by Glenn Greenwald source: Salon July 20, 201
Ever since the FBI claimed (for a second time) that it had discovered in 2008 the identity of the anthrax attacker — the recently-deceased-by-suicide Army researcher Bruce Ivins — it was glaringly obvious, as I documented many times, that the case against him was exceedingly weak, unpersuasive and full of gaping logical, scientific, and evidentiary holes. So dubious are the FBI’s claims that serious doubt has been raised and independent investigations demanded not by marginalized websites devoted to questioning all government claims, but rather, by the nation’s most mainstream, establishment venues, ones that instinctively believe and defend such claims — including the editorial pages of the nation’s largest newspapers, leading scientific journals, the nation’s preeminent science officials, and key politicians from both parties (led by those whose districts, or offices, were most affected by the attacks). To get a sense for the breadth and depth of the establishment skepticism about Ivins’ guilt, just click on some of those links.
Since that initial wave of doubt, the FBI’s case against Ivins has continuously deteriorated even further. In February of this year, a panel of the National Academy of Sciences released its findings solely regarding the bureau’s alleged scientific evidence (independent investigations of the full case against Ivins have been successfully blocked by the Obama administration), and found — as The New York Times put it — that “the bureau overstated the strength of genetic analysis linking the mailed anthrax to a supply kept by” Ivins; the Washington Post headline summarized the impact of those findings: “Anthrax report casts doubt on scientific evidence in FBI case against Bruce Ivins.”
But the biggest blow yet to the FBI’s case has just occurred as the result of an amazing discovery by PBS’ Frontline, which is working on a documentary about the case with McClatchy and ProPublica:
The Justice Department has called into question a key pillar of the FBI’s case against Bruce Ivins. . . . On July 15 , Justice Department lawyers acknowledged in court papers that the sealed area in Ivins’ lab — the so-called hot suite — did not contain the equipment needed to turn liquid anthrax into the refined powder that floated through congressional buildings and post offices in the fall of 2001.
The government said it continues to believe that Ivins was “more likely than not” the killer. But the filing in a Florida court did not explain where or how Ivins could have made the powder, saying only that the lab “did not have the specialized equipment’” in Ivins’ secure lab “that would be required to prepare the dried spore preparations that were used in the letters.”
The government’s statements deepen the questions about the case against Ivins, who killed himself before he was charged with a crime. Searches of his car and home in 2007 found no anthrax spores, and the FBI’s eight-year, $100 million investigation never proved he mailed the letters or identified another location where he might have secretly dried the anthrax into an easily inhaled powder. . . .