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Tag: anthrax

UPDATED: Report Says Army Could Have “Prevented” Anthrax Attacks in 2001 and Psychiatric Records Support FBI Findings That Bruce Ivins “Was Responsible”

Anthrax Suspect Bruce Ivins

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

And now for more on the anthrax controversy.

A court-ordered report by the Expert Behavorial Analysis Panel concluded the U.S. Army could have “anticipated” and “prevented” the deadly 2001 anthrax attacks, and that a review of psychiatric records of suspect Bruce Ivins “does support the Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s)determination that he was responsible.”

Ivins, a civilian Army scientist at Ft. Detrick, Md., who committed suicide before authorities could charge him, “was psychologically disposed to undertake the mailings; his behavioral history demonstrated his potential for carrying them out; and he had the motivation and means,” according to the Expert Behavioral Analysis Panel , which was created in 2009 to review Ivins and the deadly attacks. News of the report first appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

The Expert Behavioral Analysis Panel found that Ivins displayed unusual behavior — some that was dismissed as eccentricity — that should have led the Army to do a better mental health evaluation. It also said Ivins’ mental health professionals would have advised against it had they known he had a high level security clearance.

The report was welcoming news for the Justice Department and FBI, which has taken some heat from from skeptics who don’t believe that Ivins is the person who mailed the deadly letters that killed five people and sickened 17 others.

“The FBI appreciates the efforts, time, and expertise of the panel and its highly respected chair and members,” the agency said in a statement.”The panel’s analysis, findings, and recommendations provide important insight that will further contribute to the public’s understanding of the investigation into the deadly anthrax mailings.”

The report portrays Ivins was someone who had a “traumatic, damaging childhood” and an abusive one.

“Dr. Ivins grew up in a family in which there is ample evidence that his mother assaulted and abused her husband — stabbing him, and beating him and threatening to kill him with a loaded gun,” the report said. “It also appears she abused Dr. Ivins as a boy, and his father mocked him publicly as well.”

Some fellow scientists and politicians on Capitol Hill — along with Ivins’ attorney — remain skeptical that Ivins mailed the deadly letters that killed 5 people and sickened 17 others.

Read Summary of Report

Washington Post Editorial Calls For Congressional Commission to Review Anthrax Investigation

Anthrax Suspect Bruce Ivins

By The Washington Post
Editorial Page

WASHINGTON — RESOLUTION OF THE 2001 anthrax attacks continues to prove elusive.

The Justice Department and the FBI identified Maryland scientist Bruce E. Ivins as having single-handedly carried out the attacks that killed five people and seriously sickened 17 others. The department was on the verge of seeking an indictment in 2008 when Mr. Ivins took his own life.

Doubts lingered about Mr. Ivins’s guilt, in part because the FBI had had its sights on a different Maryland scientist for several years before admitting he was not the culprit. Now, a report by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) raises new questions about whether Mr. Ivins was wrongly accused.

The lengthy report cites several instances in which the Justice Department appears to have overstated the strength of the scientific evidence against Mr. Ivins.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Column: Public Hearing on Anthrax Case May be Inevitable

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Though the FBI and Justice Department are thoroughly convinced that scientist Bruce Ivins mailed the deadly anthrax letters in 2001, it seems almost inevitable now that some very costly and protracted public hearing will be conducted to review the whole case.  Unfortunately, Ivins killed himself in July 2008 before any charges could be filed against him.

The case once again came alive on Tuesday when the National Research Council released a 170-page report commissioned by the FBI that showed that the Justice Department and FBI  overstated their case when they definitively concluded that the anthrax used in the deadly mailings came from a flask from Ivins’  government laboratory at Fort Detrick in Maryland labeled RMR-1029. The report said it could not rule out other possible sources.

“The scientific link between the letter material and flask number RMR-1029 is not as conclusive as stated in the DOJ Investigative Summary,” the report said.

However, Lehigh University President Alice P. Gast, who led the 16-member National Research Council Committee that reviewed the cutting-edge science used in the investigation, said: “We find the scientific evidence to be consistent with their conclusions but not as definitive as stated.”

Unfortunately,  the study only examined  the sciences in the investigation and didn’t taken into account other key aspects — interviews, the behavior of Ivins, fingerprints, etc. And it avoided at all costs the thing everyone really wanted it to do: Say whether Ivins was the guy.

I spoke to folks on Tuesday at the FBI and Justice Department who insist, in totality, the evidence against Ivins is overwhelming, that the science was only a component of the investigation.

But I also spoke to Ivins attorney Paul Kemp who insisted the study showed the government’s smoking gun — the flask —  was merely smoke and mirrors. He wants a public review, possibly a Congressional hearing.

Sen. Chuck Grassley  (R-Ia.) chimed in on Tuesday and insisted it was time for a public review as did Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J).

It may not be what the FBI and Justice Department want. But they may have no say in the matter. The cries of the skeptics may be too much too ignore. And maybe a hearing would satisfy the skeptics — and maybe not.

Report Raises Some Doubts About the Origin of the Killer Anthrax; Triggers Calls For Independent Review of Entire Case

Anthrax Suspect Bruce Ivins

By Allan Lengel
For AOL News

WASHINGTON — A report released Tuesday on the scientific methods used to investigate the deadly anthrax attacks disputes a key conclusion by the FBI — and has triggered calls for an independent review of the entire case.

Investigators have concluded that government scientist Bruce Ivins mailed anthrax-laden letters to members of Congress and the media in 2001. Five people were killed and 17 others sickened. Ivins committed suicide in July 2008 before charges could be filed.

Ivins’ attorney said the new report casts doubt on the allegations against the scientist.

“The smoking gun is now just smoke and mirrors,” Paul F. Kemp told AOL News. “Every time more gets released it shows more weakness in their case. I think it’s time for a public hearing for somebody to systematically and carefully and dispassionately review this.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley also called for an independent review.

To read more click here.

GAO to Examine Science Behind Anthrax Investigation; Some Still Skeptical

Anthrax Suspect Bruce Ivins

Anthrax Suspect Bruce Ivins

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

By the FBI’s account, the anthrax case that triggered a wave of panic in this nation in 2001 with the death of five people, has been solved.

But not all are as convinced as the FBI that the real culprit is government scientist Bruce Ivins, who committed suicide in July 2008 before authorities could charge him.

So, as a result of a request by one skeptic, Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.), the Government Accountability Office will exam the science behind the FBI’s conclusion that Ivins was the guy, reporter Evan Perez writes in the Wall Street Journal.

The Journal noted that a separate review of the FBI’s work by the National Academy of Scientists will likely be wrapped up this fall.

Wrongfully Accused Anthrax Suspect Steven Hatfill Breaks Silence: “Now I really Don’t Trust Anything”

By Allan Lengel
For AOL News
WASHINGTON — Steven J. Hatfill, the scientist wrongfully accused of being the anthrax killer, has broken his silence in interviews with NBC’s “Today” show and The Atlantic magazine.

“I learned a couple things,” Hatfill told “Today” host Matt Lauer this morning. “The government can do to you whatever they want. They can break the laws, federal laws, as they see fit. … You can’t turn laws on and off as you deem fit.

“I used to be somebody that trusted the government. Now I really don’t trust anything,” said Hatfill, who had worked at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Fort Detrick, Md.
To read more click here.

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Supervisor of Anthrax Suspect Has Doubts About FBI’s Investigation

Bruce Ivins

Bruce Ivins

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Not everyone is buying into the FBI’s findings that scientist Bruce Ivins was the anthrax killer — including his supervisor.

The Frederick News Post  in Frederick, Md., where Ivins worked at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases, reports that Ivins’ supervisor Jeffrey Adamovicz wasn’t impressed with the FBI findings released last week which pointed the finger at Ivins, who committed suicide before authorities could charge him. The FBI also announced the official closing of the case.

“The evidence is still very circumstantial and unconvincing as a whole,” Adamovicz, the former chief of bacteriology, wrote in an e-mail to the paper. “I’m curious as to why they closed the case while the (National Academy of Science) review is still ongoing. Is it because the review is going unfavorable for the FBI?”

“There is an assumption by the FBI that the spores could have only been prepared in the week before each mailing. This is a fatal error in logic,” Adamovicz wrote, according to the paper. “The only reason that I can derive why the FBI has proposed this is that it is the only period that helps provide circumstantial evidence against Bruce.”

To read more click here

FBI Disputes Wall Street Journal Column Saying Anthrax Case is Unsolved

Suspect Bruce Ivins

Suspect Bruce Ivins

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The FBI has fired off a letter to the Wall Street Journal disputing a guest column which questioned the FBI’s conclusion that scientist Bruce Ivins was responsible for the deadly anthrax attacks in 2001.

The column concluded that  Ivins was in all likelihood not the real culprit.

“Monday’s opinion piece, “The Anthrax Attacks Remain Unsolved,” was filled with inaccuracies and omitted several relevant facts that are necessary for a balanced discussion of the science applied in the anthrax investigation,” said the FBI letter signed by D. Christian Hassell, Ph.D, Director of the FBI Laboratory.

It went on to say the FBI was confident with its findings.

Author of the controversial column, Edward Jay Epstein, who is working on a book on the 9/11 Commission, wrote recently in the Wall Street Journal that “silicon”, an element in the deadly anthrax, which is used to weaponize the material,  was not available to Ivins, a scientist at the the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) in Fort Detrick, Md.

Therefore, it wasn’t likely that he was the guy.

Ivins killed himself in the summer of 2008  shortly before the FBI said it was about to be charge him in the case.  The FBI concluded that Ivins was the guy and case essentially closed.

“If Ivins had neither the equipment or skills to weaponize anthrax with silicon, then some other party with access to the anthrax must have done it. Even before these startling results, Sen. Leahy had told Director Mueller, ‘I do not believe in any way, shape, or manner that [Ivins] is the only person involved in this attack on Congress,'” Epstein wrote in his column.

The FBI letter,  which was  circulated by the agency on Wednesday, stated:

“From the outset, the FBI’s scientific work in the anthrax case has had a foundation in validation and verification of its approach and conclusions. This process began within weeks of the initial events of 2001 and has included:

Read more »