Dr. Ivins' "non-denial denials"
Ed Lake

(July 1, 2010)
(Last revision: June 8, 2011)

There are numerous indicators that Dr. Ivins did not intend to for anyone to be harmed when he prepared and mailed the anthrax letters.  (1) None of the intended recipients of the letters were infected.  (2) The backs of the envelopes had been sealed with celephane tape to assure that no spores escaped through open seams.  (3) The letters were folded with the pharmaceutical fold, to further insure that the powders inside would be contained.  (4) At the time of the mailings, nearly everyone believed that such powders could not escape from a sealed envelope except through the open, unglued corners of the flap where a letter opener is typically inserted - and those corners had been taped shut. 

The evidence that no deaths were intended relates to recorded statements Dr. Ivins made years later.

According to pages 70 and 71 of the DOJ/FBI's Summary Report of the Amerithrax investigation, "On June 5, 2008, Dr. Ivins had a conversation with a witness, during which he made a series of statements about the anthrax mailings that could best be characterized as “non-denial denials.”  Here are some of them:

Witness: “I’m trying to be supportive and understanding. But I guess a part of what you had said before to me in response to that was that, you know, there kind of seems to be another person at times. And if you don’t remember doing that, I mean [pause], don’t get mad [laugh], are you absolutely . . .?

Bruce: “You were going to say how do I know that I didn’t have anything to do with . . . .”

Witness: “Yeah.”

Bruce: “I will tell that, I will tell you that it’s, I can’t pull that up. And a lot of times with e-mails, I don’t know that I sent an e-mail until I see it in the sent box. And it worries me when I wake up in the morning and I’ve got all my clothes and my shoes on, and my car keys are right beside there. . . . And I don’t have it in my, in my, I, I can tell you I don’t have it in my heart to kill anybody.
* * *

Bruce: “And I, and I do not have any recollection of ever have doing anything like that. As a matter of fact, I don’t have no clue how to, how to make a bio-weapon and I don’t want to know.”
* * *

Bruce: “It really certainly is. Uh, because I can tell you, I am not a killer at heart.

The witness suggested that maybe Dr. Ivins should get hypnotized to help him remember, to which he replied that he would be terrified.

Bruce: “What happens if I find something that, that is like buried deep, deep, deep, and you know, like from, from my past or I mean . . . like when I was a kid or stuff like that you know?”
* * *

Bruce: “Oh, but I mean, you know, that would just, that would just like, like, like make me want to jump off a bridge. You know, that would be . . .”

Witness: “What’s that? If you found out that . . . .”

Bruce: “If I found out I was involved in some way, and, and . . .

Witness: “And you don’t consciously know?”

Bruce: “Have any, any clue. [pause] [groan] ‘Cause like, I’m, I’m not uh, a uh, I don’t think of myself as a vicious, a, a nasty evil person.
* * *

Bruce: “Because I, I don’t like to hurt people, accidentally, in, in any way. And [several scientists at USAMRIID] wouldn’t do that. And I, in my right mind wouldn’t do it [laughs]. . . . But it’s still, but I still feel responsibility because it [RMR-1029] wasn’t locked up at the time . . . .”

Pages 66-69 of FBI file #847551 contain information which seems to be from the same witness, since it the interview occurred on the same date and contains similar details.  That FBI report ends with this:

An audio recording of the above meeting was created, and a more detailed account of the conversation can be obtained from it.

However, in the Summary Report, page 8 has information about this same subject.  It says:

In the months that followed the suicide of Dr. Ivins, investigators continued their review of thousands of e-mails going back ten years, and examined additional evidence that developed in the aftermath of his death. In addition, investigators sought and obtained court orders authorizing access to his mental health records, and interviews of various mental health providers who had treated Dr. Ivins in the past.(4)

And footnote (4) says:

(4) The results of that record collection and follow-up interviews remain under seal at this time.

NOTE ADDED JUNE 8, 2011:  When I created this web page, I thought the witness might have been a mental health counselor.  David Willman's book "The Mirage Man" points out that the witness who was talking with Bruce Ivins when he was recorded making his non-denial denials was his former co-worker Patricia Fellows.

It appears that Dr. Ivins' mental health records are still "under seal," possibly due to some criminal investigation involving a health care professional who had knowledge of Dr. Ivins' guilt but provided false information to the FBI, or possibly because the civil lawsuit filed by the widow of Bob Stevens is still unresolved, or possibly for both of the previous reasons.

FBI .pdf file #847551 contains more about Ivins' "non-denial denials."   In an interview with a "Confidential Human Resource" (CHS) on January 9, 2008, that begins on page 44 of the .pdf file, there is a lot of information about Dr. Ivins' mental state at that time.  And, on page 47, there is this paragraph:

Since his last interview with the FBI, IVINS has on occasion spontaneously declared at work, "I could never intentionally kill or hurt someone." 

The "last interview" which caused Dr. Ivins to start telling people he would "never intentionally kill or hurt someone" appears to be the November 1, 2007 interview associated with the detailed searches of his home, office, vehicles and safe-deposit box.   It's the interview where he also "took the fifth."

July 4, 2010 - Added information about FBI .pdf file #847551.
June 8, 2011 - Added information from David Willman's book, which identifies Patricia Fellows as the "witness" when some of Ivins' non-denial denials were caught on tape.


©Copyright 2010 by Edward Lake
All Rights Reserved