Published Date: 2010-02-19 23:00:14
Subject: PRO/AH> Anthrax, human, 2001 - USA (02): FBI case closed
Archive Number: 20100219.0575
ANTHRAX, HUMAN, 2001 - USA (02): FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION CASE CLOSED
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: 19 Feb 2010
Source: NPR (National Public Radio) [edited]
FBI To Close Investigation Of 2001 Anthrax Attacks
The FBI is formally closing its investigation of the 2001 anthrax
attacks, NPR has learned from sources familiar with the case.
Officials are expected to announce Friday afternoon [19 Feb 2010] that
former Army scientist Bruce Ivins was responsible for mailing anthrax
to politicians and journalists in 2001, and that he worked alone. A
total of 5 people died, and 17 were sickened by the attacks.
The Department of Justice will be unsealing documents related to the
case Friday, victims have been notified.
[Byline: Dina Temple-Raston]
Date: 19 Feb 2010
Source: CNN.com [edited]
FBI concludes investigation into 2001 anthrax mailings
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced that it has
concluded its investigation into the 2001 anthrax mailings, saying
Friday [19 Feb 2010] that a biodefense researcher carried out the
The anthrax letters killed 5 people and sickened 17 shortly after the
11 Sep 2001 terrorist attacks. The letters, filled with bacterial
spores, were sent to Senate Democratic leaders and news organizations.
"By 2007, investigators conclusively determined that a single
spore-batch created and maintained by Dr. Bruce E. Ivins at the United
States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases
(USAMRIID) was the parent material for the letter spores," said a
report released Friday by the FBI. Evidence developed from that
investigation established that Dr. Ivins, alone, mailed the anthrax
There was no immediate response from Ivins' lawyer. Ivins, 62,
committed suicide in July 2008 as federal agents were closing in on
him, police said.
In September and October 2001, at least 5 envelopes were mailed to
Sen. Patrick Leahy, then-Sen. Tom Daschle and news organizations in
New York and Boca Raton, Florida. Each envelope contained a photocopy
of a handwritten note.
The 5 who died included a supermarket tabloid photo editor in Florida
[at one of the targeted news organizations], 2 Washington postal
workers, a New York hospital worker and a 94-year-old woman in
Connecticut [all of whom handled contami,ated mail].
The investigation into the anthrax mailings, code-named "Amerithrax,"
was one of the largest and most complex in the history of law
enforcement, according to the FBI. He [Ivins] had spent more than 30
years as a civilian microbiologist at the Army's biological research
laboratory at Fort Detrick, Maryland, where he was trying to develop a
better vaccine against anthrax.
At the time of his death, Ivins was under a temporary restraining
order sought by a social worker who had counseled him in private and
group sessions. He also had been hospitalized in the weeks leading up
to his death for psychiatric examination after he threatened to kill
co-workers, investigators "and other individuals who had wronged him,"
according to documents released in the case.
Federal prosecutors named Ivins the culprit in the anthrax attacks
after his death. Court records released by authorities showed that
Ivins was "the custodian of a large flask of highly purified anthrax
spores that possess certain genetic mutations identical to the anthrax
used in the attacks." The government had taken steps in the weeks
leading up to Ivins' death to restrict his access to his lab.
But critics point out that then-Attorney General John Ashcroft
publicly declared another Fort Detrick scientist, Steven Hatfill, a
"person of interest" in the anthrax attacks. Hatfill was never charged
but sued over the matter, settling with the government for USD 5.8
million. His case has fueled skepticism about the allegations against
Ivins. In November 2008 the U.S. Supreme Court threw out Hatfill's
libel lawsuit against The New York Times over reports linking him to
the anthrax probe. A federal appeals court had concluded Hatfill was a
"public figure" and failed to prove the reports were "malicious." In
the report released on Friday [19 February 2010], the FBI said Hatfill
had been eliminated as a suspect.
The report outlines the government's evidence against Ivins, saying
that the researcher was alone late at night in the lab where the
anthrax strain RMR-1029 was stored in the days leading up to the
mailings. The lab also contained the equipment capable of drying the
anthrax, a function that was forbidden, the report said.
"Dr. Ivins was never in the habit of working excessive late night
hours in the lab, either prior to or after the mailings," it said.
Ivins was under "intense personal and professional pressure" in the
months leading up to the anthrax attacks, the report said, citing the
researchers' e-mails and statements to friends. The anthrax vaccine
program to which he had devoted his entire career of more than 20
years was failing. The anthrax vaccines were receiving criticism in
several scientific circles, because of both potency problems and
allegations that the anthrax vaccine contributed to Gulf War
Syndrome," it said. "Short of some major breakthrough or intervention,
he feared that the vaccine research program was going to be
discontinued. Following the anthrax attacks, however, his program was
The report also said that Ivins' e-mails and statements show a "man
driven by obsessions."
"In the month before his suicide," it said, "his homicidal tendencies
became more pronounced, as he posted violent messages on the Internet
regarding a reality TV star and made death threats during a group
therapy session." It also says that Ivins made several statements and
actions that showed "evidence of a guilty conscience." They included
sending an e-mail to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
that suggested "nonsensical explanations for why the 1st victim might
have contracted inhalation anthrax," and repeatedly made efforts to
shift the blame for the mailings to friends and colleagues. "At one
point, he sent an e-mail to himself documenting 12 reasons why 2 of
his former colleagues, who were also his 2 best friends, likely
committed the anthrax attacks," the report said.
[The new Amerithrax Documents are available online at:
<http://www.justice.gov/amerithrax/> for DOJ Investigation Summary and photos.
<http://foia.fbi.gov/foiaindex/amerithrax.htm> for many FOIA (Freedom
of Information Act) FBI documents from Amerithrax investigation.
I suspect we have not heard the last of this. - Mod.MHJ]