Panel: FBI Overstated Case for Accusing Ivins in Anthrax Probe

Findings 'Consistent' But Not Definitive

by Jason Ditz, February 15, 2011

The supposedly slam dunk case against the late Dr. Bruce Ivins in the 2001 anthrax attack was “overstated” according to a 16-member panel that probed the FBI’s case against Ivins.

Alice P. Gast, the chairwoman of the panel, said that the scientific evidence gathered in the investigation was “consistent” with the FBI’s story of what happened but was “not as definitive as stated.”

The Justice Department formally ended its investigation into the 2001 attacks a year ago, sticking with the official story that Dr. Ivins, who committed suicide in 2008, was responsible for the attack and acted alone. The release of documents at the time included a “transcript” from 2008 which suggested that Dr. Ivins’ protestations of his innocents meant he may have simply “forgotten” that he did the attack.

But the bizarre “he forgot” claim aside, the evidence against Dr. Ivins never appeared particularly strong to the casual skeptic, and today’s panel report suggests it was even worse than that. This will likely lead to the belief that Ivins, as with Steven Hatfill, the initial suspect who successfully sued the Justice Department for identifying him in the media, may have simply been a convenient scapegoat for incompetent investigators who had no real clue who the culprit really was.

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