- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 5, 2002

Steven J. Hatfill's firing at Louisiana State University came after the Justice Department told the college it could not use the scientist on projects funded by grants from the agency, which has called Mr. Hatfill a "person of interest" in the anthrax attacks.
LSU spokesman Greg Sands said Mr. Hatfill's supervisor, Steven Guillot, received e-mail Aug. 1 directing him to "cease and desist" from using Mr. Hatfill on Justice Department-funded projects.
The next day, Mr. Hatfill was placed on administrative leave as director of LSU's National Center for Biomedical Research and Training. The center receives most of its money from the Justice Department.
Mr. Sands said Mr. Guillot did not alert senior administration officials to the e-mail until Tuesday, when Mr. Hatfill was fired by the university. Mr. Sands said the decision to fire Mr. Hatfill was made before senior school officials learned about the e-mail.
LSU Chancellor Mark A. Emmert made no mention of the e-mail in a statement Tuesday announcing Mr. Hatfill's firing.
"The university is making no judgment as to Dr. Hatfill's guilt or innocence regarding the FBI investigation," Mr. Emmert said.
"Our ultimate concerns are the ability of the university to fulfill its role and mission as a land-grant university," he said. "In considering all of these objectives, I have concluded that it is clearly in the best interest of LSU to terminate this relationship."
Department officials declined comment on the e-mail, though a law enforcement official confirmed it was sent.
Mr. Hatfill's attorneys referred questions to spokesman Pat Clawson, who did not immediately return messages yesterday. Mr. Clawson said Tuesday that LSU officials gave Mr. Hatfill no explanation for the firing.
Mr. Hatfill blamed the FBI's anthrax investigation for his termination.
"My life has been completely and utterly destroyed by [Attorney General] John Ashcroft and the FBI," Mr. Hatfill said in a statement Tuesday. "I do not understand why they are doing this to me. My professional reputation is in tatters. All I have left are my savings, and they will be exhausted soon because of my legal bills."
Meanwhile, an anthrax scare sounded in Massachusetts yesterday after several police departments received envelopes containing an unidentified white powder, the state fire department reported.
Fire department spokeswoman Jennifer Mieth said hazardous material response teams had been sent to "numerous" police departments, and the FBI and state health officials had been alerted.
Five persons were killed by anthrax-tainted letters sent through the mail last fall. The FBI has identified Mr. Hatfill as a "person of interest" in its investigation but has said he is no more or less important than about 30 fellow scientists and researchers with the expertise and opportunity to conduct the attacks.
Mr. Hatfill, however, has been treated differently than the rest. FBI and Postal Service agents searched his apartment in Frederick, Md., twice, the second time with a search warrant. His photo was the only one circulated last month in the Princeton, N.J., neighborhood where investigators believe the anthrax letters may have been mailed.
Mr. Hatfill, 48, worked until 1999 for Fort Detrick's Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Maryland. It is the primary custodian of the virulent Ames strain of anthrax found in the anthrax letters.
Mr. Hatfill and another scientist, Joseph Soukup, commissioned a study of a hypothetical anthrax attack in February 1999 as employees of defense contractor Science Applications International Corp., said Ben Haddad, spokesman for the San Diego-based company.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide