News Release

Anthrax: Lawsuit Alleges F.B.I. Hiding Evidence 

Bruce E. Ivins

The New York Times recently reported: “When Bruce E. Ivins, an Army microbiologist, took a fatal overdose of Tylenol in 2008, the government declared that he had been responsible for the anthrax letter attacks of 2001, which killed five people and set off a nationwide panic, and closed the case.

“Now, a former senior F.B.I. agent who ran the anthrax investigation for four years says that the bureau gathered ‘a staggering amount of exculpatory evidence’ regarding Dr. Ivins that remains secret. The former agent, Richard L. Lambert, who spent 24 years at the F.B.I., says he believes it is possible that Dr. Ivins was the anthrax mailer, but he does not think prosecutors could have convicted him had he lived to face criminal charges.”

See Courthouse News piece: “Former Agent Says FBI Memo Cost Him New Job,” which states: “Lambert says part of the reason he was unfairly targeted was due to a whistleblower report he filed in 2006 about the mismanagement of an investigation into 2001 anthrax letters.”

MERYL NASS, M.D., merylnass at gmail.com, @NassMeryl
Nass writes at the Anthrax Vaccine blog.

GRAEME MACQUEEN, gmacqueen at cogeco.ca
MacQueen is founder of the Centre for Peace Studies at McMaster University and author of the book The 2001 Anthrax Deception.

The day before the New York Times article appeared, Nass wrote about the case on her blog and highlighted these allegations from the legal action:

“While leading the investigation for the next four years, Plaintiff’s efforts to advance the case met with intransigence from the Washington Field Office’s (WFO) executive management, apathy and error from the FBI Laboratory, politically motivated communication embargoes from FBI Headquarters, and yet another preceding and equally erroneous legal opinion from Defendant Kelley – all of which greatly obstructed and impeded the investigation. …

“WFO’s insistence on staffing the AMERITHRAX investigation principally with new Agents recently graduated from the FBI Academy resulting in an average investigative tenure of 18 months with 12 of 20 Agents assigned to the case having no prior investigative experience at all…

“The FBI Laboratory’s deliberate concealment from the Task Force of its discovery of human DNA on the anthrax-laden envelope addressed to Senator Leahy and the Lab’s initial refusal to perform comparison testing…

“The FBI’s subsequent efforts to railroad the prosecution of Ivins in the face of daunting exculpatory evidence. Following the announcement of its circumstantial case against Ivins, Defendants DOJ and FBI crafted an elaborate perception management campaign to bolster their assertion of Ivins’ guilt. These efforts included press conferences and highly selective evidentiary presentations which were replete with material omissions. …

“Plaintiff continued to advocate that while Bruce Ivins may have been the anthrax mailer, there is a wealth of exculpatory evidence to the contrary which the FBI continues to conceal from Congress and the American people.”

Background: The anthrax attacks, coming right after the 9/11 attacks, were used by pundits to galvanize the public for war in 2001 — against Afghanistan and against Iraq. For example on October 17, 2001, Andrew Sullivan wrote “The Coming Conflict,” which states: “We have to extend it to Iraq. It is by far the most likely source of this weapon (anthrax); it is clearly willing to use such weapons in the future; and no war against terrorism of this kind can be won without dealing decisively with the Iraqi threat. We no longer have any choice in the matter. Slowly, incrementally, a Rubicon has been crossed. The terrorists have launched a biological weapon against the United States. They have therefore made biological warfare thinkable and thus repeatable. We once had a doctrine that such a Rubicon would be answered with a nuclear response. We backed down on that threat in the Gulf War but Saddam didn’t dare use biological weapons then. Someone has dared to use them now. Our response must be as grave as this new threat.”