Another prestigious scientific organization has written to Attorney General John Ashcroft to protest the government's prosecution of Professor Thomas Butler of Texas Tech University, an internationally renowned plague researcher. The government alleges that he smuggled 30 vials of plague into the country and then told the FBI in January that they were missing, when in fact he had actually destroyed them.

On the heels of a similar letter sent to Ashcroft last month by the presidents of the National Academy of Sciences and its companion medical organization, the Institute of Medicine, the September 18 letter from the New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS) castigates the Justice Department for "selective prosecution," "piling on" of extra charges, and blowing "the whole episode out of proportion."

"What we know raises serious questions about Dr. Butler's treatment and concern about preserving neutrally supportive relationships between our government and the scientific community," stated the letter...

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