Independent panel finds that science linking Ivins to government anthrax spores was inconclusive
Feb 16, 2011
A newly released report produced by a panel of independent scientists asserts that there was not enough scientific evidence for the FBI to convict their prime suspect in the 2001 anthrax attacks, vindicating those who have consistently pointed to a deeper conspiracy behind the case.
The $1.1 million report, commissioned by the FBI and produced by The National Academies of Sciences, concludes that the FBI has overstated the science in its investigation into microbiologist Bruce Ivins, who was identified by the FBI’s “Amerithrax Task Force” as the lone perpetrator of the attacks that killed five people and infected 17 others in the weeks immediately following 9/11.
The report casts doubt on the supposed link between a flask of anthrax found in Ivins’ office and letters containing bacterial spores that were mailed to NBC News, the New York Post, and the offices of then-Sen. Tom Daschle and Sen. Patrick Leahy.
“The scientific link between the letter material and flask number RMR-1029 is not as conclusive as stated in the DOJ Investigative Summary,” the 190 page report states.
“Although the scientific evidence was supportive of a link between the letters and that flask, it did not definitively demonstrate such a relationship, for a number of reasons,” said Dr. David Relman, a bioterrorism expert at Stanford University School of Medicine who served as vice chair of the review committee. “Our overarching finding was that it is not possible to reach a definitive conclusion about the origins of the B. anthracis in the mailings based on the available scientific evidence alone.”
“This shows what we’ve been saying all along: that it was all supposition based on conjecture based on guesswork, without any proof whatsoever,” Paul Kemp, a lawyer who represented Ivins, told The Washington Post.
“For years, the FBI has claimed scientific evidence for its conclusion that anthrax spores found in the letters were linked to the anthrax bacteria found in Dr. Ivins’s lab,” said Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa). The report “shows that the science is not necessarily a slam-dunk. There are no more excuses for avoiding an independent review.”
Ivins was found dead in 2008 from an apparent suicide, at the same time the government was about to indict him.
Ivins’ death provided a neat tie up to the case, which was officially closed last year by The Justice Department, concluding that Ivins had stolen the weaponized anthrax spores from the government lab at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases where he worked, without any accomplices.
However, a clear motive was never determined, and no one ever reported seeing Ivins prepare anthrax spores or mail the supposed letters.
The National Academies’ website notes, “The new report is limited to an evaluation of the scientific evidence and does not assess the guilt or innocence of anyone connected to the case.”
The DOJ and the FBI issued a joint statement in response to the panel’s report, which reads:
“The FBI has long maintained that while science played a significant role, it was the totality of the investigative process that determined the outcome of the anthrax case,”
“Although there have been great strides in forensic science over the years, rarely does science alone solve an investigation.” the statement concludes.
The panel’s findings should bring new focus onto previous assertions by a former colleague and friend of Bruce Ivins, and the original suspect in the FBI’s investigation into the attacks.
Shortly after Ivins’ death, Dr. Ayaad Assaad, an Egyptian-born toxicologist at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, declared that Ivins did not kill himself and was not behind the attack at all.
Assaad made the comments in an interview with a local Fort Detrick newspaper in September 2008.
The Frederick News Post reported:
Assaad, who worked in a U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease lab at Fort Detrick from 1989 to 1997 developing a vaccine for ricin, said in an interview Saturday he does not believe Ivins was guilty.
“He’s a great man. He’s honorable, sincere, honest and most important, he didn’t kill five people and he didn’t kill himself,” Assaad told the newspaper.
Assaad knew Ivins well, not only were they colleagues but their four children were all classmates In Frederick.
Assaad was extensively questioned by the FBI On October 1, 2001, a fortnight after the first anthrax letters were mailed. It later emerged that the FBI’s lead, a letter from an unidentified person who claimed Assaad was planning a biological terrorist attack, was false.
The mystery letter identified Assaad as a former USAMRIID microbiologist and also pinpointed his time at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County, indicating that whoever sent it had access to detailed army records.
The anonymous letter was sent shortly after 9/11 but before anyone knew about the anthrax-laced letters. On October 5, 2001, about 10 days after the anonymous letter was mailed, Robert Stevens, Photo Editor of The Sun in Florida, became the first of five individuals to die from an anthrax infection, indicating that someone had wanted to frame Assaad for the attacks.
“This anthrax issue is part of a much bigger issue,” Assaad also commented. “The roots of corruption are so deep in (USAMRIID), and this is the thing that the people in Frederick don’t understand.”
Former government biological weapons legislator Dr Francis Boyle shares Assaad’s view that Ivins has been used as a patsy in a larger cover up.
“Ivins is only the latest dead microbiologist.” Boyle has previously stated, “You also have to tie into this the large numbers of dead microbiologists that have appeared since around the summer before these events, when the New York Times revealed the existence of the covert anthrax weapons programs run by the CIA, and that too is in the public record.”
In September 2007, Ivins sent an e-mail to himself, in which he said he knew of the identity of the anthrax killer, without actually stating who he believed it to be. It is not known why he did this. Prior to his death in 2008, he told friends that government agents were hounding him and his family.
Related video: Prof. Francis Boyle on The Alex Jones Show August 21, 2008 – Anthrax “Inside Job”
This article was posted: Wednesday, February 16, 2011 at 10:50 am