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National Academies on FBI Anthrax Investigation: Scientific Link to RMR-1029 Not as Definitive as DOJ Claim

The infamous RMR-1029 flask.

With a live-streaming press briefing, the National Academies is releasing the report prepared by a committee from the National Academy of Sciences that has reviewed the scientific portion of the FBI’s Amerithrax investigation into the anthrax attacks of 2001. The report is meant to analyze only the science involved in the FBI’s investigation.

Key findings, from the summary:

It is not possible to reach a definitive conclusion about the origins of the B. anthracis in the mailings based on the available scientific evidence alone.

The FBI created a repository of Ames strain B. anthracis samples and performed experiments to determine relationships among the letter materials and the repository samples. The scientific link between the letter material and flask number RMR-1029 is not as conclusive as stated in the DOJ Investigative Summary.

Silicon was present in the letter powders but there was no evidence of intentional addition of silicon-based dispersants.

On first glance, this report appears to be devastating to the scientific conclusions drawn by the FBI in their investigations. Another key finding:

It is difficult to draw conclusions about the amount of time needed to prepare the spore material or the skill set required of the perpetrator.

I will have more detail on the report as I have time to read it. In the meantime, previous posts I have written on the science include this one on whether Ivins could have produced all the material (relating to the excerpt just above) and this report on the presence of silicon.

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Jim White

Jim White

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