Butler verdict perplexes

Scientists' reactions vary, but most want more information following partial guilty finding

John Dudley Miller(johnmiller@nasw.org)
Dec 7, 2003

While several prominent scientists who have publicly supported Thomas Butler—the Texas Tech professor found guilty last week of fraud and improper shipping of plague—believe his acquittal on charges of smuggling and lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) vindicates the renowned researcher's essential innocence, at least a few researchers think his convictions prove his partial guilt. Several refuse to comment.

But what nearly all who spoke to The Scientist agree on is that so little detailed information about the case has been communicated to the public that it's impossible to know exactly what Butler did. “The thing that many of us are at this time suffering from is we just do not understand what in heavens name went on,” said D.A. Henderson, a professor in the University of Pittsburgh's new Center for Civilian Biodefense Strategies. “This is what we find very frustrating,” he said.

On December 1, a...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?