The FBI investigation of the anthrax attacks is now entering its sixth month. Has it identified the source of the anthrax spores found in the letters and bodies of the 5 victims, the equipment used to weaponize the anthrax, the copier used to copy the warning letters or any of the perpetrators?


The FBI investigation so far has not come close to solving the anthrax mystery. It has not scientifically narrowed down the source of the anthrax used in the attacks. It has not located the equipment used to prepare the weaponized anthrax. It has not found the copier. It has not found the perpetrators. It has not pinpointed the country of origin of the attack.

Despite press reports to the contrary, the FBI Director, Robert Mueller, flatly stated on March 1st that the FBI has not "identified which of the nation's research laboratories may have been the source of the anthrax ," adding "We are not focused on one facility or a series of facilities." The efforts by scientists at TIGR to find "genetic fingerprints," or unique markers, for the anthrax has not yet succeeded in tracing the samples to a single facility. The FBI investigation has not even succeeded in narrowing it to a single country. The virulent Ames strain used in the attacks is held by laboratories in three countries: United States, Canada and Britain. Moreover, the non-virulent strain, which, as scientists at Rockefeller University demonstrated, can be converted to the virulent strain, is available in many other countries.

Nor is only one strain involved. In December, The Center for Disease Control in Atlanta determined that a letter to Dr. Antonio Banfi in Santiago, Chile, which may have been contaminated by mail in the U.S. postal system, contained 5 colonies of anthrax bacteria that were not from the Ames strain used in the other known attacks. So either two different parties had sent anthrax through the mail or one party was using, or testing, different types of anthrax bacteria.

Despite a massive search, the FBI also acknowledged that it had not found a copying machine that matched the one used to photo-copy letters accompanying the anthrax. A report on the CBS Evening News that such a copier had been found was false.*
The investigation has also not determined where, or how, the aerosolized anthrax in the letters sent to Senators Patrick Leahy and Tom Daschle was weaponized. Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, among others, had suggested to the FBI that the anthrax used in the attacks matched anthrax used by the US military. But while the U.S. military has used a similar size anthrax spores in testing biological warfare defenses in Utah, it is not similar in other respects. The US weaponized anthrax had its electrostatic property removed, for example, so the tiny spores would not stick together. The anthrax used in the attacks lacked this property, so it had not been part of US weaponized anthrax.

The FBI also failed to find the means of delivery or motive, in the three murder cases proceeding from the anthrax attacks. No letter, or other clues were found, In the cases of Kathy T. Nyguyen in New York City and Ottilie Lundgren in Oxford, Connecticut. Nor was any anthrax found in their homes or mail boxes. In the case of Robert Stevens in Florida, anthrax spores were found in his office at American Media where he worked as a photo editor. Since the anthrax was also found throughout the entire building, any one else in the building, or even the printing plants which employees of American Media worked with, could have been the target. As in the cases of Nyguyen and Lundgren, it was not determined how the anthrax was delivered to the building. Not do we know that it came by letter. The microscopic traces found at local post office in Florida could have come as easily from cross- contamination of out-going mail as ingoing mail. It could have come by any parcel— letter, Fedex— or been brought there, wittingly or unwittingly, by a person from another location (including another facility of American Media.) So all the murder cases remain unsolved dead-ends.

Although FBI Director Mueller bravely indicated to the Associated Press that he was "satisfied with the pace of the anthrax investigation," it has not been highly productive in finding a source, means or motive for the attack. Such a failure after five months suggests that the hypothesis upon which the investigation is based— the lone American malcontent— is flawed.