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FBI reveals Ivins’ evidence in anthrax case
Question of the Day
Army microbiologist Bruce E. Ivins had a flask of highly purified anthrax spores genetically identical to those used in the 2001 anthrax attacks and he was thought to have given authorities false samples to mislead the probe, documents made public Wednesday show.
Mr. Ivins, 62, of Frederick, Md., committed suicide last week after he emerged as a suspect in the anthrax mailings that killed five people, sickened 17 others and further frayed the nerves a nation still reeling from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth on Wednesday morning ordered the unsealing of the documents, which include search warrants, supporting evidences for the warrants and the results of the searches. The move signaled the end of the seven-year investigation known as “Amerithrax.”
Documents can be found at http://www.usdoj.gov/amerithrax/.
Documents released show a case built on scientific and circumstantial evidence. Among the revelations in an affidavit from U.S. Postal Inspector Thomas F. Dellafera:
*Mr. Ivins couldn’t give investigators adequate explanation for his late night laboratory work around the times of the mailings.
*Mr. Ivins told a coworker he was suffering from “incredible paranoid delusional thoughts at times” and feared that he might not be able to control his behavior.
*Mr. Ivins is thought to have given false anthrax samples to the FBI in an attempt to mislead investigator’s forensic analysis.
*At the time of the attacks, Mr. Ivins was under pressure at work to assist a private company that had lost its FDA approval to produce an anthrax vaccine that was needed for U.S. troops. Mr. Ivins thought the success of the vaccine was essential for the anthrax program at his lab.
*He sent an e-mail to an unidentified person a few days before the attacks warning that “Bin Laden terrorists for sure have anthrax and sarin gas” and has “just decreed death to all Jews and all Americans.” The e-mail used language similar to that contained in the anthrax letters, which included, “WE HAVE THIS ANTHRAX … .DEATH TO AMERICA … .DEATH TO ISRAEL.”
The FBI had been under pressure to reveal its evidence against Mr. Ivins, particularly because the Justice Department recently reached a multimillion settlement with another former army scientist who was publicly identified as a “person of interest” in the case.
That scientist, Steven Hatfill, was ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing. He had worked at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, the same facility as Mr. Ivins.
Federal authorities wanted to brief victims and family members before releasing the documents publicly. FBI Director Robert Mueller led that briefing Wednesday morning at FBI headquarters.
The release of the documents came after nearly a week of media leaks and a flurry of speculation and theories about the case.
About the Author
Ben Conery is a member of the investigative team covering the Supreme Court and legal affairs. Prior to coming to The Washington Times in 2008, Mr. Conery covered criminal justice and legal affairs for daily newspapers in Connecticut and Massachusetts. He was a 2006 recipient of the New England Newspaper Association’s Publick Occurrences Award for a series of articles about ...
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