Feeds

FBI sets out case against anthrax 'rogue scientist'

Strong but circumstantial - is there still room for doubt?

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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.

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Next page: Pinning it to Ivins

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
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.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
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?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.