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Archive for Saturday, February 20, 2010

FBI closes book on 2001 anthrax killings

February 20, 2010

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Members of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Chemical-Biological Incident Response Force demonstrate anthrax cleanup techniques during a news conference Oct. 30, 2001, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Members of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Chemical-Biological Incident Response Force demonstrate anthrax cleanup techniques during a news conference Oct. 30, 2001, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

— The FBI sought to close the book on its long, frustrating hunt for the killer behind the 2001 anthrax letters Friday, formally ending its investigation and concluding a mentally unhinged scientist was responsible for killing five people and unnerving Americans nationwide.

After years of false leads, no arrests and public criticism, the FBI and Justice Department said Dr. Bruce Ivins, a government researcher, acted alone.

Ivins killed himself in 2008 as prosecutors prepared to indict him for the attacks. He had denied involvement, and his family and some friends have continued to insist he was innocent.

Investigators had tried earlier to build a case against biowarfare expert Steven Hatfill, who had worked for a time in the same military lab as Ivins, but ultimately turned away from that theory and had to pay him a multimillion-dollar settlement.

Many details of the case have already been disclosed, but newly released FBI documents paint a fuller portrait of Ivins as a troubled doctor whose life’s work was teetering toward failure at the time the letters laced with anthrax were sent. As the U.S. responded to the mailings, that work was given new importance by the government, and he was even honored for his efforts on anthrax.

The documents also describe what investigators say was Ivins’ bizarre, decades-long obsession with a sorority. The anthrax letters were dropped in a mailbox near the sorority’s office in Princeton, N.J.

The letters were sent to lawmakers and news organizations as the nation reeled in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Postal facilities, U.S. Capitol buildings and private offices were shut for inspection and cleaning by workers in hazardous materials “space suits” from Florida to Washington to New York and beyond.

In closing the case, officials also released reams of evidence, and a 92-page summary of their findings.

To the FBI’s critics, the mountain of new documents could not paper over what they say are glaring holes in the case.

“The evidence the FBI produced would not, I think, stand up in court,” said Rep. Rush Holt, a Democrat whose New Jersey district includes the Princeton mailbox used in the attacks. “But because their prime suspect is dead and they’re not going to court, they seem satisfied with barely a circumstantial case.”

Ivins’ lawyer Paul Kemp said he saw nothing new in the findings. “All they have confirmed is that they suspected him belatedly after finding out he had psychological problems,” he said. “Sadly they substitute that for proof.”

Authorities say Ivins’ death capped a years-long cat-and-mouse game with investigators, in which he repeatedly offered to help the FBI catch the killer, cast suspicion on his colleagues and tried numerous forms of subterfuge.

After the attacks, the FBI relied heavily on Ivins’ help, according to the documents, and the scientist offered agents his notebooks, his office and his e-mail. FBI agents found him easygoing and funny. He had kittens on his computer screen saver and gave one FBI agent a jar of syrup for a gift.

Comments

Thing 4 years, 1 month ago

I was expecting better conspiracy theories than this? Where is Gramaddy, and the other usual suspects that look out for those black helicopters?

♣Free The Blog♣

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kansasredlegs 4 years, 1 month ago

When you can't prove something with credible evidence, investigators always go with the personal smear campaign.

For example, if you are old enough you may remember this:

USS IOWA turret explosion: The first investigation into the explosion, conducted by the US Navy, concluded that one of the gun turret crew members, Clayton Hartwig, who died in the explosion, had deliberately caused it. During the investigation, numerous leaks to the media, later attributed to have come from Navy officers and investigators, implied that Hartwig and another sailor, Kendall Truitt, had engaged in a homosexual relationship and that Hartwig had caused the explosion after their relationship had soured. In its report, however, the Navy concluded that the evidence did not show that Hartwig was homosexual but that he was suicidal and had caused the explosion with either an electronic or chemical detonator.

The victims' families... were sharply critical of the Navy's findings... To assist the GAO, Sandia National Laboratories provided a team of scientists to review the Navy's technical investigation.

During its review, Sandia found that a significant overram of the powder bags into the gun had occurred as it was being loaded and that the overram could have caused the explosion. A subsequent test by the Navy of the overram scenario confirmed that an overram could have caused an explosion in the gun breech. Sandia's technicians also found that the physical evidence did not support the Navy's theory that an electronic or chemical detonator had been used to initiate the explosion.

In response to the new findings, the Navy, with Sandia's assistance, reopened the investigation. In August 1991, Sandia and the GAO completed their reports, concluding that the explosion was likely caused by an accidental overram of powder bags into the breech of the 16-inch gun. The Navy, however, disagreed with Sandia's opinion and concluded that the cause of the explosion could not be determined. The Navy expressed regret to Hartwig's family and closed its investigation.

This country was founded on mistrust of goverment and it should always be questioned.

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