FBI officials defended on Monday the scientific evidence linking a U.S. Army scientist who committed suicide to the deadly 2001 anthrax attacks, but acknowledged missteps occurred early in its investigation.
The FBI marched out a panel of outside scientific experts in an effort to end lingering doubts on whether Dr. Bruce Ivins was solely responsible for the attacks that killed five people and shook a nation already reeling from the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.
In briefings first for scientific journals and then for the news media, the FBI laid out what one official described as a “body of powerful evidence” after nearly seven years of investigation on the origin of the anthrax sent through the U.S. mail system and on the alleged perpetrator.
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The FBI earlier this month released federal court documents that outlined its case against Ivins, a researcher and an anthrax expert at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases or USAMRIID in Maryland.
Ivins killed himself late last month just as prosecutors prepared to charge him with murder for committing the attacks. His attorney has said he was innocent.
Several prominent scientists have questioned the FBI’s case against Ivins and the scientific backing for it.