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Anthrax suspect commits suicide

A biodefense researcher committed suicide this week, just as the US government was about to indict him for the 2001 anthrax attacks that killed five people and caused a national panic. The microbiologist, Bruce E. Ivins, whose death was first reported today (August 1) in the linkurl:Los Angeles Times,;http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-anthrax1-2008aug01,0,2864223.story?page=1, was a top scientist at a US Army biodefense research facility in Fort Detrick, Md., where he worked

By | August 1, 2008

A biodefense researcher committed suicide this week, just as the US government was about to indict him for the 2001 anthrax attacks that killed five people and caused a national panic. The microbiologist, Bruce E. Ivins, whose death was first reported today (August 1) in the linkurl:Los Angeles Times,;http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-anthrax1-2008aug01,0,2864223.story?page=1, was a top scientist at a US Army biodefense research facility in Fort Detrick, Md., where he worked on developing an anthrax vaccine. He was also closely involved in analyzing samples from the 2001 attacks. Ivins's suicide comes just a month after the US government paid out $5.8 million to settle a lawsuit brought by linkurl:Steven J. Hatfill,;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54807/ a biodefense researcher and colleague of Ivins and long the unofficial primary suspect in the case despite the absence of clear evidence. According to the Times, Army officials had questioned Ivins in 2001 because he had failed to report anthrax contaminations found in his office between December 2001 and April 2002. Ivins claimed that the contamination resulted from a lab technician's accidental spills, and he was not disciplined for keeping the spills secret. Investigators began to focus their suspicions on Ivins after a new team of investigators took charge of the anthrax case in late 2006, and began reexamining old leads. "He buckled under government pressure," Ivins's brother told the Times. He had not been publically named as a suspect in the case, however. According to the linkurl:Associated Press;http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/us/AP-Anthrax-Scientist.html?ref=us&pagewanted=print, the FBI was investigating whether Ivins had released the anthrax in order to test a vaccine he had developed. Government officials are expected to announce in the next several days whether his death will mean the close the investigation, or whether they believe Ivins acted with others, the AP reports.

Comments

Avatar of: Ellen Hunt

Ellen Hunt

Posts: 199

August 1, 2008

There is absolutely zero chance he would have released anthrax to test his vaccine, as the FBI has publicly stated. Zero. None. The reason is very simple. He would have known that nobody was immunized against anthrax. So there is absolutely no way that he could have thought he was testing it. There is next to no chance he mailed those letters for reasons I go into below. \n\nI have little doubt that this is a case of depression causing suicide in the face of utter ruin at the end of a man's career. There is little or no basis for the charges, but win or lose, this man would have been completely ruined. As the saying goes, you can indict a ham sandwich. \n\nThe FBI is a bunch of dangerously stupid yahoos who will stop at absolutely nothing to further their careers in a high profile case. The internal pressure to find a scapegoat has been immense. Let us examine the history of the FBI in investigation and prosecution of cases in this area. \n\n- Thomas Butler, the doctor who among other things invented the oral rehydration method of cholera treatment (a treatment that has saved at least 4 million lives) was prosecuted. Initially, he was prosecuted for shipping a sample of plague from out of the USA to his lab, without declaring it. (This is now the officially approved method.) He was ultimately convicted, and spent 6 months in jail (with forfeiture of his medical license) of what? They said he had not done his grant accounting quite right. Except that every scientist has done equivalent things, and universities know it full well. \n\n- Hatfill we all know. They pursued him for years, and ruined him. (Just like they pursued Jewell, the security guard in the Atlanta bombing case.) Hatfill was ultimately exonerated. Hatfill was no dummy. He knew the instant the feds contacted him that he needed a lawyer, for himself, right now. Ivins didn?t Ivins was like Thomas Butler, a cooperative guy. \n\nWhat happened with Thomas Butler is a phenomenon that has become all too common. A higher-up allocates serious resources (in Butler's case, about 50 agents) to investigate. He found himself in a position of having to justify that or get one hell of a big black mark on his record. So, he convicted one of the most amazing, honorable, wonderful people this world has ever known of something. \n\nNow, there are good FBI agents. I?ve met some I respect. But I would say the majority of the guys (more than half) who climb the ladder these days would be right at home in Germany circa 1942. They just don't care about anything but what their record looks like. 30-40 years ago, a case like Butler's would never have gone anywhere. Sense and honor would have prevailed. But this is a new era. \nSee: http://www.fas.org/butler/ \n\nThe two things I have read that the feds had on Ivins were: \n\n1. That his brother says he "sung like a canary. He thought he was omnipotent." That sounds like an old intra-family feud. Mr. ?Canary" sounds like a real SOB who hated his brother for some reason. But what he sang about was purely character assassination. How many of us have relatives who don't like us much? More than 10% I'd guess. \n\n2. That Ivins had, at one point in his career, covered up an anthrax spill in his lab by a sloppy lab tech. He admitted this to investigators. Folks - the only difference between Ivins and most other scientists is that he got caught. Most scientists quietly clean up small things and never mention them. \n\nSo, put yourself in this man's place. You know you have the feds coming after you. You watched them ruin your colleague, Hatfill. You're a middle class guy (scientists don't make much) with a net worth of maybe $200,000 - if that. You have consulted with an attorney, and you hear through the family grapevine that your own brother is saying all sorts of things. You tell your attorney that your own brother is going to testify as a character witness against you. Your attorney tells you "That's bad. That's really bad." Your attorney tells you that to take this case you will have to pay a $200,000 retainer as a down payment. (Yes, that is what an attorney would ask for in a case like that.) You are 62 years old. What do you do? \n\nHere are a couple of obvious reasons why Ivins wasn't the culprit and this indictment should never have happened.. \n\n1. As I said above, as a vaccinologist he would know that nobody had the vaccine. So anyone who got exposed would get the disease. Thus, there is no logic at all to that FBI theory. \n\n2. There is an aspect of the Anthrax letters that is glaringly obvious to anyone who is a scientist. The composition of those letters changed in response to media stories about the need to have it ground up to a 5 micron size powder. A scientist working with anthrax would already know that in his sleep. It would have been so completely obvious to him that he would have done it to start with. And if he didn't grind it, that would have been deliberate. It would also have been one hell of a lot safer for him to not grind it, which he would also have known. If he didn't do it to start with, then he would have continued not to do it, because that would lead suspicion away from someone knowledgable. \n\nThe only vaguely plausible theory I have seen is that Ivins wanted to wake up the nation to the threat of biological weapons, and he decide to go it alone. But that conflicts with #2 I above. And, it would have required a callous disregard for human life, which is highly unlikely. \n\nIf this had anything to do with the Detrick labs, then it was a black op originating at a very high level executed by personnel with a minimum of knowledge of microbiology ? not a scientist. But even that conflicts with the crucial detail of #2 above. It just doesn't fit the facts because black ops are not planned and executed that badly. \n\nThe ONLY thing that #2 is consistent with is that someone with a minimum of knowledge got hold of the anthrax, or grew it (perhaps from the contents of a biohazard bag used to clean up a spill - those would be expected to happen). That person (to have a motive) was part of the Al Qaeda team that executed the 9-11 plot. Remember that the Al Qaeda group explored spray equipment form aircraft suitable for B. thurigensis? \n\nHere is what I think happened. \n\nThere was another part of the cell that pulled off the 9-11 plot. That part of the cell was focused on one man, probably an engineer from the middle east who was educated in Europe. That guy did his part, grew up some Anthrax, concentrated it. He was pissed off at the rest of Al Qaeda because they decided not to go with his plan. Probably, his plan was not used in part because he was not able to grow enough of the stuff. So, after 9-11, Mr. Pissed-Off Al Qaeda engineer takes part of his stock and mails it. He loves the media result. He reads the articles and learns more. He refines his product by grinding it in a mortar and pestle in a home-made glove box. He mails some more letters. Oh, my! He gets a better result. \n\nJubilant, he talks to his Al Qaeda contacts. They order him to stop, and probably to leave the country so they can record and work with his hard-won knowledge about how to weaponize anthrax. Al Qaeda is on record as saying they were pursuing biological weapons. \n\nI am dead certain that guy is out there and that he has been working since on a bigger, better version of his anthrax weapon, probably either in Sudan or Pakistan. Very slight possibility he's in Syria. It is possible that Al Qaeda asked him to remain in the USA, move to a new city, and expand his work. They may well consider the USA to be the safest haven now. I am sure Mr. Pissed-Off-Al-Qaeda (who is now a very happy Al Qaeda) loves this suicide by one of the guys who was tracking him. \n\nAnd that is why this indictment was dangerously stupid. There are alarming signs from the FBI, CIA and State Department. You see directives to remove straight language like jihad, or Islamist from reports and such. Very disturbing cases like that of Seibel Edmonds, an FBI translator, had to flee have taken place. This Ivins theory makes does not fit the facts, and will take the heat off of the real culprits - who are out there! \n\nWhat Ivins did, (probably without realizing it) was to play into the hands of the Al Qaeda infiltrators inside the FBI and other branches of the US Government who wanted to see this investigation ended. Without a scapegoat, it cannot end. It is a very neat package now. \n\nHe also played into the hands of a few top-dogs at the FBI who will get credit for the win on their paperwork. \n\nScientists need to unite and scream bloody murder about this. Otherwise, we will remain the ?soft target? for scapegoating.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 15

August 1, 2008

And in another 7 years, will we find out that this coverup will make Watergate seem like a misdemeanor? An interesting read that includes ABC News and McCain at\nhttp://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/08/01/anthrax/
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 29

August 1, 2008

As long as we are speculating about conspiracies, what are the details around the suicide? Setting up the hapless third party to take the fall, followed by a timely "suicide" to close the case before it unravels is a scenario straight out of every spy thriller ever written.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 9

August 1, 2008

for the FBI. \n\nMore background: http://www.brasschecktv.com/page/392.html
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 34

August 1, 2008

after finish reading, I have no idea what this guy did wrong. No evidence, just hearsay. Obviously that is enough to ruin someone's life. The whole thing is about to cover someone's powerful yet imcompetent ass, that is ridiculous.
Avatar of: Ellen Hunt

Ellen Hunt

Posts: 199

August 1, 2008

Reading different sources, one gets different information. Dr. Ivins doesn't sound like a peach. He had enough troubles to get his therapist to notify she would testify. He had a court order aginst him by a woman claiming he was threatening her life. \n\nThe former - who knows? People say lots of things. But a therapist isn't required to report a murder in the past, only a murder they believe will happen. Maybe, maybe not. The article sounded muddled. It wasn't clear if the therapist thought he had done it, or he had told her he did, or that she thought he was a serial killer who had been killing people since graduate school. If so, that is chilling. \n \nThe latter? Those kinds of orders are so common now. In order to get an order, the form says "I am in danger of my life." I read one once that a friend had signed. But nobody is ever prosecuted for lying about that. In rare instances, there is a serious threat. I feel for those women. But it is also quite overused today. I went to court with my friend and the woman ahead of us was incredible. In serious instances, most counselors will tell the woman that the restraining order isn't the best choice. So again - who knows? \n\nBut none of it indicates that he did or didn't do the anthrax letters even if he was a serial killer. And none of it answers some serious questions about the letters. Dr. Ivins just doesn't seem like a Ted Kazcynski kind of character. This is all very worrisome. I don't like any of it.
Avatar of: tian xia

tian xia

Posts: 34

August 2, 2008

after years, paid millions for itself and one of the scapegoat, the next major suspect died. Nobody should be surprised, maybe, the people who work for FBI aren't the smartest, otherwise they would not be there.
Avatar of: David Fegredo

David Fegredo

Posts: 3

August 7, 2008

Prev thread.\nThere was another part of the cell that pulled off the 9-11 plot. That part of the cell was focused on one man, probably an engineer from the middle east who was educated in Europe. That guy did his part, grew up some Anthrax, concentrated it. He was pissed off at the rest of Al Qaeda because they decided not to go with his plan. Probably, his plan was not used in part because he was not able to grow enough of the stuff\n\nNow my bit\n\nNOT BEING ABLE TO GROW ENOUGH!!! My God man I could go to the supermarket and get enough components to keep it growing any amount you want as anyone who knows how to grow Bacilli species could.\n\nIt does sound very much like a conspiracy. Suicide JUST before his fate is effectively sealed or exonnerated when the judge see's a whole lotta nothing except circumstantial evidence.\n\nNo-one invloved in a conspiracy that this sounds like would EVER want this to go to trial.\n

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