The FBI never examined anthrax samples from the 2001 contamination of a biodefense lab that was covered up by their lead suspect in the anthrax mailings, reports USA Today. A leading expert called the decision “weird.” Researcher Bruce Ivins confessed to cleaning up the office contamination without telling anyone during an investigation at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Md. Ivins, who committed suicide, was blamed for the mailings that killed five and sickened 17. Paul Keim, a microbiologist at Northern Arizona University, said the FBI’s decision not to examine the contamination samples was “weird” given the intensity of investigators’ focus on biodefense researchers.
“Why didn’t (the FBI) analyze it? One presumes this was pretty relevant evidence,” says biodefense analyst Michael Stebbins of the Federation of American Scientists in Washington, D.C., who was not part of the investigation. “It raises questions about systematic errors in the FBI investigation.”