FBI Closes Anthrax Case; Critics Say It Wouldn’t Pass Court Test


The Justice Department has ended its eight-year investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks with the release of hundreds of pages of documents that starkly portray the mental unraveling of the deceased Army scientist accused of the worst act of bioterrorism in U.S. history, reports the Washington Post. The records offer substantial support for the FBI’s contention that biologist Bruce Ivins single-handedly prepared and mailed deadly anthrax spores that killed five people and terrorized a nation reeling from the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

A 96-page summary concludes that Ivins hatched the anthrax-by-mail scheme in hopes of creating a scare that would rescue what he considered his greatest achievement, an anthrax vaccine program that he had helped create but that by 2001 was in danger of failing. The validity of the FBI’s case will never be tested in court. Ivins, a biologist at the Army’s Fort Detrick, Md., biodefense lab, committed suicide in 2008 as government lawyers were preparing to charge him. Critics of the bureau’s handling of the investigation said they were still not satisfied that the true killer had been found. “Arbitrarily closing the case on a Friday afternoon should not mean the end of this investigation,” said Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), whose district contained the mailbox from which the anthrax letters were sent. “The evidence the FBI produced would not, I think, stand up in court.”

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