Skip to comments.Anthrax : a REAL investigation tells another story (peer reviewed study published in 2007)
Posted on 08/08/2008 7:43:09 AM PDT by drzz
Technical Intelligence in Retrospect: The 2001 Anthrax Letters Powder ------------------------------------------------- Authors: Dany Shoham; Stuart M. Jacobsen --------------------------------------------------- Published in: International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence, Volume 20, Issue 1 March 2007 , pages 79 - 105 -------------------------------------------- (Weblink : http://newsdetails.blogspot.com/2007/05/technical-intelligence-in-retrospect.html )
Naturally, the U.S. Intelligence Community first tried to profile the SSP by technically comparing it with past weaponized anthrax powders made by the U.S. Army. But, while the dehydration-based forming of dry powder, weapon-grade, biological material conducted by William Patrick in the U.S. Army during the 1950s relied on freeze drying, and then grinding down the freeze-dried pellets with a high-speed colloid mill, the AS was probably processed by using a spray drying technology, and it certainly did not employ milling. Protected by five patents, the technical course leading to weapon-grade powders applied by the U.S. Army during the 1950s and 1960s presumably involved freeze drying, sifting, milling, and removal of impurities. But the U.S. program did not use silica in any of the anthrax powders it made during those two decades.
Since the abandonment of its offensive biological warfare program, the U.S. Army has experimented with various brands of silica nanoparticles added to germ-warfare powders or surrogates produced in small quantities. These include WR-50 and WR-51 (manufactured by Philadelphia Quartz Co.), Cab-O-Sil (Cabot Corp.), and Sipernat D 13 (Degussa AG). Various aerosols of anthrax spores - including Ames - were applied by the U.S. Army for experimental infection studies after the U.S. biological weapons arsenal had been eliminated. Even if some of those BA aerosols included spray-dried spore powders, involving silica, their fineness did not at all equal the SSP. Therefore, the need for technical intelligence pertaining to the SSP became vital.
The SSP's peculiarity and the resultant challenge to intelligence certainly reflect the need to depend upon a sophisticated combination of different disciplines: technological, strategic, and political. The mailed envelopes containing the SSP were delivered in September and October 2001. The AS was apparently cultured, at most, two years earlier, according to radiocarbon dating made at Lawrence Livermore National Institute.45 The margin of error for this estimate was not given by Livermore, but is expected to be large with such a young sample since the relative concentration of Carbon14 is not much different than the atmospheric ambient.
As mentioned, by the year 2000, apparently around the time of preparing the SSP, the Ames strain was being held, concomitantly, by an unknown number of laboratories in the U.S. (at least seven labs) and abroad (at least five). Chromosomal DNA was identical in sequences to the AS in all Ames isolates tested in 2002, whereas the notable variation detected within collateral DNA (plasmids) was not instrumental for tracing the actual origin of the AS.46 All representative isolates (totaling 42) from the SSP were determined to be of a BA genome indistinguishable from the Ames strain used in laboratories. Further, the use of high-resolution molecular subtyping determined that all AS isolates were indistinguishable by the methods used and probably originated from a single source.47 It thus turns out that the origination of the SSP can scarcely be traced by microbiological methods alone. Though bioassays relying on stable isotope ratios have been suggested, it is presently doubtful that these are practical, specifically in regards to the SSP.48
As a technical intelligence tool, then, the best clues to the provenance of the SSP are the details of the artificial spore coatings. These coatings require a team of specialists to develop. And this is a multidisciplinary effort involving microbiology, chemical engineering, materials science, aerosol physics, possibly live testing, and finally quality assurance. A highly disciplined design of experiments is required, followed by several iterations of parameter adjustment before a high quality powder like the SSP can be developed. In other words, to create a "one off" powder such as the SSP with a siloxane binder that had never been used before in such an application and achieve success on the first attempt would be impossible. A trail of evidence in some state-sponsored bioweapons laboratory somewhere in the world where all of this development work took place must exist. Russia is known to have pioneered the use of the combined silica/binder approach to dry powder BWs. The SSP producer certainly exploited this or some advanced version of this technology.
Four distinct elements are involved - though possibly taking place unconnectedly with each other, in reality - in the course leading to the anthrax letter attack: the AS supplier; the basic powder technology supplier; the origination of the subsequent powdery bacillus modeling; and the SSP producer. The first three might be completely innocent, according to the following clustering. Namely, the AS supplier (to either Basson, el-Hibri, or another "legitimate" intermediary) was a U.S./British laboratory; the basic powder technology supplier was Denmark's Niro; the origination of the powdery bacillus modeling was USSR/Russia, which preferred BT rather than BG, because the former is a much better simulant for BA spore powder; and the SSP producer - the fourth and cardinal element - was plausibly Iraq, thanks to having obtained and employed the first three elements together, thereby forming a superb integral in Iraq. Alternatively, Soviet or formerly Soviet institutions could constitute the first three elements altogether (or two of them), and al-Qaeda itself could be the intermediary (and the perpetrator, but not the SSP producer). Notably, and in spite of continuing claims that no solid connections - including the contexts of CBW at-large, as well as the 2001 Twin Towers attack - existed between al-Qaeda and Iraq, the opposite has increasingly and firmly been emerging since the 2003 invasion of Iraq.52
"Relying, apparently, on concrete findings, former top U.S. weapons inspector Dr. David Kay said that "the Iraqis had developed new techniques for drying anthrax - techniques that were superior to anything the United States or the old Soviet Union had. That would make the former regime of Saddam Hussein the most sophisticated manufacturer of anthrax in the world." 58 Somewhat disturbingly, Dr. Kay did not - probably intentionally - give more details about his statement, not mentioning any additive applied for the Iraqi techniques, such as silica or, possibly, siloxane binder, or any foreign contributors - Russian, Danish, or another. Yet, even independently of Kay's remarkable statement, the vitality of such an exceptional Iraqi capability may presumably lie within an effective Iraqi-made integration of the various predominant essentials presented and discussed. And beyond anthrax, a notable collateral outcome of that integration was that silica gel was indeed being used by Iraq to aid in the dispersability of wheat smut spores, an anti-cultivar fungal biological warfare agent then held by Iraq.
Comparatively, the FBI's domestically originated-SSP hypothesis turned out to be futile. Slowly and steadily, it is perishing.59 Particularly, that the view that the old U.S. Army anthrax stockpile was not silica-based, while the fineness of various aerosols of anthrax spores - including Ames - applied by the U.S. Army for experimental infection studies after the U.S. biological weapons arsenal had been eliminated - even if including spray-dried spore powders containing silica - did not at all equal the quality of the SSP."
“...A trail of evidence in some state-sponsored bioweapons laboratory somewhere in the world where all of this development work took place must exist...”
“...and the SSP producer - the fourth and cardinal element - was plausibly Iraq, thanks to having obtained and employed the first three elements together, thereby forming a superb integral in Iraq...”
“...Relying, apparently, on concrete findings, former top U.S. weapons inspector Dr. David Kay said that “the Iraqis had developed new techniques for drying anthrax - techniques that were superior to anything the United States or the old Soviet Union had...”
“...Comparatively, the FBI’s domestically originated-SSP hypothesis turned out to be futile. Slowly and steadily, it is perishing.59 Particularly, that the view that the old U.S. Army anthrax stockpile was not silica-based, while the fineness of various aerosols of anthrax spores - including Ames - applied by the U.S. Army for experimental infection studies after the U.S. biological weapons arsenal had been eliminated - even if including spray-dried spore powders containing silica - did not at all equal the quality of the SSP...”
The International Journal of Intelligence and Counter-Intelligence serves as a medium for professionals and scholars to exchange opinions on issues and challenges encountered by both government and business institutions in making contemporary intelligence-related decisions and policy. At the same time, this quarterly serves as an invaluable resource for researchers looking to assess previous developments and events in the field of national security.
Dedicated to the advancement of the academic discipline of intelligence studies, the International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence publishes articles and book reviews focusing on a broad range of national security matters. As an independent, non-partisan forum, the journal presents the informed and diverse findings of its contributing authors, and does not advocate positions of its own.
Peer Review Policy:
All articles in this journal have undergone editorial screening and extensive and comprehensive editorial review.
Publication office: Taylor & Francis, Inc., 325 Chestnut Street, Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106
An electrostatic rotary atomizer (a standard piece of industrial equipment) has a log bimodal droplet size distribution, the product of which is very easily air classified. Cab-O-Sil is a VERY common ingredient in numerous pharmaceutical products. It produces a thixotropic mixture that is well suited for rotary atomization into single-digit micron sized droplets that shrink as they dry.
Any industrial paint or drug formulator knows this stuff.
I don't see making the powder to be as much of a challenge as would be containing it so that it didn't kill me.
So,let’s see: Suppose we started with a liquid suspension (used for vaccine research as I recall)and ran it through something essentially the same - although cruder - as the Niro machine. (How would the working parts of a Dyson vacuum cleaner do ?)
(Let’s also assume we did this “off post”,somewhere,and that we subsequently destroyed the processor used.)
Wouldn’t this tend to produce a batch that was of “uneven” quality (such as published reports suggested) ?
I've read everything from "exceptional" to "amateur." I haven't a clue.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.