2012 - Part 1 
(January 1, 2012 - April 30, 2012)
A log of comments and changes made to the main pages.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, April 29, 2012, thru Monday, April 30, 2012

April 29, 2012 -
Wow!  Last week was very interesting, the most interesting week I've had in a long time.

I've been working on the "Notes & Resources" section of my new book, but I keep getting interrupted.  For some reason "Anonymous" (a.k.a. "DXer" from Lew Weinstein's site) has been posting messages to my interactive blog all week challenging my credentials for writing a book about the case. 
He also sent me emails saying the same thing.   It appears that he views my book as some kind of threat to his fantasy world.  Or maybe he's tired of posting questions to Lew's site and getting no responses.  Or maybe he just doesn't have anything better to do.

The main argument from "Anonymous" seems to be that I don't do research.  I found that to be absolutely hilarious, since I'm currently so busy adding tiny footnote numbers to the text of my book and then adding an entry in the "Notes" section describing where that information came from.  And, I have to re-check the research sources to make sure everything is correct.  Sometimes it seems that all I've been doing for the past ten years is research and analyzing the results of that research.

But, the claim that I don't do research is not Anonymous's real argument.  That's just the smokescreen he uses to hide his main argument.  If you look at what he writes, the essence of his argument is that I don't read what he reads, and therefore his knowledge of the case is superior to mine.  And that means he's right and I'm wrong.

Yet, he cannot explain anything.   As I point out in the arguments on the blog, he endlessly posts irrelevant information to Lew Weinstein's web site and he SUGGESTS or CLAIMS that the irrelevant information somehow means something in support of his beliefs.  But, he cannot explain HOW the irrelevant information means anything.  It appears that he wants others to try to prove the negative, to prove that the information is NOT relevant.  If they cannot prove that it is NOT relevant, then it IS relevant, and that means he is right about everything.  That's standard True Believer reasoning.

For MONTHS he's been arguing that the fact that Ivins was doing some experiments with rabbits during normal work hours in 2001 means Ivins had reason to be working long evening hours in his lab at night and on weekends before the anthrax letters were mailed.  But, he cannot explain how it means anything.  The work with rabbits was part of Ivins' normal work.  So, how does Ivins' normal work account for his abnormal hours in his lab during those evenings and weekends?  "Anonymous" doesn't even attempt to explain.  And if Ivins couldn't explain those unusual hours, how can they have been normal work?  Again, "Anonymous" evidently wants others to attempt to prove the negative, to prove that Ivins was NOT doing normal work during those abnormal hours.  And, if they cannot prove the negative, then "Anonymous" is right about everything.  

While all this was going on, someone in Spain who has never contacted me before  posted a message to my interactive blog presenting his theory about "The Mysterious Rick McCormick Code" that I mentioned on this web site in April 2011.   Unfortunately, that subject was so far from my current focus of attention that I had to tell him I just didn't have the time to try to figure out what he was talking about.

And, via an email, someone else who has never contacted me before sent me his theory about the handwriting on the anthrax letters and envelopes:

the same person wrote not only the Anthrax letters but the 1946 Chicago Lipstick killer writings, the 1947 Black Dahlia documents, the 1960's-90's California based Zodiac killer documents, I45 killings, Texarkana and the 1996 JonBenet Ramsey ransom note (3 pages). I'm not the only person that will tell you this.
His theory seems to be based entirely upon some kind of "clue" he sees when matching individual characters in the alphabet from documents in those cases to the anthrax letters and envelopes.  I advised him that that's not how handwriting analysis is done, but I doubt he'll ever accept that answer, since he's persisting with follow-up emails.

In an email this morning, he wrote:

You are making a leap in logic by saying Ivans wasn't around in 1947.  Had there been enough true evidence against Ivans he would have been charged very early in the investigation of him and that's a fact. Your own site states that there was a overall lack of security at the facilities mentioned. Another fact is that anthrax is found in nature which means that anyone that would know what to look for can find it. I remember and old episode of the 60's TV show called Rawhide where it seems to me they could recognized the presence of anthrax on plants on the ground that the cattle could eat, that show came out a long time ago too. Yes and I am aware that there are different strains of anthrax, it's also likely that the actual source was from one of those facilities.

I'd told him that "The person who wrote the anthrax letters wasn't even alive in 1947."  He just assumed I was talking about Bruce Ivins, who was born on April 22, 1946.  Ivins would have been 1 year old in 1947.  Two of the three Chicago Lipstick murders took place in 1945 and the third murder occurred in January 1946.

Fortunately, he also told me there was no need for me to respond further:

Maybe one of these days you'll get off your high horse and get head out of your tail and realize that what I've been saying it true.

I've handed out written summary reports with images on this matter and everyone that has taken the time to look has been amazed, and I don't just offer it to the average idiot.

Don't bother to reply because yer just pissing me off anyway.

And someone else sent me an email about how Ex-CIA Chief Jose Rodriguez will be on "60 Minutes" today defending the use of waterboarding and other tortures to get information from terrorists.  And, of course, Rodriguez has written a book saying the same thing.  I don't want to get into any debates over whether or not there can ever be a circumstance where waterboarding would produce life-saving information not obtainable in any other way, but I certainly agree that waterboarding and torture should be strictly forbidden.  Any suggestion that it can be okay would authorize people who use it whenever they want.  And, as we've seen in the Secret Service scandal and in so many other things happening every day, even in the most respected and professional group of people there are still a few idiots who don't have the brains they were born with.

And, of course, while this was going on I also received the automated letter and the rejection letter in response to my two latest query letters to literary agents.   And, I've still received no responses from the large agencies I queried on April 11 and 17.

The interactive blog discussion with "Anonymous" briefly got into the topic of my book and included a response from me where I explained to him that I'm not interested in converting the world to my beliefs the way he is.  The purpose for writing my new book isn't to convert people, it's to wrap up ten years of work.  The case is over.  I want to move on to other things.  But, before doing that I need to put all my findings in writing and make it available to anyone who wants to read it.  And, I want to put two copies into the Library of Congress as a permanent record.  (That is done as part of the copyrighting process when you publish a book.) 

I plan to self-publish only about 300 copies of the book (the largest quantity I can haul around in my car without renting a truck).  I'll give copies to friends and relatives, and I'll try to sell the rest via Barnes & Noble's web site, possibly also via Amazon.com.   I'll also sell it as an e-book via Kindle on Amazon.com.  Beyond that, I have no plans.

If the book sells well, I'll have more printed.  If a regular publisher wants to publish it first, that would certainly be totally acceptable and a very nice surprise.  But, I have no way to plan for that to happen.  It's not up to me.

I don't currently have any plans to do any advertising except via this web site and my interactive blog.  That virually guarantees that the sales will be in the low hundreds, not in the high thousands.  But, I'm open to suggestions and ideas about advertising if the methods don't cost more than what sales from the book would bring in.  That's why I'm looking for a literary agent.  There are areas where I won't go by myself.

With all this going on, is it any wonder that after more than a week I'm only on Chapter 13 in the "Notes & References" section of my book?  Just 35 more chapters to go before I start "typesetting" the final version.        
Updates & Changes: Sunday, April 29, 2012, thru Monday, April 30, 2012

April 29, 2012 -
Wow!  Last week was very interesting, the most interesting week I've had in a long time.

I've been working on the "Notes & Resources" section of my new book, but I keep getting interrupted.  For some reason "Anonymous" (a.k.a. "DXer" from Lew Weinstein's site) has been posting messages to my interactive blog all week challenging my credentials for writing a book about the case. 
He also sent me emails saying the same thing.   It appears that he views my book as some kind of threat to his fantasy world.  Or maybe he's tired of posting questions to Lew's site and getting no responses.  Or maybe he just doesn't have anything better to do.

The main argument from "Anonymous" seems to be that I don't do research.  I found that to be absolutely hilarious, since I'm currently so busy adding tiny footnote numbers to the text of my book and then adding an entry in the "Notes" section describing where that information came from.  And, I have to re-check the research sources to make sure everything is correct.  Sometimes it seems that all I've been doing for the past ten years is research and analyzing the results of that research.

But, the claim that I don't do research is not Anonymous's real argument.  That's just the smokescreen he uses to hide his main argument.  If you look at what he writes, the essence of his argument is that I don't read what he reads, and therefore his knowledge of the case is superior to mine.  And that means he's right and I'm wrong.

Yet, he cannot explain anything.   As I point out in the arguments on the blog, he endlessly posts irrelevant information to Lew Weinstein's web site and he SUGGESTS or CLAIMS that the irrelevant information somehow means something in support of his beliefs.  But, he cannot explain HOW the irrelevant information means anything.  It appears that he wants others to try to prove the negative, to prove that the information is NOT relevant.  If they cannot prove that it is NOT relevant, then it IS relevant, and that means he is right about everything.  That's standard True Believer reasoning.

For MONTHS he's been arguing that the fact that Ivins was doing some experiments with rabbits during normal work hours in 2001 means Ivins had reason to be working long evening hours in his lab at night and on weekends before the anthrax letters were mailed.  But, he cannot explain how it means anything.  The work with rabbits was part of Ivins' normal work.  So, how does Ivins' normal work account for his abnormal hours in his lab during those evenings and weekends?  "Anonymous" doesn't even attempt to explain.  And if Ivins couldn't explain those unusual hours, how can they have been normal work?  Again, "Anonymous" evidently wants others to attempt to prove the negative, to prove that Ivins was NOT doing normal work during those abnormal hours.  And, if they cannot prove the negative, then "Anonymous" is right about everything.  

While all this was going on, someone in Spain who has never contacted me before  posted a message to my interactive blog presenting his theory about "The Mysterious Rick McCormick Code" that I mentioned on this web site in April 2011.   Unfortunately, that subject was so far from my current focus of attention that I had to tell him I just didn't have the time to try to figure out what he was talking about.

And, via an email, someone else who has never contacted me before sent me his theory about the handwriting on the anthrax letters and envelopes:

the same person wrote not only the Anthrax letters but the 1946 Chicago Lipstick killer writings, the 1947 Black Dahlia documents, the 1960's-90's California based Zodiac killer documents, I45 killings, Texarkana and the 1996 JonBenet Ramsey ransom note (3 pages). I'm not the only person that will tell you this.
His theory seems to be based entirely upon some kind of "clue" he sees when matching individual characters in the alphabet from documents in those cases to the anthrax letters and envelopes.  I advised him that that's not how handwriting analysis is done, but I doubt he'll ever accept that answer, since he's persisting with follow-up emails.

In an email this morning, he wrote:

You are making a leap in logic by saying Ivans wasn't around in 1947.  Had there been enough true evidence against Ivans he would have been charged very early in the investigation of him and that's a fact. Your own site states that there was a overall lack of security at the facilities mentioned. Another fact is that anthrax is found in nature which means that anyone that would know what to look for can find it. I remember and old episode of the 60's TV show called Rawhide where it seems to me they could recognized the presence of anthrax on plants on the ground that the cattle could eat, that show came out a long time ago too. Yes and I am aware that there are different strains of anthrax, it's also likely that the actual source was from one of those facilities.

I'd told him that "The person who wrote the anthrax letters wasn't even alive in 1947."  He just assumed I was talking about Bruce Ivins, who was born on April 22, 1946.  Ivins would have been 1 year old in 1947.  Two of the three Chicago Lipstick murders took place in 1945 and the third murder occurred in January 1946.

Fortunately, he also told me there was no need for me to respond further:

Maybe one of these days you'll get off your high horse and get head out of your tail and realize that what I've been saying it true.

I've handed out written summary reports with images on this matter and everyone that has taken the time to look has been amazed, and I don't just offer it to the average idiot.

Don't bother to reply because yer just pissing me off anyway.

And someone else sent me an email about how Ex-CIA Chief Jose Rodriguez will be on "60 Minutes" today defending the use of waterboarding and other tortures to get information from terrorists.  And, of course, Rodriguez has written a book saying the same thing.  I don't want to get into any debates over whether or not there can ever be a circumstance where waterboarding would produce life-saving information not obtainable in any other way, but I certainly agree that waterboarding and torture should be strictly forbidden.  Any suggestion that it can be okay would authorize people who use it whenever they want.  And, as we've seen in the Secret Service scandal and in so many other things happening every day, even in the most respected and professional group of people there are still a few idiots who don't have the brains they were born with.

And, of course, while this was going on I also received the automated letter and the rejection letter in response to my two latest query letters to literary agents.   And, I've still received no responses from the large agencies I queried on April 11 and 17.

The interactive blog discussion with "Anonymous" briefly got into the topic of my book and included a response from me where I explained to him that I'm not interested in converting the world to my beliefs the way he is.  The purpose for writing my new book isn't to convert people, it's to wrap up ten years of work.  The case is over.  I want to move on to other things.  But, before doing that I need to put all my findings in writing and make it available to anyone who wants to read it.  And, I want to put two copies into the Library of Congress as a permanent record.  (That is done as part of the copyrighting process when you publish a book.) 

I plan to self-publish only about 300 copies of the book (the largest quantity I can haul around in my car without renting a truck).  I'll give copies to friends and relatives, and I'll try to sell the rest via Barnes & Noble's web site, possibly also via Amazon.com.   I'll also sell it as an e-book via Kindle on Amazon.com.  Beyond that, I have no plans.

If the book sells well, I'll have more printed.  If a regular publisher wants to publish it first, that would certainly be totally acceptable and a very nice surprise.  But, I have no way to plan for that to happen.  It's not up to me.

I don't currently have any plans to do any advertising except via this web site and my interactive blog.  That virually guarantees that the sales will be in the low hundreds, not in the high thousands.  But, I'm open to suggestions and ideas about advertising if the methods don't cost more than what sales from the book would bring in.  That's why I'm looking for a literary agent.  There are areas where I won't go by myself.

With all this going on, is it any wonder that after more than a week I'm only on Chapter 13 in the "Notes & References" section of my book?  Just 35 more chapters to go before I start "typesetting" the final version.        

Updates & Changes: Sunday, April 22, 2012, thru Saturday, April 28, 2012

April 26, 2012 (B) - When I returned home from my health club workout this afternoon, I found the literary agency to which I'd sent my first query email yesterday had responded negatively.  The agent wrote, "
my decision is based on my present work-load, and also based on the kind of material that I'm presently representing.  That said, this is a crazily subjective business: I absolutely think you should keep looking for representation because what works for one agent (or publisher) may not work as well for another."

It somewhat fits with what I wrote on April 15 when I said that negative responses come back almost immediately.  But, the fact that I haven't gotten a response from two others sent out some time ago doesn't mean that they will be sending positive responses.  It's still possible that they simply do not respond if they're not interested.

April 26, 2012 (A) - This morning I found an automated reply to the second of two query emails I sent out yesterday.  The reply said that, due the large number of queries they receive, they won't respond further unless they decide they want more information about the book.  And they said, "we encourage you to query widely."

Since the response was automated and doesn't really say anything about my book, it doesn't change the average response time.   But it seems to say that I should be sending out a lot more query letters.  Maybe.  But, I prefer to wait until I see what the results are from the other three agencies I queried before I "query widely."

April 25, 2012 - I sent out two more email query letters to literary agencies today.  Those will probably be the last for awhile.  

Also - totally off topic - for a long time I wondered why so many people were reportedly hooked on the PBS series "Downton Abby," but I didn't want to start watching a "soap opera" that has been running for two years.  Then yesterday, I saw Season 1 was for rent on RedBox.  I had a code for a free rental, so I rented it.  I ended up watching about 4½ hours of the 6+ hours last night, and the rest before lunch today.  Yes, it is definitely addictive.  And, although it might be described as a "soap opera," it's not a soap opera like "Mad Men."  Whatever the difference is, it's a big difference for me.

April 23, 2012 - I've been trying to avoid mentioning the screwball, irrelevant babble being posted to Lew Weinstein's web site, since mentioning it only gives them publicity and sends them more visitors.  Mostly they just post irrelevant questions which no one ever bothers to answer.  But, I think I should mention the latest posting.  It's titled:

The FBI Should Produce To GAO All Of The Research, Unpublished Or Not, By Dr. Bannan And His Colleagues On Heat Shocking As A Substitute For Use Of Renografin In Purification, To Include Whether Heat Shocking Was Used In Connection With The Fall 2001 Mailings, Whether It Was Used For Intramuscular And Aerosol Challenges Done In USAMRIID Building 1412, And Whether Heat Shocking Was Studied In Connection With Virulence Studies

Heat shocking as a substitute for Renografin in purification?!?  Heat shocking doesn't have anything to do with purification, and it has nothing to do with the 2001 mailings.  Heat shocking is a laboratory technique used to get a collection of spores ready to germinate.   A little research would have shown that.

In February of 2009, I asked a microbiologist what heat shocking was all about, then I realized I should have researched it first.  I sent this second email to the microbiologist:

I could just have Googled "heat shocked" to find out what it means, instead of asking you.  I gather it's just a technique to "wake up" the spore and get it ready for germination.

And the microbiologist responded:

Correct, although it’s actually not necessary with most strains, but it’s done anyway. It’s been known for a long time that some Bacillus spores can be recovered better with heat shocking. But in some recent work with Bacillus cereus group strains (including anthracis), it was shown that you actually get lower recoveries with heat shocking. Another reason spores are heat treated before culture is to kill vegetative cells. This ensures that whatever growth you see originated from spores

So, heat shocking is done immediatly prior to the time when the spores will start to germinate into living bacteria - either in a test animal or on a Petri dish in an incubator.  The effects of heat shocking would be long gone if heat-shocked spores were put into letters that are then sent through the mails. 

At USAMRIID, they did heat shock spores in building 1412 prior to intramuscular and aerosol challenges.  The post to Lew Weinstein's site shows a comment made by Ivins about heat shocking in an FBI document from 2004 which says on pages 11 and 12:

            IVINS described heat shocking of spores.  He explained that
  it was an activating mechanism used to synhronize spores prior to
  germination.  IVINS first became aware of heat shocking back in the
  Gulf War.  The Division Chief called IVINS in his office to discuss a
  large NHP study.  The Division Chief did not want the spores
  Renograffin purified because that was not done in the old days.
  Spores used to be heat shocked at XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
  This temperature was chosen because counts do not decrease at this
  temperature and refractile spores are not killed.  Spores that are used
  for intramuscular (IM) or aerosol challenges are heat shocked.  All
  spores are heat shocked in building 1412.  IVINS did not know if
  anyone has studied virulence with respect to heat shock.  However,
  shocked material versus non-heat shocked material.

While heat shocking and Renografin are both mentioned in that paragraph, that doesn't mean Renografin has anything to do with heat shocking.  Nor does it mean that heat shocking has anything to do with purification.  The paragraph appears to say that the Division Chief wanted the spores purified in some other way - probably by repeated centrifuging and washings with distilled water - instead of with Renografin.   It's just a badly worded report about several different subjects.  It's not a report linking heat shocking to purification.

My point is, I guess, to show that asking irrelevant questions that no one answers is a waste of time.   It's infinitely better to ask meaningful questions of people who can provide answers.   Even True Believers should be able to understand that.

April 22, 2012 -
I mentioned in my comment on Friday that, after 15 days, I received a polite but negative response to my first email query to a literary agent.  The agent said the subject matter of my new book just isn't his cup of tea. 

It would have been nice to get a positive response to my first query, even though that first query was not well written and didn't even include the chapter summaries.  But, the turn-down still felt more positive than negative to me.  It told me that agents still do respond to email queries - even badly written queries.  It set an "average" response time at 15 days, so I shouldn't be too worried about the other two, better-written queries I sent out after that first one.  I sent one on the 11th, and another on the 17th.    

I plan to send out one or two more queries during this coming week.  At the same time, I'm wondering if it's such a good idea to write about the book-selling process on this web site.  On one hand, there isn't much else happening related to the anthrax attacks of 2001 that is also worth writing about.  On the other hand, I have no idea what an agent would think if he were to read these comments about the selling process.  I don't have any solid reason to believe he'd have a negative reaction, and he could have a positive reaction, since the "typical author" supposedly sends out dozens queries for a book that is nothing more than a rough idea, and he hopes that someone else will help him write it, and he expects the publisher to pay a substantial advance just for the privilege of publishing his planned book.

What I'm doing is somewhat untypical.  I have a completed third draft of the book, and I plan to self-publish if I can't find a publisher.  But, I'm not sure what's "typical" these days.  (Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich was on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart last week to promote an e-book that he'd written.  It was published by Random House Digital, so Reich wasn't self-publishing.  (One of the things regular publishers do for an author is help publicize the book by getting the author on TV shows.)  Do Reich's books appeal mainly to business people who read e-books while commuting or while traveling?  The e-book sells for $2.99 on Kindle and is evidently somewhere between 5,000 and 30,000 words.  It appeared to be the first time Jon Stewart had an author on his program where there was no physical book to hold up and talk about.)

Yes, I know that there is an entire industry built around "vanity" books, where people self-publish to get their "masterpiece" before the public, expecting it to become a world-wide sensation.  But, those "authors" are a tiny fraction of the authors who think they have a "great idea" for a book they want to get published.  "Vanity publishers" get much of their money from helping such "authors" write and edit their books.  I won't be using any kind of "vanity publisher."  If I can't get a regular publisher for my book, I'll be doing the editing and typesetting myself, and I'll just use a printing company to print the book, as I did with my previous book. 

Last week, before I received the response to my first query letter, I actually started the process of typesetting.  So, there was another positive effect from the rejection.  I stopped thinking that I wasn't going to get any responses at all to my queries, and I went back to working on making the book better.       

I'm currently working on the Notes & References section of my book.  The work requires me to re-check all the source information I used.  As a result of doing that, I keep keep finding things that I didn't mention in the book.  Then I have to wonder if I should add it.  For example, on September 11, 2001, the same day the Twin Towers and the Pentagon were struck by hijacked aircraft, Bruce Ivins received a "Notification of Performance Rating."  He was rated B, with a "numerical rating" of 84. 

The facts seem to indicate that he knew for several weeks that he was going to get that B rating. 
I already mention in my book that Ivins was aware that Patricia Worsham was going to become his supervisor, even though she was younger than Ivins, had worked at USAMRIID less time, and had received her doctorate degree after Ivins. 

The problem is that I don't know what Ivins' previous performance ratings were.   Nor do I know (nor am I likely to be able to find out) what Worsham's ratings were.  
So, it's difficult to figure out what to say about the performance rating ....  other than that it almost certainly played some role in Ivins' thought processes prior to the first mailing.  He was a man with a massive ego, and he was effectively being demoted to work for a woman who had less time at USAMRIID and less experience than he had.

I might add some mention of the performance rating to the book, but I'm not sure what I can say if I can't compare it to previous ratings or to Worsham's rating. 

I also noticed this sentence from page 143 of the Expert Behavioral Analysis Report:

There is also documentation that he [Ivins] threatened to poison his college roommates if they tried to eat his food.
That's all it says, and it's not particularly serious or startling.  However, it fits with other comments Ivins made about his knowledge of poisons and how he knew all kinds of ways to kill people.  Therefore, no one should mess with him.

I noticed that, on page 69 of the EBAP report, it says this about the KKG burglaries:

These exploits were so important to him that, even though they were criminal in nature, he could not keep them entirely to himself. He told [Mara Linscott], who in September 2002 wrote [Patricia Fellows]: “He broke into a sorority house, while no one was there, to get the code book.”

So, in September 2002 Ivins told Mara about one or more of his burglaries?  I feel I probably should mention that.  The problem is that in September 2002 my book is totally focused on Steven Hatfill's situation.  Nothing much was happening with Ivins at that time.  Thus, there's no easy way to interrupt the narrative about Hatfill to mention this item of information about Ivins.  However, it was also in September 2002 when Ivins drove nearly 600 miles round-trip twice to where Mara Linscott was living at the time.  The first time was just to scout the location, the second time was to leave a bottle of Kahlua on her porch.  (See page 84 of the EBAP report.)   So, maybe I should mention something about Ivins telling Mara about his activities as a burglar.

This morning as I sat down at my computer, David Willman's book "The Mirage Man" was lying open to page 50 next to my keyboard.   On page 50 it mentions that Ivins had bought ammonium nitrate to build a bomb, a fact I'd used in my book, and yesterday I'd noted the page number in my Notes & References section.  But this morning I noticed the next page is all about the letter defending pedophilia that Bruce Ivins sent to the Frederick News-Post.  The letter was published on September 17, 1993.  I hadn't mentioned that letter in my book at all, even though Diane Ivins' day care center was operating at that time.  Then I suddenly realized that, as a result of research I did to try to figure out who the child was who wrote the anthrax letters, I knew the names of two children who were very likely in Diane Ivins' day care center in September
1993.  But, do I want to make that kind of suggestion in my book?  I don't think so.   

That's why adding the Notes & References section is very slow-going.  It's probably going to take me at least a couple more weeks to finish.  Then I might add a couple new pages "About the Author."  Then I'll probably work on the "Final Draft," which would be the draft where I do the "typesetting" and put everything into book printer-ready format, complete with justification and hyphenation.  And, when I'm done with the main part of the "Final Draft," I'll have to construct the Index.  By then I'll also be checking on which printing company to use.

So, there's still plenty of time to send queries and get responses from agents.  And, I haven't even thought about sending query/proposal packets directly to publishers.  I may do that, too.  It all depends upon what the agents say.  First things first.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, April 15, 2012, thru Saturday, April 21, 2012

April 20, 2012 - Hmm.  I just received a response to my first email query - the one I sent out on April 5th without the chapter summaries.  Fifteen days to respond.  It was a polite turn-down.  The agent felt it just wasn't his cup of tea. 

April 19, 2012 - In case anyone's interested, "
Russian Mystery #2" remains a puzzle.  Making a change to the index.html file had no effect.   So, it's clear that they are not checking the page to see if it has been changed since the last time they checked. 

April 18, 2012 - I did an analysis of my "Russian Mystery #2," and I think I see a pattern emerging from the log entries, although I don't know what the pattern means.

I went back and analyzed all the log entries for the month of April.  What I see is that the accesses began with a bunch of Ukraine and a couple Russian web sites doing 1 GET per day to my spores.html page, which hasn't been changed since June 2003.  For some reason, they only looked at the text, not at the images.  Then some of the web sites started accessing my web site's original main page, index.html, which I stopped using as the main page on January 2005.  Again, they only looked at the text, not the images.  Then, on April 15, all accesses of the spores.html page abruptly stopped and since then only the index.html page is being accessed.  And, all accesses are two at a time, a second apart.   And, one web site in the Ukraine (IP address seems to be doing it nearly every day

What reason could anyone have for checking that web page twice, a second apart, every day?  I downloaded the page to see if there's anything unusual about it, and it appears to be unchanged from the original.  I think that qualifies as a "mystery."

The GET commands seem to be coming from a program of some kind, not an individual.  And, it doesn't appear to be doing any harm.  The program probably doesn't GET the images if the text is unchanged from the last time the file was read.  To test that, I just changed the text for index.html by deleting some blank lines between the top of the file and the Contents section.   We'll see what happens.   Maybe puttering around that way will provide some clues as to what's going on.

April 16, 2012 - I don't know if this is going to be of interest to anyone else, but I awoke this morning feeling that I needed to mention the infamous Hugh-Jones, Rosenberg, Jacobsen paper in the last chapter of my book.  The chapter is titled "A Never Ending Story" and it's about how the arguments continue over the case even though it was solved years ago.  The added material expanded the book by one page.  So, it now ends on page 442.  And, of course, I also had to add the material to the manuscript version, which means it now ends on page 699.  With the cover page, the 3-page Table of Contents, the 2-page List of Exhibits (pages i through v), the manuscript is 705 pages. 

That's going to be a hefty stack of paper when it comes time to actually print a copy.

April 15, 2012 - On Wednesday morning, I had not received a response to the first query email I'd sent to a literary agency, so I sent out the new and vastly improved query email to a larger literary agency.   So far, neither has responded.

I tried to get a feel for how long it takes to get a response from an agency.  Looking back at some queries I sent out in 2003, I found two weeks response times on two queries where they wanted more information, and I see almost immediate responses on others where they weren't interested.   Agents could be getting a hundred query letters a day, for all I know.  They might set aside a few hours a week to go through them.  The biggest reason for lack of interest in 2003 was that the case was unsolved, so most agents didn't see a big selling book in it. 

After I sent out that second query email on Wednesday, I sat down under a reading lamp and proceeded to read the book from cover to cover, making notes whenever I came across a typo or a sentence that didn't read well or a some other kind of problem.  I finished the read-through around 4 p.m. on Thursday.   Then, on Friday morning, I made all the corrections to the computer files, printed out the 47 replacement pages and tossed out the old pages.  So, that means I'm done with the "third draft."

The biggest change was cutting two paragraphs from Chapter 7 because they said nearly the same thing as was already said in Chapter 4. 

I realize I'm not exactly unbiased, but I think it's a great read.  However, I can also see that it might be "overwritten,"  i.e., there might be a lot in it that isn't really necessary.  Stripped down, it might almost read like a "thriller," but it's not a "thriller," it's a true crime story about one of the most complex cases in law enforcement history.  So, simplifying things might please some casual readers while annoying others who want all the details. 

I decided the third draft is a good "submission draft."  That meant I needed to  start preparing for the time when an agent might want to read the entire book.   So, yesterday I started converting the 6x9 book into manuscript format.      

I'm converting 8 chapters at a time.  It takes about 2 hours to do 8 chapters.  Here's how the starting page numbers for the chapters changed after converting to manuscript format:

                           Book   Manuscript                                     Book   Manuscript 
Introduction   1        1          Chapter 13   119      186
Chapter 1      3        4          Chapter 14   129      201
Chapter 2     10       15          Chapter 15   137      213
Chapter 3     22       34          Chapter 16   150      233
Chapter 4     30       46          Chapter 17   158      246
Chapter 5     42       66          Chapter 18   166      258
Chapter 6     49       77          Chapter 19   172      268
Chapter 7     60       93          Chapter 20   182      284
Chapter 8     70      108          Chapter 21   193      301
Chapter 9     84      130          Chapter 22   204      319
Chapter 10    97      150          Chapter 23   210      351
Chapter 11   101      156          Chapter 24   224      351
Chapter 12   112      175          Chapter 25   236      371

So, if Chapter 24 ends on page 235 in the book and on page 370 in the manuscript, if I remember how to do algebra, that means that the last page of the book is 441 and the last page of the manuscript should be page .....  694 or thereabouts?

I'll find out later today or early tomorrow, when I finish the manuscript version.

The biggest problem seems to be changing words in italics (forbidden in manuscripts) to underlined words.  Words in italics are hard to spot when skimming through the book.   Hyphenation takes only about 10 very tedious minutes per 8 chapters.

During the creation of the third draft, I saw many instances where hyphenation will cut lines - and possibly a couple pages - from the book.  For example, here's a short paragraph from my new book as it currently appears:

            Ivins had applied for a fellowship at the University of Tennessee and made the 8 hour drive (475 miles each way) to Knoxville to interview for the fellowship.  Some reports say he took his guitar along, so he evidently also had other reasons for the long drive.

Hyphenation and justification will change it to this:

Justified and hypenated text
So, five lines will become four.  Do that often enough, and the number of pages change.

On Kindle and other ebook formats, there are options for different size screens and different size fonts, so the hyphenated format could convert to look like this:

            Ivins had applied for a fellowship at the University of Tennes-see and made the 8 hour drive (475 miles each way) to Knoxville to interview for the fellowship.  Some reports say he took his guitar along, so he evidently also had other reasons for the long drive.

Note that the hyphen is still there in Tennes-see.  That's why I began with a format that wasn't hyphenated.  It converts more easily to Kindle format.  (I had a big problem with hyphenated words when I converted my two earlier books to Kindle format.)

In manuscript format, the paragraph will be double-spaced, it will use the Courier font, and it will look something like this:

     Ivins had applied for a fellowship at the University of

Tennessee and made the 8 hour drive (475 miles each way) to

Knoxville to interview for the fellowship.  Some reports say

he took his guitar along, so he evidently also had other

reasons for the long drive.

Manuscript format requires hyphenation, too, of course, but in different places.  

On Friday, after the third-draft read-through, something nagged at me as I went to my health club for my regular work-out.  The pieces fell together while I was on the tread mill.  On Monday, June 9, 2008, an "off the record" meeting was held between the FBI and DOJ and Ivins and his lawyers.   During that meeting, Ivins was showed a copy of Gödel, Escher Bach.  I suddenly realized that the text of the FBI file about the meeting suggests that Ivins wasn't shown the copy he'd thrown away.  He was more likely shown a copy newly purchased by the FBI.  That means Ivins didn't know that the FBI had retrieved his copy from the garbage, and the FBI doesn't appear to have mentioned it.  The FBI agents were just trying to see what he'd say about the book.  It's possible that some of what Ivins said in the meeting could be proved to be an outright lie.  I'll have to do some further research to find out.

And something else also happened last week that was really kind of odd. 

A report who hadn't written me in years sent me and nine other people - including five reporters - an email that had no text, only a subject line that said:

sorry ...

Maybe it was because I was working on the section in my book about Ivins' suicide, but the first thing that popped into my mind was that the email was a suicide note.  I had no way to contact the reporter to find out what the email was all about, except to respond to the email.  When I did that, I received no reply.  Hmm. 

I called another reporter who knew the reporter who sent the email, and I was told it was probably about an email the reporter had sent out a week earlier that contained a link with a virus.   There's been nothing in the news about any reporters committing suicide.  So, I guess that was the answer.  But, I have to wonder how many people would even have been concerned.  Wondering is a side-effect of a very active imagination.

Yesterday I noticed a new "Russian mystery" in my web site logs.   I wrote a quick comment about it.   When I get a chance, I'll have to do more research.  I find I can't forget about a mystery until I've either solved it or exhaustively researched it.

And then the mystery isn't really forgotten, it's just filed away until something new is uncovered.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, April 8, 2012, thru Saturday, April 14, 2012

April 14, 2012 - Nuts!!  I've got another Russian mystery.   I just noticed these log entries from the past three days: - - [12/Apr/2012:10:15:44 -0400] "GET /spores.html HTTP/1.1" 200 29886 "http://cs-wh.ru/" "Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html)" - - [12/Apr/2012:16:28:06 -0400] "GET /spores.html HTTP/1.1" 200 29886 "http://trinium.ru/" "Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html)" - - [12/Apr/2012:16:58:54 -0400] "GET /spores.html HTTP/1.1" 200 29886 "http://benklouse.ya.ru/replies.xml?item_no=1" "Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html)" - - [13/Apr/2012:06:44:51 -0400] "GET /spores.html HTTP/1.1" 200 29886 "http://59i.ru/" "Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html)" - - [13/Apr/2012:14:21:17 -0400] "GET /spores.html HTTP/1.1" 200 29886 "http://nepmired.ya.ru/replies.xml?item_no=10" "Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html)" - - [13/Apr/2012:14:27:42 -0400] "GET /spores.html HTTP/1.1" 200 29886 "http://isall.ru/" "\xef\xbb\xbfMozilla/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html)" - - [14/Apr/2012:01:25:13 -0400] "GET /spores.html HTTP/1.1" 200 29886 "http://trinium.ru/" "Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html)" - - [14/Apr/2012:08:16:22 -0400] "GET /spores.html HTTP/1.1" 200 29886 "http://music.utrolive.ru/" "Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html)" - - [14/Apr/2012:08:29:26 -0400] "GET /spores.html HTTP/1.1" 200 29886 "http://krasnoxolm.ru/" "\xef\xbb\xbfMozilla/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html)" - - [14/Apr/2012:14:33:51 -0400] "GET /spores.html HTTP/1.1" 200 29886 "http://warcraft3-maps.ru/" "Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html)" - - [14/Apr/2012:17:11:02 -0400] "GET /spores.html HTTP/1.1" 200 29886 "http://autobeseda.ru/" "Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html)"

They're not causing any problem that I can see.  And I'm not blocking any of the IP addresses.  But, what could they be doing???  Each one accesses my spores.html page for some reason.  The web site name in the log entry should indicate that there's a link to my spores.html page in their site.  But there are no such links.  The web sites don't even seem to have anything to do with spores or the anthrax case.  They only use six unique IP addresses, with repeat visits on successive days.

They're playing some kind of game.  But I have no idea what the game is.

April 9, 2012 - Yesterday, The Frederick News-Post printed a "10th anniversary" article related to the anthrax attacks of 2001.  It also shows how a newspaper can distort the facts to fit its own agenda.  The article begins with this paragraph:

Ten years ago today, a leaking flask of anthrax set off a series of events that led scientist Bruce Ivins to an unsettling discovery: Anthrax spores had made their way outside a containment lab, contaminating several areas and renewing fears that the community at large was at risk for possible exposure.

The News-Post makes it seem like Ivins discovered something important, when the facts show very clearly that Ivins was just trying to cover up his own carelessness.  He used the opportunity provided by the "leaking flask" to do further cleaning of areas he had already attempted to clean up four months earlier, in December 2001.  And he also used the opportunity to embarrass Patricia Worsham, who was about to be promoted over him even though she was younger, had less experience, and had been at USAMRIID for fewer years than Ivins.  The article also attempts to make it seem like there weren't any real policies about unauthorized sampling or cleaning in place at the time:

The breach could have occurred years before and gone unnoticed, Adamovicz said, but he believes it was the result of the chaotic atmosphere in which employees were working. While it would have been unusual for an employee to take unauthorized samples at the time, Adamovicz said he did not think there was a policy against it.

"That's the problem. It wasn't like, 'Look here, Ivins, you're in violation of policy 01-2,'" Adamovicz said.

The News-Post and Jeffery Adamovicz ignore the massive investigation that took place after Ivins told his superiors about the cleaning he'd done.   A 361-page report was produced by investigators, and it says on page 9: "A potential exposure report to the Army Safety Office was not made in a timely manner as required by AR385-40."

This whole April 2002 cleaning incident was described in detail in Chapter 16 of David Willman's book "The Mirage Man," and pages 66 and 67 of the FBI/DOJ Summary Report also describe how the incident related to Ivins trying to cover up his crime and his own carelessness.  Needless to say, it's also a major event in my new book.

The News-Post also provides for its readers a bit of total nonsense about the anthrax case in general:

He [Ivins] was not charged, and the crimes have not been solved.

Not solved?!?!

Presumably, that means it wasn't solved the way the Frederick News-Post would prefer to have it been solved -- by pointing to culprits far away from Frederick, Md.

April 8, 2012 - On Friday, I completed the second draft of my new book.  Since I'm an analyst and tend to analyze everything, I kept records of the number of words in the first and second drafts.  I ended up combining some chapters, and, although I thought I'd be cutting a lot from the first draft, the second draft ended up 857 words longer (at one point it was 7,408 words longer).   Here's the data:

Word Counts                            
Dr 2 Dr 1                               Diff.  New
  600  559 words in the Introduction        41   41
2121 2182 words in Chapter 1              -61  -20
3907 3869 words in Chapter 2               38   18
2317 2039 words in Chapter 3              278  296
4075 3863 words in Chapter 4              212  508
2162 2168 words in Chapter 5               -6  502
2912 3794 words in Chapter 6             -882 -380
3205 1490 words in Chapter 7             1715 1335
4083 2895 words in Chapter 8             1188 2523
3715 3150 words in Chapter 9              565 3088
1137 1129 words in Chapter 10               8 3096
3448 2607 words in Chapter 11             841 3937
2228 2200 words in Chapter 12              28 3965
2890 2840 words in Chapter 13              50 4015
2498 2477 words in Chapter 14              21 4036
3914 3937 words in Chapter 15             -23 4013
2488 2580 words in Chapter 16             -92 3921
1857 1540 words in Chapter 17             317 4238
1791 2193 words in Chapter 18            -402 3836
3249 3238 words in Chapter 19              11 3847
3203 1914 words in Chapter 20            1289 5136
3426 2953 words in Chapter 21             473 5609
1847 1844 words in Chapter 22               3 5612
4036 2582 words in Chapter 23            1454 7066
4157 3815 words in Chapter 24             342 7408
   0 1617 words in old Chapter 25       -1617 5791
3186 2734 words in new Chapter 25         452 6243
3033 3415 words in new Chapter 26        -382 5861
2233 3180 words in new Chapter 27        -947 4914
2567 2638 words in new Chapter 28         -71 4843
3313 3940 words in new Chapter 29        -627 4216
3077 3289 words in new Chapter 30        -212 4004
2382 2748 words in new Chapter 31        -366 3638
4666 5404 words in new Chapter 32        -738 2900
2236 2433 words in new Chapter 33        -197 2703
3480 1658 words in new Chapter 34        1822 4525
3224 3223 words in new Chapter 35           1 2452
   0 2074 words in old Chapter 36       -2074 2451
1935 2082 words in new Chapter 36        -147 2305
2897 2896 words in new Chapter 37           1 2306
1510 1889 words in new Chapter 38        -379 1927
3753 3831 words in new Chapter 39         -78 1849
2957 3185 words in new Chapter 40        -228 1621
1998 2019 words in new Chapter 41         -21 1600
2021 2013 words in new Chapter 42           8 1608
2068 2019 words in new Chapter 43          49 1657
2546 2547 words in new Chapter 44          -1 1656
3111 3099 words in new Chapter 45          12 1668
2368 2439 words in new Chapter 46         -71 1597
2290 2383 words in new Chapter 47         -93 1504
3905 4552 words in new Chapter 48        -647  857
   137,165 words total in first draft
138,022 words total in second draft

The second draft is 441 pages long (versus 407 for the first draft), mainly because I had to change the page borders to more correctly fit a 6x9 book.   The 441 pages don't include the "Notes & Resources" section, nor the Index, which I have yet to compile.

But, I'm at the point where I should try to find a literary agent.  I could try going directly to publishers, but it typically takes a couple months to get a response from a publisher.  Plus, I'm not a good salesman and probably couldn't sell liquid refreshments in the Sahara desert, so it's better for me to have a professional trying to sell my book.  It's worth the percentage they take, particularly since some large publishers will only accept submissions that come through recognized agents.  And, if no agent becomes interested, I can still try the direct route to publishers who accept author queries.

On Thursday, when I realized I was making better progress than expected on the second draft, I became a bit anxious, and I did some research about agents.  And I even sent out a query via email.  Then, almost immediately, after doing further research, I found that my query wasn't in the right format.  So, I fixed the format and re-sent. 

Then I started thinking about it and realized all the things I could have done that I didn't do on that first query.  I didn't include a summary of chapters, and I sent a sample chapter that probably wasn't really the best one to use.  But, who knows?  Maybe the agent will see something worthwhile and ask for more information.  He hasn't yet responded, but that is very likely because Good Friday and the Monday after Easter are days off for many agents.

The anthrax case is no longer "current events," so the book will probably have to be marketed as a "True Crime" book in the "Narrative Non-Fiction" category.  Agents tend to specialize on specific categories.  Research is required to make sure you're contacting agents who are interested in the type of book you're trying to sell.

Meanwhile, I'm working on perfecting a query letter that can be sent without email attachments (they're all afraid of opening email attachments because of viruses).  If I've received no response to the first query by Wednesday, I'll send out another.   Agents usually reply to queries, and it's best if you get a response from one before you try another.  Sending out fifty queries all at once is a very bad idea, since the agencies that responds first may not be the best agencies, and they all want exclusivity.  And, the fact that an agent seems interested and wants more information doesn't mean he's going to try to sell the book, it only means he wants more information before making a decision.  I've dealt with agents before.  Twelve or so years ago, before I got involved with  the anthrax investigation, I had an agent in Hollywood who was trying to sell my screenplays, and I had another agent on the East Coast (who is now retired) who was trying to sell my novel "Clipper."  I also contacted agents in 2004 when I was looking to sell my first book about the anthrax case, "Analyzing the Anthrax Attacks."  But, it was a "current events" book then.  The new book is very different from the first book.  (And it has a much better title, which I'm not mentioning out of fear someone might steal it.)  

Of course, I also have to sit down and spend a few days just reading the new book from cover to cover to see what further improvements I can make.  Presumably, the "third draft" will just involve "polishing" the second draft, modifying a page here and there, and won't require reprinting everything.  I also need to work on the "Notes & References" section.  The Index can wait until I'm certain I can't get a regular publisher interested.  (If a regular publisher decides to publish the book, the first thing they'll do is put an editor to work on it.  The editing process could be extensive.)

Looking back through my comments for this web site, I found I've been writing and revising almost steadily since September of 2010! That's over 19 months!    Here's the first part of a comment I wrote 19 months ago:

September 12, 2010 - On Monday of last week, I started writing a new book about the anthrax attacks of 2001, in which I plan to incorporate all the important information I've learned to-date.  I developed a preliminary outline, and I wrote what seems to be a good "Introduction."

I hadn't realized that I'd been working on it for so long.  No wonder I feel like I just finished a climb of Mount Everest, and I need to just sit and watch some TV for awhile.  Yesterday, I did exactly that.  I took a break in the afternoon and watched two episodes of Season 1 of "Lost" from DVDs.  Then, I went back to work on the query letter.    

There were no debates with Anthrax Truthers last week, the guy in Kazakhstan who was trying to attack my web site seems to have gone away for good, and my other web site is now totally shut down.  So, I have plenty of time to read through the second draft of my new book and make notes.   Or maybe I'll just go for a walk.  It's a nice, sunny day.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, April 1, 2012, thru Saturday, April 7, 2012

April 5, 2012 - On Monday, I received what is probably the last issue of Newsweek on my subscription, and it actually had an article that I considered worth reading.  It's an article titled "John Grisham: On his $6 million screwup."

When lawyer John Grisham's first novel ("A Time To Kill") was published in 1989, the publisher printed just 5,000 copies, and Grisham bought a thousand of the copies.  (The publisher sent him 1,500, but Grisham sent the extra 500 back.)  Grisham had purchased the books wholesale figuring he could sell them retail and make a few extra bucks.  He took the whole load to a local library for a book party, but sold only 118.  As the months went on, he couldn't get rid of the books.  He'd sell copies to clients if they were willing to buy, but he also gave a lot of copies away. 

The book didn't sell well in book stores, and no more copies of the first edition were printed.  The publisher went bankrupt a year after the book was released.  Grisham's next novel "The Firm" was a runaway best seller.  In 1991, Doubleday bought the rights to "A Time to Kill" and reissued the book.  It has since sold 20 million copies.  The rare first editions are now trading for $4,000 a copy.  At one time Grisham had 1,500 first editions in his office.  At $4,000 per copy, that means he had $6 million dollars worth. 

I thought the article was interesting because I still have a stack of copies of my first book about the anthrax attacks of 2001 in my garage, and it now looks like I'm going to finish the second draft of my second book tomorrow or Saturday.  I certainly don't expect Grisham's history to repeat itself with my book, but  it was an interesting article to read as I ate breakfast this morning.    

April 4, 2012 - I've really been busy on my new book, but I think I need to pause to comment further on the subjects I mentioned on Sunday.  I noticed a Fox News article about the Trayvon Martin case.  The article describes how someone on NBC's "Today Show" distorted the facts in the case.  Usually that's Fox News' job, but not this time.  Some NBC editor appears to have deliberately edited a recording in order to make the story more sensational than it really was.  Meanwhile, someone sent me a related article about an "expert" the media dug up to give an opinion about the audio recordings in the case.  Those articles show how really bad the media can be when reporting on controversial news stories.  The all-time bad example remains the Amerithrax case, but they seem to be working hard every day to set new records for bad reporting.

I happened to watch the 1948 movie "Call Northside 777" the other night.  It's a "true story" about a reporter who uncovered evidence to free a man who was incorrectly convicted of murder 11 years earlier.  Reporters can also be very good at uncovering corruption which would otherwise go unnoticed, like Watergate and many other corruption cases.  But, I have to wonder how often they're right when they dispute the police or state and federal investigators in a current controversial case.  They seem to have a habit of carelessly tap dancing in an area that is really a mine field. 

Do the pressures of 24-hour TV news networks make things worse today than they were in the past?  Maybe.  Trust in the media is definitely lower than it's ever been before.  And, it's easy to see why.  But, it's still better to get the latest news from people you don't fully trust than to get no news at all.  And that seems to be the only two choices we have.  The trick is to have the patience to wait until the facts sort themselves out.       

April 1, 2012 - Last week was the first week in months that I didn't write any mid-week comments.  There were certainly times when I thought about it.  The news story about the JetBlue pilot who went berserk at 30 thousand feet over Texas on Tuesday happened right after I had an argument with an Anthrax Truther who thought that it was worse to invade someone's privacy by checking into their mental problems than to allow mentally ill people to work in dangerous jobs where lives are at stake.  I was considering commenting on that when I received an email mentioning the airliine incident.  But, the email wasn't about how Ivins' work and the pilot's work were somewhat similar situations.  It was about how the pilot's breakdown and the flight attendant's breakdown a few weeks ago seemed to be similar to the recent mental breakdown of a medical professional the emailer knew.  I didn't have much to say about that.  The two in-flight cases seem similar, but two cases doesn't establish a pattern.   And the medical professional's case had no real connection to the other two cases except for the timing.   

These are certainly anxious times.  It makes you wonder how many others are having mental breakdowns that don't get into the news.

I also thought about commenting upon the Trayvon Martin shooting and how lynch mobs are forming now just the way they formed when conspiracy theorists wanted Steven Hatfill arrested for the anthrax mailings.  Lynch mobs don't care about evidence or about how arresting someone prematurely can ruin what could be a solid case, they just want something done now.  And they've already made up their minds as to what should be done.  They don't care what the law says, they just know that the government isn't doing what they think the government should be doing.  And the media is there to show every angry comment to the entire world and to show people arguing about the subject day and night on 24-hour news networks.  What could I write about that?  I'd want to write that everyone should just settle down and let the people we pay to resolve such matters resolve things.  But that's not going to mean anything to angry mobs who don't trust the people we pay to resolve things.  I don't see much chance of mobs with pitchforks and torches descending upon some courthouse or hunting down the shooter to hang him from some tree in the middle of Sanford or Orlando, Florida.  More likely it's just going to be a lot of angry rabble rousing, with the media feeding the flames until things either settle down or something else happens that is of more interest to the media.  Hopefully, something positive will come from it all.

Things have a way of sorting themselves out.  Because a lot of people were angry and not thinking clearly here in Wisconsin in 2010, we elected a beady-eyed sociopath as governor.  Now we're going to have a recall election in May to try to get rid of him.  Everyone seems to understand that they shouldn't make important decisions when they're angry, but then they get angry and want things to change.  In 2010 they voted for change even though it resulted in a change for the worse.  Meanwhile, Republican presidential candidates are campaigning all over the state.  The Wisconsin presidential primary is the day after tomorrow.  There areSuper-Pac TV ads every ten minutes showing one Republican candidate attacking another, and all the candidates support the governor who facing a recall election because he believes the same thing the Republican presidential candidates believe.   To me, the Republican primary seems like a choice between Dumb, Dumber and Dumberer, and I'm very happy that I'm not one of the people who has to make the choice.

Last week, I managed to get through Chapter 26, page 254 of the second draft of my new book.  So, in theory, I'm more than half done.  The book is now 5,861 words longer than the first draft, and it contains many more photos.  Last week, I obtained official permission to use some photos that I had thought were in the public domain, but weren't.  As a 6x9 paperback, it appears the book is going to be over 500 pages.

This morning I shut down a web site I'd run for over 15 years.  The web site was about photo analysis (sort of) and had resulted in me writing a weekly feature for an Australian magazine for 10 of those years.  That's the kind of complex world we're in, where a guy in Wisconsin can write for an Australian magazine without ever having been in Australia.  It's also a world in which newspapers and paper magazines are going out of business. 

I'd been a subscriber to Newsweek for over a quarter century, but my final issue will arrive this month.  It isn't because I get all my news on-line and no longer have a need for a magazine printed on paper.  I'll really miss receiving Newsweek and reading it during breakfast and lunch.  But, I won't miss getting the current incarnation of Newsweek.  It used to be a news magazine.  They used to have thought-provoking columns about subjects of interest to me, like "The Limits of Reason" and "What science ed should really teach."  Now it seems to be a magazine written to interest only New York City women.  When my copy arrives, I skim through it page by page and I'm lucky if I find a single paragraph of interest to me.  Then it goes into the trash.

An entire issue devoted to the TV series "Mad Men"??!!   Last week's issue of Newsweek was all about "Mad Men" as if it was a world defining subject.  Over the years I'd watched parts of an episode or two of "Mad Men," but couldn't get into it.  Then, on October 31, 2010, the DVD set for Season 1 of "Mad Men" was on sale for $19.99.  So, I bought it to see what all the fuss was about.  I finished viewing all of Season 1 in a week.  It was certainly well done and involving, but it's just a soap opera.  Maybe it's just me.  I don't like continuing stories where very little is ever resolved and plots just go on and on year after year.  It's okay for TV shows to have long character arcs for series regulars or continuing minor plot lines, but basically I want each episode to begin with a problem that is resolved by the end of the same episode.  My favorite five TV shows (not including "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report") are:

1. House
2. The Mentalist
3. Castle
4. Justified
5. Eureka

After the favorite five it's a jumble that includes (alphabetically) Alphas, Bones, The Closer, Covert Affairs, The Finder, Fringe, NCIS, Psyche, Royal Pains, Unforgettable, Warehouse 13 and White Collar.  The new series "Awake" might get added to the list, but "Missing" was just dropped because it's too much of a continuing soap opera.  With soap opera types of shows, I feel like I'm being deliberately manipulated to tune in next week to see what happens next.  As soon as I feel manipulated, I'm no longer interested in what's going to happen next, and I stop watching.  ("Lost" was an exception where I liked the characters and the mystery infinitely more than the solution to the mystery.)

But, I digress.  Recently, instead of reading Newsweek during breakfast and lunch, I had been reading "Asimov's Chronology of Science and Discovery."  I finished its 653 pages last week.  Now I'm re-reading some Charlie Brown/Peanuts books I bought in the 1960's.   The pages are all yellowed, but they're still enjoyable books that I can read a few pages and then stop without risk of forgetting critical plot points.

I've got a 500-page book of my own to finish.  I don't have any room in my brain to ponder whether or not fictional people are going to discover that Don Draper is really Dick Whitman.  I prefer that U.S. Deputy Marshal Raylan Givens just throw everyone into jail and let the court system sort things out.  Or, if they don't want to go to jail, they can try to see if they are faster at the draw than Deputy Givens.

I've spent over ten years studying and researching the Amerithrax case.  These days, I very much prefer problems and mysteries that are neatly resolved in an hour.   

Peanuts cartoon

Updates & Changes: Sunday, March 25, 2012, thru Saturday, March 31, 2012

March 25, 2012 - I'd hoped to see something more about Wednesday's panel discussion at the Virginia Law School in the Sunday editions this morning, but I can't find anything. 

Last week, I managed to get a lot of work done on the second draft of my new book.  I finished Chapter 14, getting through page 134.  I'd expected that the second draft would be a lot shorter than the first draft, but right now it's 3,614 words longer.  If things continue at the current rate, I could to be trying to get agents and publishers interested in the book beginning sometime in late April.  (Knock wood.)

I also expected I would be adding the notes during the writing of the second draft, but it turned out to be just too distracting.  It requires constantly breaking focus.  I'll have to add the notes on the "third draft," which I anticipate will consist of me sitting down and reading the book cover to cover, making an "X" next to everything that requires a note.  Then, I'll have to go through the computer copy and add footnote numbers wherever I made the "X's" and put the notes in a Note Section at the end of the book.  The "notes" will be a list of all the sources for the information plus additional comments, where needed.  It will be tedious work.  I don't look forward to it.  And, then comes the even more tedious work of creating an index. 

Meanwhile, those POST commands from the Ukraine that I mentioned in my March 21 (A) comment seem to have been the end of my Russian/Kazakh problem.  (Knock wood.)  There haven't been any strings of HEAD commands on my web site log since March 18.  And there were no more POST attempts after March 20.  I'll keep looking for anything that appears suspicious, but I won't be disappointed if that's the end of it.

If anyone detects any problems accessing my site, please let me know.

On my interactive blog,  the discussions about the Amerithrax case seem to be just the same arguments over and over and over - although sometimes things get interesting.  An Anthrax Truther keeps creating rules for how the world should work in order to reach the conclusions he has reached about the Amerithrax case.  And, he appears to believe that if the world doesn't operate according to his rules, it's operating incorrectly.  He tried to start a discussion about his personal theory on Lew Weinstein's blog, but he was just ignored.

To Anthrax Truthers, everything seems to be about bias.  Anyone who doesn't believe as they believe must be "biased."   Anyone who accepts the evidence against Ivins is "biased" because they are assuming that the DOJ and FBI didn't just make everything up.  Only people who disagree with the FBI are "unbiased." 

The Anthrax Truther's key problem at the moment seems to be that it hurts his cause if he accepts that Ivins was mentally ill.  He accepts that Ivins had mental problems, but he doesn't think those mental problems should have prevented him from working with dangerous pathogens at night, alone and unsupervised.  He wrote:

Ivins was a world-beater as a microbiologist. More stringent vetting would eliminate not only potential ad-hoc terrorists but excellent microbiologists who are just a bit weird. Ivins was mostly the latter (in my view).

So, Ivins' burglaries, his vandalism, his vicious attempts to destroy Nancy Haigwood's career, his plans to murder people and to make bombs were just "weird" stuff, and all excellent microbiologists are weird.  Therefore, Ivins' mental problems shouldn't be an issue.

The Truther seems to be trying to make all the psychological evidence inadmissible because Dr. Saathoff was involved, and Dr. Saathoff was a consultant on the FBI's investigation.  Therefore, Dr. Saathoff and his Expert Behavioral Analysis Panel (EBAP) should have not have been allowed to dig into Ivins' mental health records because Saathoff had already determined that Ivins was mentally ill, and therefore he was biased against Ivins.  Interestingly, the Truther dug up a comment by Dr. Annette Hanson stating the same thing last June.  He also found a version of the comment on Dr. Meryl Nass's site where Nass agrees.  At another link there's a response from members of the EBAP saying Dr. Hanson is wrong followed by a response to the response by Dr. Hanson saying she still thinks she's right.

The Anthrax Truther inexplicably seems to believe the Expert Behavior Analysis Panel should have been formed by someone totally ignorant of the case and of Bruce Ivins.   Why?  Evidently, because then the panel might have decided that Ivins wasn't really mentally ill, even though his psychiatrists said he was, and the panel might have decided that it was perfectly okay for Ivins to work with deadly pathogens at night, alone and unsupervised, even though that's just plain absurd.  And, if the panel came to that conclusion, they might also conclude that Ivins was probably innocent and someone else must have been the anthrax mailer.  And, then everyone would be open to the Anthrax Truther's idea about who really did it.

It's all very logical.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, March 18, 2012, thru Saturday, March 24, 2012

March 22-23, 2012 - As I was about to shut down operations on Thursday evening, I noticed a columnist on Gazette.Net had mentioned the anthrax attacks of 2001.  Looking at the column by Paul Gordon, I see it refers to a meeting between a local committee concerned about "the proliferation" of BSL-3 and BSL-4 laboratories being set up in the Frederick, MD, area and officials from the CDC.   I noticed that conspiracy theorist Barry Kissin was mentioned.  The column also said,

For instance, one young man asked about Fort Detrick and Dr. Bruce Ivins, whom the FBI alleged was connected to mailing letters laced with anthrax spores which killed five people in 2001. He wanted to discuss what he had read about the flimsy evidence against Ivins. The CDC representative said he could not talk about the CDC position, but personally wished the case had come to trial.

Looking over the column again on Friday morning, I see it's basically a complaint that the CDC officials didn't answer questions the way Gordon and other members of the audience wanted them answered - clearly and straight-forward.  Since the meeting really had nothing to do with the anthrax attacks of 2001 - even though the "young man" tried to add that subject to the discussion - there's nothing else worth mentioning.

March 22, 2012 - The only news article I see about yesterday's panel discussion at the Univerisity of Virginia Law School will be in tomorrow's issue of The Cavalier Daily, the school newspaper.  Here are a couple paragraphs from the article:

“The evidence in this case shows that Bruce Ivins was a very disturbed man,” [David] Willman said. “His conduct over a period of literally decades is very germane to the public’s understanding of his alleged culpability in this case.”


“A lot of information on Ivins’ problems was available [but] the systems in place simply were not used,” Schouten said. “The focus needs to be on making them operational, and using the information appropriately.”

I'd hoped that some kind of recording or video of the session would be made public, but so far I don't see anything.   The lesson seems to be that Ivins was mentally ill and should never have been allowed to work with deadly pathogens.  There were ample opportunities to see and confirm that he was mentally ill, but no one paid any attention.   The people who didn't pay any attention can argue that they don't believe the facts which clearly say Ivins was the anthrax mailer, but they cannot argue that Ivins was not mentally ill and it was okay for him to be working with anthrax alone and unsupervised.

March 21, 2012 (B) - I don't know if anyone else is interested or not, but I'm having a fairly interesting discussion with an Anthrax Truther on my interactive blog.  I'm trying to figure out exactly what kind of problem the Truther has with Dr. Gregory Saathoff and the Expert Behavioral Analysis Panel.  He seems to believe that there was some kind of "conflict of interest."  But, it's very difficult to pin him down on exactly what he believes that causes him to see "conflicts of interest" when an group of mental health experts not affiliated with USAMRIID did a study on why no one at USAMRIID realized they had a mentally disturbed person working with lethal pathogens.

Unfortunately, lessons from the past say that if I manage to pin down the Truther on exactly what it is he believes, he'll change the subject rather than acknowledge that he misunderstood something.      

March 21, 2012 (A) - For a couple days, the Russian/Kazakh attack on my web site seemed to have stopped.  There were no strings of HEAD accesses after 4:58 a.m. on March 18th.  Then, yesterday, just after 3 p.m. EDT, someone in the Ukraine actually POSTed something on my site using three POST commands: - - [20/Mar/2012:15:06:51 -0400] "POST / HTTP/1.1" 200 98736 "http://reformasaltesa.wordpress.com/" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; ru; rv: Gecko/2009073022 Firefox/3.0.13 (.NET CLR 3.5.30729)" - - [20/Mar/2012:15:06:52 -0400] "POST / HTTP/1.1" 200 108900 "http://reformasaltesa.wordpress.com/" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; ru; rv: Gecko/2009073022 Firefox/3.0.13 (.NET CLR 3.5.30729)" - - [20/Mar/2012:15:06:53 -0400] "POST / HTTP/1.1" 200 17424 "http://reformasaltesa.wordpress.com/" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; ru; rv: Gecko/2009073022 Firefox/3.0.13 (.NET CLR 3.5.30729)"

It wasn't from a IP address I was blocking.  The 200 response code (in red) indicates that the POST worked!  They somehow obtained my password and changed some code in my  web site.   I suspect they added something that HEAD reads could then access.  I worried that they may also have installed some kind of Trojan Horse, so I phoned my web site host and had them check.  They found nothing.  I've reloaded the main page, I've changed my password, and I've blocked that IP address in the Ukraine.   And I ran a Norton Internet Security scan of the versions of the web site files in my computer. 

Note that the web site address within the log entry is a wordpress.com address (in green).  That's where the Trojan Horse someone planted in my site back in November 2010 came from.  (It's also where the #1 Anthrax Truther web site is located.) 

So, no apparent harm done.  But, I've got a bunch of new clues to work with.  And, it seems to confirm that someone is definitely trying to do something to my web site.

March 18, 2012 - I was somewhat puzzled by how few people looked at the PDF files I created showing pictures of Bruce Ivins' lab and office.  I found the pictures to be very interesting, but for various reasons most readers of this web site don't seem to share my fascination.  One regular visitor told me he just wasn't interested in that kind of "minutia" about the case.  Others worry about viruses and don't like clicking on new links or opening files they've never opened before.  Ah, well.  At least the pictures are available for viewing to anyone interested.  And all the search engines have them.

Another project that was keeping me from working on my new book was preparing my 2011 income tax.  On Tuesday, I completed the forms and mailed them out.  I had planned to e-file as I did in previous years, but I ran into a technical problem.  I couldn't install TurboTax because my Windows XP software wasn't up-to-date, and when I tried to update it, I couldn't get Windows XP to run.  I had to restore Windows XP back to where it was before.  I knew how to do that because I'd had the same problem about 5 years ago and an expert showed me how to recover.  In fact, it was exactly the same problem.  I'd just forgotten I had the problem.  If I fully re-install Windows XP  instead of just doing an update, I may have to re-install a lot of other software, too.  And, I run a lot of software that is 7 or 8 years old or more  (I use the 1998 version of Lotus-123 for things like tax calculations, and a 2003 version of WORD for my writings.)   If it works, don't fix it, that's my motto.  But the problems I had last week and the week before made it clear: sooner or later I'm going to have to get some new software.

Unless something critical happens, it's going to be later ... after I finish my new book.

Last week, I also shut down another web site I ran for 15 years.  (I maintained it with software acquired in 1996.)  It served its purpose, and I want to focus on my new book.

So, on Tuesday I was able to get back to work on the second draft.  It went extremely well, until I got to chapter 6 where I needed to add a lot of new material I'd learned about since writing the first draft, such as How Ivins Made the Attack Anthrax.  Plus, I felt I should add some diagrams showing the physical layout of his lab and office.  I just need to figure out the best way to do it.  And, that's where I am now.

I also have this "feeling" that in August of 2001 Ivins was informed that he was going to be dropped one level down in the chain of command at USAMRIID, and he was going to be working for a woman who was younger and had less experience than he.  It doesn't appear to have been a demotion, however.  They just created a new administrative level above Ivins.  It was a "non-demotion" that Ivins seems to have viewed as a demotion.

The next month, on September 27, 2001, Ivins wrote a nasty letter expressing his feelings about the change.  The letter indicated that he was already expected to take orders from Patricia Worsham, even though t
he actual change in command structure wouldn't officially take place until early 2002.  Ivins also appears to have tried to make trouble for Worsham in early 2002 when he did an unauthorized cleaning, blaming the carelessness of someone working for Worsham and creating a major investigation of procedures at USAMRIID.

The "feeling" says that that "non-demotion" played a major role in Ivins' thinking prior to the anthrax attacks.  But, I don't have any evidence that Ivins learned about it in August.  I just know he knew about it on September 27.  However, I see no doubt that such a "non-demotion" would have triggered Ivins' paranoia and played havoc with his narcissism.  He thought he was smarter than everyone else, yet the change meant he was going to be working for someone younger and less experienced than he.  And, when his problems with women are added into the equation, that change would have been a bigger motivator than anything else going on in his life at that point in time.   It's a wonder he didn't "go postal."

But, how much can I say about it in my book?  Without knowing when Ivins learned about the "non-demotion," it's just a "feeling." 

The panel discussion at the University of Virginia this coming Wednesday would be one place to get the opinion of a psychiatrist about how Ivins would have taken that kind of news.  But, I can't be there.  And, if I could be there, I'd first have to ask about how Ivins' apparent use of a child to write the anthrax letters fitted into his psychology - particularly if the child belonged to a friend of his wife.  Ivins wasn't able to discuss his personal feelings with his wife, yet Diane evidently had friends who would come by to pick up their children from her day care center, and they would stay for awhile to talk and gossip.  Two women talking in another room would certainly trigger Ivins' paranoia.  And, if the child of one of Diane's friends was sitting around doing his homework, Ivins might notice how well the kid wrote for a first-grader.  Click!

The facts clearly say that a child wrote the anthrax letters and addressed the envelopes, but I don't have enough facts to figure out what role the "non-demotion" played in Ivins' thinking prior to the anthrax attacks.  I can't ignore it, either, since it seems too important.  But, I need to figure out exactly what to say about it in my book.   I definitely can't describe it as a "feeling."  It's an hypothesis that needs additional support. 
Writing about it here didn't help much.  But, I'll figure it out.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, March 11, 2012, thru Saturday, March 17, 2012

March 17, 2012 -
I was amused when I noticed
on Lew Weinstein's web site this morning that an Anthrax Truther described the upcoming panel discussion at the University of Virginia as a "circle jerk" at which David Willman is scheduled to be a panelist.

The thread became a lot more interesting when a second Anthrax Truther defended David Willman by writing:

Let’s see. You are crude because you are mad at Mr. Willman. Mr. Willman was able to exclude the person you suspected. But that’s no reason to be crude. Everyone should always be civil.

And, then the second Truther proceeded to "out" the first Truther's suspect, a Battelle employee.  That theory was then dismissed this way: 

Let me clear: An Ivins Theory is way stronger than your theory

Following that, the second Truther
then described, without mentioning the "suspect's" name, a third Anthrax Truther's theory:

For example, [redacted]’s theory is even more untenable — the person was not even a microbiologist and had no access to anthrax of any type, let alone Ames. Had no motive. No means. Being let go by an employer is not reason to send anthrax to senators and media. No opportunity. He is just a hacker who has his own misconceived theory. 

Including the "hacker" with "his own misconceived theory," that's four different Anthrax Truthers, each with a totally different theory.  I'm mentioned, too, because the second Truther doesn't accept the facts about who wrote the letters.

That's one of the most interesting Anthrax Truther posts I've seen in a long time.  But, I suspect it may be deleted fairly soon.

March 16, 2012 - Although there certainly aren't as many arguments and discussions about the anthrax attacks of 2001 going on these days as there once were, some still do occur.   The subject is going to be discussed by a panel at the University of Virginia Law School on March 21.  Among the panelists will be Dr. Gregory Saathoff who chaired the Expert Behavioral Analysis Panel and David Willman, author of the book about Bruce Ivins, "The Mirage Man."  There's no information about whether any recordings or videos will be made public afterward, but it could be a very interesting discussion.

March 12, 2012 - This is totally off the subject, but I found it absolutely fascinating.  Click HERE to go to a new interactive video on NASA's web site which shows the scale of the universe, from things smaller than quarks to the size of the entire universe.

March 11, 2012 - I try to avoid providing links on this web site that go to the main Amerithrax -related web site run and frequented by the Anthrax Truthers on the Lunatic Fringe, since it serves no good purpose to send visitors their way.  But, last week they seemed to have moved totally into Looney Tune Land.  So, I think I need to point out what they're saying and provide a few links so people can see for themselves.

One of the most absurd arguments I've ever heard from Anthrax Truthers on the Lunatic Fringe is an argument that, because traces of Ivins' hair and DNA were NOT found inside the mail box in New Jersey, that is somehow proof that he is innocent.   It implies that hair and DNA are always left in mailboxes whenever someone mails a letter, which is of course total nonsense.  The arguments presented last week seem very similar, although, as usual, the Anthrax Truthers don't say exactly what they want or what their argument really is:

1.  The Ink Argument:  The Anthrax Truthers seem to see something important in the fact that the FBI found no documents in Ivins home or office that could be proved to have been written with the same felt-tip pen used to address the anthrax envelopes.  So, there is no "ink evidence" against Ivins.  The Anthrax Truthers seem to think this is somehow proof of his innocence.   I reality, of course, it is proof of nothing.

2.  The Pen Argument:  The Anthrax Truthers also seem to be arguing that because the FBI didn't find a felt-tip pen in Ivins' home or office that was of the same apparent brand that was used to address the anthrax envelopes, that is somehow proof of his innocence.  In reality, of course, it is proof of nothing.

The ink and pen arguments are really just one argument, since the ink is in the pen, but the Truthers argue them separately to make it appear they have lots of arguments.   However, unless there's some scientific law that says a person always keeps the same pen and always uses the same brand of pen for their entire life, the fact that no such pen could be found among Ivins' possessions means absolutely nothing.  (But, it makes me wonder: If the FBI had checked the home of the first grader, would they have found something useful?  Or would it have been too difficult to get a search warrant for that?)

3.  The Scotch Tape Argument: The Anthrax Truthers also seem to be arguing that, because the FBI couldn't find a roll of scotch tape during the searches of Ivins home and office that had a torn off serrated end that matched any of the scotch tape ends on  the anthrax letters, that is somehow proof of Bruce Ivins' innocence.  In reality, of course, it is proof of nothing

The FBI searched Bruce Ivins' home, office and laboratory on November 1-2, 2007, more than six years after the anthrax attacks.  How long does one keep a roll of Scotch tape without ever using it?  Plus,
there were at least three anthrax letters that were not found.  Therefore, the strip of tape with the serrated end that would match the tape still in the dispenser could have been on one of the letters that was never found.  A negative finding meant nothing, since there is no scientific law that says people always keep tape dispensers around and never use them again after they've used them once.

4.  The Toner Argument:  The Anthrax Truthers also seem to be arguing that because the copy machine toner used to create the Xerox-type letter copies used in the anthrax mailings doesn't seem to match the toner used in the copy machine that was located in the USAMRIID library, this is somehow proof of Bruce Ivins' innocence.  In reality, of course, it is proof of nothing.

Basically, the toner argument just says that Ivins didn't use the same copy machine to produce the anthrax letters that he normally used for work or for personal matters.  The Anthrax Truthers seem to think that proves he didn't send the letters.  However, all it really says is that Ivins used a different copy machine, as one would expect he would do if he was trying to avoid leaving a trail of evidence back to himself. 

The Anthrax Truthers, of course, interpret just about everything as proof of Ivins' innocence and proof of their own theories.  And they constantly make up new "Rules of Evidence" to suit their own needs.   But all four of those arguments are about things the FBI had no choice but to check.  The same with the fifth argument, the one about not finding Ivins' hair or DNA in the mailbox.  The FBI had to check for it.  Finding Ivins' hair or DNA would have been proof that he used that particular mailbox.  So, they had to check, even though the chances of finding anything meaningful were probably no better than a million to one.  There still was that one-in-a-million possibility.

There was a
possibility he still had the same pen.
There was a
possibility he still had the same roll of Scotch tape.
There was a
possibility he used a copy machine he always used.
There was a
possibility he dropped skin particles or hair into the mailbox.

There was also a
possibility he left anthrax spores in his car.
There was also a
possibility he licked the glue on the envelope.
There was also a
possibility that he left fingerprints on the letters.
There was also a
possibility that he left fingerprints on the envelopes.
There was also a
possibility that he still had unused envelopes from the pack.
There was also a
possibility that he may have told someone about his plans.

There were also other possibilities that they checked.  They tried to find a match to the Bacillus subtilis contamination in the media letters, but they failed.   They tried to get a scent off the letters that bloodhounds could use, but they failed.   According to page 409 of David Willman's book "The Mirage Man," the FBI examined 1,014 "exemplar sets" obtained from copy machines located in or near every known laboratory that possessed virulent Ames looking for "trash marks" caused by dirt on the copy machine glass or cover, and they failed to find a match.  They checked the USAMRIID copy machine five months after the mailings, but anyone cleaning the glass and/or the inside of the cover during those five months could have erased the "trash marks."

That's what detective work is all about.  Checking out every reasonable possibility - no matter how remote - until something clicks. 

And, that's how Ivins was caught.  Someone realized there was a possibility that the morphs in the attack powders could match to a lab sample somewhere.  And there was a possibility that only one person with access to that sample had means, motive and opportunity to create the attack spores and mail them.  The FBI spent years sorting through the possible sources for the attack powders and found only one: flask RMR-1029, controlled by Bruce Ivins.  The FBI spent years sorting through all the hundreds of possible suspects and found only one person who definitely had means, motive and opportunity: Bruce Ivins.

And then Ivins committed suicide.  And, as I pointed out in yesterday's comment, even some supposedly intelligent people believe that Ivins should be considered innocent because there's no way to put him on trial for murder and allow him to defend himself.

If a person dies before he can be put on trial, that means he's innocent?  Is there a more crazy idea than that?   That would mean that, unless there's a coroner's inquest, all the murder-suicides that occur every day should be considered to be "unsolved murders!"  

And, of course, the report by the National Academy of Sciences said that there is a theoretical possibility that some unknown source could contain the same morphs as Ivins' flask RMR-1029.  That finding may not be enough to create "reasonable doubt" for any sensible jury, but it's enough to justify total disbelief for Anthrax Truthers.

There's got to be some way to bring these kinds of situations to a close that would be generally accepted as the equivalent of a trial by judge and jury.  I really like the idea of a "Special Inquest" or a "National Security Special Inquest" to resolve high-profile cases where the suspect committed suicide, was killed or otherwise became incapable of defending himself in court.  (See my (C) comment for yesterday.)  There may be a lot of hidden problems in the idea, but I think it's worth considering.

Right now, the Anthrax Truthers seem to be hoping the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) will overturn the FBI/DOJ's conclusions and somehow re-open the case.   That may be even more absurd than the Anthrax Truther arguments about evidence.  And when the GAO doesn't do as the Truthers want, the Truthers will  undoubtedly argue that the GAO is part of the massive "cover-up."   And the Truthers will be arguing their beliefs as long as people argued about whether Lee Harvy Oswald killed John F. Kennedy - - or longer.

It may all be part of human nature, but with the Internet being a big part of the equation these days - and likely playing a bigger role in the future - it seems to be time to start thinking about ways to avoid the unnecessary conflict caused by all the people on the Internet who believe they know who really committed some crime and who claim that "the government's" version is just some kind of cover-up of a government secret.

The findings of a jury in a "Special Inquest" might be the answer.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, March 4, 2012, thru Saturday, March 10, 2012

March 10, 2012 (C) - Someone just sent me a link to Wikipedia's article about the 1994 "Matsumoto Incident."  The person sending the email explained that it was "a Japanese version of the Hatfill case."  And, it is -- except for one major difference. 

The "Matsumoto incident" occurred in 1994 when sarin gas was released in an area called Kaichi Heights, killing eight people and injuring over 200.  Wikipedia says:

After the incident, police focused their investigation on Yoshiyuki Kōno, whose wife was a victim put in a coma by the gas. It was discovered that Kōno had stored a large amount of pesticide in his residence. Despite the fact that sarin cannot be manufactured from pesticides, Kōno was dubbed by some in the media "the Poison Gas Man" and received hate mail, death threats, and intense legal pressure.

Then, a year later in 1995, the much better known sarin gas attack occurred in the Tokyo subway system.  It killed 13 people and injured about 50.  That attack was found to have been the work of the Aum Shinrikyo cult.  And it was quickly learned that Aum Shinrikyo was also behind the 1994 sarin gas attack.   According to Wikipedia:

After he was found innocent, every major Japanese newspaper apologized to Kōno, including those who did not name him as a suspect.

And, therein lies the big difference between the Japanese case and the Hatfill case.  In the Hatfill case, although many newspapers and other media outlets participated in the attempted lynching of Steven Hatfill, only one journalist made a personal apology, while all the rest now seem to blame the FBI for what they themselves had done.

So, it's an interesting comparison with an interesting difference.

And that takes me into a more philosophical area. 

After re-reading Kristof's apology, I saw that he made the same bizarre suggestion others have made:

Shouldn’t a presumption of innocence continue when a person is dead and can no longer defend himself?

Wha..?  So, Adolph Hitler should be considered innocent because he committed suicide before he could be tried for his crimes?   And bank robbers and other criminals shot and killed during the commission of their crimes should be considered innocent?

People will say,"Those are different situations."  But, they're not different.  They're only viewed as being different because most people see the evidence of guilt in those cases as being more apparent, and people can more easily make a personal decision.  
Where is the dividing line as to when it is right to declare a dead man guilty?  Is it "right" when I do it, but wrong when you do it?   It certainly can't be considered "right" to declare a dead bank robber "innocent" because he was never tried for his crime.   And, it would be just flat out stupid to actually believe Bruce Ivins was innocent because he was never officially tried for his crimes.

Yes, it's right to consider a living person innocent until proved guilty.  But, you can't apply the same rule to a dead person, because there is no official procedure for proving guilt or innocence for a dead person

It's probably not practical to do something official for every case, such as bank robbers killed during the commission of a crime, but it might be worthwhile to have some kind of "special circumstance" situation where an inquest is held to close a case against a dead person with a jury's decision.

Unfortunately, it's probably too late for that in the Bruce Ivins case.  And laws would probably have to be changed before it could be done, anyway.

All that can be done in the Ivins case is to have a "hearing" or "investigation" of the investigation.  But, the Anthrax Truthers won't agree to any finding from politicians unless it confirms their own beliefs.  Right now they're waiting for the Government Accountabilty Office (GAO) to present its "review" of the case.  And, if the GAO says the FBI investigation was proper and the findings correct, the Anthrax Truthers will just declare it to be just another "government coverup."  So, it's unlikely to solve anything.

I think it would certainly be a good idea if, as part of their review, the GAO suggested a way to create a "Special Inquest" to resolve cases of national importance which are left unresolved because the suspect is dead or for some other reason could never be tried for his alleged crime(s).

Just a thought.

March 10, 2012 (B) - ^@)%#*&$!!  I don't really need another mystery about people trying to do things to my web site, but I think I need to record this with a comment.

My web site logs for yesterday show these four POST commands: - - [09/Mar/2012:03:59:52 -0500] "POST /misc9.html/trackback HTTP/1.0" 403 583 "http://www.anthraxinvestigation.com/misc9.html/" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; de; rv: Gecko/20090824 Firefox/3.5.3 (.NET CLR 3.5.30729)" - - [09/Mar/2012:14:28:22 -0500] "POST /misc5.html/trackback/ HTTP/1.0" 403 621 "http://www.anthraxinvestigation.com/misc5.html/trackback/" "-" - - [09/Mar/2012:14:28:37 -0500] "POST /misc1.html/trackback/ HTTP/1.0" 403 621 "http://www.anthraxinvestigation.com/misc1.html/trackback/" "-" - - [09/Mar/2012:21:15:46 -0500] "POST /coatings.html/trackback/ HTTP/1.0" 403 624 "http://www.anthraxinvestigation.com/coatings.html/trackback/" "-"

Four different attempts to POST something named "trackback" onto my web site!  Four different IP addresses were used, but #2 and #3 were less than a second apart. tracks to San Paulo, Brazil tracks to Seattle, Washington tracks to Virpus Network Operations, Kansas City, MO tracks to Paris, France.

All the POST attempts failed because only I am allowed to use the POST command for my web site, but if this keeps up I'm really going to start becoming paranoid!

March 10, 2012 (A) - I notice that they caught the guy who was sending hoax letters from Portland, Oregon last November.  According to USA Today, he is a 39 year old Portland resident who wanted to
"end to corporate money and 'lobbying,'" an end to corporate "personhood" and a new constitutional convention.     

March 9, 2012 - This is a bit off topic, but it also has a direct bearing on why the Anthrax Truthers are so dedicated to preaching their nonsense.

Yesterday's Christian Science Monitor had an article about Asteroid 2012 DA14, which definitely will NOT hit the earth, but, they ask, "So why are people freaking out?"

The answer:

"One problem is that the Internet is wide open to anyone to say anything," [Don] Yeomans [ head of the Near-Earth Object Observations Program at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory] told Life's Little Mysteries. In the past, claims about asteroids were written up by scientists and submitted to peer-reviewed journals, a critical process that "would filter out nonsense," he said. "If something was published, it was reliable."

But today, hundreds of scary blurbs about the latest asteroid get written and posted to blogs and tabloid-like sites before NASA scientists can vet the claim and publish their official, less-terrifying statement regarding the asteroid's trajectory. "In the case of this asteroid, you get hundreds of hits on the Internet, and in the case of the 2012 [Mayan calendar] business, millions of hits suggesting disaster. And you get a few folks in the media and at NASA who put out the truth. But people go online and see millions about disasters and a few saying 'no disaster' and they think, well, the majority of these say I should be worried," Yeomans said.

It's the same with the Anthrax Truthers.  The Truthers are out there telling the world every day about how the government is providing wrong information, but the folks with the facts tend to just say their piece once and then go back to work.  So, depending upon how they go about it, newcomers who want to learn about the the anthrax attacks of 2001 are  likely to find a dozen screwball theories about the case on the Internet before they find any solid facts.  Plus, screwball theories often make more enjoyable and exciting reading than cold, dry facts.  So, the media will sometimes join in.

March 7, 2012 - After two days of no activity, the guy in China (see my March 4 (C) comment) was back again this morning doing the same thing: using a different IP address with every attempt to access my web site, and making lots of attempts.  The block was still in place.  So, I'm going to leave it as is.  If he wants access to my site, he's going to have to email me and explain what he's doing and why.

March 6, 2012 - I've been informed that there's a new science article about mutations in Bacillus anthracis bacteria.  It has the catchy title "
Occurrence, recognition, and reversion of spontaneous, sporulation-deficient Bacillus anthracis mutants that arise during laboratory culture," and the Anthrax Truthers will undoubtedly be poring through it looking for anything they can twist and distort to argue that the morph evidence in the Amerithrax case wasn't valid, and therefore Ivins was innocent.

March 5, 2012 (B) - Yesterday, when I installed the two pdf files showing Freedom of Information Act pictures of Bruce Ivins' office and lab, I failed to check to see if everything worked properly.  There was a glitch somewhere, and about a third of the file of lab pictures was blank.   Sorry about that.  It's been fixed.

Push button
Click on the button to the left to view 9 photographs of Bruce Ivins' lab in room B313 at Ft. Detrick obtained via a Freedom Of Information Act request, plus a description of what is seen in the photos.

Push button
Click on the button to the left to view 14 photographs of Bruce Ivins' office in Building 1425 at Ft. Detrick obtained via a Freedom Of Information Act Request, plus a description of what is seen in the photos.

March 5, 2012 (A) - The guy in China who was going through my site for two days using different IP addresses every time he looked at something stopped running his program around 6 p.m. yesterday after logging about 800 visits.  So, my block apparently worked.   I'll remove the block in a few days to see if he fixed his program, and to see if he does the same thing again.

March 4, 2012 (E) - Someone just sent me a link to a 1-minute YouTube video that I think is exceptional.  Just click HERE to view it (after the commercial).  It has to do with finding and using the right words to express what you mean.

March 4, 2012 (D) - Yesterday, an Anthrax Truther told me via my interactive blog that I haven't commented on a recent article about the Amerithrax investigation printed in Science magazine and written by David Relman, a scientist who was vice-chair in the review of the science of the case by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS).  Looking around on the Net, I can't find the article in question nor any reference to it.  So, the Anthrax Truther will once again have cause to tell me what a bad researcher I am.

Note added March 5, 2012:  The article mentioned above appears to be a book review by Dr. Relman evaluating Jeanne Guillermin's recent book "American Anthrax" but also giving Dr. Relman's own opinions about the case.

A pair of Anthrax Truthers were endlessly posting arguments on my blog last week, and I've been responding - except when one of them gets vicious and malicious, in which case I do not allow his posts to get onto the blog.  Their arguments are very repetitious and tedious.  They just endlessly distort the facts to create arguments and endlessly bring up irrelevant subjects they want to argue about.

I say there's a "mountain of evidence" against Ivins.

The Truther then suggests I claimed there is a "mountain of evidence" that Ivins dried the anthrax into a powder, and he wants to see it.

And then he claims he didn't distort what I said in order to create a straw man argument.

They're the same kinds of arguments I've been having with Anthrax Truthers since October 2001 (over 10 years!).   While it can be amusing to show how they have no facts to prove their own theories and just endlessly twist and distort the facts in the case against Ivins in futile attempts to argue that there's something wrong with the evidence against Ivins, I need to get back to work on the second draft of my book, so such idiotic arguments are going to be getting a much lower priority very soon.

March 4, 2012 (C) - Uh oh.  I'm going to start becoming paranoid pretty soon.  On Friday,  I suddenly had a spike in the number of visitors to this web site.  I got 748 visitors (up from about 500 on Thursday, and more than 5 times the number of visitors to Lew Weinstein's Anthrax Truther web site).

Checking my web site visitor report, I immediately noticed a pattern, and when I selected out the first couple dozen log entries that were part of the pattern, I saw this:

Usage Statistics for anthraxinvestigation.com
Summary Period: March 2012 - Sites

       Visits      Hostname
----------------  --------------------

       6   0.48%
       7   0.56%
       6   0.48%
       7   0.56%
       7   0.56%
       4   0.32%
       9   0.72%
       8   0.64%
      10   0.80%
       7   0.56%
       9   0.72%
       4   0.32%
       6   0.48%
      10   0.80%
       6   0.48%
       4   0.32%
       8   0.64%
       6   0.48%
       8   0.64%
       7   0.56%
       7   0.56%
       8   0.64%
       7   0.56%
      10   0.80%
       7   0.56%
       7   0.56%
       6   0.48%
       6   0.48%
       8   0.64%
       7   0.56%
       9   0.72%
       9   0.72%

Checking out that range of IP addresses, I find it belongs to: -
China Telecom
No.31,jingrong street

I needed to figure out what they (or he) are trying to do.  So, I made a copy of my web site log for Friday and stripped out all the accesses except those from the China range.  Looking at the results, it seem like it's a single person who's going through my site using a different IP addresses with every GET command as he checks links on my site.

The first GET was at 12:22 on Friday and the last was around midnight.  This morning I looked at the logs for Saturday, and he's continuing.   I had 780 visitors yesterday, probably close to 300 of them being that one guy in China.

There's no real harm being done.  It appears to be just a badly written search engine-type program that totally screws up my visitors tally and uses a LOT of bandwidth.  That's happened before.  But, when it happened before, I had to block such things, and it appears I have to block this one, too.

Looking at my logs for this morning, I see he's still continuing.  So, I had no choice but to block the range from through  If he actually looks at this web site, he'll see why.

Here's his last GET command before I blocked him: - - [04/Mar/2012:09:49:13 -0500] "GET /misc16.html HTTP/1.1" 200 119953 "http://www.anthraxinvestigation.com/page-one.html#corrections" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1)"

Here's his next GET command, ten minutes later, after I blocked him: - - [04/Mar/2012:09:59:06 -0500] "GET /washtime.html HTTP/1.1" 403 561 "http://www.anthraxinvestigation.com/page-one.html" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1)"

Code 200 means he's allowed access to my site, code 403 means he's blocked.  (I think the numbers in green are the bandwidth he used, 119,953 bytes when given access, 561 when not given access.)   Now I'll watch to see how long it takes him to notice.   (He can't follow links if he can't access the page with the links, but he can continue to check links in files he previously accessed.  However, when the link goes to something on my site, he will just get a message saying he is FORBIDDEN to access my site.)

March 4, 2012 (B) - The Kazakhstan attacker tried 6 different IP addresses again yesterday, just one day after I wrote that I'd never seen him use 6 different addresses in a single day before.

Someone sent me an email suggesting that one of the Anthrax Truthers with whom I'm arguing on my interactive blog could be the Kazakhstan attacker, or it could be one of their "suspects."   I don't think it's an Anthrax Truther since the facts indicate that the attacker does not read my web site, nor is there any reason to think it's one of their "suspects."  He appears to be trying to install more
Trojan Horse malware on my site or to do something  related to the Trojan Horse he put into my site in November 2010. 

Wikipedia says this about
Trojan Horse malware:

Trojan may allow a hacker remote access to a target computer system. Once a Trojan has been installed on a target computer system, a hacker may have access to the computer remotely and perform various operations, limited by user privileges on the target computer system and the design of the Trojan.

He could have set up some kind of hacker network using my host's computer as a hub, and after the Trojan Horse was removed, he either needs to get back in to reinstall the hub or to remove some critical leftover information that could still be there.   I dunno.   All I know is that he is unreasonably persistent.

March 4, 2012 (A) - I've completed and installed initial versions of two new PDF files showing photos that the FBI took of Bruce Ivins' office and laboratory and which I obtained via a Freedom Of Information (FOIA) request.   Each pdf file is about 1.3 million bytes, but I think they present the photos in a better way than by creating some kind of supplemental web page.

To view the pdf file showing the FOIA photos of Ivins' lab, click HERE.
To view the pdf file showing the FOIA photos of Ivins' office, click HERE.

The links are also now in the list of Key Supplemental Pages at the top of this site.

If the need should arise, there's nothing preventing me from adding additional pages to the pdf files showing other information, such as enlargements of parts of the photos in response to questions.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, February 26, 2012, thru Saturday, March 3, 2012

March 2, 2012 - I don't know if this will interest anyone, but I need to write it down in order to analyze it, so I might as well write it down and analyze it here.

On February 29, the people behind Russian/Kazakh attack upon my site changed tactics.  First, they tried 6 different IP addresses in one day.  They've never tried more than 4 in a single day before.  Second, they alternated IP addresses, first trying one number, then another, then switching back to the first.  Then they tried another pair of numbers, switching back and forth.  They've never done anything like that before.

The pattern of switching back and forth between numbers continued on March 1.  But, as I was downloading and saving my web site logs for March 1, I happened to notice something else that seemed new and unusual.   There were two single HEAD reads from unusual web sites.  Normally, HEAD reads are done by search engines.  But, yesterday, I saw the two log enties shown below in my log just before and just after a typical series of 5 HEAD reads 1 second apart from Kazakhstan:

Just before: - - [01/Mar/2012:13:56:27 -0500] "HEAD / HTTP/1.1" 200 341 "http://ninja-ninja.com/g33kpr0n/" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 6.1; en-US; rv: Gecko/20100401 Firefox/3.6.3"

Just after: - - [01/Mar/2012:14:16:39 -0500] "HEAD / HTTP/1.1" 200 341 "http://www.harleymarketing.net" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 6.1; en-US; rv: Gecko/20100401 Firefox/3.6.3"

And those were the only two times I've ever seen HEAD reads with those web site addresses in them. 

The IP address locates to Glendale, California.  Trying the web site at ninja-ninja.com results in a 404 error code.  So, it's apparently a host web site location with no web site of its own.  With the g33kpr0n suffix, the link goes to some kind of gaming site.  As far as I can tell, there is no link to my site on that gaming site. 

The IP address locates to
Mauritius, an island nation off the east coast of Africa.  And the web site harleymarketing.net seems to be a site peddling ways to make money by setting up web sites. 
Again, as far as I can tell, there is no link to my site on that site.

I have to assume that there's some kind of connection between those two sites and the guy in Kazakhstan.  It's like they were asked to try the HEAD reads to see if they worked.  (They did work.  I don't block those IP addresses.)  And, they seem to have coordinated their HEAD reads with the guy in Kazakhstan whose HEAD reads were blocked.   So, the guy in Kazakhstan would now seem to know that he is being specifically blocked.  He knows my site was operational during that time.

But, he hasn't changed tactics.  He was still trying 5 HEAD reads 1 second apart today, doing it over and over and over, beginning with the same IP addresses he last used yesterday, then switching to a new address.

What I get from this and from checking out other web site locations seen in the HEAD read log entries from Kazakhstan is that this "attack" could have something to do with Internet gaming.  But, it's also a massive operation, since the guy in Kazakhstan seems to have access to tens of thousands of IP addresses that he can use.

I'm tempted to try to notify the NSA about this.  But, if the NSA is doing their job, they should already be aware of it.

February 29, 2012 - Uh oh.  Goofed again.  I'd previously thought and written that Ivins' office #19 was in the room identified with a red "A" in the floor plan below:

Location of Ivins' office

It appeared that the blurry number could be a "19," it seemed to fit as a "19" with the other blurry numbers, and it looked more like a "19" than any other number.  

That may all be correct, but what the numbers on the floor plan look like apparently has nothing to do with how the office numbers were actually assigned. 

The FOIA photographs I obtained of the inside of Ivins' office and the hallway outside of his office didn't match room "A" on the floor plan above.  Room "A" is far too small, and the location of the door isn't right for the rest of the corridor.

I then considered the room identified with the red "B," but I couldn't make that notch in the lower right corner fit, plus the room is far too long.

This morning, I took another look at things, and BINGO!, room "C" fits perfectly with the photographs!  Having figured it out for myself, I then contacted a source who once worked at USAMRIID, and he confirmed that, in his recollection, room "C" was indeed where Ivins' office was located. 

It changes nothing of significance in the case, but I can now state with confidence where Ivins' office was located in relationship to his lab and the building's entrance. 

The question now is: Should I go back and change the other images I created where I showed room #19 to be room "A"?   I guess I don't have any choice.  But, I don't think I made any specific text comments that need to be changed. 

February 26, 2012 (E) - Once again last week, the arguments on my interactive blog proved very fruitful.  For what may be the first time, I managed to get an Anthrax Truther to explain some of his beliefs.  And, it was very illuminating.  I learned that the Truther was using Don Foster's article in Vanity Fair magazine as an authority.  He seemed totally unaware that the article resulted in a lawsuit that was eventually settled for what appears to be millions paid to Steven Hatfill, or that Foster's writings have been shown to be largely nonsense.   But, even more stunning was the revelation of why the Truther believed some of the A's and T's on the media letter were traced over: he viewed Hebrew brush-stroke calligraphy as what the writer was trying to imitate.  And, in another amazing post he indicated he believed the FBI would reinstate their $2.5 million dollar reward just to give it to him for finding out the "truth" about the case.  

That discussion is the reason I created the blog.  Who would believe such arguments ever took place if they weren't documented?

February 26, 2012 (D) - I wasted nearly a whole day last week trying to see if there was any way I could figure out who might have been behind the new series of hoax anthrax letters mailed from Portland, Oregon.  But, I got nowhere.  My best guess -- based upon the hoaxer's location, the nature of the threats, and the fact that he sent hoax letters to faux TV newsmen Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert -- is that he's a stupid college student.  Other than that, I've got nothing.

February 26, 2012 (C) - Although I don't know if anyone else is interested or not,
I find it very interesting that the Russian/Kazakh attack upon my web site continues.  Although the attacker takes a day off from time to time, he seems to try two or three different IP addresses every working day.  On Friday, he tried his 100th different IP address since I started keeping track on January 15.  His favorite times of the day for trying to get into my site are around 1 p.m. and 9 p.m. Eastern Time, which I think is 2 a.m. and 10 a.m. in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

It's a bit of a dilemma.  I've managed to block all of his recent accesses, but that means he can't see the information about how and why I'm blocking him.  If I allowed him to access my site, he'd probably try putting another "Trojan Horse" in it instead of looking around to see if I wrote anything about blocking accesses from the IP addresses he uses.  So, he mindlessly persists at trying, like he's either obsessed or under orders.

February 26, 2012 (B) - I attempted to contact former Senator Russ Feingold to ask what he meant when he wrote this about the anthrax attacks of 2001 in his new book:

 "We may never know who really committed this crime." 

So far, I've received no response.

However, someone responded to a post I put on an interactive blog on Feingold's web site.  The response was:

Since the man conveniently committed suicide before there was a trial, we don't know that he was the anthrax attacker.  Innocent until proven guilty

Ah!  Is that why Feingold wrote what he wrote?  Was it just muddled thinking?  I tried to explain on that same blog that court trials don't tell us what we know.  They just tell us whether or not there is enough evidence to convince a jury to convict someone.

If a person is shot dead while robbing a bank, does that mean he's innocent because he was never tried and convicted in a court of law?  Should the FBI continue to look for the bank robber?  Don't we have enough facts to know the dead man was guilty?

When O.J. Simpson was acquitted of murder charges at his trial, does that mean he was "innocent" of the crime, or does it just mean there wasn't sufficient evidence to convince that particular jury that he was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt?

Some of us know things because of what the facts say and from personal experiences.  Others "know" things because it's what they firmly believe.  A trial (or an investigation of the investigation) would hopefully make more people aware of all the facts found in the Amerithrax investigation, but it would still be up to each individual to determine if he knows who did it because of what the facts say or if he just believes something because it's fits with what he thinks about the government, society and his fellow man.

Since the blogger on Russ Feingold's used the phrase "conveniently committed suicide," I have to assume that she was probably not voicing Russ Feingold's opinion for him.  So, we may never know why Russ Feingold wrote what he wrote.   Giving him the benefit of a doubt, it was probably just a result of an ignorance of the facts.

February 26, 2012 (A) - While working on my federal income taxes last week, I uncovered a problem with my payments from Amazon.com.  The people at Amazon are working on resolving the problem.  While I was waiting, I found I had some time to start work on the second draft of my book. 

After revising the 2-page "Introduction," I decided to figure out how to create the .pdf files I figured I'll eventually need.  (When you self-publish, PDF files are what you send to the printing company that actually prints and does the binding for the book.)  The software program I used for my 2005 book stopped working when my computer crashed in 2007 and I had to buy a new computer.  The self-publishing software had controls which prevented me from using it on my new computer.  And, the company that sold the software was no longer in business and not answering emails.  So, I needed to find another way to create .pdf files. 

There are many different ways to create .pdf files.  I'm told that it's a feature that comes with the 2010 edition of Microsoft WORD.  But, I use the 2003 version of WORD.   Some software packages available on the Internet are free, some cost from $200 to $500 or more.  I finally downloaded a free version and tested it.   I found it could do everything I need to do except produce .pdf pages that are in 6x9 book format.  There are about 3 dozen paper-size options (11x17, 22x36 in., 24x108 in., etc., A2, A3, etc., ARCH A, ARCH B, etc., B1 (JIS), B2 (JIS), etc., ISO A0, ISO A1, etc., ledger, legal, letter, tabloid, etc.).  I don't yet know what they all mean, but I don't see any 6x9 book option, nor do I see any way of manually configuing new paper-size options.

Then, after wasting a lot of time on it, I realized that it's not an immediate problem.  I plan to try to get a regular publisher interested in my new book first.  If all goes well in that effort, I won't need the .pdf file creation software.   Secondly, there's no reason to create the .pdf files until I've completed the "final" draft.  So, it's certainly not a problem I have to solve immediately.

But my research into creating .pdf files led me back into another uncompleted project I've talked about in previous comments on this web page.

I'm still trying to figure out the best way to show readers of this web site the Freedom Of Information Act photographs I obtained of Ivins' office and laboratory.  The problem is that creating a supplemental web page that shows 15 or so pictures of his lab means that every time someone accesses the page they'll be downloading 15 pictures plus the text, thus generating 16 separate line entries on my web site log and a LOT of bandwidth.  Bandwidth is how I'm billed for visitor accesses to my site.  PLUS, there would be about 14 more pictures plus text (and lots more bandwidth) for the web page about pictures of Ivins' office.  And, all those pictures would end up in Google's image search feature, which means a lot of people will be accessing them just to see what they represent.

Then it occurred to me that I could create a .pdf file with the photos and text.  I haven't fully thought through the pluses and minuses for that option, but I created a 2-page test .pdf file that contains 6 photos and uses 671,744 bytes.  (By itself, the full size version of the first photo displayed in the file uses 581,632 bytes.)   It looks like I need a 5- or 6-page .pdf file to display and analyze what was in Bruce Ivins' lab.

What the 2-page test .pdf file shows are the problems having to do with fitting text into a page that also includes photos.  It's a basic editing problem (and a big self-publishing problem).  Where do I fit the text, and where do I fit the photos?  If I write one text line too many, a photo could drop to the next page and leave a large blank space on the first page.   In the test file, one extra line of text anywhere on page 1 or 2 would cause the caption for photo #4A  on page 2 to move to page 3.  And, if that large photo of the Emerson radio drops to page 3, I would have a lot of blank space to fill with text on page 2.  I've got the feeling I'll probably create 100 versions of the entire file before I'm satisfied.  Even then, it will be as Michaelangelo once said: "An artist doesn't finish his work, he abandons it."

But, I really like the way the .pdf file shows the photos and the text together.  It'll probably be the method I finally use to show my analysis of the lab photos (with another .pdf file showing my analysis of the photos of Ivins' office).

It's also clear I need to create a floor plan diagram as part of the analysis, with the location of each major piece of equipment in Ivins' lab shown on the diagram.  I'll also need such a diagram for my book.  So, that's going to be my next project while waiting for the Amazon income tax problem to be solved.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, February 19, 2012, thru Saturday, February 25, 2012

February 21, 2012 - There seems no end to the ways Anthrax Truthers will distort the facts or blow things out of proportion to argue their beliefs.  Former Senator Russ Feingold's new book out today titled "While America Sleeps" contains a single sentence on page 49 which the Anthrax Truthers have leapt upon as somehow supporting their cause.  The sentence is about the anthrax attacks of 2001:

“We may never know who really committed this terrible crime.”

Feingold doesn't offer up any suggestions.  He just says on page 48 that when al Qaeda claimed they weren't behind the attacks, "the mystery of who did it and why began.  In many ways it continues till this day."

Is Russ Feingold ignorant of the facts, or doesn't he believe the facts?  The Anthrax Truthers suggest Feingold doesn't believe the facts.  But, it seems far more likely that Russ Feingold is simply ignorant of the facts.  Most people are.

February 19, 2012 - The arguments on my interactive blog proved very fruitful last week.  When
"Anonymous" corrected me on my error in thinking that the 08852 ZIP code on the senate letters was for the place where Ivins' father's ancestors were born, the discussion ended up in making the real facts a lot more clear to me. 

"Anonymous" pointed out that Ivins' distant ancestors on his father's side came from Monmouthshire, Wales.  So, that's yet another connection between "Monmouth" and Bruce Ivins and the Kappa Kappa Gamma (KKG) sorority:

1.  Monmouth College is where the KKG sorority was founded.

2.  Monmouth, Illinois, is where Monmouth College was located.

3.  Monmouth, NJ, is where an August 26, 1986 letter in Ivins' possession said his father's relatives were born.  (Today, there is no place with that name.)

4.  Monmouthshire, Wales, is where Ivins' father's ancestors came from before they settled in New Jersey.

5.  Monmouth Junction, NJ, has the ZIP code 08852 used in the return address on the senate anthrax letters.   

A blogger with a different theory about who sent the anthrax letters argued that it means nothing because there's also a town called Monmouth in Oregon.   However, to him, nothing means anything if it doesn't fully agree with his firm beliefs about the person who he believes sent the anthrax letters.  In psychology, that's called "denial."

Denial (also called abnegation) is a defense mechanism postulated by Sigmund Freud, in which a person is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite what may be overwhelming evidence.

Something else worth mentioning came up last week in the same long argument on my blog.  Why did Ivins used "Franklin Park, NJ" as the town in the return address on the senate letters?  Ivins didn't seem to do anything without deliberation and consideration.   In the return address on the senate letters, everything has been explained except the town name he used.  Here's the return address on the senate letters:


"4TH GRADE" and "GREENDALE SCHOOL" appear to be related to a lawsuit regarding corporal punishment of a child that was mentioned in an American Family Association magazine to which Ivins subscribed and to which he donated money.  The lawsuit was about a 4th grader at a Greendale School in Wisconsin.

The ZIP code, 08852, is for Monmouth Junction, NJ, and places named "Monmouth" had a very special meaning to Ivins.

But, what about Franklin Park?  Ivins wouldn't have used that town's name if he hadn't thought about it first and decided it was the right name to use.   Why was it "right?"

No one can be totally certain of exactly what was in Ivins' mind, but in the discussion on my blog something occurred to me, and Google Maps confirmed it:

Frederick to Newark via Princeton

On the Google map above, "A" is Frederick, Maryland, "B" is Princeton, "C" is Franklin Park, and "D" is Newark, New Jersey.

Franklin Park is only 5 miles from Monmouth Junction, but Monmouth Junction is off the main road (the Lincoln Highway) which goes through Princeton and Franklin Park.  (On the map above, the location of Monmouth Junction is identified by a red dot.)

It appears that Ivins used Franklin Park in the return address because
he planned to mail the anthrax letters in Franklin Park.  It was as close as he figured he could get to Newark in the time he had to make the drive in the middle of the night.  Newark was where United Airlines' 93 originated on 9/11, and the wording in the letters clearly showed that Ivins wanted the anthrax-filled letters to be blamed on  Muslim terrorists connected to 9/11.

However, it appears that while driving through Princeton and viewing the KKG offices on his way to Franklin Park, Ivins evidently either spent too much time on his obsessions, or he simply decided he'd driven far enough.  So, he mailed the letters in Princeton, instead.  (He had no way to know that spores from the letters would be found in the Princeton mailbox, pinpointing the exact place where the letters were mailed.)

Those facts also seem to suggest that Ivins may have planned to put the return address on the media letters, but, for some reason, he decided against it at the last moment.  The child doing the writing may have screwed up the return address on the first envelope in some way, possibly by writing it far too big, which would have made it clear that a child was doing the writing, not an Muslim terrorist who wasn't accustomed to writing in English.  So, Ivins asked the child to write only the destination addresses.  For the second mailing, because it seemed like all of the letters in the first mailing were simply thrown away without reading and Ivins didn't know why, he made certain the return address was included on the envelopes to the two senators and written properly small.

The pieces certainly seem to fit perfectly.  Anthrax Truthers will undoubtedly dismiss it as speculation, but, in reality, it's an hypothesis that perfectly explains all the facts.   

The Anthrax Truthers, on the other hand, have no better facts, only beliefs, and as I had to point out to them once again, they don't agree with each other about who did it.

Meanwhile, I'm still waiting for some reaction to my finding that the Emerson radio seen in photos of Ivins' lab could have been a "nanny cam" wireless TV spy camera that he used to spy on his female co-workers. 

I don't expect the FBI to call me to tell me what they learned.  I know that's not how things work.  If the radio was a nanny cam, it's evidence of a crime (taking unauthorized pictures and violating privacy rights) and cannot be discussed with outsiders. 

However, if the radio was NOT a "nanny cam," then it's not evidence and it can be discussed.  So, hearing nothing from the FBI or from all the reporters who are also aware of the finding tends to indicate it was a nanny cam.  Most reporters seem only interested in writing about new information which might suggest that Ivins was innocent.  New information about Bruce Ivins' criminal activities seem of absolutely NO interest to them.   On the other hand, if I was wrong, some reporter might want to show me that I was wrong, but none have done so.

The emails I received from readers of this web site were 100% in agreement that the Emerson radio/CD player was most likely the" nanny cam" version.  And, it's certainly another hypothesis that seems to fit all the facts.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, February 12, 2012, thru Saturday, February 18, 2012

February 14, 2012 (B) - While I was working out at the health club this afternoon, I suddenly realized that I probably made another mistake: Yesterday, when I speculated on what might have happened to the possible spy TV camera that Ivins may have put into his lab, I wrote:

Of course, it could have been turned over to his family,

Would they do that with a CD-player that had been sitting in a BSL-3 lab for months or years?  They'd certainly have to sterilize it first.  But, how does one sterilize a CD-player that could have anthrax spores inside it, particularly behind the speaker grid or in the speaker material?  I would tend to think that once you take a CD-player/AM&FM radio into a BSL-3 lab, it's there to stay, until it leaves in a autoclave bag headed for the incinerator.   And, I would think that the CD-player feature probably wasn't even used, since it requires taking CDs into a BSL-3 lab.  So, it's very likely that only the AM/FM radio feature was used. (In the picture of it in Ivins' lab, the antenna is fully extended, another clue that the radio was the feature they used.)

And, that seems to make it even more likely that the radio/spy camera is still in suite B3.

February 14, 2012 (A) - Reminding me that even a broken clock is right twice a day, on my interactive forum an Anthrax Truther pointed out to me that item #14 in the "Case Against Dr. Ivins" section at the top of this web site was incorrect.  I've corrected it.  It previously said (with the error highlighted in red):

14. He had various connections to the New Jersey area where the anthrax letters were mailed. The ZIP Code used in the return address on the senate letters was 08852. It belongs to Monmouth Junction, NJ, where Ivins' family on his father's side came from. Plus, Monmouth College in Monmouth, IL, is where the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority (an obsession of Ivins') was founded.

It now says (with the change highlighted in red):

14.  He had various connections to the New Jersey area where the anthrax letters were mailed.  The ZIP Code used in the return address on the senate letters was 08852.  It belongs to Monmouth Junction, NJ.  Ivins' ancestors on his father's side came from an area then known as Monmouth, NJ., although it's unclear why it was known as such.  Plus, Monmouth College in Monmouth, IL, is where the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority (an obsession of Ivins') was founded.

Ivins' father's ancestors did NOT come from Monmouth Junction, NJ.   They came from a very different area that was known at "Monmouth, NJ" centuries ago, although no one seems to be sure why it had that name.  Current geneological information on the Internet indicates that the area was in Mansfield Township in Burlington County, NJ. 

So, the point is: Ivins had a lot of connections to the name "Monmouth" and, according to page 130 of the EBAP report, Ivins probably used the ZIP code because of connections he saw between "Monmouth, N.J" as shown on documents he had and the KKG sorority which was founded at Monmouth College, Monmouth, IL.

I always appreciate it when people point out errors on this web site.  I try to make it as accurate as possible.

February 13, 2012 (B) - Discussions about yesterday's possible nanny cam discovery made me wonder when the photos were taken.  The photos of Ivins' office,  the hallway outside his office and his lockers are accompanied by a list showing the date they were taken: July 12, 2008.  So, they're from the search done after Ivins made his threats at his July 9, 2008 group therapy session to kill his co-workers.

But, the photos of Ivins' lab seem different.  The resolution is very different.  When were they taken?  There doesn't seem to be any paperwork in the photo collection providing a date.  So, using my 15 years of photo analysis experience, I looked for clues in the photos themselves.   In the photo of the Revco freezer and the laboratory glassware washer that I posted on Sunday, there's an "Aqua Solutions" calendar strip pasted to the front of the freezer.  But, enlarging it doesn't show the year clearly enough:

Calendar in Ivins' lab

However, it can be seen that February and March both begin on a Thursday.  When did that last happen?  In 2007.  The time before that was in 2001, when there was no reason to be taking pictures in Ivins' lab.  So, unless the calendar was still there in 2008, it seemed very likely that the photos were taken during the November 1-2, 2007 search. 

Later in the day, I noticed that it says "11/ 2 Fri" and "1:37" on a clock/temperature feature on the front of the biosafety cabinet, which confirms the pictures were from the Nov. 1-2, 2007 search:

Clock on biosafety cabinet

So, since Ivins had very limited access to his lab after November 1, 2007, there's a definite possibility that the CD player is still there.   Of course, it could have been turned over to his family, or it could have stopped working and got thrown out.  Hopefully, someday we'll find out one way or the other. 

February 13, 2012 (A) - I awoke this morning thinking about some implications of yesterday's  possible nanny cam discovery that hadn't previously occurred to me:  If it truly is/was a nanny cam, it says a lot about security at Ft. Detrick, and it says even more about the kind of risks Ivins would take to feed his obsessions.  It's one thing to break into a KKG sorority house in the middle of the night, it's something else entirely to bring spy equipment into a secure government facility. 

If it was a spy camera, should the FBI have realized it was a spy camera?  Maybe, but I can see how they wouldn't.  It was in a secure facility, everything was supposed to be checked by the Army when it was brought into the facility, and the FBI wasn't looking for spy cameras.  I only made the discovery by chance.  I just wanted to verify what the object was so I could describe it on this site.  I enlarged the image and was able to make out the "Emerson" name.  And, when I did Google image searches to check if it was an Emerson radio or a CD player, I found the nanny cam manufacturing site.

I don't consider the FBI to be omniscient.  That's why, when it comes to such things, if you see something you should tell someone.   

February 12, 2012 (B) - Okay.  I just found something in a photo of Ivins' lab that I wonder if the FBI noticed.  I was looking over this photo of equipment inside Ivins' lab:

Ivins lab radio

It's a photo of stuff along the wall opposite the door as you enter room B313.  The Emerson CD player atop the antique flask and bottle washer in the lower right corner of the photo above can also be seen at the far left in the photo below from PBS Frontline's site:

Ivins lab and Emerson Radio

I thought it was interesting that the Sorvall 5B centrifuge next to the flask washer in the first photo is an obsolete model (and there's a second centrifuge just like it on the other side of the rack with the black storage bins), and the Labconco flask washer seems to be beyond obsolete.  But, what really blew my mind was the Emerson CD player & AM/FM radio.  Looking it up on the Internet, I found that it is also sold as a nanny cam wireless spy camera
Nanny Cam
It's certainly possible that it's nothing more than an incredible coincidence, and the one in Ivins' lab may be nothing more than a plain Emerson CD player & AM/FM radio.  But, under the circumstances I nearly have to assume that Ivins put it there to spy on his co-workers and/or on the FBI agents looking over the lab and photographing it.  The nanny cam device comes with a receiver and the transmitter transmits as far as 2000 feet, which means Ivins could easily have watched things from his office and possibly even from home.  It has no audio capability, so he couldn't listen to anything.

I seriously doubt that the FBI would try to get Ivins to use such a nanny cam device so they could spy on him, or that they'd leave it there when taking photos of the room.  Ivins is known to have purchased spy equipment, and it would totally fit his character to put such a spy device in his lab to watch his female assistants.  But, I don't recall any mention in any FBI report of a $299 nanny cam that he used in his lab.  Maybe I'll send the FBI or DOJ an email to see if they have any comment.

Hmm.  The web site that sells the nanny cam says their office is in a neighborhood on the east side of Cincinnati.  And, Cincinnati just "coincidentally" happens to be where Ivins went to college.

February 12, 2012 (A) - On Thursday, I finished the first draft of my new book.  It's 405 pages, 50 chapters, 137,000 words with 27 illustrations.  Here's what it looks like in a binder:

First draft of my new book

The 405 pages are printed as 9x6 book pages, not as manuscript pages, and it doesn't yet include the Notes & References section nor any index.  For some unremembered reason, instead of writing it in manuscript form, I wrote it as if it were going to be type-set for the professional printing of the finished book.  That means it's single spaced and uses a font called Garamond.  In manuscript form, which would be double spaced and use the Courier font, it would be about 700 pages and unable to fit into a single binder.

Before starting the second draft, I've got other things to do -- including my 2010 federal and state taxes.  One of the other things I have to do is study some new pictures.

On Thursday I received a response to my FOIA request to the FBI for the images they gave to PBS Frontline (see my January 31 (C) comment).   I was sent 52 very large images, and they require a lot of careful study.  A general description of the pictures:

8 photographs of documents
16 views of the interior of Ivins' office
4 views of the hallway outside Ivins' office
8 views of Ivins' lockers
10 views of Ivins' lab in room B313
2 views of the lyophilizer in Suite B5
4 views of flask RMR-1029

I haven't had the time to fully study them, but the images I've examined so far are fascinating and filled with minor puzzles.  Here's the shot of Ivins' office that PBS Frontline made public (the image is 616x346 pixels with a resolution of 72 dpi):

Ivins office

The original is 2999x1958 pixels with a resolution of 2116 dpi.   Below is a slightly different (but also greatly reduced in size) view of a corner of Ivins' desk and the other desk to the left of Ivins' desk:
Ivins' desk view 2

Obviously, it was taken at a different time, since all the clutter on the desk beneath the clock wasn't there in the first shot.  (And the time on the clock is 6½ hours later.)  Plus, the stuffed animals are positioned differently.  It looks like the trash on the desk could be the contents of a waste paper basket that were removed for examination.

Below is the kind of detail you can see in the full size image.  Those appear to be stuffed rat toys above the photo of the puddy tat.

Ivins' stuff

I can't find any photos of rats with long furry tails anywhere on the Internet, so they may be some other kind of rodent.  It's one of the puzzles.

Ivins'  rat toys

The other photos of Ivins' office show that, as you enter the office, one assistant's desk would be to your left (between a group of filing cabinets and the wall that has the door) and another assistant's desk would be to your right (between the printer and the door).  And Ivins' L-shaped desk was at the far end of the room.

The photos of Ivins' lab in room B313 were taken in a similar manner, with several shots of the biosafety cabinet and then other shots looking around the room.   They not only show what was in the lab, but also what the lab did NOT have:  The lab had no windows except the one in the door.  It had only one biosafety cabinet (but it was big enough for two people to comfortably use it to work together).

Here's a shot from the PBS Frontline web site that shows the far end of Ivins' lab:

Ivins' lab

I had wondered what that shiny metal surface was that blocks the right side of the image and obstructs the view of the cabinets that line the far wall.  Below is a new image received from the FBI showing the same metal surface (note how much distance there must be between the metal box and the wall of cabinets, since there is a Revco freezer there) :

Ivins lab - toward the door

I had to ask a microbiologist what that large, plain metal box could be next to the Revco freezer.  She stated with total certainty that it is a laboratory glassware washer/sterilizer.  I have no reason to dispute that, and, unfortunately, there are no photos of the front of the machine to verify what it is.  The glassware washer appears to have been positioned so that the doors won't block the center of the room when open, or (more likely) so that its longest side is against the wall.  You can see in the other picture that it already protrudes into the center of the room enough to block one's view of much of the cabinet at the far end.

If the metal box is a glassware washer/sterilizer, the doors open in the direction of the biosafety cabinet which can be seen at the far right in the picture above.

The photo seems to have been taken with a wide angle lens, which makes it look like there are only a few inches between the glassware washer and the biosafety cabinet, when in reality it's probably over six feet.  Compare it to the picture below:

Ivins in his lab

The picture above says that the door and many other objects in the above picture are all hidden by the glassware washer as seen in the picture that shows the glassware washer.

I need to figure out how to best use and present these and the other pictures on this web site.  It doesn't make much sense to just comment on them and have the comment drop off the main page in four weeks to become part of the massive comment history file.  I think I'll have to create a separate supplementary web page for photos of Ivins' office and another supplemental page for photos of Ivins' lab.  And, I suppose I'll have to provide a way to compare the shots to floor plans.  That's all going to take a lot of time.  And, I probably should at least start it before starting work on the second draft of my book, since the process will help me get a better feel for Ivins office and his lab.  The information could be of considerable use in the second draft.  And some of the pictures could end up in the book.

Meanwhile, I've been in a heated argument with an Anthrax Truther on my interactive blog.  In one post, the Truther even explained his theory of why the FBI and DOJ are falsely accusing Ivins of the anthrax murders instead of the person who he believes did it.  It's not a conspiracy, he says, it's just
"organizational entropy and group think."  I've pointed out to him how unlikely that is in a situation where the whole world is watching, where countless people are fighting to uncover inside information, and where the lives of thousands could be at stake if the findings are wrong and the killer kills again.  But, clearly there's no way to change his mind.  He knows who did it, and that means the FBI must be wrong.   He expects the facts to become known in 5 to 10 years.  I can hardly wait.

And, of course, the other Anthrax Truther posting as "Anonymous" has similar beliefs.  He has said elsewhere, "
Amerithrax represents the greatest failure in intelligence analysis in the history of the United States."  They both agree that the FBI screwed up.  And neither talks about conspiracies.  But, do they agree on who really did it?  Of course not.  They have very different theories about that.  One truly believes it was a Muslim, the other indicates he truly believes it was someone "
whose native writing system is the Hebrew alphabet."

Updates & Changes: Sunday, February 5, 2012, thru Saturday, February 11, 2012

February 10, 2012 (B) - It's kind of eerie, and it almost seems like it cannot be a mere coincidence, but yesterday Slate magazine published an article explaining why scientists now often pay to have their work published.   I was wondering about it, and Presto! the next day a scientist sends me a new article thoroughly explaining it.   The article says:

A journal article serves many purposes. One of them is to make money for publishers. Scientists and other academics publish in scholarly journals as a credentialing mechanism and, secondarily, to tell people about their work. Journals used to be crucial for both of these reasons, but in a world where academics could just post a paper up on their own websites, the primary purpose of a journal article is its professional validation. That’s why it makes some sense that the authors of a journal article should pay for the privilege of that validation, via peer review, rather than readers paying for the privilege of reading.

Okay.  It makes sense.  But, it seems to also have inherent dangers, the nonsense article by Martin Hugh-Jones et al in Bioterrorism & Biodefense being a very visible and current example.  The Slate article describes some of the various dangers.  It also says that  peer-reviewers do not get paid.  Okay.  But who qualifies as a peer reviewer?  And, if conspiracy theorists want an article "peer reviewed," doesn't that imply that it's going to be "peer reviewed" by other conspiracy theorists?

But, it's not my problem.  It's just another interesting aspect to this whole subject.

February 10, 2012 (A) - While I was shaving this morning, something occurred to me.  So, after breakfast I checked to see what the FBI/DOJ Summary Report actually says about the handwriting.  The report has no opinions from forensic handwriting experts, it merely refers to statements from witnesses who knew Bruce Ivins and their memories of his handwriting:

The witness said that this was the type of writing Dr. Ivins used when he disguised his handwriting as part of a joke. [...]  The witness stated that these letters also reminded the witness of when Dr. Ivins disguised his handwriting as a joke.

If one accepts that the facts clearly say the handwriting on the anthrax letters and envelopes is that of a child just entering first grade, then one might also wonder if the handwriting Ivins used on "
a number of packages and cards over the course of several years in the late 1990s and early 2000s" wasn't the handwriting of other children from his wife's day care center.  If it worked once, it can work again and again.

February 9, 2012 - In an email I received this morning, someone pointed out a couple things about my February 7 (A) comment regarding a letter to the editors of the journal Bioterrorism & Biodefense

First of all, he pointed out that it is fairly common for scientists to pay to have their articles published.  I've been told this before, but always by people arguing in support of the Hugh-Jones et al article.   This morning's email did not support the Hugh-Jones et al article.  So, I'll stop emphasizing the paid-to-print angle.  Evidently, 
it's quite possible that Battelle or some Battelle client paid to have that letter to the editor published.

Secondly, it was pointed out to me that there's a very interesting point made in the middle of the letter, so it's not as "boring" as I indicated.  (I was busy with my book and probably not paying sufficient attention.)  The interesting point:

Because the samples analyzed for particle size were not autoclaved, the concern expressed by Hugh-Jones et al. that the powders analyzed may not have been “in pristine condition” should be dismissed. The particle size analyses reported [3] by Battelle to the FBI effectively demonstrated that powder samples of an accepted surrogate for B. anthracis (B. atrophaeus, formerly B. subtilis var. niger and B. globigii) produced at 1 g scale by simple means and without any additives exhibited particle size and dispersability quite similar to those of the anthrax powder samples provided by the FBI. This is also the conclusion reached by the National Academy of Sciences Committee in its review of this work [4].

In other words, Battelle's particle size analysis showed that 1 gram quantities of spore powders like those in the anthrax letters could be created by "simple means and without any additives" and they would exhibit all the characteristics of the attack powders.  And, that conclusion was also reached by the NAS.   (The Hugh-Jones et al article is filled with nonsense about tin and silicon additives in the attack powders.)

The Summary of the NAS report says on page 8 (page 6 in some versions):

Surrogate preparations of B.anthracis did reproduce physical characteristics (purity,
spore concentration, dispersibility) of the letter samples, but did not reproduce the large
amount of silicon found in the coats of letter sample spores. (Finding 4.4)

And on page 12 (page 10 in some versions) it says:

No substances were added to the spores after production to make them more dispersible (i.e., there was no "weaponization" of the spore material).

So, in spite of the mistaken beliefs of Professor Martin Hugh-Jones, Dr. Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, Dr. Stuart Jacobsen and Ivins' supporters at USAMRIID and elsewhere, it has been scientifically proved in numerous ways that the spores in the anthrax letters did NOT require any sophisticated process to create, and they were NOT weaponized.

I've been saying this for about ten years, but it's worth saying again.

February 7, 2012 (C) - I've been having a heated debate with Richard Rowley and "Anonymous" (a.k.a. "DXer" from Lew Weinstein's blog) on my interactive blog.  "Anonymous" got upset because I moderated his posts and didn't allow all of his preachings to get posted.  So, he sent Mr. Rowley and I this email:

given his selective and misleading editing, I've created a parallel webpage with the posts before his snips where his mistakes, never corrected, are pointed out 
It will be complete as to his posts but include the items he deletes and misrepresents.
So, we're going to have a blog or web page dedicated to pointing out my errors?   Wow!  Just what the world needs!!!   Someone should alert the media!

Ah!  He just sent Mr. Rowley and I another email that says only:

Ed's posts on the mirrored page will be moderated

Of course.  But, why would I post to a "mirror page?"  I can't say I won't, but at this point in time it doesn't make much sense to do so.  And, I don't see much sense to even talk about it.  Let him do his own advertising.    

February 7, 2012 (B) - It's definitely off-topic, but it involves conspiracy theorists, so if you're interested you might check out
an article someone just sent me from PCWorld titled "Google Pulls 'Atlantis' From Google Earth."   

February 7, 2012 (A) - Someone just sent me a copy of a Letter to the Editor of Bioterrorism & Biodefense.  It's about the infamous October 2011 article that Professor Martin Hugh-Jones, Dr. Barbara Hatch Rosenberg and Dr. Stuart Jacobsen paid $916 to have published in that journal.  The author of the letter to the editor is a scientist from Battelle Memorial Institute who corrects certain errors made in the article, mostly resulting from Hugh-Jones et al citing incorrect media reports:

Specifically, that review included an incorrect representation of work performed by Battelle Memorial Institute in support of the FBI’s investigation of the Amerithrax crimes. It is recognized that the erroneous representation contained in the review first appeared in the lay press; however, due to the then active status of the Amerithrax investigation and because Battelle takes seriously our obligation to protect information deemed sensitive by our clients, Battelle did not respond when the errors were first published.

The actual errors are kind of complicated and kind of boring, but the point of the letter is interesting.  It's stated in the final paragraph:

In closing, it may be worthwhile to note that published works that do not have the benefit of a scientific peer review process may be subject to conjecture, resulting in the publication of content that has not been verified. Reliance upon such works for the development of consequential technical theories can yield results that are incorrect.

In other words, don't base scientific conclusions upon unverified nonsense printed in the "lay press."  To me, that seems like a reasonable recommendation.

February 6, 2012 (B) - Grumble grumble.  Of course, as soon as I quoted from the Aug. 6, 2008 press briefing, an Anthrax Truther sent me an email quoting something else said in the briefing.   Shortly after the start of the briefing, US Attorney Jeff Taylor lists six different items pointing to Ivins as the culprit.  The second item is the one that the Anthrax Truthers seem to believe says more than what it really says:

Second, as a renowned expert in the production and purification of anthrax spores, Dr. Ivins was one of a handful of scientists with the capability to create spores of the concentration and purity used in the attacks. The affidavits allege that, not only did Dr. Ivins create and maintain the spore batch used in the mailings, but he also had access to and experience using a lyophilizer. A lyophilizer is a sophisticated machine that is used to dry pathogens, and can be used to dry anthrax. We know others in Dr. Ivins’ lab consulted him when they needed to use this machine. 

Nowhere in that paragraph does it say anything about Ivins using the lyophilizer to dry the powders used in the anthrax attacks, but the Anthrax Truthers believe it does.  If it's not expressly stated, they believe it's implied.  No, it is NOT implied.  What is stated is that Ivins had knowledge of drying materials using a lyophilizer.  He taught others how to dry materials using the lyophilizer.  He knew how to dry materials such as spores.  In legal terms, that say he had the means to make the powders.  What's not mentioned, unfortunately, is that Ivins lied about his knowledge of the lyophilizer.  And, that appears to be the main reason the subject of the lyophilizer comes up.  The lyophilizer was just one of the ways Ivins could have dried the spores. 

Later, Taylor uses those exact words:

And then furthermore, as the investigation continues, we learn -- we can exclude others. We learn about the lyophilizer and his expertise in using that and how that could have been used to dry those spores.

The DOJ and FBI cannot state which way was "most likely" used.  "Most likely" means nothing in court.  Experts could testify that Ivins could have dried the spores in various ways.  It seems highly unlikely, but it's certainly possible that freeze drying in the lyophilizer could have been the method used.  And, the FBI/DOJ has evidence that Ivins lied about his ability to use the machine.  Period.  That's all that was being said.  No implications.  Just facts.

In the Roundtable discussion twelve days after the August 6 briefing, this was said by Dr. Vahid Majidi:

DR. MAJIDI:  You know we really -- we really don't have the -- we don't really have any answers for what process was used to grow additional spores or what methodology was used to dry them.  I think that a lot of folks focus on the issue of lyophilizer.  You can ask any of the folks and the panel members, and they will tell you that you can dry biological samples in one of dozens of ways. lyophilizer is one of them.  You can let the samples heat-dry.  You can let the samples -- the water evaporate.   You can -- 

The problem was: Many different drying methods can produce exactly the same results.  That means it's next to impossible to determine to a scientific certainty exactly which way was used to dry the attack spores.  Ivins had the means to dry the spores.  That is all that is necessary to prove in court.

February 6, 2012 (A) - Yesterday afternoon, I was working on my new book, and I wrote that the FBI considered the handwriting evidence to be "inconclusive."  It's what I've been saying on my blog and elsewhere for months.  But, yesterday, because it was going into my book, I needed to find the exact quote.   Uh oh.  Couldn't find it. 

What I found, however, said the same thing without ever using the word "inconclusive."  On the Department of Justice's web site there is a transcript of an August 6, 2008, press briefing by US Attorney Jeff Taylor and others.  In the briefing, a reporter asks a question about the handwriting, and the exchange went this way:

QUESTION: Jeff, did you find any handwriting samples or hair samples that would have matched Dr. Ivins to the envelopes where the hair samples were found in the mailbox?

MR. TAYLOR: We did not find any handwriting analysis or hair samples in the mailbox. So there were no facts and circumstances of that part.

QUESTION: You didn't take handwriting samples from Dr. Ivins?

MR. TAYLOR: We examined handwriting samples but then there was no comparison made or a specific identification of the handwriting. It appears that when the analysts would look at it, that there was an attempt to disguise the handwriting. So it was unable to make a comparison.

With respect to handwriting samples, we did have indications from individuals with whom we spoke that there appeared to be some similarities in handwriting that were apparent. That said, we did not have a scientifically valid conclusion that we thought would lead us to be able to admit that in evidence.

So, the handwriting evidence was inconclusive not "inconclusive."  No quotes.  And, some additional research found this on page 89 of the FBI/DOJ Summary Report:

In addition, a witness who had received a number of packages and cards over the course of several years in the late 1990s and early 2000s was shown copies of the letters and envelopes used in the anthrax attacks. The witness thought that the handwriting on the envelope addressed to Senator Daschle reminded the witness of Dr. Ivins’s writing. If the witness were to receive a package with that writing on it, the witness would think of Dr. Ivins. The witness noted that, in particular, the style of the block letters with alternating heights stood out, as did the slant of the writing. The witness said that this was the type of writing Dr. Ivins used when he disguised his handwriting as part of a joke. As the witness studied the letters, the witness noted that the “E” and the “R” in the letter to the New York Post also looked familiar. The witness stated that these letters also reminded the witness of when Dr. Ivins disguised his handwriting as a joke. The witness described this “disguised” handwriting as being similar to Dr. Ivins’s standard handwriting, and that one could tell that he was trying to disguise his handwriting to a limited extent. Another witness familiar with the handwriting of Dr. Ivins in many contexts said the same thing.

So, the FBI/DOJ also had non-experts who could testify that the handwriting looked like what Ivins used when he was playing "jokes."  But, those non-experts were apparently also convinced that Ivins was the anthrax mailer.  So, they could be seeing what they wanted to see - - or, more accurately, remembering what they wanted to remember.  And, so-called "experts" who believed the handwriting was that of a Muslim terrorist could also see indications that the writing was that of someone who normally wrote in Arabic.  In other words, the Amerithrax handwriting evidence as viewed by the FBI and the Department of Justice is all very inconclusive -- no quotes.

But, for me, it's all very conclusive.  And you can quote that.

February 5, 2012 - The arguments I was having on my interactive blog appear to have totally stopped after I turned it into a moderated forum, which requires that I review every post before it will appear on the blog.  The decrease in activity has allowed me to make some significant progress on my new book.   Yesterday, I finished Chapter 48 of the first draft, taking me through page 382, through Ivins' suicide and through the immediate aftermath when the news broke that Bruce Ivins, the man who was about to be indicted for the anthrax attacks of 2001, had committed suicide.

While doing research last week, I noticed some interesting, conflicting information in the Frederick Police Department report about Ivins' suicide that I hadn't noticed or paid much attention to before.   Uncovering conflicting information is common when doing research, since a lot of public information is really just guesses and recollections.   But, it might be worthwhile here to point out some of the conflicting information that appears in the police report in order to illustrate how a researcher, analyst or historian needs to sift through it all to make decisions about what really happened:

At the top of page 1, the Frederick Police Department report gives Ivins' wife's name as Mary Diana Ivins, and refers to her as "Mary" for many pages afterward, yet virtually every news report refers to her as "Diane."   Mary Diane Ivins appears to be officially correct, although she evidently prefers to be called "Diane."  The detective preparing the police report evidently simply mis-heard the name.  To err is human.

On page 4 it says, "No pills were missing from any of his medications."  On page 6 it says that all of Ivins' prescription medicines were accounted for "except for the one celexa pill that Bruce took earlier."  On page 8 it says, "Officer R. Pierce counted out pills with M. Ivins, and they both discovered all pills were present and accounted for."  At the bottom of page 11 and top of page 12 it lists the medicines they checked, and it says,

1)Depakote ER 500mg, 07/24/2008, a total count of 28 pills, and all pills were present.
2)Citalopram 20 mg, refilled on 07/24/2008, a total count of 14 pills and all pills were present.
3) Seroquel 100mg, refilled on 07/24/2008, a total of 14 pills, and 1 pill was missing.

Seroquel is used to treat symptoms of schizophrenia.  Citalopram is also known as Celexa, and there were no missing Citalopram pills.

So, did someone erroneously assume Seroquel was the chemical name for Celexa?   I'll just leave it as one of the "mysteries" that really doesn't matter to the case.

On page 7, the Medical Examiner's report says, "D. Frye did not observe any hand written messages written on B. Ivins' legs as previously reported."  On page 19 it says, "Faint writing left leg (medial) - undiscernibly in blue ink."
  Ivins had apparently written something in pen on his leg as he sat in the bathroom just before passing out.  It could have been anything from "I'm sorry" or "I sent the anthrax letters" to "Do not resuscitate."  It will be another mystery that cannot be solved.

There's also a lot of false information about Ivins dying from taking Tylenol combined with codeine, starting with the report on page 5 which says, "Toxicology showed high levels of Tylenol with Codeine in B. Ivins' system."  At the bottom of page 7 it says Mary Ivins reported that he had taken Valium mixed with alcohol.  On page 12 it says "doctors at Frederick Memorial hospital told M. Ivins her husband had overdosed on a large amount of Tylenol and Valium."  Numerous times, Diane Ivins is stated as having guessed that Ivins took an overdose of sleeping pills and alcohol.  On page 20 under the heading "Laboratory Results" it says this about a blood sample taken at 3:05 a.m, a little over an hour after Ivins arrived at the hospital:

1.None of the following drugs were detected in Bruce Ivins system- Phencylcidine, Cannabinoid, Amphetamine, Cocaine, Opiates, or Alcohol.

2.However, Benzodiazapine test results were positive for being present in Bruce Ivins system.  [Benzodiazapine is the active ingredient in Valium.]

Another test report later in the day showed:

1.Lab test results for 07/27/08-0305 hrs showed a result of 196.1 [ug/mL] positive for Acetaminophen.  Normal ranges are between 10-30 ug/mL [micrograms per milliliter].

So, Ivins apparently took Tylenol and Valium washed down with orange soda and/or grape juice, but no alcohol.  And no codeine, which is an opiate.   No mystery left here.  It's not a mystery that, in a time of stress, people were guessing wrong about what Ivins had taken.

On page 15, FPD officer Loumis Alston writes "Detective Levin and I were able to find two purchases of Tylenol PM.  One purchase occurred on  07/24/08 @ 12:31 pm, the other purchase occurred on 07/24/08 pm @ 1:21 pm."  On page 16 it seems to say that Ivins only made one purchase of Tylenol: "The purchases  occurring at 12:31 pm and  1:21 pm was narrowed down to the 12:31pm purchase being made by B. Ivins.  The receipt shows a seventy count of Tylenol PM, Welch's grape juice, orange juice, 2% fat milk and wheat bread purchased at 12:31 pm."  Only one empty bottle of Tylenol PM was found in Ivins' trash.  No mystery, just an unclear bit of writing in the police report.

On page 18, the police report says, "Patient also had several large sores on his body, which appeared to be large blisters."  But, on page 20 it says, "There was also pressure marks on his buttocks area corresponding to toilet seat pressure and also a pressure mark on his left elbow."  So, what looked like "large sores" to one person were viewed as "pressure marks" by a more experienced eye.  No mystery.

Page 20 says that Ivins' previous suicide attempt was in April 2008, but the police report on page 10 says it was on March 19, 2008.  March 19 is correct.  No mystery.  

On page 12 it says,

BLS/ALS crews transported Bruce Ivins to Frederick Memorial Hospital for treatment.  M. Ivins followed ambulance 18 to FMH, but took a minor diversion while en route.  M. Ivins felt her neighbor was following her to the hospital, and in an effort to protect B. Ivins privacy, she turned on to Tollhouse Ave to divert attention away from her husband. M. Ivins advised she diverted for approximately 10 seconds, and then went to the hospital.

Checking an Internet source, I found that BLS means "Basic Life Support" and ALS means "Advanced Life Support."   Apparently, the ambulance was either both BLS and ALS  (unlikely) or the police weren't precise about which it was.  No mystery.

Toll House Avenue is a half block from the front entrance to the hospital, and it actually runs between parking lots for the hospital, although Mrs. Ivins turned in the opposite direction.  That's kind of an odd place to try a diversion. 

MapQuest shows the satellite view below with the purple line being the route from Ivins' home to the hospital (probably the main entrance).  The ambulance probably went to an entrance by the helicopter pad:

Frederick Memorial Hospital

Page 43 of
FBI pdf file #847572 says (with un-redacted information in green):

1:45A  BRUCE IVINS arrives at Frederick Memorial Hospital Emergency Services Department via ambulance.

1:46A   Blue Civic driven by Diane Ivins makes left turn off of 7th St circa shopping center containing CVS, Bank of America, and Starbucks.

1:50A  Diane Ivins arrives at Frederick Memorial Hospital - enters the same carrying what appears to be a paperback book.

So, Mrs. Ivins says the diversion took 10 seconds, but the FBI report records it as 4 minutes.  Diane Ivins may have made a turn away from the hospital on Toll House Ave., stopped, then did a U-turn and continued to one of the hospital's parking lots. 

The fact that the FBI observed her both making the turn and arriving at FMH seems to indicate that the FBI got to the hospital before Mrs. Ivins, so they weren't in the car she thought was following her.  And where was the police car in the parade?  Best guess: (1) ambulance, (2) the FBI, (3) the police, (4) Mrs. Ivins.  That would seemingly agree with the statement on page 6 of the police report which says, "Once Bruce was taken from the residence by ambulance, Mary and I went through all the medications for her and Bruce and none were missing, except one celexa pill Bruce took earlier."  

Mrs. Ivins and the police were still in the Ivins home when the ambulance left, yet they arrived at 7th and Toll House Ave. barely a minute apart.  So, the police and Mrs. Ivins appear to have left almost immediately after the ambulance, with Mrs. Ivins leaving after the police.  Does the order in "the parade" make any difference?  Probably not.  Maybe Diane Ivins drove into the shopping center to see if the Starbucks was open, and it wasn't (10 seconds).  Or, maybe she stopped in the CVS pharmacy and bought a book (4 minutes).  She supposedly brought a paperback book with her as she entered the hospital, so she was prepared to wait for a long time.  If there's any mystery, it isn't much of a mystery.   There are just vague inconsistencies.

My main point in all this is that anyone citing the official police report could be totally wrong about many things, since there are many conflicting statements in the report.  It takes a careful analysis to figure out exactly what was going on, and even then there are matters which are far from being totally clear. 

I don't expect the police or doctors or FBI agents or DOJ lawyers to be 100% correct in everything they do or write.  I expect them to do their best and try to be accurate, but I also expect errors - both minor and major.  As an analyst and historian, it's my job to figure out what is "most likely" correct.  (Reporters could have tried that instead of spouting nonsense about an error in a document in the Stevens vs USA lawsuit.)

Meanwhile, there was news last week that, four months ago, a female university professor in Pakistan sent an envelope containing anthrax spores to the Pakistani Prime Minister.  No one was harmed.  But, the Lunatic Fringe seems to believe the case connects to the anthrax attacks of 2001 until proved otherwise to their satisfaction.

And, this is the kind of wild, scary declarations I expect from True Believers who have absolutely no concern whatsoever for the facts:

Amerithrax represents the greatest failure in intelligence analysis in the history of the United States.

Eric Holder is the Attorney General and Robert Mueller is the FBI Director. The buck stops with them.

If the course is not corrected and the case is not reopened, this will be their legacy.

If Mr. Holder rues politics, wait until he sees the politics that goes on after the next 9/11.

Who but a True Believer would declare that, if there is another horrific terrorist attack 10 or more years after the attacks of 2001, it will mean that the federal investigators failed to identify the right people responsible for the 2001 anthrax attacks?

Meanwhile, the Russian/Kazakh attack on this web site continues.  I augmented my web page about it to include a list of IP addresses in the order they've been used, and I created a second list in numerical order.  The "attackers" appear to have tried 46 different IP addresses during January.
  And, since there were no repeats, someone at their end must be keeping track of what IP addresses they have recently tried.     

Updates & Changes: Sunday, January 29, 2012, thru Saturday, February 4, 2012

February 1, 2012 (D) - Hmm.  As I was doing some research this afternoon, I stumbled across a full copy of the Report of the Expert Behavioral Analysis Panel.  It's evidently been available since last March, when AUSA Rachel Leiber got it released.  It's redacted in the same way as the version I obtained at that time, but I've never been able to provide a link to the complete report before.  I would just link to the 30 page "Executive Summary".  If you recall, there was a big stink back then from Anthrax Truthers grumbling over the fact that the panel was selling copies via a vanity press publisher, even though the report was government funded.  Now, instead of paying $41.73, you can get it for free. :-)

February 1, 2012 (C) - I haven't exactly been waiting anxiously to see the new movie "Contagion," but I was curious about it.  I rented it from Redbox yesterday.  It's a pretty good okay movie that shows what could happen if a mutated virus got loose that kills quickly and no known vaccine or anti-viral medicine can stop it.  The movie is very methodical as it steps through all the work that is done to find a vaccine and manufacture it while millions continue to die, including some of the CDC and health workers trying to stop its spread.  My biggest complaint (just above there being too many characters) would be about the "conspiracy theorist" played by Jude Law who works to make a profit from the outbreak.  I just couldn't match the motives and actions of the guy in the movie to any of the dozens of conspiracy theorists I've known and talked with.  My feeling is that if there were ever a real situation like the one depicted in "Contagion," conspiracy theorists would be an even greater threat than they are in the movie as they try to convince people to NOT take the vaccine because of a belief in some new imagined government plot. 

February 1, 2012 (B) - Yesterday, I was so fascinated by the photographs PBS released via their web site on Monday that I neglected to mention the bogus statement they made:

As part of our reporting, we filed more than 30 FOIA requests and recently received a CD from the FBI with a number of rarely seen photos of Ivins’ lab, including the machine the FBI claims he used to make the deadly attack anthrax powder.

As far as I know, the FBI never claimed that Ivins used the lyophilizer to make the attack powders.  The FBI just claimed he lied about knowing how to use it. 
However, in a document filed in the Stevens vs USA lawsuit, lawyers for the Department of Justice erroneously implied Ivins used the lyophilizer to make the powders.  But, that error was quickly corrected.   PBS knows that.  So, the false statement I quoted above seems deliberate, unless it's just another human error like the one the DOJ lawyers made.

I'm going to try to obtain a copy of the CD for myself.  The photos of Ivins' lab and office fascinate me.  They help me visualize what was going on.  And, I have to wonder if there are other photos on the CD that are even more interesting.

February 1, 2012 (A) - I don't know if anyone is interested, but someone just sent me an article from the science journal Nature which says there have been resignations over the publication of the controversial HIV-AIDS article I commented about on January 10, 2012.

January 31, 2012 (C) - Someone just provided a link to a PBS Frontline web page which contains 7 interesting new photos which may never have been seen before.  The list below is out of order because the photos are not shown in numerical order on  the PBS site:

Ivins' office

#1 - Ivins office and desk.  Two others shared the office, and they also had desks and computers.  It's difficult to figure the exact layout and whose desk is where.  However, Ivins' desk can be presumed to be the one with the chair.  Note that the chair appears to have a head rest. 

Ivins locker #10 in room B301

#2 - Ivins' locker #10 in Room B301.  It's the locker in the corner.   The lockers look like they're left over from WWII.

Part of room B313?

#4 - Part of Room B313?  The caption says it's "Suite B3," but it's obviously a room, and it's probably the side of room B313 that was farthest from the door.  I wonder what the metalic surface that occupies the entire right edge of the photo is.

Looking into Room B313?

#3 - Looking into Room B313?  The caption says it's "A window into the secured BLS-3 hot suite lab."  It appears to be the door into Room B313 with the biosafety cabinet clearly visible.   It's in  the correct location in relationship to the door as seen in a different photograph taken years earlier.

The lyophilizer

#6 - The lyophizer.   Supposedly, it's a picture of the lyophilizer kept in Suite B5.  That seems to be a closet for laboratory scrubs to the left of the lyophilizer.   Pink for women, blue for men?

Page from Ivins' notebook

#7 - Notebook page.  The caption says it's a photo of a page from one of Ivins' notebooks where he mentions the lyophilizer.   It appears to be a "Statement of Need" in which Ivins lays out four reasons why they need the lyophilizer.

Flask RMR-1029

#5 - Flask RMR-1029.  Another shot of flask RMR-1029.  But, it doesn't show any of the material that was in it.  In September 2004 it may have been just some dried crud covering the bottom, or the flask may have been totally empty.  It's also possible that the flask is covered with a sheet of some kind of protective plastic to preserve it as evidence.

Interesting stuff, particularly photos #1, #3 and #4.  For comparison to photo #3, below is an old photo of Ivins in his lab, showing the biosafety cabinet from a different angle:

Bruce Ivins in his lab

Photos #3, #4 and the one above really show the cramped conditions within the Room B313.

January 31, 2012 (B) - Someone just sent me a VERY interesting science article titled "
Contradictions Don't Deter Conspiracy Theorists" with these opening paragraphs:

Did Princess Diana fake her own death to escape the public eye? Or was she killed by a rogue element of the British secret service?

If you agree with one of these theories, there's a good chance you'll subscribe to both even though one suggests Princess Diana is alive, the other dead, a new study indicates.

And here's the central idea:

The central idea — that authorities are engaged in massive deceptions intended to further their malevolent goals — supports any individual theory, to the point that theorists can endorse contradictory ones, according to the team.

It's certainly true when looking at conspiracy theorists as a group.  I've argued with conspiracy theorists who believe that super-smart people in the U.S. government were behind the attacks, and  I've argued with conspiracy theorists who believe the U.S. government is too dumb to realize that Muslims sent the anthrax letters.

I've also argued this week with an Anthrax Truther who claims I should have accepted without question what the FBI said about a person who was investigated in 2001, and then he also accuses me of accepting without question whatever the FBI says - particularly about Bruce Ivins.   From my point of view, neither claim is true.

The consiracy theorists certainly have contradictory beliefs about circumstantial evidence.  If it support their beliefs, then circumstantial evidence is solid evidence, if the circumstantial evidence disputes their beliefs, it's not any kind evidence at all.

The problem with finding specific examples where an individual conspiracy theorist has contradictory beliefs (like those described in the new article) is that they are usually very reluctant to discuss their specific beliefs.  They only want to discuss what they DO NOT believe.  They do not believe the government.  And, that usually means they'll agree with their fellow Truthers who argue totally contradictory theories, because they all agree on one part of the theory: the government is wrong. 

January 31, 2012 (A) - It appears I misunderstood some of the Google software settings on my interactive blog.  Richard Rowley had to post a message to Dr. Meryl Nass's blog to tell me that he couldn't post to my blog, even though he's a member.  So, I've changed the settings again.  Now - if I've set things properly - anyone can post, but all posts are moderated, which means I'll be looking them over before they'll appear.

January 30, 2012 - Hmm again.  That same person who posts as "Anonymous" to my blog just sent me an email that says,
You need to stop saying I am threatening you.

This is your final warning.
I guess I need to do some research on the difference between a threat and a warning.

January 29, 2012 (E) - Hmm.  I've just been threatened by an anonymous poster on my interactive blog.  He wrote:

Just because the internet technically makes it possible for you to ... type words about an important national security matter, doesn't mean you should. ...

I am going to make sure you don't succeed in trying to rewrite history

However, it doesn't appear to be a threat of violence.  He also wrote,

your incredibly stupid views are part of the public record and will be quoted back every time you try to misrepresent them.

So, because he was threatening to be malicious in the way he posts to the forum, I had to change the site settings.  Now, only people whose email addresses I put into a list can post to the forum.  Too bad, I'd hoped to get some more interesting discussions going.  It might still be possible, but only time will tell.

Maybe it's a good thing.  I need to focus on my new book, anyway.

January 29, 2012 (D) - In my email inbox this morning I found a link to a science article titled "How the craziest f#@!ing 'Theory of Everything' got published and promoted."  It's very reminiscent of the nonsense article about the anthrax attacks that was published in the Journal of Bioterrorism & Biodefense back in October 2011.  Somehow, this new article was also "peer reviewed," and somehow others also thought that the fact that it was "peer reviewed" meant that it had to be taken seriously.  Evidently, it's time to repeat the addage: There is no idea so preposterous that you can't find an expert with perfect credentials to support it.  And, it now also appears that there won't be much difficulty in finding experts to positively "peer review" the preposterous idea.

It's difficult to be philosophical about this.  It's extremely difficult to argue facts and science when total nut cases case can cite respected experts who agree with them.

January 29, 2012 (C) - While I was studying 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta's handwriting last week, I mentioned that the Y's on his Pilot Profile form didn't match the Y's in the anthrax letters.  Then, I took a closer look at the anthrax letters and noticed something I hadn't noticed before: the peculiar way the anthrax letter writer drew his Y's.   There are only 5 examples, three on the New York Post envelope (New York Post, New York, NY) and two on the Tom Brokaw envelope (New York, NY):

How anthrax writer drew Y's

What grabbed my attention were the little blobs (a.k.a. "pause marks") in the center of the Y's, where the lines connect.  They indicate that the writer paused, keeping the pen on the paper, while he checked to see what character he had to write next.  So, he was almost certainly copying the addresses from someplace else.  But, that was already clear from the other pause marks.

However, what's very odd is that Y #1 seems to show that the writer first drew the long line that goes from top right to bottom, and then he drew the left side of the Y to where it meets the other line.  Y #2, however, seems to have been done the opposite way.  The long line starts at upper left and goes to the bottom, and then the right side of the Y is drawn.  But, it also looks like the writer could have drawn THREE lines to make the Y.  Neither of the top lines seems to connect perfectly to the vertical bottom line.  Y #3 seems more clearly to have been drawn by starting at top left and continuing to the bottom.  But, Y #4 seems to go back to the first way again OR once again the writer used three line strokes to make the Y.  And Y #5 seems to be similar to #2 and #3.  However, if a professional forensic examination of the actual writing on the envelopes showed that all five examples involved the drawing of three separate line strokes to make each Y, I wouldn't be a bit surprised.

It seems truly odd that the writer appears to have drawn the Y in "New York Post" starting on the right and then draw the Y in "New York" starting on the left.  And, who but a child would draw a Y using three strokes?   Anyway you look at it, it again seems to be the writing of child who hadn't yet learned to write confidently and smoothly.   And, it is certainly unlike any handwriting by any 9/11 terrorist.

Something else about my handwriting analysis occurred to me last week during an argument on my interactive blog:  When talking about creating hypotheses, experts always make it clear that a good hypothesis can be used to make predictions.  Without realizing it, I made a prediction when I developed my hypothesis that a child wrote the anthrax lettersI predicted that the anthrax mailer would have access to a six-year-old child.  At the time I formulated the hypothesis in 2002 and 2003, the person who I thought was "most likely" the anthrax mailer was a scientist who lived in New Jersey and who had no known access to young children.  He was either a bachelor or a divorced man with grown children.  To make handwriting hypothesis fit, I rationalized that he must have had some access to a six-year-old that I just couldn't find.  But, my hypothesis was predicting that I was wrong about who most likely did it.  It was a stunning discovery to me when Bruce Ivins was named the anthrax killer and it turned out his wife ran a day care center in their home at the time of the mailings.

January 29, 2012 (B) - I know it's entirely off-topic, but I need to mention that Stephen Colbert had me rolling on the floor with laughter several times last week on "The Colbert Report," first during his interview with former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, then with his two part interview with Maurice Sendak, the author of the children's book "Where The Wild Things Are."  The problem with pointing to any of Colbert's classic bits, however, is that, if you don't know Colbert or watch his TV show, you might think he's serious when he talks like a nit-wit ultra-Republican.  Some people just don't "get" satire.  

January 29, 2012 (A) - I wasted a lot of time last week in discussions on my interactive blog.   But, I always find it fascinating when Anthrax Truthers argue against their own logic.  In one thread, a Truther posting as "Anonymous" berated me because I didn't totally accept the FBI's vague statements that a scientist they were looking at in late 2001 was not the anthrax mailer.  "Anonymous" argued that I should have accepted the FBI's statements (and the scientist's claims of innocence) and I should have stopped mentioning the scientist.  But, of course, "Anonymous" has been arguing for ten years that Muslims were behind the attacks, even though the FBI said they weren't, and "Anonymous" continues arguing the same theory even though the FBI says that Bruce Ivins did it.  So, he doesn't follow the rules he wants me to follow.  Also, "Anonymous" and other Anthrax Truthers have been berating me for years for "blindly accepting" everything the FBI says.  But, when I didn't accept that the former Battelle scientist had been cleared when the FBI said he was "not the focus of our investigation" and "not officially ruled out," they berated me for continuing to think the scientist could have been involved and not accepting their interpretation of what the FBI said.

There were also several "new" screwball theories from the Anthrax Truthers last week.  I haven't bothered to study their theories in detail, but they appear to be arguing that, because the 9/11 hijackers used a Mail Boxes Etc. store in Laurel, MD, that's where they must have purchased the envelopes used in the anthrax attacks.  And, they must have made the copies of the letters at a Kinkos and probably also used a paper cutter there to trim off the edges of the letters.  (In reality, the cut edges seem to be very irregular.)  And, they have been posting comment after comment after comment after comment on Lew Weinstein's site (and one on mine) about a  "particulate mixer" being delivered somewhere near where some 9/11 terrorists were when they purchased their airline tickets for 9/11.  On my blog "Anonymous" seems to refer to the same machine as a "fine powdered mixer":

Ed perhaps can agree that a fine powdered mixer was delivered to the block where Atta and Nawaf Al-Hazmi was making final preparations for 9/11 in Fort Lee. Ed perhaps can agree that he does not know where the fine particulate mixer was taken.

And I responded:

I can't agree or disagree with something that is so totally irrelevant. Unless some solid relevance can be shown, the subject of a "fine powdered mixer" is meaningless. The FACTS say the media powder wasn't a "fine powder," it was 90 percent dried [slime]. The photos show it to be chunks of dried [slime]. So, it's ridiculous to suggest that the media powder was created using some kind of "fine powdered mixer."

One frequent tactic being used by the Anthrax Truthers is to be very vague about what they are actually claiming, so that if you try to figure out what they are claiming, they can argue that it is YOU who are wrong and not them.  And, their claims nearly always involve "circumstantial evidence" far far more vague and flimsy than anything the FBI ever used to point to Bruce Ivins as the anthrax mailer.   That's another favorite tactic of the Truthers: If it is circumstantial evidence produced by the FBI, they claim it isn't really evidence.   But, if it is circumstantial evidence the Truthers found, then it is solid and only someone with a "closed mind" wouldn't accept it as "proof."

Meanwhile, the Russian/Kazakh attack continues.   And, I managed to get a couple chapters done on the first draft of my book, taking me through Chapter 45 and page 359.  Chronologically, I'm in July 11, 2008, when Ivins was in a mental hospital after telling his counselors and the patients in his group therapy session that he planned to murder his co-workers at USAMRIID.  The current plan is that there'll be a chapter about Ivins' suicide, a chapter or two about reactions to the news that Ivins was the anthrax mailer, and a chapter titled "Leftover Evidence" about the handwriting evidence and a few other things.  So, it looks like I'll end up with 50 chapters and about 400 pages.  Finishing the first draft is vaguely "in sight," but it's still not possible to predict an actual time of completion.  In the past, things I thought were take only one chapter ended up requiring three chapters to explain.  Plus, I just cannot resist wasting time by arguing with Anthrax Truthers.  It's something I enjoy too much.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, January 22, 2012, thru Saturday, January 28, 2012

January 27, 2012 - Just when it seemed like no one was going to be writing any more news articles about the anthrax attacks of 2001, today The Washington Post published an article titled "Justice Dept. takes on itself in probe of 2001 anthrax attacks."  It's basically just a rehash of all the McClatchy/ProPublica nonsense printed back in July of 2011, when it turned out that Justice Department lawyers arguing in the Stevens vs USA lawsuit mistated a few things about the case.  As a result, McClatchy newspapers and others jumped all over it, declaring the government was arguing with itself.  And now, a "reporter" from the Washington Post has re-discovered it.  Plus, he rehashes the old, old debate over the government's investigation of Steven Hatfill, ignoring the role the media (and specifically The Washington Post) played in that fiasco.

Who does the Post quote in support of their "story"?  They quote conspiracy theorist Dr. Meryl Nass, Maureen Stevens' lawyer Richard Schuler, Bruce Ivins' lawer Paul Kemp, Bruce Ivins' friends
William Russell Byrne and Gerard P. Andrews, and some law professor who had nothing to do with the case but who makes quotable comments.  The article says this about Byrne and Andrews:

Prosecutors and FBI officials disputed the contentions of the two scientists, saying in interviews that they were biased because they supervised Ivins and could have missed signs of his guilt. Though Byrne and Andrews were listed as government witnesses in the civil case, officials said they would never have been certified by a judge as experts under the stricter rules in the criminal system, which does not allow speculation.

Right.   Byrne and Andrews were speculating, and the FBI had solid facts showing that their speculation had little to do with reality.  And the errors made in the Stevens' case were just mistakes.  But, The Washington Post rehashes it all anyway.

It must be a very slow news day.

January 25, 2012 - Some Anthrax Truthers have evidently concluded that 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta wrote the anthrax letters, in spite of the fact that the evidence clearly says otherwise.  When examining Atta's handwriting, one very unusual trait of his that is NOT in the anthrax letters is the unusual way Atta drew the number one.   Here are some samples from "Pilot Profile" forms Atta filled out on July 31, 2000 and September 18, 2000 ( boxed in red):
Mohamed Atta's handwriting - drawing 1's

Notice how his 1's look like droopy 7's.  If it wasn't for the European way he draws 7's with the horizontal bar, the first date would look like 7-37-2000.  And his birth date would appear to be 09.07.7968, if that wasn't obviously wrong.  The prefix on his phone number would almost certainly be interpreted to be 947.  And his address (not shown) would be interpreted as 576 W. Laurel Rd. instead of 516. 

It's also important to note that Atta wrote those 1's as a single stroke, first going up and then down, which is totally different from the anthrax letter writer's method of drawing 1's with THREE separate strokes.  (Images of all the anthrax letters and envelopes can be found on the original front page for this web site.)

When comparing Atta's handwriting to another writing sample, any expert would look for such unusual and fairly unique characteristics.   The writing of the number 9 as a continuous loop and his open 4's would be other unique characteristics.
   And, both are very different from the writing on the anthrax letters and envelopes.

I find it incredible that Anthrax Truthers can be arguing that the anthrax handwriting matches that of Mohamed Atta ten years after the attacks.  It should have been clear in an instant the first time they were compared that they do NOT match.

January 23, 2012 (B) - Hmm.  There were seven emails in my inbox when I came home from the health club this afternoon.  They were all from two of the three Anthrax Truthers who have been posting to my blog.  One said only:

gentle people - there is no purpose in posting on Ed Lake's blog because he is an asshole

That really amuses me.  It confirms that when Anthrax Truthers are confronted with arguments they cannot challenge, they resort to name calling.  What else can they do?  They have no facts to argue with.

Another email complained that I did not post Mohamed Atta's visa application beside the anthrax letters
on this web site and make a comparison.  I didn't think it was necessary, since an Anthrax Truther did that HERE, and I wrote a comment on the blog about how the G's don't match, the 4's don't match, and the Y's don't match.  I could also have pointed out that the M's don't match, the E's are drawn with two strokes instead of 4, the N's are drawn with two strokes instead of 3, the R's are more Catholic style than public school style, and when he uses serifs on his 1's, he only uses the top serif.  So, why would anyone think that there was any reasonable possibility that Atta wrote the anthrax letters?  The M's, E's, 4's and 1's should be enough to convince any expert (or non-expert) that Atta didn't write the anthrax letters.  And, of course, Mohamed Atta was DEAD for a week at the time of the first mailing, and DEAD for a month at the time of the second mailing, and the facts say that the writer learned a lot about writing between the sending of the first and second letters.  How much can a dead man learn?  And, there are indications that the second mailing was sent because the first was ignored.  How would a dead man know his first mailing was ignored?

The Truther who did the mathematical equation "confirming" that Atta wrote the letters says in an email he didn't "assume" that Atta did it.  He says, "The letter was purportedly from Atta."  Who did the purporting?  Another anthrax truther, of course.  The mathemetician just assumed that the Truther was right when he did his calculations.  So, technically, he was assuming that the Truther was right about Atta writing the letters, he wasn't assuming that Atta wrote the letters.   I stand corrected.

January 23, 2012 (A) - Wow.  My interactive blog has never been so busy.  And it's doing what I want it to do: It's recording some of the most bizarre thinking anyone could ever come up with.   If I claimed someone made such arguments, most people would never believe me.  But, the blog is proof.  For example, in this week's thread, there's this:

The chance Ivins would pick a first grader who would come as close or better to matching Atta's known sources is low. I would estimate less than .0001 at least.

How many first graders would you have to go through for them to generate an equal or higher match measure to Atta? Maybe a 1 million is not enough.

Same with Ivins disguising his writing to randomly equal or exceed the match measure to Atta.

So we conclude Atta was the source over these competing hypotheses.

And this was despite the fact that it is VERY clear that 9/11 terrorist Mohamed Atta's handwriting does not match the writing on the letters and envelopes.   The writer used a mathematical formula to come to his conclusion!   Check it out.   It appears to begin with the assumption that Atta wrote the letter and then calculates the odds that Ivins could write or find someone who writes exactly like Atta.

And in the thread from three weeks ago,  last night someone added this comment :

For all we know OTHER dailies received letters (but no one got sick and the letters were discarded without notice). For all we know CNN in Atlanta might have received a letter that was discarded without incident.

You are judging by (mere) surface things. (Nearly) always a mistake.

So, looking at the facts is (nearly) always a mistake?  And, isn't the trail of anthrax spores through the various post offices evidence that no anthrax letter passed through any Atlanta post office?  Or, is that evidence just another "(mere) surface thing"?

And, in last week's thread, this afternoon a different Anthrax Truther posted this:

Ed, you are a moron with absolute no understanding of the real world or the use of experts in prosecutions.

But, of course, he didn't explain exactly where I was wrong and exactly what he believed to be true.  Instead, he just made general statements that did not appear to address the issue at all.   The issue was a situation where the prosecution uses conflicting expert witnesses to show that the prosecution's own evidence is "inconclusive."

January 22, 2012 (B) - One reason for endlessly arguing with Anthrax Truthers is that, in the process of trying to find new ways to counter their repeated arguments, sometimes I come up with something new that seems devastating to their cause.  I think an example of that came up in my interactive blog this morning. 

The argument was still about the handwriting on the letters.  In the blog thread for this week, I argued things one way:

I don't have time to dig into it, but you can probably find an expert who has a totally different opinion about the anthrax handwriting than another expert.

You will undoubtedly pick the expert who supports your beliefs, but I will just say that it only means that handwriting analysis is an art NOT a science. Therefore, we need to determine if the "expert" began with any biases. And we need to compare one "expert's" opinion to another to see which makes the most sense. And that means it becomes my opinion versus your opinion, and we're never going to agree.

So, my analysis stands until it is proved wrong.

But, in the blog thread from last week I argued things in a slightly different way:

Why can't you understand? The FBI's analysis of the handwriting is INCONCLUSIVE. That means they have experts who disagree with each other.

So, all you're doing is looking for some "expert" who seems to agree with YOU, so you can say you are right.

When experts disagree, taking the side of the "expert" who agrees with your personal opinion is RIDICULOUS. The facts are saying that they can all be wrong! 

I love it!  Why didn't I come up with that argument years ago?  I probably I did, but I just didn't express it the same way.  I've repeatedly told Anthrax Truthers that they are just siding with the "expert" who agrees with them and ignoring all other experts who have solid facts.  But that was usually about science and scientists who disagreed with the evidence or who believed "the government" was hiding the real evidence.

But, handwriting analysis is usually not about solid facts.  Handwriting analysis is NOT a science.  It's an ART.  The FBI has many handwriting experts, and they evidently cannot agree about the handwriting, so the FBI says the handwriting evidence is "inconclusive."

The Anthrax Truther wants to find an expert who agrees with him.  But, when experts disagree, that means they can all be wrong.

And, of course, if all the "experts" are wrong, that could mean I'm right.  :-)

January 22, 2012 (A) - I allowed myself to get into a series of debates with Anthrax Truthers last week.  Most of it was just a waste of time, but some of it was mildly productive.   The most productive discussion was the one where it was pointed out to me that Bruce Ivins examined the anthrax powder in the Daschle letter by doing serial dilutions, plating the results and counting colonies.  Yet, he evidently failed to notice any morphs.  Why?  Terry Abshire noticed them.  And, she appears to have had far less experience with anthrax than Ivins.

Of course, Abshire only noticed them after she'd unintentionally allowed some colonies to sit and grow for longer than normal.   For me, that brought up the question: What is the size of a colony that is formed from a single spore and allowed to grow overnight?  To find out, I first checked "The Story of Suzy the Spore."  Yup, it's there in the last panel.  A colony that is allowed to grow for 24 hours is "2 to 5 millimeters in diameter."  However, rather than rely on myself as the authority, I checked my Suzy sources.  The source was the
Eiko Yabuuchi paper.  It says:

Under aerobic condition, dull and off-white colonies >3.0 mm in diameter with fluffy edges appeared on TSA plate after 20 hr incubation at 30 C. 

Different anthrax strains could grow at different rates, I suppose, but it's good enough data to work with in this situation.  It means that after just 24 hours, the colonies were not the nickel or dime-size colonies used to illustrate how the various morphs looked.   They were colonies ranging from between the diameter of the head of a pin to the diameter of a pencil.  That would make it more difficult to notice the differences Terry Abshire saw between normal colonies (a.k.a. "Wild Type") and morph colonies.

morphs vs Wild Type anthrax

But, I still find it very interesting that Ivins not only failed to notice the billions of morphs in his creation - flask RMR-1029 - but he was absolutely certain it was virtually free of morphs.  If he did notice them, he must have considered them to be "normal" colony variations.  And he was absolutely certain that morphological variants were caused by passaging.

His confidence in his own superior knowledge of anthrax was the cause of his downfall.  But, that's what I wrote about last Sunday, so I'm repeating myself somewhat. 

Interestingly, one of the arguments I had last week was with a microbiologist & Anthrax Truther who thought she spotted an error in the way the FBI Repository collected evidence.  On January 10, on Lew Weinstein's site, she wrote this about the subpoena the FBI sent out to collect samples for their repository:

Also note that by following the instructions to incubate the slants for 12 to 18 hours after transfer to assure viability, what is actually being submitted is an actively-growing SUBCULTURE of the original material requested.

Wrong, Wrong, Wrong!!! 

For over a week, I wondered what she was talking about.  Why was the required method of sending samples to the FBI Repository wrong -- in her opinion?  Of course, no one on Weinstein's site asked her.  Anthrax Truthers there mostly just preach their unproved beliefs without ever being challenged.  No Anthrax Truther seems to care what another Anthrax Truther believes.  Each one only cares about what he or she believes.  And each believes only he or she knows the real truth, and the FBI is wrong.  So, that's what they preach.  But, last week that same Anthrax Truther/microbiologist sent me an email in which she said the same thing she'd posted to Weinstein's site on the 10th.  When I asked her what she was talking about, she explained:

A proper protocol for submission of FLASK RMR-1029 SPORE MATERIAL to ensure the sample is representative and to minimize variation between samples would be AN ALIQUOT OF THE LIQUID SPORE MATERIAL! (DUH!)

Well, obviously she had no understanding of why the FBI sent out the subpoena asking for TSA slants to be made from every available sample of the Ames strain in every lab which had the Ames strain.  She ignored all that investigation stuff.   She just jumped straight to what the FBI should have done after they spent years finding the source of the attack powders.  They should have taken "an aliquot of the liquid spore material," instead of using a slant.  And, apparently, she believed the same should have been done with all the other 1,000+ samples.  Her bizarre assumption must have been that all the other 1,000+ samples were also flasks of liquid material.  I explained to her that many samples were slants, dried crusts on the bottom of beakers, frozen bacteria, and dried agar plates.  She apparently saw the error of her ways, since he told me she didn't want to talk about it with me anymore, since she was a microbiologist and I am not.

Meanwhile, two different Truthers calling themselves "Anonymous" were arguing with me about other things in the Jan. 15 and Jan. 8 threads on my interactive blog.  When things got confusing, Anonymous #1 identified himself as Richard Rowley, and it was clear Anonymous #2 was "DXer" from Lew Weinstein's site, since he began posting some of the same True Believer sermons on my blog, and I had to delete some of it. 

DXer began posting with his favorite argument: He believes I'm wrong in concluding that "The Facts Say a Child Wrote the Anthrax Letters."  He endlessly brings up my handwriting hypothesis, claiming that no one agrees with me.
  When I posted, "I've told you again and again that people have written me to say they agree with the hypothesis," he just ignores my post.  Instead, he wrote: "You lack common sense which is why no one agrees with your First Grader Theory."  When I point out that the idea originally came from someone called "Brother Jonathan," he then usually accuses me of stealing the idea.  This time he argued that even Brother Jonathan doesn't agree with me: "Brother Jonathan, unlike you, knows that the FBI concluded that Ivins acted alone."  When I point out the fact that postal employees delivered the letters doesn't change the fact that Ivins acted alone, so an unwitting participant is not a party to the crime, the Anthrax Truther ignores that and seemingly argues that the FBI says Ivins acted alone, therefore the FBI is claiming no one could have done the writing except Ivins.  The fact that the FBI has stated that their analysis of the handwriting is "inconclusive" means nothing.  Only the Anthrax Truther's beliefs mean anything.  And, of course, he repeatedly calls me a "True Believer" because I don't agree with him.  And so it goes.  It's an argument that he's been waging for nearly ten years

(I'd really like some suggestions on how to get some recognized handwriting "experts" to evaluate the evidence on my page about the handwriting.  I've asked a few, but they want me to pay for their opinions.  And, I don't want their opinions that badly.  Others have already stated their opinions either to the FBI or on their web sites, so they aren't about to change what they've already officially concluded.)

DXer also berates me because I don't read the books he reads.  To him, that means I'm uninformed.  In reality, it just means I've got my own reading list.  Currently, during breakfast and lunch, I'm reading "Asimov's Chronology of Science & Discovery," by Isaac Asimov.  I'm on page 480, with only about 170 pages left to go.  Did you know that in 1898 doctors and scientists were desperately trying to figure out why some people were dying of diseases, yet no one could see any disease-causing bacteria under their microscopes?  They tried filtering out all the bacteria in the victims' blood, but the material that got through the filter still caused disease.   No one couldn't figure out why.  Then Dutch botonist Martinus Willem Beijerinck decided that there must be something smaller than a bacterium that also causes disease.  He didn't know what it might be, so he simply called it "filtrable virus." Virus is the Latin word for "poison."  And, as we now know, it turned out there are a lot of diseases that aren't caused by bacteria, they are caused by viruses.

The other "Anonymous" poster, Richard Rowley, goes round and round with me about how the evidence against Ivins isn't evidence because it's not what he considers to be evidence.  And, he calls me a "True Believer" because I accept the evidence that he believes isn't really evidence.  In one message, he explained to me that eventually, perhaps years from now, the FBI is going to come around to his way of thinking.  I told him that is truly the thinking of a True Believer.

And, meanwhile, the Russian/Kazakh attack continues.  They're still trying a new IP address or two every day.  They tried two new ones this morning.  But they were both in ranges I have blocked.   I keep wondering what's going to happen when they find an address I haven't blocked.  They should have a lot of pent up frustration by now.

Last week, I only managed to get one new Chapter done for my new book.  I'm currently writing about the "off the record" meeting between Ivins and the FBI/DOJ that took place on June 9, 2008.  I think it's the only time Ivins was asked questions about Gõdel, Escher, Bach and the handwriting on the media letter.

And Newt Gingrich won the South Carolina primary!  Wow!  It's hard to imagine anyone voting for Gingrich.  What could the voters have been thinking?   But, I couldn't imagine anyone voting for a beady-eyed sociopath for governor of Wisconsin, either.  But they did.  And now we're going to have a recall election to try to get rid of him.

And, while all the above was going on, I was worrying a bit about my 67-year-old sister and her husband who emailed me to say they are having a good time on their vacation as they bounce around in a bus going from town to town in the southern Philippines.  In an email I received this morning, they said they'd decided to fly to another island instead of taking a ferry.  That's safer, I think.  Maybe.

It's a fascinating world we live in.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, January 15, 2012, thru Saturday, January 21, 2012

January 20, 2012 (C) - I just received another email reminding me that Terry Abshire had left some plates grow longer than normal, and that's what resulted in her noticing the morphs.  Yet, in all of Ivins' years working with the contents of RMR-1029, there's no indication that he ever noticed a morph.  That says he either (1) didn't notice the unusual colonies, or (2) he was afraid of questioning the unusual colonies  since it would lead directly to questioning the contents of RMR-1029 which was his creation and had cost a lot of money and time.

January 20, 2012 (B) - Someone just sent me a very interesting email about my (A) comment this morning.  She reminded me that Ivins plated out the Daschle powder and The New York Post powder, and he didn't mention seeing any unusually shaped or unusually colored colonies.  And, there were supposedly as much as 20 times as many morphs in those letters than in flask RMR-1029.  Yet, it appears everything seemed normal to him as he counted the colonies that grew on the plates. 

That seems like solid evidence that Ivins thought that abnormalities in the shape, size and color of anthrax colonies were "normal."   And, it's probably because he'd become accustomed to seeing different shaped colonies when he did serial dilutions and quantification tests on material from RMR-1029. 

But, in her work, Terry Abshire had not become accustomed to seeing odd shaped colonies.  So, she questioned them.  And she brought them to the attention of others.

It's the classic discovery process.  Someone notices something that everyone else failed to notice.  She asks questions.  And the answers turn out to be a major discovery.  In this case it also led to the identification of the anthrax killer: Bruce Ivins.

January 20, 2012 (A) - I don't know if anyone is going to be interested in this, but it took me hours to track down, so I'm going to mention it anyway.  I found copies of the chart and the photos Bruce Ivins gave to the FBI in January of 2002.  They're on pages 136 - 138 in the Ancillary Documents File on the CD you can purchase from the National Academy of Sciences.  Here's the chart which has a date of January 22, 2002 in the lower right corner (click on the images to view larger versions):

Ivins chart from January 2002

As you can see, the chart appears to show a sample being taken from the original 1981 Ames supply and put into a culture which is then distributed to U of NM, DRES, Battelle and Dugway.  And, then there's another depicted route which shows passaging after passaging which ends up in a culture which is used to give a sample to a redacted lab (apparently a "culture collection" of some kind), which gives it to a redacted lab, which gives it to Porton Down, which gives it to a redacted lab, which gives it to a redacted lab.

And, Ivins notes that the Daschle spores seem to have gone the passaging route, NOT the direct, non-passaging route.

Here's the first photo which Ivins saw as representing the often passaged method:

Ivins plate photo #1 from January 2002

And here's the second photo which Ivins saw as representing the way he did things:

Ivins' plate photo #2 from January 2002

Because they are Xerox-type copies of photos, even in the larger versions it's difficult or impossible to figure out what Ivins was seeing.  There appear to be large colonies near the bottom end of both plates.  Also note that the date on the photos is November 29, 2001, which strongly suggests they are photos that Terry Abshire took when she noticed unusual morphological variants on the plates.  When she showed them to Ivins two months later, he typed the captions onto copies of the photos and drew the chart.  He evidently saw it as an opportunity to lead the FBI away from USAMRIID.  But, he misunderstood what morphological variants were all about, and may have confused them with contamination by other bacterial species.

January 19, 2012 - I've been studying the FBI report about the June 9, 2008 "off the record" meeting between Bruce Ivins, his lawyers and members of the FBI and DOJ.  I can't provide a link because it's no longer on-line in the FBI's archives.

I've been trying to understand the implications of this paragraph (green indicates redacted information I un-redacted, and red indicates information I'm trying to emphasize for this comment):

          In January 2002, Terry Abshire provided IVINS a
photograph of the spores from the mail which were grown on a sheep
blood agar (SBA) plate.  The photo shows morphological variants
which commonly develop from not using the single colony pick method
used by IVINS and those in his lab.  Abshire also provided IVINS a
photograph of "IVINS SPORE PREPARATION" spores grown on an SBA
plate, and these spores are free of variants.  When IVINS received
these photographs, he typed captions under them to explain what was
depicted.  IVINS also drew diagrams to explain the difference
between spores grown using his single colony pick method and those
grown otherwise.  When IVINS drew the diagrams and typed the
captions under the photographs, the information he was providing
honestly reflected his thinking at the time.  Namely, spores grown
using his method, including RMR-1029, were free of morphological
variants and did not resemble the spores which were mailed.

So, it appears that, at this time in 2008, the FBI and DOJ understood that when Ivins talked with the FBI about those photographs in January 2002, he was "honestly" talking about "his thinking at the time."  In other words, Ivins wasn't making anything up.  He thought the FBI was on a wrong track with their analysis of the morphs, and he wanted to put them on what he considered to be the "right track," a track that led to Ivins' belief that the attack spores were untraceable.

The captions Ivins typed under the two photographs are described on page 16 of FBI pdf file #847547, which is part of a report on their February 13, 2008 meeting: 

"Ames strain - From xxxxxxxxxxx culture collection at
USAMRIID.  Similar in appearance to the Bacillus
anthracis colonies from mail.  Sent to Porton Down, who
sent it to xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, who sent it to xxxx
xxxxxxxxxxxx. This version of the Ames strain was
serially passaged before freezing down and storing in the
culture collection."

"Ames strain - from original agar slant from Ames, Iowa,
USDA.  This is the version of the Ames strain used by Pat
Fellows and Bruce Ivins.  This version of the Ames strain
given to Dugway Proving Ground, Battelle Memorial
Research Institute, DRES, and U. of New Mexico."

So, the first caption belongs to the SBA plate that shows the variants.  And Ivins concluded that by X sending it to Y who sent it to Z, it was serially passaged and that caused the creation of the morphs.

And the second caption belongs to the photo of the SBA plate which evidently didn't show any variants/morphs that Ivins recognized as variants/morphs.  Ivins described it as the version of the Ames strain he used.

On page 17 of FBI pdf file #847547 there's a description of what Ivins thought about the photos and the captions in February of 2008, six years after he typed them:

          After reading the captions and examining the photographs,
IVINS explained that he obtained the photographs from Terry Abshire
and typed the captions on them.  Although IVINS was able to
understand what the diagram and captions explained, he could not
remember the specific interview which caused him to create them.
Additionally, he would not adopt the statements or explanations as
his own beliefs.

So, in February 2008 Ivins basically disowned what he'd written in February 2002.  And in June of 2008, the FBI and DOJ understood that what Ivins had written in February 2002 "honestly reflected his thinking at the time."

So, I appear to have been wrong in the comment I wrote on Sunday if I implied that the FBI/DOJ still believed Ivins was giving them false information in  where I said,

The FBI was right about the morphs, of course, and the morphological variants did lead the investigation directly to USAMRIID and Ivins.  But, the FBI was wrong in thinking Ivins was trying to mislead them in January of 2002Ivins believed in what he was saying, and it was shattering to his ego to learn that he was wrong. 

For a long time, the FBI and DOJ may have thought that Ivins had been trying to mislead them in February 2002 by writing false information about passaging in that first caption, but the FBI and DOJ appear to have eventually realized that Ivins wasn't really trying to "mislead" them with false information, he was trying to correct what he thought the FBI mistakenly believed about morphs to agree with what Ivins firmly believed about morphs.  And the "correct" path would lead to agreeing with Ivins belief that the spores in the letters were totally untraceable.

Wow!  That's complicated!

Grumble, grumble.  It's probably too complicated to use in my book, since it doesn't really make any crucial point.  It just shows another occasion where the FBI was wrong about something for awhile, but eventually learned they were wrong and corrected themselves before any harm was done.  I doubt there's ever been a mystery which was solved without an investigator going down a wrong path or misinterpreting something.  If something is solved without anyone making a mistake, it probably wasn't a mystery.

January 18, 2012 - This morning, I received an email from a scientist who just cannot believe that Ivins could believe there were absolutely no morphs in flask RMR-1029. 

I think if someone had confronted Ivins and asked him if it was totally impossible for there to be any morphs in flask RMR-1029, Ivins would have had to admit that it was indeed possible that the flask contained some morphs.  But, he wasn't talking about scientific possibilities when he was talking about flask RMR-1029 and his submissions to the FBIR.  He was speaking the way "normal people" speak.   He believed that flask RMR-1029 was virtually free of morphs and contaminants.

The definition of "virtually" is: in effect although not in fact; for all practical purposes.

So, Ivins probably believed that for all practical purposes, flask RMR-1029 was free of morphs.  If there was a morph or two in there among the 30 trillion spores, they didn't affect anything.  And, the chances were infinitesimal that he'd pick up a bunch of morphs when taking a tiny sample to create a slant.  So, when he talked the way "normal people" talk, without qualifying his every word and being scientifically accurate, he talked as if he believed flask RMR-1029 to be free of morphs.

Plus, he believed that passaging created morphs.  Like "normal people," microbiologist Dr. Bruce Edwards Ivins could also be wrong sometimes.  (Note that I didn't write "totally wrong," since it's scientifically possible that a morph or two can appear during passaging.   But, morphs are not caused or created by passaging.)

January 17, 2012 - For what it's worth, I found these two paragraphs in an FBI report about the June 5, 2008 taped conversation between Bruce Ivins and Patricia Fellows to be very interesting (they're on page 68 of the modified version of FBI pdf file #847551):

          In IVINS's last interview [with the FBI] he was told the
materials in the letters had colony morphology variance.  The way
that XXXXX lab did it was to pick a single colony so they wouldn't
have the morphology variance.  One would have to swipe over a plate
to get the morphology variance.  IVINS claimed his microbiology
background taught him to always pick a single colony.

          Ivins talked about the submissions that XXXXXXXXXXX IVINS
made to the [FBI anthrax] Repository.  He claimed that the first
submission was fine, however, someone threw it away; and the second
submission was where the morphologies were seen.

So, Ivins believed that there were no morphs in the first sample he'd sent to the FBIR in February 2002, and there were morphs in the replacement sample he sent in April 2002.

That, of course, is exactly the opposite of what was true. 

The question is: How did Ivins come to believe the opposite of what was true about his FBIR submissions? 

It appears to be his interpretation of what the FBI was telling him, warped by his rock solid belief that there could be no morphs in flask RMR-1029.  But, it could also be a line of baloney he was telling Fellows for some reason.   Or Pat Fellows could have misinterpreted what Ivins told her, and the FBI report shows her misinterpretation.  Or the FBI could have deliberately misled Ivins about the morphs to keep him from understanding exactly what the FBI was looking for with the morphs.

I tend to think it was the first of those options.  Ivins believed that the first sample that he took from flask RMR-1029 and sent to the FBIR in Febuary 2002 contained NO morphs, and it was therefore considered "fine" by the FBI.  But, for some unknown reason his second submission was NOT "fine."  That would seem to suggest that Ivins' April 2002 submission to the FBIR was NOT produced with the single colony pick, it was a sample he took from a source other than flask RMR-1029.  If he had produced the sample using the single colony pick method, and it contained morphs, Ivins would have considered that to be almost impossible, and he would have talked more about it.

But there are too many unknowns to be certain of exactly what Ivins was thinking.  And, we don't have transcripts of that part of the discussion between Fellows and Ivins.  The redacted transcript sections shown on pages 70 &71 of the FBI Summary report are only about Ivins' "non-denial denials."

January 16, 2012 (B) - There's a point I should have made more clearly in my (A) comment this morning.  I've made it before, but it's worth making again:

In February 2002, Ivins was 100 percent certain that morphs were caused by passaging, and he believed there were absolutely NO morphs in flask RMR-1029, because passaging wasn't used to create the contents of flask RMR-1029.  Its spores were grown directly from a pure sample that he was certain contained no morphs.  Therefore, when the FBI Repository wanted a sample from flask RMR-1029 to test for morphs, he was more than happy to provide it.  The same with the "gold standard" aliquot he provided to Terry Abshire.  If the FBI was looking for morphs, Ivins was 100% certain they wouldn't find any in flask RMR-1029.

This means that Ivins' supporters, and particularly the uninformed people at PBS Frontline, The New York Times, McClatchy newspapers and ProPublica were dead wrong when they argued that Ivins would NOT have given a real sample from flask RMR-1029 to Terry Abshire if he was guilty, since Ivins knew that a real sample would contain the morphs.  Yes, Ivins knew the FBI was going to test for morphs, but Ivins was totally certain that flask RMR-1029 was free of morphs.  That's why the February 2002 slants contained the morphs.  That's why the sample he gave to Abshire contained the morphs.  Later, he learned more, he became less certain of his beliefs, and that's why he submitted a false sample without the morphs in April 2002.

January 16, 2012 (A) - I've received a couple emails expressing confusion over what I wrote yesterday about Bruce Ivins' January 2002 attempt to utilize for his own purposes his belief that the FBI was wrong in what they believed about morphological variants, a.k.a. mutations or "morphs."

I can see where people might be confused.  I was putting things together in my mind as I was writing the comment, and I had to go back and modify it a dozen times just to make it clear for myself.  This morning, I could go back and further revise yesterday's comment, but I think it would be better to just explain things further.  So, here goes:

When Ivins mailed the anthrax letters, he believed that the Ames strain was a common strain used in labs all over the world, it mutated very very very rarely, and it was therefore totally untraceable.  That's why he used it when he prepared the powders.

However, after the letters were found, the FBI focused on USAMRIID very quickly.  Ivins didn't know why.  His emails suggest he thought it was because all the conspiracy theorists believed the Ft. Detrick was still in the bioweapons business, and the theorists believed the attack powders came from illegal bioweapons stockpiles at Ft. Detrick.  And Ivins believed the FBI was following that screwball idea.  Ivins didn't know that the FBI had given a sample of the attack powder to Paul Keim, and, of all the samples of Ames strain in Keim's massive collection, the only DNA match to the attack anthrax was a sample Keim had received years earlier from USAMRIID. 

So, in email after email, Ivins argued his firm belief that the Ames strain came from the USDA in Ames, Iowa, and it was distributed to labs all over the world.  Therefore, focusing on USAMRIID was just an unwarranted attack by anti-military nitwits upon the hard working people working in and for the U.S. military.  Ivins believed with total certainty that the Ames strain was untraceable, so he argued that over and over by pointing people to the USDA.  He was wrong, but it's what he believed.

In January of 2002, it started to become clear that Ivins may have been wrong about the source of the Ames strain.  The USDA knew nothing about the Ames strain, and they certainly hadn't distributed it to labs all over the world.

And, also in January of 2002, Ivins started picking up rumors about scientists in the Diagnostic Sytems Division finding "morphs" in the attack anthrax.  Ivins didn't know the details of what they were talking about, but the rumor said that the morphs might pinpoint the source of the anthrax -- possibly a source within USAMRIID.

Again, Ivins believed with total certainty that that wasn't possible.  He used the "single colony pick" technique, a technique which he believed virtually eliminated the development of morphological variants.  Therefore, he felt the FBI was again on the wrong track.  Ivins believed that morphological variants were primarily caused by "passaging," i.e., the transferring of growth material from plate to plate in sequence.  But, if the FBI believed "morphs" might lead them to the culprit, he was willing to name people who commonly used "passaging."

So, according to pages 3 - 6 of FBI pdf file #847443, on January 23. 2002, Ivins contacted an FBI agent working at USAMRIID and tried to show the agent how it was "passaging" that caused mutations.  That meant the FBI needed to look at scientists who did a lot of "passaging" when they worked with Ames.  And he named names.

Ivins offered to produce photographs two different plates, one plate seemingly contained "morphs" that were the result of "passaging" done by a scientist he named.  But the FBI agent wasn't in a position to take such evidence, so the agent told Ivins to hold onto the photos until he was contacted by another agent.  Ivins was contacted later, possibly the same day, and turned over the photos and a diagram Ivins had drawn.

This all happened a full month before Ivins produced the first slants for the FBIR from flask RMR-1029, the slants which he prepared incorrectly.   He still didn't know exactly what the FBI was looking for, so he created slants that could not be used in court as part of the FBI repository evidence.  He used a different kind of media.  He didn't think it was possible for any morphs to be in flask RMR-1029 because "passaging" wasn't done to create flask RMR-1029.  So, he did create the slants from the contents of flask RMR-1029, and the slants contained the morphological variants.  But, he made sure the slants were not usable in court (for the specific comparison needed for the FBIR).

The subject of that first meeting with the FBI agent about "passaging" came up again and again in later interviews Ivins had with the FBI.  On pages 16 & 17 of FBI pdf file #847547 Ivins is again asked to explain what he was talking about.   That interview took place on February 13, 2008.  In the interview, Ivins stated that he couldn't even remember the 2002 discussion with the FBI or the photos or the diagram.  But he apparently still believed it was passaging that created morphological variants, and he seems to still be arguing that the Ames strain came from the USDA in Iowa.  This is from page 17:

          IVINS eventually explained that XXXXXXXXXXXX would make
several subcultures, or serial passage the organism when growing
them.  This caused variants or mutations to appear.  IVINS did not
use serial passages.  Rather, his cultures were all grown from the
original slant provided to USAMRIID by the USDA, thereby preventing
the creation of variants or mutations.

The subject was mentioned again in an "off-the-record" meeting with the FBI on June 9. 2008.   That meeting was described in an FBI pdf file that was later deleted from the FBI on-line archives, so I can't provide a link.  But, the original FBI pdf file #847551 had this on page 70:

          When growing spores, IVINS and those in his laboratory
streak a plate and pick a single representative colony from the
plate to innoculate a growth medium.  This ensures all subcultures
are identical and do not have morphological variants.  Using the
single colony pick also ensures any contaminants present on the
plate are not introduced into the growth medium.  If one were to
swipe across the plate and use those spores to innoculate the
growth medium, the resulting spore growth would have variants.
Therefore, IVINS would expect that all of his subcultures,
including RMR-1029, are homogenous and free of variants.

In reality, as I described as "Error Two" in my supplemental page about "The Errors That Snared Dr. Bruce Ivins," mutations are generally totally random.  Passaging doesn't cause them.  The single-colony pick technique can't prevent them.   On average, anthrax mutations occur approximately once in a billion generations, but it could be the first generation in the billion, the last, or anywhere in the middle.  It's a matter of statistics.  And, the thirty trillion spores produced for flask RMR-1029 virtually guaranteed that there would be billions upon billions of mutations in the flask.  Yet, Ivins had thought it was free of mutations.  He was as wrong as it was possible to be wrong.

(The single colony pick technique does help prevent contaminants from one plate being transferred to another plate, but that has nothing to do with morphological variants.  Ivins may have been connecting contaminants to variants.)

It took a long time for Ivins to accept that he'd made critical errors, and it shattered his ego.  He wasn't the most knowledgeable anthrax expert among experts he believed himself to be.  He was a careless scientist who believed total nonsense and who made crucial mistakes that caused 5 people their lives and pointed the FBI directly to him as being the anthrax killer.   

January 15, 2012 - Last week, the "Russian/Kazakh attack" upon my web site continued.  I've gone back to thinking of it in terms of an attack, rather than just a mystery.  Each day last week, the attacker would try a different IP address, once trying two different IP addresses in a day.  The groups of five HEAD commands were farther apart than previously, often there was an hour or more between groups.  But, they all involved ranges of IP addresses I had blocked months ago.  On Friday the 13th, he tried something a bit different.  He tried 4 GET commands in a row, less than a second apart, from a blocked Ukraine IP address.  So, it got him nowhere.  And, this morning he was back again using HEAD commands and a different IP address in Kazakhstan, but it was still an IP address I had started blocking months ago.

Meanwhile, the Anthrax Truthers on Lew Weinstein's web site seem to be doing nothing but repeating themselves.  If there's anything worse that a silly, irrelevant argument, it's a silly, irrelevant argument that gets repeated over and over.  Instead of doing their own investigation, they want access to all the details of the FBI's investigation, apparently so that they can attack and argue with everyone who disagrees with their beliefs.

You'd think that after ten years they'd realize that they have never found any convincing proof to support their beliefs, and the mere fact that they disbelieve the evidence against Ivins doesn't mean that the evidence is invalid or insufficient to prove guilt.  And attacking everyone who disagrees with them does not prove the people they are attacking are wrong.  That's why I sometimes refer to them as "the Lunatic Fringe."  They believe nonsense, they argue against facts, they attack people who disagree with them, and they are absolutely certain they are right - even though no two of them believes in exactly the same thing.  So, in actuality, they're individuals who believe they are right and the entire rest of the world is wrong - regardless of what the facts say.

And, on my interactive blog, an Anthrax Truther calling himself "Anonymous" started arguing another familiar and oft repeated argument: that I am a True Believer because I won't convert to his beliefs.  Of course, he won't explain exactly what his beliefs are.  He'll only argue that he doesn't believe the government's case against Bruce Ivins, therefore the government is wrong.  And I'm a True Believer if I don't agree.

In spite of those distractions, last week I
managed to make some progress on the first draft of my new book.  I'm now on page 343 in Chapter 43.  I don't know how much I have got left to go, but it can't be much.  Chronologically, I'm in June 5, 2008, when the FBI persuaded Dr. Ivins' former associate, Patrica Fellows, to have coffee with Ivins so their conversation could be taped.  It resulted in the conversation where Ivins made his non-denial denials.  I thought that discussion would be at the end of Chapter 41, but, as I did research, I found a massive amount of interesting detail that I've never carefully studied before, and Chapter 41 ended with the January 18, 2008 meeting between Ivins, his lawyers, FBI agents Montooth and Lisi, and Assistant US Attorneys Kohl and Lieber.  It was the first meeting between Lieber and Ivins, and it was the meeting that Rachel Lieber considered to be a true turning point in her thinking about Ivins.

So, I then figured that the taped Fellows-Ivins conversation would be at the end of Chapter 42.  But as I collected facts and details from the time period, put them into chronological order, and then started analyzing it all and writing about it, it turned out that Chapter 42 ended on March 19, 2008, when Ivins made his first suicide attempt.

So, the taped Fellows-Ivins conversation will be in Chapter 43, possibly near the beginning instead of at the end.

I can also see that, after I finish the first draft, I'm going to have to do a lot of thinking about various aspects of Bruce Ivins' personality.  Right now, he seems to have been a man who never matured after his first or second year of high school.  Yes, he certainly gained more knowledge about science and microbiology, but he apparently never gained any additional understanding of his fellow human beings.  In his work, he became very good at doing things he had done many times before.   But how much did he really understand?

And, if I'm right about his lack of understanding, how can I explain it and document it?  I'd have to have a very good understanding of it myself before I can even attempt to explain it to others.  After all, Ivins participated in the writing of 44 scientific papers, and he was co-inventor on at least two patents.

Ivins appears to have had a massive ego.  He often seemed to believe that he was right and everyone else in the world was wrong.  And, the massive errors he committed when he launched the anthrax attacks of 2001 tore away at his ego.

One particular error by Ivins seems particularly fascinating because it's matched by what appears to be an error by the FBI and the Assistant US Attorneys (AUSAs).  It's the attempt by Ivins in January 2002 to explain to the FBI that the morphs they were seeing in the attack anthrax did NOT point to USAMRIID.  He gave them a drawing and two photographs to explain what he was talking about.  The FBI and the AUSAs saw that the photos and the drawing as another attempt by Ivins to mislead the investigation by supplying false information.  But, to me it seems far more complex than that.  I see it as an attempt by Ivins to convince the FBI that they were wrong about something that, in reality, Ivins was wrong about, but he didn't know he was wrong.

Ivins tried to convince the FBI that the morphs they were seeing were the result of the "passaging" being done in FBI testing, i.e., the process of taking spores from a culture, using those spores to grow a new culture, then taking spores from the second culture and using those to create a third culture, then using spores from the third culture to create a fourth culture, etc.  Ivins believe it was "passaging" that created the morphs the FBI had found, and Ivins didn't do that kind of passaging.   He would usually start with either the original Ames sample or a second sample, and then he'd use the "single colony pick" technique to seed new cultures, a process which he believed virtually eliminated the formation of morphological variants.

In late 2001, Ivins saw that the FBI was beginning to focus on USAMRIID as the source of the attack anthrax, but Ivins thoroughly believed that the Ames strain was widely used in labs all over the world and was totally untraceable.  That's why he used the Ames strain in the attacks.  He thought it was untraceable.  In January 2002, he didn't know exactly what the FBI was looking for when they became interested in morphs, but he thought they had to be on the wrong track.  And the wrong track led to USAMRIID.  So, he tried to get them on the "right track" by explaining to them what he believed actually caused morphs: passaging.  The "right track" would lead them to the correct understanding that the attack spores were untraceable.  Ivins' massive ego assured him that he knew more about anthrax than any FBI scientist or anyone else did.

Ivins was trying to lead the investigation away from USAMRIID by showing the FBI scientists that they were wrong in what they were doing, not by trying to deliberately mislead them with false information.  

The FBI was right about the morphs, of course, and the morphological variants did lead the investigation directly to USAMRIID and Ivins.  But, the FBI was wrong in thinking Ivins was trying to mislead them in January of 2002.  Ivins believed in what he was saying, and it was shattering to his ego to learn that he was wrong.  His self-confidence was already severely weakened by his horrendous and unforgivable mistake of thinking the anthrax letters he'd sent through the mails wouldn't harm anyone.  His ego was pulverized when he learned that there were vast quantities of traceable morphs in flask RMR-1029.  He believed his spore growing techniques made the contents of flask RMR-1029 virtually free of morphological variants.  Once again, his understanding was totally wrong
And he soon learned he had made another huge mistake in choosing the Ames strain, which, instead of being a common strain used in countless laboratories all over the world, turned out to be a rare strain used primarily by USAMRIID.  When he saw all the critical mistakes he'd made, his ego was virtually destroyed.  "Ivins the Anthrax Expert" ceased to exist.   He'd become "Ivins the Fool," a careless scientist who made stupid mistakes in life-and-death situations.  He began talking about becoming a greeter at a WalMart after retiring on his government pension.  Or, at most, he'd work as a laboratory technician for someone else, and he'd do only as told.

It wasn't any hounding by the FBI that drove Ivins to suicide.  It seems to have been the totally shattering of his ego.  He'd seen himself as was a top expert among experts.  Yet, his own mistakes - one huge and critical mistake after another - had put him in the FBI's crosshairs.  He could live with being considered sloppy and forgetful, but he couldn't live with being viewed as dangerously careless and ignorant of basic scientific facts.

I'll have got to make sure that is all totally understandable, fully documented, completely believable, and also interesting reading when I start working on the second draft of my book.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, January 8, 2012, thru Saturday, January 14, 2012

January 10, 2012 - The last thing I need right now is another "conspiracy theory" involving complex science.  But, someone just sent me a link to a science article titled "Fighting on after the war is over, HIV contrarian publishes yet another paper."  I didn't even know there was a controversy over the connection between HIV and AIDS.  But, apparently there is, and the people who don't believe the connection are still writing and trying to get "scientific papers" published which promote their beliefs.  In 1991,
"a collection of people who called themselves the Group for the Scientific Reappraisal of the HIV/AIDS Hypothesis managed to get
a letter published in Science in which they stated their case.The new article says this about the 1991 letter:

Although the letter's signatories labelled themselves skeptics, its language is that of conspiracy theorists and cranks. With a few exceptions, most of its signatories don't even have the relevant expertise, and many of them have serious issues with science in general. In short, these are not people who should be listened to when it comes to matters of evidence.

Unfortunately, someone did. And, even more unfortunately, that someone was Thabo Mbeki, President of South Africa, who appointed at least two of them to a committee that evaluated his country's response to AIDS. One result of this was a long delay in the widespread use of antiretroviral therapies in South Africa, which a 2010 paper estimated as having cost hundreds of thousands of lives.

Sounds familiar.  I recall another item from Science magazine that was about bogus science that wasn't identified as bogus science, and which will probably be cited in new scientific papers forever. 

The new AIDS article I was just sent also includes this:

Whatever damage was done by Duesberg and other contrarians in the past, they've now been relegated to the sidelines; nobody is basing public policy based on their unfounded skepticism anymore.

Unfortunately, it's all too easy to see why some people might have found them compelling in the past. The contrarians included a Nobel Prize winner and a member of the National Academies of Science—if you didn't pay careful attention to the company they kept and the fact that they had a tendency to back zany ideas, it was easy to conclude they were an impressive group. And, to someone who didn't look into the details, their arguments sounded scientific. After all, as described above, they were able to paint the medical establishment as ignoring Koch's Postulates, the very foundation of infectious disease research, and present themselves as the true scientific skeptics.

That also seems very familiar.  I recall a recent nonsensical article about the Amerithrax case that three scientists with impressive credentials paid to get published.

It confirms what I've learned again and again over the past ten years: There's no idea so ridiculous that you can't find an "expert" with perfect credentials to support it.

And, "fighting after the war is over" is what the Anthrax Truthers, 9/11 Truthers, Moon Hoaxers, and JFK conspiracy theorists continue to do every day.  Facts and logic have no meaning to them.  To them, only their beliefs represent "the truth."  The "war" won't be over until these True Believers convert every one else in the world to their beliefs.

January 9, 2012 (B) - Apparently in response to my (A) comment this morning, an Anthrax Truther posted this to Lew Weinstein's web site:

As we know the slants Ivins prepared worked, because a copy were kept and tested at another location. That is experimental proof that the Ivins slants were equivalent in fact.

That is admissible evidence in court that the Ivins’ slants were equivalent.

The slants "worked," therefore they were "equivalent"?  Really?   That's like saying a car works to get from New York to Los Angeles, so a car is equivalent to a jet airliner.  And death stops headaches, so taking asprin is equivalent to death.  Lunacy!!

The slant retained by Paul Keim definitely "worked" when it was used to create a new and properly prepared slant for the FBI Repository.  And, it definitely "worked" to show that Ivins didn't know exactly what the FBI was looking for in February of 2002, so he didn't eliminate the morphs.  He created slants that were not useable as evidence.  So, the slant "worked" to show Ivins was attempting to mislead the investigation.

And the Anthrax Truther's comment "worked" to get me to realize I can't just waste my time debunking every screwball claim they can come up with.  I'm going to have to spend more time on my book and try to leave the debunking for my Sunday comments.

January 9, 2012 (A) - The preposterous Anthrax Truther nonsense continues.  Now they're claiming that, since the FBI subpoena said "Tryptic Soy Agar (TSA) slants (Remel catalog #05932 or equivalent)," whatever Ivins used was an "equivalent," and therefore Ivins was right in submitting whatever he submitted in February 2002, regardless of how different it may have been, and the FBI was wrong in throwing the slants away.

According to the August 8, 2008 press briefing, "He didn't use the proper medium."  So, Ivins apparently didn't even use TSA, but the Truthers still consider it to be equivalent.

And the FBI also stated at that briefing,
"The first sample we received didn't really meet our requirements for the chains of custody issue, either." 

But, in the fantasy world of Anthrax Truthers, the FBI was still wrong in throwing the slants away, and, since that proves the FBI makes mistakes, the FBI obviously cannot be trusted about anything.  And that means Ivins was innocent and Muslims did it.

January 8, 2012 (B) - Since I'm not allowed to post to Lew Weinstein's web site, they have to post their nonsense there, and I have to debunk their nonsense here.  A new post there in response to my (A) comment this morning shows that at least one Anthrax Truther has a basic misunderstanding of slants and the FBI repository.  

All the slants for the FBIR had to be identically prepared, otherwise, when comparing the 1,200+ samples in the FBIR to one another, no one would be able to state with certainty in court that a difference in the contents of a specific slant wasn't the result of a different medium or a different method of preparing the slant.

Labs doing various kinds of other tests to assist the FBI in the Amerithrax investigation (such as Lawrence Livermore or the IIT Research Institute) weren't sending slants to the FBIR in response to a subpoena.  Therefore, the subpoena rules for creating slants for the FBIR didn't apply.  It made no difference to the FBIR how they prepared their slants.  So, the Anthrax Truther's new argument that those labs prepared their slants differently has absolutely nothing to do with the improperly prepared slants Ivins sent to the FBIR in February 2002.

January 8, 2012 (A) - I can't believe I spent almost all of last week on my Russian Statistics Mystery.  But, I did.  However, I seem to have solved the mystery - at least to the point where everything now makes sense.  Here's how I "figured it out" (a.k.a. "stumbled across the answer"):

I contacted my web site host and showed them my new web page about the "mystery," but they had no advice to offer.  They just suggested I keep doing as I've been doing, i.e., blocking HEAD accesses from specific ranges of IP addresses. 

I also contacted a couple computer experts I know, and they didn't have any idea about what the guy is doing, either.  And they had no advice to give.  However, one of them sent me a link to a recent news article about a different kind of problem.  The article was titled "One Man's Fight With Google Over a Security Warning."  I found the comments that follow the article to be more interesting than the article itself, since nearly every one of the people commenting says that Google is right and Dr. Roger Epstein is wrong.   Then I realized something: Dr. Epstein's problem seemed to be virtually identical to the problem I had over a year ago, when some hacker installed "Trojan horse" malware in my web site host's computer.

Yesterday,  when I researched that Trojan horse incident to refresh my memory about it, I found this in my November 28, 2010 comment:

It appears that, although I solved the "Russian attack problem," I also had a different problem.  This morning, people began telling me that I had the trojan horse "serial.jar" on my web site.  It seems to have appeared on November 21.  Fixing that problem was my top priority for most of the day.  So, I didn't have time to write any other comment for today until around 1 p.m. Central Time.  That's when my web site host advised me that the problem has been fixed.  It was a problem located in my host's computer in Atlanta, not in my own computer at home.
Bingo!  My Russian Statistics mystery involved some kind of residue connection to that Trojan horse attack in November 2010!  I first noticed the "Russian attacks" involving the HEAD command on November 18, 2010.  And people started telling me about the "Trojan horse" on my site a week later.  I'd totally forgotten about that Trojan horse incident, and, as a result, I just never realized that the two events could be connected.  The guy in Kazakhstan doing all the HEAD accesses to my web site could be the hacker, since he seems to have a lot of resources, and he's very persistent.  It's also possible, although much less likely, that he could be another victim of the hacker.

Either way, there's nothing I can do that I'm not already doing.  And, either way, it seems to be the solution to the mystery.   It's residue from that Trojan horse attack.  The hacker may be trying to find a way back in.  I can't prove it definitively, but I don't need to prove it definitively.  It makes sense.  And, that's enough for me.

However, I'll have to keep watching and blocking, since he's still there this morning trying a different IP address.   And, it's still a mystery as to why he's so persistent and why this matter seems to be so very very important to him.  He seems to be looking for a way to  put another Trojan horse into my host's computer via my web site.  But, why is my web site so special to him?

Meanwhile, the only other happenings of interest last week were the endless nonsense questions from the Anthrax Truthers.  They simply cannot accept that Ivins was making anthrax powders in his lab during those unexplained evening hours prior to the attacks in 2001, since that would mean that Ivins was the anthrax killer, and that would mean their various theories about someone else being the culprit are totally bogus.

So, they're asking irrelevant questions, because every time one of their silly questions goes unanswered, to them it means that the Amerithrax case has not yet been fully investigated - and that means Ivins could have been innocent.   It's the same mindless tactic they've been using for over 10 years.  Ten years ago, one Anthrax Truther was asking questions involving an endless stream of Arabic names.  The questions went something like this:

What was Haid D'Salami doing in Malaysia in 1997?
Why did Awana Fugya meet with M'Balz Ez-hari in 1998?
What did Grabirr Boubbi study at the University in Cairo?
Was I-Zheet M'Drarz ever alone when he visited USAMRIID in 1996?

Now, the same Anthrax Truther's meaningless and irrelevant questions are about what Bruce Ivins and other people at USAMRIID were working on during the day on the days when Ivins' "unexplained" evening hours occurred. 

It's the same plan: If they can ask enough irrelevant questions, they'll prove (at least to themselves) that the case wasn't fully investigated, and, therefore, Ivins was innocent (and the Anthrax Truther's favorite suspect must have done it). 

Unbelievably, the Anthrax Truthers are still trying to prove that Ivins was doing legitimate work during those "unexplained" evenings he spent alone in his lab just prior to the anthrax attacks of 2001.

The fact that Ivins himself could not provide any explanation for what he was doing - other than he'd gone into his BSL-3 lab to get away from his troubled family life, and/or to get away from a guard he didn't like - doesn't prevent the Truthers from trying to find something Ivins could have been doing that would allow them to argue that Ivins was not making anthrax powders -- even though there is a mountain of evidence which says Ivins was the anthrax mailer and he almost certainly must have been making anthrax powders during those "unexplained" even hours.

But, that doesn't mean they can't also distort the facts and try to mislead people.  An example of that is in this ridiculous post from yesterday on Lew Weinstein's web site:

In 2001, FBI Kept Its Ames Anthrax In An Old Building In Virginia That Didn’t Have Secure Evidence Storage For Samples Before Or After Testing

It's total nonsense, of course.  In 2001, the FBI kept all Amerithrax anthrax samples at USAMRIID.  The comment is about the State of Virginia's Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services (DCLS), which had absolutely nothing to do with the FBI's Amerithrax investigation.  Virginia's DCLS was just another state health organization which worked on first responder situations.   If someone in Virginia was suspected of having anthrax, test samples were sent to the DCLS for testing.  Similarly, in Florida, when a doctor at JFK Memorial Hospital in Atlantis, FL, suspected that Bob Stevens had anthrax, they sent samples of his blood to the Florida Department of Health (DOH).  The Florida DOH confirmed that Stevens had anthrax and notified the CDC.  The CDC re-confirmed and notified the FBI.  That doesn't mean that the FBI also kept "its Ames anthrax in an old building" in Florida.  The Anthrax Truther's statement is total nonsense.  Virginia's DCLS was involved in the attacks because there were victims in Virginia.  Plus, they were involved because they had to test countless false-alarm samples.  They never needed to secure evidence samples for the FBI.

And now, the big debate is over the wording on the subpoena that requested samples from all labs which had the Ames strain.  Ivins didn't obey the subpoena when he prepared the February 2002 slants for the FBI repository.  The Truthers are arguing that's because the FBI didn't word the subpoena properly.  However, of the 1,200+ samples sent to the FBIR, only Ivins failed to sent the right type of slant.  According to the August 8, 2008 press briefing:

QUESTION:  I understand that, but the question is just how many were destroyed.

BACKGROUND OFFICIAL:  Remember, the only sample received outside the space of subpoena was that one sample.  So that's the only sample we destroyed.

Only the slants Ivins sent to the FBIR in February 2002 were destroyed.  (And, since Paul Keim saved his copy of the slants, we know all we need to know about them.)  So, the Truther's argument now is that it's the FBI's fault that only Bruce Ivins couldn't follow the instructions.  And, the FBI are "idiots" because they didn't write the subpoena instructions properly.

In another bizarre thread, the Truthers want to see "Laborary Chain-of-Custody" forms for the February 2002 slants that were rejected because they were not valid as evidence.  There would never be any "Laboratory Chain-of-Custody" forms for materials that  were not useable as evidence.  It's another totally silly request.

Now the Truthers will claim the FBI are "idiots" because the FBIR copy of the slant was not valid as evidence, yet Paul Keim's identical copy was valid as evidence.   Why? Because Keim's copy was used for different purposes, and, when Keim's copy was turned over to the FBI, the slant was used to create a new slant that was compatible with all other FBI repository slants.  So, the new slant became additional evidence in the FBI repository showing the source of the attack powders, and the old slant became additional evidence of how Ivins tried to mislead the investigation.  But, the Anthrax Truthers don't want to know that.

Anthrax Truthers are clearly not interested in finding answers to any questions.  They're only interested in creating doubt by asking irrelevant questions, by distributing misinformation and by falsely accusing the FBI of causing Ivins' "mistakes."

Updates & Changes: Sunday, January 1, 2012, thru Saturday, January 7, 2012

January 5, 2012 (B) - This is off topic, but I just read an excellent Newsweek article titled "The GOP's Suicidal Tendency" which seems to hit the nail on the head in its description of the situation with the Republican candidates for President.

January 5, 2012 (A) - There were no emails from the Anthrax Truther in my inbox this morning.  And the guy who's causing me problems with my statistics by using all those HEAD accesses seems to have stopped for awhile.  (Maybe he's checking his bank account to see if he has enough money to buy a new group of IP addresses.)

To put all the information about the problem with my web site statistics in one place, I created a new page HERE where I can show the web site log entries as they actually appear, instead of squeezing them down or trimming them off to fit this page. 

Hopefully, this will be my last comment on those two "problems" until my regular weekly comment on Sunday.

January 4, 2012 (D) - My (C) comment today must have upset the Anthrax Truther.  He just sent me an email that says:

stop your endless streams of mistakes

Your suggestion that the  July 9, 2001 aliquot was evidently the part that involved Ivins' time during October of 2001 is more uninformed, lay speculation -- instead, always turn to the documentary evidence and stop compounding mistakes daily.

It seems to be a direct order.  Or, it could be a threat, except that he doesn't say what will happen if I don't do as he demands. 

It seems to me I was looking at the "documentary evidence."  I looked at the Reference Material Receipt Record form for flask RMR-1029 (HERE and HERE) which shows the withdrawals for study #B00-03, and I looked at documents he sent me which say that the rabbit study was #B00-03 and the schedule for the first batch of rabbits was to start at the end of March of 2000, but there were scheduling problems.  Ivins sent the emails to someone else who was going to do the rabbit "bleeds."  

Where's the problem?  Evidently, the problem is that the documentary evidence doesn't support the Anthrax Truther's beliefs.

Plus, of course, the documents suggest that the July 9, 2001 aliquot taken from flask RMR-1029 could have provided at least some of the source material for the anthrax attacks.  Ivins would have done concentration tests for each dose for each animal, which would have required hundreds of plates - possibly enough plates to produce all the anthrax powders in all the anthrax letters.

January 4, 2012 (C) - I asked an Army FOIA person about getting documents showing the exact times when the exsanguination of rabbits was done in October 1-5, 2001, and since I carbon-copied the Anthrax Truther, the Truther promptly sent me some irrelevant documents from March of 2000 about the same study (B00-03).   That reminded me of something: The Reference Material Receipt Record for aliquots taken from flask RMR-1029 (HERE and HERE) shows that aliquots were removed for the rabbit study (B00-03) on the following dates:

B00-03 part 1: April 3, 2000
B00-03 part 2: July 7, 2000
B00-03 part 3: April 6, 2001
B00-03 part 4: July 9, 2001
B00-03 part 5: December 10, 2001
B00-03 part 6: January 14, 2002
B00-03 part 7: September 17, 2002

The July 9, 2001 aliquot was evidently the part that involved Ivins' time during October of 2001.  However, in theory, the list should mean that Ivins would have similar long overtime hours related to all seven parts of the study.  But, that didn't happen.  So, either there was something very unusual about what was done in early October 2001, or we have further evidence that the exsanguination of rabbits didn't have anything at all to do with Ivins' unexplained evening hours.

I'm clearly getting too involved in debunking the beliefs of the Anthrax Truther.  This all seems totally irrelevant to the case.  It's only relevant to debunking the Anthrax Truther's beliefs.  I already regret making the FOIA request and carbon-copying the Anthrax Truther.  He's starting to fill my inbox with irrelevant nonsense.  And, I'm supposed to be working on my book, not arguing with Anthrax Truthers all day.

January 4, 2012 (B)
- There were 4 new emails from the Anthrax Truther in my inbox this morning.  He's simply ignoring what I wrote in my (C) comment yesterday, and he's continuing to argue that Ivins was taking care of rabbits during those "unexplained" evening hours in his lab.  He's now trying to find out how long it takes to "bleed" the 52 rabbits used in  the study Ivins was performing.  Bleeding the rabbits was Ivins' job.  So, the Truther's assumption is undoubtedly that it couldn't be done during the course of a normal work day and would have to be continued at night. The fact that it is totally preposterous to believe that Ivins wouldn't have given that as his reason for being alone in Suite B3 at night makes no difference.

When Ivins was asked to explain why he prepared an invalid slant for the FBI repository in April of 2002, he came up with a dozen possible explanations.  None made any sense, but he knew the FBI could not scientifically disprove any of them.

Yet, when asked why he had spent so much time in his BSL-3 lab during the evenings prior to the attacks, his only explanations were that (1) he went there to get away from his troubled home life, and (2) he went there to get away from a guard who constantly annoyed him and who couldn't get into the BSL-3 area.  Those are explanations which are next to impossible to disprove.  Working with rabbits would have been a perfect explanation for working those long hours.  Why didn't Ivins use it?  It seems extremely unlikely that he didn't think of it or forgot about doing such work.  The only logical answer I see is that he knew that explanation could be easily disproved.

So, maybe the Anthrax Truther should be looking for the way it could be disproved.  But, since that's the last thing the Truther wants, he's wasting everyone's time making FOIA requests for more irrelevant documents which he can interpret to  mean that Ivins was working with animals during those "unexplained" hours.

I could make the FOIA request.  But, do I really want to waste government money by making FOIA requests that do nothing but disprove some Anthrax Truther's beliefs?

January 4, 2012 (A) - I don't want this to turn into a blog about my "Russian problem," but if anyone's interested, the groups of 5 HEAD reads every 20 minutes that began at 11:26 a.m. yesterday continued through the night and into this morning.

Someone sent me a link to some software I can use to block all accesses from an entire country.  I have no interest in doing that.  I probably have a lot of regular visitors from Russia.  It's just the one person (or company) that I want to prevent from causing all these seemingly pointless accesses that screw up my web site statistics.

I see it as a very interesting problem.  How do you communicate with someone who isn't trying to communicate with you, and you don't know who they are, but we're both causing problem for each other?   It appears that I may be a much bigger annoyance to them than they are to me.  They apparently don't know how to figure out who's causing their problem, and I haven't really tried very hard to figure out who is causing my problem.  I've mostly just been trying to figure out what they're trying to do.

Maybe that's the solution: Find out who they are and write to them.  The facts say they don't read my web site, since, if they did, they'd know about the problem they're causing and what I'm doing to them.  (It no longer appears that they are deliberately trying to cause me problem, since there are a thousand ways of doing a better job of that.)

There are lots of different web sites involved, but all the annoying HEAD accesses during the past 24 hours have used the same IP address:

Uh oh.  Looking up that IP address, I find it's in Kazakhstan, not Russia:

Latitude, Longitude 43.255058, 76.912628 (43°15'18"N   76°54'45"E)
Connection through JSC KAZAKHTELECOM
Local Time 04 Jan, 2012 09:07 PM (UTC +06:00)

And looking up the IP address that was used on New Years Day ( I find the location this time is in Russia:

Latitude, Longitude 56.837814, 60.596842 (56°50'16"N   60°35'49"E)
Connection through INTERRA LTD
Local Time 04 Jan, 2012 09:16 PM (UTC +06:00)

However, the IP address ( used on December 26 was in Belarus:

Location BELARUS, -, -
Latitude, Longitude 53.915837, 27.68331 (53°54'57"N   27°40'60"E)
Local Time 04 Jan, 2012 06:19 PM (UTC +03:00)

And the IP address ( used on November 26 was in Mexico:

Latitude, Longitude 19.42705, -99.127571 (19°25'37"S   -99°7'39"E)
Connection through UNINET S.A. DE C.V
Local Time 04 Jan, 2012 09:23 PM (UTC -06:00)

However, the web site associated with the 10 HEAD accesses from the Mexican IP address (see my January 1 (B) comment) was http://yourroof.com.ua/ which is a web site supposedly in the Ukraine, since it has a .ua suffix.   (Maybe it's someone at the Ukranian embassy in Mexico City.)

Okay.  Clearly, blocking a country won't do any good, even if I wanted to try doing that.   The question is: What's the common denominator?  What do those 4 different IP addresses in four different countries have in common?  They don't even use the same language.  However, the Russian, Ukranian, Belarusian and Kazakh languages all use the Cyrillic alphabet.  That's the only common denominator I can see.

How does that help me find out who's behind this?  I have no clue.  I think they may all be using some program purchased from a common source, but I don't see any way to track that down.  So, I'll just continue doing as I'm doing.   Except I can no longer refer to it as my "Russian problem."  Maybe I should refer to it as my HEAD problem.  No, that's not a good idea.  I'll just call it my "statistics problem."

January 3, 2012 (D) - Uh oh.  Just before shutting down at 5 p.m., I make a copy of the web site log as of shutdown time.  I found a group of 5 HEAD accesses that began at 11:26:53 a.m. with this one: - - [03/Jan/2012:11:26:53 -0500] "HEAD / HTTP/1.1" 403 182 "http://pro-psixology.ru" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)"

And there were 5 more starting at 12:21 p.m., at 12:41 p.m., at 12:59 p.m., at 1:18 p.m., at 1:38 p.m, at 1:59 p.m., at 2:19 p.m., at 2:39 p.m., at 2:59 p.m., at 3:20 p.m., at 3:39 p.m., at 4:02 p.m., at 4:28 p.m., at 4:55 p.m. at 5:20 p.m., and at 5:48 p.m.

However, is an IP address that I started blocking long ago.  That's why it got the 403 error code.  Maybe the Russians have run out of IP addresses.   And maybe they think that 5 HEAD reads won't be as noticeable as 10 HEAD reads on my web site logs.  Who knows?  It's still all a mystery.  They also used about eight different web sites.  Why?  Another mystery.

January 3, 2012 (C) - I don't know if anyone else is interested in my arguments with Anthrax Truthers, but I find it fascinating and amusing.  And, occasionally it's somewhat informative.  The Anthrax Truther I mentioned in my (A) comment this morning sent a follow up email in response to my (A) comment.  As usual, since he had no argument to counter my evidence that his claim that it took Ivins 2 hours to do animal checks was totally bogus, the Anthrax Truther changed the subject.  Here's what he wrote:
Ed quotes AUSA Rachel Lieber:

" thus justifying his presence in the lab for a short time on each of those days (Friday, September 28 through Tuesday, October 2). However, the first three of those days, he was in the hot suites for well over an hour, far longer than necessary to check to see if any mice were dead. And for the three nights before each mailing window, Dr. Ivins was in the hot suites for between two and four hours each night, with absolutely no explanation. "

Ed quote demonstrates well Rachel Lieber's error in analysis. Rachel makes no mention of rabbits (as Ed doesn't). Their mistake is not appreciating that Dr. Ivins was also up to his eyeballs in dying rabbits in the formaldehyde study. See his October 5, 2001 email and the protocol.

This was pointed out a full year ago but Ed has always failed to comprehend the point. He similarly took months to comprehend that B3 was Biolevel 3 including the two animal rooms in the suite, that the animals were in B3, and that the challenge of the rabbits took place on or about October 1, with the rabbits dying over the course of the next week.

Ed confuses the unsupported assertions by a prosecutor in a memorandum as evidence.

Instead, the October 5, 2001 email and the rabbit protocol constitute evidence.
So, the subject is no longer the claim that there's documentation that it took two hours for Ivins to check on the test animals, the subject is now that Rachel Lieber (who evidently did a lot of the writing in the Summary Report) made an error when she wrote the footnote on page 32 which I quoted and the Anthrax Truther repeats in his email. 

There's no mention of rabbits in the Lieber quote.  And the Truther's arguments now seem to be entirely about rabbits.   There was a "formaldehyde study" going on at the time of the attacks, and it involved 52 rabbits.  The Truther's claim is that Ivins was "up to his eyeballs in dying rabbits in the formadehyde study," and that explains his long hours in his lab.

Up to his eyeballs in dying rabbits?  Really?

The Truther uses as evidence an email Ivins wrote on October 5, 2001.  The email says that 12 rabbits had died during the 3 days before the writing of the email.  That's just four rabbits per day, but all twelve could have died during the day on the third day, for all we know.  How does that impact Ivins' evening hours?  The Truther doesn't say.  He evidently just assumes that it somehow does.  How many of those rabbits were found dead during normal working hours?  He doesn't say.  How many were found dead in the evening by animal handlers?  He doesn't say.  He just inexplicably assumes that the deaths of 12 rabbits somehow caused Ivins to work a lot of evening hours -- hours which the Truther believes explain Ivins' "unexplained" hours.

But, his key point is probably that Rachel Lieber didn't mention the rabbits at all when she wrote the FBI/DOJ Summary Report.  The Truther assumes this is an "error."  And, he must also be assuming that Bruce Ivins also forgot all about those dead rabbits since, despite repeated questioning, Ivins was unable to explain or show anything in his notebook which would explain those nighttime hours before the attacks. 

So, Ivins couldn't remember being "up to his eyeballs in dying rabbits" at that time.    The Truther believes Rachel Lieber made an error in not mentioning the dying rabbits.  And the Truther believes he has found the "truth" through his interpretation of protocols, emails and other vague documents which support NONE of his claims.

The evidence, as it stands now, says that the rabbit tests were routine tests that didn't require much work from Ivins at all.  He may even have let his assistant Pat Fellows do all the work.  There is no record of Ivins doing anything but write reports, although the protocol says he would immunize and challenge the rabbits, which would almost certainly be done during the day.  The fact that the protocol says that Ivins "will also help monitor the animals after challenge" only means that he may have checked the animals at some time during the day.  Since cleaning cages would seem to be nightwork, the animal handlers could do the checking at night.  Why would the Principal Investigator need to spend unusual hours at night and on weekends in his lab because of the rabbits? 

He wouldn't.  If he did, why didn't he remember it?  Why aren't there records showing what he did?  Protocols are about what should be done and why.  Records show what was done, when it was done and who did it.  The existing records don't show Ivins doing any actual work with rabbits.  So, there's absolutely NO reason to believe the rabbits in any way "explain" Bruce Ivins' unexplained evening and weekend hours in Suite B3.

January 3, 2012 (B) - A picture might be worth a thousand words when it comes to describing my "Russian problem."  Click HERE to view part of a page from my web site log for yesterday.   The page shows all 10 HEAD accesses that began at 6:30:24 a.m. and all 10 that began at 6:50.59 a.m.  It shows how noticeable the groups of 10 are amid the rest of the log entries.  And, it also shows a single HEAD command used by the Chinese search engine Baiduspider about midway between those two groups of Russian access attempts.   The Chinese used the HEAD command the way it's supposed to be used.  It's still a mystery what the Russians are doing.  But, there have been no new strings of 10 HEAD accesses from them since 12:48 p.m. yesterday.  So, they're probably trying to figure out what IP address to try next.

I've got 46 groups of IP addresses blocked, with 256x256 or 65,536 per group, for a total of 3,014,656 blocked IP addresses.  Another interesting part of all this is that, as far as I can tell, the Russians have stopped using all of those 3,014,656 IP addresses to get to my site.

I awoke this morning trying to think of an analogy for my "Russian problem."  Here's what I came up with:  It's like some Russian guy buying a Ferrari automobile and he puts regular gas into it.  When he uses the car, the engine runs rough, so he buys a new Ferrari.  He puts regular gas into it, and when it runs rough, he buys a new Ferrari, ad infinitum.   He apparently doesn't realize that the simple solution to his problem would be to use the right grade of gasoline, i.e., to stop doing what he's doing with my web site.

(BTW, I tried using the Baidu search engine to see what it would find.   It's kind of interesting.)

January 3, 2012 (A) - This morning, I was sent another email by that same Anthrax Truther.  He asked:

Ed, on what basis under the SOPs  (governing the procedures) are you disagreeing with the scientist who said it would take a couple hours for Dr. Ivins to do the work -have you not seen the SOPs?  Is that it?

Why do you regularly assert your unsupported opinion rather than obtain and post the most relevant documents?

Are you suggesting it took Dr. Ivins more than the approximately 2 hours?  On what dates?

Since it accomplishes nothing to respond to him by email, and doing so only causes him to send a hundred times as many emails, I'll respond here:

First, the scientist who made that statement was apparently Mara Linscott, and she was talking about how long it would take her  (not Ivins) to check on animals on a weekend.  The statement is on page 23 of FBI pdf file #847425 (with my deduction underlined in the version below):

          Linscott perceived the normal laboratory hours to start
between the morning hours of 7:00AM to 9:00AM and last through
5:00PM, although there would be occasions when someone would
come in later.  If someone came in on the weekend it was to look
at the animals/count the dead animals.  This could take
approximately two hours and was usually a one-person job.

Second, when someone asks how long it takes to do something on a weekend, the usual response is about the time it takes away from a normal weekend.  That time includes driving in to work.  It includes showering and changing into lab clothes.  It includes showering and changing back into street clothes.  And it includes driving back home again.  In other words, it takes two hours out of her weekend to check on the animals.

Third, it's ridiculous to believe it takes two hours to just check on animals, when the task only involves looking at a few dozen animals to see if they are still alive, and making a note if one or more of them is dead.  All other test animal-related chores are done by other people (animal caretakers and veterinarians).

Fourth, a footnote at the bottom of page 32 in the FBI/DOJ Summary Report says:

It bears mention that during the first five days of this second phase, Dr. Ivins did make notations regarding the health of some mice involved in a study being conducted by another colleague – thus justifying his presence in the lab for a short time on each of those days (Friday, September 28 through Tuesday, October 2). However, the first three of those days, he was in the hot suites for well over an hour, far longer than necessary to check to see if any mice were dead. And for the three nights before each mailing window, Dr. Ivins was in the hot suites for between two and four hours each night, with absolutely no explanation.

So, except for the comment taken out of context by the Anthrax Truther, there's no reason for anyone to believe that the unexplained evening and weekend hours Ivins was spending in his BSL-3 lab prior to the anthrax letter attacks were the result of needing to work with test animals.  The facts say those hours were spent drying and purifying the anthrax powders he used in the attacks.  

January 2, 2012 - Grumble grumble.   I'm getting sidetracked by mysteries not directly related to the anthrax attacks of 2001.  I awoke this morning with two questions turning over in my mind.  The first question was about the Russian "attack."  The "attack" is continuing this morning, but I'm blocking them.  Their accesses still show up on my web site log, but now they get a 403 error code which causes a message to be displayed saying they are FORBIDDEN to access my site.  Previously, they got the 200 status code (OK) which gave them permission to access the site.   This morning's first group of ten attempts started with this one: - - [02/Jan/2012:05:29:28 -0500] "HEAD / HTTP/1.1" 403 182 "http://tolkuchca.ru/" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)"

It was at 5:29 a.m.  The other groups of ten began at 5:49, 6:09, 6:30, 6:50, 7:11, 7:32, 7:54, 8:18, 8:42, and 9:07, or roughly 20 to 25 minutes apart.  I checked the log at  9:12 a.m., so they're probably continuing as I write this.  (Yes, a check at 11:52 found more accesses at 9:30, 9:53, 10:16, 10:37, 10:58, 11:19 and 11:41.) (Another check at 4:30 p.m. showed more accesses at 12:03, 12:24 and 12:48.  Nothing after that.)    Note that the accesses are closer together than yesterday.  I assume it's because, once they found that they could get into my site, they increased the access rate.  Why?  I don't know.  But, yesterday I noticed something that was still on my mind when I awoke this morning.

Yesterday, while using Google to look for a web site I could use as a link to explain what the HEAD command was used for, I came across the blog site HERE.   It's all technical jargon, but they're apparently talking about a very similar problem:

bdoreste wrote a year ago:

The problem - every time I edit a post, my WP install is performing http HEAD commands on all of the <a> tags.

When I log into my affiliate marketing portal, I see a whole bunch of "clicks" from my server fetching the http HEAD command. Of course, these false clicks skew the conversion tracking on the links.

What is causing WP to fetch http HEAD on the <a> tags every time I edit posts, and how do I get it to stop? The HEAD commands are definately coming from my server, as the apache logs show my server IP, the redirect link, and the HEAD every time it is requested.

and Porcupine73 responded 11 months ago:

Hello. I am noticing this type of activity as well. I was wondering if anyone had any additional information on these HEAD requests, and more importantly, how to stop them? I installed the no self pings add in which helped me not get so many e-mails when inserting links to my own site, but these HEAD requests are still killing the server.

The thread is closed, and they didn't find any answers.  As near as I can figure, what they're saying is that every time they edit a post on a WordPress blog entry where there is a link, each link is automatically checked or accessed using the HEAD command to verify that it's a valid link.  (The coding for links involves <a> and </a> before and after the URL for the site to be accessed.)  It might explain something, but it doesn't help that they gave up without getting an answer.  And it doesn't explain why I've only got the problem with Russian sites, nor why the Russians keep changing IP addesses so they can get around the problems I cause for them.

I don't think the Russians are after me personally, nor are they after my site.  They're more of an annoyance than a true problem.  The accesses distort my web site statistics.  It could be a program "bug" in a Russian program.  I think there are probably other web site operators who have the same problem, but very few notice it, and even fewer care about solving the problem.

The second mystery on my mind when I awoke this morning was how to verify if mice were "challenged" in the guinea pig animal room #B305.  I figured that B305 probably contained a biosafety cabinet or glove box for doing the injections, while B310 didn't.  So, all subcutaneous injections in Suite B3 would be done in the same place,
regardless of the species of animal

But, I don't need to concern myself with that question anymore.  This morning I had 4 emails in my inbox from the anthrax truther complaining that I misunderstood the email he sent me yesterday.  The first read:

Ed, the name of an animal room in B3 does not control whether guinea pigs or mice were challenged there - Lincoln is not the only fellow who slept in the Lincoln bedroom
Any of numerous USAMRIID scientists could have told you that.
The second read:

Ed, your massive confusion on Amerithrax stems from not realizing that B3 was all bio-level 3 and that the guinea pigs, rabbits and mice were all in B3, Building 1425
You could have confirmed that by the most rudimentary inquiry.
The third read:

Fwd; Ed, as explained by the readily available protocol, the mice were challenged in B305, what you call the guinea pig room.   You lack common sense and are a terrible researcher.

Is there no email you cannot distort?  My point was that your assumption that the rabbits were not in one of the animal rooms in B3 -- because of the name of the room -- was stupid and uninformed.

All you needed to do was ask for a copy of the protocol and/or ask those involved in the experiment.

I'm only writing about this subject because the Anthrax Truther inexplicably seems to believe it somehow proves that Bruce Ivins was working with test animals during all those "unexplained" evening hours he spent in Suite B3 just before the attacks, even though all the information the Anthrax Truther finds says otherwise.

The fourth email was a copy of an FOIA request the Anthrax Truther sent to the Army asking for a copy of "the USAMRIID form '
Animal Room Environment Report' for B310 and B305 in Building 1425 for Sep - Oct 2001?"  Why does he need this report?  If I interpret what he's saying correctly, he says he needs it to help convince the world that a Muslim was behind the anthrax attacks, and everyone should stop blaming Bruce Ivins, because if people continue to blame Bruce Ivins, they won't realize that the Muslim terrorist could use another bioweapon against us again at any moment.

It's the same argument he's been waging for the past ten years.  Only, prior to August 2008, when Bruce Ivins was identified as being the anthrax mailer, his argument was about any non-Muslim American scientist, not Bruce Ivins specifically.

January 1, 2012 (E) - Hmm.  I just received an email from an Anthrax Truther who read my (C) comment for this morning and wrote:

the mice were challenged in B305, what you call the guinea pig room.   You lack common sense and are a terrible researcher.

In my (C) comment, I identified Room B305 in Suite B3 as the guinea pig room because that was the way it was described on page 26 of FBI pdf file #847443:

          Ivins pointed out the B3 cold room as being on the right
side of the hallway when looking through the crash door, with a
black box on the door.  Room 308 is the pass through to suite B4.
The mouse animal room is the third door down on the right when
looking through the crash door.  The guinea pig room is across the
hall with the cleaning supplies for the suite located to the right
of the door as the room is entered.

According to the floor plan for Suite B3, when looking through the window in the crash door, the mouse animal room is the third door down on the right (i.e., Room B-310) and the only room across the hall that could be the guinea pig room is Room B-305.  The Anthrax Truther uses this document to question the FBI report:
Location of mice
The title says the protocol is about "anthrax in mice."  And, the last paragraph says that the "animals" will be housed in Animal Resources Suite AR-2 until they are challenged in B-305.  So, does that mean that Room B-305 was the mice animal room and not B-310 as the FBI report indicates?  Or does it mean that the tour given by Ivins was another occasion where Ivins was misleading the FBI?  Or were things changed after the protocol was written in January of 2001?  Or were things changed before the FBI report was written in February of 2003?  Or, does it mean that all animals are "challenged" in B-305?  Or should the protocol have said B-310 instead of B-305?

What difference does it make?  It makes a difference to Anthrax Truthers who believe if they can prove that someone who disagrees with them is wrong about anything, that means they have proven that person is wrong about everything.   

January 1, 2012 (D) - HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!

January 1, 2012 (C) - On this New Year's morning, I'm working on page 317 in Chapter 40 of my new book.  There are probably only about 5 chapters left, but it's difficult to predict.  As I do research, I keep finding interesting details that cause me to add in additional chapters.  When I do the second draft, a lot of it may be deleted, and chapters may be combined, but I won't know that for certain until I get to that point.

Meanwhile, I keep getting emails from Anthrax Truthers who believe that Ivins was tending to lab animals during those "unexplained" evenings he spent in his BSL-3 lab just before the two mailings.  The fact that the in-out logs seem to say otherwise means nothing to them.  The fact that there were animal handlers to take care of the animals means nothing to them.  The fact that necropsies would be more likely be performed by veterinarians than by research scientists means nothing to them.  The fact that it doesn't seem logical that a busy key scientist would have to spend his time doing menial tasks like disposing of dead animals means nothing to them.  They want proof that Ivins was not busy taking care of the test animals during those times.  Until they get such proof, they'll just keep insisting that the FBI failed to realize that the "unexplained" evening hours were actually very well explained by Ivins' work with the test animals.

And, the Anthrax Truthers seem to be currently focused on specific rabbit tests, which documents show didn't begin until a week after the first anthrax letters had been mailed.

This morning they sent me an email which pointed out what appears to be an error in my December 27 comment, where I wrote:

The Anthrax Truthers haven't provided any information about where the 52 rabbits were kept, but they assume it was somewhere within Suite B3, even though Suite B3 had no animal room for rabbits.  

They sent me an undated document which seemingly shows that rabbits were indeed kept in Suite B3 in building 1425 at some point in time.  However, their comments about the document indicate that it may have been written years after 2001 and after some remodeling of Suite B3 was done.  The facts still seem to indicate that there was no animal room for rabbits in Suite B3 in September and October of 2001.  The floor plan, FBI documents and testimony indicates there were only animal rooms for mice (B310) and guinea pigs (B305) in 2001.  Did they put rabbits in with guinea pigs?  Did they convert the former glanders lab (B312) to an animal room for rabbits?  Who knows?  And only the Anthrax Truthers seem to care.

They've asked me to check with a certain individual to see if he'll provide details of how the animals were handled.  They evidently can't persuade the guy to commicate with them, and they want me to give it a try.  I'll try, but I see no reason why he'll communicate with me, either.  Most people directly or indirectly involved with the case just want to get on with their lives and leave the Amerithrax case behind them.

Besides, the guy probably knows as well as I do that no amount of proof will ever change the mind of a True Believer or any other kind of Anthrax Truther.   They'll just rationalize some way to ignore the proof.  So, why even bother arguing with them - or why bother trying to find evidence to argue with them?

January 1, 2012 (B) - Until this morning, I kept hoping that the Russians had stopped doing whatever it is they're doing with my web site.  But, they haven't stopped.  They're still doing something that shows up on my web site logs as strings of 10 HEAD accesses about a second apart.  Since about 99.9% of the accesses to my site are GET accesses, ten nearly identical HEAD accesses together are very noticeable as I download my web site logs.   They're as hard to miss as a group of 7-foot tall male basketball players would be standing together in a long line of female jockeys.

The last time I was forced to block Russian accesses was on November 3, 2011.  After that, for almost a month, I hadn't seen the pattern until November 26, when I noticed ten HEAD accesses in a row starting with this one: - - [26/Nov/2011:04:42:50 -0500] "HEAD / HTTP/1.0" 200 318 "http://yourroof.com.ua/" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)"

But it was just the ten.  That wasn't too bad.  And it took another month for the next series of ten to show up.  The first access in that series was this one: - - [26/Dec/2011:01:09:58 -0500] "HEAD / HTTP/1.1" 200 341 "http://sdlwebsite.ru" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)"

And 40 minutes later there were ten more, starting with this one: - - [26/Dec/2011:01:50:07 -0500] "HEAD / HTTP/1.1" 200 341 "http://sekasamnogo.ru" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)"

Those two accesses use the same IP address (in red) but they came from different web sites (also in red).  That's still not a problem for me, but it's part of their pattern.  Then, on December 30, I got ten starting with this one: - - [30/Dec/2011:13:49:06 -0500] "HEAD / HTTP/1.1" 200 318 "http://tolkuchca.ru/" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)"

The next day, on December 31st, I got ten starting with this one: - - [31/Dec/2011:00:49:36 -0500] "HEAD / HTTP/1.1" 200 318 "http://tolkuchca.ru/" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)"

And 30 minutes later, ten more starting with this one: - - [31/Dec/2011:01:19:44 -0500] "HEAD / HTTP/1.1" 200 318 "http://familniki.ru/" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)"

And, this morning - the first morning of the new year - for some reason my web site host didn't provide me with the log entries for prior to 4:22 a.m.  But, a few minutes after that time the logs show I had ten accesses starting with this one: - - [01/Jan/2012:04:38:28 -0500] "HEAD / HTTP/1.1" 200 318 "http://familniki.ru/" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)"

Ten more about 30 minutes later starting with this one: - - [01/Jan/2012:05:04:16 -0500] "HEAD / HTTP/1.1" 200 318 "http://tolkuchca.ru/" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)"

Ten more starting about 28 minutes later with this one: - - [01/Jan/2012:05:32:36 -0500] "HEAD / HTTP/1.1" 200 318 "http://tolkuchca.ru/" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)"

Ten more starting about 30 minutes later with this one: - - [01/Jan/2012:06:02:24 -0500] "HEAD / HTTP/1.1" 200 318 "http://zonatop.ru/" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)"

Ten more starting about 33 minutes later with this one: - - [01/Jan/2012:06:35:26 -0500] "HEAD / HTTP/1.1" 200 318 "http://familniki.ru/" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)"

Ten more starting about 34 minutes later with this one: - - [01/Jan/2012:07:09:50 -0500] "HEAD / HTTP/1.1" 200 318 "http://tolkuchca.ru/" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)"

Ten more starting about 33 minutes later with this one: - - [01/Jan/2012:07:42:23 -0500] "HEAD / HTTP/1.1" 200 318 "http://zonatop.ru/" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)"

Ten more starting about 31 minutes later with this one: - - [01/Jan/2012:08:14:40 -0500] "HEAD / HTTP/1.1" 200 318 "http://familniki.ru/" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)"

And, ten more starting about 37 minutes later with this one: - - [01/Jan/2012:08:51:40 -0500] "HEAD / HTTP/1.1" 200 318 "http://familniki.ru/" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)"

Okay.  There's obviously something automated involved.  It's not some person accessing my site.  It's a computer program attempting to do something.  And, whatever is going on it probably began before my logs began this morning.  I have no idea how many times they did their thing on my site before 4:22 a.m.  (My web site host probably saved the logs from prior to 4:22 a.m. as part of December 31 logs, which I can no longer access.)     
The log entries I have show there were 9 groups of 10 HEAD accesses roughly 30 minutes apart.  They all came from the same IP address - - but three different web sites were involved.  And, I can see that the accesses really began on December 30 with just one set of ten accesses.   That was like a reconnaissance mission, with a longer reconnaissance mission on the next day.

Web browsers use the GET command to actually access and look at web pages and images.  The HEAD command doesn't actually view the page, it is normally just used to check to last-update information see if there have been any changes to a page since the last time the command was used.   But, that is clearly NOT what the Russians are doing.

I don't know what they're doing, but it doesn't look safe to me.  So, as I see it, I have no choice but to block accesses from the entire 94.190 group of IP addresses.  (Past experience has shown that if I just block one specific IP address, they'll soon use another address in the same group.  By blocking an entire group ( to it makes it much more difficult for them to find another IP address.)

Okay.  I've done that.  Now, I'll just wait to see what they do next.

It's a mystery.  It makes no sense.  They've been doing it for years.  But, I can keep blocking them, and I'll continue to do so until I either figure out what they are up to, or until they contact me to explain what they are up to and give me a good reason to stop blocking them.

It's not the way I expected to start the new year, but I love a mystery.

January 1, 2012 (A) - I don't know how this new format will look on other computer screens and various hand-held devices.  Although no one has complained, I've become a bit concerned that the old format may have been getting a bit difficut to read.  The old format used a box for comments that was 50% of the screen width.  That meant that,  with new wide-screen devices, a line of text could be very very long.  This format uses a box with a fixed width of 600 pixels.  I think it should be easier to read.  If not, please let me know, and I'll switch back to the old format.

© Copyright 2012 by Ed Lake
All Rights Reserved