Saturday, September 20, 2008

Overcoming Anthrax Doubts (Las Vegas Sun)


Overcoming Anthrax Doubts: Panel that will review government investigation of attacks must be independent (September 20, 2008)

The FBI, the U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C., and postal inspectors did not convince everyone last month when they laid out their case against the late Army microbiologist Dr. Bruce Ivins.

Ivins, they said with surety, committed the anthrax attacks that took place in September and October 2001. The attacks killed five people, injured 17 and spread fear that terrorists responsible for 9/11 were branching out into biological warfare.

But not everyone was sold on the federal officials’ presentation, which followed Ivins’ apparent suicide ["apparent" as there was no autopsy--Nass] July 29 as federal agents were finalizing their largely circumstantial case against him.

Skeptics include members of Congress, who are still expressing concern that the case, which for years focused on another Army microbiologist, has not been fully solved.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told FBI Director Robert Mueller at a hearing Wednesday that he believes the anthrax attacks involved more than one person.

One of the anthrax letters was addressed to Leahy. That letter, which never reached the senator, was the likely source of an anthrax infection contracted by a government mail worker.

Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, a former chairman of the Judiciary Committee who today is its ranking Republican, also expressed doubts. He was rebuffed when he demanded that some of the scientists who will do an independent review of the Ivins investigation be selected by the Judiciary Committee.

Mueller had announced Tuesday that, partly owing to pressure from members of Congress, he will ask the National Academy of Sciences to conduct the review.

Responding to Specter, Mueller said he would consider his request, but the academy and the Justice Department would likely have to agree to it.

Specter responded: “What’s there to consider, Director Mueller? We’d like ... to name some people there to be sure of its objectivity. We’re not interlopers. This is an oversight matter.”

Specter is right. To help prevent doubt from lingering forever, the public — and Congress — must be assured the review panel is indeed independent.


daedalus2u said...

Director Mueller’s inability to agree to Sen. Spector’s simple request shows that he is not running the show. The “Justice Department” would have to agree. Meaning that Director Mueller’s handlers would have to let him do it. The people that he actually works for and reports to who are actually running the show and controlling the investigation would have to let him.

It was Regan who said “trust but verify”. If someone won’t let you verify what they are saying, then your default has to go from trust to distrust.

If the FBI won’t let Congress verify what the FBI is doing, Congress is right to not trust them.

Ellen Byrne said...

Regarding Director Mueller's performance on the hill:

If this is Director Mueller's attitude, none of us can assume that FBI field agents have any more integrity or respect for the the law than their leader. All their findings and "evidence" are suspect.

Thank heavens for the Congressman and Senators who have the curiosity, character and backbone to challenge Director Mueller, to demand a broader examination of the case, not just the science but the entire investigation. It took Steve Hatfill years, a fighting spirit, hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight the FBI and clear his name. He didn't have Congress or the Senate on his side. Bruce is dead and can't fight but let's all pray our elected officials fight for the truth. In the meantime, I guess we can all continue honking at them to see it through.

The number of reporters who have dropped the "If" from the Senator Leahy's statement ("If he is the one who sent the letter...) is so misleading. They continue to shape the story to aid the FBI. Bruce has NOT been tried and convicted.
Does this sell more papers? Does it win the reporters and papers favor and access with the powers-that-be? Why can't they be objective?

Dr. Nass, there must be three of you to be able to provide this invaluable source of legitimate information. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Elizabeth Ferrari/ San Francisco said...

If the Justice Department chooses the panel, it's not an independent review and Leahy, Specter and Conyers all know it.

Ennealogic said...

I will not, I cannot, accept a "case closed" verdict without a truly independent investigation. But from what we've seen so far, the FBI is incapable (for whatever reason) to back away from their public pronouncement declaring Dr. Bruce Ivins the sole culprit.

I am immensely saddened for the Ivins family, and for our country. I am thoroughly sickened by the lies, the stonewalling, and the arrogance from those we are supposed to trust to govern the nation. Getting to the bottom of the anthrax attacks would open up a veritable gold mine of truth. I firmly believe we need to know if our country and its cherished "way of life" has a chance to survive.