost nothing.
Nothing learned so far has changed anything about the mysterious crystals. They're still mysterious, and the crystals still look like silicon carbide crystals. There isn't anything conclusive in the spectra that changes that. And nothing has disproven it. Plus, everything learned during the past week or so seems to help confirm that the particles are silicon carbide crystals, and they were specifically what AFIP was asked to analyze in the New York Post powder.
But that doesn't mean that everything else about the pictures of the crystals has remained as originally thought. Almost nothing else remains the same as what was originally thought. Take these two images of the New York Post powders, for example:
Then I found that there are other versions of these two images in the AFIP "package." There are larger, clearer versions on pages 27 and 29. And the scales shown on the larger images were automatically generated by the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM). So, while human error in the scales is still possible, it is far less likely. When I took the larger images and converted them to the same scale as each other and the same scale as the images above, I got this (cropped to fit the available space):
The backgrounds are still clearly nothing alike. I'd asked a scientist what the background looked like in the image on the left, and he said it could be double-sided carbon tape used for mounting SEM images. But, he was just voicing his opinion of the "morphology." Could the image on the left be crumpled tape and the image on the right be flat tape? It now seems very doubtful.
I was pondering that question as I went through all the images of the Daschle Powder and the New York Post powder in the AFIP "package," making large copies of each image, adding the page identification numbers in the upper left corners and more readable versions of the scales in the lower right corners. I was doing that when I noticed something about one of the larger particles that AFIP photographed via their SEM but for which they provided no spectra. I'd shown the image in my comment on December 26 this way:
I noticed that the top surface on the left looks somewhat like the P-27-B background, and the surface in the top center looks somewhat like the P-29-C background. There's also a visible crack across the surface in the image above. And, there seems to be a crack in the P-29-C image that runs from the upper left corner down toward the center. Could it be the same crack seen in the center of the particle above? But the crack in the P-29-C picture seems perfectly straight. So, maybe it's not the same crack.
I had been thinking that the large particle above is the large particle in the lower center of image P-29-C. But, the scales indicate that the "slab of bacon" image P-29-B is vastly larger than anything in P-29-C. What would happen if I converted all three of these images to the same scale? Answer:
NUTS! It makes so much sense, but it doesn't quite fit. There's even the lighter areas at the lower left and right in the P-29-C image which seems to match the edges of the "slab of sliced bacon" P-29-B particle. Am I doing something wrong in converting the scales? If so, I don't know what it is that I'm doing wrong.
In the P-29-B image, there's a tiny "2" next to a bright spot, which might be one of those silicon carbide crystals. And there's a "1" on an area that looks something like the P-27-B area, but the scales don't match!
I could probably make a case that USAMRIID asked AFIP to examine some tiny crystals on a piece of dried growth material or dried agar, i.e., the large particle in P-29-B. But is the background in P-27-B and P-29-C that dried material or agar? Or is it double sided carbon SEM tape, one crumpled, one flat? Or is it something else altogether?
The AFIP report to the FBI only mentions the tiny crystals on the P-27-B image, nothing else about anything in the New York Post powder. What the f....? **(*$#^%$%^!!! Obviously, it's those tiny crystals that were the focus of what AFIP was asked to analyze in the New York Post powder. Did everyone at USAMRIID already know what the rest of the material was? Were they just looking for tiny particles of silicon on larger particles of spore material, which everyone at the time was thinking would be evidence of "weaponization"? Is that why, on the next day, they sent AFIP all those archive samples for comparison EDX readings?
I think there's some solid information in the AFIP "package" somewhere, but it would certainly help if AFIP had written more about what exactly they were asked to examine, exactly what they found, and exactly what the images show.
Meanwhile, there are other images in the AFIP "package" that I've barely begun to study. Look what happens when I compare P-27-B to the single particle on page 28 of the AFIP "package" at roughly the same scale:
Is the P-28-D particle the same particle seen between the arrows at point 3 in the P-27-B photograph? It could be. But, why are the backgrounds so different? Is it because I don't know enough about SEM imaging?
That's enough for today. I'm getting a headache.
& Changes: Saturday, January 1,
2011, thru Saturday, January 1, 2011
January 1, 2011 (B) - Hmm. While eating lunch, I was paging through a book titled "How Did They Do It?" It's a large book about how things were done in historic times, everything from making spears in cavemen times to building the Empire State Building. I happened to notice that people have been drying meats and foods since ancient times in three basic ways: (1) drying food in the sun, (2) burying the food in sand, and (3) letting the wind dry the foods. I knew about the first and third, but I didn't know about the second method. It now seems the most interesting of the three.
January 1, 2011 (A) - Today is backup day, the day when I do complete backups of all my files. While those programs are running, it's also a good time to reflect upon the past year. Below is a list of a dozen of the most significant events of 2010 that immediately come to mind:
1. The closing of the Amerithrax investigation on February 19. The FBI actually called me to tell me that they were putting the summary and 2,728 pages of supporting files on their web site. (8 pages were later deleted when they realized it was an "off the record" report.)
2. The "hidden message" in the media letters made public on Feb. 19. This piece of evidence is almost a "smoking gun," pointing to Ivins and no one else, since he was observed throwing away the code books for the "hidden message."
3. The realization that Bruce Ivins may have used spores grown in the autoclave room for the attacks. The lower temperatures might explain why a large percentage of the attack spores contained silica in the spore coats. Lower temperatures are closer to "natural" conditions and far removed from incubator conditions which produce only a small percentage of spores with silicon in their spore coats.
4. The attack on my host's web site that originated at WordPress.com the day after Lew Weinstein finally persuaded me to remove stop putting links to my web site in my postings to his site on WordPress.com.
5. The Russian "attacks" on my web site. They continue, but I've made it a practice to block them as soon as they appear on my log files. Every time I set up a block it involves 256x256 or 65,536 IP addresses. Sooner or later they've got to run out of new IP addresses.
6. The move. I moved to a new apartment in August. I still need to complete the unpacking. I've had pictures leaning against my kitchen table waiting to be hung on the walls since August.
7. The AFIP "report." The 41 page package of documents was apparently made public in February, but I didn't really study it until after Christmas. I'm still studying it. Did Dr. Ivins use sand paper to dry the New York Post spores?
8. The "Seminar" of November 29, 2010. The most interesting part of it was the Q&A with John Ezzell, during which Ezzell suggested that the New York Post powder may have been dried after centrifuging and then chopped up.
9. The review by the National Academy of Sciences which was supposed to have been completed last fall was delayed until February, setting the conspiracy theorists into a new frenzy over the reasons for the delay.
10. In February, a former colleague of Bruce Ivins at Ft. Detrick named Henry Heine tried to convince people that Ivins was innocent, but virtually everything he said to the media could be easily shown to be incorrect or distorted.
11. The announcement that the General Accounting Office (GAO) will also review the science and certain other aspects of the Amerithrax investigation. They're unlikely to find anything significant, but they may help put to rest the somewhat common belief that (Muslim) foreigners were really behind the anthrax attacks.
12. I started selling my book "Analyzing the Anthrax Attacks" via Amazon's Kindle. Then I decided to do the same thing with a WWII novel I wrote back in 1995. That experience tells me that my new book about the anthrax attacks will be published that way, too, if I can't find a regular publisher. It's a no-cost method for self-publishing.