George Washington’s Blog
Thursday, Aug 7, 2008
The FBI made numerous claims in today’s official press conference. They are largely refuted by Dr. Meryl Nass, an expert on anthrax.
I want to focus on the FBI’s primary piece of “evidence”: That the anthrax suspect, Dr. Bruce Ivins “has been the sole custodian of RMR-1029 [the specific batch of anthrax used in the attacks] since it was first grown in 1997”.
In fact, according to the New York Times:
“After four years of painstaking scientific research, the F.B.I. by 2005 had traced the anthrax in the poisoned letters of 2001 to a single flask of the bacteria at the Army biodefense laboratory at Fort Detrick, Md., according to government scientists and bureau officials.”
(this is the flask containing RMR-1029 concerning which Dr. Ivins was the “custodian”).
(Article continues below)
Sounds bad for Dr. Ivins, right?
Well, the Times article continues:
“But at least 10 scientists had regular access to the laboratory and its anthrax stock — and possibly quite a few more, counting visitors from other institutions, and workers at laboratories in Ohio and New Mexico that had received anthrax samples from the flask at the Army laboratory.”
As Dr. Nass points out, “Having received a sample, or obtained it surreptitiously, they would be “custodians” of it too.”
So concluding that the anthrax used in the attack to RMR-1029 narrows down the list of suspects to:
That’s a pretty big list of suspects. Indeed, Ivins’ attorney argues that hundreds of people had access to the flask.
Indeed, his attorney also states that Ivins never denied to the FBI that the anthrax could have come from his batch.
Its not so clear that Ivins is guilty after all, is it?
Moreover, the sample of RMR-1029 possessed by Dr. Ivins was not weaponized. Many of Ivins’ colleagues say that he simply did not have the knowledge to weaponize it into the dry form used in the attacks, while scientists at such facilities as the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah did.Note: As of December 2001, the following labs worked with the Ames strain of anthrax:
It is unclear how many of the above labs worked with RMR-1029, but it is possible that the New York Times missed some labs in its list.
This article was posted: Thursday, August 7, 2008 at 4:06 am