- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 25, 2008

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Suspected anthrax attacker Bruce E. Ivins e-mailed himself last year saying he knew who the killer was, newly released court documents show.

Mr. Ivins said he planned to turn over the information to his attorneys and congratulated himself for piecing together the information that had eluded the government for years.

Mr. Ivins signed the e-mail “Bruce” and wrote it from an America Online address by the name of “KingBadger.”

The Army scientist died of an apparent suicide July 29 as prosecutors prepared to charge him in the 2001 anthrax mailings that killed five people and sickened 17.

Meanwhile, an Army report shows Mr. Ivins’ access to Army biodefense laboratories was revoked in March after he spilled anthrax on his pants and went home to wash them instead of reporting the accident immediately.

The accident occurred March 17 at Fort Detrick while the microbiologist was working with the relatively mild strain of anthrax used for vaccinating livestock.

His access to the laboratories that handle the deadly Ames strain had been revoked Nov. 1, the same day the FBI raided Mr. Ivins’ home in Frederick, Md., just outside Fort Detrick’s main gate.

When asked why Mr. Ivins’ access was restricted in November, U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases spokeswoman Caree Vander Linden said supervisors can restrict access for workers who show signs of stress that could endanger themselves or their co-workers. But she declined to discuss details about that decision on Mr. Ivins, citing medical privacy issues.

The Army document, first reported Wednesday by the Frederick News-Post, was released amid criticism and questions by Mr. Ivins’ colleagues and some members of Congress about the FBI investigation that concluded he alone was responsible for the attacks.

Rep. Rush D. Holt, New Jersey Democrat, has drafted a bill that would create a national commission to investigate the FBI’s probe of the anthrax attacks and make recommendations for preventing bioterrorism.

Mr. Ivins reported the March accident to his supervisors at the Army research institute 1 hour and 20 minutes after it occurred. In an internal investigator’s report, dated March 18, Mr. Ivins wrote, “I was cleaning the biosafety cabinet and a few drops of dilute Sterne spores got on my pants.”

The investigator wrote that a centrifuge bottle containing the solution had overturned, spilling about 5 milliliters on Mr. Ivins’ trousers. Mr. Ivins cleaned the surface of the cabinet and floor, and then walked home, washed his pants with bleach in his washing machine and dried them in the dryer before returning to the lab to report the incident.

“Although the sample was a vaccine strain of B. anthracis, it is our opinion that Dr. Ivins should have reported this spill, although minor, immediately to the suite supervisor and his supervisor,” the investigator wrote. The investigator’s name was redacted in the publicly released version of the document.

Mr. Ivins apparently tried to blame the accident on a colleague. In a section of the document reserved for lessons learned, he wrote, “Don’t clean up technicians’ messes in BSC.” BSC stands for biosafety containment.

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