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Bioterrorism: Investigation & Prosecution - Anthrax 2001 and Beyond. Randall S. Murch, Ph.D . Center for Technology, Security and Policy Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University (Virginia Tech) National Capital Region, Alexandria, VA, USA &
Randall S. Murch, Ph.D.
Center for Technology, Security and Policy
Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University (Virginia Tech)
National Capital Region, Alexandria, VA, USA
Department of War Studies, King’s College London, UK
Similar Questions for Intelligence and Policy as Well?
Confirmation that “a little can go a long way (make a big mess)…”
Documents Likely Forthcoming, Currently Under Review by FBI and DOJ
Terrorism by tackling
To reduce the
Terrorists and those
That sponsor them
To reduce the
The public and Nation
For the consequences
Forensic Science is one “tool in the kit”
Who, What, When,
Where, Why, How?
Consistent With Having Originated From
Could Not Have Come From
Power of and Confidence in Analysis, Interpretation, Meaning
Did Absolutely Come From
Integrate with Other Evidence & Intelligence
Relevant Exploitation of Sample
Enables Comparison of
K and Q Samples
Utility Across Known, Encountered Sample Types
Defined & Acceptable Error Rate
Speed & Responsiveness
Validity Can Be Independently Established
Results Probative, Interpretable, Explainable, DefensibleGoals for Forensic Methods
Affects Acceptance, Admissibility, Confidence, Value, Weight
Foundation has been laid down through 20 years of moving new science and technology into the U.S. Courts
Criminal justice community is well sensitized and has developed “tests” (i.e., Daubert v. Merrill Dow Pharmaceuticals, US Supreme Court Decision, 509 U.S. 579) to examine validity of new science and technology for admissibility
Evidence that is testable
Confidence that evidence is
based, on legitimate scientific foundations, has been peer-reviewed, is relevant, is applied
by trained and qualified
personnel in properly equipped, run
and managed laboratory systemsWhy are Validation & Quality So Important in Forensics?
Clash of Cultures: Research Science v.
Applications Science v. Legal v. Courts:
Challenge in an Adversarial Environment
Lawyers (not Scientists) in Charge
“Rules of Engagement” are Different
Lawyers Influence or Make Key Decisions
Deciders of Fact are Non-Scientists
Should policy makers and implementers
set expectations for the science that
informs and supports policy and actions?
Can policy makers become as
knowledgeable in the science and
practice as lawyers and judges
have had to become?
No such framework or set of expectations exists for
scientific evidence to inform or support policy decisions.
Should there be? Each nation? Alliances? International?
Application of Forensic Science and Related Sciences to Problems Involving Biological Threat Agents, Their By Products and Associated Physical Evidence
Collect, Preserve & Transport, Triage, Analyze Interpret, Integrate, Decide
What is It? Is it Probative/Relevant?Can It Be Linked to A Source? How Robustly & Precisely Can It Be Linked? What is the Meaning & Weight of the Conclusion?
Relevance to Event?
Power of Methods to Characterize - Discriminate?
Sample from A Questioned Source (Q)
Known Source (K)
Side by Side Comparison
Could Not Have Originated From
Consistent With Having Originated From (Weak Strong)
Absolutely Did Originate From
Duck Hepatitis virus
Enzootic Bovine Leukemia
Infect Bovine Rhinotracheitis
Ovine Pulmonary Adenovirus
Porcine resp & rep syndr
Rabbit Hemorrhagic Dis
Foot & Mouth
Rift Valley Fever
African Horse Sickness
Sheep and Goat Pox
C perfringens toxin
Swine Vesicular Disease
Contagious Caprine Pleuro.
S A Hemorrhagic Fevers
Lumpy Skin Disease
Malignant Catarrhal Fever
Peste des petits
Avian Infectious Bronchitis
Contagious Equine Metritis
Equine Infect Anemia
Infectious Bursal Disease
Maedi / Visna
Nairobi Sheep Disease
Alastrim (Variola minor)
- Plant pathogens expand list substantially
Derived from DoD, NIAID, OCIE and others
Bacteria/Virus ID Classic bacteriology/virology
Dead vs live spores
Electron Microscopy (EM)
Cations and anions
EDX AnalysisOne View of “The Big Picture”
After B. Budowle, FBI Laboratory and J. Burans, NBACC
Microscopy: Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) without and with
Energy Dispersive X-ray (EDX) Microanalysis, Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM)
Spectroscopy: Raman Spectroscopy, Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy
Spectrometry: Liquid Chromatography – Mass Spectrometry (LC/MS), Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) Spectrometry, Bio-Aerosol Mass Spectroscopy (BAMS), Matrix-Assisted Laser-Desorption Ionization Mass Spectrometry (MALDI-MS), Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry (IRMS), Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectroscopy (TOF-SIMS), Nano-Secondary Ion Mass Spectroscopy (nano-SIMS), Accelerator Mass Spectroscopy (AMS)
Nuclear microscopy: Particle-Induced X-ray Emission (PIXE) – Scanning Transmission ion microscopy (STIM)
weaponization processes and their variants
BW agents are generally mixtures that derive
from a matrix of possible processing steps
• Carbon sources
• Nitrogen source
• Complex media
• Cell culture
• Animal hosts
• Air dry
• Spray dry
• Heat shock
• Ball mill
• Jet mill
Of course, the chosen method may be very crude…
or may not involve any “processing” at all
trace element signatures to “geolocate” materials
used to manufacture an agent
& Public Health
Analytical Chemistry &
Can “Passive” and “Active” Measures be Anticipated? Developed?
Law & Policy
At present, forensic science and microbial forensics
may well have limited contributions for various reasons, unless…..
Given What Transpired in Totality With and During Anthrax 2001, What Would Transpire Should An Event of International Importance Occur? How Should We Best Build, Test and Configure and Manage A System of Capabilities to Address Possible Risks, Events, Actors, Processes and Outcomes?