Saturday, April 30, 2011

Doubt of anthrax suspect's role resurfaces in lawsuit/ Palm Beach Post

Bob Stevens' family's attorney has filed papers disputing the role of Bruce Ivins (in a much delayed lawsuit against the federal government), regarding the wrongful death of Bob Stevens, a photo editor at the National Enquirer who died after exposure to an anthrax letter in 2001.  From the Palm Beach Post:
Maureen Stevens' attorneys originally agreed to accept the findings of the estimated $100 million FBI investigation. But when Ivins' bosses at the military lab in Maryland insisted under oath that he lacked the time, equipment and know-how to produce the anthrax, the attorneys said they could no longer accept the findings.

They asked for permission to dispute Ivins' role in Stevens' death when the $50 million lawsuit against the federal government goes to trial in December or January. U.S. District Judge Daniel Hurley, who will decide the case, approved their request. That doesn't mean Ivins won't loom large during the trial...

[Two former supervisors of Ivins, also] bacteriologists testified that a variety of people used the lab. "We had people from Egypt, Poland, India, Iran, Latvia and China," Byrne [one supervisor] said...

Still, Schuler said, Maureen Stevens' case against the government doesn't turn on Ivins' guilt or innocence. At its core, the case is relatively simple, he said: The government was negligent in Bob Stevens' death because it didn't provide sufficient security at the labs where anthrax was kept. In court papers, the government concedes that before the attacks, Fort Detrick didn't have cameras to monitor the labs and didn't search workers for pathogens when they were leaving the base.
"We just have to show that there was bad security," Schuler said. "We don't have to solve the crime..."

1 comment:

Ed Lake said...

"We just have to show that there was bad security," Schuler said. "We don't have to solve the crime..."

It's an interesting case because the government's argument is that they aren't responsible if some employee uses government equipment to kill someone for personal reasons.

Example: The Army isn't responsible if a soldier kills his girlfriend with a military issue revolver as a result of a jealous rage.

That's a pretty good argument.

So, Maureen Stevens' lawyers need to combat that argument by claiming that Ivins wasn't the anthrax mailer. Someone else with access to the contents of flask RMR-1029 must have done it. But they don't know or care who.

To help make their case, they have a couple witnesses who merely BELIEVE that Ivins was innocent.

Dr. William Byrne was Ivins' supervisor from August 1998 to January 2000. Dr. Byrne thinks the attacks must have been committed by some pesky, untrustworthy foreigners who worked at USAMRIID as contractors or as fellows from the National Science Council.

Dr. Gerald Andrews was Ivins' supervisor from January 2000 until 2003. He was Ivins' boss during the time of the attacks. He believes that no one at USAMRIID could have done it.

It will be interesting if these two "witnesses" ever get on the stand, since one appears to be a xenophobe and the other is arguing that no one at USAMRIID could have done it, so the security at USAMRIID must have been adequate.

Click HERE for the court documents.