- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 21, 2002

The Justice Department is preparing to give lie-detector tests to hundreds of federal workers at two facilities where anthrax is stored in the hope of identifying suspects in the letter attacks, a law enforcement official said yesterday.
Beginning in June, the government will administer the tests to workers at Fort Detrick, Md., and Dugway Proving Ground, Utah, about 85 miles southwest of Salt Lake City.
The government will focus on workers with expertise in preparing anthrax for use as a weapon and those who may have had access to it, said the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
ABC News, which first reported the plans for testing, said some former employees of both facilities may be given polygraph tests as well.
The law enforcement official said the plan to test employees does not mean the government has a suspect.
The investigation into who sent several anthrax-laced letters last year has produced few leads, and investigators acknowledge the trail is growing cold. The government has begun a strategy of focusing on potential sources of anthrax rather than identifying suspects from the few clues gained from the letters.
Officials at Fort Detrick and Dugway did not immediately return telephone calls seeking comment yesterday.
Army scientists in Utah have been developing a powdered form of anthrax for use in testing biological-defense systems, military officials have said.
The Army said in a recent statement that small quantities of anthrax have been produced routinely at Dugway, and then shipped to the Army's biological-defense center at Fort Detrick.
Fort Detrick, which also is home to the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, has anthrax samples from other sources as well.
Investigators began interviewing employees at Fort Detrick after anthrax-laced letters were sent to members of Congress in Washington and to television network offices in New York last year. Along the way, anthrax spores leaking from the letters contaminated post office buildings in Washington and New Jersey.
Two Washington postal workers died of inhaled anthrax, as did two women thought to have been infected from the mail. At least 13 persons developed either skin or respiratory anthrax, but recovered.
The anthrax found in letters mailed to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, and Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, was from the Ames strain, named after the city in Iowa where researchers first isolated it. Scientists at Fort Detrick obtained a sample from the Agriculture Department in the early 1980s for vaccine testing and gave samples to at least five other labs.

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