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August 07, 2008

Info on the FBI's "New Techniques"

In this search warrant application, the FBI describes its genetic testing, which identifies not just the strain of anthrax (which is Ames, as has long been known) but specific mutations to its DNA (which wouldn't be present in other Ames anthrax samples).

As a whole, the collection of all the genetic mutations found in the anthrax used in the 2001 mailings, [sic on that comma] serve to provide a "DNA fingerprint" which can, and has been used [sic -- guy needs to learn how to use commas] to investigate other Ames isolates collected from laboratories possessing the Ames strain. Four individual, highly sensitive, and specific molecular assays capable of detecting four of the genetic mutations discovered in the Bacillus anthracis used in the mail attacks have been develped and validated.

Following the mailings, sixteen domestic government, commercial, and university laboratories that had virulent Ames strain Bacillus anthracis in their inventories prior to the attacks were identified. [Two and three quarters lines now blacked out, redacted received Ames strain Baccillus anthracis isolates or samples from all sixteen domestic laboratories, as well as, [sic] from laboratories in Canada, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. All total, the Task Force as obtained more than 100 isolates of the Ames strain of Bacillus anthracis from these laboratories and archived those isolates in te FBI Bacillus anthracis Repository (hereinafter "FBIR").

The four aforementioned molecular assays have been applied to each of more than 1000 Bacillus anthracis samples contained within the FBIR. Of the more than 1000 FBIR samples, only eight were determined to contain all four genetic mutations.

The Task Force investigation has determined that each of the eight isolates in the FBIR is directly related to a single Bacillus anthracis Ames strain spore batch, identified as RMR-1029.... Dr. Bruce Ivins has unrestricted access to the suite [where the batch is stored] and has been the sole custodian of RMR-1029 since it was first grown in 1997.

That sounds good. But I don't know what "directly related" to RMR-1029 means. Note they don't say the anthrax in the mailings is actually RMR-1029, or identical to RMR-1029, or that it has the same mutations as RMR-1029, but instead that it's "directly related" to RMR-1029.

I assume they mean RMR-1029 is the "parent" and that the "children" spores have defects the parent may not, but they can prove that the defects could only have arisen in RMR-1029's "children," thus proving "paternity."

That may be so, but they need to explain their thinking to someone capable of parsing this out and deciding if it's true or shenanigans.

Oh, and for those of you bored by this, here's some Kappa Kappa Gamma chicks. And some more.

Baby, I would totally do some fucked-up bio-shit for you.

Baby, you finer than micro-milled anthrax spores.

Baby, you make me so hard, I feel like my dick's been coated in ferrosillicate bentonite.

Baby, are you into genetic-determinism/materialism? 'Cuz right now I've gots some genetic material that's determined to get into you.

Baby, why don't you make like a replicating helix and unzip?

The Trouble... with the FBI's theory here (at least as I vaguely understand it) is this:

They seem to be saying that Generation 1 anthrax (straight-up Ames) gave rise to Gen 2 (RMR-1029).

The mailing anthrax is Gen 3 (in their theory), as it has mutations that could only have arisen from Gen 2 (Ivins' anthrax), thus proving the paternity.

The trouble is that anyone with Generation 1 anthrax (a big number) could have seen that mutate into Gen 2 and thence to Gen 3 (the mailed anthrax).

So it's not clear to me how they prove not just a family relationship (which I assume is the case; it's all Ames, after all) but a direct parent-to-child with no-intervening-generations relationship.

How do they do that? How does one prove such a thing?

Maybe the RMR-1029 was genetically spliced or something, with new DNA that could never have arisen naturally. I don't know. They're really not explaining very well.

digg this
posted by Ace at 11:08 PM

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