First we fire all the lawyers

Posted in Bioterrorism, Extremism at 9:44 am by George Smith

An idle mind is the devil’s playground. That’s a flip way to describe the recent intersection of stupid Dept. of Justice lawyers and the continuing mainstream media interest in anthrax mailer Bruce Ivins. Throw in the mythology surrounding the dead man’s case. It will never die. Stir vigorously.

So the latest new skin mole with hair growing out of it comes courtesy of civil case lawyers at the Dept. of Justice, legal men apparently not really up on the fine details of what the FBI’s arguments were against the man. But dead set on trying to find a reason to explain why the US government not be found liable in the death of Robert Stevens, the first anthrax victim.

Once they had botched their case by filing materials in it incongruent with the FBI’s findings, they “rushed to correct [these things],” reported Scott Shane of the New York Times.

Shane explained:

Lawyers for the department’s civil division wrote in the July 15 filing that the Army’s biodefense center at Fort Detrick, Md., “did not have the specialized equipment in a containment laboratory that would be required to prepare the dried spore preparations that were used in the letters.”

But on Tuesday, the department sent the court a list of corrections to its documents in the Florida lawsuit, filed by the family of Robert Stevens, a tabloid photo editor and one of five people killed in the anthrax attacks. What the filing should have said, the department wrote, was that while the Army lab did not have a lyophilizer, a freeze-drying machine, in the space where Dr. Ivins usually worked, there was a lyophilizer and other equipment in the building that he could have used to dry the anthrax into powder.

This news set off the cult of anthrax denial, a small but rather loud and partially effective group of conspiracy theorists working continuously to exonerate Ivins.

A month ago, it was weaponization and the alleged use of silicon in mailed anthrax preparations. This, it was said, proved Ivins could not have done it. All picked up by the McClatchy new service.

DD posted on that here.

And, again via McClatchy, the current news of stumblebum DoJ lawyers who readers can presume were quite loudly read the riot act behind closed doors over their initial filing in the Stevens imbroglio. In addition to having thrown away the case through professional incompetence, they may have also quietly flushed their jobs down the toilet once this particular moment is over.

In the mainstream press, the news post-Ivins suicide now revolves around publicizing what are minor mistakes and inconsistencies in the FBI case. They rely on a well-earned suspicion of the government and the simple fact that editors and lay readers now simply can’t remember all the fine details of the FBI’s lay out against Ivins.

The arguments spring from the fertile earth of paranoid assumption that everyone at the FBI was incompetent. And that various small holes and misinterpretations of difficult to understand science found because the case was not 100 percent air tight forensically exonerate the man.

Except it never quite happens. Is there some blockbuster item as yet unpublished that will destroy the FBI’s case? Perhaps, but I doubt it.

Anyway, it has not yet been unearthed. In science, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

The FBI largely appeared to fill that requirement. The critics of it, as of yet, haven’t really.

And no amount of publishing in the mainstream press, essentially just nibbling around the edges, will re-open the case barring that.

The mythology will continue. And the next item bubbling under is that some consultant who furnished psychological testimony on Ivins to the FBI relied on a person now being painted as a crackpot.

Past stuff published here on the Ivins case — from the archives.

And — the outsider country music of Bruce Ivins.

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