Saturday, August 2, 2008

Sourcing

Back in 2002, in preparation for an interview on the anthrax letters for "Unsolved Mysteries," I reviewed the media coverage. As I read article after article, I found that the statements most germane to an understanding of the case were almost entirely unsourced. It was unnerving to conclude that I knew very little about the letters, as so little of the reported "evidence" was derived from people willing to go on the record.

The same appears to be happening in current reporting on Bruce Ivins. Though I deeply respect LA Times reporter David Willman, who has twice won a Pulitzer, his breaking stories on Bruce Ivins are almost entirely unsourced. Did Ivins really stand to gain financially from his anthrax vaccine patents? Historically, government employees do not receive these royalties: the government does. If this modest bench scientist had a financial motive (plus access to weaponized anthrax, plus ability to mail letters from New Jersey and other places such as the UK) it is critical to the case, and the evidence needs to be unimpeachable.

Lest we forget: this case has had 3 false leads, who were probably deliberately set up, before Bruce Ivins: Hatfill, Assaad, and the ex-Detrick scientists who harrassed Assaad.

1 comment:

Desertvet said...

It is interesting that this is the same reporter credited for the investigative article below.

FEAR INC.: A TIMES INVESTIGATION New anthrax vaccine doomed by lobbying

On the Sunday night after Sept. 11, 2001, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson convened an urgent meeting of health officials and leading scientists.
"Tommy Thompson was really, really concerned that something could happen," recalled Dr. Donald A. "D.A." Henderson, a former World Health Organization physician who led successful efforts to eradicate smallpox. "There was intelligence information coming through and some chatter coming through, suggesting there was going to be a second event, that the second event could very likely be a biologic event.
"And anthrax and smallpox were both raised as possibilities."
The imperative was clear: Find a way to eliminate both threats.
About 10 p.m., as they filed out of HHS headquarters, Henderson and health department lawyer Stewart Simonson acknowledged their fears.
"I told D.A., 'We're going to make this work.' And he said, 'I just hope we're not too late,' " Simonson recalled. "That's how scared we were."
December 2, 2007 From the Los Angeles Times By David Willman New anthrax vaccine doomed by lobbying
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-anthrax2dec02,0,3465779,full.story?coll=la-home-center