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A Crime Unlike Any Other: What the Facts Say About Dr. Bruce Edwards Ivins and The Anthrax Attacks of 2001 Paperback – November 10, 2012
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That being said, the author has done a superb job of describing the event itself, the hysteria, the misdirections both by some folk with fixations on the wrong suspects and... and the various political forces that had their own agenda. Add in his description of the Big Finding that helped lead the investigators into the right direction, namely that the Conventional Wisdom about the Ames strain of anthrax wasn't quite correct...
Hopefully "we've" (the larger "we") have learned a couple of lessons here.
The author, Ed Lake, had gathered a considerable amount of data on the attacks and has provided some small details which are missed or overlooked by other authors, therefore I would recommend purchasing this book if you are seriously studying these attacks. I would not pay much heed to the author's conclusions since he is not qualified to give empirical analysis of the gathered data and put all the pieces together...he is, after all, just an amateur Internet 'sleuth' whom was previously known for trawling the internet for nude pictures of female celebrities and exposing those which were fake!
The author conveys some very shaky and amateurish theories regarding when the letters were written/conceived.
Firstly, the author states that Dr Bruce Ivins prepared and wrote the letter some time before 9/11, ludicrously suggesting that a child was employed to write the actual letters and envelopes used in the attack. Mr Lake states that Dr Ivins had the incredible foresight to believe that a major terrorist incident (like a 'day-defining' one) was to occur (hence the sentence in the media letter 'This is next')....Mr Lake believed that Ivins was directly influenced by the failed Millennium bomb plot. It should be mentioned that this bomb plot was a lamentable failure....the LAX airport plot failed because a terrorist attempted to drive his rental car, with a cache of explosives in the boot, through the US border from Canada! No bomb was exploded, nor were there any casualties in any of the related actions of this plot.
Ed Lake's hypothesis depended on Dr Bruce Ivins' certainty that there would be a day defining, major terrorist attack on US soil by Islamists, therefore explaining the tie in with the Anthrax letter `ALLAH IS 6REAT' reference...and would explain why he believes the date of the letter was added later, on or very shortly after 9/11 occurred.
The problem with this hypothesis is that the Dr would have had no idea when such an attack would take place....it could have been a decade from 2000. This is indicated due to the abject failure of the millennium bomb plot, it would not have looked certain that an Islamist group could pull off such as 'day-defining' attack ever, or indeed an attack of any significance which would justify the post 9-11 referential modicum `THIS IS NEXT'.
This theory is also inconsistent with Dr Bruce Ivins' need to act quickly in the summer of 2001 due to the problems relating to his Anthrax research and his dwindling vaccine stock.....if this was his central driver to launch the attack, then he could not wait for a successful Islamist attack to proceed (at least as large in effect as the Oklahoma bombing)....but how was it that he had a pre-prepared coded letter, supposedly written by a child, and referring to a major Islamist attack (it would have had to been very major to justify 'This is Next')?
If Dr Ivins had the letters written by a child, as he describes in the book, then he would have had to have seer-like knowledge of an impending Islamist attack, which as mentioned, could have taken many, many years to come into fruition, if at all.
The author jumped to another theory relating to Dr Ivin's purchase of ammonium nitrate in January 2000 and that he intended to build a car bomb...something which would not go-off (because he did not want to murder anyone), but would have an envelope filled with anthrax powder to threaten the American public and spur a boost in the demand for protection from biological threats.
The problem with this theory is that the car bomb he describes, even if it did go off, would not be a 'day defining' act.....one which would have had to make sense with THIS IS NEXT' in the coded letter. He would have had to perpetrate a 'Oklahoma style bombing', killing dozens, indeed hundreds of people to accomplish this....but this would not square with the theory that Dr Ivins did not intend to cause mass destruction/death. Remember that Mr Lake asserts that Dr Ivins wrote the coded message as a means of verification of his status as a hero and saviour of the nation, when the time came in the future when he thwarted a biological attack......a dim-witted and illogical theory.
None of Mr Ed Lake's theories add-up due to these glaring incongruences in his arguments.
With regards to the Ed Lake's interpretation of the coded message in the letters and his understanding of the book Gödel, Escher and Bach (GEB), he is incorrect with his assumptions. I doubt Mr Lake truly considered the matter relating to GEB and the coded Anthrax letters, for virtually all of his conclusions are merely copied from the official Amerithrax FBI report on the attacks.
If Mr Lake had studied the book in question, he would have learned that GEB is not about `codes' or messages per-se, it is about the question of how a Self (something which can refer to itself, like a human being) can arise from things which do not have a Self (i.e. nucleotides (molecules)), and the author of GEB makes a connection (he calls isomorphism) between Gödel's incompleteness theorem and the workings of DNA and the Genetic Code. This connection is explained by describing how a self-referential `sentence' of meaningless symbols within a sufficiently powerful formal system like Typographical Number Theory (TNT) can be derived using rules which `shunt' these meaningless symbols around, akin to how symbols are shunted in Algebra. The author then shows a connection to this with the Genetic Code and its seemingly similar operation of shunting DNA nucleotides to form the proteins that lead to the development of phenotypes (i.e. like you or me).
Chapter six of the GEB book, which is referred to by Mr Lake in his book and website, is not primarily concerned with codes, it asks whether "meaning can be said to be inherent within a message (of any kind), or whether meaning is always manufactured by interaction of a mind or a mechanism with a message"....for example, does DNA require a chemical context for it to be `understood' or for a phenotype to be realised, or does it inherently possess a context-restoring power it would lead to a phenotype regardless of circumstance.
I do agree with the theory that the Cantor `diagonal-method' related hidden code in page 404 of GEB, and Typogenetics in Chapter 16 of GEB are related to the hidden message within the coded Anthrax letters. I also believe that Dr Bruce Ivins was involved with the Anthrax attacks, for he had discarded the GEB book, but what I do not believe is that Dr Ivins acted alone.
I do not believe that the FBI had successfully decoded the message hidden within the Anthrax letters....in both media and senator letters, for I believe there is code in both. For example, a suitably complex coded message would convert letters into numbers (Gödel numbering, for example, which is clearly detailed in GEB but completely omitted from the FBI analysis), and have a mathematical operation undertaken on these numbers to change them, and then transfer the numbers resulting from the mathematical operation back to letters again, revealing the hidden message. This is basically the principle of a substitution cipher....a mathematical rule or function is used to convert the letter into another letter (to encode it) and then convert it back (to decode it).
There is clearly a character within both the media and senator letters which resembles a numeral `6' (ALLAH IS 6REAT)...this is clearly seen in the senator letter, where the actual size of the character `6' is noticeably smaller than the letters `REAT'...its clearly the numeral `6' and not the letter `G'. The `G' in "GREAT" in the media letter is also shaped more like the numeral `6' than the letter `G', in my opinion. This is obviously a clue as to how to approach decoding this message, possibly indicating one of the Gödel numbers to be used.....
G is part of the four letter DNA nucleotide `alphabet `, representing Guanine, hence it does fit in with a `DNA' related code, but there are ambiguities with highlighting in the letter and it is difficult to determine with absolute precision which letters are highlighted. For example, the controversial `T' in `NEXT' is a problem, but Mr Lake doggedly asserts that it is highlighted because the he needs it to be highlighted for his interpretation of the code to fit in with the FBI theory (PAT and FNY). Mr Lake, rather than being objective about the matter, merely and sheepishly follows the FBI's interpretation. Indeed, even the author of GEB, Douglas Hofstadter, himself, stated that he did not believe that most people would see that the `T' in `NEXT' to be highlighted.
I believe that the highly distinctive `R' symbols in the Media letters were purposely designed for the code, although I do not want to express an opinion here as to what they represent, except to say that a symbol can be used to represent something else other than a letter (this is detailed in GEB, also). The fact that the `R' symbols are quite different in the senator envelopes (they look more like normal `R's, and indeed are very similar to the R's in the senator Amerithrax letters constructed of a P with an added `leg') causes Dr Lake's hypothesis that a child was used to write the letter and envelopes look ridiculous....why prepare a letter to be posted, but not the envelope as well AT THE SAME TIME!? His ridiculous `evolutionary' handwriting theory is only worth a chuckle or two, but not serious analysis.
It was said that Dr Ivins rushed out the Anthrax attack material in the media letters to get them posted for the 18th....why did he have to rush? 9/11 was only days old.....there is no evidence to suggest that he had to do it within 7 days of 9/11, he could have achieved the same outcomes (benefits like increased funding for his research or prestige with former colleagues like Mara Linscott) if he had undertaken the attacks two, or even three weeks later, as was done with the second wave of much more potent anthrax powder that was sent on the 9th October. He would have known that the first powder was less lethal, and therefore less likely to cause the panic he had allegedly hoped for, and there were no immediate time constraints, therefore why did he not send the much more refined anthrax powder for both attacks? I believe there is a reason for the difference between the powders and they relate to the letters themselves, in regards to the coded message....it is interesting that the size of lettering in the media letters and envelopes are much greater than that of the senator letters and envelopes, whilst there is a correlation with the granular size of powders used in the letters (the Senator powder being much finer that it `floated'). Interestingly, the Senator letter used punctuation, whilst the media letter does not.....the periods may have a mathematical representation, perhaps a decimal point? This is a further detail which punches a hole in Mr Lake's theory of a child writing the letter....if the child copied the letters from Dr Ivin's original, then why was punctuation not used in the first letter, but used in the second letter(!?), the child would surely just copy what was written by Dr Ivins, therefore it does not make sense to say that the punctuation was the result of `further educational progress'.....laughable theory!!
The central question in my mind is this: How could Dr Ivins, alone, concoct the intricate code (even if it were the FBI version) within seven days and prepare the Anthrax letters also, whilst taking maximum precautions with regards to forensic traces, witnesses etc.? He could have prepared a letter beforehand and waited for an Islamist attack, but the facts indicate that he was concerned with the direction of Anthrax research in the US and his vaccine stock was dwindling (jeopardizing his ability to conduct research), therefore he could not wait.....but how did he know such a large attack would occur in September 2001, unless he had prior knowledge? Prior Islamist attacks within the USA were all dismal failures, the last major one was the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing, which only resulted in 6 deaths and was dwarfed by the Oklahoma bombing of two years later, supposedly committed by US domestic terrorists and not Islamic extremists.
There is no way Dr Ivins could have done all this on his own, and those hackneyed theories of Mr Lake further reinforce, in my mind, that the author of the Anthrax attack letters had prior knowledge of the 9/11 attacks and was prepared in advance.....I believe Dr Ivins was commanded to do the anthrax attacks by an unknown power.
Finally, I believe the FBI were very wrong in closing this case......the central matter of the Amerithrax case is the meaning of the code in the message, for it is clearly of the utmost importance that this message be understood as it should identify who was truly responsible for committing this bio-attack, and I believe, who truly committed the 9/11 attacks, also. These attacks are of the utmost seriousness.....they involve biological warfare which is the most dangerous weapon of mass destruction, an attack using a life form more powerful than Mankind itself.