Sunday, October 01, 2006

Lethal Anthrax Was Less Sophisticated Than the Media Erroneously Reported! (But the FBI Says They Knew the Score!)

"[A] widely circulated misconception is that the spores were produced using additives and sophisticated engineering supposedly akin to military weapon production. This idea is usually the basis for implying that the powders were inordinately dangerous compared to spores alone (3, 6, 12; J. Kelly, Washington Times, 21 October 2003; G. Gugliotta and G. Matsumoto, The Washington Post, 28 October 2002). The persistent credence given to this impression fosters erroneous preconceptions, which may misguide research and preparedness efforts and generally detract from the magnitude of hazards posed by simple spore preparations."---Dr. Douglas Beecher of the FBI in Applied and Environmental Microbiology (August 2006).

The FBI's investigation of the anthrax attack is getting extremely interesting.

On September 25, 2006, the Washington Post reported:

"Five years after the anthrax attacks that killed five people, the FBI is now convinced that the lethal powder sent to the Senate was far less sophisticated than originally believed, widening the pool of possible suspects in a frustratingly slow investigation....

What was initially described as a near-military-grade biological weapon was ultimately found to have had a more ordinary pedigree, containing no additives and no signs of special processing to make the anthrax bacteria more deadly, law enforcement officials confirmed. In addition, the strain of anthrax used in the attacks has turned out to be more common than was initially believed, the officials said.

As a result, after a very public focus on government scientists as the likely source of the attacks, the FBI is today casting a far wider net, as investigators face the daunting prospect of an almost endless list of possible suspects in scores of countries around the globe."

But on September 28, 2006, the A.P published an FBI rejoinder in an article titled, "FBI denies it misunderstood the quality of anthrax used in 2001 attacks in U.S."

According to this article:

"The FBI and its partners in this investigation have never been under any misconceptions about the character of the anthrax used in the attacks," Assistant FBI Director Eleni P. Kalisch wrote...On the contrary, since the earliest months of this investigation, we have consulted with the world's foremost scientific experts on anthrax and relevant bio-forensic sciences, both inside and outside the FBI. While there may have been erroneous media reports about the character of the 2001 anthrax, the FBI's investigation has never been guided by such reports."

A scientific journal called Applied and Environmental Microbiology contains an article by Dr. Douglas Beecher, a scientist at the FBI, that explains the FBI's thinking: "Forensic Application of Microbiological Culture Analysis to Identify Mail Intentionally Contaminated with Bacillus anthracis spores."

According to the 9-28-06 A.P. article, Beecher writes that there was "'a widely circulated misconception' that the anthrax spores were made using additives and sophisticated engineering akin to military weapons production."

If true, the FBI decided, for reasons best known only to themselves, not to clear up the misconception.

A blogger who has tracked the anthrax story has obtained a full copy of this report.

I am not familiar with all the blogger's theories or conclusions about the anthrax attack, but he has many news articles about the anthrax attack linked at his site. His homepage is


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