Feeds

FBI sets out case against anthrax 'rogue scientist'

Strong but circumstantial - is there still room for doubt?

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Yesterday the FBI published its search warrants and affidavits pertaining to the case of Bruce Ivins, the Ft. Detrick scientist fingered by the agency as the perpetrator of the 'Amerithrax anthrax mailings..

These documents contain no rigorous scientific evidence, but refer to it, and the FBI explains its rationale for accusing Ivins in overviews scattered through the documents.

The argument boils down to the anthrax being specifically traced to a spore-containing flask of which Ivins was the master. Called RMR-1029, it was also referred to by Ivins as "Dugway Ames spores - 1997," apparently from its original point of manufacture, at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, an Army biodefense center administered by a company called Battelle.

The source sample

RMR-1029 was genetically typed by the FBI through an independent company, and uniquely linked to the mailed anthrax in 2004-2005. However, part of the investigation was engaged in building a repository of Ames strain anthrax isolates from every laboratory in the United States in possession of samples. As part of the inventory, Ft. Detrick had to derive specific unique characteristics for all of its sources of Ames. Genetic testing allowed the FBI to distinguish special mutations unique to all isolates so as to be able to compare them with the signature derived from the anthrax mailings.

The FBI states in its documents that Ivins furnished two sets of samples in February of 2002 in complying with this part of the investigation, representing them as drawn from RMR-1029. This set was unusable, explains the FBI, at which point Ivins was asked to furnish a second set. Given to the FBI in April 2002, these samples did not genetically match the mailed anthrax.

In December of 2003, an FBI agent again surveyed the lab where RMR-1209 resided, identifying cultures of Ames which had not been submitted in the initial part of the investigation. Four months later Ivins furnished culture slants taken from these sources to the FBI. On the same day (although the statements are a bit unclear), the FBI returned to the lab and seized the original samples, as well as RMR-1029, which was eventually removed to the Navy Medical Research Center. When the seized RMR-1029 was tested, its genetic mutation profile matched with the mailed anthrax.

The essential guide to IT transformation

Next page: Pinning it to Ivins

More from The Register

next story
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
Volcanic eruption in Iceland triggers CODE RED aviation warning
Lava-spitting Bárðarbunga prompts action from Met Office
NASA to reformat Opportunity rover's memory from 125 million miles away
Interplanetary admins will back up data and get to work
Major cyber attack hits Norwegian oil industry
Statoil, the gas giant behind the Scandie social miracle, targeted
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?