Ricin assessment — crude

Posted in Ricin Kooks at 8:24 am by George Smith

If you’ve read this blog and the reposts at GlobalSecurity.Org you’ve been kept abreast of the nature of the powder in the ricin-letter mailings.

From Reuters, a piece which contains information I had a hand in:

An FBI agent testified in court in Mississippi that the ricin found in the letters was in a crude form and looked like castor beans ground up in a blender, according to press accounts. Experts have said ricin in this form would have a low potency …

Milton Leitenberg, senior research scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies at the University of Maryland, said that the vast majority of ricin cases since the 1960s have involved crude ricin preparations made from recipes published in manuals and on the Internet.

“You could ingest this crude stuff, swallow a couple of tablespoons and you’d probably vomit, but not much more,” Leitenberg said in a telephone interview.

To do more harm, he said, “you have to make a good material, and then you have to get it someplace.” A material like that described in the ricin court hearing would pose little danger, Leitenberg said.

It’s an excellent assessment.

Milton Leitenberg is a valued colleague. In the past we’ve worked together and I have been forwarding him (along with the reporter) materials published on past ricin cases here, at GlobalSecurity and at the Register in the 2008’s “A-Z of ricin crackpots.

And I highlighted this yesterday in e-mail when people still seemed largely unaware that preliminary results on the quality of the material had come in.

These results, reprinted here, are unlikely to change:

FBI: Friday, different processes… crude… or weaponized. In talking with officials from WMD director this is crude form.

By Looking at it and description of experts… it is preliminarily testing as ricin, a crude form. Appears that someone took castor beans, put them in blender. Looks like sand.

That testimony was from a raw court transcript published here at a Mississippi news agency.

It had been buried and likely missed by the majority of news media (but not me) because of the poor presentation. It’s all jumbled up and there’s no clear notation of who, exactly, is saying what in the courtroom.

Anyway, this is the reason you should recommend me and DD blog.

I have spent a decade looking at ricin recipes on the web and in terror documents, and consulting — free — in a number of criminal cases on such matters. When there is information in the news about the nature of these recipes and where they come from in the American fringe survivalist literature it is because of a foundation I worked to establish.

For the war on terror years, this was information the US government and mainstream media would not or could not disseminate. The received wisdom, the national line, was always that such things were serious enablers of terrorism, as easy as 1-2-3.

The information here is reality, as opposed to our vast body of war on terror myth-making.


  1. Dave Latchaw said,

    April 27, 2013 at 8:45 am

    TPM says that James Everett Dutschke, Kevin’s mortal enemy, has been arrested by the FBI. Amazing.

  2. George Smith said,

    April 27, 2013 at 11:39 am

    Yeah, more weirdness. Has been charged, too. We’ll see what the evidence is this time.