Friday, March 12, 2010

Anthrax doubts

The Department of Justice and the FBI think the anthrax letters case is now closed. Dr. Meryl Nass disagrees. She has posted a series of valuable questions and rebuttals to the FBI's case against Dr. Bruce Ivins.

Federal Bureau of Invention: CASE CLOSED (and Ivins did it)

Actually, the 96 page FBI report is predicated on the assumption that the anthrax letters attack was carried out by a "lone nut." The FBI report fails to entertain the possibility that the letters attack could have involved more than one actor. The FBI admits that about 400 people may have had access to Ivins' RMR-1029 anthrax preparation, but asserts all were "ruled out" as lone perpetrators. FBI never tried to rule any out as part of a conspiracy, however.

That strikes me as a serious blindspot in an eight year investigation.

Additional details emerge to challenge the FBI's anthrax letter scenario

The point, as one scientist specializing in fine particle chemistry told me, blows a large hole through the 92-page summary of the investigation released last week by the F.B.I. and the Justice Department, the main conclusion of which is that Bruce E. Ivins, a scientist at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, in Maryland, was the anthrax mailer.

“Note that the proprietary azeotropic drying technique and the pneumatic mill are both superspecialized pieces of equipment, neither of which is at Detrick,” the specialist in fine particles, Stuart Jacobsen, said in an e-mail message.

But the F.B.I.’s entire case against Mr. Ivins is that he was able to manufacture the anthrax used in the attacks at his Fort Detrick lab, working late at night on the days before the actual anthrax mailings so nobody would see what he was doing.

In the aftermath of the FBI report, Ivins "therapist" hit the media trail with tales of the evil Bruce Ivins and his twisted psyche:

Jean Duley emerges from undisclosed location after 18 months to bolster FBI's case against Ivins

Remember, Duley had only just received a Bachelors Degree when she was put in the position of counselling Ivins for substance abuse. She has neither the training nor experience to comment to the media on Ivins' psychological pathologies, let alone treat them. She was not qualified to do anything more than substance abuse work, and as someone who had fallen off the wagon, was not even qualified for that.

Nass also notes that Duley is the only medical professional to come forward with these tales.

She has a round-up of other questions here:

My summary of unresolved issues in the anthrax letters case

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