FBI lab reports on anthrax attacks suggest another miscue

May 19, 2011

WASHINGTON — Buried in FBI laboratory reports about the anthrax mail attacks that killed five people in 2001 is data suggesting that a chemical may have been added to try to heighten the powder’s potency, a move that some experts say exceeded the expertise of the presumed killer.

The lab data, contained in more than 9,000 pages of files that emerged a year after the Justice Department closed its inquiry and condemned the late Army microbiologist Bruce Ivins as the perpetrator, shows unusual levels of silicon and tin in anthrax powder from two of the five letters.

Those elements are found in compounds that could be used to weaponize the anthrax, enabling the lethal spores to float easily so they could be readily inhaled by the intended victims, scientists say.

The existence of the silicon-tin chemical signature offered investigators the possibility of tracing purchases of the more than 100 such chemical products available before the attacks, which might have produced hard evidence against Ivins or led the agency to the real culprit.

But the FBI lab reports released in late February give no hint that bureau agents tried to find the buyers of additives such as tin-catalyzed silicone polymers.

The apparent failure of the FBI to pursue this avenue of investigation raises the ominous possibility that the killer is still on the loose.


3 responses to “FBI lab reports on anthrax attacks suggest another miscue

  1. Roy N. Chester

    look in the ranks of the Justice Dept

  2. You got that right

  3. latitude38

    the way i recalled the incident, that the anthrax was of high-grade pure quality and was easily to be traced to the source, which if i recall correctly their was only one other know anthrax of that quality , a match was found and that led to the arrest of bruce ivins. was i wrong about this? all along this whole story had a stench to this.re; the justice dept. , i had felt that doi or dod would or could have been either involved or played a major part in a cover-up role.

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