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COMMITTEE ON THE REVIEW OF THE SCIENTIFIC APPROACHES USED DURING THE FBI'S INVESTIGATION OF THE 2001 Bacillus anthracis MAILINGS

 Anthrax Report Cover - Small

The CSTL/BLS committee tasked to examine the scientific approaches used and conclusions reached by the Federal Bureau of Investigation during its investigation of the 2001 Bacillus anthracis mailings has determined that it is not possible to reach a definitive conclusion about the origins of the anthrax in letters mailed to New York City and Washington, D.C., based solely on the available scientific evidence.  The committee was asked to consider facts and data surrounding the scientific investigation based on documents and oral presentations provided by the FBI and others.  Review of the Scientific Approaches Used During the FBI’s Investigation of the 2001 Anthrax Mailings evaluates 1) the organization of the FBI’s scientific effort; 2) environmental sampling and analysis; 3) physical and chemical analyses of the letter materials; 4) microbiological and genetic analyses of the letter materials; 5) development and analysis of the FBI’s repository of B. anthracis Ames strain samples; and 6) comparison of the letter materials with the samples in the FBI repository.

Judging the conduct of the law enforcement inquiry was beyond the scope of this study, and the committee was neither asked for nor offers findings on the possible guilt or innocence of individuals connected with the 2001 B. anthracis mailings. 


Project Scope                                                                                                                                           

In response to a formal request from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Academies conducted an independent review of the scientific approaches used during the investigation of the 2001 Bacillus anthracis (B. anthracis) mailings. An ad hoc committee with relevant expertise evaluated the scientific foundation for the specific techniques used by the FBI to determine whether these techniques met appropriate standards for scientific reliability and for use in forensic validation and whether the FBI reached appropriate scientific conclusions from its use of these techniques. In instances where novel scientific methods were developed for purposes of the FBI investigation itself, the committee paid particular attention to whether these methods were appropriately validated. The committee reviewed and assessed scientific evidence (studies, results, analyses, reports) considered in connection with the 2001 Bacillus anthracis mailings. In assessing this body of information, the committee limited its inquiry to the scientific approaches, methodologies, and analytical techniques used during the investigation of the 2001 B. anthracis mailings. The committee did not, however, undertake an assessment of the probative value of the scientific evidence in any specific component of the investigation, prosecution, or civil litigation and offers no view on the guilt or innocence of any person(s) in connection with the 2001 B. anthracis mailings, or any other B. anthracis incidents. 

                                                                                                                                     Additional Information

Meetings & Events

January 14, 2011
Washington DC

Meeting closed in its entirety.

NOTE: The data-gathering session of the meeting to be held on January 14, 2011 from 11:00 to 3:00 PM will not be open to the public under Subsection 15(b)(3) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, 5 U.S.C. App., as amended by the Federal Advisory Committee Act Amendments of 1997, PL 105-153, December 17, 1997.  

June 2, 2010
Washington, DC

Meeting closed in its entirety

April 22-23, 2010
Washington, DC

NOTE: The data-gathering sessions of the meeting held on April 22, 2010 from 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM and on April 23, 2010 from 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM were not open to the public under Subsection 15(b)(3) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, 5 U.S.C. App., as amended by the Federal Advisory Committee Act Amendments of 1997, PL 105-153, December 17, 1997, 111 STAT. 2689. The Academy has determined that to open these sessions to the public would disclose information described in 5 U.S.C. 552(b).

Agenda

February 1-2, 2010
Irvine, CA

Meeting closed in its entirety

December 10-11, 2009
Washington, DC

Meeting closed in its entirety

September 24-25, 2009
Washington, DC

NOTE: The data-gathering sessions of the meeting held on September 24, 2009 from 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM and on September 25, 2009 from 11:00 AM - 2:00 PM were not open to the public under Subsection 15(b)(3) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, 5 U.S.C. App., as amended by the Federal Advisory Committee Act Amendments of 1997, PL 105-153, December 17, 1997, 111 STAT. 2689. The Academy has determined that to open these sessions to the public would disclose information described in 5 U.S.C. 552(b).

Agenda 

July 30-31, 2009
Washington, DC

Agenda

Public Sessions Audio:

Day 1
Day 2

Reports

The Committee on the Review of the Scientific Approaches Used During the FBI's Investigation of the 2001 Bacillus anthracis Mailings released its report, Review of the Scientific Approaches Used During the FBI's Investigation of the 2001 Anthrax Mailings, at a public briefing on February 15, 2011.

Press Release

Opening Statement - Alice P. Gast

Webcast of Release Briefiing

members

Alice P. Gast (Chair), President, Lehigh University

David A. Relman (Vice Chair), Professor of Medicine and Microbiology and Immunology, Stanford School of Medicine, Stanford University

Arturo Casadevall, Chair, Department of Microbiology and Immunology; Leo and Julia Forchheimer Professor of Microbiology and Immunology; Professor, Department of Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Nancy Connell, Professor of Medicine, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey

Thomas Inglesby, Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Director of the Center for Biosecurity, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center; Associate Professor of Medicine and Public Health, University of Pittsburgh Schools of Medicine and Public Health

Murray Johnston, Professor of Chemistry, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Delaware

Karen Kafadar, James H. Rudy Professor of Statistics and Physics, Indiana University

Richard Lenski, Hannah Distinguished Professor of Microbial Ecology, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Michigan State University

Richard Losick, Harvard College Professor; Maria Moors Cabot Professor of Biology; Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor in the Faculty of Arts & Sciences, Harvard University

Alice Mignerey, Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Maryland

David Popham, Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Virginia Tech

Jed Rakoff, Judge, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York

Robert Shaler, Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department; Director, Forensic Science Program, Pennsylvania State University

Elizabeth A. Thompson, Professor, Department of Statistics, University of Washington

Kasthuri Venkateswaran, Senior Research Scientist, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

David Walt, Robinson Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Biomedical Engineering; Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor, Tufts University

Sponsors

The project is sponsored by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

 

Press Release
Webcast of Release Briefing

 

Press Release
Opening Statement
Webcast of Release Briefing
 

 

Press Release
Opening Statement
Webcast of Release Briefing

  Project Information  

PROJECT SCOPE
MEETINGS AND EVENTS
REPORTS
MEMBERS
SPONSORS

PROJECT STAFF

Anne-Marie Mazza, Ph.D.

Director, Committee on Science, Technology, and Law
Phone: 202-334-2469
E-mail:
amazza@nas.edu

Steven Kendall, Ph.D.
Program Officer, Committee on Science, Technology, and Law
Phone: 202-334-1713
E-mail:
skendall@nas.edu