The Letters

The anthrax-letter evidence provides the strongest argument against the official version of the attack, necessarily inviting alternative theories. Only four of a possible seven letters were found and tested. The alleged first letter (recovered third after the NBC and Daschle letters, on October 19) corresponds to the “index patient” Johanna Huden at the New York Post; the first cutaneous case. The Post letter was not remembered by staff, never opened or observed on the premises until it was found in the trash of the Post’s mailroom one month after it had been postmarked. Besides the assistant editor Huden, who had no idea how she became infected, two Post employees who helped search the trash developed infections several days after it’s discovery.
The first letter to be recovered, on October 14 and sent to Tom Brokaw at NBC, had only ‘trace’ amounts of anthrax left on the paper by the time it was tested. Determining the ‘strain’ of anthrax proved futile with too little for adequate sampling. The Brokaw staff assistant who opened it remembered spilling powder on a desk which she brushed into the trash. Her home was the most contaminated place associated with this letter.
The Daschle letter, opened October 15 in the senator’s office, was reportedly so dangerous that an expert called the powder “The Face of Satan”. Despite wide contamination said to have been caused by this letter, no infection cases or illness arose from the exposure. A class-action lawsuit brought by Washington D.C. postal workers revealed that this letter passed through the Brentwood Rd. mail center about 7am on (Fri.) October 12. A conflicting time schedule exists in the cases of the sickest postal workers, one determined to have been exposed the day before, on the 11th. If the Leahy letter was processed on the morning of the 11th, as would be necessary to resolve the conflict, another set of conflicts emerges.
The Leahy letter, fourth and last recovered on November 19, was unopened, improperly stamped according to the theory of postal-routing, delivered and then undelivered to the senator’s office (where no anthrax was found), sent to quarantine where it was recovered with a hole in it and “leaking like a sieve”. The powder quality and deadliness was said to exceed that of the “Face of Satan”.
No other anthrax-bearing letters were known or recovered: only suspected.
Details on the progression of the victims’ cases are reviewed here:
This is the official version:
“The anthrax attacks came in two waves. The first set of anthrax letters had a Trenton, New Jersey postmark dated September 18, 2001. Five letters are believed to have been mailed at this time to: ABC News, CBS News, NBC News and the New York Post, all located in New York City and to the National Enquirer at American Media, Inc..Boca Raton”….2 were recovered. 9 cases of cutaneous and 2 cases of inhalation anthrax (one death) resulted:
*The New York Post  ( *Sep18 ‘Trenton’ ); unopened
*NBC News (*Sep18 ‘Trenton’ and a Sep20 hoax); Sep 18 letter tested with a positive ‘trace’
AMI ( of 2 letters suspected, one is believed to contain anthrax)
[*recovered as evidence]
  Dr. John Ezzell mistakenly wetted this letter with bleach solution
*1 to Daschle (Oct 9 ‘Trenton’)–opened Oct 15 in the Senator’s office suite
*1 to Leahy (Oct 9 ‘Trenton’)–opened Dec 5 or 6, robotically at Fort Detrick
These two passed from Hamilton (‘Trenton’) to Brentwood Road NE, Washington D.C. : 3 cases of cutaneous and 10 inhalation (four deaths)
Graph provided by the CDC, matching letters with victim/cases
Sep 18 –”Investigators believe five letters containing anthrax spores were mailed on this day….Two recovered letters did not have a return address but were postmarked 2001-09-18 in Trenton, New Jersey”..  [processed in Hamilton]
These two letters were sent to NBC News (found Oct. 14), and the New York Post (found Oct. 19)
This is the unofficial version:
USPS forensics expert, Roy Geffen, announced on October 24 that the “best information” gathered by the Postal Service indicated that only three letters could have been circulated through the mail.
This is more official version:
Sep 19 – the recalled day that AMI editor Bob Stevens and others opened the “Jennifer Lopez” love letter

A bizarre love letter to Jennifer Lopez is received by The Sun, a tabloid newspaper with offices in Florida. The letter contains an empty can of chewing tobacco, a small detergent carton, a cigar tube with a cheap cigar, a cheap Star of David charm, and a folded handwritten letter to Jennifer Lopez with a pile of what looks like talcum powder in the middle of it. The writer describes his love for Lopez and asks her to marry him. The letter is handled both by Ernesto Blanco, who later contracts anthrax, and Bob Stevens, who later dies of anthrax. It is unknown what the return address was or what date it was postmarked, since its importance is only realized after it has been thrown away and people start getting sick. As a result, the FBI is never able to analyze it. (Contreras, Isikoff, and Fineman 10/8/2001; National Inquirer 10/31/2001) However, others exposed to the letter, including Bobby Bender, the person who actually opens it, do not get sick later. (National Inquirer 10/31/2001) Furthermore, the floor where the letter is opened and passed around will later turn out to be the least infected floor of the building, suggesting that the letter contained no real anthrax. But while the mail room in the basement is the most heavily infected part of the building, no other letter will be found that caused the infections there. (Control 10/2002


This is more unofficial:

A “secondletter to American Media Inc. is remembered by Stephanie Dailey, who opened it on or about Sept 25 and threw it away. A convincing case for anthrax contamination from this second letter is detailed by researcher Ed Lake,, however, Ms. Dailey would have had to use her heavily contaminated office for two full weeks before the building was closed. Dailey remained well throughout, however AMI lawyers told the authorities that she had tested positive on a ‘swab test’ (provenly unreliable) taken after Monday Oct. 8.


Sep 20 –NBC letter to Tom Brokaw is postmarked Sep20 from St. Petersburg, Florida…”The Brokaw letter matched two other biothreat letters….One was sent to Judith Miller ..and the other to Howard Troxler, a columnist for the St. Petersburg Times.” …”Troxler opened his powder-packed letter on Tuesday Oct. 9. Miller opened hers at her office on Friday the 12th, the same day the NBC infection [of aide Erin O’Connor] was diagnosed. [O’Connor’s condition was reported in the news Oct 9]
…Laboratory analysis indicated that the white substance enclosed in the three St. Petersburg biothreats was nontoxic. Erin O’Connor must have been infected from another source….a fresh search..turned up a second letter…” [the “Trenton” letter postmarked Sep 18, processed in Hamilton]
Howard Troxler, native of North Carolina
Sep 25 –Phillip Zack was accused of sending a letter to the FBI implicating Dr. Asaad; “It is unlikely Dr. Zack sent the accusatory letter, since it would have brought immediate attention upon himself and his suspicious activities a decade earlier. Also, it is equally difficult to believe Dr. Zack was responsible for the anthrax mailings.”
Oct 9 [Tue.]–two letters to Senators Daschle [opened in the Hart Building office Oct.15] and Leahy [opened robotically by experts Dec.5] are postmarked from Trenton. These bear the return address “Greendale School” –the letters were processed in Hamilton and routed to Brentwood Road; the Leahy letter was stamped in New Jersey at 5:27 pm, followed by the Daschle letter at 5:47 pm
Oct 12 [Fri]– …”the Daschle letter was fed manually into [machine] DBCS #17 at approximately 7:10 am…delivered to the Hart Senate Office Building at approximately noon”
Oct 14 – NBC letter to Tom Brokaw found.
Oct 15 – the Daschle letter was opened in the senator’s office; within hours the FBI delivered it to Fort Detrick:
 “USAMRIID scientist Dr. John Ezzell tested the letter and concluded that, in his many years of researching anthrax, he had never seen anthrax spores so potent… some of its contents aerosolized instantly.[Ezzell] took the extreme and painful measure of inhaling a bleach solution to kill any anthrax spores that he may have inhaled.” 
“In this excerpt from The Killer Strain: Anthrax and a Government Exposed (HarperCollins), Ezzell confronts what he called “The Face of Satan”–the most refined anthrax he had ever seen…”
Oct 19 – unopened New York Post letter was found
Oct 24 — “The inspector in charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s main forensic laboratory told [AP news]..that investigators were confident there have been only three anthraxtainted letters sent through the mail…’I still think we’re dealing with three letters’ said Roy W. Geffen, who runs the lab in suburban Virginia. ‘That’s the best information we have.’ ”
*   “CARSON CITY, Nev. — A second anthrax test on material found in a letter sent to an office in Reno, Nev., has turned out negative.  Nevada state officials said that’s despite a first test that was positive for the potentially deadly germ on pornographic material received at a Microsoft office. Authorities said a third test will be done. But an official said the substance is probably not anthrax. Meanwhile, health teams are contacting Microsoft employees to determine who might have handled the letter from Malaysia.”
>> Nevada, “On Saturday, Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn said a third anthrax test on a letter sent from Malaysia to a Microsoft office came back positive..” This letter was described as a “return to sender”, originating from Microsoft’s Reno office: “a letter received at a Microsoft office in Reno, Nev., tested positive for anthrax: the envelope, in which Microsoft had sent a check to a vendor in Malaysia, had been returned, with the check intact. It also contained pornographic pictures cut from a magazine, and dusted with anthrax spores….In Reno,..the state lab tested directly for anthrax spores and got a hit. ”

   …”In Washington yesterday, a suspicious, handwritten envelope delivered to the Treasury Department was isolated for testing…Michele Davis, a Treasury spokeswoman, said the letter was found by workers sorting through a three-week backlog of mail. The address was handwritten and the letter bore the same Trenton postmark as anthrax-tainted letters sent to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw and the New York Post. ”

Nov. 11, 2001, By Carlos Hamann
Agence France-Presse …”The FBI statement said the letters sent to NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw and to the New York Post were “identical copies.”
Nov 16 – “The Leahy letter would be found on November 16 in the impounded mail. It also contained anthrax spores and an identical note. It is believed the Leahy letter was delayed and misdirected due to an initial misreading of the letter’s zip code.”

Nov 23 — …”The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta confirmed on Thursday that a letter sent from [[Zurich]] Switzerland to Chile was tainted with anthrax. The letter had been sent to Dr. Antonio Banfi, a pediatrician at a children’s hospital in Santiago.” ….”The letter bore a Swiss postmark but a Florida return address, and was received by Dr. Antonio Banfi, who has specialized in infectious diseases.”

Interestingly, this link provides a description of Israeli art students who were ‘caught’ and profiled by the DEA  carrying passports issued in Buenos Aires,Argentina and Santiago, Chile

“Anthrax in Chilean letter and US letters doesn’t match
The strain of anthrax found in samples from a letter sent to Chile is not the same strain that has been identified in contaminated mail in the United States, the CDC announces. The Chile strain is indistinguishable from naturally occurring strains identified throughout the world, says Tom Skinner, a CDC spokesman. The letter was sent to Dr. Antonio Banfi at the Calvo Mackenna Children’s Hospital in Santiago in mid-November. The CDC plans to continue working with the Ministry of Health in Chile to try to determine if this contamination occurred in a laboratory or elsewhere.”


Dec.11, 2001  [Wall Street Journal]  “The Envelopes and Letters”

“The best clues are hard to trace: the anthrax powder itself, four handwritten envelopes and four letters, all photocopies of originals authorities don’t have. The letters to Sen. Tom Daschle, NBC anchor Tom Brokaw and the New York Post have already been examined, and they didn’t contain the sender’s fingerprints or DNA.

One clue was contained in the missive to the New York Post: The letter, which read in part, “Death to America,” wasn’t printed on a paper size normally found in the U.S., says an FBI official familiar with the matter. An FBI spokesman declined to elaborate. Erich Speckin, who runs a private forensic laboratory in Okemos, Mich., says the height-to-width ratio was approximately 1.41 to 1, according to a photo released by the FBI. He says that ratio is common for business letters in Europe and elsewhere but rare in the U.S. That could suggest that the mailer is from another country or has traveled outside the U.S.

Law-enforcement officials say they have gleaned few other useful clues from the first three letters. They were able to discover the brand of tape the mailer used to close the envelope, but it was a common one used by millions of people. They won’t reveal the brand. The ink used to address the envelopes was also common. And the envelopes themselves were pre-stamped versions issued by the Postal Service in January of this year, but they are sold at post-office counters and vending machines around the country. Some are also bought in bulk by companies. There is no way to tell where the perpetrator obtained those used to deliver anthrax.

Officials are also scrutinizing the photocopied letters. Analyzing the toner and the “feeder marks from the grippers that pull in the paper” can narrow down the type of copier used, says Gideon Epstein. He worked as a document examiner for many years with the Army crime lab and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and founded the Immigration and Naturalization Service’s forensic document laboratory. He says that document experts will also look for “what we call trash marks — scratches on glass, defects in the drum. These are very individual, so they may tie copies to a particular machine.” FBI officials acknowledge examining the documents for these clues, but won’t reveal what they’ve found….

…disagreements have raged within the FBI. Last month the Bureau announced that the anthrax could have been produced with equipment costing as little as $2,500. But a senior law-enforcement official working the case says bluntly, “I don’t believe that, and I told them I didn’t believe it.” It is very difficult to ascertain how the anthrax powder was made. For example, the powder is extremely pure, but the method used to wash it is almost impossible to determine, says a scientist familiar with the investigation. The tiny amount of material in the first three letters makes the task even tougher.

That’s where the letter to Sen. Patrick Leahy could come in handy. Discovered amid more than 600 bags of quarantined mail, the letter was carefully opened last week to preserve as much anthrax as possible. Monday, after having been decontaminated, it was sent to the FBI lab. The relatively large amount of anthrax in the Leahy letter offers the best chance to resolve some of these disputes. Van Harp, the special agent in charge of the Washington, D.C., field office and the person leading the Bureau’s anthrax investigation, publicly announced that the FBI has enlisted “some of the best minds available” to advise it on what tests to run.”



The “Face of Satan”  –


                                                                                    LEAHY LETTER

December 5 –  Robot to open Leahy letter

“The Leahy letter had particles that were smaller and more uniform in size compared to the Daschle letter. This made the anthrax spores in the Leahy letter even deadlier: Smaller spores of a uniform size have a better chance of entering the respiratory system and causing death.  It was reported the quality of the anthrax spores found in the Leahy letter surpassed previously known state-sponsored bio-weapons programs. According to Newsweek, “The Leahy anthrax” was coated with a chemical compound unknown to experts who have worked in the field for years; the coating matches no known anthrax samples ever recovered from biological-weapons producers anywhere in the world, including Iraq and the former Soviet Union.” The anthrax in the Leahy letter has proven to be a superior product. Bio-defense experts assisting the FBI have so far been unable to duplicate the anthrax material through any reverse engineering processes. Investigators are left with the uncertain choice of deciding if this was the work of a lone brilliant scientist-or a state-sponsored bio-weapons program.”


“Scientists finally opened it on Dec. 6 at the Fort Detrick Army Base in Maryland. Experts said the envelope, like the Daschle letter, contained enough anthrax to kill tens of thousands….It had been mistakenly routed to the State Department, but was it delivered there? Why is there a small hole in the envelope, and how did it get there? Investigators assumed it never reached the State Department. They also assumed it never got to Leahy’s suite, which tested negative for spores…[CDC investigator] Hayslett tells a Leahy aide what he has heard: that the senator’s offices tested clean for anthrax, which suggests that the letter never got there.  That’s actually not true, the aide says. The letter did get here. It was just never opened here. That’s why the offices tested clean.

…Hayslett learns that mail usually spends an hour at the Dirksen post office. This is good news: It helps to further define the letter’s path and clarify how long the envelope may have spent in each location. As he leaves another office, he runs into an FBI agent. He asks if the FBI knows whether the Leahy letter made it to the State Department.

It’s an urgent issue because a State Department postal worker was infected (and recovered with treatment), and experts have found pockets of anthrax spores at State. They aren’t sure how the anthrax got there.  The Leahy letter would seem a possible source, but for one thing: It’s missing a date and time of day stamp that usually goes on the envelope when it goes through to State….Hayslett has asked the FBI to provide a document tracing the path of the Leahy letter, to no avail. He can’t understand why the FBI hasn’t provided it….The FBI says it does not have a list.

“We believe (the Leahy letter) never got to Capitol Hill,” spokesman [for the FBI] Chris Murray says. “We believe the letter was stopped when they quarantined all the mail” at a congressional mail processing site on P Street. …Hayslett interviews a couple of Capitol Hill police officers who were at P Street when the Daschle and Leahy letters passed through. They tell him that mail was X-rayed in trays (not in huge metal containers, as Hayslett thought). That means the letter might have been handled more than Hayslett initially believed, which in turn means more people might have been exposed. It also might mean that this is where the pinhole came from….”Were the doors open?” he asks. Yes, he’s told.  He is relieved, but guarded: “It gives us some comfort knowing there was decent air flow, but in the end, we still don’t know how quickly the spores were leaking out that day.” ”

“An anthrax-laden letter sent to Sen. Patrick Leahy..went through the [Hamilton, New Jersey] sorter at 5:27 pm on October 9, and a similar letter sent to ..Tom Daschle..was processed at 5:47 pm.”

“Leahy’s office is in a different building [than Daschle’s], but it wasn’t clear where the letter was when mail deliveries to Congress ceased Oct. 15….Capitol Police spokesman, Lt. Dan Nichols, said it was possible the Leahy letter was in one of those buildings before all undelivered mail to lawmakers was seized and taken away”

…”a probable existence of a fifth [letter], sent to the State Department, could revitalize a case that has seemed in danger of stalling….Targeting Leahy seems to give more credence to the theory that the anthrax culprit is a domestic terrorist with personal grudges”,9171,1001329,00.html

..”Postal Inspector Dan Mihalko said the Leahy letter never got to the senator’s office because it was quarantined along with all the other Senate mail after the discovery of the Daschle letter. Mihalko said there is an ‘extremely high probability’ that the Leahy letter was incorrectly routed on Oct. 12 to a State Department mail facility in Sterling, Va., where a worker came down with inhalation anthrax. If the spores in the Leahy letter were the cause of the Sterling mail worker’s inhalation anthrax, one of the mysteries that has confounded investigators would be cleared up. Three sorting machines in Sterling have tested positive for anthrax spores, and traces of the bacteria have turned up in diplomatic mail pouches at U.S. embassies abroad. Investigators had presumed that another letter containing anthrax spores was buried in the now-quarantined mail at the State Department facility. But Milhalko said Tuesday that the coding printed on the Leahy letter by the Postal Service has provided a significant clue. He said an optical character reader in Washington’s Brentwood postal facility misread a digit in the handwritten zip code on the Leahy letter. As a result, the bar code and numerical code printed on the letter were wrong. “The optical character reader looked at 20510 and misread the ‘1’ as a ‘2’ ,” said Mihalko. The number printed on the letter by the postal machine was 20520: the State Department facility’s ZIP code. The mistake would have been discovered in Sterling, said Mihalko, and the Leahy letter would have been routed to a congressional mail facility or back to the government mail section of the Brentwood facility. The 59-year-old Sterling mail handler said he was at work Oct. 12 but does not recall seeing the letter. He was hospitalized with inhalation anthrax Oct. 25. He has recovered and was released from a hospital in Winchester on Nov. 9.
   ..The offices of Sens. Edward Kennedy…and Christopher Dodd, were closed early after trace amounts of the bacteria were detected in their mailrooms. Officials said the samples were so minute they did not pose a health risk” http://www.sptimes/com/News/112101/Worldandnation/Letter_to_senator_had.shtml
thirdring>>Kennedy and Dodd’s mailrooms were in the Russell Bldg..
“Experts hope the anthrax in the Leahy letter will be the most pristine of any recovered because fewer people have handled the envelope and its contents….Tony Esposito, a US postal inspector in New Jersey, said the two letters passed through the same sorting machine in the [Hamilton] Trenton processing center within 20 minutes of each other. The machine sorts 33,000 pieces of mail per hour, Esposito said. Federal officials say tens of thousands of letters may have picked up traces of anthrax from the sorting machine. The [CDC] is considering releasing the addresses and ZIP codes on all letters that went through the machine within 60 minutes of the two letters, according to a spokesman for Rep. Christopher Smith, R-New Jersey. During a 20-minute phone conversation Thursday afternoon with Dr. Jeffrey Koplan, director of the CDC, the Congressman urged him to release the information”
thirdring>> Rep. Smith’s office building in Hamilton, N.J. shared space with an accounting office where a worker contracted cutaneous anthrax
[Nov. 18] “Investigators at Fort Detrick..said they will proceed carefully to preserve evidence…Evidence in similar letters addressed to..Daschle, NBC..anchor Brokaw and the New York Post was destroyed when the letters were opened and anthrax spoes escaped into the air…
   Field tests on the barrel that held the letter to Leahy came up positive…A senior congressional aide said Friday [when the letter was found, that] the letter’s handwriting caught investigators’ attention, and it was sent through sensor machines which can detect the presence of biological agents. The letter “sent the meters off the charts” the aide said.
…The FBI said the results of the first round of testing on the Leahy letter came back ‘presumptive positive’ for anthrax…staffers said they felt fine. The [CDC] and an attending physician said Leahy’s staff needed no further testing. Leahy’s office is in the Russell Senate Office Building, which was closed after the Daschle letter was found. The building was reopened when spot checks..turned up negative. The Russell and Dirksen Senate Office Buildings would be closed Saturday afternoon for further testing prompted by the discovery of the Leahy letter, Capitol Police said.”
” ‘We feel very confident that there will be no incident of disease from this exposure’ said Dr. Greg Martin, U.S.Navy’s infectious disease physician.
…The letters being held [in quarantine] at the facility in Virginia had not been decontaminated on FBI orders, who wanted to keep the letters in their original state so they could be used as evidence in a court case.”
[Dec. 7] “In an ultrasecure proceedure straight out of  ‘The Andromeda Strain’, investigators have carefully opened the Leahy letter. The envelope was kept inside a sealed plastic container with built-in gloves. On Wednesday at..Fort Detrick..a small opening was cut in the envelope, and a machine sucked out the suspicious powder. An agent then carefully snipped open an end with scissors and pulled out the one-page letter with tweezers. The letter, which appears to be a photocopied duplicate of the Daschle letter, must be decontaminated and irradiated before it can be tested for fingerprints, DNA and fibers.”
May 7, 2002
“The anthrax-laced letters sent through the mail last fall grew deadlier in potency with each succeeding letter, with the deadliest spores in the final letter sent to Sen. Patrick Leahy, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
   According to the newspaper, surprised and worried federal investigators said the finding only deepened the mystery about who might be responsible …More than six months after the anthrax letters frightened the nation, investigators are no closer to identifying the source, the Times said.
   Previously, investigators believed the anthrax letters sent to [Daschle and Leahy] were of equal potency…But subsequent analysis showed that the Leahy letter contained finer, deadlier spores.”

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