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Long, Crooked Road of the Anthrax Probe

POSTED: 04:40 PM ET, 08/ 1/2008 by The Editors

The bioweapons lab at Fort Detrick north of Washington, where anthrax suspect Bruce Ivins had worked since 1990, became a focus of federal investigators soon after anthrax-laced letters [pictures of the letters here] arrived at media organizations and Senate offices following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Five people died from the anthrax mailings.

Many feared that the anthrax letters were the work of al Qaeda or other foreign terrorists. But investigators decided early on that few people in the world had the high degree of technical and scientific sophistication to handle anthrax strains, and that most of those people worked in the United States. In mid 2002, FBI officials said the agency was scrutinizing 20 to 30 scientists who might have had the knowledge and opportunity to send the anthrax letters.

That year, Steven J. Hatfill, a bioweapons expert and a former Fort Detrick scientist, was the only scientist called a "person of interest" in the investigation by then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft. Investigators searched Hatfill's apartment, car, a storage unit in Florida and his girlfriend's home. They seized his computer and bags of personal items he had thrown away in preparation for moving. Hatfill vehemently denied any connection with the letters.

(Hatfill later sued the government -- and some reporters, seeking their confidential sources -- saying he has struggled to find employment as a scientist after reporters and federal agents tailed him for years. Little more than a month ago, he reached a settlement with the Justice Department valued at $5.85 million.)

As the Hatfill lead evaporated, some doubted the FBI "mad scientist" theory. Official ambivalence might have handicapped the investigation, however. Marilyn Thompson, a Washington Post editor who authored a book on the case, "The Killer Strain," said in 2003 that agents lost valuable time when they took months to get around to interviewing Fort Detrick veterans who worked on weaponized anthrax.

In 2003, Ivins, who had authored many scientific papers on anthrax, and two of his colleagues at the USAMRIID -- the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick -- received the highest honor given to Defense Department civilian employees for helping solve technical problems in the manufacture of an anthrax vaccine.

Five years into the case, then-Sen. Tom Daschle, who had been one of the targets of the letters, wrote that the investigative trail had gone cold because of early missteps. That same year the FBI changed the leadership of the investigation and seemed to cast a wider net.

After the Hatfill settlement, some criticized the FBI for continuing to focus on domestic suspects. A Wall Street Journal editorial ridiculed the "mad scientist" theory as an invention of the political left.

But as early as last March, there were indications that the Army lab was still in the FBI's sights. Fox News reported that the bureau had narrowed its focus to about four suspects, at least three of whom were linked to Fort Detrick.

In June, the Los Angeles Times reported that investigators involved in the case felt it was undermined by leaks and a premature fixation on a single suspect. Today the Times reported that Ivins apparently committed suicide as investigators were closing in.

By The Editors |  August 1, 2008; 4:40 PM ET
Previous: A Stealth Investigation | Next: Details Emerge Slowly in Anthrax Case


Please email us to report offensive comments.

You guys are hopeless. go to and read how a therapist took out a restraining order, detailing how ivins has been a mental patient for years, and given to stalking and threatening the therapist. So reconcile that with your view he was a mild-mannered scientist. Surely the FBI knew of Ivins mental issues?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 1, 2008 3:07 PM

The FBI persecuted one innocent scientist and has now murdered another.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 1, 2008 3:12 PM

Imagine if you 'investigators' had spent a year on the anthrax case instead of on Chandra. You might have had a Pulitzer instead of a waste of time.

Posted by: Dawny Chambers | August 1, 2008 3:19 PM

So reconcile that with your view he was a mild-mannered scientist. Surely the FBI knew of Ivins mental issues?

This is incidental, surely you dont accept it as proof of guilt, do you?

Posted by: Manly, the Cowhand | August 1, 2008 3:52 PM

I'm not much of an enthusiast for conspiracy theories, but it seem obvious that this is exactly what would seem to take place if (possibly rogue) elements of the CIA, etc, had been behind the anthrax attacks. And if anthrax, then much more likely 9/11.

Posted by: Will | August 1, 2008 4:32 PM

Glenn Greenwald ( has today published some extremely important comments on this case.

Posted by: jc | August 1, 2008 4:35 PM

So when do you think you'll finally get around to questioning Richard Cohen on who in the government warned him to take cipro?

The only thing "crooked" about this investigation are the CROOKS in the government who are behind this whole thing, and your CROOKS in news organizations that twiddled your thumbs.

I don't know how you even have the nerve to post this when your own hands are so dirty.

Posted by: ccatmoon | August 1, 2008 5:03 PM

imho guys who are guilty shoot themselves, i.e. blow their brains out

this guy overdosed on pain killers.

obviously he was really hurting inside.

he was probably overwhelmed with guilt...

the guy was reported to have been a conservative, the FBI probably polygraphed him and subpeoned his ISP and found out he was looking at gay porn or something really embarrassing -- to much for him to bear. maybe he was into something strange but not necessarily illegal.

so he OD's on pain killers, because the FBI and DOJ mentally tortured him?

there's a fundamental problem in our law enforcement and intelligence communities -- they hire too many folks (and contractors) who don't have good analytical reasoning and problem solving skills.

their personalities are totally unsuited for analysis, yet for some reason they have a "background" or "experience" in the intelligence field.

they essentially suck at analytical work.

the results are abominable due to ineptness and incompetence.

Posted by: frank | August 1, 2008 6:52 PM

Posted by: Singing Senator | August 1, 2008 7:12 PM

Please don't kill me, loyal Bushies!

Posted by: Margie Schoedinger | August 1, 2008 7:23 PM

One question not answered and may never be answered is did he act alone. Since there is no threat and the main suspect has now died, the case is considered closed ? And btw, Boston Globe had alot of insights on this case too.

Posted by: Hank whatever | August 1, 2008 7:59 PM

Ivins is claimed by therapists to have expressed homicidal tendencies etc. Well, don't you folks think it really odd that anyone in a position of authority would either let an unstable guy work at a sensitive bioweapons lab, or not report it to those he worked for? Really, think about it.

Posted by: demoraptor | August 1, 2008 8:54 PM

Will wrote:

I'm not much of an enthusiast for conspiracy theories, but it seem obvious that this is exactly what would seem to take place if (possibly rogue) elements of the CIA, etc,

I see your point Will, but the picture in my head is less rouge CIA, Pentagon, whatever, and more Nixon's plumbers.

Except this time led by Marvin Bush.

I swear, those Bush Brothers, some times I see them as Larry, Daryl and Daryl, from the old Newhart show.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 1, 2008 8:54 PM


Bruce Ivins, 62, who died Tuesday of a drug overdose, had been scheduled to appear yesterday in a Frederick County court in connection with a protective order application filed by Jean Duley, program director of Comprehensive Counseling Associates. In her July 24 petition, a copy of which you'll find below, Duley referred to Ivins as a "client" who "has a history dating to his graduate days of homicidal threats, actions, plans, threats & actions towards therapist." Duley added that Ivins's psychiatrist called him "homicidal, sociopathic with clear intentions," and that "FBI involved, currently under investigation & will be charged w/ 5 capital murders.

If someone knew about this, it could be another Seung-Hui Cho who might have done more awful things. OTOH, there are other weird things of perhaps more importance:
* Richard Cohen being told to take Cipro by unnamed government officials, all before the rest of us heard about that.
BTW, why would a doctor give Cohen Cipro without good cause, a powerful antibiotic illegal w/o prescription and for good reason?
* ABC news repeatedly claimed it had been told by 4 different official sources that the anthrax had contained bentonite and that meant it was linked to Saddam. ABC stuck to this story long after analysis had established the stuff was from an American lab.

This link is dy-no-mite:

Posted by: demoraptor | August 1, 2008 9:03 PM

it's easy for the fbi and the cia to begin making a HUGE case against Ivins now...


because a DEAD MAN CAN'T TALK.

Posted by: BOB | August 1, 2008 9:11 PM

to prove my point, here is the upcoming interrogation by the fbi with mr ivins;

fbi; is your name bruce ivins? don't answer me if it is.


fbi; yup, yup. he is. mister ivins, did you send out the deadly anthrax? don't say anything if you did.


fbi; yup. he did. yup. yup. mister ivins, did you also commit all of the other unsolved mysteries the fbi is embarrassed by? don't answer if you did.


fbi; yup. yup. he did.. wow! this is great! mister ivins, did you kill jimmy hoffa? don't answer if you did.


fbi; amazing! this man has killed everybody! we need to go celebrate! the fbi is awesome! mister ivins, were you COMPLETELY POWERLESS against our incredible investigation? don't answer if you were.


fbi; yup. yup. he was powerless against us all right. he even admits it.


fbi; so in summary mister ivins, did we once again, get our man? don't answer if we did....


fbi; yup. yup. we did. no question. yup. yup.

Posted by: BOB | August 1, 2008 9:17 PM

"But he also had a darker side, as suggested by court papers filed last month by Jean C. Duley, who asked a Frederick judge for a protective order against Ivins, saying he had repeatedly threatened her.

"Client has a history dating to his graduate days of homicidal threats, actions, plans," the woman wrote in note attached to her request for protection. She said Ivins' psychiatrist had confided to her that the scientist was "homicidal, sociopathic with clear intentions." She also noted that she had been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury about a capital murder case involving Ivins."

Who is this woman, Jean C. Duley, and who is the psychiatrist who supposedly revealed confidential doctor/patient information about Ivins to her?

I also suggest that the Post reporters check out Glen Greenwald's column. It's been mentioned by others here and it's well worth the read.

Posted by: pmorlan | August 1, 2008 9:35 PM

Posted by: Will | August 1, 2008 4:32 PM

"Will" get off the Kool-aid, this in no way proves any conspiracy theories about 9/11.

Posted by: YoMama | August 1, 2008 9:45 PM

Reminds of that song about a stripper, sung by the coasters, "little egypt."

"She did a triple somersault and when she hit the ground,
she winked at the audience and then she turned around.
She had a picture of a cowboy tattooed on her spine,
saying Phoenix, Arizona, nineteen forty-nine."

Phoenix Arizona, nineteen forty-nine...

Posted by: Anonymous | August 1, 2008 10:13 PM

Posted by: BOB, the slow one | August 1, 2008 10:34 PM

I can but wonder if this is simply just another hunt-with-Dick Cheney-gone-awry or if there is some other maleficence, especially since having seen how the FBI is subject to political influence and how this string of anthrax mailings were linked to Iraq and became part of the justification for attacking Iraq.

It is presumptive to link this to only being the results of a scientist with mental problems. The role of the press in this anthrax case should be investigated as well, due to the "bentonite" hoax that has been mentioned elsewhere (

Posted by: roye1 | August 1, 2008 10:48 PM

Well, at least one piece of unfinished business has apparently been wrapped up, just as George and Dick are packing up to move. Will their government expose the case they had going on Ivins and will it demonstrate beyond doubt that the dead man did the dirty deed? Will questions linger as to whether the death was a suicide or a homicide? Geez, today's FBI leaks like sieve. Has it, too, been politicized?

Posted by: BlueTwo1 | August 1, 2008 10:50 PM

why is it, that whenevver we find a suspect in an important case (e.g, lee havey oswald) they die before they have thier side of the story? seems aweful convienient...

Posted by: Anonymous | August 1, 2008 11:13 PM

I'm in no position to know whether he was guilty, but I do wonder how someone with a record of mental instability and violent tendencies was able to continue working with one of the deadliest bio-weapons on the planet. Who was asleep at THAT switch?

Posted by: Golly | August 2, 2008 12:49 AM

Ashcroft spent most of the FBI's resources that first year busting medical marijuana growers in states that had legalized the practice.

My friends, I promise not to make the same mistake. I will instead have the FBI spend ALL their resources to busting pot growers in legal states and let killers go free. After all, if you buy pot, you're supporting terrorism!

Posted by: McCain_08 | August 2, 2008 1:42 AM

Also look how many microbiologists have died under very supicious circumstances since 9-11; And why won't the US media cover it? Its been widely covered in the rest of the world. If you don't believe me, check out Google News and do a search. Something like "unanswered questions surround anthrax" or something like that.

As for the almost a 100 microbiologists deaths, almost all who were working in defense dept. labs, the odds are something like a billion to one. Don't quote me but if you google it, you'll find the stat. It's really incredible.

Before you comment and straight poo poo it because the MSM isn't expressing doubts on tv and radio, just remember who owns all of that media. You can find much in the overseas papers, many of them translated for you at and

Posted by: Lynne | August 2, 2008 5:26 AM


I cannot understand one thing you said.

Posted by: Bob, the slow one | August 2, 2008 10:16 AM

Posted by: Pussy Galore | August 2, 2008 10:41 AM

Someone will have to come up with a good unification theory that will reconcile the established fact that some people were popping Cipro, warned as they were "in a roundabout way" from within high-up government circles (and others were not) before the attacks, with the lone "rogue" or mad scientist theory.

Other vital questions will have to be answered but I'm curious at the creativity that will be put in this particular effort.

Posted by: Axelmander | August 2, 2008 11:38 AM

We need an out side the government investigation to get any truth on anything anymore. What ever happened to JFK investigation... and we are given more BS.

Posted by: kristmas | August 2, 2008 11:48 AM

In a laboratory with an extreme level of security, it is difficult to understand how one man who was working only with liquid samples managed to obtain a highly weaponized powdered version, secrete it from the lab avoiding all video surveillance, and mail it from multiple cities in a matter of a few days.

It also difficult to reconcile this with the drumbeat from Cheyney, McCain and others that it probably came form Iraq, just as the Bushies were beginning to make the case for going after Saddam.

Conveniently, he is dead, so the case can be closed.

Posted by: Rick | August 2, 2008 12:07 PM

Check out the court documents completed by Jean Duley at These are the work of a professional counselor?!

Posted by: gail | August 2, 2008 12:23 PM

No one files handwritten court papers without deceptive intent: No one.

Posted by: Watchman | August 2, 2008 2:34 PM

Government agents are the real terrorists. Eighteen years ago, I was also falsely accused and my entire life as I knew it destroyed. No payday for this blackman though. I've been in a social prison since. No one wants to investigate. It is ironic that Evan Bayh is running for VP in that he participated in that same conspiracy.

I pray that Senator Obama does not pick Evan Bayh as a running mate. As Governor of Indiana, Bayh perpetuated constitutional and civil rights violations in the following cases then crushed all attempts to publicize them. ( Including local TV stations 6,8,13 & 59, as well as the Indianapolis Star and Indianapolis Recorder ) State of Indiana v. Edwin L. Jones, # 49G069001CF007921, Edwin L. Jones v. Indianapolis Police Department et al, U.S. District Court Southern District of Indiana, # Misc 90-134, Edwin L. Jones v. Indianapolis Police Department, et al, 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, # 91-1594, . Edwin L. Jones v. Indianapolis Police Department, U.S. Supreme Court, # 91-7923. Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission Complaint against Attorney Ali Talib filed 9-18-92. Slavey was not abolished, it merely changed in form.

Posted by: edwinjones | August 2, 2008 2:45 PM

The real perpetrators are Spike Bowman and Philip Zack. Spike was a classmate of one Dick Cheney at UW- Madison in 67-68. All roads lead to the Naval Observatory. This almost comical and amateurish on the NSA's part, they should be ashamed.

Posted by: Truth | August 2, 2008 4:35 PM

I know, that bush/Chainey have Bin Ladens 15 year old DRIVER, Charging HIM with Warcrimes. Why not a hapless FRUITCAKe.... Can ANYONE explain what this geeky GovernMent Employee had against the National Enquirer, Tom Brokow, Bob Stevens (Tabloid Photo Editor) Senators Dashel & Leahy...& the NY POST??? &&&&&&& Whatz-Up with the content of the LETTERS??? "Death to America" "Death to Israel" && "Allah is Great" ??? Did this geeky guy.....think of this all HIMSELF?????? If so HIS actions helped KILL close to one MILLION children, women & men...but its no warcrime OOh no, but a 15 yr old throwing a grenade at the ARMY of an INVADer is...... YOU can TRUST the GOVERNMENT...Black is White.... up is Down & bad is GOOD... TRY This one It makes WAY more sense.........

Posted by: Thomas George | August 2, 2008 8:27 PM

The FBI did not murder Dr. Bruce Ivins.. it was none other than The CIA. The CIA had the motive and means. Rember Dr. Frank Olson in the 1950's and 1960's? Dr. Frank Olson was a scientist involved with project MKULTRA, who was later found to be killed by The CIA after being thrown outside a Manhattan New York Hotel Room.

Please read more on Why the CIA killed Dr. Bruce Ivins..

Posted by: Michael | August 2, 2008 9:21 PM

Come on. We all know Saddam Hussein did it. Just ask ABC News. /sarcasm

Posted by: KC | August 2, 2008 9:53 PM

If you employ a bit of critical thinking, it's easy to understand why so many people reading about this story
are skeptical to the point of believing that this "official version" of the story is a classic example of a deliberate, government sponsored disinformation campaign.

What we may have here is "the man who knew too much"
with all the markings of a best selling spy novel.

A leading bio-weapons researcher "suicides" himself with Tylenol 3.

Behind the scenes, "agency" personnel know that if his case for multiple counts of 1st degree murder, goes to trial in an open court of law, that his defense will have every right to full discovery of all documents along with subpoenas demanding that all persons related to the case
appear in court for sworn testimony.

Then last but not least, we have a story that completely
contradicts the 2001 massive fear campaign launched by ABC News to tie these attacks to Iraq and Saddam Hussein, when IN FACT authorities knew all along that the Anthrax spores came from no other place than the Ft. Detrick Bio-Weapons Lab.

What we have here is indisputable " probable cause" for a full scale open investigation.

Posted by: OgreDaddy | August 3, 2008 4:36 AM

Need to look closely at the therapist who drove the guy over the edge and blew the case wide open in her statement to the court in seeking the restraining order.

Posted by: Iquitos | August 3, 2008 8:38 AM

supposedly he died 2 days after taking vicoden ? like he wouldnt know better ?

So this guy was so MENTAL but still working with top secret classified ANTHRAX ?
Gee, i feel safe !

The anthrax attacks happaned at the same time as the 9/11 attacks. 2 letters were mailed BEFORE 9/11.
Both attacks had to do with TERROR

When will people wake UP.
They are LINKED. No arabs did 9/11, and this guy was a pawn not needed anymore...

read more here

Posted by: brad | August 3, 2008 3:32 PM

one in a bunch of dead microbioligists

6 part series on anthrax

Posted by: brad | August 3, 2008 3:36 PM

Google: Black File 7001

Posted by: Lee Vin Bah | August 9, 2008 11:35 PM

nyy Een plaatje zegt alles, toch ? inz Het volledige rapport is hier te vinden. Lees natuurlijk v de blogposting. y s
Thanks for interesting post! xss
[url=]паркет[/url] 3e

Posted by: ламинат | August 13, 2008 4:19 PM

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