Posts Tagged ‘microbiologist

A Tragic Death: American Justice is Laid to Rest with Dr. Bruce Ivins

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For colleagues, a ‘quiet, giving kind of guy’

Our condolences on the tragic death of Dr. Bruce Ivins, the lastest casualty in the war of terror. We are particularly saddened by the smear campaign and scapegoating that led to his death, as Dr. Ivins fell prey to a legalized form of witchhunting — known as the Dick Cheney One-Percent Doctrine — which, beginning in 2001, replaced over 200 years of justice. A strategy for determining criminal guilt, the One-Percent Doctrine disregards the need for factual evidence, so long as there is a probability that such evidence exists — and a small probability, at that. According to the Cheney’s One-Percent Doctrine, if a perceived threat seems 1% true, you should act as if it’s 100% true. According to Cheney’s One-Percent Doctrine, I may be a terrorist, and you may be, too.

This was the doctrine used to take our country to war in Iraq. This was the doctrine used to accuse Dr. Ivins of heinous crimes against humanity. This was the doctrine used to smear Dr. Ivins’ good name, to subject him to a relentlessly invasive investigation for evidence that appears to be non-existent, and to then try him posthumously in the court of the media: guilty, case closed.

The problem with shoehorning an investigation toward pre-conceived evidence — and, ultimately, a pre-conceived verdict — is that, well, this only works in dictatorships, and only because the people are powerless to protest the injustice. America is not quite there. Not yet. Which means that I can still use my voice to protest this injustice — to correct the story of Bruce Ivins — because the official version is riddled with discrepancies. In re-telling his story, we can only aspire to a closer truth. In this, we hope to restore some of the justice robbed from Bruce Ivins in the course of the shoddily-constructed allegations and the investigation that have been waged against him.

The FBI and Department of Justice have announced that they may decide, as early as today, to pronounce Ivins guilty, case closed. We would like to assure the FBI and the Department of Justice that this in no way kills the truth. There are still many in this country who believe in the basic tenets of justice in a democratic society. It is in this shared spirit of justice and human kindness that we begin his story by offering the following truths about Dr. Ivins, as spoken by those who, perhaps, knew him best:

  • Ivans’ attorney, Paul F. Kemp, asserted Ivins’ innocence and stated that Ivans had been cooperating with the anthrax probe for more than six years, using his expertise as a scientist to help the government, and had also been cooperating for over a year, after the investigation was turned toward Ivins. In a statement made after Ivins’ death, Kemp said, “We are saddened by his death, and disappointed that we will not have the opportunity to defend his good name and reputation in a court of law.” In another statement, Kemp said, “We assert his innocence in these killings, and would have established that at trial. The relentless pressure of accusation and innuendo takes its toll in different ways on different people, as has already been seen in this investigation. In Dr. Ivins’ case, it led to his untimely death.”
  • Dr. Russell Byrne — Bruce Ivins’ friend and colleague for 15 years — believes that federal investigators were going after the wrong person, and that it was their pressure on Ivins that led to his suicide. In an interview with MSNBC, Dr. Byrne describes the effect the investigation had on Ivins, starting a year ago, as it incapicatated him to working. Dr. Byrnes scoffed at the “ridiculous motives” offered by federal investigators, and cited examples to disprove their claims against Ivins.
  • Arthur O. Anderson, a medical doctor and scientist at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease at Fort Detrick, and a co-worker for many years, said of Dr. Ivins, “He was concerned with how the Institute was perceived and how he was perceived. That manifested itself in the care he took in conducting his research.” Dr. Anderson futher described Ivins as “a hard-working individual with a high level of integrity and pride in both his workplace and his individual work.” Dr. Anderson believe in Ivins’ innocence and believes that Ivins has been used as a scapegoat in the anthrax case.
  • Retired Army Lt. Col. Jeffrey Adamovicz — former director of the bacteriology division at USAMRIID — told The News that the FBI’s probe into the 2001 anthrax killings had upended the work of the lab by turning scientists into suspects – and pushed his pal over the edge. “I just cannot see that Bruce would in any way, shape or form be responsible for something like that,” he said. “I’d like to see these charges substantiated, because just like [with] Dr. Hatfill, there could be nothing to these allegations.” He said the FBI has created a psychologically toxic atmosphere for scientists at Fort Detrick. “We were there processing information for agents and then one day they turned around and treated us all like suspects,” he said. The agents’ criteria for additional suspicion was “who’s working the most overtime,” said Adamovicz, who also was questioned by the feds. “The Bruce I knew,” Adamovicz said, “would not have anything to do with this.” In statement to the Washington Post, Adamovicz said, “I really don’t think he’s the guy. I say to the FBI, ‘Show me your evidence’.” He added, referring to the intense investigative pressure on Ivins, “A lot of the tactics they used were designed to isolate him from his support. The FBI just continued to push his buttons.”
  • Friends and neighbors said he was an avid gardener, an active walker and a volunteer with the Red Cross. Ivins and his wife of 33 years, Diane, had 24-year-old twins, whom they raised in a modest white house with red shutters across the street from Fort Detrick in Frederick, where Ivins worked at the U.S. Army’s institute for infectious diseases.
  • “Anybody that knew Bruce through his church affiliation is just dumbfounded,” said Bill McCormick, who attended St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in Frederick with Ivins for 25 years. He said Ivins was a “quiet, giving kind of guy,” and the news that he was about to be charged in the attacks did not fit with the Ivins he knew.
  • David Danley, who worked with Ivins at Fort Detrick to develop a new anthrax vaccine for almost 10 years until 2003, says he has a hard time believing Ivins could be the anthrax killer. He remembers a cute gesture he would make to his daughter when they would see Ivins at their church. “My daughter was involved in a little theater in Frederick,” Danley said. “And whenever she was in a musical, she would walk into church, and [Ivins] would be at the piano. And he would start playing a tune from the musical she was in … just as a quiet sort of hello.”
  • Two military scientists who had worked closely with Ivins on projects for years, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said yesterday they were stunned and angry that he was being depicted as a suspect in the attacks without hard evidence being released by the FBI.
  • “Nobody thinks Bruce did it,” said one scientist. He described Ivins as “socially awkward” but he “certainly wasn’t a recluse or a hermit.” He added, “He was kind of a geeky scientist.”
  • Dr. Kenneth Hedlund, who worked with Bruce Ivins at Fort Detrick, says he thinks the government needed a scapegoat. He says the FBI was under a lot of pressure after paying nearly $6 million to Steven Hatfill — another researcher who had been under suspicion in the anthrax attacks. “Unfortunately, Bruce Ivins was a good guy — he was probably more vulnerable, and with the pressure they applied to him, they forced him to this position,” Hedlund remembers the scientist as an outgoing, friendly man who juggled at parties.
    Hedlund says he feels sorry for Ivins’ wife and children, and he is bothered by what he calls the government’s rush to say the problem is solved. “It’s a damn shame that they’ve chosen him as a fall guy, and I think they’ve chosen him as a fall guy because he was too human,” Hedlund says.
  • Another colleague said, “I’ve talked to several friends, and we’re all just really sad and shocked. I hate to see him painted as a person who could’ve done this.”
  • The official statement issued by USAMRIID said “The agency mourns the loss of Dr. Bruce Ivins, who served the institute for more than 35 years as a civilian microbiologist.” Time magazine commented: “That seems like an unusual thing to say if you believe one of your employees had something to do with an anthrax attack. It now remains incumbent on the FBI to reveal what information it had linking Ivins to the attacks. Given the federal government’s record on the anthrax investigation, and the national security interests involved, Ivins’ death should not be used as an excuse for the case to be closed without a full, public airing.”
  • Several of Ivins’ neighbors said they believe the government had the wrong man — and suggest that perhaps the real killer is still out there.
  • “I feel so badly for his family,” said Duggan, an adult-education worker who has lived next to the Ivinses since they bought the 1,500-square-foot house in 1990. It was just the opposite, she said. Whenever she saw him on the street, he would wave heartily and they would chat. She said he walked regularly, perhaps to help his bad back. When she needed a chain saw for some yard work, Ivins showed up and did the job. “Bruce was the kind of neighbor that anyone would want to have,” Duggan said.
  • Ivins was the son of a Princeton-educated pharmacist, and one of his ancestors had opened a pharmacy in town in 1893, in Lebanon, Ohio. His family had deep roots in the small town near Cincinnati.


It is apparent to many who truly knew Dr. Ivins — as well as many who didn’t — that the official story, as painted by the FBI and the Department of Justice, has so far failed to accomplish more than weaving a case built on innuendo and unsubtantitated allegations. Below, we offer a corrected and more comprehenisive version of the story than has been offered in the official version. The version you will read below begins with some background, then details a total of 11 counterpoints to the case against Dr. Ivins, following a somewhat surreptitious, but relevent, sequence of events that began after September 11, 2001, when all the world was reeling in a shell-shock of horror. All the world, that is, except for the henchmen in the Bush Administration. There was work to be done….

A Constitution to Dismantle

…beginning with the September 13th passage of Senate Amendment #1562, — the “Combatting Terrorism Act of 2001,” which, in effect, gave our government license to brand me a terrorist and to wiretap my phone and computer, based solely on the above paragraph I just wrote. And it gave them license to do so, based solely on the say-so of, say, the local Barney Fife.

In the wake of 9-11, the pressure was understandably immense on Capitol Hill to create strong anti-terrorism legislation. But a different sort of pressure was felt by at least one lawmaker on the Hill — to not trample the Constitution in the panic over 9-11. While Attorney General Ashcroft was urging speedy passage of wire-tapping legislation, Senator Patrick Leahy urged calm deliberation. “I worry that we may run into the situation,” Leahy said, “where all of us have joined together in our horror at these despicable, murderous acts in New York and at the Pentagon–we do not want to change our laws so that it comes back to bite us later on.”

Tensions flared between Ashcroft and Leahy, as Leahy argued against rushing the amendment through, in the absence of the customary hearings and discussion that would normally accompany such legislation. Equally concerning to Sen. Leahy, as seen in his statements, was the balancing act between civil liberties and constitutional law, against the vagueness and ambiguity of the bill’s language on wiretapping and terrorism.

“We are going to amend our wiretap laws so we can look into anybody’s computers,” Leahy said during the Amendment 1562 deliberations.

“Maybe the senate wants to just go ahead and adopt new abilities to wiretap our citizens. Maybe they want to adopt new abilities to go into people’s computers. Maybe that will make us feel safer. Maybe. And maybe what the terrorists have done made us a little bit less safe. Maybe they have increased big brother in this country.

“If that is what the Senate wants, we can vote for it. But do we really show respect to the American people by slapping something together, something that nobody on the floor can explain, and say we are changing the duties of the Attorney General, the Director of the CIA, the U.S. Attorneys, we are going to change your rights as Americans, your rights to privacy? We are going to do it with no hearings, no debate. We are going to do it with numbers on a page that nobody can understand….

If we are going to change habeas corpus, change our rights as Americans, if we are going to change search and seizure provisions, if we are going to give new rights for state investigators to come into federal court to seek remedies in the already overcrowded federal courts, fine, the Senate can do that. But what have we done to stop terrorism, and to help the people in New York and the survivors at the Pentagon?

“We do it to fight terrorism on computers…. but how is a terrorist defined? We know what terrorism was at the trade towers…. We do not (in this amendment) define terrorism…. I guess some kid who is scaring you with his computer could be a terrorist and you could go through the kid’s house, his parents’ business or anything else under this language. It (the language in the amendment) is that broad.

Amendment 1562 nonetheless passed within hours of Leahy’s statements. Within one month, Amendment 1562 and others were combined into the first version of the US PATRIOT ACT — introduced on Oct. 2 and passed on October 12. Eleven days later, on October 23 *(and in the wake of the September 18th and October 9th anthrax mailings) the ‘new and improved,’ 300+ page version of the US PATRIOT ACT was introduced. And in the minds of civil libratarians, constitutional scholars and citizens across the country — this new version of the US PATRIOT ACT also introduced a full-scale assault on the U.S. Constitution. But the mood was urgent. After all, the terrorists were mailing anthrax all over the country. What next? Who next? Where next? The rest is history.

Tracking Terrorists. Or Not.

The pertinence of these events to the alleged suicide of Bruce E. Ivins is threefold. (1) These events reveal the fervor of our government to staunch terrorism — even to the extent that U.S. laws were perplexingly changed, in the interest of tracking terrorists, to allow our government to surveil our cable television viewing habits. (2) Two of the most powerful voices on the Hill — Senators Leahy and Daschle, the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Majority Leader, respectively — waged strong dissent to passing the US PATRIOT ACT and were also the only two lawmakers targeted in the anthrax mailings. (3) Senate Amendment #1562 — passed only two days after 9-11 — issued a congressional directive to President Bush to ensure, within 60 days, proper safety standards for government labs that handle biological pathogens, as follows:

“Commencing not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall undertake appropriate actions to enhance the standards for
the physical protection and security of the biological pathogens described in subsection (a) at the research laboratories and other government and private facilities in the United States that create, possess, handle, store, or transport such pathogens in order to protect against the theft or other wrongful diversion of such pathogens.”

That this congressional directive was specifically applicable to Fort Detrick, and to the manufacturing and handling of anthrax, and to an Army scientist named Bruce E. Ivins, makes all the more curious the events that then transpired, from September 13, 2001 to Dr. Ivin’s death on July 29, 2008. It is in the spirit of due process that we offer the following counterpoints to the ‘trial by media’ now being conducted against a man who is still, under the existing laws of this country, innocent.

In the Spirit of Due Process


Its ludicrous to think that our government would allow — either before or after the Amendment 1562 legislation — a lifelong homicidal sociopath (as Dr. Ivins has been painted since his death) to work for 18 years at Fort Detrick, a high-security Department of Defense laboratory, as a scientist entrusted with biological warfare agents, such as anthrax. Ask any one who has been through a background check for a Q-Level security clearance with the Department of Defense. It’s ludicrous.


Equally ludicrous are the recent media reports suggesting that the administration’s “bungling” of the investigation was responsible for the fact that — for the past 1-1/2 years since the FBI began investigating him — Ivins continued to work at Fort Detrick until just a few weeks ago, when he was removed “because of fears he had become a danger to himself or others.” Just ask any person in this country, who has flown, post-9-11 (ask Maher Arar, who can attest) — this administration spares no stealth or effort to scrutinize potential terrorists, and will pursue the faintest molecule of a lead with the intensity of a corpse-sniffing dog. Were Dr. Ivins truly seen as a threat — a “terrorist” by definition, if he were 1% guilty of the anthrax mailings — he would not have been allowed to board a plane in this country, much less work with biological warfare agents in a DOD laboratory.


The media’s cherry-picking of quotes and their lack of factual context is reprehensible, unethical, and unbalanced. In some instances, the reports smack of propaganda. One such is example , is the reporting on the allegations of guilt, waged by Bruce Ivans’ brother, Tom, who had not even spoken to Bruce since 1985 — the reasons for this 23-year distance unknown to us. Lacking this context, the media nonetheless sees fit to repeat ad nauseam that Ivins’ brother, Tom, believes Bruce to be guilty of the anthrax mailings. “He considered himself like a god,” said Tom, and the media glommed onto this statement, as if to somehow bolster the FBI’s case against Bruce Ivins.

This armchair verdict, delivered by Dr. Ivins’ brother, would perhaps carry some weight, if not for the fact that brother Tom presents as a petty, embittered, puffed-up old man, jealous of Bruce’s intellect and success. Tom paints both of his brothers (Bruce and Charles) as wooses, for their lack of athletic prowess in high school, a million years ago. Were the media responsible, rather than acting as complicitious flesh-eaters with the FBI, they would disregard entirely this guilty verdict, delivered by a brother whose heart is so filled with bile, that he can only speak ill of his dead brother and of his other brother, Charles, currently recovering from heart open-heart surgery. In the interest of balance, here is the report of an exchange between the media (NPR) and brother Tom:

Tom Ivins, who lives in Middletown, Ohio, admits he hasn’t spoken to his younger brother Bruce since 1985. He won’t say why, except that there’s no law that requires him to maintain contact.
“I don’t owe him anything,” Tom Ivins says.

Tom says he used to give his little brother rides in his bicycle basket when they were kids, but “we didn’t play together because I was very athletic myself.”

Their father was a pharmacist and their mother was a homemaker in Lebanon, Ohio. Tom played football in high school, while Bruce ran cross-country. But Tom says his brothers, Bruce and Charles, shared a disturbing family trait. “They grew up with that attitude — I didn’t — that they were omnipotent,” Tom Ivins says.

He says there were no signs that something was wrong with his brother when they were younger, but he thinks pressure from law enforcement probably led to Bruce’s suicide.

Tom says he is a much stronger man than Bruce was — proven by the way Tom says he handled questioning about the case by the FBI. “They asked me a few questions, like ‘What were you like growing up,’ like family history questions, and I didn’t buckle like the walls of Jericho coming tumbling down under their questioning, but it seems my two brothers did,” he says. “Charles was not as strong as I am, nor was Bruce.”

When asked if there’s anything he liked about his brother, Tom replies, “No, I didn’t.”

He says he isn’t sorry his brother is dead.


Ivans allegedly mailed the anthrax letters as part of a “warped plan to test his vaccine for the deadly poison.” For one thing (and we don’t claim to be experts on anthrax vaccines) aren’t vaccines given before, rather than after exposure to a pathogen? The antidote of choice for anthrax exposure is the antibiotic Cipro, which Bush, Cheney and other White House staff began taking on September 11th, one week before the first anthrax letters were mailed out.

Another thing, regarding Ivins’ alleged diabolical plot to test his vaccine — how did this plan interface with mailing anthrax to Leahy and Daschle, two of the most outspoken voices against the PATRIOT ACT? Were these targets mere coincidence? And was it mere coincidence that these letters were mailed 3 days before the first version of the US PATRIOT ACT was voted into law? Also, in the interest of “testing his vaccine,” why would Ivins have chosen to scatter the other letters across the county? The impracticality of this plan defies common logic. And why were these letters sent to media outlets? What possible purpose would these targets serve, to a mad scientist, bent on testing his latest invention? You do not have to be a conspiracy theorist to notice who stood to gain the most from scaring the hell out of the media and our lawmakers — and, by extension all of America — at a time when our Constitution was being systematically dimantled.

In this light, a little-known truth is that the most logical culprit — the CIA — was being investigated as early as December 2001, as reported in Washington Post. The CIA was found to be involved in anthrax research and testing, and was named as possible suspects in the anthrax mailings. The CIA and their contractor, Battelle Memorial Institute were under fire before 9-11, as reported in a September 4, 2001 New York Times article, which described some of the CIA’s work throughout 2001, conducting secret tests with biological weapons, specifically anthrax. According to teh article, the CIA’s goal was to first “engineer genetically a potentially more potent variant of the bacterium that causes anthrax,” and then to “assess whether the vaccine now being given to millions of American soldiers is effective against such a superbug.” Accused of testing “the limits of the global treaty banning such weapons,” the CIA claimed their experiments were for ‘defense’ purposes only and, therefore, allowed under the treaty.

Regardless of their purposes, the fact is that the CIA experiments with myriad strains of anthrax and, in September 2001, the CIA actually held in their possession the identical strain (Ames) sent to Senators Leahy and Daschle. This fact, in itself, constitutes nothing. But the fact that the CIA initailly concealed this information from the FBI during their early investigation constitutes something.


Ivins’ alleged diagnosis of ‘sociopath, homicidal killer’ was delivered secondhand, in the form of hearsay, by his therapist of 6-months — a social worker, named Jean Duley — who said: “He has been forensically diagnosed by several top psychiatrists as a sociopath, homicidal killer.” Diagnosed by several top psychiatrists? Who? Who are these ‘top psychiatrists’ that diagnosed Ivins? And why were their names not given? Did Dr. Ivins, in death, lose the right to at least have the names of his accusers posted along with the accusations that have now been so freely and publicly waged in the media? Or are we to accept the hearsay of Jean Duley as fact? Does her position as a mental health counselor give her license to broadcast hearsay, as if it were sanctified fact?

Of course, the records clearly indicate that Dr. Ivins was increasingly distressed and depressed, possibly to the point of a breakdown, as evidenced by his recent behaviors and psychiatric hospitalization. Most people, it is safe to say, would experience at least some of this, were they subjected to an intense FBI investigation for 1-1/2 years — particularly if being investigated for a crime that wasn’t committed, as may have been the case with Dr. Ivins. We don’t know.

We have not been made privy to Dr. Ivins’ mental state before the FBI investigation began, nor to what medications he may have been on for depression, nor for the time frame of this prescription and how this may have factored into his recent behavior. There is ample medical precedence for anti-depressants causing uncharacteristic anger, rage and violent tendencies — the very behaviors allegedly exhibited by Dr. Ivins in the weeks before his death, which prompted Jean Duley to place a restraining order against him.

What was his behavior before medications? How did this compare to his behavior after he started taking meds? Was he given additional medications while in the psychiatric hospital? Was he given the benefit of proper oversight for possible adverse effects from his prescription(s)? The questions are myriad, and are important enough that they should have been asked and properly answered by qualified, unbiased, caring professionals, before the media broadcast the Jean Duley allegations, as if they were fact.

Regarding ‘facts,’ we, in America, have been conditioned over the past 7 years to believe, without question, what we read and hear in the media, even as the sources for the news are rarely given. In recent, important news stories (e.g. as happened in the lead- up to, and the ongoing war in Iraq) the presented ‘facts’ are all-too-often quoted to us by ‘anonymous’ sources (e.g. “military officials said,” or “White House sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity” or government sources said”) The same has now happened with Dr. Ivins. In reporting Dr. Ivins death, the AP story reads, “Several U.S. officials, all of whom discussed the ongoing investigation on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media…”

These anonymous officials who were ‘unauthorized to speak to the media’ nonetheless spoke to the media, to annouce that “prosecutors were closing in on the 62-year-old Ivins for the 2001 anthrax attacks.” That our own government has been implicated in the anthrax letters of 2001 makes highly innappropriate their role in this posthumous trial-by-media, sans an independent investigation into both the anthrax allegations and the mental health allegations made against Dr. Ivins. The media abrogated their professional responsibility to substantiate the facts as delivered by Jean Duley and the agents of our government. The media abrogated the ethics of their profession –choosing, instead, complicity in the campaign to paint Dr. Ivins as a homicidal monster, a terrorist who — but for the grace of suicide — would have gone on ‘another’ murdurous, terrorist rampage.

To put this in a historical context, it bears mentioning that in both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, “psychiatric” records of dissidents were kept and used to document the “illnesses” prior to sending the “patients” for “rehabilitation” in the concentration camps of Germany and the gulags of Siberia. Under the circumstances of Dr. Ivins’ case, our government cannot be considered as either a valid or unbiased source for the accusations and diagnoses made against Dr. Ivins. Particularly so long as these quoted sources of these allegations remain anonymous in the media. The fact that these sources belong to the government body accused of the very crimes for which they were building a case against Dr. Ivins reeks of corruption.


Bruce Ivins had no prior criminal record before the restraining order placed against him by Jean Duley — a social worker/counselor, whose behavior can only be called outrageous — as she is now waging more unsubstantiate allegations in the media, accusing Dr. Ivins of additional heinous crimes, such as plotting to poison and murder people as far back as 2000. “He attempted to murder several other people,” she alleges. “He is a revenge killer.” Unlike Bruce Ivins, whose criminal record was squeaky clean before his mental breakdown last month, Jean Duley is alleged to have a long criminal record dating back to the 1992, with charges ranging from criminal battery, to DUI, to reckless to driving, to possession of drug paraphenalia. The ethics of her professional betrayal of Ivins over the past month — beginning with the hearsay she used to obtain the restraining order, and leading, now, to her current allegations being broadcast to the media — have been called to task by at least one health care professional. Arthur O. Anderson, a medical doctor and scientist at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease at Fort Detrick, said Duley’s description of Ivins doesn’t match his impressions of a man with whom he worked for many years. Dr. Anderson believes Ivins is being used as a scapegoat in the anthrax case. Of Jean Duley, Dr. Anderson said:

The remaining allegations about murderous ideas and plans sound so foreign to me that in the absence of contemporaneously documented evidence I would have to consider them items of Ms. Duley’s vivid imagination or information fed to her by the people she communicated with outside the therapeutic environment. It is not at all surprising to me that a patient whose therapist is serving as a double agent ‘therapist’ and ‘accuser’ would become very angry with the therapist and might make some rather dramatic expressions of that anger.

On this note, we do not know the nature of the information exchanged between the FBI investigators and Jean Duley, nor do we know how this information might have influenced Jean Duley’s assessment and treatment of Dr. Ivins. What we do know is that the FBI investigators travelled to Dr. Ivans’ hometown of Lebanon, Ohio and searched through Ivin’s high school yearbooks. They investigated Ivins’ family home to determine who built it, and who designed it. They spent 45 minutes to an hour in the basement of the family pharmacy. They scoured the background of Ivins’ family. It stands to reason that they had at least one conversation with Jean Duley.


Not all of the anthrax letters contained the Ames strain sent to the two senators — an impracticality for a mad scientist bent on testing his new Ames strain vaccine. On a related note, not all of the anthrax letters even contained anthrax. Or did they? A mystery yet-to-be explained is the existence of the Nevada-Malaysia anthrax letter. This letter tested postive, then negative, then postive, then negative for anthrax. It was postmarked Reno, Nevada (not from Ivans’ home state of Maryland) and addressed to Malaysia, where it travelled, then received a Malaysian postmark, before returning back to Nevada. The letter was discovered, upon opening, to be filled with pornographic pictures and anthrax. How did Ivans get that letter all the way to a Nevada mailbox, then arrange for someone in Malaysia to fill it with pornography & anthrax and return it back to Nevada? Of course, the presence of anthrax in this letter was later dismissed as false. True or false, who can say? And what difference would it make? The fear had already done its duty and was permanenly fixed in our minds. All that most Americans can recall from those days is the general horror of terrorists mailing anthrax all over the country, and of the overwhelming fears: Who next? What next?

The media and this administration never bothered to set the facts straight on the Nevada-Malaysia letter, although, at this point, whose ‘facts’ could we even trust to believe? This type disinformation was to become a pattern, which still exists — in which false news is reported to great fanfare, often generating much fear, but is never corrected once the true story emerges. The laws of probability negate the possibility that the level of disinformation disseminated by our government is anything but intentional. (And it bears mention, in relation to the Nevada-Malaysia anthrax letter, that Malaysia was a key player in the events leading up to 9-11, as the CIA had monitored a January 2000 meeting of the alleged 9-11 al Qaeda terrorists in Malaysia at the “Kuala Lumpur summit of 2000,” where the CIA is accused of having “literally watched as the 9-11 scheme was hatched–and had photographs of the attack’s mastermind” and of then not using this intelligence to prevent the events of 9-11).


This convoluted mish-mash of details no doubt factored into the repeated requests made by Congress for the Bush Administration to divulge their investigation into the anthrax letters, a request that was first stonewalled with silence then, finally, a flat denial. The Bush administration has refused all congressional requests for information on the investigation for nearly seven years. Even the two Democratic officials whose offices were targets of the anthrax mailings, Daschle and Leahy, have been denied any significant briefing on the progress of the case. In this light, it seems interesting that the FBI has now annonced plans to brief the families of the anthrax victims — in the wake of Ivins’ death, and in the absence of a full and complete intestigation into the facts of the case.


According to recent media reports, the governments case against Ivans was based, in part, on “Unusual behavior by Ivins was noted at Fort Detrick in the six months following the anthrax mailings, when he conducted unauthorized testing for anthrax spores outside containment areas at the infectious disease research unit where he worked, according to an internal report.” Dating his alleged “unusual behavior” and “unauthorized testing” to the anthrax mailings is foul play — an intentional ploy to weave guilt-by-association. Moreover, the allegations of “unauthorized testing” by Dr. Ivins are a lie. Dr. Ivins has never accused of this. The media’s false allegation apparently stems from a December 2001 anthrax contamination incident at Fort Detrick. According to the report from the internal investigation, the contamination was caused by “inadequate decontamination to the outside of shipping containers” during transport inside the facility. Ivans is reported to have cleaned the contamination, but to have delayed reporting it until April 2002. There is zero mention in the 2002 investigation of “unauthorized testing” by Ivans.

Ivans’ statement to Army investigators during the investigation echoes this truth: “In retrospect, although my concern for biosafety was honest and my desire to refrain from crying ‘Wolf!’ was sincere, I should have notified my supervisor ahead of time of my worries about a possible breach in biocontainment. I thought that quietly and diligently cleaning the dirty desk area would both eliminate any possible [anthrax] contamination as well as prevent unintended anxiety at the institute.” There were no charges, nor accusations waged against Ivans. In fact, the Army’s high esteem for Ivans, and for the integrity of his work, was publicly lauded the following year, in 2003, when Ivans awarded the Pentagon’s highest civilian award for resolving technical problems afflicting the Army’s anthrax vaccine.


Particularly odd, is that Congress has been virtually blocked from information on the anthrax investigation, despite repeated requests. On October 23, 2006 Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa sent a six-page letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales requesting a briefing on the anthrax investigation. By December 2006, a total of 33 members of Congress demanded that the Attorney General update them on the investigation. By mutual agreement between the FBI and the Department of Justice, the request was denied. One year later, in a September 2007 interview, Sen. Patrick Leahy commented, midway throughthe interview, on the anthrax case:


Interviewer: Yeah, I don’t think there’s any other way to look at it. And when you call it what it is, it was biological warfare conducted against the highest levels of the US government.
Leahy: What I want to know — I have a theory. But what I want to know is why me, why Tom Daschle, why Tom Brokaw?
Interviewer: Right. That all fits into the profile of a kind of hard-core and obviously insane ideologue on the far Right, somebody who would fixate on especially Tom Daschle, who at that point was the target of daily, vitriolic attacks on Right-wing talk radio.
Leahy: [Slowly, with a little shake of the head] I don’t think it’s somebody insane. I’d accept everything else you said. But I don’t think it’s somebody insane. And I think there are people within our government — certainly from the source of it — who know where it came from. [Taps the table to let that settle in] And these people may not have had anything to do with it, but they certainly know where it came from.


Tom Daschle (the other senator who, along with Leahy received an anthrax letter) has said about the case: I think the FBI owes us a complete accounting of their investigation and ought to be able to tell us at some point, how we’re going to bring this to closure. I think the American people deserve to know more than they do today.


There is so much disinformation, innuendo and unsubstantiated allegation being peddled in the media right now, that it’s impossible to dismantle it all, short of 500,000 more words, plus a week’s worth of hours to research to document the facts vs. lies. The fact is, we do not know the circumstances surrounding these allegations, not do we know the integrity or conflicts of interests that may exist in the sources who make these allegations. To the extent the media have allowed this “trial by media” in the absence of honest, journalistic reporting makes them complicitious in what can only be called a reprehensible smear campaign against Dr. Ivins. Perhaps he is, indeed, guilty of all the accusations. Or of only some of the accusations. Or of none at all. We may never know. But one thing is certain: Dr. Ivins deserves better than the trial by media he is now receiving. This travesty is but one example of how corrupt our democracy has become.


On that note, it’s important to remember that Dr. Ivins was not the first bioweapons researcher to be named as “a person of interest” by the Department of Justice in the anthrax investigation. He was not the first to be surreptitiously accused of terrorism — of murdering 5 people — and to then be subjected to an intense investigation and a trial by media, with unsubstantiated allegations and innuendo waged against him and leaked to the media by anonymous government sources. Dr. Ivins was not the first to shed tears, as his life became destroyed by the harrassment of the investigation. Dr. Ivins’ predecessor in this travesty of justice was Steven Hatfield, who sued the U.S. government for leaking his name to the media and ruining his reputation — and he won his case. On June 27th of this year, Hatfield was awarded $5.85 million in his settlement with the U.S. government. In the wake of his settlement, Hatfield’s lawyers offered these statements to the press:

“We can only hope that the individuals and institutions involved are sufficiently chastened by this episode to deter similar destruction of private citizens in the future – and that we will all read anonymously sourced news reports with a great deal more skepticism…. The good news is that we still live in a country where a guy who’s been horribly abused can go to a judge and say, ‘I need your help,’ and maybe it takes a while, but he gets justice,”

The tragedy today is that Dr. Ivins will never realize this promise of justice. It is up to the rest of us to demand that his good name be cleared and his memory be given the justice that was robbed from him in life.


Inscription at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out –
because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out –
because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out –
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.


For more reading, see:
These are the court documents on the “Amerithrax” case (a stupid name obviously intented to evoke a discordant mix of warm fuzzy patriotic feelings of horror over the anthrax letters ). Released by the Department of Justice on August 6, 2008, this dossier of weak, circumstantial evidence — much of it based on suppositions, made by unnamed sources, with no tangible evidence to back them up — documents the valiant efforts by the FBI and DOJ to substantiate the case that Bruce Ivins carries “sole responsibility” for the anthrax letters.

This site contains an interesting chronology on the events surrounding the anthrax letters and other biowarfare-related topics surrounding 9-11, including the off number of deaths of many microbiologists connected to the U.S. government’s biowarfare programs. Most of the links on this site are dead, but we’ve researched and found credible sources to verify the validity of many claims:

A compilation fo Ivins’ letters to the editor at the Frederick Newspost from 1997-forward: