Anthrax: Case and flask closed

Posted in Bioterrorism, War On Terror at 7:52 am by George Smith

When the US government closed the anthrax case recently, the committee to clear Bruce Ivins and all the conspiracy theorists again emerged from the closet. Because the case took so long and the bioterrorist was at the center of the US biodefense research community, careers and reputations were made and lost on it.

The Department of Justice and FBI released a 96-page executive summary of the case. It contains a good picture of the flask of anthrax death, the gold standard for bioterrorism. In recapping, the scientific work teased out the unique mixture of genetic fingerprint – morphological variance, it’s called – in the mailed anthrax, and matched it with the flask of spores in Ivins’s control.

Ivins was not the only person with access to the glass of horror. However, the bureau eventually cleared Steven Hatfill because he never had access to the area of Ft. Detrick where it was stored when he worked at the institution two years prior to the attacks.

As the FBI continued its investigation, closing in on Ivins’s lab, the scientist made a number of attempts to throw them off the case. At one time Ivins indicated in analysis that a freshly made culture plate of the mailed anthrax looked like that of a colleague’s when it actually looked like his own. In another, he furnished a purposely misleading sample to the FBI.

The rest of the piece by your host can be read at el Reg today here.

The story will never finish cleanly. There are too many who not only don’t trust the US government but who also cannot abide the fact that anthrax was made by one of their own.

Jason at Armchair Generalist dissected a NYT op-ed on the same issues yesterday here.

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