The New York Times again did no one any favors earlier this week in pushing another story on the regular campaign, by a few from the fringe, to revise the anthrax case. It was high button publicity for the anthrax Ivins-denial-and-conspiracy crew, keeping up the effort to clear the man through the power of their word processors. .
In this instance our attention is to be drawn to a new report in the Journal of Bioterrorism & Biodefense.
As far as peer-reviewed science publication goes it's pretty slim pickings. Readers can view the current issue as an example and decide for themselves.
This is not Science, Nature, the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of Bacteriology or even Infection & Immunity.
It is not any American Society for Microbiology publication.
And at least two of the paper in question's three authors are lifers in the mythos of anthrax denial.
One, Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, saw her career go down in flames when she went public, early in the anthrax investigation, with tales -- given credence by Nick "Davos" Kristof of the New York Times, that Steven Hatfill was the anthraxer.
The short version: Hatfill's life was turned upside down. He sued the FBI and, after years, won remuneration and was exonerated.
Kristof, for his part, recanted, saying: "I owe an apology to Dr. Hatfill ... the job of the news media is supposed to be to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted. Instead, I managed to afflict the afflicted."
For going all Oliver Stone, Barbara Hatch Rosenberg was disappeared from her position as head of the Federation of American Scientists' working group on biological weapons. (Conveniently, the New York Times reporters neglect to mention these messy details.)
Mostly, Rosenberg was never heard from again. Until now. When perhaps it is deemed safe to emerge from the hole for an obscure journal, or something.
Another author of the paper, Stuart Jacobsen, has long pursued the idea that the anthrax was weaponized.
Years ago, he used to upload into the comment section at DD blog whenever something on the anthrax case was published.
The central idea here -- that since the anthrax was weaponized Ivins could not have made it -- has been worked for years. A decade, it seems. And it will never go away.
Now it's focused on traces of the element tin.
Now, three scientists argue that distinctive chemicals found in the dried anthrax spores -- including the unexpected presence of tin -- point to a high degree of manufacturing skill, contrary to federal reassurances that the attack germs were unsophisticated.
One can view this as a re-laundering the same old Ivins-didn't-do-it argument.
When this, too, fails to move the down marker the same people will go back to working it until another publication can be found to air something slightly different and allegedly eye-opening.
And the cycle will repeat.
Clearing Ivins and changing the official version on the anthrax case will require extraordinary material well beyond arguments in off market journals. And that is something no one has yet produced.
Anthrax conspiracy and silicon -- from the archives.
Bruce Ivins spied 58 seconds in.
This post was originally published at Dick Destiny blog.