An independent National Research Council panel cast doubt on the FBI’s certainty that it identified the only source behind the anthrax attacks a decade ago, says USA Today. The panel pointed to “genetic similarities” between anthrax sent by mail and samples from a federal biodefense lab but said it “cannot rule out” that the anthrax might have come from somewhere else. The FBI suspected federal researcher Bruce Ivins as the culprit behind anthrax mailings that left five people dead. Ivins, 62, committed suicide in 2008.
The nation was on high alert in late 2001 when letters containing anthrax spores arrived in offices in Florida, New York, and Washington, D.C. The bacteria sickened 17 people and had killed five others by 2002. “We believe this independent review — done at the FBI’s request — will help strengthen the law enforcement and national security community’s scientific and analytical capabilities in future investigations,” said panel chief Alice Gast, president of Pennsylvania’s Lehigh University.