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See any hidden messages in the following two documents?

You might if you studied them for more than eight years, the way the cryptographers at the FBI did.

Late last Friday afternoon, our nation’s top crime fighters wrapped up their investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks, issuing their final report here. On pages 59 and 60 of that report, its authors lay out their theory that the texts reproduced above (the first was sent to NBC’s Tom Brokaw and the second to the New York Post, along with small quantities of anthrax spores) contain hidden messages encoded by making certain letters bolder than others. With my untrained eye, I can see that maybe two T’s and an A are a little heavier than the other letters, but according to the FBI’s experts, the following letters are bolded:

The ‘T’ in THIS
The ‘T’ in NEXT
The ‘T’ in TAKE
The ‘A’ in DEATH
The ‘T’ in TO
The ‘T’ in the second TO
The ‘A’ in ALLAH
The ‘T’ in GREAT

String them together and you get TTT AAT TAT, which, with penetrating insight, the investigators recognized as the genetic code for the amino acids phenylalanine, asparagine, and tyrosine. Hmmmm, P…A…T, Pat. Aha!—the nickname of a former colleague of Dr. Bruce Ivins, once the U.S. government’s top anthrax scientist (he reportedly committed suicide when he learned that he was the FBI’s primary suspect). Not only was this ‘Pat’ “a close friend” of Dr. Ivins, “in fact one of his only friends,” she was also “the object of [his] excessive affection and attention.” In other words, mass murder as love note—typical government scientist behavior.

Even better, the letter symbols for phenylalanine, asparagine, and tyrosine are F, N, and Y, which, strung together in sequence, signify “a verbal assault on New York,” our Sherlockian agents induce. Additional evidence for this interpretation is provided on page 60 of the report:

According to numerous witnesses who knew him well, including Former Colleague #1, Dr. Ivins had a deep hatred for New York. For example, in the aftermath of 9/11, Dr. Ivins sent Former Colleague #1 an e-mail where he essentially accused “typical” New Yorkers of overplaying the tragedy and seeking attention, wondering “what about those folks in Oklahoma City, they deserve sympathy too.” Further, Dr. Ivins strongly associated Former Colleague #1 with New York, so this reference may well have been directed at her. His communications with her both when she worked at USAMRIID and in the years that followed were replete with references to the New York Yankees, her favorite baseball team, not always in the kindest of terms.

Damn Yankees, axis of evil, WMDs, bioterror…it all fits together so seamlessly.

There is much more of equal value throughout the 96-page report. I highly recommend it.

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