Anthrax2001
Tuesday, December 16, 2003
 
Are the FBI Now Conducting a Real Investigation?

After the enormously important disclosures made in Gary Matsumoto's article in Science Magazine entitled Anthrax Powder: State of the Art? there is now evidence that the FBI have begun ro realize that they can no longer pretend about the advanced nature of the anthrax powder sent to the senate.

Curt Anderson recently reported in an Associated Press story:



Still No Suspect in 2001 Anthrax Attacks


The FBI has focused in recent months on an intensive scientific effort to determine how the spores were made. That effort, nearly complete, will enable agents to narrow the possibilities in terms of who had the means to make them.

We assume that means that the FBI have now been forced to acknowledge that their previous attempt to re-engineer the senate anthrax was a total farce and a total failure. The FBI had all the information they needed over two years ago to successfully re-engineer the senate anthrax. So why did it take the Science Magazine article and everything in it that got made public to force them to do it properly now?

Clearly the disclosures in the Science article are consistent with a product that had to be developed and manufactured by a team of specialists in a government sponsored bioweapons lab. The previous attempt by the FBI to re-engineer the product didn't use silica or a coupling agent - both being essential to re-create a powder that can form a secondary aerosol.

Question: Why might the FBI not wish to acknowledge that the senate anthrax was made in a bioweapons lab?

Answers: If the senate anthrax had been made in a US bioweapons lab, either Dugway or Battelle, this could have disastrous consequences for the US government. The families of those who were murdered in the 2001 anthrax attacks could then file lawsuits against these labs for negligence. They would stand to win hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. Alternatively, if the senate anthrax was manufactured in a foreign bioweapons lab this would have to be declared as an act of war by the government of that foreign nation. Both of these scenarios could help explain why the FBI has no desire to acknowledge that the senate anthrax was made in a bioweapons lab.





Why couldn't anthrax be replicated?

Why couldn't anthrax be replicated? - Edward Jay Epstein.

Question:


In December 2002, to test its theory that a lone individual could have been responsible for the attack anthrax, the FBI asked Army scientists at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah to reverse engineer the lethal anthrax powder that had been mailed to Senator Patrick Leahy. The Army scientists, however, failed to replicate the attack anthrax.
What is the property of the attack anthrax that could not be replicated-- and how does this failure effect the FBI’s loner theory?

Answer:

The Army scientists could not replicate the critical property of aerosolize.
Working with centrifuges, mesh filters, infrared dryers and other equipment that a lone scientist could conceivably assemble in a home lab, the Army scientists eventually succeeded in reducing the virulent Ames anthrax to uniform micron-sized particles, but instead of disbursing themselves in an airborne mist– as the Leahy attack anthrax did– these particles clung together at the bottom of the test tube in lumps too heavy to remain airborne.
The Army-test anthrax lacked two elements found in the attack anthrax: an electrostatic charge and “polymerized glass” silica. To add these elements required a level of nanotechnology engineering that went far beyond the parameters of the experiment. Not only would each nanoparticle have to be electrostatically charged so that they would repel each other, but– even more scientifically challenging-- they would have to be coated with silica or another additive to keep them spaced apart.
This nanotechnology engineering is beyond the capabilities of a lone individual operating out of a home lab but it is not beyond the capabilities of state-sponsored bioweapons laboratories.
The unavoidable implication that proceeds from this experiment is that the anthrax powder used in the attacks was the product of state-sponsored bioweapons facility-- either stolen or otherwise obtained.


Corollary Question: What weapons laboratories-- domestic or foreign -- possess the nanotechnology capabilities to produce a silica-coated, electrostatically charges anthrax aerosol?




Saddam Behind Anthrax Attacks?

The tantalizing information from David Kay in Iraq is further explored below in Cliff Kincaid's "Saddam Behind Anthrax Attacks?". Unfortunately Kay does not give us enough information to make any real connection between Iraq and the 2001 anthrax. He simply says Iraq had the technology to make an anthrax aerosol, but he doesn't say if this was the same silica/siloxane binder technology that was used in the Daschle anf Leahy anthrax. There are only a few specific siloxane componds that could be used to process anthrax spores (we are not going to reveal them in this forum). Some journalist needs to re-interview Kay (who is now back in the US) and ask him if Iraq used siloxanes as binders.


Saddam Behind Anthrax Attacks?


Saddam Behind Anthrax Attacks?
By Cliff Kincaid
January 1, 2004



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

In a major development, potentially as significant as the capture of Saddam Hussein, investigative journalist Richard Miniter says there is evidence to indicate Saddam’s anthrax program was capable of producing the kind of anthrax that hit America shortly after 9/11. Miniter, author of Losing bin Laden, told Accuracy in Media that during November he interviewed U.S. weapons inspector Dr. David Kay in Baghdad and that he was "absolutely shocked and astonished" at the sophistication of the Iraqi program.

Miniter said that Kay told him that, "the Iraqis had developed new techniques for drying and milling anthrax—techniques that were superior to anything the United States or the old Soviet Union had. That would make the former regime of Saddam Hussein the most sophisticated manufacturer of anthrax in the world." Miniter said there are "intriguing similarities" between the nature of the anthrax that could be produced by Saddam and what hit America after 9/11. The key similarity is that the anthrax is produced in such a way that "hangs in the air much longer than anthrax normally would" and is therefore more lethal.

Nevertheless, the FBI has been operating on the assumption that it was produced by a disgruntled American scientist, perhaps in a basement. The FBI wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars investigating the possibility that the anthrax letters were packaged underwater in a Maryland pond in a special device of some sort.

In a development that has received little media attention, an article in the November 28th issue of Science magazine focuses on the testimony of experts that the nature of the anthrax used against America constituted a major advance in biological weapons technology. The article notes that analysts in the U.S. Army detected silica coatings on the anthrax sent to the U.S. Senate and that special chemicals were used to enhance its ability to form a lethal aerosol. One of those was a super-specialized binder chemical used to keep the silica particles in place on the surface of the spores.

One of the experts quoted in the article told us that, "In my opinion it would be impossible to manufacture a powder like this without state-sponsorship… These are super-specialized areas—and once it is understood just how difficult it is to process powders with these coatings, it becomes immediately obvious that only a highly disciplined state-sponsored program could have achieved this."

Many reports in the media, including Washington Post reporter Marilyn Thompson’s book on the anthrax attacks, have claimed that the Ames strain of anthrax used in the attacks was a U.S. "military strain" and was therefore probably made in the U.S. But experts say the Ames strain was provided to laboratories around the world. The expert told us that, "Far too much focus has been placed on the genetic and DNA analysis of the senate anthrax" which has identified it as the Ames strain. "The real key to finding out who did it is not the DNA analysis, but the analysis of the coatings that were used." He said David Kay should be looking for scientists in Iraq who have developed this technology.






*****BREAKING NEWS*****


The CIA has been quietly building a case that the anthrax attacks of 2001 were in fact the result of an international terrorist plot.







Anthrax Powder: State of the Art? - Gary Matsumoto



A quick FAQ for first-time visitors to anthrax2001

Q: The senate anthrax, although pure spores, wasn't fully weaponized because the electrostatic charge hadn't been removed, right?

A: Wrong: The senate anthrax wasn't just weaponized - it was doubly weaponized. In the old days of bioweapons it wasn't common to have an electrostatic charge on the spores. In fact it's a myth that the presence of an electrostatic charge causes clumping. The only thing that causes clumping are short range van der Waals forces that only operate over tens of angstroms. These can be effectively blocked by adding a uniform coating of silica nanoparticles. The result is weaponized anthrax. Then an electrostatic charge as added in a corona spray gun. Now it's doubly weaponized - the net-like-charge causes the spores to mutually repel one another forming a spontaneous aerosol. As a secondary effect the charged particles adhere to lung alveoli more efficiently.

Q: Apart from the fact that the anthrax was the Ames strain there is little or no scientific forensic evidence for investigators to trace the manufacturer, right?

A: Wrong. The chemicals and processes used to weaponize the anthrax provide a wealth of scientific forensic evidence - more than enough to trace the spores right to the doorstep of whatever bioweapons laboratory manufactured them. The silica itself contains signature elemental impurities and morphological uniqueness that can allow identification of the manufacturer. But even more importantly, the identity of the specfic siloxane used as a binder, along with any cross-linking agent employed, comes straight out of the cook-book of the nation that developed the process.

Q: Why are the FBI denying that these chemical additives exist?

A: We don't know. It has just been disclosed that one of the FBI's top scientists, Dwight Adams, told congress in a private briefing that the senate anthrax contained no additives. This is in stark contrast to results published by the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology's analytical laboratory. Either the FBI have made an enormous blunder in the most expensive investigation in their history, or they are passing out misinformation for their own reasons, even in a confidential briefing to their government.

Q: Did Dr Steven Hatfill, or some other lone scientist, make the anthrax all on his own from scratch doing all the fermentation steps, purification, drying, weaponiztion processing and quality assurance steps in some clandestine laboratory without leaving a trace of evidence behind?

A: Er, we're only here to answer serious questions.


****NEW****
****Whistling Past the Graveyard****
****see below****



Anthrax2001 - the website that gives you information you will not find anywhere else on the 2001 anthrax attacks. Think the media is correct in asserting that a lone individual made the anthrax of 2001 in his basement? Once you learn just how much technology goes into dry powder bioweapons you'll be asking one question - who made this stuff? Stay tuned - we have almost daily updates.


Contents (click on archives on the right hand side to view all the blogs)

(1) Weaponization and Silica
(2) What about the AMI letter(s)?
(3) What does 1 trillion spores per gram mean? - Microbiology 101
(4) Silicon Occurs Naturally in Life Forms! - Biology Rewritten by Matthew Meselson
(5) The Strange Case of the Missing Silica
(6) OK, So What About Dr. Hatfill?
(7) Spore Size of Anthrax Aerosols
(8) Where Does Bill Patrick Stand?
(9) Was the Charged Anthrax in the Daschle Letter a More Lethal Bioweapon?
(10) Did the Daschle Anthrax Have a Spec? (Was it a mil spec?)
(11) Van der Waals Forces and Why They Are The Key to Weaponizing Anthrax.
(12) How Weakly Bonded Agglomerates Form Primary Aerosols
(13) Is Silica on the Surface of the Daschle Spores or Not? - and Why it Matters
(14) F.B.I. Names Top Scientists for Advisory Panel on Germs
(15) Red Lies
(16) Mohammed Atta's Imaginary Girlfriend - Jenny
(17) The April 2002 "never before seen" anthrax
(18) Incident at Sverdlovsk
(19) ID50 of Weapons Grade Anthrax
(20) Alpha and Charlie Reveal Secrets of Iraq's Anthrax Weaponization Techniques
(21) Whistling Past the Graveyard


(21) Whistling Past the Graveyard

General Tommy Franks recently gave a chilling prediction on the resulting aftermath of a WMD attack that caused mass casualties.

Discussing the hypothetical dangers posed to the U.S. in the wake of Sept. 11, Franks said that “the worst thing that could happen” is if terrorists acquire and then use a biological, chemical or nuclear weapon that inflicts heavy casualties.

If that happens, Franks said, “... the Western world, the free world, loses what it cherishes most, and that is freedom and liberty we’ve seen for a couple of hundred years in this grand experiment that we call democracy.”

Franks then offered “in a practical sense” what he thinks would happen in the aftermath of such an attack.

“It means the potential of a weapon of mass destruction and a terrorist, massive, casualty-producing event somewhere in the Western world – it may be in the United States of America – that causes our population to question our own Constitution and to begin to militarize our country in order to avoid a repeat of another mass, casualty-producing event. Which in fact, then begins to unravel the fabric of our Constitution. Two steps, very, very important.”


We don't wish to scare people - but General Franks is no idiot. We can only speculate that if General Franks knows what is at stake here then so do his bosses in Washington.

In today's blog we're going to look for some kind of rationale to explain why the FBI appear to be telling everyone that the anthrax used in the 2001 attacks had no special properties, contained no additives and was not weaponized.

That story first began to filter out through various leaks to the media in late 2002 and it was published first in the Baltimore Sun:


Anthrax powder from attacks could have been made simply

While experts consulted by the FBI believed early in the investigation that the anthrax might contain silica or other sophisticated additives to make it float more easily in the air, the consensus now is that no additives are present and that the anthrax was probably made using a relatively simple process, the scientists say.

"There's really nothing all that special about it," said one of the scientists, who spoke on the condition that they not be identified. "There are many ways to do it."
**

We don't believe for a minute that the army made an error in their analysis - and one of the central themes at anthrax2001 is to demonstrate that the anthrax sent in the 2001 attacks was a state-of-the-art product containing silica.

But let's suppose just for a second that the FBI are not keen on telling everyone that someone with malicious intent, possibly foreign terrorists, have a state-of-the-art bioweapon in their hands. This would certainly be understandable - especially in light of the consequences of this, some of which are predicted above by General Tommy Franks. Our Constitution is a stake here - as well as the future of Western democracies.

So perhaps the FBI decided that a "whistling past the graveyard" approach was the way to go - let's pretend that the anthrax wasn't a sophisticated product. Let's play it all down and blame some lone scientist. Keep going to the mall - keep spending money.

Such an explanation is plausible - but is it correct?

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**A story one month earlier in the Washington Post had written the complete opposite of this report - saying that the anthrax was coated with silica and could only have been produced in a bioweapons lab. The Washington Post story was followed up by a "Letter to the Washington Post" from Matthew Mesleson and Ken Alibek. Apart from stating that the
silica that was found in the anthrax was "naturally occuring" Meselson also criticized the Washington Post piece for relying on anonymous sources. It is unknown to us if Meselson wrote a similar letter to the Baltimore Sun for printing a story based on the opinions of "scientists who spoke on the condition that they not be identified". Surely he did - after all this would only be consistent, right?

(20) Alpha and Charlie Reveal Secrets of Iraq's Anthrax Weaponization Techniques


Today's Sunday Times from London contains an article entitled Spies close in on Saddam's ailing terror mastermind. The article mainly concerns the hunt for General Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, Saddam's former deputy. But, suddenly, half way down, the article drops this bombshell:

Two top Iraqi scientists, codenamed Charlie and Alpha, are helping the coalition to learn more about Iraq's anthrax programme, Kay said. The Iraqis had made shocking innovations in the milling and drying processes needed to weaponise anthrax. Almost every week there is a new discovery that boggles your mind, Kay said.

David Kay is head of the intelligence organization in Iraq charged with finding evidence of Iraq's CBW capabilities. As far as we are aware, this is the first statement from the US government since the beginning of the Iraq war that concerns Iraq's anthrax programme. In fact, it is the first new statement concerning Iraq's anthrax programme that has been made by anybody in the last two years, since the original discussion after the US anthrax attacks concerning bentonite.

It's such a stunning statement that we really don't know what to make of it here at anthrax2001. We have always maintained that if you can find the state that uses the same processing chemicals that were used to manufacture the Daschle and Leahy anthrax then you have found the perpetrator.

So what is Kay telling us? Is he hinting that Iraq used advanced processing techniques involving silica nanoparticles? If he is - why not just say so? We have been in Iraq for six months now - and if these two mystery Iraqi scientists, Charlie and Alpha, can confirm this - we clearly need to know, or at least the FBI clearly need to know.

We wonder what brought on this sudden announcement? Perhaps it is beginning to become clear that the US public is not going to tolerate being kept in the dark for much longer. Perhaps answers are being demanded at the highest levels. Perhaps the story that the Daschle anthrax "was really basic and anybody could have made it" has run its course and the powers at be have realized that people are catching on?

We can only speculate - and we can only strongly repeat what we know at anthrax2001 concerning the 2001 anthrax. That is - the Daschle and Leahy anthrax, we believe, provided a wealth of scientific forensic evidence - more than enough to unambiguously trace the spores right to the doorstep of whatever bioweapons lab manufactured them. And that is something we all deserve to know.


(19) ID50 of Weapons Grade Anthrax

In our blog from Sep 26 (Blog #15 Red Lies) we posed the question: How much more lethal is weaponized anthrax compared with non-weaponized antrax? Is it 10 times or 100 times or more, more lethal? It seems we are not the only ones who would like to know the answer to that question. Below is the abstract for a paper entitled "Weapons-Grade Anthrax: The Infectious Dose50 (Inhalation) in Rhesus Monkeys Derived from a Biologically-based Model" written by Dr John L. Cicmanec. This paper will be presented at a Society for Risk Analysis meeting later this year:

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Weapons-Grade Anthrax: The Infectious Dose50 (Inhalation) in Rhesus Monkeys Derived from a Biologically-based Model

One of the significant discoveries following the bioterrorist episodes in October 2001 was that the etiologic agent was a modified form of Bacillus anthracis (Ames strain). Physical alternation of the inoculum had occurred in which the electrostatic charge had been removed and virtually all of the resulting spores were approximately one micron in diameter. Eight separate inhalation studies have been identified in which non-human primates were used for inhalation exposure to B. anthracis to determine the Infectious Dose-50 (Druett 1953, Henderson, 1949, Estep 2003, etc.). Depending on the spore particle size and strain used, these values ranged from 4000 to 682,000 spores. Although some studies used spores that were one micron in diameter, conventional spore preparation will aggregate so that many of the inhaled particles will often range from four to twelve microns. The primary advantage that is gained through the use of spores that lack an electrostatic charge is that particles do not clump and essentially all of the inoculum will be deposited directly in the lungs. In order to adjust for the amount of the conventional inoculum in the non-human primate studies that was deposited in nasal passages, pharynx, and tracheobronchial region, a methodology has been developed from chemical particulate inhalation exposure (using the MMAD and sigma g) has been used as a model. Similar to anthrax spores smaller particles (less than 3 microns) of cadmium chloride particles and radio-labelled polystyrene microspheres are deposited directly in the lungs. Through the use of ranking the dose response to cadmium chloride particles and polystyrene microspheres of varying sizes and zones of deposition in the respiratory tract, similar dosage adjustments can be made for anthrax spores of various particle sizes. It has also been observed that acting independently, silica can increase pathogenicity as much as 33-fold. Through the use of published data we are able to predict that the ID50 for the modified form of anthrax is 15 to 500 times lower than for conventional spores and that for sensitive subpopulations fewer than 10 spores may cause infection. Comparison of the host response in guinea pigs that received inhalation doses of varying particle sizes can be used to validate this model. (This presentation does not represent US EPA policy)
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The first striking thing about this paper is that the author (who is with the EPA) makes no bones about the fact that the Senate anthrax was weaponized. He describes that a physical alteration of the spores had taken place - consistent with a silica nanoparticle coating. The second striking thing is that his calculations show that the ID50 is between 15 and 500 times lower than untreated spores. If we take the upper limit of this enhancement (a factor of 500) this would mean that 1 gram of weaponized anthrax has the same killing power as half a kilogram of untreated anthrax. In other words - we are talking about a substance that deserves to be called a true weapon of mass destruction.

But there is one thing that the author has not yet included in his calculation - and that's the fact that charged spores may deposit inside lungs more efficiently by up to a factor of 5. This was discussed in our August 25 blog (blog#9 "Was the Charged Anthrax in the Daschle Letter a More Lethal Bioweapon?"). Adding this extra multiplier would yield an upper limit enhancement factor of 2500 - translating to 1 gram of charged weaponized spores being the equivalent of 2.5 kilograms of unweaponized spores.

On a bigger scale - if 1 kilogram of charged weaponized spores were used to attack a city - this would be equivalent to an unweaponized attack with 2.5 metric tonnes.

These numbers should give us all something serious to think about.....



(18) Incident at Sverdlovsk

Any student of the 2001 anthrax attacks needs to be intimately familiar with the Soviet Union's own anthrax horror story. At anthrax2001 we have decided to publish a special blog dedicated to the "Incident at Sverdlovsk". This incident happened in April, 1979. If this incident is to be properly understood we highly recommend reading the book Plague Wars by Tom Mangold and Jeff Goldberg. Chapter 9 of this book is entitled "Incident at Sverdlovsk". Reading this chapter is absolutely essential for anyone who wishes to understand why the FBI's investigation into the 2001 anthrax attacks, in which five US citizens were murdered and unprecedented murder attempts were made on the offices of two US Senators, has failed to produce any results to date.

As you may already be aware - illegally produced anthrax bioweapons were accidently released from a Soviet bioweapons factory. At least 70 villagers were killed - perhaps hundreds of military personnel were also killed. The Soviet Union claimed that these deaths resulted from contaminated sausages. As we will see below - they had some outside help in selling that story.

We'll start off our blog by reproducing excerpts from Mangold and Goldberg's book:

CHAPTER NINE Incident at Sverdlovsk

Page 76:

The Soviets now went to extraordinary lengths to buttress their lies and make them supportable and credible worldwide. What had begun as a local cover-up in Sverdlovsk, now became an international fairy tale, a fiction of breathtaking audacity.

Page 77:

Throughout the rest of the 1980s, Matthew Meselson, a respected Harvard professor of microbiology and longtime arms control activist, unwittingly helped the Soviet caravan of deception and disinformation gain acceptance in the West.
Meselson emerged as the leading scientific expert to oppose his own government's interpretation of Sverdlovsk in favour of the Soviets' old tainted-meat cover-up. He defended the Soviets' case publicly and doubtless from the most honest of beliefs. President Reagan was now in the White House and, no matter how forcefully his administration complained about Sverdlovsk, Meselson remained utterly convinced that there had been an accident with bad meat and it had nothing to do with any secret biological weapons plant.
.........
With his well-deserved and impressive academic/scientific credentials, his views were usually sought and carefully listened to. He also became an important figure for the US media to consult. His opinions about Sverdlovsk were widely quoted in the serious press, books, and prestigious scientific journals. The record shows that after 1980 his publicly stated views on Sverdlovsk broadly agreed with the explanations issued by the Soviets themselves.


Page 81:

But the guilty involvement reached even higher. Next, it emerged that Boris Yelstin himself also must have known about the cover-up. In May 1992, Yeltsin's new Russian government formally acknowledged what was now well known, but still had no official imprimatur. The man who had been the powerful communist party chief of the Sverdlovsk region in 1979 was none other than President Boris Yeltsin. He now admitted that the outbreak had been caused by an accident at the biological weapons facility, and not by natural causes. This presumably correct version became the official position of the Russian government, and remains so to this day.
Meselson, however, remained unfazed. In the face of Yeltsin's admission and the Russian and US press disclosures, the professor assembled a team of expert American scientists and went with them to Sverdlovsk in June 1992 to see for himself. They interviewed two outstanding Sverdlovsk doctors Faina Abramova and Lev Grinberg who participated in the 1979 autopsies at Hospital 40. For thirteen years, these brave pathologists had secretly hidden incontrovertible medial evidence from the KGB including preserved tissue samples, slides, and autopsy reports which proved that the victims had died from breathing in the anthrax.
Meselson later claimed that he and his team had made the discovery of the new truth from these important witnesses, but again, the facts were against him. The two Russian doctors had previously spoken to Soviet reporters and the
Wall Street Journal, so Meselson was simply taking credit for being the final arbiter who had authenticated the evidence.
After making a second trip to Sverdlovsk, Mesleson finally published his results in 1994 in the journal
Science; the article accepted that the tainted-meat story was bogus. But, perversely, he still would not admit that the US government had been right for fifteen years, or that he had been wrong. Rather, he trumpeted the fact that he anf his team had finally uncovered the "defenitive proof" that the true cause of the outbreak was pulmonary anthrax.
"This should end the argument about where the outbreak came from," Meselson somewhat pompously told the
New York Times "Right up until now, people have still been debating the matter."
Yet, to the bitter end, Meselson still clung to a benign interpretation of Soviet motives. He noted that the cause of the accident was still not determined, which implied that it may have involved only a Soviet
research centre, one for finding an antidote to an anthrax attack, and not a military production centre for biological weapons. By clinging to this position, he could still argue that the Soviets were not violating the BWC, but were conducting permissable research under the treaty.

(17)The April 2002 "never before seen" anthrax

In perhaps one of the strangest phases of the anthrax investigation there was a flurry of press reports in early April, 2002. These press reports resulted from apparent sources within the government revealing that the Leahy anthrax was coated with a chemical compound that had never been used before in preparing bioweapons and was unknown to have been used by many experts who had worked for years in this field.

The first report was in Newsweek on April 8, 2002.

A Sophisticated Strain of Anthrax

The Leahy anthrax -- mailed in an envelope that was recovered unopened from a Washington post office last November -- also was coated with a chemical compound unknown to experts who have worked in the field for years; the coating matches no known anthrax samples ever recovered from biological-weapons producers anywhere in the world, including Iraq and the former Soviet Union. The combination of the intense milling of the bacteria and the unusual coating produced an anthrax powder so fine and fluffy that individually coated anthrax spores were found in the Leahy envelope, something that U.S. bioweapons experts had never seen.

On April 9 the Washington Post published the following story:

Powder Used in Anthrax Attacks 'Was Not Routine'

Then on April 11 CNN published this story:

Official: Unusual coating in anthrax mailings


So what did all of this mean? An "unsual material coating the spores"? "Never before seen"?

This, if true, would be a stunning revelation. If this was true how is it conceivable that the investigation could continue to focus on the premise that a lone individual developed this unprecedented advancement in biowarfare all on his or her own? Not only that, but how could he or she do this without leaving a trace of evidence behind?

Surely things were now pointing away from the theory of a lone individual - and more toward the theory that a team of specialists working for a government invested years in creating this new breakthrough?

Just as strangely as these reports appeared - all further mention of the new method for processing dry bioweapons disappeared from the media coverage.

In the following two months the media coverage took on a completely new spin. The word came out that the anthrax was actually much less sophisticated than had previously been claimed - and that, in fact, there were no special coatings used in its preparation.

How could this one hundred and eighty degree change occur? Were all the original laboratory analysis incorrect? Were Fort Detrick and AFIP independently mistaken when they detected silica on the spores? Was the EPA paper that detected re-aerosolized spores in the Hart buliding in error?

That's what we'd like to find out. These are the questions that what we'd like to hear the media screaming until they get answers that make sense.

Mohammed Atta's Imaginary Girlfriend - Jenny

Anthrax2001 is a weblog normally devoted to commentary on the serious scientific analysis of the anthrax bioweapon attack on our country in 2001.

Occasionally, however, we take an excursion from this and we publish blogs on more off-the-wall analysis. We don't claim to be Don Foster and we make these analyses with tongue firmly placed in cheek - however we couldn't resist commenting on a connection between Mohammed Atta and the AMI anthrax letters that we just noticed - this is the subject of today's blog.

Leonard Cole has just released a new book entitled The Anthrax Letters: A Medical Detective Story . The entire book can be viewed at this link. The chapter entitled "American Media" provides more details than we have ever seen before on the Jennifer Lopez letters that the staff of AMI remember opening. The book provides fairly convincing testimony from the staff of AMI that one of these letters did in fact contain anthrax. If this is the case, the anthrax investigation does indeed enter the realms of the bizarre. Why on earth would the perpetrator of the world's first fatal anthrax bioweapons terrorist attack choose to use the subject of Jennifer Lopez in delivering his deadly product?

Was the perpetrator obsessed with this actress?

Mohammed Atta lived nearby the AMI headquarters in the weeks leading up to the 9/11 attack. During this time it is established fact that Atta was communicating with a terrorist contact in Germany. It is known that he was using tradecraft code in these contacts - he used the code "Two sticks, a dash and a cake with a stick down" to convey to his contact the intended date of the 9/11 attack. But perhaps it has not been so well publicized that his tradecraft also included something else. In sending these emails to Germany Atta pretended to be writing to an imaginary girlfriend - her name was "Jenny".

All of this is documented at the link below. Does this show a connection between Mohammed Atta and the anthrax letter to AMI? We don't know - but surely it's just as much of a "jaw dropping" coincidence as the fact that Steven Hatfill used to live near a suburb caled "Greendale" in Rhodesia. The FBI took that seriously - so why aren't they taking the "Jenny" connection seriously?


Atta's girlfriend named Jenny

Officials also claim that:

Atta corresponded with al Qaeda operative Bin-al-shibh in Germany over the Internet. Writing in German, Atta pretended to be a student writing his girlfriend "Jenny."

Al Qaeda had codewords for the targets it selected: The World Trade Center was the "Faculty of Town Planning." The Pentagon was the "Faculty of Fine Arts" and Congress - the target that escaped - was the "Faculty of Law."

On his last call to Germany, Atta alerted his friend Bin-al-shibh that a date for the attack had been selected, using the code words "Two sticks, a dash and a cake with a stick down," meaning 11/9 or September 11.


Cole's book also details another strange letter received at AMI addressed to Jennifer Lopez. This letter contained a tobacco tin, a cigar and a small packet of laundry detergent.

As a visual aid we have constructed a simulation of what these contents might look like:





(15) Red Lies

The enormous size of the Soviet Union's old biological weapons program is outlined in this excellent CBC documentary.

It was a horrible accident -- for the people who died and for what it revealed. It would show the world the effects of anthrax on a civilian population, and it would expose the existence of a massive biological weapons program in the former Soviet Union; a program, some fear, exists to this day.
"People began to die around the fifth or sixth of April," says Dr. Marguerita Ilyenko, a hospital administrator in Sverdlovsk, Russia. "Before that, the doctors had noticed that animals were dying, sheep, pigs. Then the people began dying. I get in my office in the morning, and Rosa Gazeeva, who still works as a doctor in our hospital, tells me 'Five people died on me overnight.' So I say 'are you out of your mind?'

"I threw down my purse, rushed upstairs. It really was a nightmare. Ambulances were constantly bringing in patients. Some were still alive, others already dead."


Of particular significance are some of the statements made regarding the weaponization of the anthrax spores:

In the years since the Sverdlovsk accident, Alibek and a research team had taken the Soviet military's anthrax and made it even more deadly. He developed a process to take ground up anthrax spores and coat each particle in plastic and resin. It kept the anthrax aloft four times longer, increasing its ability to infect people.

"The main idea was just to make it more efficient. Just, for example, using a pretty small amount of this weapon to cover as much as possible territory, populated territory, [ to kill as many people as possible.]" Alibek says.


At anthrax2001 we like to drill right down to the nitty-gritty hard science. What precisely does Alibek mean when he says "it kept the anthrax aloft four times longer"? Surely this simply means that it kept the spores as single spores - that it stopped spores agglomerating? When spores agglomerate they get bigger - when they are bigger they do not have the ability to form aerosols.

But the real meat is the fact that bigger spore agglomerates cannot cause inhalational anthrax - if spore agglomerates are bigger than 5 microns they will be unable to penetrate to region 3 of the lungs - deep in the alveoli.

In other words, stating that the spores stay aloft 4 times longer does not necessarily translate into them simply being 4 times more deadly. Indeed, treating the spores so that they will not agglomerate is more likley to turn a dangerous pathogen that is harmful to humans if touched into a weapon of mass destruction - a suitcase full of which has the potential destructive power of a small nuclear weapon if used properly.

We must admit we do not know the answer to the real effectiveness of treating anthrax spores so they will not agglomerate with respect to it's increased ability to kill. The precise thing we need to know is the following:

If a quantity of untreated dry anthrax is dispersed in an enclosed area what is the LD50 (lethal dose to 50% of the challenged population)?

Now what is the LD50 for a sample of professionaly weaponized anthrax spores? That is, spores that have had their surfaces treated with silica and therefore spores that will not naturally agglomerate in the same way as untreated spores.

Is the weaponized anthrax 10 times more effective? Is it 100 times more effective? Is it 1000 times or even greater a more effective weapon?

All we can do here is speculate. We do know that silica treatment of inhalational drugs is effective for preventing unwanted agglomeration. We also know that the US Army are sticking to their story that silica was found on the Daschle anthrax spores. We know that the Daschle anthrax spores re-aerosolized inside the Hart building - meaning they did not become firmly attached to the surfaces on which they had landed.

We suspect that certain people are attempting to deny the existence of these surface treatments on the Daschle anthrax.

Finally, we cannot help seeing a certain irony today with respect to the Sverdlovsk incident. After the Sverdlovsk incident the Soviets denied that there had been any release of anthrax bioweapons. They insisted that all the deaths had been caused by contaminated cattle.

Matthew Meselson aided the Soviets in selling this lie to western intelligence agencies. Today Matthew Meselson is advsing the FBI on the 2001 anthrax case. He has stated publicly several times that there is no silica coating on the Daschle anthrax. The US Army say exactly the opposite. The irony is not lost on us.

(14) F.B.I. Names Top Scientists for Advisory Panel on Germs


We don't normally feature news stories at anthrax2001, but we couldn't resist featuring this one from today's New York Times. Apparently the FBI have formed a super-secret "brain trust" of elite scientists to help them trace the origin of biological attack agents.

In the unlikely event that domestic terrorists use conveniently enriched oxygen 18 tap water in preparing their deadly germs, it will be possible to narrow the water source down to hundreds of locations worldwide.

DNA sequencing is given top billing - in spite of the fact that DNA analysis of the anthrax from 2001 has provided few leads in progressing this case.

We would like to respectfully request that any of this super-secret team who happen to be reading our website consider that valuable clues to the Daschle anthrax origin might be found in the nuances of the silica spore coating. But on the other hand we just remembered - Matthew Meselson says there IS NO SILICA COATING.

But here's our favorite quote from the article:

Dr. Matthew S. Meselson, an expert from Harvard on biological weapons who has advised the bureau on the anthrax-tainted letters, said he and his colleagues admired the federal scientists' talent and dedication.

Let's hope for all our sakes that Meselson himself is not heading this. After all, he was the guy that insisted for 10 years that the Sverdlovsk accident which killed at least 70 villagers from inhalational anthrax was really caused by consuming contaminated meat. With sharp minds like Meselson on board, we might be waiting for some time to make any progress on anything.


(13) Is Silica on the Surface of the Daschle Spores or Not? - and Why it Matters

You would think such a simple question would have an easy answer. The Daschle anthrax must be the most studied piece of forensic evidence in history. The FBI have spent a reported $13M on laboratory analysis alone in their investigation.

And yet they cannot seem to answer this all-important question.

We would like to suggest they take a look at the SEM image below. We think it may help them in their investigation.



This image is of a particle of lactose coated with silica nanoparticles. At the magnifaction shown the silica nanoparticles on the surface resemble flaky pieces of "fried egg gunk". Coincidentally this is exactly the same description that Drs. Tom Geisbert and Peter Jahrling of Fort Detrick used when they described seeing SEM images of the Daschle anthrax.

Where did the above picture come from? Well, it just so happens that a research group at the University of Duisburg in Germany have recently been coating these particles of lactose with silica. You'll never guess the purpose of their work - they are trying to develop new processes to ensure that dry powder inhalational drugs do not agglomerate. You see, it's important in this new field of drug delivery that the tiny (3-5 micron) particles stay as single particles - that way they can be delivered deep to the aveoli region of the lungs. One way of achieving this is to coat the drug particles with nanoparticles of silica. These tiny nanoparticles create an ideal surface on the drug particles - they stop the native surfaces of therapeutic agent from coming into contact - and thus they stop strong Van der Waals attraction mechanisms from being invoked.

The German researchers went to extraordinary lengths to ensure that their lactose particles were evenly coated with silica. They used advanced computational simulations in tandem with non-aqueous powder processing using oppositely charged colloidal suspensions.

Of course, as you have probably already recognized, this is precisely the technique that bioweaponeers use to transform dry anthrax powder, in itself a dangerous pathogen, into a much more lethal weapon of mass destruction.

Making anthrax itself does not require any super-specialized skills. Thankfully, the back-end processing steps required to coat the anthrax spores with silica DO belong in the realm of super-specialization. Of course, in addition to super-specialized know-how, these back-end processing steps can only be performed in a bio-containment facility. It would be impossible to make such products within the boundaries of any nation without the knowledge and blessing of that nation's government.

The art of transforming anthrax into a weapon of mass destruction requires advanced knowledge of materials science and aerosol physiscs. This does make us wonder why the FBI chose to write letters seeking help to 20,000 microbiologists - most of whom know nothing about these subjects.

But then again - the FBI don't appear to be claiming that the Daschle anthrax was a weapon of mass destruction. They have made no official statement concerning the presence or absence of silica on the Daschle spores. Presumably if they admitted that silica was present it would be difficult for them to continue their line of investigation that is directed toward the theory that a lone microbiologist made this stuff in his basement.

We think after 2 years of investigation with absolutely zero published progress that the time for games is over. Isn't it about time the FBI told us if the Daschle anthrax was weaponized with silica?


(12) How Weakly Bonded Agglomerates Form Primary Aerosols

The subject of today's blog is an explanation of why relying on static SEM pictures to reach meaningful conclusions about weaponization properties of the Daschle anthrax is prone to misinterpretation. Major General John S. Parker gave testimony that the Daschle material seen under SEM ranged in size from single spores to aggregates of spores up to 100 microns or more. The spores within the aggregate were uniform in appearance. The aggregates had a propensity to pulverize.
We should stress that MG Parker's testimony was impeccable in it's scientific content. All of his statements were scientifically sound and he never underplayed or overplayed the degree of weaponization observed in the spores.

Certain other people, however, have used the statement that "aggregates of spores up to 100 microns or more" were observed to prove that the Daschle anthrax was not weaponized. As we have stated before at anthrax2001, we do not pretend to understand the motivations of these people. However, we do believe that for whatever reason there are a cadre of people who seem intent on promulgating the story that the Daschle anthrax was not a professionaly weaponized product.

At anthrax2001 we are not seeking to further any particular agenda one way or the other. We just want to find the truth about the nature of the bioweapons attack made against our country in October/November 2001. We believe the scientific forensic evidence, when analyzed by experts in the field of materials science and aerosol technology, will yield the clues necessary to solve the case.

Thus we would like to demonstrate that the presence of aggregates of spores in the SEM does not mean that this material was not capable of forming a primary aerosol of single anthrax spores when a small amount of energy was added to the bulk material.

The work performed below at the University of Leeds, England shows simulations of a weakly bound agglomerate of lactose particles striking a surface. The driving force behind this work was to aid in the development of easily inhaled single particles of therapeutic drugs.

The work recognized the importance of blocking attractive Van der Waals forces between particles in order to achieve free single particles that will form an aerosol. Of course, exactly the same problems have to be overcome to weaponize anthrax.




Above - a large agglomerate of lactose particles.
Below - weakly bound agglomerate of lactose particles breaking up when striking a surface.



Computer simulation of a weakly bound lactose aggregate striking a surface at a modest velocity of 10 meters per second.
Key:
white - single particles (or, for anthrax, single spores)

yellow - clusters containing
2 - 10 particles

cyan - clusters containing
11 - 30 particles

pink - clusters containing
31 - 100 particles

blue - residual cluster


The simulation includes an interparticle attraction force that can be varied. Obviously, the weaker the attraction the easier to pulversize the agglomerate at impact (ie. at lower velocity). If an agglomerate of un-weaponized anthrax spores (spores that are NOT coated in silica) strikes a surface at these velocities it would not break up and form a primary aerosol of single spores.

Thus it is not surprsing to find agglomerates of anthrax spores under an SEM even in a highly weaponized product. We have already demonstrated that addition of nanoparticles of silica to the anthrax spores helps to block Van der Waals forces - but it does not completely eliminate them. However, if it reduces the attractive forces to the point where they can be broken by the addition of very modest amounts of energy (for example, falling on a surface under the influence of gravity) the creation of a primary aerosol of single spores will still be achieved - and in the game of weaponization that's all that counts.



Van der Waals Forces and Why They Are The Key to Weaponizing Anthrax

We're going to get quite technical in today's blog. We apologize for this - but it's important. It's important because it cannot be underestimated the level of sophistication that is required to produce weaponized anthrax with silica. There are too many misleading media articles out there that gloss things over. Silica is described as a "pharmaceutical drying agent" or "commonly used in the pharmaceutical indistry" or "it's used as an anti-clumping agent". All of these statements are true - but they do not apply to the case where the silica is used at the microscopic level to eliminate attractive Van der Waals forces.

To understand Van der Waals forces we need to jump right into some equations - here goes:

Van der Waals forces result from instantaneous interactions between dipoles and/or induced dipoles in the particle and the surface with which it is interacting. Due to instantaneous fluctuations in the charge within the particle, an instantaneous dipole moment in the particle as a whole or in it's surface molecules arises. This induces a dipole moment on the surface (and vice-versa) and the net result is an attractive force that falls off sharply with increasing separation of the particle and the surface. Van der Waals forces between molecules or particles fall off as the sixth power of the distance between them.

For a spherical particle contacting a flat surface, the adhesive force due to these Van der Waals interactions is given by:

F = Ad / 12 x^2

where A is called the Hamaker constant, which depends on the materials of which the particle and surface are composed. The Hamaker constant has a typical order of magnitue of 10^-19 to 10^-18 Joules. d is the diameter of the spherical particle, and x is the separation distance between the particle and the surface. But wait a minute, why isn't x zero, since the particle is actually TOUCHING the surface? Because the particle and surface are, invariably, microscopically rough, so that the contact region looks like this:



A typical value for x (which is usually unknown) is a few Angstroms. After the particle and surface have been in contact for some time, the forces will deform the particle to increase the contact area (it will no longer be spherical, at least near the contact point). This can increase the adhesive force dramatically. People who work in the semiconductor industry know exactly how strong these adhesive forces can get - once particles attach themselves to the surface of a silicon wafer the Van der Waals forces are so strong it is virtually impossible to remove them. Indeed, the only way to remove them is by destroying them with a strong acid like hydrofluoric acid.

Exactly the same adhesive forces are partly the reason why dust bonds so well to the front of your television screen. The same Van der Waals forces are responsible for causing small particle materials to clump together at the microscopic level. The figure below illustrates how uncoated anthrax spores have a natural propensity to form clumps. This is regrdless of any net charge that the spore has on it. At these very short distances the net charge is no longer important - the Van der Waals forces are by far the dominant forces acting between the spores. These Van der Waals forces are neutralized by creating a unifrom coating of silica across the entire spore. Applying this coating is not a trivial exercise - it pushes microfabrication technology to the limits. Importantly, it should be remembered that once the silica coating is optimized to neutralize the Van der Waals forces that is not the end of the story. It must then be ensured that the anthrax spores are still viable - yet another round of design of experiments is required for this!



The figure above (right) illustrates that the spore contact areas in the silica coated spores are unable to approach each others surfaces to invoke Van der Waals forces. Such spores will remain as separate entities in an aerosol, and when inhaled into lungs. The single spore nature will allow them to penetrate deep into the bronchioles and alveoli region.

What do the coated anthrax spores on the right hand side of this figure remind us of?

Hint:

exerpt from "Demon in the Freezer":

10/25/01 Geisbert tests a sterilized sample of the Daschle anthrax. X-rays, and other tests show two materials present: silica and oxygen...glass.

"The silicon was powdered so finely that under Geisbert's electron microscope it had looked like fried-egg gunk dripping off the spores." Geisbert calls his boss, Peter Jahrling on a secure STU phone and says: "Pete ! There's glass in the anthrax."

...superfine powdered glass,known as silica nanopowder,which has industrial uses.The grains of this type of glass are very small.If an anthrax spore was an orange,then these particles of glass would be grains of sand clinging to the orange.The glass was slippery and smooth,and it might have been treated so that it would repel water.It caused the spores to crumble apart,to pass more easily through the holes in the envelopes and fly everywhere, filling the Hart Senate office building and the Brentwood and Hamilton mail-sorting facilities like a gas."





Did the Daschle Anthrax Have a Spec? (Was it a mil spec?)

When academic researchers make new compounds in their university laboratories the last thing on their mind is specs (pronounced "specks" and a shortened form of specifications). They really couldn't care less if 90% of the particles in their new Ziegler-Natta catalyst are between 0.32 and 0.48 microns - they just want to make some of their latest wonder-powder and try it out. If it looks promising it will start the long road toward commercialization. The engineers can worry about the specs later. On this long road toward commercialization the engineers will face the task of producing a manufactureable product - they will have to apply rigorous statistical process control models and will have to demonstrate that their process can time and time again not deviate from the specs set by the customer.

What has any of this got to do with anthrax anyway? The answer to that question lies somewhere in the FBI's database of evidence that they will have collected for the Daschle and Leahy anthrax letters. We presume that one of the first tests that was run on these samples was to obtain a cumulative probability (CP) curve for the particle size. These are very easy to obtain using standard commercial equipment. An example of a CP curve is shown below for 2 different types of cement powder. Note that the diameter is usually plotted on a logarithmic scale. Manufacturers can only sell their products if certain specifications are met. There are important reasons for this - for example, perhaps the grade of cement on the right hand side is not suitable for concrete-overpass construction.



Cumulative probability curves for particle size of two different grades of cement powder.


Similarily, if the military wants to make a purchase of bioweapons from some vendor it is likely that they will have a detailed spec-sheet to ensure that what they receive will do the job. Out of the many specs one of them is very likely to be the cumulative probability curve of particle size. The military don't want to buy large pieces of vegatative cells or fermentation residue. Also, they don't want to buy a product filled with large clumps of secondary-phase silica resulting from mis-processing in the back-end manufacturing steps.

In general, the steeper the slope in the CP curve the tighter the spec in the product. Also the straighter the line the higher the quality. A product that shows a gentle slope across a wide diameter range is likely to be poor quality, with poorer quality control standards employed in it's manufacture. On the other hand, the shape of the CP curve is also likely to be a "forensic signature" for the source material. For example, a process that shows a double-slope is likely to have an inherent reason for doing so that is process related. Perhaps a particular silica coating process always leaves small particle size stragglers or outliers. Such peculiararities are excellent clues for determining the source.

So what do the FBI have to say about the CP curves for the Daschle and Leahy anthrax samples? Well, the answer is - not a lot. They have not released that data or even talked about it. One would imagine that if the CP data demonstrated a tight spec it would be rather difficult for the FBI to keep their story that a lone person made the anthrax in his basement alive.

Are there ANY clues out there that might tell us something about the spec? The answer to that is yes. The study made by the EPA of the contaminated Hart office building offers us some clues about the particle size distribution. I doesn't tell us everything we need to know, but it's a good start:

Secondary Aerosolization of Viable Bacillus anthracis Spores in a Contaminated US Senate Office

This project studied the level of contamination from anthrax spores remaining in the senate Hart offices almost one month after the original Daschle letter jad been opened. We note that the Daschle letter was removed shortly after the incident occurred - thus the contamination found by the EPA team was due solely to residue spores remaining. The team used a 6 stage particle size analyzer with cut-offs at 7.0, 4.7, 3.3, 2.1, 1.2 and 0.65 microns. During simulated active-office conditions they recorded more than 80% of the airborne bacillus anthracis as being in the particle size range 0.95 - 3.5 microns. This is, of course, the required size for penetrating and remaining in the bronchioles and alveoli lung region.

One of the remarkable results from this EPA study was the fact that such high airborne levels of anthrax spores were detected in an aerosol almost one month after the original incident. More remarkable, perhaps, is the extraordinarily narrow range of particle sizes detected - suggesting a product custom made to a tight set of specs.

This does not tell us the full story of the particle size specs, however. Since the EPA tests only looked at airborne particles they may have exaggerated the percentage of spores that could easily form an aerosol - and thus the results are not necessarily representive of the ORIGINAL particle size properties of the spores in the envelope.

The FBI have these results - and they are keeping them to themselves......


Was the Charged Anthrax in the Daschle Letter a More Lethal Bioweapon?

From the analysis of publicly available information on the anthrax attacks of 2001 we have concluded two important things:

(1) The Daschle anthrax was coated with silica. The description of this coating is consistent with a coating that was applied to foil Van der Waals attractive forces. For this effect to be achieved the silica particles have to evenly coat the entire surface of the spore leaving gaps not much greater than a single silica particle diameter. Furthermore each silica particle should be approximately 100 times smaller than the anthrax spore. Processing the spores and silica to achieve this exact balance is not trivial - present work being performed on particulate drugs for phramaceutical applications gives us a clue on how much technology is required to achieve this.

(2) The Daschle anthrax appears to have carried a considerable net-like-charge. This may have aided its ability to spontaneously form an aerosol. But did the presence of a charge also have another purpose? The paper below by AG Bailey et al from the University of Southampton shows that charged particles have a marked increase in their ability to deposit inside lungs. If the particle size and charge are optimized an enhancement of deposition deep inside the alveoli by up to a factor of 5 can be achieved over uncharged particles.

Drug Delivery by Inhalation of Charged Particles

The mechanism for this enhanced deposition is the well-known phenomenon in electrodynmics known as mirror charge. When a charged particle approaches a conducting surface the particle induces on that surface an image charge of opposite polarity. The surface of the lung alveoli is uncharged but conducting. The mirror charge effect is very short range, thus when the charged anthrax spore approaches the confined spaces deep in the alveoli region it will begin to manifest itself.

Deposition and Fate of Inhaled Pharmacological Aerosols


Altough no pictures of the Daschle anthrax micrographs have been released publicly, we would like to show a picture (below, left) that we feel is very similar to what the Daschle spores must look like.



The above picture is a particle of zinc sulfide coated with silica. The zinc sulfide particle is about 2 microns across (similar in size to an anthrax spore), and the silica particles are about 100 nanometers. If you happen to have seen the Daschle micrographs and recognize the similarity, please write us and let us know.




To summarize:

We conclude that charged anthrax particles would be considerably more lethal than uncharged particles because of their ability to adhere to lung alveoli by utililizing mirror charge effects. Once the mirror charge mechanism causes the adhesion it is unlikley that the particle would then become dislodged. We would like to pose some important questions here - are the FBI, who are presently conducting the anthrax 2001 investigation, even aware of all of this? Is there a properly organized team of scientists and engineers providing the FBI investigative team the guidance they need to reach sensible conclusions? The technology needed to make the Daschle anthrax is far removed from what we know of the FBI's efforts to date - if stories of turtle traps and ponds are really correct. Clearly the Daschle anthrax was made by a team of specialists - not some person in a basement


Where Does Bill Patrick Stand?

Bill Patrick is an interesting character. Considered one of the fathers of the US bioweapons program he became friends with Ken Alibek after Alibek's defection from the Soviet Union. After the 2001 anthrax attacks in the US Patrick became a much-sought-after target for reporters and television journalists keen to get his take on who made the anthrax and how they made it.

But what is Bill Patrick telling the media exactly? We have already seen that other scientists like Alibek and Meselson seem to be telling the media very strange things that don't make a lot of sense scientifically. And yet these men are scientists - so we can only guess at their motivations for saying the things that they say. Are they working for someone else? Have they been instructed by someone else to give out confusing misinformation? If so, what is the purpose of all of this?

We decided to take a detailed look at what Bill Patrick has said to the media to see if his story is consistent and scientifically sound, or if, like Meselson and Alibek, he is giving out confused mixed signals.

We start below with certain statements Patrick made to the press after the 2001 attacks.


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Spores not 'smoking gun'
Anthrax expert says it's impossible to trace source
By PAUL RECER
Associated Press - December 19, 2001

WASHINGTON -- The scientist who helped the United States refine anthrax and turn it into a weapon says the bacteria spores used in the recent attacks could have been processed in a variety of ways, making it impossible to trace their source.


"You can process the stuff in so many different ways, I don't think that it will be the smoking gun," William C. Patrick III said Tuesday.

Patrick, who holds patents for techniques used to make weapons-grade anthrax, said the type of spores mailed to the offices of Sens. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., and Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., could have been processed in a crude laboratory "as long as you are dealing with small quantities of material."

He said that anthrax can be cultured on many different growth mediums and that there are many ways to purify and dry it.


Patrick led the Army's biological weapons program at Fort Detrick, Md., until the program ended in 1969. Since then, he has worked as an adviser and consultant on biological warfare issues for the Defense Department. In 1998, he taught scientists at the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah how to turn wet clusters of bacteria spores into a dry powder.

That technology is not difficult, Patrick said Tuesday. He said the key to turning anthrax into a weapon is the genetic strain of the microbe.

"If you have poor strain you're not going to make a good product," he said.

The strain used in the letters mailed to media offices in New York and in Florida has been identified as Ames, a strain that was used in Defense Department testing.

Patrick said the spores mailed to the senators' offices are "one step removed from weapons grade."

"It has small particles, with good concentration, (but) it is electrostatic (carries an electrical charge)," said Patrick.

To make the mailed spores suitable for military weapons, the electrical charge would have to be removed. The electrical charge helps make the spore become airborne at the slightest puff of air.

Investigators have said that the anthrax spores in the letters sent to the senators' offices were so charged that they tended to jump off microscope slides and fly about the chamber where they were being examined.

Patrick said the same thing would have happened to anyone who made spores for the anthrax-by-letter attacks.

"It would have been flying all over the room," he said, with up to half the material lost.

If the processing room had a window, he said, "you could get people infected if they were passing that window."

A person making the spores in a home laboratory, said Patrick, could have protected himself by wearing a special, easily purchased mask and by taking an antibiotic to prevent infection. But the process still would have contaminated the room where the work was done, he said.

Patrick said that to turn anthrax into a weapon would involve mixing a cluster of spores with a liquid compound that would cause the individual spores to separate and stay apart.

"How you treat the liquid material determines what the particle size (of the spores) is going to be and what the concentration will be," he said.

Drying the wet spores "is not a technically demanding task," he said. "You can dry it in many ways -- even with a heat lamp.

"If you purify the material and dried by a vacuum drum or by spray drying or by freeze drying, the material will be the same," Patrick said.

He said the spores would bear chemical traces of the material used in the wetting compound. Asked about a report that the spores in the senators' offices bore traces of silica, a drying agent, Patrick said: "I am not going to discuss silica, either the presence or the absence of it."

Patrick said a person making an anthrax weapon could store the material at room temperature in a wide-mouthed glass vessel with a screw-on lid called a biological jar.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"To make the mailed spores suitable for military weapons, the electrical charge would have to be removed. The electrical charge helps make the spore become airborne at the slightest puff of air." according to Patrick. Anthrax2001 has difficulty with these apparent opposite sentences - on the one hand he claims the electrical charge needs to be removed to make a military weapon - then in the next sentence he claims the charge is essential for the spores to become airborne. So which is it, Bill?

Fortunately we have access to our own scientific expertise at anthrax2001. It is a fact that most dried spore-like bacteria carry a modest electrical charge, always a negative one. This simply means that such spores carry an excess of electrons. If the spores are manufactured in a bioreactor, seperated from the broth, centrifuged and then dried in, for example, a spray drier this is the way they will come out - with a modest negative charge, say in the range 10E-11 to 10E-9 Ckg-1 (Coulombs per kilogram). This is not enough charge to make these particles behave in any dramatic fashion like spontaneously flying from one surface to another.

Let's start with a little electrodynamics 101. Electrostatic forces were first described in detail by French scientist Charles Augustus Coulomb (1736-1806), hence they are also sometimes referred to as Coulombic forces. In a series of famous experiments Coulomb showed that materials or particles with net like charge repel one another, whilst materials or particles with net unlike charge attract one another. That means if our anthrax spores had a net like charge they would have a propensity to stay away from each other - and since the Coulomb force acts over long ranges this would sound like an ideal way to keep the spores separted from one another in an aerosol. This can only happen if the net like charge gets quite strong - perhaps greater than about 10E-4 Ckg-1.

It looks like that however the Daschle anthrax was treated, something fairly dramatic was done to it to make it fly about - at least according to the detailed account provided below from Richard Preston's "Demon in the Freezer":

From the chapter-SKULLS AND BONES... "four days after the Daschle letter was opened,Peter Jahrling put on a space suit and went into the Submarine and got a tiny sample of live,dry Daschle anthrax.He brought it out in double tubes,for safety,and put the tubes in...a cobalt irradiator,which fried the DNA in the spores,rendering them sterile.He gave the sample to Tom Geisbert,so that Geisbert could look at the dry anthrax in a scanning electron microscope.

Geisbert carried the tube of dry anthrax into his microscope lab,set the tube in a tray, and turned his attention elsewhere.A minute later,he happened to glance at the tube.The anthrax was gone.

Yet the cap of the tube was closed.
"What the heck ?", he said out loud.

He picked up the tube and stared at it.Empty. He tapped the cap with his finger,and the particles appeared and fell down to the bottom of the tube-they had gotten stuck underneath the cap,somehow.

He went back to work.A minute later,he glanced over at the tube.The anthrax was gone again.He tapped the cap,and the anthrax fell to the bottom.He stared at the bone-colored(my emphasis) particles.Now he saw them climbing the walls of the tube,dancing along the plastic,heading upward.

.......The anthrax was like jumping beans. It seemed to have a life of its own."

( Next, the researcher sets out a piece of sticky black tape.The anthrax bounces off the tape.80% of the sample flitters up into the fume hood.)

(Finally Geisbert manages to get some of the sample to stick to the tape,and puts it under a scanning scope,and zooms in.)



This kind of description is certainly consistent with a highly charged material - a material that wants to turn into an aerosol all on its own. And yet Bill Patrick is telling us that the charge has to BE REMOVED to make a military weapon. Did the story above perhaps misinterpret what Bill Patrick told the reporter? Let's look at another quote from a different date to make sure:

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Static Charge May Have Minimized Anthrax Spread

February, 2002

"Electrostatically charged materials are very hard to disseminate," says Bill Patrick, an American scientist who worked on anthrax weapons in the 1950s and 1960s. The charge must be removed with a secret combination of chemicals, Patrick told the Journal. Otherwise, "some of it can still get up in the air, but it’s not predictable."
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

That one is quite clear. Bill Patrick is quite clearly stating that electrostatically charged materials are hard to disseminate.

That's very strange and anthrax2001 cannot understand it. Perhaps Patrick is getting long range electrostatic forces confused with much shorter range Van der Waals forces. It should be very clear that a net-like-charge will make a powdered material much easier to disseminate. This was poined out in a recent article entitled Molecular, Surface and Continuum Issues in the Capture of Bacteria Particles by Solid Aerosols

It's also important to note that Van der Waals forces will begin to dominate at very short range - even if the spores have a net like charge. This does not seem intuitive at first sight - how can two like charged particles be attracted toward each other (Van der Waals forces are ALWAYS attractive)? Well, the trick is that these charged particles have a NET charge but they still have instantaneous dipole moments associated with them. Thus if they can get close enough together the Van der Waals forces will dominate and the spores will stick together - that is, unless they happen to be coated with silica!

Does anyone still want to place bets that the Daschle anthrax was made in a kitchen?

To summarize:

We conclude that Bill Patrick's statements to the media are misinformation. He attests that weaponized anthrax spores should not carry any electrostatic charge. This is incorrect. Electrostatic net-like-charge will allow the spores to aerosolize more easily.

And there is another reason for finding charged spores desireable if one's objective is to increase the fatalities/gram. We'll get to that in the next blog.


Spore Size of Anthrax Aerosols



Bioweaponeers, when designing weapons of mass destruction, are fiendishly clever in their engineering skills. The figure above shows that the passage to the human respiratory system can be conveniently divided into three regions as follows:

Region 1: Nasopharynx or Head
This is the region where cells or spores greater than approximately 20 microns in diameter will be deposited if breathed in from an aerosol.


Region 2: Larynx, Trachea, Bronchi
The bronchi tube in humans is around 9cm in length and 1.5cm in diameter. Aerosol particles in the size range 5-20 microns will deposit in this region.


Region 3: Bronchioles and Alveoli
This is the region that bioweaponeers target when they design their latest anthrax dry powder weapons of mass destruction. To reach this region with an aerosol the particles in the aerosol have to be between 1 and 4 microns in diameter.

Given enough time, funding, technological skill, state-support and will to cause mass casualties with anthrax bioweapons the bioweaponeers were finally able to overcome all of the problems associated with manufacturing a dry powder that would be able to effectively penetrate deep into the Bronchioles and Alveoli region of the lungs. Once spores find themselves in this region they are able to come to life. They are in a friendly envirionment of temperature, moisture and pH and have an adequate supply of nutrients available to start their destructive life cycle.


OK, but what about natural cases of inhalational anthrax - woolsorters and animal skin workers have been getting inhalational anthrax for centuries - right?

Not so fast. The word anthrax actually has its origins in the Greek word anthrasis - which means coal. This is in reference to the fact that the cutaneous form of the disease leaves ugly black lesions on the skin. The cutaneous form of the disease is by far the most common one that is picked up by animal skin workers. The gastrointestinal is more common in third world countries where butchered meat from dead animals is often consumed without proper cooking. That's why, in spite of the
soothing words from Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson after the death of Bob Stevens that it was an isolated incident and Stevens drank from a stream, it was almost certain that even at this early stage bioterrorism was to blame. Although there have been a few cases of natural inhalational anthrax in the US in the last 100 years, every single one of the victims worked with animal skins.

It is possible to become infected with inhalational anthrax naturally if one is exposed to the dust from animal skins, but it's very rare. This is because anthrax spores from animal skins do not easily form aerosols and are much more likely to occur in clumps - that is tens or even hundreds of spores stuck together. These clumps cannot become airborne and even if they briefly did they would get trapped in Region 1 and Region 2 of the respiratory system.

Statistical probability is the name of the game when it comes to natural versus bioterrorism induced inhalational anthrax. It is simply statistically improbable for someone to become infected naturally - it's not imposssible, but the percentage of spores that are given off by animal skins that can become airborne and penetrate to Region 3 of the lungs is very small. It was the task of bioweaponeers, therefore, to engineer the probabilities in their favor. Bioweaponeers were tasked with the job of ensuring that anthrax spores were single spores, were likely to form aerosols easily, and contained a high statistical probability of penetrating Region 3 of the lungs and staying there without being re-aspired.

The persons who designed the Daschle anthrax did their macabre job well - 31 Senate workers including five Capitol Police officers tested positive for anthrax bacteria after the letter was opened.


OK, So What About Dr. Hatfill?


In case the reader has been living on a different planet for the last 2 years, Dr. Steven J Hatfill appears to be the only suspect in the anthrax investigation that the FBI have in their sights. In fact, the FBI don't even call him a suspect - they call him a "person of interest". Perhaps the reason they can't call him a suspect is because there doesn't seem to be a shred of evidence against him, either direct, physical, circumstantial or motivational. Although he worked at Fort Detrick for several years he has never worked with anthrax and he is actually a virologist by training - not a bacteriologist.

There is one thing that anthrax2001 does know for sure. The anthrax that was sent to the media and the government in the Fall of 2001 was weapons grade. It was a product that was the result of years of development by a team of specialists and could only have been developed with the knowledge and help of a state. Even if an expert knew every step of the process, he or she would not be able to produce this stuff as a solo effort outside of a bioweapons lab. That includes Dr. Steven J Hatfill.

But let's get back to how Dr. Hatfill first came to the attention of the FBI. Very early in the investigation the FBI mysteriously announced that they had a arrived at a profile of the perpetrator. Ignoring the contents of the letters which pointed to a Muslim terrorist source and a connection to the 9/11 attacks, the FBI published a profile of a lone US scientist who was previously connected with the US bioweapons program, who had technical knowledge of bioweapons, and who was familiar with the New Jersey area.

To this day it is still unclear why the FBI siezed upon the notion that a lone US scientist was responsible for the mailings. It seems that after the FBI made this announcement Barbara Hatch Rosenberg beagn entertaining the idea that Dr. Hatfill somehow fitted this profile.

Hatfill's past life was picked apart in an article in Seed Magazine , which seems to be full of recollections from ex-colleagues. The common thread among these anecdotal tales seems to be that none of them are in any way connected with bioterrrorism or murderous criminal activity of any kind. Perhaps the strangest anecdotal story of all is the release of a 10 year old email purportedly from Hatfill's ex-MSc advisor (Luthar Bohm at Stellenbosch University in South Africa) to his PhD advisor (Ralph Kirby at Rhodes University in South Africa). The email is reproduced below:


Dear Ralph,
2 problems here: We are rather disappointed if not to say PISSED OFF with so much ignorance, carelessness and indifference. 9 months of time plus 4000 odd Rand wasted. You are both DEEP in our memory.

A Japanese worker has problems in reproducing the Thalidomide work on K 562. After some correspondence relating to buffers and drug metabolism using S-9 fraction he still cannot do it. When I discussed the problem with Steven it became clear that he could not have done the experiment as his handling of the S-9 fraction indicated total confusion.

Taking these observations and the wonderful TGE melt mitochondrial DNA referred to in the Lancet paper it also transpires that the experiment could not have been done by S. because essential parts of the TGE machine accessories were still unopened. It goes to show that S takes great liberties with the truth.

I think you may wish to be on guard when you assess his PhD thesis not to risk a scandal. I can only pray that the Japanese worker is not going to blow the whistle— but with increasing interest in Thalidomide somebody else might. I find it utterly distasteful and unprofessional to practice science in this way and I am reassessing my position regarding S. and asking you again for advice.

Lothar Bohm



Naturally, the fact that the above email has been publcly released must be of great concern not just to Dr Hatfill, but to both Professors Kirby and Bohm, since it leaves both of them in a poor light concerning academic dishonesty. Stories like this, if proven to be true, will certainly destroy the academic careers of those involved.

However sordid the above revelations, if true, are they are hardly relevant to the question of whether Dr Hatfill was responsible for mailing the US anthrax letters on 2001.

Anthrax2001 believes that Dr Hatfill could not have made the weaponized anthrax that was deployed to the US senators - it is far beyond the capabilities of a lone person. Even if Dr Hatfill was somehow capable of removing the already weaponized anthrax from some US bioweapons facility he would still face the difficult task of the placing it the envelopes and mailing it. That task itself, although certainly within the capabilities of a lone person, would be time consuming and would require certain decontamination procedures to be undetrtaken after the mailing. Dr Hatfill's whereabouts at the time of the mailing are known by the FBI - it would have been impossible for him to have made these mailings in the time before he left work anbd returned the nest day.

The FBI should either charge Dr Hatfill with a crime or drop him as a "person of interest



The Strange Case of the Missing Silica

It continues to bemuse us here at anthrax2001 blogspot why so many people see so many different things when they claim to have been shown the electron micrographs of the Daschle anthrax spores. At anthrax2001 we tend to believe that the actual scientists with first hand access to the samples and who are controlling the Scanning Electron Micrograph (SEM) and X-Ray analysis tools know what they are talking about. That's why when the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology report that they found silica on the surface of the Daschle anthrax we have no reason to believe they are making this up.

Also, we have no reason to believe that Drs. Tom Geisbert and Peter Jahrling of Fort Detrick are being anything other than totally professional and honest when they relay their story of finding this silica to author Richard Preston in his book "Demon in the Freezer"

The passage below is an exerpt from "Demon in the Freezer":

10/25/01 Geisbert tests a sterilized sample of the Daschle anthrax. X-rays, and other tests show two materials present: silica and oxygen...glass.

"The silicon was powdered so finely that under Geisbert's electron microscope it had looked like fried-egg gunk dripping off the spores." Geisbert calls his boss, Peter Jahrling on a secure STU phone and says: "Pete ! There's glass in the anthrax."

...superfine powdered glass,known as silica nanopowder,which has industrial uses.The grains of this type of glass are very small.If an anthrax spore was an orange,then these particles of glass would be grains of sand clinging to the orange.The glass was slippery and smooth,and it might have been treated so that it would repel water.It caused the spores to crumble apart,to pass more easily through the holes in the envelopes and fly everywhere, filling the Hart Senate office building and the Brentwood and Hamilton mail-sorting facilities like a gas."


On the other hand, certain other inividuals, whose motives remain fuzzy and unclear, seem to like to make mischief by pretending that there was no silica present on the Daschle anthrax.

It seems Professor Meselson and Dr Alibek are desperate to tell any newsman or camera that points in their direction just the complete opposite. Let's have some fun by looking at some direct quotes from these two bioweapons "experts".



Dateline June 1 2002:
Meselson concurs that the anthrax evinces no sign of special coating or processing. "There is no evidence that I know of," he told me, "that it was treated in any special way."




Dateline March 31 2003:
Ken Alibek: To talk about silica, when I've looked at micrographs, I haven't seen any silica in the samples. We shouldn't forget that silica could be contained in an outer shell of an anthrax spore. Based on this information its hard to see if it is foreign or domestic. What you can see is that there was a lot of incorrect info published in the media. This anthrax wasn't sophisticated, didn't have coatings, had electric charge and many other things.

Dateline November 5 2002:

Both of us have examined electron micrographs of the material in the anthrax letter sent to Sen. Tom Daschle, but we saw no evidence of such balls or strands. In July 1980, the Journal of Bacteriology reported an "unexpectedly high concentration of silicon" to be naturally present in the outer spore coat of bacillus cereus, a close relative of bacillus anthracis. Is it possible that the unnamed sources misinterpreted silicon naturally concentrated in spore coats as something that was artificially added?




Can anyone understand why Professor Meselson and Dr Alibek would go to such extraordinary lengths to deny the official position of the US government? Of course we all know that the anthrax investigation is packed with misinformation, innuendo and politics. Professor Meselson already has a meaningful reputation when it comes to denying hard facts about anthrax bioweapons and if you read Tom Mangold and Jeff Goldberg's Plague Wars you'll see what we mean.
But what about Dr Ken Alibek, the Soviet defector? What motivation could he have to deny that the anthrax used in the 2001 attacks was bioweapons grade material? If you know, please forward your information to anthrax2001 and we'll publish it.

At anthrax2001 we don't let things like politics cloud our judgement, we just want to find the truth on who sent these anthrax letters, from what bioweapons lab the anthrax was obtained, and what the motivations of the perpetrator were.


Silicon Occurs Naturally in Life Forms! - Biology Rewritten by Matthew Meselson

Matthew Meselson is the Thomas Dudley Cabot Professor of the Natural Sciences at Harvard University. As well as this he is past Director of the FAS Chemical and Biological Weapons Program, a position now occupied by Barbara Hatch Rosenberg. Barbara Hatch Rosenberg has become famous in recent years - she is the person who appears to be the chief accuser of Dr Steven J Hatfill as being the 2001 anthrax killer - but that's another story for another blog.

Returning to Professor Matthew Meselson's history for the moment, we note that he is generally regarded as being a major influence on the Nixon administration's decision to stop work on biological offensive weapons. Additionally Meselson is widely asscociated with the investigation of the accidental anthrax release at Sverdlovsk in the former Soviet Union. Meselson spent 10 years pandering the Soviet Union and attempting to convince the US government that the anthrax release in Sverdlovsk was nothing more than a case of tainted meat contamination - which killed at least 70 people from inhalational anthrax! Finally, even after Boris Yeltsin himself admitted that the Soviets were making massive amounts of dry anthrax powder at this bioweapons facility, Meselson was prepared to admit the truth. But he placed one huge caveat on this truth. He performed a "calculation" that "explained" all the deaths using a tiny amount of anthrax - an amount that would have been allowed under the existing treaty.

Meselson was prepared to conclude that the cause of death was airborne anthrax spores released from a military installation, He also concluded the size of the release was between a few milligrams and a gram, leaving open the possibility it was the result of defensive biological warfare research, a conclusion contested by U.S. intelligence analysts, who argued the release must have involved pounds of anthrax, based on prior studies into the dispersal of biological agents. As Dr. William C. Patrick, the veteran of over 30 years as a biological weapons researcher at Fort Detrick, Maryland and expert on anthrax dispersal noted later, he and other experts "hooted" when Meselson presented his release estimates

It came as a surprise, then, when Meselson, not content with his dabblings with the Sverdlovsk incident, decided to insert himself into the US 2001 anthrax attacks by writing a letter to the Washington Post claiming that there was no silica in the Daschle anthrax and that the element silicon occurs naturally in anthrax!

We'd like to give Professor Meselson a little refesher course in biology here. In spite of the fact that he's a professor of biology at Harvard, he seems to have forgotten a few basics. Anthrax is either synthesiszed inside living mamalian organisms or in artificial nutrients in laboratories. Sillicon is not present in mamalian organisms, and certainly not in any form that can be metabolised. Since we can't make elements from nothing (unless one still believes in alchemy), it is impossible for silicon to occur "naturally" in anthrax. As far as laboratories are concerned, anthrax is artificially synthesized using ultra-pure reagents and nutrients - none of which contain silicon.

It was a cute attempt by Professor Meselson, but just because he's at Harvard doesn't mean he can take liberties with science.


What does 1 trillion spores per gram mean? - Microbiology 101

The Washington Post reported that the Daschle anthrax contained 1 trillion spores per gram - close to the theoretical maximum for anthrax. In spite of this reported measurement there are certain anthrax pundits who reject the notion that the Daschle anthrax contained small particles that were stand alone and capable of acting as single entities to either form bacterial colonies or become trapped inside a person's lungs.

Indeed even a supposed expert on biological weapons seemed to fail to understand the meaning of a simple Quantitative Dilution Plating protocol when he testified before a congressional committe in December 2001. At this hearing, RUSSIA, IRAQ, AND OTHER POTENTIAL SOURCES OF ANTHRAX, SMALLPOX AND OTHER BIOTERRORIST WEAPONS Dr Ken Alibek made the following statement:

"My analysis shows that this product was not obtained using either American or Russian production techniques. Why I am saying this is we agreed the concentration was high, about 3 trillion spores in 1 gram. But at the same time, I don't believe it was a direct measurement where we had 1 gram and in this 1 gram there were 3 trillion spores.

If you have several particles and you measure these particles and you count the number of spores in these particles, then you just multiply and say the theoretical concentration could be 1 trillion. It is a completely different process.

What we forget is that when you have a big number of particles, you also have a huge number of empty spaces in this 1 gram. You would never be able to achieve one-thousandth when you have, let me say, particles in 1 gram size. In this case, I wouldn't say this statement: This product was 1 trillion spore concentration.

Second, I know there was quite a wide distribution in the size of these particles from, say, very small parallels 1, 2, 3 or 5, 10 microns up to 35, 50 microns. It means again that it is not a product which was done professionally."


In the above statement Dr Alibek seems to be implying that the CFU/g count obtained for the Daschle anthrax was calculated by looking at Scanning Electron Micrographs (SEMs) of the samples and attempting to scale up these observations to macroscopic dimensions. Nothing could be further from reality. The CFU/g counts obtained for the Daschle anthrax were the result of simple Quantitative Dilution Plating protocols. These protocols, which we will explain step by step below, are considered Microbilogy 101.


We will make the assumption here that when newspapers like the Washington Post report the figure 1 trillion spores per gram they are actually referring to the quantity colony forming units (CFU) per gram. This is an important distinction - because if several spores (perhaps tens or even hundreds) are stuck together they would be counted as only one CFU in a quantitative dilution plating test, since the cluster of spores would be outside the spatial resolution of this technique. Nevertheless we feel that our assumption is a good one since the number reported of 1 trillion cannot be derived through any other technique.

In this section we will explain the basis of Quantitative Dilution Plating - a technique used in basic microbiology for quantitatively measuring the efficacy of a particular bacterial sample. We will demonstrate that once the CFU/g has been obtained it can be used as a powerful tool to draw unambiguous conclusions about a sample's average particle size.
The basic principles are outlined in the sketches below. The first figure shows a hypothetical bacteria in a test tube. This test tube contains 100 colony forming units (CFUs) of bacteria in ml of lake water. If the entire contents of test tube are placed on a suitable growing media (petri dish), after some time colonies of bacteria will appear, will be seen visually and can be counted. This sample would result in 100 countable colonies - and thus the determination could be made that the original sample contained 100 CFU/ml.



This simple procedure can then be extended to a much more concentrated sample as shown in the next figure below. The next sample contains 10,000 CFU/ml of bacteria. Several aliquots of different voulme can then be drawn off. When 0.01ml is used this results in 100 colonies - thus it can be calculated that the original sample had 10,000 CFU/ml.



A very similar procedure was used on the Daschle anthrax to determine its CFU/g efficacy. A known mass of the Daschle anthrax was carefully weighed out (say a few milligrams) and this mass was dispersed into an aqueous solution of known volume. Dilutions were made of this aqueous suspension and spotted onto petri dishes. When a petri dish was found with a countable number of colonies a calculation was made which yielded the result 1 trillion CFU/g.

Note how unambiguous this technique is. It does not rely on looking at Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) pictures to reach the result of 1 trillion spores per gram - and the very technique itself ensures that there is no confusion concerning clumped particles or spores of anthrax. If spores were clumped together they would be counted as only one CFU - and thus if a sample consisted of mostly clumped together spores the final count would be less than the theoretical maximum which for anthrax corresponds to 1 trillion spores per gram.

Now, since the Daschle anthrax yielded a result of 1 trillion spores per gram this immediately tells us two very important things. First of all it tells us that there was almost no debris material present in the Daschle anthrax. Second it tells us that the Daschle anthrax consited almost entirely of single viable spores.

To summarize:

The Daschle anthrax contained 1 trillion spores per gram. If this was indeed the CFU/g count that was yielded by a sample of this material it means the material was 50 times finer than anything produced by the now-defunct U.S. bioweapons program and 10 times finer than the finest known grade of Soviet anthrax spores. This Daschle anthrax was not made by a lone individual, however well qualified that lone individual was. It was made by a team of specialists in a bioweapons lab.


What about the AMI letter(s)?

It is generally accepted that the anthrax that arrived at American Media Incorporated (AMI) in Boca Raton, Florida also arrived by mail, but unfortunately the letter or letters that contained anthrax were never found.
What these letters contained and when exactly they arrived is one of the most puzzling aspects of the entire anthrax investigation. Let's look first of all at the official conclusions from the CDC that have been written up and published in peer-reviewed journals.

The CDC's Conclusions about the AMI Anthrax Letters

In October, 2002 a team of CDC doctors published an analysis of the AMI anthrax attacks entitled First Case of Bioterrorism-Related Inhalational Anthrax in the United States, Palm Beach County, Florida, 2001


In this article the conclusion is reached that TWO different anthrax letters were opened at AMI:

"Workplace information about exposure to suspicious mail indicated that the incubation period for both Florida case-patients was <12 days. The index patient had onset of illness 11 days after handling suspicious mail on September 19. The second case-patient had illness onset September 28, 9 days after the index-patient viewed suspicious mail on September 19 and 3 days after his co-worker opened a letter with powder in it on September 25."

Of particular significance is that the CDC conclude that Bob Stevens (the first fatality of the 2001 anthrax attacks) was exposed by primary aerosolization from a suspicious letter that we was seen holding close to his face on September 19.

"Workplace interviews regarding mail exposure showed that the index patient rarely handled or opened workplace mail, but co-workers recalled that he had examined a piece of stationery containing a fine, white, talc-like powder on September 19. The patient was observed holding the stationery close to his face as he looked at it over his computer keyboard."

What the Media have Written about the AMI attacks

The media reports on the AMI letters confirm what the CDC reports in many important details The media reported that Bob Stevens was indeed seen by his colleagues holding a letter close to his face on September 19, 2001. It was pointed out by Phil Brennan writing for Newsmax
that this letter that Stevens was seen reading had actually arrived at AMI on September 4, 2001. Since this was seven days before the 9/11 attacks this would clearly be a huge piece of evidentiary material pointing to a perpetrator who had foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks.

One of the most detailed media reports on the AMI letters was published in the National Enquirer - who were essentially reporting on themselves. Regardless of the dubious nature of many National Enquirer stories, this particular story should be treated with credibility - the reporters themselves were first hand witnesses to what occurred. The National Enquirer story was published on October 31, 2001 but has only recently been published on the internet.

The National Enquirer report details that Bobby Bender, who is described as a "recently hired news assistant" was the person who retrieved the letter from the garbage of managing editor Joe West. He then passed it around the staff, including Bob Stevens. He is described as carefully holding the letter on his open palms and handing it to Bob Stevens. Presumably this was to avoid the "pink powder" that it contained spilling onto the floor. As well as a single page letter to Jennifer Lopez the manila envelope that was addressed to Jennifer Lopez c/o The Sun, contained a small laundry detergent box, a cheap cigar in a tube and a cylindrical tobacco tin.

Since the National Enquirer article was published it is unknown if anyone has attempted to contact Bobby Bender or Joe West to confirm that this letter did indeed arrive at AMI one week before 9/11, on September 4, 2001.

Critics of the September 19, 2001 letter theory point out that the September 19 letter couldn't have contained anthrax because "nobody else got sick". This argument doesn't make much sense when it is already accepted that letters arrived at AMI containing anthrax. Why some people get sick quickly and others do not may well be related to the age of the exposed persons. It was noted after the accidental release at Sverdlovsk in the former Soviet Union that young persons tended not be affected. Bob Stevens, the index case at AMI, was 63 years old. Ernesto Blanco, the second victim was 73 years old. It is unknown what age Bobby Bender was, although his description of a "recently hired news assistant" implies he is a younger man. Nasal swabs are also not very reliable indicators of previous exposure to anthrax. Nasal swabs on monkeys challenged with inhalational anthrax exposure only show a small percentage of positive results.

Were there other victims at AMI?

As well as Bob Stevens who died and Ernesto Blanco who recovered, another member of staff at AMI was exposed to anthrax as found through nasal swabs. Stephanie Dailey opened the September 25 letter which was also thought to contain anthrax. It is unknown when this letter arrived at AMI since Stephanie had just returned from a 2 week vacation.

However, another possible victim is Martha Moffet. On October 10, 2001 The Guardian reported that David Pecker, president of AMI, told the New York Post that Martha Moffett, 67, a librarian at the company who was already being treated for pneumonia, tested positive for anthrax exposure but sources said she had not contracted the disease. However, the age of Martha Moffet is strongly suggestive that she may in fact have contracted inhalational anthrax. She had pneumonia when Bob Stevens died and it's possible that she had already started on a regime of antibiotics for her pneumonia which may have masked any subsequent tests for anthrax. October in Florida is not considered the flu season if it was flu that led to naturally occurring pneumonia.


To summarize:
Interviews of the AMI staff by both the media and the CDC team revealed that AMI staff were convinced that the letter that infected Bob Stevens was the one that he held close to his face on September 19, 2001. This letter contained a pink colored powder. Unconfirmed reports say that this letter arrived at AMI on September 4, 1 week before the 9/11 attacks. It is not clear if the AMI staff told the FBI some other version of events than they told to the CDC team, but for whatever reason the FBI wrote off the September 19 letter as being irrelevant. According the Phil Brennan the FBI told AMI staff not to discuss this irrelevant letter with anyone.
It remains unknown to this day why the FBI did this, apparently rejecting one of the only leads that they have yet come across in an investigation that, 2 years later, has produced no clues, no physical evidence and no arrest.

Finally one more conclusion can reasonably be drawn from the AMI anthrax attacks. Whilst it has been theorized that the attacker somehow "further refined" his product in real time, finally sending the 1 trillion spore per gram material to senators Daschle and Leahy, the fact that inhalational victims were already in Florida at AMI suggests that the initial AMI anthrax was also extraordinarily pure, with single spores and probably with silica.



Weaponization and Silica


The anthrax sent to senator Daschle in the Fall of 2001 was high quality weapons grade material - containing one trillion spores per gram and weaponized with silica. A little-known report published by the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology confirms this. “This [silica] was a key component [of the Daschle anthrax],” Mullick said. “Silica prevents the anthrax from aggregating, making it easier to aerosolize.

We need to remember that the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) lab is the authority on determining these findings. This is not an anonymous source giving this information out, it is the official finding of the federal government.

So why is it necessary to coat the anthrax with silica to make it more deadly? The answer to this can be found by examining recent openly published work in the field of dry inhalational pharmaceuticals. The figure below illustrates what happens when particles of pharmaceuticals are coated with smaller particles of silica.



With no coating (A) the particles clump together due to Van der Waals forces. These forces are very short range (a few nanometers) and they fall off in an extremely non-linear fashion as something like r^6, where r is the distance. This means that if particles are able to get close enough to each other to invoke these Van der Waals forces they may become bonded together almost irreversibly. Thus uncoated anthrax particles or spores would be much less likely to cause inhalational anthrax - since when they clump together they would be larger than the 5 microns minimum diameter necessary to become trapped inside lung alveoli.

However, when coated with silica (B), the particles of anthrax cannot physically get close enough together to invoke the short range Van der Waals forces. The anthrax spores will remain as separate entities - and thus be capable of lodging inside lung alveoli where they will find a favorable environment to become biologically active, producing lethal toxin in the process.


To summarize:
The Daschle anthrax had a distinct trait that made it a deadly product. It was coated with silica but it is unknown publicly what method was used to coat the Daschle anthrax with silica - nevertheless it is almost certain that the FBI know this. One of the puzzling questions is why the FBI commissioned Dugway to make anthrax samples using fairly crude equipment but without silica coatings. Not surprisingly none of these products were capable of producing primary aerosols - silica is essential for this.

Finally it is important to realize that such weaponized anthrax products cannot be engineered to be lethal from first principal design. In other words, I can't simply deduce that a certain amount of silica will give me the most lethal product. The rubber hits the road when these anthrax particles are inhaled inside real lungs. The only way to develop a product that is lethal is to process scores of different formulations and test them on monkeys using a strict design of experiments approach. Once the most lethal formulations are discovered it can then be deduced what silica coating densities are the most favorable and the formulations can then be tweaked. Such a process would take years of development by a team of specialists and with state sponsorship

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