Sunday, March 07, 2010

The Coded Message in the Anthrax Letters

UPDATE: CNN (3-5-10) has posted a facinating article about the anthrax mailer Dr. Bruce Ivins and video of an interview with Jean Duley, Dr. Ivins's addiction counselor.
The retired computer expert Ed Lake has an excellent blog called Analyzing the Anthrax Attacks that follows the FBI's now-closed Amerithrax Investigation.

In the Thoughts and Comments section of his blog, Mr. Lake often takes on some of the "junk science" peddled by the FBI's critics. He has also posted a new article titled The Coded Message in the Media Letters (the "smoking gun") which explains how the FBI uncovered a secret code that Dr. Ivins put in his letters.

Dr. Ivin's secret code was based on a book and a magazine that the FBI saw Dr. Ivins throw in his trash in the middle of the night on 11-8-07 following a search of his home, office, and cars on 11-1-07. Criminals often try to throw away evidence that the police have missed during a search. The book was titled Godel, Escher, Bach - An Eternal Golden Braid by the Indiana University Cognitive Science professor Douglas Hofstadter. (See the Wikipedia entry on the book and the author.) The magazine Ivins threw in the trash was a 1992 issue of American Scientist Journal which contained an article about codons and secret messages titled "The Linguistics of DNA." The Wikipedia entry for the book explains:


In its February 19th, 2010 investigative summary on the 2001 anthrax attacks, the Federal Bureau of Investigation revealed that Bruce Edwards Ivins was inspired by GEB to hide secret codes based upon nucleotide sequences in the anthrax-laced letters he sent in September and October 2001[5]. He used bolded letters, as suggested on page 404 of the book.[6] He attempted to hide the book from investigators by throwing it in the trash.

Mr. Lake writes:

There is a coded message in the media letters which appears to be "smoking gun" evidence proving Dr. Ivins' guilt beyond any reasonable doubt.

However, The coded message itself is not the key to understanding the significance of this finding, it's the entirety of the circumstances and the details of how the person doing the encoding notifies the recipient that there is a code in the message. And there is also the fact that Dr. Ivins attempted to destroy the evidence that he knew this code and all the details about it. [See the full text.]

2 Comments:

Blogger Savage Henry said...

I think a better answer THAN THE CODSWALLOP CODE EXPLANATION THE FBI IS TRYING TO PASS OFF AS EVIDENCE OF GUILT for a mysterious TTFN Goedel Code that some folks claim to seeing in the anthrax letters is really not TaTa PAT or FNY
(INSERT DRUM ROLL HERE)
but is TTFN is from "Winnie the Pooh"!

Where TTFN stands for
"Ta Ta for Now!"

(informal) see ya, laters,
(a less formal version of) au revoir or untill we meet again....
1974: Tigger (voiced by Paul Winchell) in Unbouncing Tigger -

"Well, I gotta go, now! I got a lot of bouncing to do! Hoo-hoo-hoo!
TTFN!Ta ta for now!"

1:41 PM  
Blogger Snapple said...

I bet you didn't read what the FBI wrote.

6:36 PM  

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