Friday, August 1, 2008

Anrhrax killer a suicide?

The LA Times reports this shocker today:

“A top government scientist who helped the FBI analyze samples from the 2001 anthrax attacks has died in Maryland from an apparent suicide, just as the Justice Department was about to file criminal charges against him for the attacks, the Los Angeles Times has learned. Bruce E. Ivins, 62, who for the last 18 years worked at the government's elite biodefense research laboratories at Ft. Detrick, Md., had been informed of his impending prosecution, said people familiar with Ivins, his suspicious death and the FBI investigation.”

The entire anthrax case is a sordid example of shoddy journalism abetted by a malicious FBI and Justice Department that ruined the career of Dr. Steven Hatfill, a research scientist at Fort Detrick. At the settlement of Hatfill’s libel case against the government in late June, US District Judge Reggie Walton declared, "There is not a scintilla of evidence that would indicate that Dr. Hatfill had anything to do with this."

It appears the settlement gave Hatfill little more than his legal expenses and missed salary for the next 20 years. Even more outrageous is the government knew at the time they were close to solving the case; information Hatfill’s lawyers didn’t have at settlement. It put them at a severe disadvantage in negotiations.

The myopic investigation that focused on only a single suspect, Hatfill, is a repeat of the Atlanta Olympics bombing investigation twelve years ago. There the FBI fingered Richard Jewell, a security guard, naming him “a person of interest” when there was no evidence to support it. Eric Rudolf was eventually convicted and Jewell exonerated, but not after having been destroyed by the media.

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