Terror Alert Level

Monday, March 07, 2011

Ink Spots

I vaguely remember reading somewhere that ink was chemically tagged to pinpoint its manufacture date. Turns out that could be a key factor in Jane Orie's public corruption trial.

...a similar analysis could be used to authenticate or debunk several handwritten directives that Orie said she gave Pavlot to prohibit campaign work on state time. In general, Orie testified to writing the directives on dated faxes, letters or printouts of e-mails.

Lyter said U.S. ink companies stopped tagging in 2005, although experts can sometimes determine when an ink was made because manufacturers track the dates when they change ink formulas. But before 2005, about half the ink in pens used by most Americans was made by a handful of companies that still used chemical tags. That means if investigators chose to examine documents Orie testified she wrote before then, there's about a 50 percent chance the ink would contain a chemical tag, Lyter said.

If tests show, for example, that ink Orie used to write an order to Pavlot on a 2002 e-mail wasn't manufactured until a later year, Burkoff said, the senator would have essentially implicated herself by her prior testimony.

"If that happens, it's game over," Burkoff said.

Of course, there's a equal chance that the ink isn't tagged.

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