UPDATE HISTORY
2014 - Part 3 
(September 1, 2014 - December 31, 2014)
A log of comments and changes made to the main pages.
www.anthraxinvestigation.com

Updates & Changes: Sunday, December 28, 2014 thru Wednesday, December 31, 2014

December 31, 2014 - Well, it's time for my final comment on this web site.  My new web site is now working (as of about (3:25 p.m. CT on Jan. 1).  Here's the link:

www.ed-lake.com

Meanwhile, arguments rage as normal on my interactive blogOne Anthrax Truther is now trying to argue that the releasing of the Amerithrax Investigative Summary Report is "extra legal," implying that there was something wrong (but not illegal) with doing such a thing.  Or maybe he believes that anything that is not illegal is "extra legal."  Either way, it another argument over definitions of words instead of a discussion about the facts and evidence in the Amerithrax investigation. 

A different Anthrax Truther is still arguing his opinions and beliefs and continues to refuse to explain anything.  On Lew Weinstein's blog he just posted about FIFTEEN hilarious diatribes where he calls me "The Nincompoop" and rants on and on and on about how I disagree with his view of things, therefore I must be wrong.  When I get some time, I'll probably respond to some of the more absurd ones on my interactive blog.  It could be fun to show just how silly his arguments are. 
 
This points out once again why I'm going to stop writing comments for this site: The only thing left to comment on are the screwball arguments from Anthrax Truthers.  I'll probably continue to argue with them on the interactive blog, but I won't be summarizing the arguments here.  Which leaves nothing related to the anthrax attacks of 2001 to write about.  The case is closed.  Dr. Bruce Ivins did it.  The people who disagree have only opinions and beliefs, and they refuse to intelligently discuss facts and evidence.  Arguing opinions and beliefs is a waste of time.  End of story.

I'll modify the first paragraph in this comment to include a live link when my new web site becomes available.  Other than that (and unless something totally unexpected occurs) ...

Bye bye.  It's been a very interesting 13 years.

I wish everyone a very happy New Year!

December 28, 2014 - Unless something totally unexpected occurs, this will probably be my final Sunday comment on this web site.   The Amerithrax investigation is closed, we know who the killer was, the evidence has been made public, and there are no known plans to present more evidence of any kind.  Therefore, there doesn't seem any reason to continue to argue endlessly with Anthrax Truthers who refuse to discuss facts and evidence and will only argue opinions and beliefs.

So, on December 31, 2014, I plan to post my last regular weekly message here.  The next day, Jan. 1, 2015, I plan to start posting to a different web site (ed-lake.com, which does not yet exist) where I can discuss any of the many other subjects that are of interest to me, but which would be off-topic here: books, writing, movies, TV, current events, history, psychology, science, mysteries, etc.


My ownership of the domain name anthraxinvestigation.com doesn't expire until Jan. 18, 2017.  And paying $6 a month to keep the site hosted on-line is something I can certainly continue for at least another two years.  If someone publishes a new book about the anthrax attacks, or if there's some startling news, I'll still  have the option of writing about it on this site or discussing it on ed-lake.com.

Last week on my interactive blog (which will continue to operate normally after Dec. 31), the subject of circumstantial evidence came up for the umpteenth time.  Looking for new ways to explain the subject to Anthrax Truthers who simply cannot believe that circumstantial evidence would ever be allowed in any court, I first found the "model" (or standard) jury instructions used in the Ninth Circuit Court:

MODEL JURY INSTRUCTIONS:
--------------------------------------
1.5 DIRECT AND CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE

Evidence may be direct or circumstantial. Direct evidence is direct proof of a fact, such as testimony by a witness about what that witness personally saw or heard or did. Circumstantial evidence is indirect evidence, that is, it is proof of one or more facts from which one can find another fact.

You are to consider both direct and circumstantial evidence. Either can be used to prove any fact. The law makes no distinction between the weight to be given to either direct or circumstantial evidence. It is for you to decide how much weight to give to any evidence.

Comment

"It is the exclusive function of the jury to weigh the credibility of witnesses, resolve evidentiary conflicts and draw reasonable inferences from proven facts. . . . Circumstantial and testimonial evidence are indistinguishable insofar as the jury fact-finding function is concerned, and circumstantial evidence can be used to prove any fact." United States v. Ramirez-Rodriquez, 552 F.2d 883, 884 (9th Cir. 1977) (quoting United States v. Nelson, 419 F.2d 1237, 1239-41 (9th Cir. 1969)). See also United States v. Kelly, 527 F.2d 961, 965 (9th Cir. 1976); and Payne v. Borg, 982 F.2d 335, 339 (9th Cir. 1992) (citing United States v. Stauffer, 922 F.2d 508, 514 (9th Cir.1990)).
* * *
It may be helpful to include an illustrative example in the instruction:

By way of example, if you wake up in the morning and see that the sidewalk is wet, you may find from that fact that it rained during the night. However, other evidence, such as a turned-on garden hose, may provide an explanation for the water on the sidewalk. Therefore, before you decide that a fact has been proved by circumstantial evidence, you must consider all the evidence in the light of reason, experience, and common sense.
Then, searching further, I found that the Eighth Circuit Court provides this model for jury instructions:
4. Anything you see or hear about this case outside the courtroom is not evidence, unless I specifically tell you otherwise during the trial.

Furthermore, a particular item of evidence is sometimes received for a limited purpose only. That is, it can be used by you only for one particular purpose, and not for any other purpose. I will tell you when that occurs, and instruct you on the purposes for which the item can and cannot be used.

Finally, some of you may have heard the terms “direct evidence” and “circumstantial evidence.” You are instructed that you should not be concerned with those terms. The law makes no distinction between
direct and circumstantial evidence. You should give all evidence the weight and value you believe it is entitled to receive.
And the Tenth Circuit Court provides this model for jury instructions:
[There are, generally speaking, two types of evidence from which a jury may properly determine the facts of a case. One is direct evidence, such as the testimony of an eyewitness. The other is indirect or circumstantial evidence, that is, the proof of a chain of facts which point to the existence
or non-existence of certain other facts.]

[As a general rule, the law makes no distinction between direct and circumstantial evidence. The law simply requires that you find the facts in accord with all the evidence in the case, both direct and circumstantial.]
Of course, all eight other circuit courts say basically the same thing: The law makes no distinction between direct and circumstantial evidence.

While doing further research for ways to explain circumstantial evidence to Anthrax Truthers, I also found this about DIRECT evidence:

It is also important to note that direct evidence such as eyewitness identification and confessions given by suspects are fraught with potential problems as demonstrated by the investigations into 300-plus exonerations of wrongfully convicted individuals by the Innocence Project. The leading cause of wrongful convictions, especially in sexual assault cases is eyewitness misidentification, a prime example of direct evidence. Eyewitness identification has proven to be unreliable in approximately 75% of the 300 DNA exonerations, yet remains very persuasive as direct evidence for judges and juries. False confessions given by defendants, and incriminating statements made by jailhouse snitches and others have been found to occur in approximately 25% of all the DNA exoneration cases to date. Once jurors hear this type of direct testimony, it is nearly impossible to un-ring that bell.
Interestingly, I also found a web site HERE which contains this survey:
QUESTION: Is circumstantial evidence enough for conviction?

8% Say Yes
92% Say No
Only 11 people answered the question. The one person who disagreed with the other ten said,
Most trials are based on CE [Circumstantial Evidence].

Most criminal cases that go to trial are based on circumstantial evidence. If there is direct evidence like video they don't go to trial. Those cases are usually plea bargained. Cases that actually go to trial are almost always based on circumstantial evidence. It's difficult for the defense to get around a video that shows the defendant robbing the 7-11.
The one person who said "yes" was looking at the FACTS. The other ten are just voicing IGNORANT OPINIONS.

Another article HERE agrees with the plea bargaining statistics:

Some 95 percent of felony convictions are the result of plea bargains, with no formal evidence ever presented, and most never bother with an appeal.
The claim by some Anthrax Truthers that there is "no evidence" against Bruce Ivins seems based totally on ignorance of the law and how the law (circumstantial evidence in particular) works.  But, it also seems they cannot possibly be totally ignorant of the law when it's been explained to them dozens of times.  Thus, it also appears that they may know the law, they just don't have anything intelligent to argue.  And that seems to mean that they may argue something they know is false, rather than admit that there can be anything that may show their own personal theory is wrong.  

When you've argued with Anthrax Truthers for over 13 years without ever changing a single mind, it's time to conclude that Truthers are either incapable of changing their minds or they believe that if they argue long enough they'll will eventually "win" when the other person gives up and goes away.

I'm not giving up or going away.  I'm just not willing to argue against mistaken beliefs and ignorant opinions anymore.  And Anthrax Truthers refuse to discuss the facts and evidence of their own theories, much less the facts and evidence which shows Dr. Ivins was the anthrax killer.  So, after this coming Wednesday, this site will be going into a "wait state" until some meaningful new facts and evidence are found.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, December 21, 2014, thru Saturday, December 27, 2014

December 26, 2014 - I see that the controversial movie "The Interview" did open on Christmas in some theaters after all.  Back on December 18, I wondered " about how STUPID it was for Sony Pictures to make a movie about assassinating a living Head of State."  Today I noticed that The Wall Street Journal's film critic, Jack Rainer, agrees with me.  His review is titled "'The Interview': Should the movie have been made in the first place?"  Rainer asks,
What was Sony thinking? In the history of corporate bonehead decisions, the financing and distributing of a slobbola comedy about the assassination of a sitting world leader has to rank right up there with the New Coke.
and
“The Interview” is not exactly hard-hitting political satire. It’s more like a gross-out jamboree with just enough political window-dressing to make it seem “daring.” (Much is made of the fact that the Supreme Leader is reputed by his people to be so superhuman he has no need to go to the bathroom.) But even if the film were sharper, even if it was made by satirists on the order of Stanley Kubrick and Terry Southern in their “Dr. Strangelove” days, I would still argue that greenlighting such a film is a blunder. The exercise of free speech does not exempt one from the consequences of stupidity.
and
Movies, even dumb movies like “The Interview,” are staged in the world arena, and it’s clueless for Hollywood to pretend otherwise. Those who denounce Sony for setting a terrible precedent by pulling the film are only half right. What about the precedent of making the movie in the first place?
Right now, there are throngs of people going to the movie because (they claim) it's their patriotic duty.  What bugs me most is that, if Redbox offers it for rent some day, my curiosity is probably going to force me to waste $1.50 to rent it, even if it's a near certainty I won't be able to sit through the whole thing (it's not my kind of movie).  Hopefully, it won't come out via RedBox.  Maybe it will be shown for free on the FOX Network years from now.  With luck, by that time my remaining curiosity will only force me to watch five or ten minutes of it - or none at all.

December 25, 2014 - I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas.

December 24, 2014 - The misinformation (and occasional information) just keeps flowing.  On this Christmas Eve,  Chemistry World Magazine has published a GAO-related article titled "FBI’s 2001 anthrax investigation was flawed."  Here is what I consider the most interesting section of the article:

The investigation was undertaken partly because of questions raised by a National Academies study released in 2011, which determined that the FBI’s scientific data did not rule out other possible sources of the weaponised anthrax spores in the letters.

The GAO also found that one of the four genetic tests the FBI used on the anthrax samples had a 43% false negative rate. ‘That just really dropped my jaw, and it should be very embarrassing to the FBI that they still relied on that,’ says Jim White, a now retired molecular biologist with expertise in fermentation technology and microbial growth. Two of the three other genetic tests that the FBI relied on had false negative rates in the 20% range.

The FBI issued a response saying it has ‘complete confidence’ in its scientific results. The agency said the genetic tests it used were ‘well validated’, and that it has reviewed the results of all scientific analysis conducted during the course of the investigation and is satisfied by its quality. The FBI further noted that the scientific results alone were not the sole basis for concluding that Ivins committed the attacks.

But White and others argue that the information and questions that have surfaced in recent years warrant reopening the case.

I wondered how Chemistry World found Jim White.  Why is he the only outside source they quote? 

I did a Google news search for "Jim White"+anthrax and found him mentioned in nay-saying articles
HERE, HERE and HERE.  So, he seems to be an "expert" the media can call when they need someone to argue against official government findings.

The Amerithrax investigation does NOT need to be "reopened."  The people who argue against the FBI findings seem abysmally ignorant of the existing evidence in the case against Dr. Ivins.  Reopening the investigation won't solve that problem.  It would probably just make things worse.  What is needed is for the specific issues of concern to be addressed and thoroughly explained.

The difference between scientific proof and legal proof needs to be explained.

The difference between a scientific investigation and a criminal investigation needs to be explained.

The evidence showing that the attack spores were NOT "weaponized" with silicon needs to be better explained.

The ways that Bruce Ivins could have made the attack spores need to be explained (or it needs to be explained that telling all the terrorists in the world how easy it was for Dr. Ivins to make the anthrax spores could be counter-productive).

The way circumstantial evidence works in court may need to be thoroughly explained.

Of course, past experience (particularly with the JFK assassination) has shown that explanations often do no good.  People will still believe what they want to believe.  But, having the official (or unofficial) explanations publicly available will allow NEW researchers to find valid explanations amid the flood of conspiracy theories and ignorant reporting that currently dominates the Internet and library shelves.

The anthrax attacks of 2001 are now largely forgotten by the public.  The only people who seem to mention the attacks these days are the conspiracy theorists and others who feel that only they know "the truth" about who sent the anthrax letters.  Both want to convert the world to their beliefs.

A library of rational explanations and evidence is needed to counter their rantings.

Of course, I'd like to see my book "A Crime Unlike Any Other: What The Facts Say About Dr. Bruce Edwards Ivins and the Anthrax Attacks of 2001" in that library.

December 23, 2014 - On their "Homeland Security Today" web site, the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") has produced an on-line article about the General Accountability Office's ("GAO's") review of the  FBI's Amerithrax investigation.  Unfortunately, the article has the misleading title "Major Gaps in FBI’s Investigation of 2001 Anthrax Attacks, GAO Finds."  However, it's a relatively fair article that contains one paragraph in particular that is worth repeating, plus a second that helps clarify the situation:
GAO found the genetic tests that were conducted by the FBI’s four contractors were generally scientifically verified and validated and met the FBI’s criteria. However, the FBI lacked a comprehensive approach — or framework — that could have ensured standardization of the testing process.

“The use of a standardized approach to verification and validation from the beginning could have more definitively established the performance of all the genetic tests,” GAO reported. “It could have helped in communicating expectations clearly, ensuring confidence in results generated by any genetic tests developed.”
So far, that seems to be as far as anyone (other than me) has been willing to go to argue that what the FBI did was valid for the purpose of finding the anthrax killer, even though it did not establish standardized procedures that can also be used in future cases. And, of course, there's no reason to believe that there will ever be a "future case" where morphological variants (i.e., "morphs") will play a key role.

To me, it doesn't make any sense whatsoever to argue that the FBI should have put the Amerithrax investigation on hold for a few years while procedures that might never be used again could be "standardized" and validated.  At most, it can be argued that they should not have announced that Dr. Bruce Ivins was the anthrax killer until those procedures had been standardized and validated.  But even that doesn't make much sense, since IT WOULD NOT LIKELY CHANGE ANYTHING other than the confidence level related to test results.

People who have other theories about the case believe that it might somehow have shown that their favorite "suspect" was really the killer, but that is nonsense.  How would that any more than a wildly remote possibility if the criminal investigation cleared all other suspects and pointed to Dr. Ivins alone?

Unfortunately, it's unlikely that anyone but me will be arguing that the science used in the Amerithrax investigation was more than adequate to convict Dr. Ivins.  No one else wants to get into endless debates with conspiracy theorists and others who only argue their beliefs and who have no meaningful evidence to support their beliefs.

And I am reaching the point where I no longer see any worthwhile purpose in such endless debates, either. 

December 22, 2014 - After 13 years of arguments, there are still things to be learned and discovered about the anthrax attacks of 2001.  And the best way to discover them is to argue with people who have a totally different view of things than you do.

Yesterday on my interactive blog, I got into yet another argument with "DXer" about the hidden message Bruce Ivins encoded into the anthrax letter sent to Tom Brokaw.  (Click HERE for a large image of the complete Brokaw letter.)  DXer has been arguing for years that the horizontal line in the T in "NEXT" is not double-lined (traced over), even though it clearly is darker than all other line strokes in the word.

T in NEXT 

When I showed him the image above, he once again inexplicably argued that it is the X that is double-lined, not the T.   On Lew Weinstein's blog he even wrote:

As anyone can see, whether expert or not (and without magnification), the “X” is double-lined. Now why on earth did Agent Steele not tell us the “X” was double-lined — was he trying to make an imagined code fit his Ivins Theory?
But, as anyone can see, whether expert or not (and without magnification), the "X" is definitely NOT double-lined.  Yes, there is a stray horizontal mark on the upper right part of the X, but there is NO double-lining or tracing over of any part of the X.  Here's another look at the word "NEXT' when converted to black and white and with the contrast adjusted:
stray line in the word
                      NEXT
I can see how DXer might carelessly and mistakenly argue that the X is "double-lined."  It does look like the upper right corner of the X was somehow peeled away to show that there are two strokes, one atop the other.  But that's obviously not what happened.  That extra mark does NOT trace over anything.  It's a mark that doesn't belong.  And the X is clearly not as thick and dark as the top of the T, which is very obviously double-lined.

That made me wonder about other explanations.  Did the writer accidentally move the paper while drawing the X?  Or did his hand twitch?  The odd mark reminded me of some similar stray strokes I'd previously noticed on the Brokaw letter but had never thoroughly analyzed.  Here are some of the more obvious ones:
stray lines in words

When you view these "stray marks" (along with a few others, mostly at the bottoms of vertical lines, like the vertical lines in the E's in AMERICA and GREAT above), they appear to be lines left when the writer moved on to draw the next line in the same or next character but didn't fully lift the pen from the paper first.   He did the same thing, but to a lesser degree, when he addressed the Brokaw envelope

Who does that sort of thing when they write?  Mohamed Atta certainly did NOT do things that way  Click HERE for examples of his handwriting.  So, we have more facts and evidence debunking DXer's beliefs.

I'd certainly like to see some opinions from handwriting "experts" as to what those stray marks indicate.  My personal opinion is that the stray marks indicate that the writer was very carefully writing while copying the text from another document.  He had to continuously check to make certain what he needed to draw next.  And while he did so, he failed to fully lift the pen from the paper.  Thus he left the stray marks.  My personal opinion is that this indicates a child-like lack of hand-eye coordination, something one only develops as they gain experience with writing in any language.  But, I'd certainly like to see the opinions of true "handwriting experts" on this. 
 

December 21, 2014 - Yesterday, I finished reading the 77-page General Accountability Office's (GAO's) review of the Amerithrax investigation, and, as expected, it includes none of the approximately 23,863 suggestions made by DXer and other Truthers.  I never expected it would, but I had hoped it might do more than what was done.  On the first page of the report the GAO explains why the review was performed:
GAO was asked to review the FBI’s genetic test development process and statistical analyses. This report addresses (1) the extent to which these genetic tests were scientifically verified and validated; (2) the characteristics of an adequate statistical approach for analyzing samples, whether the approach used was adequate, and how it could be improved for future efforts; and  (3) whether any remaining scientific concerns regarding the validation of genetic tests and statistical approaches need to be addressed for future analyses.
They were asked to do something similar to what the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) did in 2011, and - not surprisingly - they came to a similar conclusion.  They focused on how science should be done, not on how a criminal investigation is done.

It's stated repeatedly in the report that the FBI feels that the scientific requirements for a definitive scientific answer have to do with "academic" needs, not with the needs and conditions of a criminal investigation.  I totally agree.  And the GAO says in their Report Highlights page:
GAO did not review and is not taking a position on the conclusions the FBI reached when it closed its investigation in 2010.
At the time the Amerithrax investigation began in late 2001, there was no such thing as "microbial forensics."  The so-called "scientific investigation" part of Amerithrax was, in effect, an experiment to see if meaningful information could gathered by an ad hoc collection of scientific techniques that had never been used in such a way before.  There was no lab waiting to perform such work for them.  There were no established procedures to follow in such a case.  Even the outside contractor labs which helped in the case each its own way of doing things.  Totally new procedures had to be developed for the Amerithrax investigation - some of them via trial and error. 

It was all done to determine who sent the anthrax letters, NOT to establish a scientific methodology that would be applied to all such cases in the future.

The GAO seems to understand this.  From page 31 of the GAO report:
The combination of limited communication among the contractors, varied timing in the validation efforts, uncertainties the FBI faced as the investigation unfolded, and increasing knowledge about the repository samples made it clear, with hindsight, that the contractors’ verification and validation approaches were likely to differ.
From page 51:
Although we identified several aspects of the FBI’s scientific methods we reviewed that could be improved in a future investigation, we recognize that in 2001, the FBI was faced with an unprecedented case. Determining the source of the spores in the envelopes was complicated by many factors, including the uncertain provenance of samples in the FBI repository, an unknown mutation rate for B. anthracis under laboratory growth conditions, and the performance of the genetic tests under “realworld” conditions
From page 52:
Although the complexity and novelty of the scientific methods at the time of the FBI’s investigation made it challenging for the FBI to adequately address all these problems, the agency could have improved its approach by including formal statistical expertise early in the investigation and establishing a statistical framework that could identify and account for many of the problems.
Yes, they could have done that.  But, how much time would that have added to the investigation, and at what cost?  Which is more important: to catch a mass murderer who has used a weapon of mass destruction, or to get the science refined to the point where very few would dispute it?  The media, politicians and people with theories about the case were already screaming that it was all taking longer than seemed necessary.

Page 52 also includes an explanation of what would have been involved in getting a more definitive answer about the morphs found in the attack spores and how long it might have taken (with my highlighting and underlining):
A key scientific gap—how stable genetic mutations are in a microbial genome and thus their suitability as genetic markers—remains an issue. Lack of this knowledge has implications for both the development of genetic tests, or other investigative approaches and technologies, and the analysis of the results they generate. For example, how likely it is that the same genetic mutations will arise independently in separate cultures is currently unknown, and so is whether different culture conditions can change the ratio of the mutations significantly enough to provide a negative rather than a positive result. DHS-funded research into the evolutionary behavior of variants in the genome of B. anthracis and other microbial agents and the use of genome sequencing is a step in the right direction because the FBI is planning to use sequencing in future investigations to analyze all the material in evidence samples. However, in determining the significance of using mutations as genetic markers, an understanding is still needed about the stability of genetic mutations. DHS’s ongoing research is likely to take several years and some of the technologies it entails, such as whole genome sequencing, are still evolving. Therefore, it is not clear when and whether this research alone will address this gap.
One could argue that catching the criminal needed to be done first, and then they could have refined the science.  It typically takes a year or two to get to trial in a murder case.  There would have been nothing between arrest and trial preventing the FBI from continuing to refine the statistics about how often different types of mutations form in Bacillus anthracis cultures and under what conditions.  There's absolutely NO reason to think it would have changed anything.  The science - questionable as it may be - led to the killer.  But, the scientific evidence was NOT needed to convict Ivins.  In a trial it would be as important as finding who owned the murder weapon.  It's a piece of circumstantial evidence which by itself means nothing, since others also had access to it.  The science just pointed investigators in the right direction.  It didn't identify Bruce Ivins as the only possible killer.

Conspiracy theorists and Anthrax Truthers seem to argue that, if the science hadn't pointed to flask RMR-1029 as the source for the "murder weapon," someone else might have been proven guilty of the crime.  The problem is: They cannot explain how that would be logical.  They just believe that there is a massive amount of evidence somewhere that points to their favorite suspect, and if the FBI hadn't gone astray by using "flawed" science, that massive heap of still undiscovered evidence might have been discovered, and the "real" culprit(s) might have been caught.

The evidence says the real culprit was caught.  The science used may not have been "perfect," but "perfect science" clearly wasn't needed.  There is absolutely NO reason to believe that "perfect science" would change anything significant.

Science could definitely answer some unanswered questions.  And there are probably thousands of scientists looking for grant money to allow them to seek the answers. 

The chances do not seem very high for there being another case any time soon where tracking down morphs to find the source of a bacteriological weapon will be needed. But, it would be nice to have a database of statistics ready in case it ever happens again. 

Science has already proved that the silicon in the attack spores was accumulated naturally, not via any man-made weaponization process.  However, it would be nice if someone could demonstrate how it was "most likely" done.  The facts and evidence seem to indicate it could be something as simple as growing spores outside of an incubator - at room temperatures.  The problem, of course, such information won't change many minds.  The conspiracy theorists who believe the attack spores were weaponized with silica or silicon have already demonstrated that they won't accept any evidence which disproves their beliefs.  They'll just find some "expert" somewhere who disbelieves the findings, and they'll cite him as proving that nothing has been proved, and that the possibility of "deliberate weaponization" still exists.   

On the positive side, the GAO report did add a new word to my vocabulary:
STOCHASTIC:
Stochastic is synonymous with "random." The word is of Greek origin and means "pertaining to chance" (Parzen 1962, p. 7). It is used to indicate that a particular subject is seen from point of view of randomness. Stochastic is often used as counterpart of the word "deterministic," which means that random phenomena are not involved. Therefore, stochastic models are based on random trials, while deterministic models always produce the same output for a given starting condition.
On page 62 of their report, the GAO makes its recommendations:
To ensure that a structured approach guides the validation of the FBI’s future microbial forensic tests, we recommend that the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation work with the Secretary of Homeland Security to develop a verification and validation framework. The framework should be applied at the outset of an investigation involving an intentional release of B. anthracis, or any other microbial pathogen. It should (1) incorporate specific statistical analyses allowing the calculation of statistical confidence for interpreting the results and specifying the need for any additional testing to fully explore uncertainties relative to the type of genetic test being validated and (2) applied and adapted to a specific scenario and employs multiple contractors.

In addition, we recommend that the Director of the FBI establish a general statistical framework that would require input from statistical experts throughout design and planning, sample collection, sample processing, sample analysis, and data interpretation that can applied and adapted to address a specific scenario involving an intentional release of B. anthracis or any other microbial pathogen.
What this will do is allow the FBI to state in court with (as an example) "90% certainty" that bacteria used in a crime originated at a specific source.  However, since the data is stochastic, no one can be 100% certain the findings are correct.

The problem is, there will always be conspiracy theorists and Truthers who will argue that anything less than 100% certainty means that their favorite theory is still possible.  And, until someone can prove with 100% certainty that what they believe is 100% impossible, they're just going to continue to believe what they want to believe.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, December 14, 2014, thru Saturday, December 20, 2014

December 20, 2014 - There are numerous news stories about the GAO report this morning.  All basically say the same thing: The science in the Amerithrax case wasn't perfect.  Only it's phrased as: the science was "flawed."  At the bottom of this web page, I'm adding links to the articles which aren't just repeats of other articles.  They include articles from The New York Times, PBS Frontline (with ProPublica & McClatchy), The Frederick News-Post and The Boston Globe.  

Conspiracy theorist Dr. Meryl Nass is also voicing her opinion on her blog:

If you actually say, out loud, that the FBI faked its search for the anthrax criminal(s), flushed $100 million down the toilet in its most expensive case to date, and deliberately avoided conducting a credible investigation to find the anthrax letters perpetrators, then you question the entire edifice of US law enforcement and imply a conspiracy around an anthrax letters coverup at the highest levels of government, as suggested in Professor Graeme MacQueen's recent book. And that, ladies and gentlemen, you are simply not permitted to do.
In reality, of course, you are "permitted" to do that.  You just have to accept that most people will then consider you to be a true conspiracy theorist from the Lunatic Fringe.

December 19, 2014 (C) - I just returned from the health club, and the first thing I noticed when I turned on my computer was that the news media is already writing dubious news articles about the GAO report.  The Associated Press has released an article titled "Report: FBI's Anthrax Investigation Was Flawed."  In other words, the FBI's investigation was not "perfect."  The AP article begins with this:

The FBI used flawed scientific methods to investigate the 2001 anthrax attacks that killed five people and sickened 17 others, federal auditors said Friday in a report sure to fuel skepticism over the FBI's conclusion that Army biodefense researcher Bruce Ivins was the sole perpetrator.

The 77-page report from the Government Accountability Office says the FBI's research, including novel microbial forensic tests, did not provide a full understanding of how bacteria change in their natural environment and in a laboratory. This failure to grasp the reason for genetic mutations that were used to differentiate between samples of anthrax bacteria was a "key scientific gap" in the investigation, the report says.

The GAO also found a lack of rigorous controls over sampling procedures and a failure to cite the degree of uncertainty in measurement tools used to identify genetic markers.

"Although the complexity and novelty of the scientific methods at the time of the FBI's investigation made it challenging for the FBI to adequately address all these problems, the agency could have improved its approach," the report said.

The GAO didn't take a position whether Ivins, who worked at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland, made and mailed the anthrax-filled envelopes.

I haven't yet read the GAO reports, but  I did notice this on page 2:
GAO did not review and is not taking a position on the conclusions the FBI reached when it closed its investigation in 2010.
In other words, it wasn't part of the GAO's job to re-investigate the case.  That should thoroughly upset every conspiracy theorist and Anthrax Truther.  However, the Truthers will probably all be pleased by reactions from a politician and from Dr. Ivins' lawyer that have been added to later versions of the AP article:

The GAO report was requested by a trio of congressional members led by Rep. Rush Holt, D-New Jersey, whose district includes the Princeton mailbox used in the attacks. Holt, who is retiring at the end of the year, said Congress should demand a comprehensive, independent review of the investigation to ensure that lessons have been learned.

"The GAO report confirms what I have often said — that the FBI's definitive conclusions about the accuracy of their scientific findings in the Amerithrax case are not, in fact, definitive," Holt said in a written statement.

Ivins' attorney, Paul F. Kemp, said he hopes Holt's plea doesn't fall on deaf ears.

"There's no evidence he did it," Kemp said.

Did the FBI ever claim that their scientific findings were "definitive"?  I seriously doubt it.  It appears to be just a politician distorting things to make a false argument.  The same with Mr. Kemp's absurd remark. 

December 19, 2014 (B) - Ah!  The GAO report appeared while I was on my old computer doing some weekly updating chores.  Click HERE for the 77-page pdf file.   The report is titled "Anthrax: Agency Approaches to Validation and Statistical Analyses Could Be Improved," which doesn't sound very dramatic or earth-shattering.  And, it looks like it's time for me to break for lunch and then head to the health-club for a workout.  I'll start going through the report when I get back.  Unless I see something particularly fascinating, I may save my comments until Sunday. 

December 19, 2014 (A) - Well, today's "the day" -- supposedly.  I hate relying totally on an Anthrax Truther blog for information, but I haven't been able to  find any other source which also says the General Accountability Office's (GAO's) review of the Amerithrax investigation is due out today. 

Searching the GAO's web site for the word "Amerithrax" finds no new report.  But, there's also section on their web site where new reports are listed by day issued.  Click HERE.  It shows 3 reports on other subjects were issued yesterday by the GAO, 5 on Wednesday, 5 on Tuesday and 1 on Monday.   But, as of this moment (8:45 a.m. Central Time), no report on any subject has yet been released today.  I also note that they released EIGHT (8) reports last Friday.  Based upon that singular tidbit of data, Friday seems like a big report-issuing day for them.  I'll be checking the GAO's site periodically during the day. 

December 18, 2014 - I've been thinking for some time about how STUPID it was for Sony Pictures to make a movie about assassinating a living Head of State.  I can see some individual being that STUPID, but there must have been hundreds of people involved in the project.  How could it get APPROVED?  It simply amazes me.

I bring up this subject because (A) I don't have anything related to the anthrax attacks of 2001 to write about today, and (B) because someone  just sent me two links to articles about the Sony cyber attack. 

The first article is from Wired Magazine and is titled "The Evidence That North Korea Hacked Sony Is Flimsy."  The second article is from The New York Times and is titled "U.S. Said to Find North Korea Ordered Cyberattack on Sony."  The Wired article begins with this:

The New York Times reported this evening that North Korea is “centrally involved” in the hack, citing unnamed U.S. intelligence officials. It’s unclear from the Times report what “centrally involved” means and whether the intelligence officials are saying the hackers were state-sponsored or actually agents of the state. The Times also notes that “It is not clear how the United States came to its determination that the North Korean regime played a central role in the Sony attacks.” The public evidence pointing at the Hermit Kingdom is flimsy.

Other theories of attribution focus on hacktivists—motivated by ideology, politics or something else—or disgruntled insiders who stole the data on their own or assisted outsiders in gaining access to it. Recently, the finger has pointed at China.

The two articles make very interesting reading.  I've seen news stories before about "cyber attacks,"  but I've never seen them strung together and compared the way they are in these two articles.  Here's part of the New York Times article:

The Sony attacks were routed from command-and-control centers across the world, including a convention center in Singapore and Thammasat University in Thailand, the researchers said. But one of those servers, in Bolivia, had been used in limited cyberattacks on South Korean targets two years ago. That suggested that the same group or individuals might have been behind the Sony attack.

The Sony malware shares remarkable similarities with that used in attacks on South Korean banks and broadcasters last year. Those intrusions, which also destroyed data belonging to their victims, are believed to have been the work of a cybercriminal gang known as Dark Seoul. Some experts say they cannot rule out the possibility that the Sony attack was the work of a Dark Seoul copycat, the security researchers said.

The Sony attack also borrowed a wiping tool from an attack two years ago at Saudi Aramco, the national oil company, where hackers wiped off data on 30,000 of the company’s computers, replacing it with an image of a burning American flag.

I think there are a lot of lessons to be learned from this latest cyber attack.  The first lesson is: Don't make movies about assassinating a living Head of State, no matter how terrible or insane that Head of State may be.  It's just plain STUPID.  The second lesson is: Don't underestimate the number or capabilities of Internet nut cases who are just looking for some way to mess with organizations and people they don't like.

December 17, 2014 - On my interactive blog, I thought I was making some progress in showing "DXer" that he has no meaningful evidence to support his belief that Adnan el-Shukrijumah was the anthrax mailer instead of Dr. Bruce Ivins.  DXer can't even provide any meaningful evidence that Shukrijumah was within two thousand miles of Princeton at the time of the anthrax mailings.  Nor can he provide any meaningful evidence that al Qaeda had access to the contents of flask RMR-1029. 

I have to include the qualifier "meaningful" when I talk about evidence with DXer, because he is likely to argue that the fact that Shukrijuma was alive at the time of the anthrax mailings is circumstantial evidence that it is possible that he could have been the mailer.  It would be impossible if Shukrijumah were dead, but if he was alive, no one can say it is "impossible."  So, by adding the qualifier "meaningful" I hope I can avoid arguing about "evidence" that doesn't prove anything other than that it was "possible" for Shukrijumah to be the mailer.

About all DXer can do is argue that al Qaeda was interested in using anthrax as a weapon, which no one argues against.  As DXer tried to argue his beliefs over the past few days, he repeatedly demonstrated that the facts said he was WRONG, not right.  Then, when I thought I was making some progress in demonstrating that he has no meaningful evidence to support his beliefs, he suddenly shifted the argument to being about Bruce Ivins.  As a result, I told him I would just ignore his emails and his attempted posts to my interactive blog unless he addressed his primary belief: that al Qaeda was behind the anthrax attacks.  Arguing over details like when Bruce Ivins committed the KKG burglaries will not solve anything.

Interestingly, a second Anthrax Truther posted a comment last night which shows he still does not understand circumstantial evidence.  Here are the key points in his post:

1) DXer is right: there's no evidence Ivins made either trip to Jersey, no evidence he was in Jersey in the entire calendar year of 2001.

2) Lake is right: there's no evidence that Shukrijumah was in New Jersey, or, for that matter, in the US in September-October of 2001.

That doesn't exclude the possibility that such trips were made WITHOUT LEAVING ANY SIGN WHATSOEVER, but as to a 'skein of evidence', it simply does not exist ...  the trips are merely being INFERRED

You may yet persuade people of your suspect's guilt by OTHER skeins of evidence, but not via a non-existent skein pointing to (merely putative) trips, trips which may never have been made. 
And, here's the key part of my response:
True. The trips to New Jersey made by Dr. Ivins are "inferred" or logically deduced. That is how circumstantial evidence works. But no trip by Shukrijumah to New Jersey at the time of the mailings can be inferred by the available evidence. The evidence infers just the the OPPOSITE, that Shukrijumah was nowhere near New Jersey at the time of the mailings.
....

It's the "OTHER skeins of evidence" which "infer" that Ivins made the trips to New Jersey. No one has argued that Ivins' trips to New Jersey are evidence of his guilt.

DXer, on the other hand, IS arguing that evidence that Shurkijumah MAY have been somewhere in the Western Hemisphere at some time after 9/11 is meaningful evidence that Shukrijumah was in New Jersey to mail the anthrax letters. It is NOT meaningful evidence of any kind related to the anthrax mailings.
I doubt very much that this will alter the second Truther's mistaken beliefs about circumstantial evidence.  He will probably always mistakenly argue that unless you have direct evidence specifically showing that Dr. Ivins drove to New Jersey to mail the letters, then Ivins could never have been convicted of being the mailer because you have no evidence he did the actual mailing.

The DOJ does have an abundance of circumstantial evidence proving beyond a reasonable doubt that Ivins prepared the anthrax letters, that he acted alone, and that he had no alibi for the time when the letters could have been mailed.  That evidence "infers" that Ivins must have driven to New Jersey to mail the letters.  And such an inference is totally acceptable in any criminal court in America - regardless of whether the Truther accepts it or not.    

December 16, 2014 - Someone sent me a link to an article titled "CrowdSolve wants to turn amateurs into true detectives" about a plan to create a web site where amateur detectives can theoretically help solve crimes.

The idea being that people with lots of free time on their hands will be able to find a nugget seemingly missed by harried police officers in-between arguments with the chief.
The article also says,
Of course, as with any project in 2014, the site won't be launching without users putting hands into their pockets. CrowdSolve is currently asking for donations on Indiegogo, with a target of $50,000 necessary before the documents can begin to flow. The bulk of that cash will be used to obtain the relevant documents ready for a launch around August next year.
I think the first "crime" they should try to solve is the apparent con game of trying to get $50,000 to access court documents.  They claim it costs $1 per page.  But, that's from the time when a person had to go in person to the court house to get a clerk to make a Xerox copy of a document.  It seems unlikely that many courts in the USA still do things that way.  A recent article HERE showed an exception where a California state court started charging $1 a page because they were "cash strapped" and needed more revenue to keep the court functioning.  For federal cases, PACER currently charges 10 cents per page, they have a maximum of $3 for a single document, and they don't charge you anything if you don't access at least $15 worth of pages in a fiscal quarter. 

Beyond that, the article does show another problem: How amateur detectives can easily point to the wrong people.  They cite the Boston Bombing case as an example.

December 14, 2014 (B) - For what it's worth, Lew Weinstein's blog now says:
The GAO report, based on new information, is expected Friday, December 19, 2014.
If it happens, I should have something interesting to write about next Sunday.

December 14, 2014 (A) -
If the General Accountability Office (GAO) is going to release their review of the Amerithrax investigation "sometime this fall," it will have to be done this week.  Winter begins next Sunday.  Lew Weinstein says, "I’m told by GAO the report will be issued the week of Dec 15."  That's this coming week.  So, we'll soon see if it actually happens or not. 

Meanwhile, "DXer" from Lew Weinstein's blog tried endlessly to argue his beliefs on my blog last week, and in the process he again showed how illogical his beliefs are.


He argued (once again) that the reason al Qaeda terrorists taped the anthrax letters shut and took several precautions to make certain no spores could escape from the letters was because the terrorists wanted to avoid killing an American mailman.  DXer posted this in support of his belief:

CNN.com – Transcripts
edition.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0111/15/ltm.01.html
Nov 15, 2001 … Target: Terrorism: Look at Al Qaeda’s Dreadful Recipe Book … and was given three chapters of the manual, in order to prove it’s existence. … The poisonous letter is the title of one section [on] poison inks. … “Wipe the envelope from the inside with silicone sealant,” it goes on, “so it would not kill the mailman.
The problem with that reasoning is, of course, the person who sent the letters did NOT wipe the inside of the envelopes with silicone sealant, and the letters DID kill two postal employees. So, the anthrax mailer was NOT following al Qaeda's "Recipe Book."  Looking at the actual CNN transcript that DXer quoted from, I noticed that he appears to have deliberately left out a key clause:
The poisonous letter is the title of one section [on] poison inks. "Write a letter to the victim mentioning very exciting and very interesting news," it reads. "Wipe the envelope from the inside with silicone sealant," it goes on, "so it would not kill the mailman."
The anthrax letters contained a SINISTER THREAT LETTER, they did not include "a letter to the victim mentioning very exciting and very interesting news."  So, again, the anthrax letter mailer did NOT follow the "Recipe Book."  Does the "Recipe Book" instruct terrorists to include medical advice in their "poisonous letters"? Dxer is just twisting and distorting things to make them fit his beliefs.

There's good reason for Bruce Ivins to have taped the letters shut and to have included medical advice in the text of the letters.  He wanted to avoid killing anyone.  But, it's silly and illogical to claim that al Qaeda was following the "Recipe Book" when they sent the letters, since the letters clearly do NOT follow the "Recipe Book."
 
DXer also argued (once again) that the return address on the Senate anthrax letters is a bunch of al Qaeda codes.  He wrote this about using Franklin Park, NJ, in the return address:

El-Shukrijumah may have been announcing by the address who the sender was — speaking in a code as he taught his colleagues (like Binyam) plotting with Padilla to do.
As it happens, there's a park called "Franklin Park" in the Florida town of Franklin Park, just across the street from where DXer's imagined anthrax mailer, Adnan el-Shukrijumah, attended a mosque.  So, in DXer's fanciful theory, the reason Franklin Park was used in the return address was because el-Shukrijumah wanted to announce "by the address who the sender was - speaking in a code."

But, DXer also believes that Mohamed Atta did the actual writing on the letters and envelopes (even though the handwriting is clearly NOT Atta's handwriting).  So, why would Atta include a code telling his fellow terrorists who the mailer was going to be?  Why wouldn't Atta use a code to tell his fellow terrorists that he WROTE the letters?

And, why would either one of them need to announce to fellow terrorists who the mailer or writer was?  And why use a code? 

Here's the return address used on the Senate anthrax letters:
4TH GRADE
GREENDALE SCHOOL
FRANKLIN PARK NJ 08852
Why not use Franklin Park, FL, in the return address?  And are we to believe that it was just a coincidence that the letters were mailed only 10 miles from Franklin Park, NJ?  We know why Ivins used Monmouth Junction's ZIP code, but why would an al Qaeda terrorist use it?  DXer also needs to explain why an al Qaeda terrorist would travel to Princeton, NJ, to mail the letters.  Bruce Ivins had a good reason.  He was obsessed with the KKG sorority, he'd broken into their offices in the past, and the mailbox he used was the closest mailbox to the KKG office in Princeton.  He could look over the KKG office while there. 

It would be interesting to see how DXer rationalizes why the letters were mailed from Princeton, New Jersey.  Presumably, he will simply dream up some new "code" that only he can see in the return address, and it will explain why Princeton was used.

DXer also argues that one reason al Qaeda sent the anthrax letters is because,

Zawahiri seeks his justifications in the hadiths — which is why he would have used the extremely virulent Ames strain of anthrax. The hadiths commanded that one use the weapon of one’s enemy.
But, the Ames strain was never used as a weapon by America (the "enemy").  The Ames stain was first discovered in 1981 and the US bioweapons program (which used the Vollum1B strain) was shut down in 1969.   

The illogical al Qaeda Theory just gets more illogical every time DXer tries to argue in favor of it.

judge commenting
                  on evidence vs opinions
Lastly, I've created a new thread for my interactive blog using the cartoon above to get it started on the subject: Evidence vs Opinions.  DXer has been using the thread to offer his opinions about a 2014 PhD thesis by Michael Garvey.  Dr. Garvey's thesis is that more work needs to be done to fully establish Microbial Forensics as a accepted scientific discipline.  It appears that in DXer's opinion, this somehow means that Dr. Garvey in some way doesn't agree with the findings of the Amerithrax investigation.

As far as I can tell, Dr. Garvey offers no opinion on Dr. Ivins' guilt.  The only relevant opinion he offers is a statement on page 94 where Dr. Garvey says,
"this author does not believe that the material recovered from OCONUS [Outside the CONtinental United States] missions was related to the 2001 anthrax attacks.In other words, Dr. Garvey doesn't believe DXer's theory that the attack anthrax was made in Afghanistan.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, December 7, 2014, thru Saturday, December 13, 2014

December 13, 2014 - Hmm.  I'd forgotten that the FBI caught the guy in the Syracuse, NY, area who had been sending out hoax anthrax and ricin letters since 1997.  A headline dated yesterday afternoon on Syracuse.com reads:  "Cicero man admits he was the mystery mailer who sent 21 fake anthrax letters over 15 years."  Cicero, NY, is a few miles north of Syracuse.  Here's what some of his letters looked like:

text of hoax anthrax letters

According to the Syracuse.com article:

A Cicero man admitted today that he sent nearly two dozen mailings filled with white powder and a deadly threat between 1997 and 2012.

Brian D. Norton, 59, pleaded guilty in federal court to conveying false information threatening injury or death.

He admitted sending 21 letters containing what he falsely claimed was anthrax or ricin to people, schools and organizations starting in 1997.

His arrest in June was the result of a 17-year investigation by FBI agents.

Back on June 11 of this year, I wrote about the FBI catching the guy.  So, we now also have a confession. 

December 12, 2014 - This morning, when I did my regular daily Google search for anthrax+2001, up popped a very interesting article about the "Ebola crisis" that existed for most of October.  It's from CIDRAP (the Center for Infectious Disease Research And Policy), and it is titled "COMMENTARY: When the next shoe drops - Ebola crisis communication lessons from October."  It begins with this:

In contrast to the Ebola crisis in West Africa, which started in late 2013 and will last well into 2015 or longer, the US "Ebola crisis" was encapsulated in a single month, October 2014. But there may well be US Ebola cases to come, brought here by travelers or returning volunteers. And other emerging infectious diseases will surely reach the United States in the months and years ahead.

So now is a propitious time to harvest some crisis communication lessons from the brief US Ebola "crisis."

We're putting "crisis" in quotation marks because there was never an Ebola public health crisis in the United States, nor was there a significant threat of one. But there was a crisis of confidence, a period of several weeks during which many Americans came to see the official response to domestic Ebola as insufficiently cautious, competent, and candid—and therefore felt compelled to implement or demand additional responses of their own devising.

It describes 4 "lessons" that should have been learned from the "crisis":
1. Don't over-reassure
2. Acknowledge uncertainty
3. Don't overdiagnose or overplan for panic
4. Tolerate early overreactions; don't ridicule the public's emotions
And it ends with this:

Treat the public like grownups

Aiming to convince the public that there was no cause for Ebola alarm, officials and experts used overconfident over-reassurance and absolutist invocations of "the science." And then they had the gall to ridicule the public as hysterical and panic-stricken. We hope that before the next unfamiliar and frightening infectious disease arrives, officials and experts will practice treating the public like grownups.

The reason the article popped up during my search was because the anthrax attacks of 2001 are briefly mentioned:

The CDC's pre-Dallas policies were promptly changed once they proved inadequate. But [CDC Director Tom] Frieden hadn't warned that errors and policy reversals were to be expected as officials climbed the Ebola learning curve. Instead, he reiterated often his contention that Ebola was well-understood and would succumb to tried-and-true public health measures.

(By contrast, after some initial overconfident over-reassurances during the 2001 anthrax attacks, Frieden's predecessor Jeff Koplan, MD, MPH, warned that public health officials would learn things in the coming weeks that they would then wish they had known when they started.)

There's a great deal of very interesting material in the article, including some links to additional material in the final section: "Other crisis communication lessons."

While it's about "crisis communication," it also relates to the reactions you'll get from conspiracy theorists.  In the world of conspiracy theorists, admission of uncertainty by a public official is the same as an admission of incompetence.  And any statement implying certainty that turns out to be incorrect is the same as "being caught in a lie," which is viewed as "proof" of a conspiracy.

While there are certainly some "crisis communication" lessons that can be learned from the "Ebola crisis," there are also people out there who will consider such lessons to be instructions on how to manipulate the public in order to lead them away from "the truth."  So, no matter how well you communicate with "the public," there will always be some "Truthers" who will believe what they want to believe.

December 11, 2014 - Someone just sent me an email with a link to an article titled "What Would Joseph Pulitzer Think of Rolling Stone?"  While the bulk of the article is about how Rolling Stone magazine botched that rape story at the University of Virginia, it also has this comment about the anthrax attacks of 2001:
[Sabrina Rubin] Erdely [the author of the Rolling Stone article] did find time to interview Wendy Murphy, whom she introduced to readers as an attorney who has filed Title IX lawsuits. She’d have been better identified as the activist who made incendiary and spurious public statements in the Duke lacrosse hoax. It’s disturbing how these same people -- and the same news outlets -- keep arising in stories. Al Sharpton, Tawana Brawley’s champion and Crown Heights riots provocateur, is now organizing protests over the police shooting in Ferguson. The New York Times, cheerleader of the fake Duke lacrosse claims, led the witch hunt against Steven Hatfill.

That case was reported properly by diligent Los Angeles Times investigative journalist David Willman. It was not Hatfill who terrorized the East Coast with anthrax, it was government scientist Bruce Ivins, who killed himself when the FBI finally closed in. Willman, who won an earlier Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting on the Food and Drug Administration, would have made Joseph Pulitzer proud. Rolling Stone magazine—not so much.

The article is about inaccurate news reporting.  I don't think the section above is a very good summary of the anthrax attacks of 2001, but at least it seems to indicate that the anthrax attacks haven't been totally forgotten.

December 10, 2014 - In case anyone is interested, the "CIA Torture Report" can be found HERE in unsearchable pdf format, and it can be found HERE is a searchable text format.  I did a search for the word "anthrax" and found it on 5 pages.  Most of it is meaningless and largely redacted, but page 111 contains this:
April 3, 2003. KSM [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed] also named three individuals who, he said, worked on an al-Qa'ida anthrax program that was still in its "earliest stages."
And on page 112 it says:
After CIA interrogators "demonstrated the penalty for lying," al-Barq again stated that "I made the anthrax" and then immediately recanted, and then again stated that he made anthrax.

Two days later, al-Barq stated that he had lied about the anthrax production "only because he thought that was what interrogators wanted."
Also, someone sent me a link to an interesting article from the conspiracy theory web site globalresearch.ca which describes a work of art about 9/11 conspiracy theories that will be included in the 9/11 museum in New York City.  Here's the artwork:

9/11
                    conspiracy theory artwork

The artist is Anthony Freda, who has contributed provocative political art to publications like The New York TimesTimeRolling StoneEsquireThe New Yorker, and Playboy.  According to the globalresearch.ca article:
Museum officials told Freda that “9-11 Questions” will rotate with other works on display and that it may also be included in traveling 9/11 art shows organized by the museum. But he concedes that museum officials, now that they own it, can do whatever they want with the piece — including locking it in a vault forever.
December 9, 2014 (B) - Overnight, I received three emails from DXer.  The first email contained this section of page 068 from Dr. Ivins' notebook #4010 (click HERE for a larger version):

Ivins notebook 4010 page 068

The intent of the email was to show that I still haven't fully corrected my mistake about when flask RMR-1029 was created.  The note describes how RMR-1029 was created, it is signed at the bottom by Bruce Ivins, and it is dated "22 Oct 97."

So, I again stand corrected.  In yesterday's comment, I stated that, while I could be wrong, it was my
"my understanding that 22 Oct. 1997 was the date that the project was approved and the RMR number was assigned."  That "understanding" was clearly wrong.  It means absolutely nothing to the Amerithrax investigation, of course.  However, I always appreciate being shown when I have an understanding that is incorrect.   

Vastly more interesting is the fact that that notebook entry also shows that DXer is wrong in arguing that flask RMR-1029 was stored in Building 1412 for some time.  The note says,
The spores were then dispensed into 2 equal lots, 500ml/lot, in polycarbonate screw-capped flasks (sterile).  They were store in the B3 cold room at 2-8 C. 
So, in addition to Dr. Ivins' statement to the FBI that flask RMR-1029 was never stored in Building 1412, we now have a written statement to that effect in Dr. Ivins' own notebook. When the flasks were created they were stored in the Suite B3 cold room, i.e., room B311, two doors down from Ivins' lab in B313 in Building 1425.  That should put an end to the matter.  The fact that scientists in Building 1412 had a different number (#7737) for the contents of flask RMR-1029 means nothing.

The second email contained only this in the subject line:
I'm embarrassed for you because there are 217 mistakes like this - we're stuck at #1 because you refuse to correct your mistake
I hope they consider the mistake corrected.  I do.  And I appreciate being corrected with facts and evidence, instead of with opinions and beliefs.

The third email was a long, rambling opinion about "the reason Dr. Ayman Zawahiri would have used the extremely virulent Ames strain."  It begins with this:

Zawahiri seeks his justifications in the hadiths — which is why he would have used the extremely virulent Ames strain of anthrax. The hadiths commanded that one use the weapon of one’s enemy.
The problem is, of course, that the Ames strain was never used as a weapon because it makes a very poor weapon.   Yes, it is "extremely virulent" if left untreated.  But, it's easily treated.  Just about any antibiotic can kill it.  Vollum is still the anthrax strain of choice for making bioweapons.  And there are MANY other anthrax strains that would make a better weapon than Ames.  Ames was selected for use in making vaccines because it killed a vaccinated cow and because it reproduces very rapidly. 

DXer has argued that same misunderstanding in the past, and still hasn't corrected his mistake.  When it's pointed out to him that the anthrax mailer took several precautions to prevent anyone from being harmed by the anthrax in the letters (taping the letters shut, wrapping the spores in the pharmaceutical fold, including warnings in the letter, etc.), DXer will just argue that "the hadiths" also include reason for doing that.  He demonstrates that he does not use the scientific method, he instead argues only opinions, and he has an opinion that fits any counter-argument.

December 9, 2014 (A) - This morning, someone sent me a link to a recent Scientific American article titled "Why Do People Believe in Conspiracy Theories?"  It says,

About a third of Americans, for example, believe the “birther” conspiracy theory that Obama is a foreigner. About as many believe that 9/11 was an “inside job” by the Bush administration.

The idea that such beliefs are held only by a bunch of nerdy white guys living in their parents' basements is a myth. Surveys by Uscinski and Parent show that believers in conspiracies “cut across gender, age, race, income, political affiliation, educational level, and occupational status.”
That's been my experience, too.  Some of the top conspiracy theorists I've dealt with are lawyers and college professors.  That's what makes them so fascinating.  They all have different theories, yet they all basically think alike.  Each thinks that he or she is the only one who really sees "the truth."  And you can't really get them to argue with one another.  Their focus is always to argue against "the government" and against anyone who agrees with the government findings.  And when doing that, they look at the other the conspiracy theorists as allies.

A college professor recently wrote a review of Graeme MacQueen's book "The 2001 Anthrax Deception" for ThePeoplesVoice.org.  The review is dated Dec. 5 and the reviewer, Prof. Edward Curtin, gushes on and one about how MacQueen uses a "plethora" of facts to support his conspiracy theory: 

MacQueen, in countering anti-conspiratorial thinkers of the left and right who approach such issues with minds like beds already made up, explains his method thus: “The tools of investigation are no different from those used to test other proposals. We use evidence and reason. In some cases we will be able to make confident assertions and in other cases we shall have to acknowledge that we are speculating, but even in this second case we will do our best to ground our speculation in evidence. Ideology, national loyalty, outrage and ‘common sense’ will not do the job.”
What kind of "evidence and reason" is he talking about?  An example:

The anthrax letter attacks began on September 18, 2001 when the first letters were mailed from Princeton, New Jersey. Between October 3 and November 20 twenty-two people were infected with dried anthrax spores and five died. Between October 6 and October 8 especially highly refined and aerosolized anthrax letters were sent to two key Democratic Senators, Thomas Daschle and Patrick Leahy. Before October 3 when the first case, that of Robert Stevens who died two days later, was diagnosed, the FBI claimed that “no one except the perpetrators knew…that the attacks were in progress.”

Yet The New York Times, between September 12 and October 3, made reference to the possibility of biological or chemical terrorist attacks 76 times, 27 references specifically to anthrax. Many of these warnings came from government leaders.
So, there must have been a conspiracy if the media was worried about the possibility of an anthrax attack before there actually was an anthrax attack.  That's the same logic I mentioned on Sunday that Pearl Harbor conspiracy theorists use.  If you are worried about the possibility of an attack before there actually is an attack, then you must have had prior knowledge of the attack - or even helped to arrange it.

The world of conspiracy theorists has no place for intelligent people who pay attention to what is going on in the real world.  In the world of conspiracy theorists, if there is a "possibility" of an attack, then the government should put an end to that possibility.  That's what we pay taxes for.  If "the government" can't eliminate the "possibility of an attack," then they are either incompetent or they are working to allow the attack to happen for some political reason.  It's all so simple and logical - if you're paranoid.

December 8, 2014 - Yesterday, "DXer" sent me an interesting email which I posted to my interactive blog.  The main purpose of the email was to point out a "mistake" I made on my supplementary web page about The illogical al Qaeda Theory.  On that page I wrote,
1.  The belief is that some scientist member of al Qaeda (or just some Muslim scientist named xxxxx xxxxxxx) was given access to a B3 suite at USAMRIID in May 1998.  While there, the scientist was given a sample of the Ames strain.   (But records show that the first sample taken from flask RMR-1029 which was removed in Sept. 1998.)  Click HERE for more details. 
DXer said in his email:
That’s not what the records show. The records show that the first known sample taken from Flask RMR-1029 were from March 1998. The inventory he relies upon has been noted by Ivins to not reflect all the transfers and yet Ed relies on it because of a lack of mastery of the documents.

I have uploaded and linked the FBI’s expanded log of known withdrawals from Flask 1029 (based on the documents that the FBI was able to obtain).
The Reference Material Receipt Record says that the date the contents of RMR-1029 were "Received at USAMRIID" was "22 Oct 97."  But then it shows "Amount In" as "1000 ml" on 9/17/98.  Here's the first page of that document (click HERE for a larger version): 

RMR-1029 inventory log

It's my understanding that 22 Oct. 1997 was the date that the project was approved and the RMR number was assigned.  But, I could be wrong.  In any event, it's my understanding that it was a major project.  It took a long time to actually assemble and purify the contents of the flasks that eventually contained material RMR-1029 and were put into inventory.  But, again I could be wrong. 

DXer also provided a link to "the FBI's expanded log."  It's HERE.  But, the image at that link is not in context, so I had to search for the original.  I found it on page 8 of FBI file "24 of 59," where it is the last page of a FBI report that begins on page 6.  The "expanded log" does indeed have some entries prior to September 17, 1998 when flask RMR-1029 was officially created with 1000 milliliters of spore concentrate and the first sample was removed.  Here's that part of the "expanded log" showing three removals prior to the Sept. 17, 1998, log entry, two in March 1998 and one in May:

FBI log checking on RMR-1029 entries
 
It's unclear exactly what was going on at that time.  The contents of flask RMR-1029 were received in batches from Dugway and from Ivins' own work.  The spores had to be purified and tested before exactly 1000 milliliters were poured into two 500 ml flasks and the inventory for RMR-1029 began.  Exactly what was dispensed on May 13, 1998 - and to whom - is unclear.  The link I used on my web page doesn't explain anything.  And DXer won't provide sources and details of what he thinks happened.  

In his June 19, 2012, comment on my interactive blog DXer wrote something that is almost indecipherable (and of course he doesn't provide links to any sources):
And you talk about tours of USAMRIID when in fact Bruce Ivins GAVE virulent Ames to a former Zawahiri associate as part of research that was conducted at the BL-3 at USAMRIID. As part of his official duties. As evidenced by numerous patents by the DARPA-funded researchers.

Tarek Hamouda thanked Patricia Fellows, Dr. Ivins' chief accuser, for her technical assistance and thanked Bruce Ivins for supplying the Ames. 
I can't be certain that the May 13, 1998 entry does not refer to that transfer, and I don't know for certain exactly what was transferred.  So, I think the easiest thing to do is to just remove the two sentences from my web page about the al Qaeda theory rather than rephrase or try to explain things.  I've done that.  And I modified an update comment at the bottom of the page to try to clarify things a bit.

December 7, 2014 - Hmm.  Today is both Sunday and Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, the 73rd anniversary of the Sunday, December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.  That would seem to make it an opportune time to plug my novel "Clipper," which is available for Kindle owners for just $2.99.  The attack on Pearl Harbor is the central event in "Clipper."

Cover of the novel
                            "Clipper"

This subject is not entirely off topic, since one reason I got interested in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was all the conspiracy theories that were spawned by Pearl Harbor Truthers in the decades that followed the attack.  I've actually met some Pearl Harbor Truthers over the years.   I remember talking with one at the Austin Film Festival in 2001, just a few weeks after 9/11.  I don't recall his name, but he was rail-thin, in his 50's or 60's, very tense and driven, and also thoroughly dedicated to spreading this theory that Pearl Harbor was made possible via a U.S. government conspiracy: President Roosevelt allowed Pearl Harbor to happen so that America would be drawn into World War II.  The Truther didn't particularly like me telling him that my novel "Clipper" debunked all such conspiracy theories.  It was like he was on a mission, dedicating his life to getting people to learn "the truth" about Pearl Harbor.  Of course, he was also at the Austin Film Festival to try to sell his screenplay about the conspiracy.

I've probably argued with some Pearl Harbor Truthers on the Internet, too.  But, it was long ago, in the early days after the anthrax attacks.  My personal library still contains some key books on the subject, books that look at what really happened, not what Truthers believe happened.  "At Dawn We Slept" is a prime example of a book that describes what really happened.

 "Clipper" is a novel that debunks the Pearl Harbor conspiracy theories by showing what the facts and evidence say as seen through they eyes of fictional characters who go on a real life, epic and historical adventure, encountering key real people from the time.  A week before Pearl Harbor, the main character, Professor Jessica McCann, is asked to go on an important mission for the U.S. government.  She leaves San Francisco on November 30, 1941,
aboard a Pan Am Clipper bound for Pearl Harbor.  There, she is to meet with a Japanese naval officer, an old friend she grew up with and still exchanges letters with.  But the officer is unable to make his planned Pan Am flight heading east from Macao, and he instead boards a tramp steamer bound for Darwin, Australia.  An "epic adventure" ensues as Professor McCann heads for Australia to meet him there while powerful forces in American and Germany work to make certain that Jessica McCann's mission fails.

If you go to the sample chapters of "Clipper" on Amazon.com, you'll see that nearly everyone in the story is expecting war to break out with Japan at any moment.  While no one even remotely thinks the Japanese are planning to attack Pearl Harbor, they are all fully expecting that Japan will at any moment attack the Philippines and invade Indochina, which would start a war with America.  It was only the average American who was totally surprised when Japan started the war. 

That can be compared to the anthrax attacks.  There were many people in the government expecting al Qaeda to use some kind of bioweapon on America after the failed attempt to bring down the North Tower of the World Trade Center in February, 1993.  To many Americans, it is incomprehensible to expect such a thing.  You don't expect or plan for an attack by terrorists or foreigners, you do something to stop the attack.  And, if you expected an attack and did not stop it, then you are either incompetent or you conspired to allow the attack to happen, which is what conspiracy theorists believe about Pearl Harbor and the anthrax attacks.  (I don't think anyone was ever dumb enough to believe it was really Americans who bombed Pearl Harbor, the way some believe today it was really Americans who perpetrated 9/11.)

Checking through my old journals, I see I was writing "Clipper" in 1990. When I was done writing he book, I found an agent to help me market it.  He was a top agent who really loved the book and more or less came out of retirement to help me find a publisher.  He tried about 50 publishers, but couldn't get a sale.  He passed on to me some comment letters from editors.  I recall one said my novel was like a series of adventures, instead of one single story.  Another editor wrote me to say he was going to mention the idea to one of his writers, Ken Follett.  Ken Follett later wrote a totally different book about an adventure aboard a Boeing-314 Pan Am Clipper.  It was called "Night Over Water."  The editor sent me a copy when it was published in 1991.

Eventually, my agent and I gave up on finding a publisher for "Clipper," and I moved on to writing screenplays.  I got a Hollywood agent interested, and he tried selling several of my screenplays.  Although one screenplay was optioned for awhile, none was ever produced into a movie.

Then I got involved in on-line arguments about the anthrax attacks of 2001, and I wrote two self-published non-fiction books on that subject.

(Somewhere in a closet I have copies of manuscripts for three or four other novels I wrote before "Clipper" (and before the age of home computers, which means they're not on disks) but couldn't get an agent or publisher interested.  Some people don't understand about hobbies - particularly writing as a hobby.  They think if you don't make money, you should stop doing it.  I get enjoyment from the writing process, just as I do in writing for this web site.  Getting paid for doing it would just be a bonus.)

And now I'm trying to find the time to get back to work on the second in a series of three new science fiction novels.  I haven't written a word for it since mid-August, largely because converting to a new computer is taking up so much of my time.  I also keep thinking that I should set up another web site where I can write about things that are not connected to the anthrax attacks of 2001 - like books, movies, current events, TV, psychology and other interests of mine.  I just keep waiting for the General Accountability Office (GAO) to publish their review of the Amerithrax investigation so that I can wrap things up on this web site.  It was supposed to happen "sometime this fall," but fall will be over in two weeks, and there's still no sign of that GAO review.

A couple arguments last week showed me it is getting close to the time when I need to wrap up things on this web site.  One Truther wrote:

If you cannot make your argument without intentionally lying, Ed, it reveals the weakness of your argument.

And if you are not intentionally lying, it just reveals you to be incredibly stupid.
And a different Truther wrote:
That [the details of his theory] will eventually be understood by those with an open mind. In 2020, or 2022. Or whenever. With any 'luck' at all, Mister Lake won't live to see it.
I've got a lot of things I'd rather be doing than arguing with people who don't know the difference between saying an idea is stupid and saying a person is stupid, and arguing with people who hope you will soon be dead.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, November 30, 2014, thru Saturday, December 6, 2014

December 6, 2014 (B) - Hmm.  This afternoon, after working on my new laptop computer most of the day, I turned on my old computer to download my web site statistics, which I still cannot do on my laptop (because I need to set up a new password, and I haven't found the time to do that).  While I was working on my old computer, the browser screen suddenly changed.  It switched from the old Firefox web browser screen I've been using for a decade to the new Firefox web browser screen.

Ordinarily, that probably wouldn't be a problem for most people.  But for me it meant I stopped having any ability to maintain this (or any) web site via my old computer.  The new version of Firefox doesn't have any web site composer capability. That's why I couldn't use Firefox on my new laptop and had to hunt around until I found the SeaMonkey browser which does what I need to do.

I'd stopped maintaining this web site with my old computer anyway.  But, I just did that 7 days ago.   It makes me wonder what I would have done if they had changed the version of Firefox on my old computer a month ago.  I would have suddenly lost all ability to maintain this web site.  I got a flash of paranoia wondering if someone has been keeping track of what I'm doing and made the change because they knew I could now handle the change.  Or was it just luck that made me ready for the change?     


December 6, 2014 (A) - I probably should save this for tomorrow's comment, but I'll mention it today and hope I can think of something else to write about for my regular Sunday comment.

According to NBC News, a top al Qaeda terrorist was killed yesterday in
Shinwarsak, South Waziristan, by the Pakistani military:
Adnan el Shukrijumah, who was indicted in July 2010 for his alleged role in planned terror attacks in the U.S. and Britain, was killed along with two others in a pre-dawn raid, the military told NBC News. 
According to the British newspaper The Telegraph:
After the attacks on the Twin Towers, Shukrijumah was seen as one of al-Qaeda’s best chances to attack inside the US or Europe, according to testimony given to US authorities by Abu Zubaydah, a captured terrorist. Shukrijumah studied at a community college in Florida but when the FBI arrived to arrest him as a material witness to a terrorism case in 2003, he already had left the country.
An article in today's issue of another British newspaper The Independent contains a few additional details:

He had come to South Florida in 1995 when his father, a Muslim cleric and missionary trained in Saudi Arabia, decided to take a post at a Florida mosque after several years at a mosque in Brooklyn.

But at some point in the late 1990s, the FBI says Shukrijumah became convinced that he must participate in "jihad," or holy war, to fight perceived persecution against Muslims in places like Chechnya and Bosnia. He eventually went to a training camp in Afghanistan where he studied the use of weapons, explosives and battle tactics.

Another British newspaper, The Globe and Mail, doesn't add anything significant, nor does a Reuters article on the subject.  England's BBC.com web site contains a "profile" of Shukrijumah, but it doesn't say much.

What they are all missing is the fact that "DXer" believes that Shukrijumah was the anthrax mailer.  None of the news articles even mentions the anthrax attacks, nor do they state that Shukrijumah was in the U.S. at the time of the attacks.  Maybe they know something that DXer doesn't know -- or something he refuses to believe.

December 4-5, 2014 -  Yesterday, on my interactive blog, "DXer" wanted me to prove this flask of  "anthrax spore concentrate" was NOT the Ames strain. 

anthrax spore
                    concentrate

The flask was evidently found in a lab in Kabul, Afghanistan sometime after 9/11.  The photo comes from Lew Weinstein's blog HERE.  

The "proof" I provided to DXer was that, if it was the Ames strain, it would have been a MAJOR news story, since the FBI found that the Ames strain had been sent to only three foreign countries, and Afghanistan wasn't one of the three.  

However, DXer seems dedicated to assuming that it IS the Ames strain until someone in authority proves to him personally that it is NOT the Ames strain.  And then DXer will decide whether to believe the official or not.

He also wants some handwriting expert to verify his own observation that the handwriting on the label belongs to
Rauf Ahmad.  DXer says, "GAO should obtain the FBI’s expert handwriting comparison."  It's unclear what DXer will do with the verification if he gets it.  It doesn't appear to mean anything to the Amerithrax investigation.  But, DXer probably thinks it does.

In another discussion with a different Anthrax Truther yesterday, the Truther argued that the FBI is using arguments that are "not falsifiable."  He quoted me:
"Not falsifiable" means it is NOT POSSIBLE to prove false.
And then he wrote:
IOW the Ivins-is-guilty hypothesis is independent of any chronology/set of circumstances. And hence unfalsifiable.
I really had a laugh over that one.  The Truther believes he knows who sent the anthrax letters, and it was NOT Dr. Ivins.  In the real world, that should mean that he can prove someone other than Bruce Ivins did it.  And that would mean he can prove the FBI claim that Ivins did it is false.

So the Truther is saying, in effect, that "the Ivins-is guilty hypothesis" is unfalsifiable, while at the same time the Truther is saying he can prove the "hypothesis" is false.

Apparently, like other Anthrax Truthers, all he needs to prove the FBI is wrong is for the FBI to provide him with evidence that the FBI is wrong.  Until then, he'll assume the FBI is lying.  And, if the FBI were to provide him with the material he wants and  it did not contain the evidence he believes is there, then that would prove that the FBI is still hiding the evidence and still lying. 

The Truther's claim that the FBI is lying is "unfalsifiable."  The Truther cannot prove the FBI is lying, and no evidence the FBI could ever provide would convince the Truther that they are not lying.  He'd just continue to argue that it is "possible" that the FBI is still lying, and there would be no way to prove it was "impossible."  That's basic reasoning for Truthers and conspiracy theorists.  Their claims are unfalsifiable because you need to prove their claims are impossible.  If you can't, then they'll just continue to believe what they want to believe.

December 3, 2014 - I've been incredibly busy trying to get my new laptop computer into operation, which caused me to neglect adding any comments to this web site for a few days.  During that time, I have been arguing endlessly with two Anthrax Truthers on my interactive blog, but I haven't had time to write a comment about it here.  That's probably just as well, since it's same-old, same-old.

This morning, I noticed a long article about the anthrax attacks of 2001 and Graeme MacQueen on OpEdNews.com.  It's dated yesterday, and I see it's a copy of a new article dated Monday from the conspiracy theorist web site GlobalResearch.ca.  I haven't had a chance to read it, but it looks mostly same-old, same-old.

I've been trying for over two weeks to set up an Outlook.com email account in the SeaMonkey email program I'm using on the laptop.  Yesterday, I finally succeeded.  Now I need to write a description about how it was done, so that interested people on a Microsoft forum can see what was required.  I'll start on that as soon as I upload this comment.

I also really want to write something about the movie "Temple Grandin" (which I watched for the second time on Monday evening) and some comments Jerry Seinfeld made on NBC News a couple weeks ago:



This web site, however, may not be the right place to write about that, even though it might be highly relevant if viewed from the right angle.  I also want to tie it all in to the differences I have seen over the years between people who watch sports and people who watch movies - and people who don't like either one.  But that's going to take a lot of thinking to sort out.

And then I need to work on about a dozen remaining problems in getting things on my old computer shifted over to my new laptop.

Busy, busy, busy.

November 30, 2014 - This update is being done via my new laptop computer using the SeaMonkey web page composer program - as will all updates in the foreseeable future (unless something goes wrong). 

There's still  no news about when the General Accountability Office will be releasing their review of the Amerithrax Investigation.  And the Anthrax Truthers are still just arguing the same things they've argued for over a decade: The FBI is wrong, and the Truthers believe they know "the truth," although it appears that no two Truthers have the same idea of what "the truth" is.

In the world of science and in the world of criminal investigations, "the truth" is what the facts and evidence say is correct

In the world of Anthrax Truthers, "the truth" is whatever they believe is "true," regardless of what the facts and evidence say.

In the world of science, the search for "the truth" generally begins with the observation of some kind of phenomenon, e.g., if left in an open Petri dish, anthrax spores dry all by themselves.  How is this possible?  Some "experts" claim that it requires very sophisticated drying equipment to dry anthrax spores, and they claim it's not possible to dry anthrax spores without such sophisticated equipment.

In the world of criminal investigations, the FBI determined that Dr. Bruce Edwards Ivins was the person who, in 2001, sent the anthrax-filled letters which killed 5 people and injured 17 others.  However, some outside "experts" claim that it was not possible for Dr. Ivins to have done such a thing (one reason being he had no way to dry spores).

Here's video of scientist Nobel Prize winning physicist Richard Feynman explaining the "scientific method":



In the video, Dr. Feynman starts by explaining how physicists begin a search for "a new law," i.e., a search for an explanation of some observed phenomenon. 

In the world of criminal investigations, an investigator begins with a search for the perpetrator of a crime, e.g., who sent the anthrax letters?

Dr. Feynman explains that physicists often begin with "a guess."  (He probably should  have said "an educated guess.")

Criminal investigators often do somewhat the same thing.

The initial "guess" in the Amerithrax investigation was that the letters were sent by the same people who had just attacked America in a different way on 9/11.  The "guess" was that Islamic terrorists had sent the anthrax letters as a followup to 9/11.

Dr. Feynman then says the next step is to "compute the consequences of the guess," i.e. to determine what else must (or should) be true if the "guess" is true.

The 9/11 terrorists could not have mailed the anthrax letters themselves, since they were all dead at the time of the mailings.  And, if the 9/11 terrorists had a companion who stayed behind to mail the anthrax letters, there should have been some trace of anthrax spores where the terrorists went.

The FBI investigated every place the 9/11 terrorists visited, testing for any trace of anthrax spores.  They found NO TRACE of spores anywhere.  (Much later, some outside investigators argued that a gash in the leg of a 9/11 hijacker might have been an anthrax lesion.  But that wasn't part of the FBI's investigation.)

The FBI began looking overseas for some trace of where the spores may have been grown by Islamic terrorists.   They found no connection to the mailings.

Meanwhile, the FBI also learned that the strain of anthrax used in the attacks was the Ames strain, which was used primarily in American microbiology labs.

In the video, Dr. Feynman explains that if all your work to verify your "guess" shows negative results, then the "guess" is WRONG.  And he explains:

"If it disagrees with experiment, it's WRONGIn that simple statement is the key to science.  It doesn't make any difference how beautiful your guess is, it doesn't make any difference how smart you are, who made the guess or what his name is, if it disagrees with experiment, it's wrong.  That's all there is to it."

In criminal investigations (as opposed to scientific investigations), that comment could be translated to mean,

If a "guess" disagrees with the evidence, it's WRONGIn that simple statement is the key to law.  It doesn't make any difference how beautiful your "guess" is, it doesn't make any difference how smart you are, who made the "guess" or what his name is, if it disagrees with the evidence, it's wrong.  That's all there is to it.

There was no meaningful evidence to support the "guess" that Islamic terrorists were behind the anthrax letter attacks.  The evidence suggested just the opposite: that Islamic terrorists were NOT responsible for the anthrax attacks of 2001.  So, the investigators had to look elsewhere (while also continuing to look for evidence they may have missed when investigating their first "guess.")

The next "educated guess" was that a "lone wolf" had sent the letters. Past experience on vaguely similar attacks had shown that to be the next best "educated guess."  If the killer was NOT a "lone wolf" but part of some criminal conspiracy, the search for a "lone wolf" should uncover evidence of that, too.  (There's no logical way to start by looking for a criminal conspiracy.) 

The FBI asked for help from the public.  In response they received thousands of tips, including some from "experts" in scientific fields who pointed at Steven Hatfill as a likely suspect, and at least one (from Nancy Haigwood) pointing at Dr. Bruce Ivins.

It became a process of elimination.  If the evidence showed that a potential suspect could NOT have committed the crime alone, then he or she was eliminated as the "lone wolf," but still kept as a candidate for a participant in a criminal conspiracy.

As everyone now knows, it was an advancement in forensic microbiology that eventually pinpointed the person the facts and evidence showed to have committed the crime: Dr. Bruce Edwards Ivins of USAMRIID.  The new evidence showed that the attack spores originated with a flask he controlled.  And a vast amount of additional circumstantial evidence showed Dr. Ivis had means, motive, opportunity, and that he'd tried on multiple occasions to mislead the investigators.

The facts and evidence showed beyond a reasonable doubt that Dr. Ivins was the anthrax killer.  Of course, there are many people who think the FBI is wrong, but that doesn't matter.  Dr. Feynman explains why at about the 8:45 mark in the video:
The problem is not to say that something might be wrong, but to replace it with something [better].  And that is not so easy.
As Dr, Feynman explains, when attempts are made to substitute some other theory for the finding that is supported by facts and evidence, it becomes immediately apparent that the replacement theory doesn't work.

No "replacement" theory I've ever seen about who sent the anthrax letters can even explain the basic issues, like how was access to Flask RMR-1029 obtained?  The theorists conjure up ways that are "possible," but they have no evidence to support their theory that their suspect did things that "possible" way.  Their theories are based upon what is "possible," not upon facts and evidence.  Therefore their theories cannot replace (or even meaningfully compare) to the FBI's finding, based upon facts and evidence, that Dr. Ivins was the anthrax killer.

Thus endeth my lecture for this Sunday ... except for one additional comment: Yesterday, "DXer" attempted another post to my interactive blogHe wrote only this:

Why didn't you apply the scientific method to your theory a First Grader wrote the Fall 2001 anthrax letters? 
Of course, he didn't even attempt to explain how he arrived at the screwball belief that I didn't use the scientific method to conclude that a First Grader wrote the anthrax letters.  It's what the evidence says.  And no one has ever produced any better evidence of a different conclusion.  That's the "scientific method" in a nutshell.

Since this comment is also being written to test my ability to include visual links to YouTube videos, here's the video I created a couple years ago to explain 12 facts which show that the letters were written by a child just starting first grade (and there are a lot more facts which aren't mentioned in the video):



People may not believe this finding, but no one has ever produced a better explanation of the facts and evidence.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, November 23, 2014, thru Saturday, November 29, 2014

November 27, 2014 - I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving.  That includes all those who are absolutely certain they know the "truth" about the anthrax attacks of 2001, and all those who see no reason to reject what the current available evidence seems to say about the attacks, and all those who don't really give a damn one way or the other.

November 26, 2014 - Yesterday's comment got a couple interesting reactions.  An Anthrax Truther on my interactive blog twisted and distorted something I wrote in the comment in order to argue once again his pet theory that the anthrax attacks of 2001 were a criminal conspiracy led by a criminal mastermind who he cannot name. 

Meanwhile, someone else sent me an email suggesting that I just take my new laptop computer back to the store and get my money back, instead of asking "experts" how to solve the touchpad problem or trying to figure it out for myself.   As I see it, that wouldn't solve anything, since it appears that the "two finger scroll" touchpad problem is very common, and it could appear again in a replacement computer.

This morning, a discussion I was having on a SeaMonkey support forum resulted in me finding the solution to a problem I was having with setting up an email account.  It turned out to be a wrong entry I made while trying to set up the account.  Once I put in the correct entry, everything worked perfectly.  And that simple solution suggests that my touchpad problem may be solveable by a simple change in settings, too.   In a Youtube video HERE, someone shows how simply turning off a switch and then turning it back on again solves the problem of the touchpad not working.   But, "Alex Fischer" posted this comment in response:
 
Short term solution! I've been using this same method however the problem keeps reoccurring...

And the problem keeps reoccurring on my laptop, too.  But, for me, a permanent solution may just be to find that switch and turn off the two finger scroll option permanently.  I don't really need the two finger scroll option, but there may be times when I can't use the mouse and will need all the other touchpad capabilities.

I just need to find that switch to give it a flick in order to see what happens.

November 25, 2014 - This is mostly off-topic, but someone might find it interesting:

Yesterday, in the middle of a snow storm, I drove over to my local computer store and picked up my "new" laptop, which I'd taken in for repair on Friday because the touchpad had stopped working, plus I was having difficulty getting the SeaMonkey email program to work, and I'd hope they might help me with that.  After spending about a half hour with their "experts" yesterday, I learned that they had no clue as to how to get the SeaMonkey email program to work.  They'd never worked with that particular problem in that particular software before.   Since I'd been working on it for several days before I turned it over to them, I was probably much more of an "expert" than they were.  

Then I learned that they'd fixed the touchpad problem in a way that I knew from past experience wouldn't last.  And it didn't.  As soon as I got the laptop home, the touchpad stopped working again.

This could be viewed as an "on topic" problem, since the "problem" involves dealing with "experts."   Each "expert," like everyone else, has his own unique view of the world and his own history of past experiences.  And, like most "experts," the "experts" at the computer store deal with dozens or maybe hundreds of different problems every day.  They tend to view problems as patterns, i.e., similar to past problems they've seen, while my problem may not fit any pattern or past problem.

And then there's also the "telephone game" problem: When I brought in the laptop for repair, I described the problems to the "expert" tending to the customer counter.  He typed his understanding of the problem into their computer system.  A day or so later, a different "expert" was assigned to fix the problem.  That "expert" read what the first guy typed and did his own interpretation of the problem.   So, what the "expert" who actually worked on the computer understood as the problem may have been significantly different from what I originally described.

I've had the touchpad problem fixed five times since I bought the laptop computer on October 1.  I've learned that I really should be using a mouse, not the touchpad.  I'm much faster at using the mouse.  Plus, I've learned that there are two different ways to "solve" the touchpad problem.  One "solution" works, one doesn't.   The "solution" that allows "two finger scrolling" will work for awhile, and then the touchpad will suddenly stop working altogether.  The solution that does NOT allow "two finger scrolling" works, but it's not the "current" advertised method for using the touchpad.

So, what I need to do is first try to see if I can fix the problem myself.  If I can't, I need to be very careful and very specific when I describe the problem to the "experts" at the store.  I can't leave any room for misinterpretations. 

"Experts" are just humans like the rest of us.  When dealing with an "expert," you need to penetrate through his biases, prejudices and ignorance, just as with any non-expert.  And you need to explain the problem in terms that your grandmother would understand.

November 24, 2014 - My new laptop computer is "in the shop" again with that same touchpad problem.  So, I thought I'd waste some time by looking through YouTube.com to see if there were any Graeme MacQueen videos where he does more explaining of his conspiracy theory beliefs.  I found there are numerous videos where MacQueen is explains his beliefs.  The first one I checked is HERE.  It's a VERY interesting radio interview that was uploaded on July 26, 2011.  In it, MacQueen explains how it's clear to him that the anthrax letters were a U.S. government plot, because he has no doubt that the writer of the letters intended for them to appear as if a Muslim terrorist sent the letters.  And, sure enough, the first thought the FBI (and everyone else) had when the letters were first found was that they were from Muslim terrorists.

The FBI then began to uncover evidence that the anthrax actually came from a U.S. laboratory, which MacQueen describes as the FBI's false story "falling apart." 

Later, MacQueen describes the ABC news stories which claimed that bentonite was found in the anthrax powders.  He assumes that this is ABC news getting another "false story" from "the government."  And that story, too, quickly "fell apart."  The idea that it could have been the result of an over-eager ABC reporter getting bogus information from an unreliable source is, apparently, never even considered as a possibility.

Most interesting, however, is how supremely confident MacQueen is in his beliefs.  It's also very interesting that he's often right about the intentions of the anthrax mailer (if you look at the evidence regarding Bruce Ivins' motives and intentions), but he wrongly and without basis assumes that the mailer was an official representative of "the U.S. government" perpetrating a "false flag" operation on the public.

The interview is a very good illustration of someone starting with a belief (in this case, a belief that the anthrax attacks were part of a false flag operation that also included the US government perpetrating the 9/11 attacks), and then twisting all the "evidence" to make it fit that imagined scenario, while ignoring anything that doesn't fit.

November 23, 2014 - For awhile, I didn't have any on-topic subjects to write about this morning.  There's been nothing in the news.  The Anthrax Truthers have stopped arguing on my interactive blog, which means they aren't providing any new absurdities for me to write comments about.   "DXer's" recent posts to Lew Weinstein's blog seem to be about screwball side issues that have little or nothing to do with the Amerithrax investigation.  So, there was nothing worthwhile there for me to comment about, either. 

But, then my daily Google news search for "anthrax+2001"  turned up an "in-depth" interview with conspiracy theorist Graeme MacQueen, the author of
"The 2001 Anthrax Deception : The Case for a Domestic Conspiracy."  What's most interesting about that interview is that it shows a conspiracy theorist explaining his reasoning.

For example, the interviewer, Julian Charles of TheMindRenewed.com, says
, "Then they turned to Bruce Ivins, and that was successful  in the sense that the case was closed.  But you, along with many others, maintain that that case was extremely flimsy, almost to the point of non-existence."  And then the interviewer asks, "Could you give us an idea of how implausible that case was against Dr. Ivins?"

And MacQueen explains!  Here's a small part of his explanation:

So the FBI then has a field day: “Oh well, the fact that he took his own life just shows his guilty conscience”, and they write a document in which the case against Ivins is made. (I think it’s something like 90 pages long; you can find it on the Internet). You have to realise how outrageous this is. The man is dead, and you’re making a case against him, a case on the most flimsy, circumstantial evidence, slander, and all the rest of it.  He has no chance to rebut this. He had a lawyer, but the lawyer really has no function anymore because Ivins is dead.  This, by the way, is part of a common pattern that we find in fraudulent events. This is the Lee Harvey Oswald phenomenon. Remember that Oswald supposedly killed Kennedy, and then just happened to be murdered in the presence of 70 Dallas police officers. Well, that meant, of course, that he would never be able to tell his story; he would never be tried; he would be convicted by slander, not by a legal process. I believe this is a fairly common pattern with these things.

MacQueen's explanation shows he is seeing patterns between things that happened decades apart under different Presidential administrations.  That's a clear indicator that he is seeing "the government" as evil, regardless of who is in the White House.  For him, everyone in the entire government is - and always has been - part of a vast criminal conspiracy to cover up all their evil deeds.

However, I found this comment in a different paragraph to be particularly interesting:


He [Ivins] himself wrote a note to someone saying something like this: “The state demands its blood sacrifice, and it appears I am to be that sacrifice.”

I didn't recall reading that quote before.  Researching the supposed quote, I found something like it mentioned in a February 2010 New York Times article by Scott Shane:

Long before he became a serious suspect, Dr. Ivins, one of the government’s most experienced anthrax researchers, was a valued consultant to the F.B.I. investigators on the letters case. Only after path-breaking genetic analysis led to his lab did investigators consider that their genial scientific adviser might actually be their quarry.

As they focused on Dr. Ivins and read his e-mail messages, the report said, they began to be increasingly convinced that he was the mailer. And as he became aware that he was under scrutiny, he directed the F.B.I. repeatedly to other potential suspects. Once, in 2007, he wrote what the F.B.I. calls “an illogical 12-point memo” suggesting that the two female former colleagues with whom he was obsessed might have mailed the letters.

When one of the women, made aware of the memo, confronted Dr. Ivins about it in 2008, he wrote to her, blaming an alternate personality he called “ ‘Crazy Bruce,’ who surfaces periodically as paranoid, severely depressed and ridden with incredible anxiety.” He complained that “it seems as though I have been selected as the blood sacrifice for this whole thing.”


I noticed that the two quotes did not match.  And, I still couldn't recall Ivins ever saying such a thing.  Checking further, I found this on page 69 of the Amerithrax Investigation Summary:

As his depression took on a new level of severity in the spring of 2008, and he was briefly hospitalized for his first articulated suicide plan, Dr. Ivins sent a number of e-mails that are both evidence of his fixation with and reliance on Former Colleague #1 and evidence of his guilty conscience.  For example, in an e-mail to Former Colleague #1 [Mara Linscott] and her close relative [probably her sister] on March 19, 2008, at approximately midnight, just prior to this first hospitalization, he said the following:

I miss the days that all would say that I was sane without a snicker.
I miss the days when I felt that we were doing what was
worthwhile for our soldiers. I miss the days when I believed that
our undertakings were worthy and honest and sacrificial. I miss the
days since I could talk to you!

O, Healer! O devoter of your life to the lives of others! I can hurt,
kill, and terrorize, but others place me with the vilest of the
vile. . . . Go down low, low, low as you can go, then dig forever,
and you’ll find me, my psyche. I can kill none but myself. I can
terrify none but myself, but I can love and hug and turn toward the
good, all who are willing. Give[n] my long-distant and non­
productive past. Our pasts shape our futures, and mine was built
on lies and craziness, and depression, and thievery, and things that
make an honest man and woman cry. Alone. The farther I go, it’s
alone. The state smells its carniverous death-blood sacrifice. I
look into the mirror and cry out who it is.

I'd say that Graeme MacQueen and Scott Shane both took those two final sentences out of context and significantly distorted what Ivins actually wrote.  Why wasn't this the headline?:

"I can hurt, kill and terrorize,"
  Dr. Bruce Ivins confessed!


Why didn't they also quote Ivins as saying that his life was "built on lies and craziness, and depression, and thievery, and things that make an honest man and woman cry"?

What exactly was Ivins trying to say in that incoherent, rambling email?  It certainly was NOT that he was an innocent man being sacrificed by "the state."  The DOJ says it shows "evidence of his guilty conscience."  I agree.  And, to me, it seems that Ivins was saying, "I've killed and committed terrorism; the government wants to devour the killer; I look in the mirror, and I cry out that the killer is me."

But, I digress.  In the Graeme MacQueen interview, Mr. Charles asks more questions:

What kind of weaknesses were there with the evidence?  Can you drag up a couple of things to give us an idea?

And Graeme MacQueen again explains!
 
Well, the FBI claims that he had the capacity, the requisite tools and equipment, and presumably some motivation to make this product, and so on.  All of this is unsupported by the evidence. He did work with anthrax; he worked at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), a US military lab.

and

Anyway, the point is, he didn’t work with the kind of anthrax that was sent, especially the anthrax sent to the senators; he worked with it in a liquid form.  They got a highly-refined dried form of anthrax.  There’s no evidence he knew how to do that; there’s no evidence that he had the equipment to produce this product, which was not merely refined and dried, but which had also, as I said before, undergone this micro-encapsulation process—tin added and silicon. There’s no evidence that Ivins could have done that, or that he had the equipment to do that.  So, from a scientific point of view, this is very far-fetched.  And, by the way, colleagues of his – a former boss of his – have come out and said this.  They’ve also said, “Where do you think he made it?  Do you really think he made it in his lab at Fort Detrick?  I mean, we would have noticed.  And furthermore, it would have taken him something like 10,000 hours, not the couple of dozen hours that you’re claiming.”
and

Fort Detrick was badly equipped to produce this product.  The two most likely suspects are laboratories at either Battelle Memorial Institute, which does a tremendous amount of work for the US intelligence agencies, and specialises in aerosols, and so on.  And, the other would be the Dugway Proving Ground.  Dugway also works for the US military; it’s part of the military-industrial complex, and it’s also possible that Dugway and Battelle worked together on this. Ivins had nothing to do with them; he didn’t have access to their equipment.  Over the years I’ve referred to a number of quite technical articles on the anthrax spores used in the attacks, and it’s looking increasingly as if this product was taken from the US bioweapons programme.  It was probably taken from stores that already existed; it wasn’t created specially for the Anthrax Attacks.  This was most likely anthrax that was kept either at Dugway or Battelle.

That is all so totally wrong and ignorant!  In his lab, Dr. Ivins had all he needed to make the dry anthrax powders.  The people who say he didn't are simply ignorant of the facts.  They are either being self-serving in arguing that Ivins could not possibly have done something totally illegal right under their noses, or they believe total nonsense, such as the spores being "weaponized" with tin and silicon and that Dr. Ivins would have to have followed standard procedures when creating an illegal powder.

The problem, of course, is that if an official of the US government comes forward to show how wrong and ignorant the Anthrax Truthers are, a silly argument by Truthers that is only of interest to a tiny group on the Internet will instantly become front page news.

In my supplemental web page HERE, I explain how easy it would have been for Ivins to create the anthrax powders.  I think that's the "most likely" way that Ivins did it.  For years I've challenged anyone and everyone to find fault with that analysis.  But, I'm just a guy on the Internet.  The Anthrax Truthers cannot be bothered with arguing facts and evidence with "some guy on the Internet."  They want to argue with an official of the US Government so that the issue will become front page news.  And then a whole new group of "concerned citizens" and media commentators can complain that the US Government is giving terrorists a detailed description of how to cheaply and easily make lethal, dry anthrax spores.  It's a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation.

And, of course, the Anthrax Truthers will then demand proof that Ivins knew how to do things that he hadn't been formally taught to do.  The Anthrax Truther argument is: If Ivins didn't do it as part of his job, and if he didn't take a course in doing it, then he didn't know how to do it - no matter how simple it may be.

In the Graeme MacQueen interview, there are several other interesting explanations which show how a conspiracy theorist thinks and reasons.  Like all Anthrax Truthers, he starts with a belief and then only discusses "evidence" which he feels support his belief, while ignoring any facts and evidence which totally debunks his belief.

I look forward to the General Accountability Office publishing its long-awaited review of the Amerthrax Investigation.  I don't think there's any chance that it's going to argue that Ivins was "an innocent man," but they might offer some suggestions on how to deal with Truthers who do not accept the "official" version of anything and rely instead on their own personal beliefs and the support of others who disagree with the government.

Meanwhile, I'd really like to see a public debate between
the experts with the facts and evidence showing it was incredibly easy for Ivins to create the anthrax powders, and the so-called "experts" who think it was "impossible" for Ivins to have created the anthrax powders.  I think it would be very educational for everyone interested in this subject.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, November 16, 2014, thru Saturday, November 22, 2014

November 20, 2014 - The two Truthers who were arguing with me on my interactive blog seem to have gone away for awhile - probably because they were shown to be wrong.   That's usually what happens when they're proved wrong.  They disappear for awhile, and then they reappear to argue the same wrong idea again, as if nothing ever happened.

Meanwhile, there's still no news about when the Amerithrax investigation review will be published by the General Accountablilty Office (GAO).

And I've been spending nearly all my time lately trying to get my new laptop computer up to speed.  I'm having a real problem getting the SeaMonkey browser on my laptop to receive emails.  I've been discussing the problem on a SeaMonkey discussion forum, and I've been showing illustrations of the problem in a test web page I created HERE on my newguy web site.  A picture is often worth a thousand words. 

Once I get the email problem solved, then I'll have to try to figure out how I can update my web sites via my laptop.  It will probably involve all new programs, too.  And, I'll probably have to ask for help on Newsguy's support forum. 

Busy busy busy.

November 18, 2014 - A discussion on my interactive blog brought back an interesting detail about the Amerithrax investigation that I've discussed before, but maybe I should mention again.  It's about one of the eight (or nine) samples that contained the morphs that matched the contents of flask RMR-1029  It's about item #053-070 on the FBI Repository (FBIR) list below:

FBI
                      Repository list of matching samples

That matching sample was created by Bruce Ivins sometime in late January or early February 2001.  Terry Abshire felt she might need some "standard" sample of the Ames strain to use when examining all the FBIR samples they were expecting to start receiving.  
She asked Ivins for a sample, and Dr. Ivins took a sample from flask RMR-1029 and gave it to Terry Abshire.  But, then John Ezzell apparently decided they would use a different method for comparison, and that sample was no longer needed.  So, Terry Abshire put it into cold storage and totally forgot about it.  She explains it all in a document from Lew Weinstein's site that can be found HERE - or you can try to read the smaller version below (I haven't been able to track down the exact source file):

Terry Abshire statement
What's so interesting about sample 053-070 is that it's another sample that was created by Ivins from flask RMR-1029 that contained all 4 morphs.  He created it when he didn't know that flask RMR-1029 contained the four morphs that were also in the attack spores he'd grown.  Everyone remembers the two samples he created in response to the subpoena in February 2002.  He improperly prepared those two samples, making them unuseable as evidence.  Because her copy was not properly prepared, Terry Abshire threw her sample away and asked Ivins for another sample (while Paul Keim kept his copy).  And everyone remembers the replacement sample that Ivins supplied in April of 2002 after he realized that the attack spores might be traced back to RMR-1029.  That replacement sample did NOT contain the morphs. 

That first sample that was created for used as a "standard" was found by the FBI in 2005 where Terry Abshire had put it and forgot about it.  Since it matched the contents of RMR-1029, the FBI wanted to know where it came from.  When questioned, Abshire couldn't remember and had to do research.  The page of text above explains what her research found.

The point of all this is: It's further evidence that, in January and February of 2002, Ivins didn't realize that the spores he had created for the anthrax letters could be traced back to RMR-1029.  Therefore, he had no problem supplying valid samples from RMR-1029 to anyone.  But, when it became clear to him that the FBI was looking for a source for the attack spores by checking on morphs that came from the source, he provided an invalid sample when was again asked to provide a sample from RMR-1029.  Since he did it correctly TWO times in February, it's less likely to be pure happenstance when he prepared that invalid sample in April (after being instructed on how to prepare samples.)

This issue came up a few day ago when "DXer" sent me an email making some kind of vague insinuation about that sample.  He wrote this in reponse to a comment I wrote for this web site:

You should not mischaracterize posts. I was not insinuating anything, you liar. I was quoting where the expert on the mophologies [sic] said the Dugway Spores did not look like the mailed anthrax.

And this is the attempted post to my blog he was referring to:

Abshire says that the "Dugway Ames Spores "did not look like the spores from the preparations , but that some of her own Bacillus anthracis (Ba) spore preparations resemble the material contained in the letters."

As usual, DXer is mistaken.  The FBI questioned Terry Abshire about the source of the vial they had found in her cold storage room.  Contrary to DXer's beliefs, she didn't know the sample contained the morphs.  She was only looking at a photograph of the vial, trying to remember where it came from.  She couldn't remember immediately, but later recalled and gave the FBI the explanation in the illustration I showed above.  And in another document HERE the connection between the photograph and sample 053-070 is made in the last paragraph.

So, I guess the point is:  All the details have been figured out about that sample.  DXer was wrong about virtually everything.  And only one mystery remains:  What was DXer trying to insinuate?

November 16, 2014 - Last week, I created a new thread on my interactive blog.  I also created a new illustration for the subject the thread is intended to discuss.  The subject is: "Explaining what you understand."  Here's the illustration:

Einstein quote

The idea is that, if you cannot simplify the subject to the point where you can get some other person to understand it, then maybe you don't fully understand it yourself.

I looked around to see if there was more to the quote.  I'd hoped the full quote would say, "You don't really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother and get her to understand, too."

What my research found was some doubt as to whether Albert Einstein actually said that.  Nobody seems to have been able to track it down to a specific recorded or written statement from Prof. Einstein.  One source suggested it might be a paraphrase of a quote from Kurt Vonnegut's book "Cat's Cradle."  In chapter 15 of that book it says,

Dr. Hoenikker used to say that any scientist who couldn't explain to an eight-year-old what he was doing was a charlatan.

Which is usually trimmed down and paraphrased as:

Any scientist who can't explain to an eight-year old what he is doing is a charlatan.

The Einstein and Vonnegut quotes both say basically the same thing, but there's no reason to believe that one was derived from the other.  Both could be originals.

The reason I bring up those quotes is because I've been trying to get DXer from Lew Weinstein's blog to explain his beliefs.  But, he seems totally incapable of explaining anything.   (When pressed, he argues that it is beneath him to explain things to me.)

Last week, I was trying different ways to explain to him the basic scientific principle that allows anthrax spores to dry all by themselves in a biosafety cabinet.  It seemed he couldn't understand that the water in the spores will "evaporate" if the spores are left in an open Petri dish in a biosafety cabinet.  DXer seemed fixated on super-scientific equipment being the only way to dry anthrax spores.  The idea that spores can dry in a Petri dish the same way a wet bathing suit will dry on a bench just didn't sink in.  

When I tried explaining the concept of air drying in different ways, he simply argued that I wasn't a microbiologist, and therefore I wasn't qualified to claim that spores will dry all by themselves.  I told him Dr. Majidi of the FBI stated it in the August 18, 2008 press conference, and it's stated on page 31 of the Amerithrax Investigation Summary.  In response, DXer argued that Dr. Majidi also isn't a microbiologist, and therefore Majidi isn't qualified to claim that anthrax spores will dry all by themselves.  I explained that it happens in nature.  DXer ignored that explanation.  I explained that it caused a lab contamination incident.  DXer ignored that explanation.

That made me realize that neither the Einstein quote nor the Vonnegut quote allows for your grandmother or the eight-year-old to be dead set against trying to understand what you are explaining.  If their minds are closed, and all they want to do is find fault and show you are mistaken, even Albert Einstein and Kurt Vonnegut wouldn't be able to get such people to understand what they were tying to explain.

But, somewhere along the line -- perhaps after DXer consulted with a microbiologist -- he must have realized how simple and basic it is for something to air dry, because then DXer did what he always does when proved wrong: He changed the subject.  He started to argue what seemed to be some sleazy insinuation that a different USAMRIID employee could have been involve in the anthrax mailings because that employee once met or was photographed with a Muslim scientist.

Meanwhile, I've been trying to explain
to a different Anthrax Truther how circumstantial and direct evidence work in court.  I've been trying to explain it to him for month after month (possibly for years) in many different ways.  Is the following explanation of how circumstantial evidence works really too difficult to understand?:

Multiple people had a motive for the crime. Ivins was one of them.
Multiple people had access to flask RMR-1029. Ivins was one of them.
Multiple people were vaccinated against anthrax. Ivins was one of them.
Multiple people could make purified spores. Ivins was one of them.
Multiple people had the time to purify the spores.  Ivins was one of them.
Multiple people knew how to dry spores. Ivins was one of them.
Multiple people had the facilities to make spores. Ivins was one of them.
Multiple people had access to a supply of spores.  Ivins was one of them.
Multiple people had the equipment to make spores. Ivins was one of them.
Multiple people could have bought the envelopes. Ivins was one of them.
Multiple people could have made Xerox copies.  Ivins was one of them.
Multiple people have disguised their handwriting.  Ivins was one of them.
Multiple people could have mailed the letters. Ivins was one of them.
Multiple people had connections to the crime scene. Ivins was one of them.
Multiple people had no alibi for the time of the crime. Ivins was one of them.

BUT

The ONLY person who fits all the above evidence is Dr. Bruce Ivins.

I've been arguing some of these same things for 13 years, yet I still find the arguments can occasionally be very fascinating.  Every so often, an Anthrax Truther comes up with new argument and demonstrates once again that he knows next to nothing about the evidence against Bruce Ivins.  Whenever the Truthers do that, it just makes it more clear that they have no facts or evidence to challenge the case against Bruce Ivins.

But, every once in a great while, the arguments uncover something new.  That happened on Friday when DXer reminded me that the FBI proved that the lyophilizer could be used in Suite B5 without contaminating the surrounding area, contrary to what some of Dr. Ivins friends and DXer himself had been arguing.  Somehow, DXer thought that if a lyophilizer could be safely used in Building 1412 without contamination, that meant it could NOT be safely used in Building 1425 without contamination.  It appears he didn't understand the difference between "contamination" and "containment."  For me, the joy of finding some new information about the case (or about the thought processes of some Anthrax Truther) is best described in Chapter 17 of Vonnegut's "Cat's Cradle."  It says,

"New knowledge is the most valuable commodity on earth. The more truth we have to work with, the richer we become."

Updates & Changes: Sunday, November 9, 2014, thru Saturday, November 15, 2014

November 13, 2014 - Yesterday, via my interactive blog, "DXer" made it very clear that he doesn't bother reading anything that disagrees with his beliefs.  We were arguing about the lyophilizer and how Ivins didn't need it to dry the spores.  Then DXer wrote:

By all means, Ed, if there was other equipment in the B3 he could use, then name it. He didn't have a spraydryer. He didn't have a fluidized bed dryer. So by all means, Lake, name the equipment he had available to use.

How many times have I written that Ivins almost certainly air-dried the attack spores?  It seems like hundreds.  I must have explained it to DXer at least a dozen times.  It's made clear in my book, and I explain everything in detail on my web page "How Bruce Ivins Made The Anthrax Powders."   Here's what that page says about how Dr. Ivins made the powders he put in the media letters:

For the media letters, it appears that Dr. Ivins removed the top three layers from the tube, spread the still-wet material on a plate and allowed it to air dry inside a biosafety cabinet - perhaps adding some heat to speed up the drying process.  Depending upon how much water was still left in the material, the material could have easily dried in 2 to 2½ hours.  One plate per letter would have been sufficient.

And here is what it says about how Ivins made the powders in the Senate letters:

When Ivins was satisfied that he'd gotten what he needed, the next and final step was to dry the pure spores he'd set aside.  Dr. Ivins didn't have access to a spray dryer, and using the lyophilizer (freeze dryer) in Suite B5 was out of the question, since there was no way to get the refrigerator-size machine into Suite B3 without attracting attention and without thoroughly contaminating the lyophilizer.  Chemical drying was another technique, but it might leave behind chemical evidence that could be traced back to his lab.  That left just the simplest method: air drying -- the same method he used for the first batch.

When the powders were dry inside the biosafety cabinet, Ivins would have scraped the dried powders off the plates and into the two letters.

Yet, suddenly, DXer doesn't know how I figure Ivins dried the attack spores.

Meanwhile, a different Anthrax Truther is arguing about direct versus circumstantial evidence.  It's a fairly interesting argument.  It turned out to be about how an item of evidence can be both direct evidence in one claim and circumstantial evidence in another claim.  For example, direct evidence proving the claim that Ivins drove to New Jersey at the time of the mailings would be good circumstantial evidence helping to prove the claim that Ivins was the anthrax killer.

The Truther listed some examples of evidence he'd like to see showing that Ivins drove to Princeton, New Jersey at the time of the mailings:

Evidence of the drives to Princeton would be: toll receipts on a road heading to/from NJ; CC television footage of Ivins on any road leading to New Jersey; a parking ticket issued in NJ ; a speeding ticket issued on a highway going to/from New Jersey; receipts for gasoline or any other purchase on the way to/from New Jersey; someone who wrote down/remembered Ivins tag numbers for some reason on the night(s) in question, etc. And, please note, ALL of the above would be "circumstantial evidence" save only the eyewitness jotting down the tag numbers.

I explained to him that "CC television footage of Ivins" driving to New Jersey would be direct evidence that Ivins drove to New Jersey.  The Truther is demanding direct evidence that Ivins did many of the things necessary to commit the crime (i.e., write the letters, Xerox the letters, dry the anthrax, and drive to Princeton), before he'll accept any of it as circumstantial evidence that Ivins actually committed the crime.  He won't accept circumstantial evidence that Ivins drove to Princeton or did any of those other things.  That's why he says there's no evidence that Ivins did it.

He requires direct evidence to prove a circumstantial case.   But, if you have all the direct evidence that Ivins did the various steps, would you really need anything else to show Ivins was the culprit?  If you have direct evidence that Ivins Xeroxed the letters, what more do you need to convict?  If you have direct evidence that Ivins wrote the letters, what more do you need to convict?

When I tried to get the Truther to explain himself, his response was that someone could have stolen Ivins' car.  Therefore, the "CC television footage of Ivins on any road leading to New Jersey" would just be circumstantial evidence that Ivins drove to New Jersey.  I'm now waiting for him to explain how that can be. 

November 12, 2014 (B) - I keep forgetting to look for the places where Ivins claimed he didn't know how to make powders. 
DXer seems to have been arguing that the DOJ was deliberately lying when they wrote this on page 38 of the Amerithrax Investigative Summary:

For example, in an interview on January 29, 2002, Dr. Ivins said he had no involvement in the anthrax mailings and had no training in how to make powders. Similarly, in an e-mail to an international anthrax expert, dated February 7, 2002, he stated: “We work with anthrax spore suspensions here and have neither the expertise nor the equipment for generating ‘spore powder.’” When asked about the lyophilizer again a year later, in April 2003, Dr. Ivins stated that he had been trained on how to use it, but had not actually done so since the mid1990s.

This morning, I did a search for "2002" in my NOTES file, and quickly found the January 29, 2002, interview with Ivins in my  "Part 29 of 59" notes.  However, I'd made no notes which matched what was mentioned in the Summary.  So, I went to the FBI's "Part 29 of 59" pdf file,  where I quickly found this near the bottom of page 12:

Ivins said that he had no involvement in the anthrax mailings and has had no training in making powders.

And I added it to my NOTES file.

Looking through Ivins' emails for the February 7, 2002 email, I quickly found it on page 44 of Batch 40.  It says exactly what the Summary says it said:

From: Ivins, Bruce E Dr USAMRIID
To: XXXXXXXXXXXXX
Subject: RE: A possible discussion
Date: Thursday, February 07, 2002 11:15:54 AM

 The only place that I know of that makes the anthrax spore powder is Dugway Proving Ground. They also made Ames spores (liquid suspensions) for us in 1997 in several fermentor runs. We work with anthrax spore suspensions here and have neither the expertise nor the equipment for generating "spore powder."
- Bruce

Then I searched through my notes for the words "April"  and "2003," but I couldn't find the interview mentioned in the Summary report.   I have no doubt that it exists.  I just failed to make a note about it.  If anyone has any further information about which FBI file contains that particularly interview with Dr. Ivins, please let me know. 

Meanwhile, I've shown that, contrary to DXer's beliefs, the FBI and DOJ were not lying in the Summary report when they wrote what they wrote about two of the instances.

November 12, 2014 (A) - I'm still not seeing any sign that the General Accountability Office is about to release their review of the Amerithrax investigation.

The arguments with Anthrax Truthers are on-going.   One Truther is once again endlessly showing how many people agree that the government's case against Bruce Ivins is not convincing.   He does the same on my interactive blog.  And I just tell him over and over that it doesn't make any difference how many people believe in something, reality is determined by what that facts and evidence say.   After all, at one time nearly everyone on earth believed the earth was flat.  That didn't make it flat. 

The other Anthrax Truther is arguing for the umpteenth time that only direct evidence is allowed in court.  And circumstantial evidence is worthless and proves nothing.   He doesn't phrase his argument that way, of course.  But that's his argument, nevertheless.

Meanwhile, I'm still trying to learn how things work on my new laptop computer.  So, the fact that I haven't posted any comments for two days doesn't mean nothing's happening.  It just means that it's mostly same old, same old.  Actually, I'm so busy with so many different things that it's almost ridiculous. 

November 9, 2014 (B) - Ah!  In a post to Lew Weinstein's blog this morning, and in an attempted post to my interactive blog at around the same time, "DXer" inadvertently provided an explanation of his thought processes regarding the lyophilizer.  While he doesn't actually explain anything, of course, his thought processes can be deduced from what he posted.  Here is his attempted post to my blog in its entirety:

Ed, the US Attorney stood up in the front of the room in announcing the FBI's Theory along with the lead AUSA Ken Kohl and the FBI Field Office head Persichini.

He said

"TAYLOR: 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."

The FBI immediately backpedaled from the claim on which US Attorney says he rested his conclusion. His statements are on film and there is a transcript available. He explained his conclusions on national TV.

The FBI was right to backpedal on the claim given that the claim was baseless."

There is, of course, no claim of any kind whatsoever in what US Attorney Jeff Taylor said.  But, unfortunately, Mr. Taylor addressed two different subjects in the same comment: (1) Ivins had the ability to make the attack spores, and (2) Ivins was an expert on the use of the lyophilizer.  The Anthrax Truthers, as usual, incorrectly put 2 and 2 together and got 597.  The Truthers interpreted this as a "claim" that Ivins made the attack anthrax using the lyophilizer

The post to Lew's blog begins the same way, but then says:

DXER: THE FORMER CHIEFS OF BACTERIOLOGY ALL SAY THAT THE LYOPHILIZER COULD NOT HAVE BEEN USED. IT WAS IN AN UNCONTAINED AREA – IN THE HALLWAY.”

Proponents of an Ivins Theory immediately backpedaled when it was pointed out that the lyophililzer was not in fact available to be used — and that Ivins was in the B3, not the B5, the nights he was working with the rabbits.

No one "backpedaled."  It probably became clear very quickly that what Mr. Taylor said on August 6, 2008, had been misinterpreted by a lot of people.  

Mr. Taylor is a lawyer, not a scientist.  But, in the minds of the Anthrax Truthers, all employees of the government are just like one big Borg-like collective where everyone knows what everyone else knows and everyone thinks alike.  So, it wasn't simply Mr. Taylor being unclear, it was "the government collective" attempting to tell the American people another lie.  (The same Truther reasoning was used when a lawyer in Florida on the Stevens case made a mistake and the Truthers immediately jumped on it as a reversal of position by "the U.S. government.")

So, twelve days after Mr. Taylor's news conference, another news conference was held, this time with a scientist, Dr. Majidi, in charge.  Dr. Majide made it very clear that the lyophilizer was just one of the various methods that Ivins could have used to dry the anthrax spores that were in the attack letters.  To the Anthrax Truthers, however, this is "backpeddling" from a "false claim."

There was no "claim," but the Anthrax Truthers believe what they want to believe.  And nothing and no one can change their collective minds.

November 9, 2014 (A) - When the Department of Justice (DOJ) released the Amerithrax Investigation Summary report on February 19, 2010, they also released 2,720 pages of "supplementary documents" in the form of 30 files in pdf format.  The pdf files contained mostly collections of "302 reports" that FBI agents write to document the events and findings in a civil or criminal investigation.  The 30 Amerithrax pdf files where identified by file numbers, ranging from #847357 to #897541.

I read through those files in 2010 and compiled 55 pages of notes in a .doc file which I kept in my computer for my own use. 

Some time later, possibly in 2012, the FBI changed the numbers they were using to identify all the Amerithrax documents and put them in their archive HERE.   Because everything was renumbered, I didn't immediately notice that they had added 29 additional pdf files.  All the files are now numbered "01 of 59" through "59 of 59." 

So, I read through the 29 new pdf files and made an additional 36 pages of notes.

The .doc file of notes has very often come in handy during arguments with Anthrax Truthers, when I needed to find support for some claim or argument.  A couple days ago, I decided my Notes file should really be in .html (web site) format, and it should be a file on this web site where everyone can use it.  This morning, I added it to this site.  Click HERE to view my Notes file.  I've also added a link on the main page right after the link to the FBI files in my References section, so it can be easily found again when needed.

During the past few days, I have been arguing on my interactive blog with two Truthers who seem to believe that when a scientist at USAMRIID, like Dr. Ivins, comes in in the evening or on a weekend to check on test animals, he will also immediately perform necropsies on any animals that are found dead, he will incinerate their carcasses, he will autoclave their cages, etc.  The argument was that performing all those extra duties would explain Ivins' "unexplained" overtime hours in Suite B3.  (DXer has been ranting for a long time that Dr. Ivins was checking on 52 rabbits during those "unexplained" overtime hours.  He uses a document about routine USAMRIID procedures as "evidence," and he simply and absurdly assumes that all the procedures are done by Dr. Ivins and they must be done as soon as an animal is found dead.  And until someone proves otherwise, he will continue to believe what he wants to believe.)


Previously on my interactive blog, a different Truther argued that

the animal maintenance people, as I understand it, AREN'T dealing with infected animals, are mostly feeding the animals and cleaning their cages, not autoclaving, which doesn't fall under the category of 'caring for animals'.

So, I did a search through my notes for the word "animal" and found this note that I wrote about "file 32 of 59":

Page 91 mentioned that Ivins was odd and refers to his "home life" versus his "work life."  The bottom of the page says, XXXX stated the animal caretakers were the individuals that ran the autoclave, however, [she] did not recall any of the caretakers names.  [She] was not aware of the destruction protocols.   

That note can be found in my Notes file by clicking HERE.  The link will take you directly to my notes for "part 32 of 59." 


That same search also found this in that same "file 32 of 59": 

Page 11: Because of the nature of their job and the number of night and weekend animal deaths, veterinarians have access to every hot suite at USAMRIID.

So, "animal maintenance people," a.k.a. "veterinarians," DO deal with infected animals and they DO perform the autoclaving of cages and other cleanup tasks.

There's also an endless argument on my blog about how long it takes to check on animals.  DXer repeatedly cites a comment from "file 04 of 59" which says on page 23:
 
[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.

The argument is whether or not those "two hours" to check on animals on the weekend also includes the time it takes to drive into work, to shower and to change clothes twice in order to get in and out of Suite B3.  In "file 03 of 59" it says on page 80:

After reviewing the XXXX hot suite access charts, XXXXX was unable to explain the extended late night and weekend hours for XXXXXXX IVINS.  XXXXX explained that when [he] went into the hot suites after hours or on weekends XXXXXXXXXX it took [him] longer to drive to and from work, get dressed to enter the hot suites and shower up after entering the hot suites, then to perform the actual task within the hot suites.

And on page 65 of "file 05 of 59" it says:

XXXX can think of no reason for Ivins to be working long nighttime hours in the August to October 2001 time-frame. There was not much work going on in Ivins' lab at that time and the only study being conducted was the guinea pig strain study, which may have required entry into the suites to check on animals. However, checking the animals would only have taken approximately 30 minutes.

Again we don't know if that 30 minutes includes changing clothes and showering twice.

The Amerithrax Investigation Summary says on page 32:

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.

It would be nice to have someone at USAMRIID explain exactly what is done when they check on animals at night and how much time is involved.  I don't think any Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request would provide that information.  Whatever might be found via an FOIA request would likely still require asking questions about context, i.e., does the time mentioned include going through BSL-3 biocontainment procedures, or is it just the time spent inside the animal room checking on animals?

My Notes file currently only contains notes about what I thought was interesting back in 2010 and 2012.  I made some notes about use of the lyophilizer, but there could be lots and lots of additional information in the FBI files that, in 2010, I didn't think was interesting enough to write a note about.  But, now it might seem very interesting, or might end some long-running debate.  So, from time to time from now on, when I find new information that isn't in my Notes file, I may add that information.

A search for the word "lyophilizer," which is another endlessly debated topic, finds some interesting notes.  Examples:

From "File 24 of 59":

Pages 56 - 57 contain information about the lyophilizer, how Ivins acquired it, but it was rarely used and even less rarely cleaned.  It was noisy to operate.

From  "File 32 of 59:

Page 16: XXXX does not think that an incubator, shaker, or lyophilizer would have been necessary to prepare the type of dry spores that were seen in the anthrax letters.

From "File 43 of 59":

Page 9: XXXXXXX does not believe it is possible to use a lyophilizer to create anthrax spores with the particle size of those in the anthrax-laced letters.  XXXXXXX believes that a lyophilizer would generate particles in the 12 to 18 micron range.  A smaller particle size, ranging from 3 to 5 microns would be achieved with rapid freezing and then drying of the biological agent.  A freeze drier would be used to obtain smaller particles.

Pages 9-10: XXXX stated [he] believes it would have been easy for someone to have created the anthrax in a laboratory at USAMRIID.  XXXXXX advised that all the equipment needed to pull it off is located at USAMRIID, and someone with permission to work in the laboratories could have worked late at night making the material without drawing any suspicion.  Scientists like free movement in and out of their laboratories and work areas and do not like to be bothered with signing in and out.  Previous to recent changes, security at USAMRIID was based on this premise.  Equipment and materials could have been easily decontaminated, leaving no trail.  Dry spores could be stored anywhere, although they should be kept below 60% humidity.

I had to do a different search, looking for the word "lyophilized" to find the following note from "File 22 of 59":

Also on page 25:

In IVINS' experience, freezing "wrecks" spores.  He has never seen lyophilized spores which were not damaged or in poor condition.  For this reason, IVINS does not believe the material in the anthrax-laced letters was lyophilized.  If it was lyophilized, something was probably added to protect the spores.


Somehow, Anthrax Truthers have gotten the screwball idea that the FBI and DOJ have claimed that Ivins used a lyophilizer to make the attack spores.  In reality, the FBI and DOJ have made it very clear that Ivins could have dried the spores in any one of a dozen different ways, and they do not attempt to say which method is "most likely."  However, while doing research for this comment, 
I stumbled across the following information about Ivins "unexplained" evening hours on page 31 of the Amerithrax Summary:

Date               Time in Building 1425       Total Time in B3
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Fri., Sept. 14     8:54 p.m. - 12:22 a.m.      2 hours, 15 minutes
Sat., Sept. 15     8:05 p.m. - 11:59 p.m.      2 hours, 15 minutes
Sun., Sept. 16     6:38 p.m. - 9:52 p.m.       2 hours, 37 minutes
    
And that information is connects to Footnote #17, which contains this information:

Numerous microbiologists have concurred that two hours and 15 minutes would be enough time to dry Ba spores, depending on factors such as the quantity of starting material, the volume of liquid in which it was suspended, and whether a centrifuge was used to eliminate most of the water, leaving behind a pellet, or paste, capable of being dried in well under two hours.

It can be argued that this information doesn't specifically say that they are talking about air drying anthrax spores, but that seems to be the most logical conclusion.

My point in writing this lengthy comment is to show that on this web site there is now a new research source for finding information about the anthrax attacks of 2001.

When I find other items of interest within the 59 FBI files that I didn't include in my original notes, I'll add them.  For example, page 38 of the Amerithrax Summary contains this information which DXer seems to believe is all lies:

For example, in an interview on January 29, 2002, Dr. Ivins said he had no involvement in the anthrax mailings and had no training in how to make powders. Similarly, in an e-mail to an international anthrax expert, dated February 7, 2002, he stated: “We work with anthrax spore suspensions here and have neither the expertise nor the equipment for generating ‘spore powder.’” When asked about the lyophilizer again a year later, in April 2003, Dr. Ivins stated that he had been trained on how to use it, but had not actually done so since the mid1990s.

When I get some time, I'll see if I can find those sources.  When I do, I'll provide DXer with the links.  If the two interviews aren't already among my notes, I'll add them.

Meanwhile, I've got about 5,243 other things I need to do - including getting my apartment ready for winter.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, November 2, 2014, thru Saturday, November 8, 2014

November 6, 2014 - I don't know if this will be of interest to anyone, since it is way way off topic, but this morning I awoke realizing I should have checked Google to see if anyone else is having the same kind of problem I'm having with the touchpad on my new laptop.  So I did a search for two+finger-scrolling+not+working.  The results of the search were page after page of people discussing the topic.  Many have solutions, but no two of the solutions seem to be the same.  And, it appears to be a problem on both Windows and Apple computers.  That leads me to think that it might actually be a problem for which there currently is no permanent solution.  If so, I wonder if the technicians who are currently looking at my laptop are allowed to tell me that.  I can see how it might cause a typical customer to explode.  But, having constantly dealt with conspiracy theorists and Truthers for the past 13 years, I'm accustomed to finding problems for which there appears to be no current or foreseeable solution.

One such problem that came up today was in the form of an email from "DXer" with the subject "Explanation."  But, it's not any kind of explanation of anything.  It's just another rambling discourse on various ideas about "microencapsulating" spores with silicon (which has NOTHING to do with the attack anthrax), and some kind of problem DXer has with Dr. Ivins' first submission to the FBI Repository being thrown out.  He explains NOTHING about how he interprets these things or what they mean to the Amerithrax investigation.  He just rambles on and on incoherently.

I don't think it would be fair to show his entire email on my interactive blog, because it appears to contain what seems to be some sleazy innuendo and insinuations that people he names who worked at USAMRIID around 2001 were involved in some kind of illegal development of bioweapons.   He doesn't explain anything, of course.  And it doesn't appear to have anything to do with his basic theory that al Qaeda was behind the anthrax attacks.  I've already argued against that nonsense times before, without "solving the problem" that he doesn't seem to understand anything, so he can't explain anything.

DXer also sent a much shorter second email this morning which begins with this:

It is in the public domain, but overlooked, that the DARPA program at USAMRIID in Building 1412 involving the FBI’s expert, John Ezzell — whose lab threw out Ivins’ February 2002 sample — involved both live virulent Ames (from Ivins Flask 1029) and the use of microencapsulated agents and subtilis. Senator Leahy’s anger on these issues is fully justified.

When I read this, I have to ask, "So what?"  And, "Exactly where does Senator Leahy express his anger over these 'issues,' whatever the 'issues' may be?  What is the link?"  And what does Senator Leahy's anger have to do with anything?  Who cares if he's angry?  Politicians are always angry about something.

DXer does provide a meaningless link to a pdf document HERE, and he implies that that document has some meaning to the issue of "microencapsulated agents."   The nearest I can figure is that DXer believes it relates to the silly conspiracy theorist paper published by Martin Hugh-Jones et al which argued that the attack spores were weaponized with silicon.  Simply repeating a silly idea doesn't explain anything.   

Trying to communicate with conspiracy theorists and Truthers may just be another problem with no current or foreseeable solution.

November 5, 2014 - Groan!  I'm really swamped with things I need to do, many with high priorities.  I'm having a problem with the touchpad on my new laptop computer.  I've also learned that the touchpad is really only worthwhile when you're in an airplane or in bed or when you're a passenger in a car and using the mouse is not practical.  But, I still need to get the touchpad problem fixed, just in case there comes a time when I'll really need it.

Meanwhile, this morning someone sent me a link to an on-line article about testing sewage for dangerous microorganisms.  The article contains this interesting paragraph:

Even a disease like anthrax, which came to national attention during the "Amerithrax" scare shortly after 9/11 when (as we finally determined) a sociopath was mailing anthrax laden letters around the country, has a basic background level of under a dozen cases per year. And despite the best or worst efforts of Bruce Ivins, PhD, the letter sender, he only murdered five people and there wasn't a single case of secondary (ie, person-to-person infection).

Also meanwhile, "DXer" is sending me screwball emails like this (the entire message was in the subject of the email):

ha!  Yes, he had no lyophilizer available to him (contrary to the US Attorney Taylor's claim in announcing that he was the perpetrator)

What kind of screwball reasoning is that?  Ivins had no available lyophilizer, so he couldn't be the perpetrator?  What about the other (EASIER and BETTER) ways of secretly drying anthrax spores that Dr. Ivins had available to him?

Also meanwhile, DXer seems to have shifted into pure conspiracy theory mode and is apparently now arguing that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice were trying to frame Dr. Ivins by not allowing him to access his notebooks, which prevented him from proving that he was doing legitimate work (with rabbits) during all those "unexplained" evening and weekend hours Ivins spent in Suite B3. 

Also meanwhile, as part of that same attempt to frame Dr. Ivins, DXer seems to be arguing that the DOJ was deliberately lying when they wrote this on page 38 of the Amerithrax Investigative Summary:

For example, in an interview on January 29, 2002, Dr. Ivins said he had no involvement in the anthrax mailings and had no training in how to make powders. Similarly, in an e-mail to an international anthrax expert, dated February 7, 2002, he stated: “We work with anthrax spore suspensions here and have neither the expertise nor the equipment for generating ‘spore powder.’” When asked about the lyophilizer again a year later, in April 2003, Dr. Ivins stated that he had been trained on how to use it, but had not actually done so since the mid1990s.

He wants me to find the FBI reports and the email where those things were said or written by Ivins.  Until I find them, DXer is evidently assuming they were just made up by the DOJ.  The question is: When I find them, will he say the emails and FBI 302 files were also made up?

That exchange made me realize I should put on this web site a supplementary web page showing the 55 pages of notes I made while reading the 2,720 pages of supplementary documents that were made public with the Amerithrax Summary.  It's currently in .DOC format.  I just need to change it to .html format and add some links.

Also meanwhile, during the past 12 hours or so, another Anthrax Truther posted SEVEN messages to my interactive blog.  He argues that he wasn't "tag-teaming" me with DXer, therefore my comment yesterday was incorrect.  (I just corrected that comment to say they "seemed to have been 'tag-teaming' me".)  He inexplicably also argues that it is "speculation" to say that spores will dry if you leave them in the open air.  And he says it's "speculation" for me to claim on my blog that using the lyophilizer in Suite B5 to dry the attack spores would have been "stupid."  All the nay-sayers at USAMRIID and all the Truthers have been arguing for years how it would have been extremely dangerous and impossible or next to impossible.  However, they never used the word "stupid."  So, is it "speculation" to say it would have been "stupid"?  I don't think so.

I'm trying to figure out how to write quick responses to his seven posts, but first I need to hop over to the electronics store to have their experts look at my laptop touchpad.

And, of course, someday I really need and want to get back to writing my sci-fi novel. 


November 4, 2014 - The only comment I can make this morning is that I haven't had time to find something interesting to write about because "DXer" and another Anthrax Truther seem to have been '"tag teaming" me on my interactive blog.  While doing research to find new ways to respond to their old old questions, I noticed that at the August 18, 2008 press conference, this exchange took place:

QUESTION: Can I ask a question about the equipment and what was used to make this, potentially, and whether it was at Fort Detrick? Was it just a lyophilizer or something more sophisticated?

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 --

QUESTION: Do speed vac.

QUESTION: What was that?

QUESTION: Use a speed vac.

DR. MAJIDI: So again, I don't want to get wrapped around the issue of how was a sample processed. The critical issue --

QUESTION: Isn't that part -- an important part of the evidence, though?

DR. MAJIDI: Well, no. The important part of the evidence is that the materials of the letter with the genetic mutations could exclusively be related only to RMR-1029. 

So, it was clearly and undeniably stated that the lyophilizer was NOT an important part of the evidence against Dr. Ivins.

Why?  The answer is in the earlier part of the exchange.  A lyophilizer is only one of "dozens of ways" you can dry biological samples and get identical results.  If you can't be absolutely certain which method was used, you cannot testify in court about which method was used.  You can only testify that Ivins had the means.

November 2, 2014 - I'm still waiting for some news about the General Accountability Office's (GAO's) review of the Amerithrax investigation.  It was supposed to be released  "sometime this fall."  We're now almost half way through fall, and I've seen nothing official whatsoever about when the review report might be available to read. 

Yesterday, I neglected to mention that October showed another increase in the number of visitors to this web site.  There were 24,215 visitors, versus 22,546 in September and 19,651 in August.  It's the highest number of visitors since August 2008, the month when it was announced that Bruce Ivins was the anthrax killer.

Except for short comments like the two above, I'm once again finding it very difficult to find anything to write about on this web site - unless I write about screwball postings by Anthrax Truthers.  So, here we go again: 

Recently, "DXer" brought to my attention a five-page chapter about the anthrax attacks in a book from 2010 titled "Challenges in Intelligence Analysis" by Timothy Walton.  The book describes every vague link between the 9/11 terrorists and the anthrax attacks that ever appeared in the media or books on the subject, even though those links are just possibilities and not evidence.  The author doesn't seem convinced that Bruce Ivins was the culprit, or he doesn't care, since he uses as his only references a couple books from 2003, which was long before Ivins was identified as the culprit.  T
he chapter about the anthrax case ends with a few very easily answered questions:

How strong was the evidence of a link between the 9/11 plotters and the anthrax attacks?

MY ANSWER: It was extremely weak. 

How was it not convincing?

MY ANSWER:  Because the evidence connecting the 9/11 hijackers to the anthrax attacks was extremely weak, while the evidence connecting Bruce Ivins to the anthrax attacks was very strong.

Is there another hypothesis, besides Ivins, that would better fit the disparate evidence?

MY ANSWER: No.

What else would an analyst need to know to formulate and assess a range of alternative hypotheses?

MY ANSWER: He'd need to know magic (how to pull evidence from out of hat) or how to lie convincingly (to manufacture alternative hypotheses where none really exist).

What questions and techniques from counterintelligence investigations might be helpful in resolving this case?

MY ANSWER:  Look at all the evidence and see how the facts fit together.  Follow the evidence to the resolution.  Don't try to make the facts and evidence fit the resolution you want.

The only other subject I have to write about this morning is the latest nonsense from "DXer."  He seems to be going off into true Lunatic Fringe territory.  His most recent post - as of this moment - contains this:

The same scientists who made the dried powder out of Flask 1029 Ames (Dugway Spores) collected the submissions of Ames for the FBI’s repository of samples in the Amerithrax investigation. This posed an acute conflict of interest notwithstanding the presumed good faith of all involved.

Huh?  "Conflict of interest"??  How so?  DXer, of course, doesn't explain.  In an earlier post from the 30th, he wrote something similar:

Dr. Ezzell was working for the FBI in the Amerithrax investigation. He or his assistant Terry Abshire threw out Ivins’ sample which would have shown the missing Ames to have been the origin of the murder weapon, if not the murder weapon itself. See Amerithrax Investigation Summary.

The FBI’s Ivins Theory theory was dead on arrival because of the massive conflict of interest.

It seems clear DXer doesn't explain anything because he doesn't understand anything.  And, if he tried to explain, he'd make it very clear that he doesn't understand anything.

When the FBI went to USAMRIID to get help in analyzing the spores in the anthrax letters, everyone was fully aware that they could be working with the person who actually sent the anthrax letters.  But, there were no viable alternatives, and there would be FBI agents working side by side with the USAMRIID scientists at every step.

Here's some more of DXer's indecipherable thinking from that same post:  

 “As I recall Dr. Ivins 302 interview, which is online, it was sent on varying dates in mason jars. 7, I think. 6 were combined into the two 500 ml Ehrlenmeyer flasks (you have seen one pictured; one was used up a long time ago). The 7th shipment from Dugway, Dr. Ivins says, was not up to snuff and he set it aside for autoclaving. He did not have a specific recollection that it was autoclaved. Certainly, if there was not documentation, that is extremely notable and it should be a top governmental priority to try to track down the 7th mason jar sent from Dugway. It may not even have been purified by Renocal (after one or two attempts). And so the 7th shipment from Dugway, which was NOT put into the flask is of keen interest given that no traces of renocal were detected.”
......

Perhaps the 7th mason jar sent from Dugway that was not put into 1029 and was not purified by renocal (and thus would have fit the mailed anthrax w/r/t meglumine and diatrozoate. Perhaps it was just diverted provided directly to Ezzell for the JHU-APL / DARPA research.

And, perhaps, around 1997, al Qaeda scientist Yazid Sufaat disguised himself as Bruce Ivins and infiltrated USAMRIID, and perhaps no one at USAMRIID realized it wasn't Ivins.  And perhaps this went on until 2008, when the real Bruce Ivins was brought back from a prison in Afghanistan and placed on the bathroom floor in his home.

DXer appears to be making up screwball scenarios about things he doesn't understand, rather than try to understand what really happened.

There's no reason to believe the "7th shipment from Dugway" contained all the morphs (morphological variants) found in the attack spores.   Logically, it's far more likely that there was only ONE morph in each of three of the shipments from Dugway (and NONE in the other FOUR shipments), and one morph could have originated with the supply of spores Bruce Ivins created at USAMRIID.  It is totally possible - and very likely - that only when combined into one container were all four morphs finally together.

The 7th shipment could easily have contained NONE of the key morphs.

But, DXer obviously doesn't care what the facts and evidence say.   He's dreaming up screwball scenarios based upon total ignorance and then displaying his conclusions on Lew's blog for all the world to see.

Of all the screwball rantings in that one posting on the 30th by DXer, I may have left out the screwball-est:

IMO, it was really, really wrong for the FBI scientists and prosecutors to not disclose the documents relating to the missing 98 vials. Which of the FBI scientists and prosecutors serving as spokespersons, advocates and book authors on the subject knew about this? Randall Murch? Vahid Majidi? Scott Decker? AUSA Rachel Lieber? AUSA Ken Kohl? Investigator Edward Montooth? Investigator Richard Lambert? Is that why Investigator Lambert wrote him memo to FBI Director Mueller saying that compartmentalization of the investigation might prevent solution of the investigation?

"The missing 98 vials" seem to be DXer's interpretation of what he read on page 3 of a document (click HERE) that he obtained from the USAMRIID via an FOIA request.  The vials contained irradiated spores, so they couldn't have had anything to do with the anthrax attacks.  The idea that there are 98 "missing" vials seems to be DXer's interpretation of what he read on page 3.  The document indicates that there could have been "less than 100 vials," and it says NOTHING about any of them being "missing."  Why couldn't they have simply been used up during the period between 1997 when they were created and 2002 when the report was written?  That would seem far more logical than to just assume the 98 vials somehow suddenly went "missing" (and were then found and the spores were somehow un-killed by al Qaeda for use in the anthrax letters).

DXer could try citing facts and evidence and explaining his interpretations, but I can see how that would be a "conflict of interest" for someone who has only beliefs.   

Updates & Changes: Sunday, October 26, 2014, thru Saturday, November 1, 2014

November 1, 2014 - While looking for a way to update this web site using my new laptop, I think I may have stepped into a different world.  I'm not sure if I went through a looking glass or fell down a rabbit hole, but I ended up in a world where people view web site development very differently.  I think --- but I could be totally wrong --- it's a world ruled by iPads and smartphones. 

I've been using Firefox as my web browser for at least 10 years.  And, I've been using Netscape composer to compose pages for this web site (to upload the pages to the web site I use a copy of CUTEftp I think I bought for about 10 bucks many years ago.)  Soon after buying my laptop, I downloaded the current version of Firefox and started using it on my laptop, too (instead of Microsoft's Internet Explorer, which came with the computer).   I didn't realize it, but the Firefox I downloaded to my laptop seems now to be intended for iPads and smartphones, which have no keypads or touchpads.  And, people who use iPads and smartphone seem to do web development using Firebug.  However, I couldn't figure out how to do anything with Firebug, so I eventually got onto a Firebug community forum to ask for help.  Someone there told me about a Firefox "sibling" called "SeaMonkey."  I'd never heard of SeaMonkey!


But, the SeaMonkey browser seems to be a version of Firefox that is closer to what I've been using on my old computer than Firefox now is.   It's so similar that it seems I'll have a bigger problem UNlearning new Firefox techniques I practiced for the past couple weeks than learning how to use SeaMonkey.  (Copy and paste were REAL problems for me when I was using Firefox on my new laptop.  SeaMonkey does things the way they're done with Firefox on my old computer.)

I feel like I've been wandering around on another planet for a couple weeks and suddenly I found the way back through the looking glass or out of the rabbit hole.  I just wish I understood more about what people do in that "land" I accidentally visited.

ADDED NOTE: Someone else pointed me to BlueGriffon as the web site composer most like what I've been using for 13 years.  But, BlueGriffon seems to be a second cousin to Firefox, not a "sibling" like SeaMonkey.  So, I'm going to stick with SeaMonkey until I encounter some solid reason to change again.

October 30, 2014 - Yesterday, someone called "Melvin" posted this to Lew Weinstein's blog:

June 2001, Pentagon’s “Operation Dark Winter”???

I would ask Ed, but unable to get through via email. Is his email Blacklisted?

And "Melvin" also included a link to a globalresearch.ca article about "Operation Dark Winter."  Click HERE to go to the link.

"DXer" responded to "Melvin's" email.  Here's how his reponse began:

Offhand, I don’t know who you mean by “Ed”. But as for Graeme MacQuean’s book “Anthrax Deception,” I will let Barry or Meryl or Graeme or Hamas lawyer Frances or blogger “Washington” address the issue in the forum of their choice.

I looked through my detect at newsguy dot com emails for the 27th, 28th and 29th, but couldn't find any from "Melvin."  (
I can't show the normal form of my email address because spammers hunt through web sites to find email addresses to use for spam.  That's one reason I get so much spam - I previously used the regular form of my email address at the top of this site.) 

I'm not sure what "Melvin" would expect me to say about yet another article that claims the G. W. Bush administration falsely used 9/11 and the anthrax attacks to justify going to war with Iraq.  That's old news.

Here are some of my email statistics for that account:

 Spam & Virus Stats Day Week Month Year
 Total number of messages 95 364 4360 46615
 Total number of spam messages 45 138 1952 22148
 Total number of viruses 0 0 0 0
 Spam and viruses as % of all email 47% 38% 45% 48%

So, I got 364 emails on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.  138 of those were automatically rejected by Newsguy as "spam." 

  Week - Total number of messages Totals
 10/27/14 160
 10/28/14 109
 10/29/14 95

The emails that were NOT rejected as "spam" still have to go through 100 filters that I set up. 

Any email with any of the following words in the "subject" of the message would be rejected: Breaking, medica, mortgage, financ, newsletter, urgent, travel, refinance, alzheimers, watches, warranty, price, health, Rachel, Rachael, Obama, insurance.  Plus all emails with an equal sign (=) in the subject are rejected.

Any email with any of the following in the "from" part of the message would be rejected: Credit, OZ, vision, Republican, Patriot, Global, Breaking News, blood, loan, Costco, smallcap, health or a question mark (?).

Plus, any email with the words "mortgage" or "viagra" in the body of the message would be rejected.

There are others, but those are the ones which triggered rejections in the past 7 days.

Here
are some details about the rejected email messages which had the word "price" in the subject:

Who: Subject:
10/30/14
bounce-31_HTML-13499313-6... Our promise to you: Expert Service. Unbeatab...
10/28/14
mailreturn@smtp.ymlp13.ne... West Coast (Near Jurong) New Commercial Shopp...
10/27/14
Bill@summercise.com Low Airfare Price Options Now Available
Steve@consteins.com Don't ever pay full price for your flight aga...
Steve@presiderably.com Don't ever pay full price for your flight aga...
return-5-1742-detect=news... Stocks Still Lack Conviction. Plus, the Real ...
Jenna@saketed.com Don't pay full price for your next flight
10/26/14
Jenna@howeverted.com You May Still Qualify for Lower Airfare Price...
Gene@rattlema.com Lowest Airfare Price Options Now Available
10/25/14
Gene@systemming.com Lowest Airfare Price Options Now Available

Here's the report for the filter that looks for the word "credit" in the subject:

Who: Subject:
10/29/14
2014_Scores_Details_@span... Get Your 2014 Credit Score Online Now
10/28/14
Gary_D@cyantell.com Credit-*-Possible Increase-*-Alert
Charles@dogefrowns.com Credit worthy report for Detect
mayer@cornfast.com Verify your credit rating is correct
monge@accruedgourd.com Tax credit package generated
gen@boltedlati.com Tax credit package generated for Detect
cwtch@yukonshat.com Tax credit package generated
Charlie_B@albinished.com Credit Scores Change Often: See all 3 October...
dan@juryneif.com Tax credit #1029844009 - possible tax relief ...
10/27/14
Charlie_B@acahuascar.com Credit-*-Possible Increase-*-Alert
Milton_G@poundan.com The U.S. Average Credit Score Is 696. See you...
Richard_T@departmentbailb... Credit Scores Change Often: See all 3 October...
10/26/14
Charlie_B@ritzday.com The U.S. Average Credit Score Is 696. See you...
Tracy_V@contralian.com Credit Scores Change Often: See all 3 October...
Richard_T@rimexact.com Credit Scores Change Often: See all 3 October...
Charlie_B@bootbass.com Credit-*-Possible Increase-*-Alert

Since all those email addresses are now here on my site, there's a good chance that spammers will find them and start sending them spam.  Tsk tsk.

In spite of all the filters, many people and companies successfully send me emails every day.   However, I also have a new email account that I can use on my new laptop computer.  Anyone who thinks that their emails may have been rejected by some filter can try to send me an email at the following address:  detect at outlook dot com

October 29, 2014 (B) - When I did my regular Google search for anthrax+2001 this morning, up popped a book review for "Lone Wolf Terrorism: Understanding the Growing Threat," by Jeffery D. Simon.  One reason the review popped up was because of this paragraph:

Free to create and implement their own scenarios, lone wolves are often willing to utilize weapons of mass destruction where they can lay hold of them. Simon focuses a chapter on Bruce Ivins, a troubled man with a brilliant mind, who allegedly was responsible for the 2001 anthrax letter attacks in the United States. Using his creativity and resources as a microbiologist and senior biodefense researcher at the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, as Simon tells the story, Ivins mailed anthrax to members of Congress and the media. Answering only to himself, Ivins’ freedom to think outside the box — even the box established by terrorist organizations — made him particularly dangerous. That said, although the evidence for Ivins’ being the author of the anthrax attacks appears strong, the fact of his 2008 suicide before any charges were brought or a criminal case was brought to trial leaves a serious gap in the ability to draw firm conclusions, particularly as to the outside-the-box thinking and internal motivations and justifications this example is intended to illustrate.

Discussions about "lone wolves" drive conspiracy theorists up the wall.  They simply cannot believe that a "lone wolf" killer can change history, even though it has happened over and over again.  Looking over the book "Lone Wolf Terrorism" on Amazon.com, I can see that page 19 contains this:

     Other lone wolves who have elicited major reactions include Theodore Kaczynski, the infamous "Unabomber," who held an entire nation in fear for seventeen years beginning in 1978 by planting or sending package bombs to victims throughout the United States; and Bruce Ivins, who sent letters filled with anthrax spores to members of Congress and the media in 2001, creating a crisis atmosphere in America concerning the threat of bioterrorism. 

I was also able to read pages 97 to 101, which also clearly point to Ivins as the anthrax mailer.  But, as far as I can tell, they don't contain any new evidence or new information to help resolve any of the continuing debates.

October 29, 2014 (A) - Hmm.  This morning, The Los Angeles Times contains an article titled, "The Atlantic trots out a dubious source to support an Ebola quarantine."  It's about The Atlantic's article in which Steven Hatfill gaves his views about whether or not ebola could be spread through the air.  The LA Times article begins this way:

During a panic as severe as the current Ebola event, it's wise to watch the news media for pointers on the right way and the wrong way to inform the public. What may be a good example of the latter was posted Sunday by The Atlantic, which should know better.

And it also says,

[The author of the Atlantic article, James] Hamblin pumps Hatfill up into a world authority on Ebola, citing his source's "unique expertise in biomedical warfare." He says Hatfill knows about Ebola "at a depth that can rival any scientist’s knowledge."

Both these assertions are exaggerations, at best. Hatfill's expertise may be extensive, but hardly "unique." As for his knowledge of Ebola rivaling any other scientist's, that's preposterous.
....

In listing Hatfill's qualifications, Hamblin mentions that he's a board member of the organization Doctors for Disaster Preparedness. As science writer Seth Mnookin observed on Twitter over the weekend, a few minutes' research should have told Hamblin that Hatfill's affiliation with this group disqualifies, rather than recommends Hatfill, as an expert.

DDP is an extremist organization that, among other positions, questions climate change as "an environmental scare" and suggests that vaccination causes epidemics. DDP's president, one Dr. Jane Orient, declared recently on right-wing talk radio that "as many 100,000 West Africans are in Central America, have been taught to speak Spanish and are coming across our Southern border."

Cool!  I really love it when "experts" argue with "experts."  And when one group of "experts" in the debate consists of conspiracy theorist nut jobs, so much the better.

October 27, 2014 (C) - I awoke this morning suddenly realizing what the "game" is that "DXer" is playing.  Yesterday, I'd read a comment DXer wrote on Saturday for Lew Weinstein's blog where he said,

Dr. Majidi in his e-book writes:

“The FBI did investigate and interviewed everyone that had come into contact with the hijackers and this inquiry did not result in identification of an accomplice mailer.”

Dr. Majidi’s claim that the FBI interviewed everyone who had come into contact with the hijackers is flat out untrue. When the FBI went looking for Adnan Shukrijumah, he had already left the country. Same with Jdey.

I suspect Dr. Majidi knows that the FBI did not interview El-Shukrijumah. But someone should ask him and get him on record.

And if he didn’t know that his statement above was grossly untrue when he wrote it, wow.

....

I was so bowled over when I read Vahid’s incredibly false claim above, that I must have made 15 typos in first posting this message a few minutes ago. I set a new personal record.


DXer is arguing that Dr. Majidi is making an "incredibly false," "grossly untrue," "flat out untrue" claim, when, in reality, Dr. Majidi was just not being precise in his wording.  Dr. Majidi probably should have written:

The FBI did investigate and interviewed everyone [they could find who] had come into contact with the hijackers [in the month before 9/11] and this inquiry did not result in identification of an accomplice mailer.

It appears that DXer's "game" is to attack any imprecise wording by the FBI or DOJ as a way of covering over the fact that DXer has no real arguments about the Amerithrax investigation, and he has no meaningful evidence to support his personal beliefs.

I could write a long text showing other examples of this, but I liked the daydream dialog method I used in my Sunday comment to show what an intelligent discussion would look like.  So, here's another daydream dialog example:

DXer:  I'm aghast!  I'm totally stunned.  Stunned, I tell you.  I'm going to swoon in horror over Dr. Majidi's incredibly false claim.

Ed:  Really?  Isn't it just a matter of imprecise wording?

DXer:  I'm appalled.  I'm astonished.  I'm actually discombobulated!

Ed:   Aren't you just doing the same thing you do when you argue that Dr. Ivins had an alibi for the time of the mailings.

DXer:  He did have an alibi.

Ed:  You mean he had an alibi because he was in a group therapy session from 5:30 p.m. to about 7 p.m. on the 17th of September, 2001.

DXerExactly!

Ed:  But, that's not an alibi.  Dr. Ivins obviously could have driven to New Jersey to mail the first batch of letters after the therapy session.

DXer:  But he had an alibi for the period from 5:50 to 7!  So he had an alibi!  The government was flat out lying when they said he had no alibi!

Ed:  An "alibi" is proof that a person was somewhere else at the time of the crime, and therefore could not have committed the crime.  If Ivins was in a group therapy session from 5:30 to 7, then obviously that could not have been the "time of the crime."  The time of the crime must have been later.

DXer: But the government doesn't know precisely when the letters were mailed.  So, they could have been mailed between 5:30 and 7 on the 17th.  That means Dr. Ivins would have had an alibi.

EdOther facts and evidence says that Dr. Ivins was the mailer.  Therefore, if he couldn't have mailed the letters between 5:30 and 7, he simply mailed them later.  He had no alibi for later.

DXer:  But he had an alibi for 5:30 to 7, so he had an alibi.  The DOJ was lying when they said he had no alibi.  It's astonishingly clear!  I'm appalled!

Ed:  Are you using that same kind of reasoning when you argue that Ivins was working with rabbits on all those evenings and weekends when the government says Dr. Ivins had no cause to be in his lab in Suite B3?

DXer:  Ivins was helping with vaccine tests on 52 rabbits during that time. So, he had good cause to be in his B3 lab.  I'm astonished that the government would lie about that!  Astonished, I tell you!  Simply astonished!

Ed:  Because you have documents showing that Ivins worked with some rabbits during a period in early October?

DXer:  Yes!  That gave him reason to be in his lab!  So, he had reason to be there!  I'm astounded that the DOJ said he had no reason to be there.  Astounded!

Ed:  Actually, what the DOJ said was, "There was no big experiment or project going on in September/October 2001 that would justify all of the time in the hot suites. Even Dr. Ivins could not explain this extraordinary change in his work schedule."

DXer:  The point is that Dr. Ivins had a reason to be in his lab on those nights and weekends.  The goverment said he had no reason.

Ed:   So, it's another argument over words.  If Ivins had a reason to be in his lab for a few minutes on one day in early October, then the DOJ was wrong in saying he had no reason to be in his lab?

DXerRight!  Yes!!  It shows the government was lying!  I'm appalled!  Appalled!

Ed:  Thank you for clarifying your views.

DXer: Simply appalled, I tell you.  I think I'm going to swoon with astonishment that the government would lie so blatantly!  I'm aghast!

Ed:  Uh huh.  I'm also "aghast" ... but for a different reason.

October 27, 2014 (B) - During lunch yesterday, I unexpectedly finished reading the book "I'm a Stranger Here Myself" by Bill Bryson.  Finishing it was "unexpected" because I was reading it on my Kindle, and I was only 90% finished when I discovered that the last 10% of the book was just advertising comments about the author and an excerpt from another book Mr. Bryson wrote (which doesn't interest me).

I enjoyed reading the first 90% of "I'm a Stranger Here Myself," because (1) its full of humor, (2) it's a series of short articles he wrote, (3) I could read about an article and a half at breakfast and another article and a half during lunch, and (4) it contained a lot of examples of how difficult it is to accurately communicate in today's world.  We all live different lives and have different experiences, and whenever we speak to someone, we have no certainty that what is being said is also what is being heard and understood.

That fits well with the arguments I've been having with "DXer."  Now I'm going to write a (C) comment to illustrate how it can take a long time to figure out what DXer is  actually saying when he is being deliberately evasive and unclear.

October 27, 2014 (A) - This morning, msn.com has an article from "The Atlantic" magazine about what Steven Hatfill has been doing lately, and also about Dr. Hatfill's views on the ebola situation.  The article is titled "21 Days."  And Dr. Hatfill (like Dr. Meryl Nass) has a problem with the CDC saying that ebola cannot be contracted via germs in the air.   If someone with ebola spits vomits on you, that vomit went through the air, and you could get ebola from the vomit.  Therefore, ebola was "transmitted through the air."

I don't know if it would help if the CDC and others used more precise wording, such as "ebola cannot go airborne from one's breath and infect another person who just happens to be passing through the room."  But, there's probably something wrong with that, too.

The problem really seems to be arguing about words, instead of trying to understand.

October 26, 2014 - I sometimes worry that most readers of this web site might be getting tired of me describing my arguments with "DXer" almost every day.  However, my web site statistics show that there have been 11 days this month when this site has had over 800 visitors.  There were only 5 such days in September, and none in August.  So, this is going to be another comment on the same subject: my arguments with DXer.

Last week, "DXer" very kindly clarified the "method" he and a few other Anthrax Truthers use to draw conclusions.   The "method" is summarized in this graphic:

The DXer
                      Method graphic

"DXer" very kindly stated his two main beliefs in posts HERE and HERE.  They are:

Hypothesis No. 1: Al Qaeda’s anthrax lab director Yazid Sufaat, assisted by two lab technicians, processed the virulent anthrax into the powder used in the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings.

Hypothesis 2: Adnan El-Shukrijumah, the current head of Al Qaeda operations against targets North America, was the anthrax mailer.

While he labels them as "hypotheses," there is no meaningful evidence supporting them, and he ignores all disputing evidence, so, they are really only baseless declarations of his personal beliefs.  

On Saturday, DXer went one step further and demonstrated his inability to argue facts.  In attempted posts to my interactive blog, he argued how Dr. Ivins could not have done things that everyone probably knows Ivins did not do.  And, of course, DXer totally ignores all the facts about what Ivins most likely did or actually did.

His arguments were so absurd that what he seemed to be saying would probably be best illustrated in a cartoon:

Arguing about what did or did not
                  happen
There are actually some very interesting points being made in some of these arguments. But, unfortunately, a dozen different points are usually being argued at the same time, and good points are often buried in DXer's lengthy diatribes about irrelevant issues.

However, I can daydream about an intelligent discussion going this way:

DXer:  Ivins' friends say he couldn't have made the attack spores.

Ed:  Yes, but the facts clearly say Ivins had the means to make the attack spores.

DXer: He couldn't have used the fermenter.  The motor was missing.

Ed:  The facts say he used plates to grow the spores, not a fermenter.

DXer:  AUSA Rachel Lieber doesn't know that.  She thinks Ivins could have used the fermenter, even though the motor was missing.

Ed:  No, she doesn't.  She merely said that Ivins had a fermenter in his lab.

DXer:  But the motor was missing at the time the spores were prepared.

Ed:  You don't know when the spores were prepared.  Can you be certain that the fermenter cannot be rigged to work, even though the motor is missing?  It's just a vat.  The motor probably just injects air bubbles.  Do you know that air bubbles can't be injected some other way?

DXer:  I have no idea how a fermenter works.

Ed:  So, you can't say that it would be totally impossible for Ivins to have rigged a fermenter to work even though the motor was missing  - OR to have created the spores back during a time when the motor wasn't missing.

DXer:  No.  I can't say that.

Ed:  Neither can Rachel Lieber.  FBI and Dugway scientists were able to create anthrax spores like those in the attack letters using the equipment Ivins had available in his lab.  So, they can prove in court that Ivins definitely had the means to make the spores.  However, they would not try to argue which equipment Ivins did nor did not use, because they cannot prove such a thing with certainty.  You can create virtually identical spores using different equipment.  That is why all that is necessary in court is to prove Ivins had the means.

DXer:  What about the lyophilizer?  Dr. Ivins' friends say he couldn't have used the lyophilizer to dry the spores.

Ed:  But they can't prove it was impossible.  Ivins had other means of drying the spores, so he could have used those other means.  The facts seem to say he air dried the spores.  But, it is possible he could have used the lyophilizer in some way that less knowledgeable people do not think can be done. Whichever way he dried the spores, the results could have been the identical.  So, again Ivins had the means.  And that is what the prosecution would show and prove in court.

DXer:  But I truly believe that al Qaeda operatives created the spores and mailed the anthrax letters.

Ed:  Yes, I know.  But the evidence says very clearly that Ivins did it.  And you have no meaningful evidence whatsoever that al Qaeda did it.

DXer:  Can't I still believe it, even if the evidence says I'm wrong?

Ed:  Yes, I suppose so.

DXer: But, I also want everyone else to believe what I believe.  And I don't really care what the facts and evidence say.

Ed:  I know.  Why is it so important to you to convince everyone that al Qaeda sent the anthrax letters?

DXer:  Because I believe that if they aren't blamed for the 2001 anthrax attacks, they could attack us again.

Ed:  But they could attack us with anthrax even if they are not blamed for the 2001 anthrax attacks.  The government is doing all it can to prevent it from happening.

DXer:  Yes, but if al Qaeda is blamed for the attacks, then Americans will want vengeance.  That means they'll try much harder to catch them all. 

Ed:  I think they're trying pretty hard already.  There hasn't been another anthrax attack in 13 years.

DXer:  But, that doesn't mean it can't happen tomorrow.  Besides, I want to be able to prove to everyone that I was right and the government was wrong.

Ed:  Ah.  I see.  You just do not want to admit you've been wrong.

DXer (sobbing): I've tried for over ten years to convince people that I'm right.

Ed:  I know.               

Instead, the conversation went a different way.  Click HERE to read it.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, October 19, 2014, thru Saturday, October 25, 2014

October 25, 2014 - This morning, "DXer" (a.k.a. "Anonymous") attempted two posts to my interactive blog.  I just wrote a comment about them, showing the two posts in their entirety.  Both posts nicely illustrate how DXer persists in arguing about things that everyone knows Ivins did not do, while ignoring what the facts say Dr. Ivins DID do

DXer is also on a similar rant on Lew Weinstein's blog, arguing that Dr. Ivins couldn't have used a fermenter to make the anthrax spores for the letters.  Everyone knows that.  The facts say Ivins grew the spores on 546 plates used to test dosages for animal experiments.  Those test plates were supposed to be destroyed after readings were taken, but Ivins evidently didn't destroy the plates until after he used the spore contents in the anthrax letters.  DXer adamantly refuses to address what Ivins most likely did, and just endlessly argues about what Ivins could not have done.  I can't think of a better illustration of just how meaningless and absurd DXer's arguments are.

October 23, 2014 (B) - Ah!  I just noticed that "DXer" (a.k.a. "Anonymous") posted some interesting new messages to Lew Weinstein's blog this morning.

Click HERE for a post that says:

Below is some of “science” that the FBI relied upon in accusing Dr. Hatfill for a half decade. Why is it acceptable for the FBI toss it into the dumpster in back, out of sight, when it proves inconvenient to its next theory?

The "science" he cites is an article about bloodhounds.  DXer explains that he doesn't understand why dubious evidence pointing to Dr. Hatfill can be believed while dubious evidence that does not point to Dr. Ivins can be ignored. 

Answer: It was dubious evidence that was overridden and replaced by solid evidence.

Click HERE to view a truly informative post by DXer in which he clearly demonstrates his thinking processes.  He wrote,

Hypothesis 2: Adnan El-Shukrijumah, the current head of Al Qaeda operations against targets North America, was the anthrax mailer.

I can't find any reference or mention of "Hypothesis 1," but clearly "Hypothesis 2" isn't supported by any evidence.  Instead, it is supported by a list of documents that should be obtained by the government to "resolve the hypothesis':  DXer wrote:

As for documentary analysis that might be helpful in resolving the hypothesis, the following should be obtained:

All documents from any US agency or cooperating non-US agency relating to Adnan El-Shukrijumah, including but not limited to:

[he lists 27 documents which should be obtained}

DXer has made it as clear as anyone could hope for that he doesn't understand the scientific method.  His "hypothesis" is a BELIEF, a conclusion that el Shukrijumah was the anthrax mailer.  Then, instead of providing evidence to support that hypothesis (or belief or conclusion) he explains how the government MIGHT be able to do it: by providing documents to him that he can look through to find the proof he believes must exist somewhere.  And, if he can't find the evidence in the 27 sets of documents he is currently requesting, then he'd just ask for 27 more.   If the documents are not provided, then that is proof that the government is hiding the "truth."  If the documents are provided but do not prove anything, then he'll just ask for more documents.

That's "The Truther Method" in a nutshell.

Added NOTE:

Later in the day, DXer posted a message HERE which shows his "Hypothesis 1," which is another belief unsupported by any real evidence.  Here it is:

Hypothesis No. 1: Al Qaeda’s anthrax lab director Yazid Sufaat, assisted by two lab technicians, processed the virulent anthrax into the powder used in the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings.

The "evidence" DXer uses is a series of wild theories and unanswered questions.  When compared to the real evidence against Dr. Ivins, DXer's "evidence" it is mostly just a list of past blog threads where DXer attempts to justify his irrational, incoherent beliefs.

October 23, 2014 (A) - "DXer"  (a.k.a. "Anonymous") persists in demonstrating a total lack of understanding of the scientific method.  In an attempted post to my interactive blog this morning he seemed to argue that if the government investigates any issue that turns out to be fruitless or inconclusive, that issue can be used as proof of Ivins' innocence.

That's a good illustration of how a "Truther" thinks.  "False leads" are either proof of government incompetence or proof of Dr. Ivins innocence.  In the "Truther's" world, "competent investigators" evidently start with a belief and only accept evidence that supports their belief, ignoring anything that doesn't support their belief.  There are no such things as "false leads," only incompetent investigators who cannot see "the truth."

"DXer" also sent me a couple emails which I describe on my blog.   One distorts what I said in order to continue the handwriting argument.  The other was just meaningless blather that evidently means something to "DXer," but he cannot explain what it means.

October 22, 2014 - I don't know if anyone cares or would be interested, but "DXer" from Lew Weinstein's blog has been sending me more rambling, pointless emails about the handwriting on the anthrax documents.  This time they're not about him disbelieving that the handwriting is that of a child.  Instead, it's about him disapproving of the way the FBI and DOJ presented the Amerithrax handwriting evidence in their Summary report and in various news conferences. 

Since I want all of our discussions to be PUBLIC discussions, in order to show how DXer does not seem able to discuss anything intelligently, I've been responding to his emails on MY interactive blog

Meanwhile, DXer has also been posting similar comments to Lew's blog.  One recent message is identical to what he sent me via email. 

As far as I can tell, DXer's latest gripe is - once again - that the Department Of Justice doesn't do things the way DXer feels they should be done.  So, it's not really an argument.  It's a personal opinion and a complaint that is only of interest to DXer.  Here it is as written on Lew's blog where it's buried in a mass of irrelevant material:

If the FBI wanted to argue that its expert in the above opinion was wrong, it was free to do so. But what was not acceptable was for it to fail to disclose the opinion at the press conference in August 2008 or in the Amerithrax Investigative Summary — and to misreprsent the written opinion that had been rendered.

DXer is resurrecting the argument I discussed in detail in my August 3, 2013 comment.  He feels the statements in a 2007 report written by USPIS handwriting expert Rober J. Muehlberger should have been made public earlier.  The FBI is NOT arguing that the USPIS expert is "wrong."  They make no argument at all about what Muehlberger wrote.  Muelberger's report was INCONCLUSIVE.  It was about what was "probably" true, based on examining an inadequate number of handwriting samples.      

DXer evidently wants to argue his OPINION that Muehlberger's report should have been made public earlier against my OPINION that it makes no difference to the case against Ivins when the report was released.  

The problem is: DXer's argument has to be dug out of an endless stream of meaningless blather, and when it is dug out, it's just an opinion versus opinion argument.  And I have no interest in opinion versus opinion arguments -- especially if I have to dig them out of a heap of meaningless blather. 


October 21, 2014 - I've probably mentioned this before, but it appears that the reason why Anthrax Truthers seem to spend all their time attacking the FBI's case against Bruce Ivins, instead of promoting their own theories, is because the Truthers know they have nothing but beliefs, opinions and pure baloney to support their personal theories.  As a result, they cannot defend their theories.  That means they have no choice but to attack the theories of others as a way of arguing that their own theory is superior.  They follow the adage: "The best defense is a good offence." 

Yesterday, I started a new thread titled "The Scientific Method" on my interactive blog. I suppose "The Truther Method" would be a good name for the process that Truthers use.  It appears that the steps in "The Truther Method" are as follows:

Come to a conclusion.
Attack others who do not believe.
Demand that others find evidence for you.
Ask irrelevant questions.
Cite irrelevant articles and sources.
Ignore all disputing evidence.
Twist facts to make them fit your conclusion.
Argue nonsense until your opponents give up.
Claim that opponents gave up because they have no case.

In the world of Truthers, that method probably works 99% of the time.  It takes someone with a lot of patience and spare time to argue against Truthers for year after year after year after year after year after year after year after year and not give up.

October 19, 2014 - Last week, for some reason, "DXer" from Lew Weinstein's blog attempted several posts to my interactive blog (where he uses "Anonymous" as his ID).  He's barred from posting directly to my blog because of the vile and disgusting personal attacks he makes at every opportunity, and also because he mostly just wants to post lengthy, totally irrelevant documents that evidently mean something to him, but clearly mean nothing to me or anyone else.  However, I'm sometimes willing to show how meaningless his posts are, and he seems fully willing to continue to attempt to post his meaningless arguments.  It gives me something to write about.  My latest comments on my blog about his attempted posts can be read by clicking HERE and HERE.

I could also comment on this web site about his latest string of incomprehensible rants against former FBI Agent Scott Decker.  DXer's most recent posts on that topic can be viewed by clicking HERE or HERE.  There are at least ten more ranting posts in those same two threads, all written today or yesterday.  I have no idea what caused DXer to suddenly rant on and on and on against Agent Decker, and, of course, DXer never explains himself.  It could be just that he doesn't have anything else to rant about at the moment.  Or it could be the result of some email discusson about Agent Decker with conspiracy theorist Kenneth Dillon.  There are indications that DXer has been talking with Mr. Dillon.  Mr. Dillon believes that
Abderraouf Jdey was the anthrax mailer:

Atta appears to have handed over the vials of anthrax to Jdey in Portland, Maine on September 10, which powerfully explains Atta’s otherwise anomalous trip to Portland on the day before the September 11 terrorist attacks. Jdey, whose modus operandi involved travelling to sites in the northeastern U.S., wrote and mailed the anthrax letters in September and October.

So, Mr. Dillon not only disagrees with DXer about who wrote the letters (DXer believes Mohamed Atta wrote the letters)
, but also about who mailed them.   By far, the most interesting post by DXer that I've seen lately is the one where he says,

Someone in effect has asked: If Jdey was part of the “planes operation” (and connected to Hambali, KSM etc.) — and he was strongly motivated by the Blind Sheik’s detention — why couldn’t he have been the anthrax mailer rather than Adnan Shukrijumah? It is an especially interesting proposition because the top CIA person in the Harvard WMD report has said that Jdey was detained (I don’t know by who) at the same time as Moussaoui but then released.

In other words, why should Shukrijumah coming to the US (according to the FBI) sometime after September 1, 2001, exclude Jdey as the mailer?
(Indeed, might Jdey have met Atta in Portland?)

That reasonable question is why I’m a big supporter of Ken Dillon’s efforts in a pending lawsuit under FOIA. I would be pleased as peach if it turns out that Jdey is the mailer.

DXer has been arguing for a decade that Shukrijumah was the anthrax mailer, so why would he be "pleased as peach if it turns out that Jdey is the mailer"?

That seems to indicate that he has no clue who actually mailed the anthrax letters, he just believes it was some al Qaeda terrorist and not Bruce Ivins.   He totally believes al Qaeda terrorists were behind the anthrax attacks, and he cannot believe that Bruce Ivins did it, no matter how solid the evidence may be against Ivins.

That's why talking about evidence has no meaning to him.  The only "evidence" of interest to him is "evidence" he can twist to support his beliefs.

So, discussing the "scientific method" with him would just be a waste of time. 

I spent a couple hours last week researching "the scientific method," mostly just looking for something to write about in today's comment.  One
interesting YouTube video I found is titled "The Scientific Method Made Simple."  It explains the method from a unique angle, providing "Ten Commandments" for using the method:

1.  Thou shalt base thy conclusion on the evidence.
2.  Thou shalt measure objectively, not guess subjectively.
3.  Thou shalt back up thy statements with evidence (in other words, just claiming something is a fact doesn't make it a fact).
4.  Thou shalt use large sample numbers.
5.  Thy tests shalt be blind.
6.  Thy tests shalt have controls.
7.  Thou shalt cite thy sources of information.
8.  Thy sources of information must be reliable, verifiable and backed by evidence.
9.  Opinion is not fact.
10. Thou shalt not bear false witness (don't cheat).

The video also says that all scientific research has to follow those rules, or it's not science.  Moreover, the same rules also apply to how a legal case is presented in court.

Those who believe that al Qaeda sent the anthrax letters (along with all the Anthrax conspiracy theorists) routinely break all the Commandments.

Virtually all conspiracy theorists and True Believers begin by breaking the "First Commandment."  They do not reach a conclusion based upon the evidence.  They start with a conclusion and then subjectively look for evidence to support it while ignoring all the evidence that shows they are wrong.

While looking for simple explanations of "the scientific method"last week, I also found a YouTube video of scientist Richard Feynman explaining the "scientific method."  It's probably the best explanation I've seen anywhere.  At about the 40 second mark, Dr. Feynman explains that if experiments (a.k.a. facts and evidence) disagree with the proposed explanation (or hypothesis), then it's wrong.  Dr. Feynman put it this way:

"If it disagrees with experiment, it's WRONGIn that simple statement is the key to science.  It doesn't make any difference how beautiful your guess is, it doesn't make any difference how smart you are, who made the guess or what his name is, if it disagrees with experiment, it's wrong.  That's all there is to it."

In the legal world (as opposed to the scientific world), that comment could be translated to mean,

If a claim disagrees with the evidence, it's WRONGIn that simple statement is the key to law.  It doesn't make any difference how beautiful your claim is, it doesn't make any difference how smart you are, who made the claim or what his name is, if it disagrees with the evidence, it's wrong.  That's all there is to it.

DXer claims that el Shukrijumah mailed the anthrax letters.  But, DXer has absolutely NOTHING that would be accepted in court as evidence to support his belief.  All he has are wild interpretations of what he read in the media or what he believes some FBI agent meant when the agent spoke to some reporter.  

This morning, I compiled a chart that illustrates the evidence in the FBI's case against Bruce Ivins versus DXer's theory that Adnan el Shukrijumha mailed the letters:

Evidence against Bruce Ivins
Evidence against Shukrijumah
Ivins' job was to make spores just like
those in the anthrax letters.
Shukrijumah must have gotten the
attack spores from somewhere.
Ivins lived about 200 miles from where
the anthrax letters were mailed.
Shukrijumah must have gotten into the
US somehow to mail the letters.
Ivins made spores with the same silicon
signature as the attack spores.
Shukrijumah must have gotten
weaponized spores from somewhere.
Ivins was in charge of the "murder
weapon," flask RMR-1029.
Shukrijumah must have gotten spores
from some identical source somewhere.
Ivins had no alibi for the times of the
mailings.
Shukrijumah must have been in the US
at the times of the mailings.
Ivins lived where the envelopes were
sold.
Shukrijumah must have gotten the
envelopes from the 9/11 hijackers.
Ivins attempted to destroy evidence
which would incriminate him.
Shukrijumah must have done everything
without leaving any evidence anywhere.

Or maybe the issue can be better illustrated with a cartoon:

cartoon about being biased

I'm not sure of the best way to deal with that kind of "logic."

Updates & Changes: Sunday, October 12, 2014, thru Saturday, October 18, 2014

October 18, 2014 - Yesterday, someone sent me a YouTube video of health care workers at
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas talking with ebola victim Nina Pham.  The video was also on the news.  The reason it was sent to me was for me to check out the comments after the video.  Yesterday, there were 1,930 comments.  This morning there are 3,975.  It looks like some people think it's the end of the world.  Others think it's a another government conspiracy. But mostly it's just people posting their thoughts, which are sometimes mean, sometimes stupid, sometimes heartwarming, sometimes puzzled, sometimes worried, sometimes angry, and very often totally incomprehensible.

This morning I got another email from that same person (he's a first responder) with a link to an article in The New York Times titled "Waste From Ebola Poses Challenge to Hospitals."  The article begins with this:

When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention assured the public this month that most American hospitals could treat cases of Ebola, it was technically correct. Hospitals routinely treat highly contagious diseases, and top-tier ones are extensively equipped to isolate patients who pose special risks.

But the infection over the past week of two Texas hospital workers betrayed what even many of the best hospitals lack: the ability to handle the tide of infectious waste that Ebola generates.

Ebola’s catastrophic course includes diarrhea, vomiting and hemorrhaging of blood, a combination difficult enough to contain in less-communicable illnesses. When they are highly contagious, disposing of the waste and cleaning up what is left behind require expertise and equipment that some specialists said are lacking even in highly regarded medical facilities.

Those shortcomings are compounded, they said, by surprising gaps in scientists’ knowledge about the Ebola virus itself, down to the time it can survive in different environments outside the body.

I think it's important to remember that the two nurses who contracted ebola probably didn't get it from any kind of normal "contact" with Thomas Eric Duncan.  They evidently got it from having to deal with his soiled bed linens and waste products.  That's not something a passenger on a plane or a next door neighbor has to deal with.   Plus, it takes time - even for health care workers - to stop automatically doing things the same way they've been doing them for years and years, and to start doing things that are required when dealing with a new and different kind of threat.

To err is human.  Making a mistake doesn't mean the person is incompetent.  It just means that the person is human.  We learn from our mistakes.  Unfortunately, when the media is involved, a simple mistake can make national headlines.  And a top notch hospital could be ruined by the publicity and the irrational fears caused by the publicity.

On the positive side, the rest of us can also learn some very valuable lessons when bad things happen to other people.

October 17, 2014 - Each morning I do a Google news search for anthrax+2001.  Lately, all I've been getting back are reviews of the conspiracy theory book "The 2001 Anthrax Deception" and articles about ebola.  According to one new article about ebola, it seems that a Dallas health care worker on vacation on a cruise ship is now being isolated.  According to a Reuters article:

The worker and a companion voluntarily isolated themselves in their cabin.

"We are working with the cruise line to safely bring them back to the United States out of an abundance of caution," [State Department spokeswoman Jen] Psaki said in the statement.

The government of Belize said in a statement it had denied a request by U.S. officials to use a Belizean airport to transport a cruise ship passenger who was considered very low risk for Ebola.

"The passenger never set foot in Belize," the statement said. "When even the smallest doubt remains, we will ensure the health and safety of the Belizean people."

It's difficult to tell how dangerous ebola really is. Adding to the confusion is a recent blog post by Dr. Meryl Nass titled "Aerosolization tests of Ebola in Animals at USAMRIID confirms disease can spread via air."  She cites a National Institues of Health (NIH) article where mice were evidently sprayed with a version of the ebola virus.

I'm no "expert," but I don't think spraying an animal with ebola indicates that the ebola disease can be "spread via air."

According to the CDC,

Ebola is not spread through the air or by water, or in general, by food. However, in Africa, Ebola may be spread as a result of handling bushmeat (wild animals hunted for food) and contact with infected bats. There is no evidence that mosquitos or other insects can transmit Ebola virus. Only mammals (for example, humans, bats, monkeys, and apes) have shown the ability to become infected with and spread Ebola virus.

That poses the question: Why doesn't ebola spread through the air?  Scientific American seems to say it may be able to float through the air, but breathing in the viruses doesn't get it into the bloodstream the way ebola infections most commonly happen:

Currently, Ebola typically gains entry into the body through breaks in the skin, the watery fluid around the eye or the moist tissues of the nose or mouth. Then it infects various cells of the immune system, which it tricks into making more copies of itself. The end result: a massive attack on the blood vessels, not the respiratory system.

So, if ebola viruses are floating around in the air, what difference does it make if it gets into someone's mouth instead of down someone's throat and into someone's lungs?

According to another article,

When a patient vomits, has diarrhea, undergoes medical procedures, or even flushes the toilet, “there’s just a cloud that contains pathogen virus particles,” says Dr. [Jane] Orient [executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons].

Dr. Orient says that when an aerosol dries up, droplet nuclei remain suspended in the air for a long time. A recent research study suggests that Ebola could remain infectious in an aerosol for more than an hour.

So, it appears that the primary issue preventing "spreading by air" is that the virus doesn't live for very long in the air.  It dries up and dies. 

There's probably some web site somewhere that explains the limitations and mechanics which "prevent" ebola from readily speading by air, but I haven't been able to find it. 

It's not something I'm worried about, but I think it would help quell the growing panic if there was more information on what "spread by air" involves and means.  If someone with ebola sneezes in my face, isn't that "spread by air"?  Or is it an example of "spread by contact with bodily fluids"?  Where's the dividing line?  I can't be the only person wondering about this.


October 15, 2014 - This is about as far off-topic and anything can get, but there's breaking news today that Lockheed has discovered how to make a practical fusion reactor.  According to Scientific American,

Lockheed Martin Corp said on Wednesday it had made a technological breakthrough in developing a power source based on nuclear fusion, and the first reactors, small enough to fit on the back of a truck, could be ready in a decade.

I'm old enough to remember back about 40 years or more when they were also saying that a practical fusion reactor should be available in a decade.  But, this time it seems to be a bit more likely to happen.  I don't know exactly what the "technological breakthrough" is, but the problem for the past forty or fifty years has been that it took more energy to run the reactor than you could get out of it.

I doubt that it will be as simple to use as the one in the movie "Back to The Future" (see images below), but, if it works, it could certainly change the world. 

fusion
                      reactor 1 - back to the future
fusion reactor 2 - back to the future

The Scientific American article also says,

Lockheed sees the project as part of a comprehensive approach to solving global energy and climate change problems. Compact nuclear fusion would also produce far less waste than coal-powered plants, and future reactors could eliminate radioactive waste completely, the company said.

McGuire said the company had several patents pending for the work and was looking for partners in academia, industry and among government laboratories to advance the work.

Lockheed said it had shown it could complete a design, build and test it in as little as a year, which should produce an operational reactor in 10 years, McGuire said.

The article also contains some errors, specifically about reactors in nuclear submarines.  Check the comments after the article.   I found this comment very interesting:

This Lockheed claim has been floating around for years now. I am positive Transatomic Power's molten salt reactors will succeed. Lockheed's claims sound like the ones they had about EESTOR storage devices. Very skeptical of anything Lockheed says. Sounds like they want others to risk the money on this device rather than themselves. That shows a strong lack of confidence.

Those are very good points.  It's getting so that you can't trust anyone these days.

However, Business Insider says:

What Lockheed has managed to do is develop a new way to constrain the plasma, using what is called a compact fusion reactor (CFR) with a specifically shaped magnetic field inside. The CFR can contain the plasma with less energy input by creating a self-regulating system, so when the plasma tries to expand — which would lower its overall energy and reduce the chance of nuclear fusion — the magnetic field fights back to contain it. So, the plasma actually works to contain itself.

That seems like scientific gibberish to me, but maybe there's something to it.  I hope so.

October 14, 2014 - I'm still not seeing any news about the General Accountablity Office's review of the Amerithrax investigation, which is supposed to be released "sometime this fall."  And ebola seems to have killed off all anthrax news.

On Sunday, I made a breakthrough on learning how to use my new laptop.  I discovered that things I do with one hand on my old computer using a mouse have to be done with two hands on my laptop using the touchpad.  Copying things being the #1 example.  That little discovery resolved all sorts of problems I was having.

I also discovered Microsoft Paint, which allows me to do a lot of things my new laptop that I feared I could only do by buying a new copy of Corel Draw and Photopaint (which I've had on my old computers for decades).  It appears I've also always had a copy of Microsoft Paint on my old computer, but I didn't know it and never used it.  So, now I have to figure out how to do things on it.  It does most of the things I previously did by utilizing Corel Draw and Photopaint.  Here's a test:

Microsoft
                      Paint - test image

I'm now spending more time on my new laptop than on my old computer. 

I can reserve movies to rent from Redbox on my laptop.
I can borrow ebooks from the library using my laptop.
I can check my book sales using my laptop.

I can't maintain this web site via my laptop, but I think the software is available somewhere in the Microsoft ACCESS application which I have.   I just need to find it and figure out how to use it.

I can't read emails from my personal email account on my laptop, but I don't want to do that until I'm ready to switch to using my laptop as my primary computer.  I have a new email account on my laptop.  The address is detect at outlook dot com, which I'm never going to spell as an email address on any web site or blog.  Hopefully that will keep my new inbox from being flooded with junk mail.

Using my laptop, I set up a new interactive blog to discuss subjects not related to the anthrax attacks of 2001.  I wanted to use OldDogNewTricks as the name, but that was taken.  So was OldDogNewProblems, OldGuyNewTricks and a half dozen other names I tried.  I finally set it up at OldGuyNewIssues.   

I'm having a problem getting accustomed to the new keyboard on the laptop.  I can now only type about 10 words in a row without making a mistake.   But, it's just a matter of practice.  One way to "practice" is to start working on the second draft of my new sci-fi novel by using my laptop.

But, there are a bunch of other things I need to figure out first.

October 12, 2014 - On Thursday, someone calling himself "Steve H" posted a message to my interactive blog.   The message asked:

Was the kid who wrote the anthrax letters a boy ... a girl? ... 50/50?

I immediately assumed the poster was "DXer" from Lew Weinstein's blog.  The  anthrax handwriting is DXer's favorite subject for arguments with me, plus the question makes no sense, and DXer rarely makes any sense.  What does "50/50" mean?  50% boy, 50% girl?

When I pointed that out, "Steve H" responded:

By 50/50, I meant is it equally likely based on the handwriting whether a boy wrote it or whether a girl wrote it. Do girls and boys write the same or are there differences you discern in the handwriting?

So, just as DXer always does, "Steven H" was going off on a tangent.  But, I was willing to go along for awhile.  I replied:

I don't know. I'm not a handwriting "expert." I just know the "basics." There might be some way for a true "expert" to sometimes tell whether the writing is that of a boy or girl. But, I think when a child is just copying material, instead of writing something original, it could be extremely difficult - if not impossible - to definitively tell if the writer is a boy or girl.

So, just as DXer always does, "Steve H" went off on another tangent.  He wrote:

Young girls are easier to manipulate than young boys.

Young boys are very skeptical.

I responded:

That's an interesting opinion, but I doubt that it has any basis in reality. My opinion would be that young girls are smarter than boys, so it would be easier to manipulate a young boy. Click HERE for and article from Psychology Today titled "Girls Are More Intelligent Than Boys, But Men Are More Intelligent Than Women".

However, it's still a pointless argument, since this is not a situation where the "average boy" or "average girl" was involved. In this situation, it would depend on the individual child and how well he (or she) knew Bruce Ivins.

So, just as DXer always does, "Steve H" then made some vague references without providing links or quotes:

Hartley does a good job in his article addressing Spear's article in explaining that there are differences in handwriting between girls and boys.

I responded:

You continue to argue just like "DXer" (a.k.a. "Anonymous"). You twist what I say. And you force me to look up "Hartley" and "Spear," instead of providing links and quotes. [Such links can be found] HERE and HERE.

And, it's all irrelevant. Unless you can PROVE that the handwriting on the anthrax documents is that of a young girl, all you are doing is saying that some "experts" claim that there is a difference between a typical young girl's handwriting and a typical young boy's handwriting. And that means nothing, since the writer of the letters may not be "typical."

Then using the full name "Steve Howell," he went off on another tangent and wrote:

Your theory, Mr. Lake, also does not take into account whether the child you imagine wrote the letters, is right-handed or left-handed.

Interestingly, Google flagged that post as "SPAM."  I had to take it out of the SPAM folder to publish it on my blog.  (It was also the only time he posted using the full name "Steve Howell.")  My response was:

And why is that relevant? Just like "DXer" (a.k.a. "Anonymous"), you seem to be able to discuss only things that are not relevant.

I think some "handwriting experts" have indicated the writing was done by someone who is right handed. But, I don't know if the child used by Ivins is right-handed or left-handed. So, the issue is not relevant.

The only way the subject would be relevant is (1) if a specific child were named, (2) it was known whether he (or she) was right- or left-handed, and (3) ALL the handwriting experts said the handwriting was done by a child who wrote with his other hand.

All that would prove was that Ivins used a different child.

Then "Steve H" wrote:

I agree it wasn't written by that Ivins scientist. But it wasn't written by a child either. It was written by someone sending a lethal letter ... such a person would have no reason to involve a kid... who would go tell his parents. I don't know if you know kids but they are big blabbers. They say whatever they are thinking.

It's a standard argument from Anthrax Truthers.  "Steve H" is arguing that he (or some typical or average criminal) wouldn't do things that way, therefore Bruce Ivins simply could not have done things that way, either.  It's a nonsense argument.  I responded:

I understand that is your opinion or belief, but your opinions and beliefs do not agree with the facts and evidence.

You are talking about the way YOU would do things. You aren't Bruce Ivins. Bruce Ivins may have had several good reasons to involve a kid.

And "Steve H" responded just the way I would expect DXer to respond:

There are NO facts and evidence say that Ivins used a child to write the anthrax documents. Your theory is absurd.

And I responded:

There is a MOUNTAIN of facts and evidence showing that Bruce Ivins was the anthrax killer. Click HERE to read the FBI/DOJ's "Amerithrax Investigation Summary." And you can go to my web site for details about how Ivins most likely made the anthrax powders, etc. Plus, my book will tell you further details.

There are many UNCHALLENGED FACTS and evidence showing that a child just starting first grade wrote the anthrax documents. Click HERE to go to my web page where some of the facts are explained. Click HERE to view a YouTube video where I explain 12 FACTS which show that a child just starting first grade wrote the anthrax documents.

If Ivins was the anthrax killer and the letters were written by a child just starting first grade, then Ivins MUST have used a child to do the writing. Plus, it makes total sense for Bruce Ivins to have used a child that way, although it might not make sense for the "average" criminal to do it.

"Steve H" (who seems more and more like "DXER" a.k.a. "Anonymous" every day) also wrote: "Your theory is absurd."

That is your OPINION. I've been trying to make it clear to you that I have no interest in arguing opinions. It is pointless.

The only way to resolve an issue like this is through an objective look at the facts and evidence.

The facts and evidence say Bruce Ivins was the anthrax killer.

The facts and evidence say that a child just starting first grade wrote the anthrax documents.

The facts and evidence therefore say that Ivins used a child to write the anthrax documents.

No beliefs or opinions will change what the facts and evidence say.

I realize that anyone reading this web site could just go to my interactive blog and read the entire conversation there, but I've learned that some readers of this blog do not like clicking on links, and I thought it was a very interesting discussion that was also worth summarizing. 

The discussion ended at that point two days ago.  When Anthrax Truthers cannot find a way to argue opinions and beliefs, they usually just go away -- for awhile.  Then they return in a week or a month to argue the same thing all over again.   DXer often ends an argument by attacking me in vile and disgusting ways, which is why I don't allow him to post directly to my interactive blog.  "Steve H" didn't do that.

Nevertheless, I'd say it's a 70% probability that "Steve H" was really "DXer" utilizing another false name to argue things that only he seems to want to argue -- apparently because he thinks it annoys me.  And he seems to really enjoy annoying me.  This time, the discussion was relatively civil, even though, as usual, "Steve H" was using standard Anthrax Truther arguments involving opinions and beliefs, while I kept trying to get him to discuss facts and evidence. 

The discussion seems to show - for the umpteenth time - that there is no way to get Truthers to discuss evidence and facts.  They just seem to pretend that the facts and evidence don't exist.  When you point them to the evidence, they argue that it isn't the kind of evidence they accept.  However, when it comes to arguing their own theories, anything goes  -- opinions, beliefs, rumors, hearsay, outright nonsense and meaningless questions are all they have.  Yet, they view it as solid evidence that they are right.

Meanwhile, on Friday, "DXer" posted to Lew Weinstein's blog his most interesting message in a long long time.  He evidently stumbled across an article from 2004, either HERE or HERE (as usual, DXer doesn't provide any links), titled "The 'Official' Operative Clique For The Next 9/11?" by Chaim Kupferberg.  DXer wrote:

In 2004, in a well-written essay “The “Official” Operative Clique For The Next 9/11?”, someone was taking my focus on El-Shukrijumah and turning it inside out. The author seems to make me out to be part of the grand conspiracy that (in his mind, falsely) attributed 911 to Al Qaeda and set up El-Shukrijumah and his associates as the patsy for any future anthrax or other WMD attack.

I found it highly amusing that someone would think that "DXer" (the article uses his real name) would be viewed as part of a U.S. government conspiracy to blame el-Shukrijumah (DXer's pick as the anthrax mailer) for some future bioweapons attack.  

The theory that el-Shukrijumah was the anthrax mailer, and that e-Shukrijumah will commit a similar crime someday unless he is blamed for the 2001 attacks and caught, is exactly what DXer seems to have been arguing for years.  But, I seriously doubt he's doing it as part of some complex US Government conspiracy to blame al Qaeda for something that will supposedly be done someday by the US Government.

I think it goes to show that there isn't any idea so bizarre and preposterous that you can't find someone around somewhere who believes it totally and wholeheartedly.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, October 5, 2014, thru Saturday, October 11, 2014

October 10, 2014 - Last night I used my DVR to watch the NOVA program "Why Planes Vanish" that aired on Wednesday.   It was mostly about Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.  It got into some controversial areas (like the cargo of lithium batteries), but I think it explained things nicely.  It seemed to advocate the use of a satellite system to track aircraft, instead of relying on radar - which doesn't have the range to follow an aircraft across an ocean.  It also explained a bit about Secondary Surveillance Radar, which isn't really "radar."  It's a radio system connecting a radio transmitter-receiver on an aircraft (a "transponder") with a radio receiver connected to a radar system on the ground.  The radio and radar operate on the same wave length, so the transponder will send out a radio/radar signal that is much stronger than the bounceback signal from the radar.  As a result of all this, I think I now understand another scientific subject that may never again come up in any conversation.  But, I'm ready if it does come up. 

October 9, 2014 - Three days ago, I wrote that I didn't plan to write anything more about Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 until some actual evidence was found.

Yes, that was the "plan."  But, the best laid plans of mice and men ... Gang aft a-gley.

This morning I found an article from Der Speigel titled "Emirates Head Critical of MH 370 Investigation," which provides a very good example of an "expert" displaying his total ignorance in an interview with the media.  This time, the "expert" is head of the United Emirates Airline.  He says:

The transponders are under the control of the flight deck. These are tracking devices, aircraft identifiers that work in the secondary radar regime. If you turn off that transponder in a secondary radar regime, that particular airplane disappears from the radar screen. That should never be allowed to happen. Irrespective of when the pilot decides to disable the transponder, the aircraft should be able to be tracked.

I'm certainly no expert, but I can look at the FACTS, and the facts say that when you turn off the transponder, all that happens is that your plane stops sending information to radar stations telling them who you are.  The blip indicating your aircraft is still on the radar.  Many radar systems do not get or use transponder data.  They just track blips.  Here's what a radar screen looks like when it includes transponder data:


transponder radar information

Nearest the center, JBU1048 142 E190 is the transponder data from a specific plane giving its call sign and other information.  There's also a short line connecting that data with the "blip" that shows the location of the aircraft.

And here is what a radar screen looks like when it shows only blips and no transponder information associated with the blips:


radar screen without transponder info

What a transponder does is help a radar operator determine which blip is which specific aircraft.   If the pilot could just turn off your transponder and "disappear" from radar screens, there wouldn't be any need for the U. S. military to spend billions developing "stealth" technology to prevent its warplanes from being picked up by radar.

Military radar stations were tracking MH370 after the transponder was turned off.  They tracked it for a long while -- until it flew out of radar range.  But, without the transponder data, they couldn't be certain of the identity of the plane they were tracking.

I'm not sure what a "secondary radar regime" is, but there might be circumstances where air traffic controllers only want to see which aircraft have their transponders turned on.  There would have to be solid reasons to prevent controllers from doing that.

The rest of the interview shows that the head of Emirates Airlines seems totally ignorant of all the work being done to locate the wreckage of MH370.  He says:

There hasn't been one overwater incident in the history of civil aviation -- apart from Amelia Earhart in 1939 -- that has not been at least 5 or 10 percent trackable. But MH 370 has simply disappeared. For me, that raises a degree of suspicion. I'm totally dissatisfied with what has been coming out of all of this.

He's suspicious because he's ignorant of the facts, or he doesn't believe the facts.  The facts do not fit with his notion of the way the world works. 

And the media is ready, willing, able, and anxious to print his controversial views - ignorant as they may be - because he's an "expert" who wants to tell the world about his controversial opinions.  Controversy helps sell magazines and newspapers.

And conspiracy theorists are now undoubtedly using his ignorant views as "proof" of whatever screwball conspiracy theory they might have about the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370


October 8, 2014 - In case anyone is interested, on Monday I got my new laptop back from the "repair shop."  They removed the viruses.  This morning, I thought I may have acquired a new virus - even though I don't have any email connections and I haven't been browsing the Net.  A new "app" for a kid's game seems to have appeared on my "app list" recently.  (It's marked as a "new app.")  But, I didn't download anything.  I was considering calling "the shop" to ask them if it belongs there or not.  Then I decided to do a Google search for "Farmville 2."   It appears to be a legitimate game, but one I'll never use.  Someday I'll figure out how to delete it.  

It appears I'm going to have to go very slowly through the learning process.  There are so many differences in every application, and in using a touchpad instead of a mouse, and in using Windows 8.1 instead of Windows XP, that I sometimes feel that all my 50 years of experience working with computers means nothing.  I'm trying to enter a totally new world, where nearly everything is different.  I need to learn a new "skills" and new rules.  Common things I did in the past are now dangerous.  Routine things no longer work at all.  Things that required multiple steps in the past now consist of just one step, and if I try to do the second step, havoc will ensue.

I'm still looking for news about the GAO's review of Amerithrax, but I haven't seen anything.  And the Anthrax Truthers are continuing to do what they've always done.


October 6, 2014 - "DXer" (a.k.a. "Anonymous") appears to have responded to my (C) comment from yesterday by digging up a Lew Weinstein blog thread from April 15, 2009 titled "Ivins could not have been in Princeton when the FBI said he was."  It all relates to the preposterous reasoning I mentioned yesterday: A belief that, i
f Ivins was doing something legal on a given day, then he couldn't possibly have been doing anything illegal on that same day.

"DXer" also posted a new message this morning which seems to indicate that "Dxer" is getting a bit grumpy about me constantly pointing out the absurdities in his al Qaeda theory.  In his comment this morning, he wrote:

The FBI’s failure to disclose the contemporaneous documents relating to the purchases, telephone records, and emails from late September 2001 and early October 2001 remind me of the internet poster who stalks this blog and who for a decade has argued a First Grader wrote the anthrax letters

How does one "stalk" a blog?  I suppose it's done by repeatedly exposing errors on the blog.

But, he makes a good point.  It's getting pretty tiresome for me to constantly point out errors "DXer" makes on Lew Weinstein's blog.  And, I suspect that many readers of this web site are getting tired of reading about such things over and over and over.

The problem is, of course, that there isn't much else to write about that is related to the anthrax attacks of 2001.  And, no one knows exactly when the GAO is going to release their much-awaited review of the Amerithrax investigation.

The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 (and all the various conspiracy theories related to it) is also awaiting some real news.  A group of scientists calling themselves the "Independent Group" (IG) are having an interesting argument with a different scientist on Duncan Steele's blog, but the arguments are about minutiae.  It's interesting that the "official experts" might be taking the IG arguments seriously.  But, I don't plan to write anything further on that subject until some trace of MH370 is actually found.

My new laptop is still "in the shop" getting viruses removed and new software installed.  I don't think anyone wants to read what I might have to say about all the differences between Windows XP and Windows 8.1.

Work on my new (second) sci-fi novel is at a standstill until I get my new laptop working, and until I learn how to use the new software on it.

During breakfast and lunch, I'm reading a book titled "I'm a Stranger Here Myself" by Bill Bryson.  It's very enjoyable to read, but there's not much in it that relates to conspiracy theories.

So, don't be surprised if I go for several days without writing anything new for this web site.  I may be saving what little I have to say for my regular Sunday comment.

October 5, 2014 (C) - Hmm.  Probably in response to my (A) comment this morning, "DXer" (a.k.a "Anonymous") has posted a message to a thread dated January 29, 2012 and titled "Amerithrax: Hazmi and Mihdhar Timeline." The "timeline" is in the form of a graphic (of course).   It shows nothing meaningful.  Example:

      9/8/2001
Atta and hijackers
filed at KINKO'S in
Laurel doing
photocopying.


The only reason I found the "timeline" was because "DXer'" posted a new message in that thread from early 2012, and that made it the latest post in the "Recent Comments" column.  I have no idea how "DXer" found it, or how he would expect anyone else to find it.  Here's part of the message "DXer" posted this afternoon which also clearly relates to my (A) comment this morning:

In approaching an analysis of the means, motive, opportunity and modus operandi of the anthrax mailings, if the FBI had created a timeline for Dr. Ivins before his suicide, they would have discovered that he had a group therapy session on the night that they alleged he travelled to mail the Fall 2001 antharx letters.

He had no “opportunity.” Establishing his whereabouts those evenings was a greater priority than determining the DNA on the panties taken from his garbage.

It was only after Dr. Ivins’ death that the FBI acknowledged and confirmed he went to his group therapy session the evening of 9/17 on 10/8 — just as he had claimed. Why didn’t they corroroborate and acknowledge such a critical fact sooner?

It's total baloney, of course.  Ivins' therapy session ended at about 7 p.m., so he had plenty of time to drive to Princeton to mail the letters.  "DXer," it appears, believes that if Ivins was doing something legal on a given day, then he couldn't possibly have been doing anything illegal.  It's the same kind of thinking he uses with his rabbit theory.

Here's what I wrote in my book
"A Crime Unlike Any Other"about when Ivins made the first mailing (starting on page 65, and with the key passages in red):

       On Monday morning, September 17, Ivins entered Building
1425 at 6:58 a.m. and worked until 11:14 a.m. Undoubtedly very
anxious about what he was about to do, Ivins sent an email to Mara
Linscott at about 10 a.m. that morning. The email indicated that he
desperately needed someone to talk with. It said in part:

I haven't been feeling so good lately because of all that's going on. I
really can't talk to [my wife], and I don't say that much to [Patricia
Fellows] or anyone else. The group I'm in is only moderately
helpful. I'm glad some of us are going to Covance tomorrow with
some vaccine. It will be good to get away. I wish I had someone
here that I could really open up to at times like this.

       But there was no one there to tell him he shouldn't do what he
was planning on doing.
       He took the rest of the day off as four hours of paid leave.
       He may have had his car checked to make sure everything was ready for the drive. It would be a disaster if he had car problems on the drive to New Jersey. Then, he had his regular Monday evening group therapy session, which ran from 5:30 to about 7 p.m.
       Afterwards, it was only a five mile drive from CCA to Ft.
Detrick and his office where he retrieved the plastic bag full of letters
from his desk, slipped the bag inside his shirt and left, spending only
13 minutes inside Building 1425.
        He most likely left the letters in his car when he went home.
There would be no reason to take them inside.

The First Mailing

       Sometime that night, between roughly 7:30 p.m. and about
11:30 p.m., Ivins left his house, got into his car and headed to New
Jersey. The hours on the road gave him more time to think about
what he was doing. But, he continued on - past Baltimore, past
Wilmington, past Philadelphia, past Trenton.
       It could have been around midnight when Ivins entered
Princeton on Highway 206 and drove down Nassau Street looking for
the address of the KKG office.


The idea that Ivins couldn't have driven to New Jersey because he had a therapy session at 5 p.m. is just another absurd distortion of the facts by a True Believer.

October 5, 2014 (B) - Wow! I just had to take my new laptop back to the store.  It was infected with dozens of viruses.  It appears that while installing new security software I got for free for a year with the laptop, the one-month free security software already in the computer first had to be deleted.  And, apparently, in the few minutes between deleting the old security software and installing the new security software, all sorts of viruses and malware were downloaded into my laptop.

Luckily, I hadn't put anything into the laptop except for some bookmarks.  So, I'm writing this as I'm waiting for the experts at the store to clean up everything for me.  And they're going to install the free security software for me, too.  All at no cost.

I probably should have realized that something was wrong a lot earlier, but Windows 8.1 is dramatically different from Windows-XP, and using touchpad is different from using a mouse, so it took me awhile to figure out was was "normal" and what wasn't.  I installed "Microsoft Office" yesterday, but I couldn't get it to work.  This morning I called the Microsoft hotline, and they figured out that my computer was infected. 

So, the past few days were a cram course on Windows 8.1 and a lesson in how dangerous the Internet can be if you are trying something new - even if you've been working on the Internet for over two decades.

October 5, 2014 (A) - The argument I was having with "DXer" (a.k.a. "Anonymous") on my interactive blog ended suddenly about a week ago.   I think it may have ended because of what I wrote in my (B) comment on this web site on September 28.  Here's what I wrote:

In one of his rambling posts, "DXer" says,

The United States Attorney Falsely Alleged That The Federal Eagle Stamp Was Uniquely Sold At Dr. Bruce Ivins’ Post Office And Then That Ran As An AP Headline. In fact, the envelopes with the printing defects are known to have been sold throughout Maryland and Virginia post offices (and that is where the hijackers were).

That is almost certainly in response to this part of my (A) comment:

The post office envelopes used in the mailings were sold in the area where Ivins lived.
"DXer" has no explanation for why al Qaeda would buy envelopes in Maryland.

But, arguing that the hijackers were reportedly in the Virginia/Maryland area at some point in time prior to 9/11 poses an interesting question: Is "DXer" saying that one of the hijackers put the two different types of anthrax powders into the letters while they were somewhere within the US?  Are we to believe that the hijackers then set the two batches of letters aside somewhere to wait for Adnan Shukrijumah to come to the US to do the two actual mailings after 9/11?
 
There's never been anything logical about the al Qaeda Theory, but I'd forgotten about "DXer's" belief that the letter copies were made by the 9/11 hijackers in a store in Laurel, Maryland.  And that also appears to be where he believes Mohamed Atta wrote the letters and addressed the envelopes.  Looking over some past arguments with "Anonymous," I found this on my interactive blog in a discussion from Jan. 26, 2012:

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 [New Jersey]. Ed perhaps can agree that he does not know where the fine particulate mixer was taken.

The second biggest problem with trying to figure out "DXer's" al Qaeda theory (after the fact that he does not and can not explain anything) is that his theory isn't laid out in any single place in any readable way.
 
I'd really like to see "DXer" create a timeline showing the various steps involved in his theory that the anthrax letters were the work of al Qaeda terrorists.  From what I can piece together, it appears that "DXer" believes the major steps in the anthrax letter attack were as follows:

(1)  Al Qaeda scientists acquired the Ames strain from Porton Down in England. 

(2)  Al Qaeda scientists created the crude form of anthrax powder in a lab in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

(3)  The 9/11 hijackers brought the attack anthrax from Afghanistan to America (maybe in the Afghani equivalent of a Tupperware container?). 

(4)  The 9/11 hijackers bought the envelopes and writing paper in Laurel, MD.

(5)  While in Laurel, MD, Mohamed Atta evidently wrote both of the anthrax letters, and that's where the 9/11 terrorists made Xerox copies of the letters.

(6)  In Fort Lee, NJ, they removed some of the crude powder from the Tupperware container and turned it into a sophisticated powder (without leaving a trace of anthrax anywhere they went, even though they had no sophisticated equipment and none of the hijackers was a microbologist).  They put the remaining portion of the crude powder into envelopes addressed to the media, and the sophisticated form of the powder into envelopes addressed to Senators Daschle and Leahy.

(7)  The 9/11 terrorists put the sealed envelopes into some secret hiding place somewhere in New Jersey. 
The hijackers then went off to kill themselves on 9/11.

(8)  Soon after making a phone call to his mother on September 13, 2001, from Afghanistan, Adnan el Shukrijumah flew to the United States.

(9)  After making his way to New Jersey in the days after 9/11, Shukrijumah retrieved the anthrax letters from the secret hiding place.

(10)  Late on Sept. 17 or early on the 18th, Shukrijuma traveled to Princeton, NJ, to mail the first batch of letters to the media.

(11)  Sometime after noon on Saturday, October 6 and before noon on Tuesday, October 9, 2001, Shukrijuma again traveled to Princeton to put the second batch of letters into the same mailbox he used for the first batch.

(12)  Shukrijuma then disappeared. 


There are countless holes in this totally illogical theory, of course.  And there is no evidence to support any of it.  Furthermore, when it suits his purposes, "DXer" will also argue that some al Qaeda terrorist could have obtained a sample from RMR-1029 while taking a tour of USAMRIID.  That way there was no need to get it from Porton Down (where the DNA would not have matched the attack spores).  And sometimes he suggests that the two different forms of powders were actually made by an al Qaeda microbiologist at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA.  He hasn't even attempted to explain why the handwriting changes from one mailing to the other
even though DXer's theory suggests that Mohamed Atta wrote both letters and addressed all the envelopes at the same time.  (And, since the handwriting doesn't match Atta's handwriting, why would a terrorist who is about to die bother to disguise his handwriting?)

If someone has an intelligent theory that disagrees with the FBI's finding that Dr. Bruce Ivins was the anthrax mailer, I would expect they would be willing and able to lay out and explain all the steps involved in the theory.  The FBI and DOJ did that in their "Amerithrax Investigation Summary."  I did it with my book, "A Crime Unlike Any Other."  Why can't any of the conspiracy theorists, Anthrax Truthers and True Believers do that with their own theories?  Is it because their entire "theory" consists of just two simple elements: (1) disbelieving the official government version, and (2) believing that their own best guess must be closer to reality?

Looking over the latest anthrax conspiracy theory book,
"The 2001 Anthrax Deception; The Case for a Domestic Conspiracy," the book appears to be mostly an attack on the FBI's version of what happened, total acceptance of all the ignorant arguments from other conspiracy theorists, and a statement of beliefs about how the government can't be trusted.  Here are a few paragraphs from the Conclusion (Chapter 9, pages 197 & 198):

          (a) The anthrax letter attacks were carried out by a group of perpetrators, not by a lone wolf.
          As was shown, previous researchers have argued convincingly that the physical characteristics of the prepared anthrax spores used in the attacks indicate that, although the anthrax certainly came from a U.S. lab, the FBI's "anthrax killer," Bruce Ivins, could not have been responsible for the attacks.  This book has carried the argument against a lone perpetrator further, tracing, with attention to timeline and motive, the construction of fictional scenarios intended to direct attention away from the true perpetrators and onto foreign groups useful as targets of the Global War on Terror.  The work required for this construction would have been impossible for any individual to manage.
          Could an individual establish the crop-duster incidents and narratives. Or establish the other connections between the Hijackers and the anthrax -- for example the Florida connections discussed in Chapter 7?  Woud this individual have been able to write speeches for members of the executive branch, repeatedly warning of biological weapons in the lead-up to the attack?  Who sent journalists scrambling hither and yon to spread fear and anxiety about the ubiquitous al-Qaeda and to frame Iraq relentlessly and fraudulently?

Yada yada yada.

All you have to do to concoct such a theory is start with a belief that there was a criminal conspiracy, tie events and people together which do not belong together, assume that other conspiracy theorists and naysayers must be right about things they know nothing about, and you've got what only a conspiracy theorist would call "evidence."

And, of course, you can't discuss the "evidence" with people who are not conspiracy theorists.  They just wouldn't understand.  And, they might argue in favor of the FBI's findings, which could only mean that they are part of the conspiracy - or a government dupe.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, September 28, 2014, thru Saturday, October 4, 2014

October 3, 2014 - In spite of what was said in earlier news reports, the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 won't actually begin until sometime after October 5.  According to one report I just found:

On 24 September, GO Phoenix departed Jakarta, Indonesia after work to prepare the vessel for the sea and weather conditions it is likely to encounter in the search area. Calibration of the ultrashort baseline system (the equipment used to position the towfish) was successfully undertaken in the Sunda Strait. The vessel then proceeded to an area close to Christmas Island to calibrate its multibeam echo sounder equipment, which was also successful. GO Phoenix is expected to arrive at its allocated underwater search area around 5 October and is expected to conduct operations there for around 12 days before sailing to Fremantle to be resupplied.

Fugro Discovery has completed fit-out work in Durban, South Africa, and is en route to Australia. The vessel’s current estimated time of arrival in Fremantle is 5 October, whereupon search equipment and a mission crew will be mobilised. 

Fugro Equator, the vessel currently being used to survey the search area, is expected to be mobilised as a search vessel when its bathymetric work is complete around the end of October.

When the GO Phoenix arrives at the search site "around 5 October,"

it will take some time to deploy the many thousands of metres of cabling that will lower and as necessary raise or adjust the height of the towed scanning equipment to maintain an optimum distance above the sea floor and its often complex terrain.

Meanwhile, another "expert" has decided that MH370 went down even further south than the Duncan Steele group estimated, which was a lot further south than the official "experts" decided.

Also meanwhile, I'm keeping an eye out for the General Accountibility Office's review of the Amerithrax invesigation.  So far, there's no news other than that the GAO review is expected to be released "sometime this fall."

October 2, 2014 - I'm still trying to figure out how to get things done on my new computer that I could do almost without thinking on my old computer.  I also had another problem to solve: trying to figure out why my computer was going so slow when downloading emails and when accessing things on my web site host's file.  That second problem seemed to just disappear this afternoon.  So, maybe it was some problem at my Internet provider.  Anyway, now I can focus on learning how to work my new computer. 

October 1, 2014 (B) - Wow!  I bought a new computer (an HP laptop) this afternoon, but I'm totally lost on how to get started with it.  And it's really hard to adapt to using the touchpad instead of the mouse.  I keep reaching for the mouse, and I keep tapping the touchpad when I guess I'm supposed to be dragging my finger.   I could just buy a mouse for it and use it, but first I need to see if I can adapt. 

It appears that it's going to be a real technical challenge to get emails on it.  From what I can understand from an instruction screen, Windows 8.1 doesn't work with POP email servers.  Both of my existing accounts are on POP servers.  And the laptop doesn't come with an instruction manual, just a single sheet about how to set it up and turn it on.  So, I'm going to have to use my old computer to figure out how to use my new computer.  

Except for the mouse problem, I think all the problems I'm having would still be there if I bought a new desktop computer.   I've been working with computers since 1964, and I've never felt so lost as I did while trying to get something done on my new laptop.

October 1, 2014 (A) - As expected, last month was the busiest month for this web site since August 2008, with 22,546 visitors.  There were over 700 visitors on all but 4 days, and 1 day (the 17th) got over 900.  However, I don't know if it's all because of the number of people researching the anthrax attacks of 2001 on its 13th anniversary.  A lot of it could just be because there are more people on-line these days - and there seem to be about a gazillion search engines out there collecting web site data.

I must have spent 20 minutes this morning waiting for 4 emails to download on my 2 email accounts.  All but 1 were junk mail, and when I replied to the valid email, I had to send it twice because the first try timed out. 

So, later today I'm going to buy a new computer.  The next update to this web site will hopefully be done via my new computer.  (I'll still have my old computer as a backup.)

September 30, 2014 - When is the 13th anniversary of the anthrax attacks of 2001?  Was it a couple weeks ago when the first letters were mailed, or is it next week when people first began to realize there had been an attack?

Thirteen years ago today, Bruce Ivins was presumably going crazy waiting for something to happen.  Back on the evening of September 17, he'd sent out a batch of five letters to the media.  Then he'd undoubtedly waited for the hysterical news reports to appear.

For the first week of the wait, from the 17th through the 24th of September, he'd barely spent any evening hours in Suite B3 at all:


Ivins hours in
                      Suite B3

He did "work" in Suite B3 on the 25th, but it was only to clean the place because Patricia Worsham had ordered him to do the cleaning.  He wrote his famous "Queen of the Universe" email the next day, informing Worsham that he'd done as instructed.

Then, frustrated over the lack of news about anthrax being sent through the mails (and probably thoroughly pissed at having a woman who was younger and less experience than he was order him around), on the 28th he evidently began work on the spores for the second mailing.   It appears he finished preparing those spores on the 5th of October, since he then, once again, had no reason to go into B3 in the evenings.

October 5th was also the day that Bob Stevens died.  But the "experts" in the media were saying that Stevens might have been infected by some natural source while on vacation.  Nothing was going the way Ivins had planned.  He made certain his second batch of letters would leave no doubt that a biological weapons attack was occurring - the powder was more lethal, the letter said it was anthrax, and he would mail the second batch of letters to two important Senators.  Then he would have to wait once again.


Meanwhile, back in today's world of 2014, the search for Malaysia Flight MH370 is starting up again in the Southern Indian Ocean.  According to an article in today's USA Today, the mapping survey of the ocean floor is complete and search ships will soon begin sending down submersibles to do a detailed examination of the area where MH370 is calculated to have gone down. 

The survey, conducted from May through late September by Chinese and Australian ships, has revealed several previously unknown features, including two volcanoes, a mile-deep trench and a mountain ridge nearly 9 miles long, 4 miles wide and rising more than a mile from the ocean floor.
....
Having completed the seafloor mapping, the Netherlands-owned Fugro Equator has returned to the search area and hopes to begin the latest hunt in the coming days. It will be joined by the Fugro Discovery and the GO Phoenix, owned by Maryland-based Phoenix International. Rough weather is forecast through the rest of the week.

It's early fall here, so it's early spring down there.  Hopefully, it will just take weeks, not months or years to find the plane.  Then I'm hoping they can recover not only the "black box," but also cellphones from the passengers, who will likely have recorded some of what was going on during their final minutes or hours of consciousness.  I'd like to have a major mystery be satisfactorily solved for once -- although I suppose there will always be a band of conspiracy theorists who will be claiming that all the new evidence that is found was simply planted by the CIA and the U.S. government.

Also meanwhile, it seems to take forever to get anything done on my computer these days.  It's like I'm back in the days of "dial-up" connections.  I'm not sure what's going on, but I suspect it's an incompatibility between the ancient software I'm using in my computer and some aspect of new software being used by my up-to-date Firefox web browser and web site developers.  Or maybe all the new software requires more memory space than I have in my computer.  All I seem to be able to think about right now is how to best go about getting reasonably up-to-date with my hardware and software - at least the hardware and sofware I use to work on-line.  I can still use old stuff for off-line work.


September 28, 2014 (B) - I see that "DXer" is posting a whole slew of rambling, silly messages to Lew Weinstein's blog asking Adnan Shukrijumah's brother Nabil about details of the anthrax mailings.  Does "DXer" really think he'll get a reply?  Or is it just another way for "DXer" to argue his beliefs and to pose screwball questions?

It seems pretty clear some of "DXer's" posts are in response to my (A) comment this morning.   In one of his rambling posts, "DXer" says,

The United States Attorney Falsely Alleged That The Federal Eagle Stamp Was Uniquely Sold At Dr. Bruce Ivins’ Post Office And Then That Ran As An AP Headline. In fact, the envelopes with the printing defects are known to have been sold throughout Maryland and Virginia post offices (and that is where the hijackers were).

That is almost certainly in response to this part of my (A) comment:

The post office envelopes used in the mailings were sold in the area where Ivins lived.
"DXer" has no explanation for why al Qaeda would buy envelopes in Maryland.

But, arguing that the hijackers were reportedly in the Virginia/Maryland area at some point in time prior to 9/11 poses an interesting question: Is "DXer" saying that one of the hijackers put the two different types of anthrax powders into the letters while they were somewhere within the US?  Are we to believe that the hijackers then set the two batches of letters aside somewhere to wait for Adnan Shukrijumah to come to the US to do the two actual mailings after 9/11?

Instead of asking silly questions of someone who is unlikely to respond, it would seem far more logical for "DXer" to attempt to show that his al Qaeda theory makes some kind of sense.  What is the timeline?  Who did what?  When?  How?  

September 28, 2014 (A) - Maybe it's a quirk of fate or a stroke of luck that I'm currently reading a humorous philosophy book during breakfast and lunch, after I finished reading a different humorous philosophy book a couple weeks ago.   Some days I really need to be humorously philosophical.

In the past months, I've been so busy working on my sci-fi novels while also arguing with Anthrax Truthers, while also doing all the things "normal" people do every day, that I haven't taken time out to update software for my computer.  I'm still using Windows XP, which is no longer supported by Microsoft.  I can't simply load a new operating system, since that would require also reloading all my other software.  And I don't even know if I have the materials I would need to reload my 1998 version of Lotus-123 spreadsheet software which is no longer being sold.  My Microsoft WORD software is from 2003, and I don't know if I have the disks for that, either.  Or my graphics software.  Or my software for creating and maintaining web site pages.  Or my software for uploading web site pages and updates.  And, very importantly, I don't know if I can convert my existing email files to some kind of new email software.  My email software is from 2004.  And I have an archive of over 50,000 emails.

I'm also having problems with my emails.  Sometimes it seems to take forever to download incoming emails.  And sometimes when I try to send an email, it takes so long that it "times out" and I have to try again. 

I keep having to override automatic updates to various pieces of software because the updates will crash my operating system.

And, I probably should put all the new software onto a new computer - probably a laptop computer - before trying to update software on my existing desktop computer, so I can use it as a backup.

But, I really want to work on my sci-fi novels.  I'm thinking of starting a third book and postponing doing the second draft of my second book.

And, I've got this stack of novels on a shelf in front of me that I want to read.

However, instead of doing any of this, I'm endlessly arguing with Anthrax Truthers over minutiae and the meanings of words.  

On Friday, I was really pleased when I found the UPI article which stated that Adnan el Shukrijumah and Mohammed Sher Mohammed Khan appeared to be two different people, who just sometimes use the same aliases.  But, "DXer" then posted more articles and references where reporters appear to still believe that Mohammed Khan is an alias used by Adnan el Shukrijumah, and they are the same person.  

I tried to find more information to settle the matter.   There's nothing on the FBI web site about Mohammed Sher Mohammed Khan.  It's not even mentioned as being an alias used by Shukrijumah in Shukrijuma's FBI wanted poster.  But, after some thorough searching, I did find a web site HERE which seems to say that Mohammed Sher Mohammed Khan really is an alias used by Adnan el Shukrijumah.  And, it provides enough detail to make it seem convincing.  But, it also seems possible that Mohammed Sher Mohammed Khan is a real person whose identity Shukrijumah sometimes uses.

I made a BIG mistake in arguing this subject.  It is just a total waste of time.  Even if Mohammed Khan is an alias used by Shukrijumah, the argument is really about what "after Sept. 1, 2001" means in the sentence "The FBI said Friday it is looking for a man called Mohammed Sher Mohammed Khan, who entered the country illegally after Sept. 1, 2001."  That sentence is from a Feb. 7, 2003, UPI news article HERE.  A different 
UPI article dated March 20, 2003, says  "There was a warning that Khan entered the U.S. illegally around Sept. 1, 2001." 

"DXer" seems to think "after" and "around" September 1 can only mean "between September 13 and September 18, 2001," since it would have to mean that if Shukrijumah was in Afghanistan on September 13 talking to his mother on the phone, and also in Princeton, New Jersey, on the evening of September 17 or morning of September 18 to mail the first anthrax letters.

The argument is a total waste of time.   It proves nothing. 

The absurd al Qaeda anthrax theory is so full of holes that arguing over one minor piece of minutiae can do nothing but waste time.  In order to make an intelligent case that al Qaeda was behind the anthrax mailings, "DXer" needs to provide BETTER evidence that shows al Qaeda did it than the FBI has showing that Bruce Ivins did it.  But, so far "DXer" hasn't even attempted to do that.  The reasons are pretty obvious:

Ivins had full access to the source of the anthrax used in the letters.

"DXer" has no evidence that al Qaeda had access to that source.

Ivins routinely made Ames anthrax spores in his lab.
"DXer" has no evidence that al Qaeda ever made any Ames anthrax spores.

Ivins was within driving distance of the mailbox at the time of the mailings.
"DXer" doesn't know where Shukrijumah was at the time of the mailings.

Ivins used the biosafety cabinet in his lab to put the anthrax in the envelopes.
"DXer" has no timeline showing when al Qaeda put the anthrax in the envelopes

The post office envelopes used in the mailings were sold in the area where Ivins lived.
"DXer" has no explanation for why al Qaeda would buy envelopes in Maryland.

Ivins had several connections to Princeton, NJ, where the letters were mailed.
"DXer" had no explanation for why al Qaeda chose to mail the letters from Princeton.

It makes sense for Ivins to send two different  forms of anthrax.
It makes NO sense for al Qaeda to send two different forms of anthrax.

It makes sense for Ivins to wait three weeks before doing a second mailing.
It makes NO sense for al Qaeda to wait  three weeks between mailings.

The handwriting on the letters doesn't match Ivins'
or Mohamed Atta's writing.
Ivins had reason to disguise his handwriting.  Atta did not.

Osama bin Laden denied responsibility for the anthrax attacks.
Terrorist are called "terrorists" because they want responsibility for their killings.

Etc., etc., etc., etc., etc.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, September 21, 2014, thru Saturday, September 27, 2014

September 26, 2014 (B) - I should probably save this for Sunday, but I've been doing some research on Adnan el Shukrijuma, the Islamic terrorist who "DXer" inexplicably believes mailed the anthrax letters in 2001.  "DXer" just started a new thread on Lew Weinstein's blog with the title "In February 2003, the FBI announced that “Jafar the Pilot” (aka Adnan El-Shukrijumah) had entered the country sometime after September 1, 2001."

"DXer" doesn't provide a link to where the FBI announced this dubious claim.  Instead, he provides an image of a UPI news article from Feb. 7, 2003, which says,

The FBI said Friday that it is looking for a man called Mohammed Sher Mohammed Khan, who entered the country illegally after Sept. 1, 2001.

and

His aliases include Muhammad Shir Muhammad Khan; Mohammed Essagh; Ja'Far Al-Tayar; Jaffar Tayar; jaafar Al-Tayyar; Ali Abdul Qadir and Abdul Qadir.

Note that there is no mention of Adnan el Shukrijumah anywhere in the entire article, nor is it one of Mohammed Sher Mohammed Khan's aliases.

To figure out what "DXer" is talking about, you have to look a the title of the thread he created, which says "Jafar the Pilot" is aka Adnan El-Shukrijumah.  And some of Khan's aliases use variations on the name "Jafar."

The problem is, over a month later it appears things looked a bit different to terrorism experts and the FBI. According to a different UPI article dated March 20, 2003, titled "FBI hunting for alleged al-Qaida terorrist":

Adnan el-Shukrijumah -- believed to be a 27-year-old Saudi citizen -- is wanted for questioning in regard to a possible domestic terrorist plot.
.....
Using the alias Ja'far al-Tayar and similar names, el-Shukrijumah is described as standing between 5'3" and 5'5" and weighing at least 130 pounds.

There has been some confusion on the part of intelligence and law enforcement sources about the identity of el-Shukrijumah, who might also be wanted by the FBI under the name Mohammed Sher Mohammed Khan. Khan fits the same physical description as el-Shukrijumah, although the FBI alert -- dated Feb. 7 -- has him as being 36 years old and born in Pakistan. Khan is also a pilot and was last seen in Miami.

Federal agents recently raided a home in Miami where Khan was believed to be living, but failed to apprehend him. The original FBI warning about Khan acknowledged that law enforcement was unsure about his name, age and place of birth. However, Khan is known to use the same aliases as el-Shukrijumah.

"Obviously you can tell how hard it can be to track these guys," said one federal law enforcement official. "Whether they're the same guy or not, we want to talk to them."

"We don't know if they are the same person and, frankly, we're not sure the FBI knows, either," said one terrorism expert. "But we do know this alert was spawned by the interviews with Khalid. There was a warning that Khan entered the U.S. illegally around Sept. 1, 2001. Then we knew he was in Miami. Now we have reason to believe he's a Mohammed Atta-type of guy."

Are they the same guy?  "DXer" obsessively believes so.  But, he also repeatedly says that Shukrijuma was in Afghanistan on September 13, 2001.  (Click HERE.)

So, Khan, a 36 year old Pakistani, illegally entered the USA sometime after September 1, 2001, but Shukrijumah, a 27 year old Saudi, was in Afghanistan talking to his mother on the phone on September 13, 2001.  And Shukrijuma's parents said that, in November 2002, Shukrijumah was living in Morocco where he was teaching school.

It's interesting what "DXer" considers to be "evidence."  It appears he won't accept anything less than home movies of Bruce Ivins putting the anthrax letters in the mailbox in Princeton before he'll accept that Ivins was the mailer (and probably not even then), but he fully believes that Adnan el Shukrijumah was the anthrax mailer, even though he doesn't have a clue as to whether Shukrijumah was even in the USA to mail the first anthax letters on September 18, 2001.

September 26, 2014 (A) - This is entirely off topic, but someone might find it interesting:

I see that O'Hare and Midway airports in Chicago are currently shut down because of a fire at an FAA radar center.  It's probably just a coincidence, but last night I watched the first episode of a new TV series titled "Scorpion."  It was about a fictional problem that shut down radio communications at LAX and a couple other airports in the Los Angeles area.  A super-intelligent bunch of misfits are called into help, since there were 54 planes looking to land at LAX, and the government would have to shoot them down over the ocean if radio contact could not be regained before the planes run out of fuel.

I watched about two thirds of the program before turning it off.  The story was just too stupid, and the script was full of holes, although the band of geniuses idea was good.

I had a bunch of other new programs on my DVR that I hadn't had time to watch because I first wanted to view all 14 hours of "The Roosevelts" (which I found very interesting).  After watching the last part of the last episode last night, I started on the other programs I had recorded on my DVR.   I watched two episodes of "Forever," which I thoroughly enjoyed.  It's my kind of show: a super-smart guy with a sense of humor working with a smart, beautiful woman to solve crimes together.  (It fits very well into my current list of favorite TV series: "The Mentalist," "Elementary" and "Castle.")   The first episode of "Madam Secretary" was okay, and I'll probably watch episode #2.  But, I couldn't get through the first episode of "Gotham."  Not my cup of tea.   Too  gloomy.

September 25, 2014 - "Dxer" (a.k.a. "Anonymous") continues to argue his belief that al Qaeda was behind the anthrax attacks of 2001 by trying to point at mistakes I've made, instead of by supplying evidence in support of his claim.   This is a common tactic of Truthers who have no evidence to support their beliefs.  They cannot argue that they have a better case, so they instead attack the FBI's case or just argue trivial details.

"DXer" has been banned from my interactive blog for posting disgusting personal attacks and an endless stream of irrelevant, time-wasting materials.   If I allowed any of his new post attempts to go through, he'd probably call me a liar, since I said I wasn't going to allow him to post anymore.  So, instead of once again letting his posts go through, I just quote from them as I post my responses to his nonsense. 

This has been going on for about a week, and what it clearly shows is how preposterous his al Qaeda theory is.  He argues that the FBI has no evidence against Bruce Ivins, but he cannot provide anything that even resembles evidence in support of his own theory.  But, the arguments are sometimes very interesting.   They are so interesting that I just created a new thread titled "The absurd al Qaeda anthrax theory" for my blog.  Hopefully, I'll be able to get DXer to argue his theory there, instead of just arguing that the FBI doesn't do things they way he thinks they should be done, or that I made mistakes in the past and nothing further can be discussed until I correct those mistakes (which are usually his mistakes, but he doesn't see things that way).   


September 24, 2014 - Hmm.  What a difference a day makes.  Yesterday, I felt I had lots to write comments about and no time to do the writing.  Today, I'm sitting around trying to remember what I was so excited about.  The Anthrax Truther who didn't seem to know the difference between a syllogism and logic hasn't posted any further messages to my interactive blog.  The Truther who endlessly argues about al Qaeda tried to change the subject and argue about which mosque some terrorists attended in Florida.  He can't explain what he's talking about, and I'm not in the mood to try to figure it out.

I remember I had watched the movie "Breach" on Monday night, and I was thinking about how the Robert Hanssen case, which completed in early 2001, was supposedly the FBI's biggest investigation ever -- until the anthrax mailings later in 2001.  I thought I'd write a comment about it, but now I can't think of anything further to write.

I remember I was thinking about the incredibly silly arguments made by members of the House Committee for Science, Space and Technology, and how I could try to create syllogisms for their absurd arguments.  For example, Rep. Steve Stockman, a Republican from Texas, argued this kind of syllogism:

The Ice Age was caused by global wobbling.
Global wobbling was not included in claims about global warming.
Therefore, global wobbling causes global warming, not CO2 emissions.

The problem is global wobbling occurs over tens of thousands of years, and thus could not cause something that began so recently as global warming. 

Then Rep. Dan Rohrabocher, a Republican from California, argued:

Breathing CO2 would be fatal to all humans.
I'm a human and I haven't been harmed by CO2 in the atmosphere.
Therefore, CO2 in the atmosphere cannot be dangerous to humans.

The problem is that the CO2 in the atmosphere is causing global warming.  No one said it is causing human asphyxiation.

Then Rep. Larry Bucshon, a Republican from Indiana, argued:

Scientists claim that global warming is a danger.
Some members of the public disagree with the scientists.
Therefore, global warming is not a proven danger.

That's a standard argument from Truthers.  The next comment from Buschon, when turned into a syllogism, seems to explain why he has such stupid opinions:

I do not believe scientists
I believe non-scientists.
Therefore I must believe the scientists are wrong.

The last argument was another one from Representative Stockman:

All the world's ice is floating in water.
All ice turns to water when it melts.
Therefore, when the ice caps melt it won't raise the level of the water.  

The problem, of course, is that the bulk of the ice in Antarctica and on Greenland is on land, not floating in water.

I doubt that any of the above "syllogisms" follow all the rules for creating syllogisms.  But, they certainly illustrate that a syllogism does not have to be logical.  It's a format for creating a logical argument, but a syllogism is not necessarily a logical argument.

Hmm.  I've run out of time again.

September 23, 2014 - Wow!  There are a lot of things I want to write about this morning, but I've been so busy arguing with a couple Anthrax Truthers on my interactive blog that I've run out of time.  One argument over the difference between logic and a syllogism was pretty enlightening.   It seems to explain why one Truther thinks his invalid logic is actually valid logic.  He didn't know the difference between logic and a syllogism.

Meanwhile, someone sent me an email with a link to a new article in PC World titled "Nvidia debunks moon landing conspiracies with new GTX 900-series 'Maxwell' GPUs."

So, there are still people out there trying to convince the moon landing conspiracy theorists that they are wrong.  Good luck.

I also want to mention a segment on last night's "Daily Show with Jon Stewart," where Stewart showed clips of congressmen on the House Committee for Science, Space and Technology arguing against climate change using the most idiotic logic imaginable.  The total stupidity of their beliefs was jaw-dropping.  It wasn't just ignorance.  It was stupidity.  If it wasn't on video and was just in some print article, no one would believe it.  The congressmen didn't have the scientific understanding of a typical sixth grader.  I was as amazed as Jon Stewart was.

I have a bunch of other things to write about, too.  But, it's lunch time and then I need to head to the health club for a workout.  Maybe I'll write another comment later.

September 22, 2014 - Since the search for Malaysia Flight MH370 was supposed to resume today, I checked the news.  I found an article in a British newspaper from Friday titled "Missing Flight MH370 search to resume."  It says,

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) intends to resume the search on 30 September.

So, there has been a delay of about a week.  Interestingly, the article also mentions a new book on the subject:

The authors [of "Goodnight Malaysian 370"] - a New Zealand pilot, Ewan Wilson, and a journalist, Geoff Taylor - theorise that the captain, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, locked the copilot out of the flight deck and depressurised the plane. The passengers and crew would have passed out quickly and died shortly afterwards. 

They speculate that Captain Shah, using oxygen, then turned the aircraft around and headed south, carrying out a controlled ditching when the plane ran out of fuel. But the airline angrily issued a statement deploring the book: “The authors and publishers should quite simply be ashamed of themselves for what is nothing more than a cheap and maligned publicity stunt, seeking to simply cash in on the suffering of the families and undermining the dignity of all of those onboard.”

It seems like a fairly good premise (or hypothesis) that fits all the known facts (except maybe for the "controlled ditching" part).  At least it isn't a conspiracy theory book. 

Further research finds that, on October 8, NOVA on PBS will be airing a program that mentions Flight MH370.  Click HERE for a preview video of "Why Planes Vanish."

September 21, 2014 (B) - During breakfast and lunch for the past week or so, I've been reading the book "Monty Python and Philosophy," which I obtained from my local library for my Kindle.  I've been highlighting passages, which on a Kindle means I create copies of passages in my "clippings" file.  That also means I can copy and paste the "highlighted" passages from my "clippings" file to a comment here.

For example, in Chapter 5 of the book, University of Wisconsin Professor of Philosophy Harry Brighouse says this about Monty Python's
Argument Clinic comedy skit, in which the clinician simply argues with the patient about everything:

Philosophers like the sketch for at least two reasons. First, argument is just about all we are good at: it is not at all uncommon for a philosopher to exclaim dismissively “but that’s an empirical, not a philosophical, issue,” and by that they mean that evidence is irrelevant: argument is the only guide to the truth.

So, if you want to find out what is true by examining evidence, don't ask a philosopher to for his advice (and definitely do NOT ask a Truther).

Another "clipping" from the book very clearly explains how I view arguments:

It is only through a process of argument with other people can most of us hope to come to have true beliefs about matters of any complexity.

I had very little knowledge of anthrax, spores or microbiology when I first started researching the anthrax letter case.  I had to do a lot of research in order to find the answers to countless questions - and also to ask intelligent questions.  Now I think I can intelligently argue with scientists about how Ivins most likely made the attack spores, and I can probably win most such arguments.  (My experience has been that when I show them how it was done, they stop arguing.)

Here's another clipping from the book:

Philosophy is the systematic study of questions, the answers to which cannot be determined simply by gathering observational data about the world and making hypotheses about those data.

In philosophy, the Amerithrax question is not "who did it?".   The question is: what does the Amerithrax case MEAN  for humanity? (and what does it say about trust, and about a world in which someone you never heard of can do something stupid and kill you?).

Another clipping:

This brings us back to the Argument Clinic. One’s own perspective on moral, and other, matters is necessarily limited. This doesn’t mean that one is completely stuck in one’s own perspective; one can, and should, think as far beyond it as one can. But often, one needs help: someone or, preferably, many people, to present alternatives, with whom one can then uncover agreement and disagreement. Mere contradiction, entertaining as it is to a pantomime audience, simply does not serve this purpose.

When you have an intelligent argument, both sides can learn from the other.  Mere contradiction is what you get from Truthers, instead of argument.  No matter what facts or evidence you present to them, they simply argue that they don't believe it, or that some "expert" doesn't believe it, or that some reporter said he didn't believe it.

Another (and final) clipping:

If we are committed to uncovering the truth about matters of human value or other matters of great complexity, we usually need other smart, good-willed, and intellectually serious people to alert us to perspectives and reasons we would not have been able to conjure up on our own. If more people sought argument clinics the world would be a better place, and not only because philosophers would be richer.

I fully agree.  Unfortunately, "smart, good-willed, and intellectually serious people" are few and far between, and they are usually too busy with their own lives and jobs to debate much of anything.  They rarely have the time to debate something as complex as the Amerithrax case.  So, I mostly discuss Amerithrax with Anthrax Truthers in hopes of figuring out what is true (or most likely) and what is false (or very unlikely).  It is very rare to get intelligent answers from an Anthrax Truther, but it is fairly common to learn something new through the process of posing a new question.  If they ask a new question, it can force me to look at things from a different angle.  The result can be that I understand things more clearly.  And if I am the one who formulates a new question, it can be equally enlightening.  It, too, can provide a different way of looking at things.  The more different ways you view something, the more certain you can be that you thoroughly understand it - or don't understand it.

Reading "Monty Python and Philosophy" also makes me want to create a Python-esque comedy skit to illustrate what I think about Barbara Honneger's two hour talk with fellow 9/11 Truthers.  From my point of view, she is abysmally ignorant of the laws of physics, and her audience was equally or even more ignorant. 

I can envision John Cleese telling an audience how ridiculous "the government" is to try to claim that there are people living on the other side of the earth -- below their feet.

Cleese: Are we to believe that the people on the underside of the world pave their streets with Velco so that their cars can use Velco tires to cling to the road instead of falling off into space?
 
Audience: (laughter)  

Cleese:  Are we to believe that all the people have Velco soles on their shoes so that they don't go falling off into space?

Audience:  (more laughter)

Michael Palin in the audience: Who can believe such nonsense??!!

Cleese: Do their infant children cling to the bars in their cribs like monkeys?   How does one take a shower when the water is falling upwards?

Audience:  (more laughter)

Eric Idle in the audience: Hilarious!  How stupid to they think we are!?

Cleese: Are we to believe that children on the underside of the world do not play hopscotch?

Audience: (hilarious laughter)

Cleese:  When you go "downstairs" in an upside down building, are you going up or down?  Do you sleep on the floor or on the ceiling?  Or do you sleep in a hammock hanging in the middle, between the floor and the ceiling?  Do people in the government just make up these beliefs, or do they make down such beliefs?

Audience: (rolling on the floor in hilarious laughter) 

When I'm arguing with Anthrax Truthers I'm also reminded of Monty Python's Dead Parrot Skit.  Only instead of me being a customer who is trying to return a parrot I just bought, because the parrot is obviously dead, I see myself more like a customer to whom the clerk is trying to sell a dead parrot.  I refuse to buy their parrot because it is so obviously dead, but the clerk just endlessly continues to try to sell it to me, arguing that it isn't dead, it's just asleep or meditating.

The problem is that there is no Skit Police or Absurdity Control Agency to step in and bring an end to the argument.  So, the argument is now about to enter it's 14th year.


September 21, 2014 (A) - "DXer" on Lew Weinstein's blog just provided an excellent example of the Python-esque reasoning used by Anthrax Truthers.  In a post yesterday evening, DXer wrote:

The anthrax letters used large paper, such as standard in Europe but not in US.

The quote is from an MSNBC article from December 11, 2001, which I cannot find on the Internet anywhere anymore.   However, I can find a Wall Street Journal article from that same day that says basically the same thing:

One clue was contained in the missive to the New York Post: The letter, which read in part, "Death to America," wasn't printed on a paper size normally found in the U.S., says an FBI official familiar with the matter. An FBI spokesman declined to elaborate. Erich Speckin, who runs a private forensic laboratory in Okemos, Mich., says the height-to-width ratio was approximately 1.41 to 1, according to a photo released by the FBI. He says that ratio is common for business letters in Europe and elsewhere but rare in the U.S. That could suggest that the mailer is from another country or has traveled outside the U.S.

And "DXer" uses as a reference a USA Today article from September 28, 2001, (before the anthrax letters were found) which talks about Muslims using "large paper."  So, he put 2 and 2 together and came up with 736,259, evidently concluding that this is somehow evidence that Muslims sent the anthrax letters using large paper they bought in Europe.

The problem is, it's total nonsense.  I also believed it at first (back in 2001), but then the facts quickly became clear when I obtained photos of the letters placed next to rulers so their true sizes could be determined.  On my original web site I showed that the evidence says that all the anthrax letters were trimmed down by cutting off bottoms and/or sides. 

Letter #1 measures approximately 225 millimeters in length by 215.9 millimeters in width.
Letter #2 measures approximately 230 millimeters in length by 165 millimeters in width.
Letter #3 measures approximately 215 millimeters in length by 208 millimeters in width.

American standard copy paper is 8-1/2 inches by 11 inches, or 215.9 mm by 279.4 mm.
The graphic below shows the size of the letters compared to standard 8-1/2 by 11 paper.
anthrax letter
                size comparison

Letter 2 is the one that has a ratio similar to business letters in Europe.   But the size is totally different - much smaller.

(The reason Dr. Bruce Ivins trimmed off the bottoms and sides of the anthrax letters is almost certainly so they would more easily fit into a small post office envelope after they have been folded with the pharmaceutical fold.)

The real sizes of the anthrax letters have been known since early 2002.  Yet, "DXer" still hasn't learned it. 

To make the situation even more "Python-esque,"  just a few hours earlier yesterday evening, "DXer" also wrote this:

Far too many people don’t read relevant materials and thus are reaching conclusions based on 2002 newspaper articles.

Yes, and "DXer" is a prime example of such a person. 

Updates & Changes: Sunday, September 14, 2014, thru Saturday, September 20, 2014

September 19, 2014 - It appears that we now have another interesting case of "experts arguing with experts."  This one is in the hunt for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.  I just noticed that Duncan Steele and his group of outside experts have published a document that disagrees with the official experts as to where flight MH370 can most likely be found.  Click HERE for the pdf version or HERE for the html version.

The outsider version is based upon opinions and beliefs, of course.  They accept that the satellite data and communication facts say MH370 went down somewhere in the South Indian Ocean along the "7th arc," i.e., around where MH370's final "handshake" with ground stations occurred.  The outsiders, however, believe that MH370 was headed in a more southerly direction, therefore was further south along the arc than what the Air Transportation Safety Board (ATSB) believes.  They also argue:

ATSB considered thousands of paths, with many possible speeds tested. However, the most likely scenario chosen by ATSB (low BTO and BFO errors) had a TAS of 400 kts. But ATSB provides no rationale for a pilot to have made a deliberate selection of this speed. If the aircraft was flying under the control of the autopilot, a human must have selected the configuration. We doubt that a pilot would select 400 kts, and a lower altitude to match, regardless of the motivation. Using our path models, we have confirmed that the path would end on the 7th arc in the ATSB Priority Search Area if the speed was 400 kts, but we note that this result is the least consistent with (a) the most likely speeds a human would choose and (b) the fuel range/performance intersections with the 7th arc.

It's the same kind of problem "outside experts" have with the Amerithrax case.  They don't care what the evidence says, they don't believe Ivins would have done this or that.  And like the "outside experts" in the Amerithrax investigation, the MH370 "outside experts" don't have all the facts that the government experts have. 

So, who should we believe?  Truthers will simply disbelieve the official version from "the government" regardless of what the facts say.  But, I would tend to believe the side that most likely has the BEST data.  That would once again be "the government."  By the standards of one Anthrax Truther, that makes me a government flunky:

What I do have problems with is: your (implicit) repudiation of: observations, hypotheses, summaries made by you simply in order to align yourself with whatever the government's current line is.

If it turns out that Duncan Steele's theory is proved right, I'll find that totally fascinating. If it turns out the government is right, I'll just shrug and say, "Of course.  They had the better facts and better experts.  Ho hum."  If it turns out that neither is right and/or that they just cannot find MH370, I won't automatically assume it is because of some kind of sinister government conspiracy.  I'll just assume that there is some piece of data they are not aware of that changes everything.  That is what happens sometimes when all you have to work with is scattered pieces of incomplete data.  It's happened a million times in the past, and it will happen a billion times again in the future.   
 

September 18, 2014 - In my arguments with Anthrax Truthers, they keep arguing that the various people who disagree with the official Amerithrax findings have impressive credentials.  Yet, they don't seem to believe the 9/11 conspiracy theories - even though many 9/11 conspiracy theorists also have impressive credentials.  Back on January 29, 2012, I wrote a comment in which I said,

Evidently, it's time to repeat the adage: There is no idea so preposterous that you can't find an expert with perfect credentials to support it.

This morning I tried to figure out where that "adage" came from.  It probably wasn't phrased exactly that way.  I did a good search for "perfect credentials" and found nothing meaningful.   Then I did a Google search for ignorant+expert and found a lot of interesting stuff, but not the original wording of that "adage."  I found this:

when we set out to learn a new skill, most of us start out as “unconsciously incompetent.” That is, we don’t even know how much we don’t know. Then we learn a thing or two, and we advance to being “consciously incompetent.” We’ve found out enough to understand just how much we don’t know.

Finally, we learn enough to actually be competent. At first, it takes concentration to produce our best work. But by the time we become a true expert, we turn in superior work as a matter of course, almost without having to thing about it. It’s just what we do. ....

the problem is the “unconsciously incompetent” often looks a lot like the expert to an untrained observer. They’re both self confident — the difference is one is confident because he knows what he’s doing… while the other is confident because he’s simply unaware of how unskilled he really is.

Farther down in the list of links I found a Wikipedia link that had this:

In this age of specialization men who thoroughly know one field are often incompetent to discuss another.

That's apparently a quote from scientist Richard Feynman, who also said:

Science is the belief in the ignorance of the experts

And I found a transcript of a talk by Dr. Feynman on the subject "What is science?".  The final point in that talk is:

Science alone of all the subjects contains within itself the lesson of the danger of belief in the infallibility of the greatest teachers of the preceding generation.

It was all very interesting, but it didn't help me find the source of the "adage."  Maybe I'll try again tomorrow.  Or maybe it isn't an "adage" that I actually heard somewhere.  Maybe it's just something I learned from experience.  Maybe it should be an "adage."  But, if so, it should probably have one word changed:

There is no idea so preposterous that you can't find an expert with impressive credentials to support it.

September 17, 2014 - It appears that the GAO review of the Amerithrax investigation may not be released for another month or three.  Blogger Lew Weinstein has asked the GAO for information about the release date and says the GAO is now saying:

Sometime this fall

Previously they said,

We expect it will be the later part of the summer or early fall

Meanwhile, an Anthrax Truther on my interactive blog seems to be arguing that the number of books supporting anthrax conspiracy theories seem to outnumber the books which agree with the government findings, and that somehow means that the official government findings must be wrong:

Mister Lake is in a minority among Amerithrax-book authors in concurring publicly that Ivins, acting alone, did the crimes. I'm unaware of any other author besides David Willman who holds that position

That prompted me to look at some books which challenge the official findings about 9/11.  There are lots and lots of them.  A dozen examples:

Planes without Passengers: The Faked Hijackings of 9/11 (2nd Edition)
Another Nineteen: Investigating Legitimate 9/11 Suspects
The Big Bamboozle: 9/11 and the War on Terror
Solving 9-11: The Deception That Changed the World
9/11: The simple facts - Why the official story cannot possibly be true
9/11 Synthetic Terror: Made in USA
9/11: Conspiracy Theory Becomes Reality
9/11 The Ultimate Truth
The Terror Conspiracy Revisited
The 9/11 Conspiracy: The Scamming of America
9/11: The Big Lie
Debunking 9/11 Debunking: An Answer to Popular Mechanics and Other Defenders of the Official Conspiracy Theory

I could probably list dozens more of such titles.  Excluding the books which do not try to point fingers but only tell stories of people who survived 9/11, I see only a few books which support the official findings with additional facts, most notably:

Debunking 9/11 Myths: Why Conspiracy Theories Can't Stand Up to the Facts

How many people feel they have something new to say in support of the official findings about the 9/11 attacks?  Compare that number to the number of people who feel they have something new to say in opposition to the official findings.  Every conspiracy theorist seems to have his own personal theory that he wants to tell everyone

Any nut case can probably publish a book describing some 9/11 conspiracy theory.  And it's much easier to get a real publisher to publish such a book, because there is a market for controversial books.  There just aren't many people who are willing to spend good money to buy a book which simply supports the offical story.   What for?  Unless it involves some interesting personal story, there is no market for non-controversial non-fiction books about 9/11 or the anthrax attacks of 2001.   But come up with an interesting conspiracy theory - no matter how stupid - and you might have a book deal.  That's just the way the publishing business works - unfortunately.

The same holds true for the news business.  The number of media stories which argue against the official findings has nothing to do with the validity of the official findings.  It only has to do with what sells newspapers and gets viewers: Controversy.  

So, listing all the "news" stories which show other points of view about the anthrax attacks of 2001 may just show how low some news outlets will go to make a buck.

September 16, 2014 - When I turned on my computer this morning and did a Google search for anthrax+2001, I found two book reviews for Graeme MacQueen's new book "
The 2001 Anthrax Deception."  One is in al-Jazeera.   It says,

Although the FBI remains committed to the Ivins hypothesis, the case has been disintegrating for the last three years. Currently, it is justly held in contempt not merely by scientists who worked with Ivins but by many journalists as well as several US senators.

Well, as I aways say, "The number of people who believe in something has nothing to do with whether it is true or not."   And whether a disbelief is "justly held" or not depends upon what the evidence says.

The evidence says that Dr. Bruce Ivins was the anthrax killer.  Contrary beliefs and opinions won't change that.  Only solid evidence can change that.  There is NO meaningful evidence which say Ivins was not the anthrax killer OR that someone else was.

The second book review is on the web site "Centre for Research on Globalization," and is titled "The Smoking Guns of the 2001 Anthrax Attacks."  The "smoking guns" appear to be merely some disjointed or irrelevant facts.  Example:

There was a set of 3 letters sent around the same time as the initial anthrax mailings, which attempted to frame the Russians for the anthrax attacks, and which warned of further attacks.  These letters could not have been sent by Dr. Bruce Ivins (the scientist the FBI blamed for the attacks), nor could they have been “copycat” letters
 
So, once again we see an argument that, because there were some anthrax hoax letters sent at about the same time as the real anthrax mailings of 2001, that cannot be a coincidence and the hoax and real letters must be connected.  Here's a comment I wrote for my interactive blog on May 22, 2012:

1. The hoax white powder letter phenomenon really began when, a few weeks prior to the December 15, 1997 announcement of the Anthrax Vaccine Program, US Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen held up a 5-lb. bag of sugar on the Today Show and warned that if the bag contained anthrax, it could kill half of Washington, DC.

2. Between 1997 and 2000, the number of credible bioterror threats or incidents rose dramatically, up to roughly 200 per year, or one biological threat every couple of days. Most of them were anthrax hoaxes.

3. The number of white powder hoaxes got so bad that the Canadian Military did research on how dangerous it would be to open a letter filled with real anthrax powder. Their report was published in September 2001, just before the mailings. You can read it by clicking HERE.

4. Steven Hatfill and his boss at SAIC asked William Patrick III to produced a similar report at about the same time. It was also produced shortly before the mailings.

5. So, we had a constant flow of hoax letters going through the mails - roughly one every couple days.

That means that NONE of the hoax letters that went out in September of 2001 were "copy cats". They were just more of the same -- more hoaxes in the flood of hoaxes.

All you need to do in order to see some sinister connection between the hoax anthrax letters and the real anthrax letters is to be ignorant of the facts.  Back on March 2, 2002, I created a web page where I looked at the facts.  Click HERE.  It says that, according to Richard Preston's book "The Demon in the Freezer, between 1997 and 2000 the number of hoax anthrax letters rose dramatically to about one every couple days.  Plus, it shows articles about anthrax appearing in the news right after 9/11, long before the first stories about Bob Stevens appeared in early October.  The possibility of Muslim terrorists launching an anthrax attack or some other kind of biological weapon attack as a follow-up to 9/11 was being discussed publicly by a LOT of people.

The real anthrax letters were mailed at a time when hoax anthrax letter were common.  That's why all the real anthrax letters sent to the media were simply thrown away or ignored.  Bruce Ivins got the idea to send out real anthrax in letters at the same time that a lot of others were sending out hoax anthrax letters.  It wasn't a coincidence.  It was Bruce Ivins failing to realize how many hoax letters were also in the mails. 

September 15, 2014 (D) - When I wrote my (A) comment this morning, I failed to mention something I read near the very beginning of "
Monty Python and Philosophy" where they described what the various sections in the book would be about:

Harry Brighouse's contribution, "Why Is An Argument Clinic Less Silly than an Abuse Clinic or a Contradiction Clinic?," makes use of the Python's famous "Argument Clinic" sketch (originally in Epispode 29 of Monty Python's Flying Circus, "The Money Programme") to illuminate how the political philosopher John Rawls (1926-2002) analyzed our beliefs about the rightness or wrongness of social practices and institutions.  Far from being a ridiculous scenario, Brighouse suggests, a real argument clinic could serve a genuine and much-needed social function.

The famous "Argument Clinic" sketch?  When I got home this afternoon, I did a search and found it on YouTube.com.  Click HERE.  There's also a Wikipedia article about it HERE.  And a transcript of the sketch is HERE.  There's another HERE.  And HERE.

I'm looking forward to reading that part of "Monty Python and Philosophy."  I can see how "a real argument clinic could serve a genuine and much-needed social function."  But how would you get an Anthrax Truther to go to one?  Argue with him?

September 15, 2014 (C) - If anyone is interested, on my interactive blog I'm currently engaged in another debate with a conspiracy theorist who doesn't seem to comprehend the difference between a belief and an hypothesis.  While doing research for the debate, I found this quote about the difference between a "theory" and an "hypothesis":

Scientists and science writers have a disturbing tendency to misuse these two words. In the vernacular, "hypothesis" and "theory" can be used interchangeably. However, in the scientific literature, scientists and science writers must be careful to distinguish between these two terms. A hypothesis is a tentative explanation that can be tested through investigation; a theory is an established set of ideas that can be used to make predictions.

As I see it, neither a theory nor an hypothesis cannot be logically compared to a belief.  A belief is something a person "believes" regardless of what the facts say.  Specifically, an hypothesis doesn't have anything to do with beliefs.  It just says if A, B and C are true, one possible explanation could be "D."   No one believes "D" is true.   It's just a temporary answer until more evidence can be found.  It might also help show where to look for more evidence which will either help confirm or disprove "D."   It's a tool.  If the tool doesn't work, you probably need a different "tool."  Beliefs are irrelevant.

September 15, 2014 (B) - Yesterday, someone sent me a link to an article from The New Yorker titled "The Twenty-Eight Pages."  This morning, someone else sent me a link to Tampa, Florida's Channel 10 TV station's web site and an article titled "10 investigates allegations of FBI 9/11 coverup." 

The two articles are related to the old story that some Saudis who were living in Florida at the time of 9/11 helped the 9/11 hijackers, and that Saudi Arabian officials helped finance the 9/11 terrorists.   It seems to be mostly allegations, but there are people who are demanding that those allegations be investigated.  The problem with investigating allegations is that it could harm relations between the USA and Saudi Arabia - and the investigation might not find anything that can make a solid case in court.  And, even a solid case can be made, there's no chance of extraditing anyone from Saudi Arabia. 

Nevertheless, a lot of Floridians and others want to "reopen the 9/11 investigation."  But, it's not to investigate some theory that it wasn't Muslim terrorists who were behind the attacks, it's to find out if there are some additional Muslims who should have been arrested and prosecuted for helping the 9/11 terrorists.

I can see the reasoning behind their call to "reopen the 9/11 investigation."  But I can also see that there could be many political reasons for not opening an old bag of worms.

I see no way this crusade could change the facts of who was behind the anthrax attacks of 2001, so I have no "mission" to seek "the truth" on this matter.  I'll leave that to others.  It's not really a crusade to find "the truth."  It's a crusade to find more people to blame for the attacks, people who, if not arrested, might theoretically some day help perpetrate another attack.  I'm not sure it's a "coverup" when the FBI fails to investigate such a matter.  It could just be a situation of where to allocate limited resources.  That's something that people on a mission do not care about.

September 15, 2014 (A) - This is more or less "off topic," but yesterday I finished reading another library book on my Kindle.  I'd been reading this non-fiction book during breakfast and lunch for over a month (when not on a novel reading binge).  Title:
"The Big Bang Theory and Philosophy: Rock, Paper, Scissors, Aristotle, Locke."  As I wrote in my August 17 comment, while it's touted as a philosophy book, it's more like a psychology book.  And psychology is one of my primary lifetime interests.  Philosophy is a very general look at the processes governing human thought and conduct.  Psychology is usually a look at the thoughts and conducts of a particular person or group of persons.  In this case, it's about the thoughts and conduct of the the fictional characters on the TV series "The Big Bang Theory."

The book was so interesting that I bought Season 1 of the TV show on DVD and watched it so that I could understand who was who.  (It is NOT a favorite TV series of mine.)  Since the book is all about the motivation processes and human interaction between the fictional scientists "Leonard Hofstadter" and "Sheldon Cooper" and their next-door neighbor "Penny" and others, I'm also hoping it will help me with my problem of making the characters in my sci-fi novels more interesting.

I also found it interesting that the book is part of a series.  After I finished reading "The Big Bang Theory and Philosophy," I immediately started reading "Monty Python and Philosophy."  I may read "The Avengers and Philosophy" after that.  Or "Batman and Philosophy."  Or "The Big Lebowski and Philosophy."  Those are at my library.  But, some of the others in the series look so interesting that I may actually buy one or two.

I have to be philosophical if I want to continue to argue with conspiracy theorists and True Believers every day.  Remember the motto:
Illegitimi non carborundum                 

September 14, 2014 - While in the past I haven't been particularly interested in conspiracy theories related to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, last week I found watching and listening to 9/11 conspiracy theorists Elias Davidsson and Barbara Honegger explain themselves and their theories to be very interesting.  Their thought processes seem to match the thought processes of Anthrax Truthers very neatly.

For example, no matter how much evidence there is in support of a government claim, they can't see any of it.

Here is how Anthrax Truther Lew Weinstein describes the Amerithrax case:

The FBI’s case against Dr. Ivins is clearly bogus: no evidence, no witnesses, an impossible timeline.
 
And here is how 9/11 Truther Elias Davidsson describes the 9/11 case:

There's no evidence whatsoever that the 19 people accused of mass murder boarded the planes on 9/11.

The above quote from Elias Davidsson can be found on a YouTube video by clicking
HERE and going to the 33 minute mark.

A similar quote can be found on another Elias Davidsson video at the 21 minute mark by clicking HERE:

There is not a single item of evidence pointing that these attacks [on 9/11] were perpetrated by people coming from abroad.  ... There is no single proof that any foreigners committed these acts.  No proof that any Arabs went into these planes.  And, so if these Arabs did not go into these planes, then the official story must be a lie.  ... The truth is that there were no Muslims involved in this crime.

Interestingly, Davidsson explains what he finds impossible to believe about the official version of what happened on 9/11.  At about the 37 minute mark in that same video, Elias Davidsson says ,

We cannot state that the passengers died in these crashes.  We have full reason to suspect that the passengers were murdered somewhere else. Murdered in cold blood by the U.S. Government.  ... It's impossible to believe for most people.  But, the fact that we don't have evidence that people died in the crashes - we don't have evidence - and it forces us to consider that they were killed somewhere else.  These people do not exist anymore.  They have died.  There is no question about that.  Their families mourn them, and there are many people participating in the mourning.  ... These people are certainly dead, and somebody murdered them.  And, I don't believe personally that they were in these planes, because if they were in these planes, then somebody would have piloted these planes.  And nobody in his right mind would pilot these planes to crash these planes -- even a Muslim --- even a Muslim.  I'm sorry.  Nobody in their right mind would do that.  Even absent all that I told you about the lack of evidence, just the thought that somebody would have piloted - with a pilot's license - would be capable of piloting a civilian aircraft - which the alleged hijackers did not have - ....

Even beyond the fact that there is no evidence, the official story is so fantastic - it is so science fiction - to believe that anybody in his right mind had ... the capability and the wish to fly a plane like this is so outrageous that to believe anybody would have crashed the planes with these passengers - and kill themselves at the same time - is itself implausible to the extreme.

It appears that "DXer" finds it impossible to believe just the opposite, that the Muslim terrorists who he fully accepts and believes killed thousands of innocent people on 9/11 did not also kill five people and injure 17 with the anthrax letters mailed after 9/11.  Only Muslim terrorists capable of a crime like 9/11 would do such a thing.  It seems DXer simply cannot believe that a lone scientist could or would do such a thing.  Evidence means nothing to people who find it impossible to believe the truth.

Barbara Honegger's two hour-long talk about the airliner that hit the Pentagon is very interesting - and chilling in its display of angry ignorance.  It's a demonstration of how someone who has no understanding of physics or human nature can misinterpret just about everything that happened on 9/11 at the Pentagon.  She seems to believe it is impossible for a mere airplane to hit the side of the Pentagon and do so much damage.  In her imagination, it should have done no more harm than a bug hitting a windshield.  She finds it impossible to believe that the people who were inside the Pentagon when it was hit by Flight 77 could mistakenly assume it was a bomb of some kind  instead of somehow knowing it was a plane.  She seems to find it impossible to believe that every clock in the area wasn't set to the exact same time.   She seems to find it impossible to believe that the first reports from the scene aren't the most accurate reports.  And she seems to find it impossible to believe that everyone in the world wouldn't do things the exact same way she believes she would do things in such a situation.

Elias Davidsson and others find it impossible to believe that a plane hitting the ground at high speed will plow into the ground instead of just splattering all over the place.  That's why they cannot accept what happened to United Airlines Flight 93 in Pennsylvania.  The physics of mass and velocity seem totally unknown to Davidsson and Honegger.  And, judging by the reactions of their audiences, there are a lot of people just like them.    

It appears that the beliefs of all the 9/11 conspiracy theorists and the anthrax conspiracy theorists can be summarized as follows:

They find it impossible to believe the government's version of what happened.
They believe government officials must all be either incompetent or lying.
If the government is lying, that would constitute a vast criminal conspiracy.
The government will not provide the evidence needed to prove a conspiracy.
Truthers do not have the power needed to force releasing of "the truth."
Therefore, they want a new investigation to find a "truth" they can believe.
And they are trying to convince the public to demand a new investigation.

What they do not seem to understand is that it takes IMPORTANT NEW EVIDENCE to open a new investigation.  The fact that some individual or group of individuals simply cannot believe that anyone would deliberately crash an airliner into a skyscraper won't bring about a new investigation.  Neither will some individual or group who simply cannot cannot believe that a lone American could be behind the anthrax letter attacks of 2001. 

The idea that there's going to be a new investigation to find new evidence is absurd.

Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein didn't sit around and wail and complain and demand that the government find evidence of a conspiracy they believe existed.  Woodward and Bernstein found it.   If the conspiracy theorists and Truthers want a new investigation, they need to find some important new evidence that would require a new investigation.

Displaying abysmal ignorance of the existing evidence isn't going to bring about a new investigation.  It will just show the world that the Truthers are truly a "Lunatic Fringe."

Updates & Changes: Sunday, September 7, 2014, thru Saturday, September 13, 2014

September 13, 2014 - This is totally off topic, but someone might find it interesting.

On Wednesday, I visited a store that sells used books.  It had hardback copies of "High Five" and "Twelve Sharp," the two Stephanie Plum novels by Janet Evanovich that I didn't yet have in my reading queue.  They were just $1.89 apiece, so I bought both.  That means I now have eighteen Stephanie Plum novels in various formats on a shelf or in my Kindle waiting to be read.  And nearly as many Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child.  Plus, two Temperance Brennan novels (#2 & #4) by Kathy Reichs.  Plus a few miscellaneous novels from Jonathan Kellerman, Robert B. Parker, Brad Thor, James Patterson and Scott Turow.

Queue of
                      unread books

I'm still having a difficult time getting started on the second draft of my new sci-fi novel, so I was in the mood to read another novel.  But, also on Wednesday, "The Cold Dish," the first book in the Walt Longmire series by Craig Johnson became available in ebook form from my local library.  I already had #2 and #3 in the series in my Kindle, but I was waiting for #1 to become available before reading any of them.  So, on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, I read "The Cold Dish." It took about 6 hours of total reading time.  While enjoyable, it definitely wasn't as enjoyable as the Stephanie Plum novels and Jack Reacher novels I've been reading. 

(Walt Longmire is also the main character in the TV series "Longmire" which ran for three seasons on the A&E network before getting cancelled a few days ago.)

So, now I'm between reading binges again, and I'm again trying to get started on that second draft. 

But, first I have to start working on tomorrow's comment for this site.

September 10, 2014 - Lew Weinstein and "DXer" continue to demonstrate how they have no interest in facts.  If some newspaper with an agenda printed distorted nonsense, and if that nonsense agrees with the beliefs shared by Lew and DXer, they'll endlessly use and distort the nonsense as "proof" of their nonsensical beliefs.

Yesterday, in a new post titled "the holes in the FBI case against Ivins are huge … will GAO point this out? … when will GAO report?" they said:

The Justice Department then highlighted the very points that many have said prove that Ivins could not have committed the attacks:

• That the anthrax used in the attacks originated from but did not come directly from Ivins’ flask.
• That the government’s anthrax was “genetically similar, but dissimilar in its form, to the anthrax that resulted in the death of Robert Stevens.”
• That “it would also take special expertise (even among those used to working with anthrax) to make dried material of the quality used in the attacks,” expertise that many of Ivins’ former co-workers said they didn’t believe he had

The words come from an July 18, 2013 article titled "Department of Justice upholds stance on Ivins" in The Frederick News-Post.  Anthrax Truthers Lew Weinstein and DXer appear to view the claim out of context, even though the News-Post said:

In seeking to prove the anthrax attacks were not foreseeable, the Justice Department notes that it is unclear when preparation for the anthrax attacks began.

The Justice Department then highlighted the very points that many have said prove that Ivins could not have committed the attacks:

  • That the anthrax used in the attacks originated from but did not come directly from Ivins' flask.
  • That the government's anthrax was "genetically similar, but dissimilar in its form, to the anthrax that resulted in the death of Robert Stevens."
  • That "it would also take special expertise (even among those used to working with anthrax) to make dried material of the quality used in the attacks," expertise that many of Ivins' former co-workers said they didn't believe he had.

But Boyd said in his Tuesday statement that "as the several motions filed Friday make clear, the Justice Department and FBI have never wavered from the view that Dr. Ivins mailed the anthrax letters. The Justice Department and FBI stand behind their findings that Dr. Ivins had the necessary equipment in the containment suite where RMR-1029 was housed to perpetrate those attacks and that a lyophilizer which he ordered, and which was labeled 'property of Bruce Ivins,' was stationed in a nearby containment suite."

The quotes originated in the U.S. Government's motion for a summary judgment in the Stevens v USA lawsuit.  The Government was seeking to prove that it was not legally "foreseeable" that Ivins would commit such a crime.  If it was not "foreseeable," then the government cannot be held liable.  The plaintiff, Maureen Stevens, was basically attempting to prove that the crime was forseeable, that the government was negligent, and therefore the government was liable and responsible for Ivins' crime.

So, Anthrax Truthers Lew Weinstein and DXer (aided by the News-Post) have done is distort the facts and twist one claim (that the crime was not forseeable) to argue a totally different and preposterous claim - "that Ivins could not have committed the attacks."

The fact that Ivins didn't send out spores taken directly from flask RMR-1029 in no way says he couldn't have committed the crime.  The Truther claim is pure NONSENSE.

The fact that the dry spores that killed Bob Stevens were "genetically similar" to the wet spores used by USAMRIID, but dissimilar in form (wet vs. dry), is a good legal point showing unforseeablity, but that fact in no way says Ivins couldn't have committed the crime.  The Truther claim is pure NONSENSE.

The fact that it takes "special expertise" to make dried spores, expertise that "many of Ivins' former co-workers said they didn't believe he had," shows those co-workers could not forsee that Ivins would commit such a crime.  But, it no way says Ivins couldn't have committed the crime. 
The Truther claim is pure NONSENSE.

And, of course, the two Anthrax Truthers do not allow anyone to dispute their nonsensical claims on their blog, so I have to point them out here on my site.

September 9, 2014 - While doing some research to analyze the similarities in beliefs between various conspiracy theorists, I found a long discussion about the anthrax case that was stared by Ken Dillon on December 12, 2008.  There were 173 comments.  Click HERE to read it.  It involves a number of different people - including me.  That discussion was preceeded by an even longer discussion started by Mr. Dillon on December 9, 2008, with 984 comments from various people.  Click HERE.  So, there was a time when a conversation could be held without Truthers resorting to personal insults and burying the talk under a flood of endless, irrelevant documents.  Nothing was resolved, of course.  No minds were changed.  And there are some very long speeches.  But it was generally a cordial conversation. 

September 8, 2014 (B) - This morning, I decided to do some additional research on some of the anthrax conspiracy theorists who helped Graeme MacQueen with his new book
"The 2001 Anthrax Deception."  I found four very interesting YouTube videos.

Click HERE for a talk by Barbara Honegger.  It has some truly screwball comparisons between Pearl Harbor and 9/11.
  (Her slide show is HERE.)  She believes that neither Pearl Harbor nor 9/11 were surprise attacks.

Click HERE for a truly weird talk about the anthrax attacks by Barry Kissin. 

Click HERE for an interview with Elizabeth Woodworth where she rationalizes disputing the official version of 9/11 without attempting to prove any alternative version.  She also disbelieves that Osama bin Laden had anything to do with 9/11.

If anyone wants to know why conspiracy theorists are viewed as "nut jobs," those 3 videos will explain it - providing you have some comprehension of what really happened.

A fourth video HERE shows Elias Davidsson explaining very calmly, point by point, why he doesn't believe Muslim terrorists were behind 9/11.  He doesn't even believe there were any Muslim terrorists on the hijacked aircraft.  He also seems to believe that tens of thousands of people are involved in the coverup of "what really happened" on 9/11.  He begins his hour long talk by saying it's just his opinion, and he doesn't ask anyone to believe him.  He doesn't seem to be "nuts."  That's what is most scary about him.

September 8, 2014 (A) - In case anyone is interested, it appears that the mapping of the section of the Indian Ocean floor where they plan to continue the search for the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 has found some "hard objects."  However, the "objects" could just be some kind of natural rock formation.  The actual search of the ocean bottom will evidently resume on September 22, with additional ships joining the search in October and November.  Meanwhile, the conspiracy theories continue.

September 7, 2014 (B) - Hmm.  In my previous comments, I failed to mention Graeme MacQueen's credentials for writing
"The 2001 Anthrax Deception."  Amazon.com says:

[The Author] received his Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies from Harvard University and taught in the Religious Studies Department of McMaster University for 30 years. While at McMaster he became founding Director of the Centre for Peace Studies at McMaster, after which he helped develop the B.A. program in Peace Studies and oversaw the development of peace-building projects in Sri Lanka, Gaza, Croatia and Afghanistan. Graeme was a member of the organizing committee of the Toronto Hearings held on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and is co-editor of The Journal of 9/11 Studies.

Using Amazon.com's "Look Inside" feature, I also examined
the "acknowledgements" section and checked the names of people who helped him with his book.   He says,

Elias Davidsson and Barbara Honegger were ready to help.  Meryl Nass read the manuscript carefully and gave detailed advice.  Barry Kissin helped me at every stage of the research.  .... Philipp Sarasin's work was an essential source of inspiration .... Herbert Jenkins read an early version of this book and offered constructive criticism.  Elizabeth Woodworth carried out a detailed reading of several drafts and had much useful advice.  She shared generously her own research materials and suggested I refashion into a book what was originally only an academic article.

At first glance, it seems to be the blind leading the blind.  After more thorough reading, it is clear that is definitely the blind leading the blind - or conspiracy theorists helping conspiracy theorists.  Elias Davidsson wrote a book called "Hijacking America's Mind on 9/11: Counterfeiting Evidence."  Here's part of the book description on Amazon:

A large body of literature discusses the preplanned destruction of the Twin Towers and of WTC Nr.7, while mainstream media have extensively reported about the reluctance of the Bush administration to investigate 9/11, the destruction of criminal evidence from Ground Zero and other facts suggesting a government cover-up. But they all stopped short of connecting the dots. Four features distinguish Davidsson's book from the rest. He provides: - The definite (or ultimate) demonstration that there is no evidence of Muslim hijackers

Barbara Honegger wrote an op-ed piece for OpEdNews.com that says:

So what is the evidence linking anthrax to Sept. 11? 
 
1) Whatever insiders wrote the letters mailed with the anthrax wanted you to believe they were linked to 9/11. As is well known, the date hand written on the anthrax letters is Sept. 11, 2001. Though the official story -- that the first letter, to Florida photo journalist Bob Stevens, wasn’t mailed until after 9/11 and so anthrax wasn’t part of the actual 9/11 plot -- it’s clear that whoever wrote and dated the letters and added the super-weaponized (3) U.S. military anthrax wanted you to believe there is a direct connection, and that Islamic foreigners were responsible for both.

Reference (3) leads to an article co-authored by Barry Kissin.  That article from Aug. 18, 2008 says:

Ivins had nothing to do with the 2001 anthrax attacks. The attacks were almost certainly carried out by the only group that had the means to produce the highly weaponized anthrax in the letters: the CIA, its contractor Battelle Memorial Institute of West Jefferson, Ohio., and the Army at Dugway in Utah.

Dr. Meryl Nass's opinions are well known.  Her blog is HERE.

Philipp Sarasin wrote a book titled "Anthrax: Bioterrorism as Fact and Fantasy."  This is from a synopsis of the book:

Basing his analysis on government documents and media coverage between the events of September 11, 2001, and the beginning of the Iraq War in March 2003, he shows that the anthrax letters became the necessary fantasy-link between the 9/11 attacks and Saddam Hussein's "weapons of mass destruction."

A Google search for Elizabeth Woodworth finds an article she wrote about Building 7 of the World Trade Center being brought down by a "controlled demolition."

A Google search for Herbert Jenkins finds only a page with his name as the heading, but the page has a YouTube video of an interview with Graeme MacQueen.

(After I posted the above comment, someone advised me of a 5-part video talk by Graeme MacQueen on YouTube.  Click HERE.  He seems to be arguing that, because it wasn't immediately known exactly who sent the anthrax letters, the investigation that followed must all be some kind of U.S. government plot to fool the public.  But he also argues that if anyone disbelieves or disagrees with the official version, then the official version must wrong.  Ignorant opinions override all facts and evidence.)

September 7, 2014 (A) - This morning, I had a comment all written and ready to post to this site as my Sunday offering.  I wrote some of it on Friday and finished it on Saturday morning.  Then, later on Saturday, I read Friday's PressTV article "Neocons confess: 'We did 9/11-anthrax'," which led to Graeme MacQueen's new book
"The 2001 Anthrax Deception."  And this morning I've got only one question on my mind: Why don't the various conspiracy theorists argue with one another?

Dr. Meryl Nass seems to have given Mr. MacQueen's book a glowing review.  Does she agree with MacQueen that the U.S. Government was behind the 9/11 attacks?  Does she believe the Twin Towers were brought down by explosives that were planted by the CIA?  She certainly seems to believe that the U.S. Government was somehow behind the anthrax attacks.  However, all she says in her review is that she disagrees that Bruce Ivins was the anthrax mailer:

"Finally, a book has come out that explodes the FBI's anthrax letters case.  Not
only is there no evidence linking Army scientist Bruce Ivins to the crime--it turns
out his famous flask of anthrax was never proven to be related to the attack
spores!  MacQueen peeks behind the curtain, showing that nothing about the
anthrax letters case is as it seems."

Why don't all these conspiracy theorists argue with one another!?  I think it would be a lot more interesting and we could all learn a lot more if the conspiracy theorists argued with one another, instead of just mindlessly agreeing that the U.S. government cannot be trusted about anything.  I suspect that there are plenty of conspiracy theorists who accept that Ivins was the anthrax killer, but that he was working as an agent or pawn of the U.S. Government.  I'd like to hear them argue with the people who think Ivins had nothing to do with the attacks.

Every day, the cartoon I created in March 2013 seems more and more relevant:

Anthrax
                      Truther beliefs
Why doesn't DXer - who fully and unshakably believes al Qaeda operatives were behind the anthrax attacks - post rants against Graeme MacQueen's book for suggesting that the U.S. Government was behind the anthrax attacks?  This morning DXer posted a large paragraph he found on a the Alibris.com web site which appears copied from Amazon and seems to support the al Qaeda idea before it mildly indicates that MacQueen's point of view is totally different.  And then DXer makes his own point:

Comment:

“(c) these insiders were connected to the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks;”

Yes, but Bin Laden was behind the 9/11 attacks.

In another comment posted this morning in another thread, DXer wrote this:

Has Graeme MacQueen mastered the documents and read the literature? Why would he engage in a structural and historical analysis rather than a documentary and true crime analysis?

Obtain and compare his manuscript to the documents uploaded on this blog.

Instead of arguing his belief that al Qaeda sent the anthrax letters against MacQueen's apparent belief that the U.S. government sent the letters, DXer just asks more of his endless, silly, meaningless questions!  His only argument seem to be that MacQueen doesn't do things the way DXer does them.

Nuts!  I'm running out of time.  I'm just going to post what I already wrote for today.  Here goes:

Writer Leo Rosten once wrote: "I never cease being dumbfounded by the unbelievable things people believe." 

I keep thinking I should create a supplementary web page where I would list The Top Ten Most Unbelievable Things Anthrax Truthers Believe.  But how would I rank them?  Sometimes, each seems more unbelievable than the next.

The belief that the GAO is going to somehow overturn the FBI's finding that Dr. Bruce Edwards Ivins was the anthrax mailer should probably to be at the top of the list.  But, does anyone really believe that is going to happen?  Or are the Anthrax Truthers just trying to make it happen?  The belief that they can make it happen by posting screwball questions to some obscure blog would be almost as unbelievable.

#2 on the list might be how the Anthrax Truthers seemed to believe that the DOJ prosecutors were "Spinning The Theory That Bruce Ivins Was The Anthrax Processer and Mailer" by claiming that flask RMR-1029 was never stored in Building 1412.  It was incredibly dumb, since the facts clearly say it was the FBI who was trying to prove flask RMR-1029 was once stored in Building 1412 (where Steven Hatfill worked), while Dr. Ivins was claiming that flask RMR-1029 was NEVER stored there.

Are the Truthers still arguing that belief?  I've seen no mention of them learning that they were wrong. The claim remains uncorrected on Lew Weinstein's blog.  The longer it remains uncorrected, the dumber it seems.

#3 on the list could be the unbelievable belief that "The anthrax letters are in the handwriting of [Mohammed] Atta."  Anyone with any knowledge of handwriting analysis can see that it isn't Atta's handwriting.
  The facts show DXer's belief is absurd.  But he won't accept what just anyone says.  He wants some official expert to state officially that it is not Mohammed Atta's handwriting.  Until then, he is evidently going to continue to believe that, because there is a similarity in the way Atta drew the number 2 and the way the anthax writer wrote the number 2, that overrides all the many and varied differences in the handwriting.  That's just plain unbelievable

#4 might be the inexplicable belief voiced by more than one Anthrax Truther that the FBI's failure to find evidence everywhere they look is the same as finding exculpatory evidence showing Ivins to be innocent.  That is truly an unbelievable belief.  How can anyone believe that just because the FBI looked for the culprit's DNA in the mailbox where the letters weren't found and didn't find it, that is somehow exculpatory evidence indicating Dr. Ivins was innocent?  Unbelievable!!!

#5 could be the belief that
Adnan El-Shukrijumah was the anthrax mailer.  There's no reason to believe that El-Shukrijuma was even in the U.S. when the anthrax letters were mailed, much less in New Jersey on both dates.  It's an unbelievable belief conjured up by putting 2 and 2 together and getting 437,397.  It makes no sense whatsoever.

#6 might be #1 on some days.  It's the belief that Dr. Ivins didn't have the knowledge to make dry anthrax spores.  That is as unbelievable as beliefs can get.  A three year old child would know that if you leave something wet out in the open air for a few hours it will dry.  Mud will dry and become dust.  There's nothing magic about it.  It's probably one of the first things you learn in microbiology classes: Don't leave wet spores out in the open air.  They'll dry and aerosolize.  Duh!   

#7 ties to #6.  It's the unbelievable belief that Dr. Ivins didn't have the equipment to make the anthrax powders.  It appears to come from some kind of unbelievable belief that the only way anything can be done in a government lab is the safe, official, approved way.  If it is dangerous to make dry anthrax spores, then no one could possibly do it.   If it is not officially allowed to make dry spores, then it cannot be done.  If the approved way to make dried spores is in a drying machine, then that's the only way it can possibly be done.  The fact that dried spores can be created with equipment that is in nearly every BSL-3 lab seems incomprehensible to people with unbelievable beliefs.  All the equipment that Bruce Ivins needed to create the anthrax powders that were in the media envelopes was a biosafety cabinet and some plates covered with anthrax that had been left in a biosafety bag in a corner for a few weeks.  The spores would air-dry in the biosafety cabinet in a few hours.  Or maybe the Truthers have some unbelievable belief that Ivins didn't have any rubber gloves or a utensil to scrape the dried spores out of the plates.  Or do they believe that biosafety cabinets don't work?   

#8 ties to #6 and #7.  It's the unbelievable belief that Dr. Ivins didn't have the time to make the anthrax powders.  DXer endlessly argues his unbelievable belief that if Bruce Ivins had any official work to do during a given day, then Ivins could not possibly have done anything unofficial during that same day.  If Ivins was at a meeting from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., then he could not possibly have gone anywhere else that evening after 7 p.m.  If Ivins was working with test rabbits in October, then he couldn't possibly have had the time to do anything but work with test rabbits during October -- or September or August. It's another unbelievable belief endlessly voiced by DXer.

#9 is the seemingly unshakable and unbelievable belief some Anthrax Truthers have voiced that the attack anthrax was deliberately "weaponized" with silicone or silicon or silica or most unbelievably - "polymerized glass."  The powder in the media letters was 90% dried slime (matrix material) and dead mother germs.  It was only 10% spores.  It's what you get in a Petri dish when you let anthrax bacteria germinate and grow until they run out of food and room.  You get dead bacteria that failed to sporulate, you get the carcasses of mother germs that produced spores, you get the matrix material that is the after-birth slime of sporulation, and you get spores.  And the whole mess will all dry into a soft, crunchy powder in the open air.  How do you  "weaponize" a spore by coating it with "polymerize glass" when it is still inside the mother germ?  How do you do it without also coating the dead bacteria and leaving most of the "polymerized glass" as part of the dried slime?  Some Anthrax Truthers have a totally unbelievable belief that it must have been done somehow.  If it wasn't done the way they believe, then it wasn't a government conspiracy.  And they find that unacceptable.  For some Anthrax Truthers, it's better to believe the unbelievable than to accept that Ivins could have unintentionally created anthrax spores with a "silicon signature" without using some secret and illegal, government-approved weaponization process.   

And what should #10 on the list be?  The unbelievable belief that the FBI claimed that a lyophilizer was used to make the anthrax powders?  The unbelievable belief that beliefs somehow make
Bruce Ivins innocent and the solid facts showing Dr. Ivins was guilty are meaningless and irrelevant?  The unbelievable belief that the attack powders were made in Afghanistan in two different forms, transported to America and then mailed at two different times by Muslim terrorists who included medical advice in the letters to reduce the danger of someone accidentally being harmed by the anthrax?   The unbelievable belief that if anyone makes a mistake, then nothing they ever do afterward can be trusted ever again?  The unbelievable belief that everyone in the government is part of some gigantic conspiracy and - just like the Borg villains on Star Trek - everyone in the government automatically knows what everyone else knows?  The inexplicable and unbelievable and idiotic belief that the Twin Towers were brought down by CIA planted explosives instead of by the hijacked planes that crashed into the towers?

I could go on and on and on and on.

Updates & Changes: Monday, September 1, 2014, thru Saturday, September 6, 2014

September 6, 2014 (B) - Hmm.   I just did a search through the new conspiracy theory book "The 2001 Anthrax Deception" by Graeme MacQueen that I mentioned in my (A) comment this morning, and I found that it has 4 pages (205-208) dedicated to my analysis of the anthrax attacks of 2001 - or more specifically, my 2003 analysis as to whether or not the St. Petersburg letters were part of the attack.  

Cool!  I'm not sure whether that will be enough for me to actually buy a copy of the book, but it might.

Mr. MacQueen cannot see any coincidences between the mailing of the hoax letters and the mailing of the anthrax letters, and he concludes that the St. Petersburg letters were part of the U.S. Government's anthrax letter criminal conspiracy.   He distorts my arguments in this comment from page 207:

(3) Lake's final argument had to do with the copycat phenomenon.  Copycat criminals, he said, will send hoax or implied threat letters after a genuine article is made public.  He implied that the St. Petersburg letters can be dismissed for this reason.  But neither the deadly anthrax letter postmarked on September 18 nor any of the other anthrax letters in the attacks was known to the public when the September 20 threat letter was sent.  The writer of the September 20 letter, if he or she was an ordinary member of the public, could not have been "copying" any of the letters sent in the anthrax attacks.

I implied no such thing.  The notes on page 208 indicate all of MacQueen's information comes from my 2003 page titled "Hoaxes, Psychology & Barbara Hatch Rosenberg."  That page has a quote from Dr. Rosenberg near the very beginning:

Therefore the hoax letters targeting media are not simply a copycat phenomenon. The envelopes on most or all of the hoax letters were addressed in block capitals similar to the addresses on the anthrax envelopes, even though they were mailed before the anthrax envelopes became known.

My actual analysis of the St. Petersburg hoax letters comes near the end of the page:

My analysis of the anthrax cases indicates that none of the hoax letters are connected in any way to the anthrax mailings.  That doesn't mean the hoax letters were coincidental.  It is not a coincidence when it is common to have anthrax hoaxes nearly every week and some such hoaxes occur close in time or location to a real event. 

But, Mr. MacQueen sees it as too much of a coincidence that a hoax letter was sent to Tom Brokaw from Florida at about the same time as an anthrax letter was sent to Tom Brokaw from New Jersey.  I think it all depends upon how many hoax letters Tom Brokaw routinely received in a week or month.  I stand by my analysis.

I also note that "DXer" isn't mentioned in the book.   That's probably because "DXer" believes that al Qaeda was behind the attacks, and Mr. MacQueen clearly believes it was a U.S. Government conspiracy.   Here's what Amazon.com's page says about that:

This book support[s] with a great deal of evidence the following four assertions: (a) the anthrax letter attacks were carried out by a group of perpetrators, not by a “lone wolf;” (b) the group that perpetrated this crime was composed, in whole or in part, of deep insiders within the U.S. state apparatus; (c) these insiders were connected to the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks; (d) the anthrax attacks were meant to play an important role in the strategy of redefinition through which the Cold War was replaced by a new global conflict framework, the Global War on Terror.

One of the web sites helping to promote the book phrases point (c) very differently:

(c) These insiders were the same people who planned the 9/11 attacks

I also notice that Chapter 1 of the book argues that people who have conspiracy theories shouldn't be called "conspiracy theorists."  MacQueen's reasoning includes the argument that people who believe al Qaeda terrorists conspired to commit the 9/11 atrocities are also "conspiracy theorists."  Not so.  The plotting of 9/11 was definitely a criminal conspiracy.  But it is not a "theory" that al Qaeda was behind 9/11.  Their leader admitted it, and there is a mountain of evidence to support it.  That makes it a proven fact"Conspiracy theorists" have beliefs instead of evidence and facts.  And that includes conspiracy theorists like "DXer" who believes without facts and evidence that al Qaeda operatives were behind the anthrax attacks.  And it includes conspiracy theorists like Mr. Graeme MacQueen who believes without facts and evidence that the U.S. government was behind the anthrax attacks.    

September 6, 2014 (A) - One of the first things I do every morning after I turn on my computer is to do a Google search for the words "anthrax" and "2001."  When I did that search this morning, up popped an article from Press TV, which is an Iranian news outlet. The article is titled "Neocons confess: 'We did 9/11-anthrax'."  The article begins with this:

As the 13th anniversary of the crimes of September, 2001 approaches, the neoconservatives are shrieking from the rooftops – and effectively confessing that they were the real perpetrators of the 9/11-Anthrax false flag operation. 

"Shreiking from the rooftops?"  Really?  I haven't been hearing it.  Reading further, the article says,

Everywhere you look in the Zionist-dominated mainstream media, some neocon asset is hyping a ridiculous story about an "Islamic terrorist threat" – and tying it to the upcoming 9/11 anniversary.

Consider the preposterous legend, planted by neocons at Fox News then picked up by the rest of the media, that 11 missing Libyan jetliners may attack the USA on September 11th, 2014. The original Fox News story quotes an unnamed and probably imaginary US government official as saying: "There are a number of commercial airliners in Libya that are missing. We found out on September 11 what can happen with hijacked planes.”

I'm not going to go through all the bizarre conspiracy theory nonsense in the article.  It's even worse than the conspiracy theory nonsense you see on American blogs like Lew Weinstein's.  They twist and distort things and then argue that what they twisted and distorted cannot happen.   It's kind of interesting in a creepy sort of way.  Plus, they provide information that I've never seen before.  Example:

In his new book The 2001 Anthrax Deception, Canadian professor Graeme MacQueen shows how many of the guilt-revealing delusional tales spread by the neocons in the autumn of 2001 related to the anthrax component of the 9/11-Anthrax false flag operation.

Oooo.   That sounds like an interesting book, but not one I'd pay money to read.   Doing a Google search for it, I find it was published by Clarity Press.   MacQueen's page on their site shows book reviews by some familiar names:

"Professor MacQueen provides yet another piece of the puzzle connecting the
terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 to the immediately following anthrax
attacks of October 2001 that were indisputably conducted by Agents of the
United States government."
Francis A. Boyle, author of the U.S.domestic implementing legislation for the
1972 Biological Weapons Convention.

"Finally, a book has come out that explodes the FBI's anthrax letters case.  Not
only is there no evidence linking Army scientist Bruce Ivins to the crime--it turns
out his famous flask of anthrax was never proven to be related to the attack
spores!  MacQueen peeks behind the curtain, showing that nothing about the
anthrax letters case is as it seems."
Meryl Nass, MD, consultant on the prevention and mitigation of bioterrorism for
the Director of National Intelligence and the World Bank

"In The 2001 Anthrax Deception, Dr. MacQueen uncovers the multiple ways
Americans were manipulated to believe in their aftermath that the 9-11 attacks and
the anthrax attacks were a one-two punch delivered by Muslim terrorists with
Iraqi support. Later, when the fact could not be denied that the source of the
anthrax attacks was an American military biolab, all the elaborate claims and
stories about the connections between 9-11 and anthrax disappeared. Dr.
MacQueen shows that indeed 9-11 and anthrax were connected, and that the
false-flag, inside job characteristic that inexorably became part of the official
version of the anthrax attacks must also apply to 9-11."
Barry Kissin, American attorney and author of
The Truth About The Anthrax Attacks
 
Birds of a feather flock together.  It's interesting that Iranian conspiracy theorists seem to find American conspiracy theorists to be "birds of a feather."

(Click HERE for Barry Kissin's 2009 article "The Truth About the Anthrax Attacks.")

September 5, 2014 - At 9:15 a.m. this morning, I finished reading
"Four to Score," by Janet Evanovich.  I got through 90% of it yesterday, read some more at breakfast, and finished it while waiting for some updates to my security software to be done.  It took a total of about 6 hours of reading time, including 30 minutes on the treadmill and 20 minutes on the exercycle at the health club yesterday.  It was a very enjoyable read, and I think I got some very good character development ideas from it for my own book.  I haven't been able to find a reasonably priced copy of the #5 book ("High Five") in the series anywhere.  But, that's probably a good thing.  Because I've got paperback editions of #6, #7, #8, #9, #10 and #11 waiting on a bookshelf behind my computer.

An example of a "character development idea" is how the main character (bounty hunter Stephanie Plum) talks about hating to buy a new car.   Why she hates it:

Nothing I hated more than car shopping.  I'd rather have a mammogram than go car shopping.  I never had enough money to get a car I really liked.  And then there were the car salemen ... second only to dentists in their ability to inflict pain.  Ick.  An involuntary shiver gripped my spine.

The main character in my new sci-fi book is driving a rental because a building collapsed on his car in the previous book.  I think I mention that he doesn't like car shopping, but I make no mention of WHY he doesn't like it.  Explaining motivation is a major part of what "character development" is all about.

Meanwhile, I see September is starting out to be a very busy month for visitors to this web site.  I've had over 700 visitors during 3 of the 4 days so far:

Daily Statistics for September 2014
Day Hits Files Pages Visits Sites KBytes
1 2767 26.93% 2177 26.74% 1671 33.49% 735 25.40% 713 27.34% 224874 26.31%
2 2469 24.03% 1940 23.83% 1073 21.50% 689 23.81% 780 29.91% 203720 23.83%
3 2506 24.39% 1949 23.94% 1111 22.26% 715 24.71% 783 30.02% 198694 23.25%
4 2523 24.55% 2064 25.35% 1129 22.63% 751 25.95% 819 31.40% 226503 26.50%

I had only 3 days with over 700 visitors in all of August, and only 7 in all of July, which was my busiest month since August 2008, when the news broke that Bruce Ivins was the anthrax killer.  There also seems to be a steady increase in the number of sites doing the visiting.  I haven't had over 800 different sites visiting since August 2008, either.  I suspect some of the activity is from people looking for news about the General Accountability Office's Amerithrax review, which I'm expecting to come out late this month or early in October. 

"DXer" is helping raise the numbers.  He visited 30 times in the past 4 days.  I sincerely hope he learned something during all those visits.


September 4, 2014 -
I looked around this morning to see what I can comment upon.  I checked Lew Weinnstein's blog and found that DXer is posting copies of entire articles about the Amerithrax case from October 2011 issues of McClatchy newspapers.  And he's posting links to a lot of additional articles from the past.  He's not explaining WHY he's doing that, of course.  It's all in a thread complaining that the GAO isn't producing their Amerithrax review as fast as DXer and Lew want it produced. 

I also checked the web sites HERE and HERE that keep track of the latest happenings in the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.  Absolutely nothing happening there. 


It appears my email problem has been solved.  I sent an email to the guy in Virginia this morning, and it went through okay.  Someone also sent me a link to a web site where I can check to see if an IP address has been "blacklisted."  It shows the IP address that was giving me a problem yesterday is indeed being "blacklisted" by some people.

Meanwhile, my problem with getting started on the second draft of my sci-fi novel hasn't been solved.  

Also meanwhile, I had been unsuccessfully hunting through stores that sell used-books looking for Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum novel "Four to Score."  I'd read the first three books in the series and wanted to read #4.  It wasn't available at my library, and I didn't want to pay full retail price for it.  Yesterday afternoon, I thought I'd look at the reviews for the book.  I discovered that Amazon had the ebook on sale for $2.99.  That's a price I'm willing to pay to read a novel.  So, I bought it.  I read for a little over and hour and finished about 21% of it.  It appears to be about a 6 hour read.  That means I'll probably finish it tomorrow.  It's a very funny and enjoyable book. 

Lastly, in August 2012 my brother in-law asked my opinion of cloud computing.  He was looking for a place to invest.  I sent him a link to an article about it HERE, and I told him I basically agreed with the comment after the article where someone wrote:

Cloud computing is THE most assinine idea ever conceived in IT [Information Technology]. After spending decades and dollars to learn how to keep information secure on a LAN, we're supposed to jump for joy at the prospect of putting our information on the WWW/WAN (in the full control of others) and feel secure?

and this one:

Since the "Cloud" is just a new name for the Internet I would not say it is the most asinine idea ever. I mean it took some marketing person many brain cycles to sell the Internet to a client as a new and improved way of doing things.   You cannot go to a client and say, "I have got this great idea.  Let us put your info/product/storage etc.. on the Internet"  That does not sound good.  "I have got this great idea.  Let us put your info/product/storage etc in the Cloud"  Now that you can sell.  Many people making financial decisions for a company get easily attracted by shiny coins and bright lights it's a great term for an old product wih a new way of implementing it.

Jump on that synergy bandwagon my friend.  The snake oil is here to stay.

I think I may send my brother in-law an email today saying, "I told you so."

September 3, 2014 - Hmm.  Do you ever get the feeling that life is just getting too complicated?  This morning I tried to respond to an email I received overnight from someone in Virginia.  My response bounced back with an error message that said:
(reading BANNER): 554 p3plibsmtp03-03.prod.phx3.secureserver.net bizsmtp 107.14.166.227 has been blocked for the day, for attempting to mail too many invalid recipients. IB113
That IP address isn't mine.   It traces to a Time Warner Cable server in Coudersport, PA.  (I'm on Time Warner Cable, but the guy in Virginia I was trying to email is not.)  I tried sending the same message again and got the same bounceback.  Then I tried sending an email to someone in Boston to make sure all my emails weren't being blocked by Time Warner.  The guy in Boston responded while I was writing this comment, so it's just that one email address that gets the error message.

I haven't ever sent any emails to "invalid recipients," as far as I know.   The friend in Boston who did get my mail this morning is an Internet expert, and we've concluded that the problem email is getting routed through or near IP 107.14.166.277 where someone is doing a lot of spamming.  And my email is getting caught in the Time Warner block on that spamming.

I called Time Warner Cable to make them aware of the problem.  But, they had no clue as to what the problem might be.  They told me to try again tomorrow. 

It's another situation where a non-expert (me) knows infinitely more about the situation than the "expert."   Looking at the source code for the emails I received from the guy in Virginia, I see his emails orginate at an IP address related to his business, then the emails gets passed to Time Warner IP address 107.14.70.244.  
So, there's no way he could be blocking me, as the "expert" at Time Warner suggested.   It appears that some "expert" at Time Warner Cable applied a block for a series of IP addresses (107.14.000.000 thru 107.14.256.256) instead of just the one IP address he wanted to block: 107.14.166.227.  But, the Time Warner "expert" I talked with wouldn't even begin to understand anything about that sort of thing.  He just responds to customers who someone got disconnected from the Internet or who forgot their passwords.

This happened before lunch.  While eating lunch, I realized there was another way to get the message to the guy in Virginia.  I did so.  Now, I have to wait to see if he got it.  He may not check that other source as often as he checks the emails via the address I used.

Life didn't used to be this complicated.  :-(   

September 1, 2014 (B) - Someone sent me a link to a blog that contains what appears to be a list of filings in a lawsuit that retired foreign service officer Kenneth Dillon has instituted against the FBI in order to obtain Amerithrax documents he evidently feels were not adequately supplied via FOIA requests.  Click HERE to go to the blog. 

It appears that all but two of the documents require accessing PACER to obtain the pdf file (or using the other service favored by the web site).  And the two pdf documents that can be accessed for free do not seem to explain anything.

But, I said I'd write a comment about it, and now I have.

September 1, 2014 (A) - If there are any science geeks out there who read this web site, you might be interested in some sensational photographs that NASA put on their web site yesterday showing the space shuttle Endeavour docked with the International Space Station on May 23, 2011.  Click HERE to go to that specific web site entry.  Click HERE to go to the place where the very large images can be viewed and downloaded.

Here's a low-res version of one of the images:

space shuttle
                      Endeavor at space station

Click HERE to go to the hi-res version that is 25.2 inches wide by 16.8 inches high, at 240 pixels per inch.


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