doc denies being at mail site
By AUSTIN FENNER in Princeton, N.J.
and HELEN KENNEDY in Washington
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS
Wednesday, August 14th, 2002
Dr. Steven Hatfill declared yesterday that he has never been to Princeton, N.J. - even as FBI agents showed his picture to people in the town where they believe last year's anthrax letters were mailed.
"I just spoke to him, and he categorically denies that he's ever been in Princeton," said Pat Clawson, a friend and private eye who is serving as Hatfill's spokesman. "He couldn't find it on a map, and he doesn't even know where it is in New Jersey."
Clawson said he didn't know offhand where Hatfill was when the deadly anthrax letters were mailed, killing five, "but the FBI certainly does, because he voluntarily gave up his diary and travel calendar months ago."
The FBI calls Hatfill, 48, "a person of interest" - a milder version of suspect - but his is the only photo being shown to potential witnesses, and the only criminal search warrant sought in the case was for his apartment.
Hatfill, a biodefense expert who worked for secret government virus programs, claims he is being made the "fall guy" for a stalled FBI investigation. There is no hard evidence against him, but fellow scientists gave his name to the FBI months ago because his résumé is padded, he lived in Rhodesia during a suspicious anthrax outbreak there and he has flunked lie-detector tests, though not on questions about the anthrax letters.
Probers this week found old anthrax spores in a mailbox at the intersection of Nassau and Bank Sts. in downtown Princeton and believe that's where letters were dropped in one of two mailings, Sept. 18 and Oct. 9.
This week FBI agents have shown people in the area pictures of Hatfill, asking, "Did you see this man here the third week of September?"
Some people were concerned that they didn't realize the mailbox had been tainted for nearly a year. "I've been using that ...box," said Carmen Guagliardo. "It's worrisome. I feel sorry for the mailman."
Letter carrier Cleveland Stevenson, 46, who serves the mailbox daily, was pretty calm. "I don't feel it's anything new," he said. "I just use gloves."
Clawson said there was "zero similarity" between Hatfill's handwriting and the addresses written in slanted block capitals on the anthrax letters, and he blasted the technique of showing only Hatfill's picture instead of multiple photos to "eliminate false identifications."
"This is a TV show being brought to the American people by the same producers who gave us Waco and Ruby Ridge and Richard Jewell and Wen Ho Lee," Clawson said.
Hatfill was in the Trenton area attending a conference with another scientist in late November, Clawson said. "But that wasn't the time frame of the anthrax letters," he said.
He said Hatfill, who just moved to Louisiana to take an academic job after losing his security clearance, is being stopped on the street for autographs.
on Wed, Aug. 14, 2002
novel depicts terror attack
WASHINGTON - An unfinished novel by a scientist being scrutinized in last fall's anthrax-by-mail attacks centers on a terror scheme to spread deadly bacteria in Washington, but the story written in 1998 differs in important ways from recent real-world events.
The 198-page novel, mostly finished, describes a paralyzing attack against the White House and Congress in which dozens of people sicken or die, including the fictional president and top congressional leaders. But the unpublished book, on file at the U.S. Copyright Office, does not involve anthrax or mailings.
The co-author, former Army biological weapons researcher Dr. Steven J. Hatfill, is one of about 30 scientists who have drawn the attention of law enforcement officials investigating in the attacks, although only Hatfill's name has become public.
Hatfill, 48, has denied any role and criticized the FBI and news media for engaging in what he described as personally damaging speculation and innuendo.
Hatfill's novel, "Emergence," has raised suspicions at the FBI. A U.S. law enforcement official on Tuesday characterized the work as an "interesting coincidence at this point." The FBI found a copy of the novel on Hatfill's seized computer.
It was registered for a copyright in 1998 by Roger Akers, a friend of Hatfill's who said Tuesday that he had proofread it for Hatfill and, with his permission, copyrighted it in both their names.
Hatfill's fictional villain is a Palestinian terrorist, Ismail Abu Asifa, paid by Iraq to launch a biological attack against Washington. The novel opens in Antarctica, where 10 members of a South African research team die from a strange sickness.
"Eight years later, a similar disease sweeps with explosive effect through the members of the U.S. congressional House and Senate," Hatfill wrote in the opening synopsis. "The nation's leadership is paralyzed and panic ensues as members of the executive office begin to show symptoms."
Asifa flies from England to Washington Dulles International Airport planning "to strike terror deep into the heart of the most powerful nation on Earth."
Once in Washington, Asifa buys supplies for $387 to grow bubonic plague bacteria - "not a high price to strike terror in the government of a country this large." The bacteria in the attacks is yersinia, not anthrax.
Hatfill's villain infects the White House using a sprayer hidden inside a wheelchair during a public tour. The president is sickened before he departs for a trip to Moscow, and within days the illness spreads to top congressional leaders.
In his plot, the White House becomes the "House of Death."
But Asifa also accidentally infects himself and ultimately stumbles into the path of a car, dying six days later in a hospital.
"For all its wealth and power, the United States ... was actually an incredibly easy target for biological terrorism," Hatfill wrote. But Hatfill noted that U.S. experts were sufficiently well trained to detect attacks that his villain "would probably have only enough time to perform one attack and observe its early effects."
"It was unlikely with his present resources, that he would be able to kill more than a few hundred people at most," Hatfill added.
Also Tuesday, the FBI in New Jersey showed merchants near a mailbox that tested positive for anthrax exposure the photograph of a man and asked if they had seen him in the area last fall. A local architect, Ross N.A. Woolley, said investigators showed him a picture of Hatfill with a mustache, much like a photograph widely shown in the media.
The FBI declined to say whether the person in the photo was Hatfill.
The idea for the novel was hatched several years ago at a dinner party where a group of journalists and former military men got to talking about bioterrorism, said Pat Clawson, a friend of Hatfill's who was there.
"We started kicking it around, that would be a cool novel to write - let's have a bioterrorism attack on Washington and Congress," said Clawson, who is serving as Hatfill's spokesman.
The FBI has searched Hatfill's apartment in Frederick, Md., twice, as well as his car, a storage locker in Florida and the home of his girlfriend.
Law enforcement officials have described Hatfill as a "person of interest," not a criminal suspect.
While declaring his innocence publicly this week, Hatfill emphasized that his background is in the study of viral diseases such as Ebola, not bacterial diseases such as anthrax.
Hatfill previously worked at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute at Fort Detrick, Md., once home to the U.S. biological warfare program and repository for the Ames strain of anthrax that was used in the attacks.
Associated Press Writer Laura Meckler contributed to this report.
protests anthrax case leaks - FBI agents investigate tainted mailbox in
By Toni Locy
WASHINGTON -- A lawyer for a former Army scientist under scrutiny in last fall's deadly anthrax attacks filed complaints this week over the FBI and Justice Department's handling of the probe.
Victor Glasberg, a lawyer in Alexandria, Va., said Wednesday that he sent letters Tuesday to the offices of professional responsibility at the FBI and Justice Department to request an investigation into leaks of damaging information about Steven Hatfill, who denies any role in the anthrax attacks.
''What's most disturbing is the openness, the porousness, the publicness of this investigation,'' Glasberg said. ''It's totally inappropriate.''
Meanwhile, FBI agents canvassed the streets of Princeton, N.J., this week with a photo of Hatfill. Authorities said Monday that a mailbox on a main street in Princeton had tested positive for anthrax. Princeton merchants said the FBI wanted to know whether anyone had seen Hatfill in the vicinity.
Hatfill, 48, was a researcher at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Md. The institute was once home to the U.S. biological warfare program and repository for the Ames strain of anthrax that was mailed to media outlets and two U.S. senators. Five people who were exposed to the anthrax died.
But Hatfill has said he worked with viral diseases such as Ebola, not bacterial diseases like anthrax. The FBI says Hatfill is not considered a suspect, but authorities, including Attorney General John Ashcroft, describe him as one of about 30 ''persons of interest'' in the case.
''Then where are the pictures of the other 29 people and why aren't they being shown?'' said Pat Clawson, a friend of Hatfill's.
Clawson blasted the FBI for showing only Hatfill's picture to merchants whose businesses are near the tainted mailbox on Nassau Street, in front of the Princeton University campus. By showing only Hatfill's photo, Clawson said, the FBI is attempting to create ''the framing effect'' to encourage potential witnesses to identify Hatfill.
Glasberg said he believes that the FBI wants to catch the anthrax killer. ''But with regard to Steven Hatfill, what they are doing is totally upside down, inside out and wrong.''
''One has got to question whether there's a rush to judgment to find somebody, anybody, and worry about minor matters like guilt or innocence later,'' Glasberg said.
The Associated Press reported that several Princeton merchants said agents spent two days showing the picture and questioning employees about whether they remembered seeing the man in that area last September and October, when the anthrax attacks occurred. They said the agents didn't reveal the man's identity.
Newark FBI special agent Bill Evanina said, ''We are canvassing the general area just as we would do in any investigation.''
Glasberg said Hatfill has never been to Princeton.
The lawyer also said Hatfill's handwriting does not resemble that on the letters to the media and Democratic Sens. Tom Daschle of South Dakota and Patrick Leahy of Vermont.
Last fall, federal authorities began testing 600 mailboxes in New Jersey after it was determined that anthrax letters were routed through a processing center in Hamilton. The center handles mail dropped into the Nassau Street box in Princeton, which is the first box to test positive for anthrax spores, a law enforcement source said Wednesday.
The source cautioned that tests have not been completed on several other mailboxes. If none tests positive, the source said, investigators could then conclude that the anthrax-laden letters were all mailed from the Nassau Street box.
past of a US bio-warrior
by Marlene Burger
The Johannesburg Mail & Guardian
Two months ago an Internet search for information about Steven Jay Hatfill would have produced less than a dozen results, confined to scientific research bearing his name.
This week surfers can choose from close on 7000 "hits", ranging from a 50-page diatribe by the Jewish Defence Organisation -- which dubs the American doctor "Steven Mengele" and challenges him to sue for defamation -- to reports in French, German, Spanish, Danish, even Vietnamese.
The reason for the sudden surge of data about the 48-year-old former United States government bio-warrior is that he has jumped from being one of 30 "persons of interest" to the main focus of FBI investigations into last year's anthrax-by-mail attacks, which killed five people.
Amid the details of Hatfill's life that have emerged since the end of June are links to the right-wing Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) and service with the former Rhodesian security forces. Last weekend Hatfill and the three Washington lawyers he has hired went public for the first time since the FBI turned its spotlight on him, accusing agents of turning his life into a "wasteland" by deliberately leaking "irrelevant" information about his past to the media and making him the scapegoat for their failure to find the real culprit behind the anthrax attacks.
Hatfill has consistently refused to answer questions from the press.
But while Hatfill and his attorneys were at pains to proclaim his innocence and lash out at investigators, they refused to talk about his past. Yet it is precisely what he did, when and for whom that have raised most of the questions now being asked.
On August 1 the FBI searched his apartment in Frederick, Maryland, for the third time in seven months. They have also searched the home of Hatfill's girlfriend and a storage locker in Ocala, Florida, where his parents used to own a stud farm. So far neither the searches nor lie-detector tests or hours of questioning have produced any solid evidence that Hatfill sent letters containing weapons-grade anthrax to US senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy last November, but the circumstantial case is mounting against the man who gave firearms training during the late 1980s to members of jailed AWB leader Eugene Terre'Blanche's shock troops, Aquila.
Hatfill, who was born in St Louis, Missouri, lived in South Africa for 10 years after qualifying as a doctor at the University of Zimbabwe Medical School in 1983. He claims to have spent 14 months in the Antarctic as a member of the South African research team, that he served the South African Air Force as a consultant flight surgeon from 1991 to 1993, and lists two master's degrees and a doctorate in molecular cell biology from Rhodes University among his qualifications. Last Sunday, however, his attorney, Victor Glasberg, said Hatfill had submitted a thesis to Rhodes and "thought" he had been awarded the doctorate, but had since learned that this didn't happen and had amended his CV accordingly.
While working in the department of haematology at Stellenbosch University for three years during the late 1980s and early 1990s, Hatfill made no secret of his AWB links, using the Milnerton Shooting Association's shooting range in Table View, Cape Town, to train members of Aquila. When a colleague recognised Hatfill in a newspaper photograph of Terre'Blanche surrounded by his uniformed bodyguards, the photo was pinned up on a laboratory noticeboard, "where it remained for some time, and led to Hatfill boasting that he was Aquila's weapons trainer in the Western Cape".
Another former colleague says Hatfill alienated a number of staff members in the radio-biology laboratory, because "he always carried a 9mm pistol and constantly boasted about his military past". Female colleagues particularly disliked Hatfill "because he used to invite them to 'poke and puke' parties". According to Lothar Bohm, professor of oncology at Stellenbosch, Hatfill was unpopular because "he just did not respect other people's lives or their work or their needs in the lab. He was the kind of person who would go into the labs late at night and take pieces of equipment without asking."
Edward Rybicki, associate professor in Cape Town University's microbiology department, said Hatfill would "talk about running around in the bush and throwing grenades in Zimbabwe ... boast about shooting up the ANC's offices".
How much of what Hatfill claims is true is open to debate. The exact dates and nature of his activities in South Africa -- and throughout his career -- are vague and filled with anomalies. His CV is riddled with gaps, suggesting that he is either a liar or that his records have been fudged to hide clandestine activities and account for "missing" periods of time. Even his American military records were censored before being released to the media, and there is growing speculation that Hatfill was recruited by a covert US agency while an undergraduate at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas, in the early 1970s, and worked as a double agent throughout his service in crack units such as the Rhodesian Special Air Service and Selous Scouts, and while in South Africa.
Hatfill emerged as the prime suspect behind the anthrax attacks when the FBI learned in June that he and a colleague, Joseph Soukup, commissioned a report in February 1999 from US bio-terror expert William Patrick III on how a hypothetical anthrax attack could be launched by mail, and how it would best be dealt with. At the time, Hat-fill was working for an American defence contractor, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC). Although the report uncannily mirrors the actual attacks following the events of September 11 last year, right down to the amount -- 2,5g -- of anthrax that could be placed in an envelope without causing it to bulge, and specifies the same number of spores and microscopic particle size as were found in letters sent to the US senators, it was not turned over to investigators by SAIC at the time of the anthrax scare.
It was not until June 20 that the FBI obtained a copy of the top-secret report, and a week later agents and bio-hazard teams spent more than a day searching his home, removing computer components and half a dozen black refuse bags of videotapes, books and files. On August 1, armed with a search warrant, the FBI searched the apartment again, along with trash cans outside the building, after receiving unspecified "new information".
Among the many unanswered questions about Hatfill is why, at least until a fortnight ago, he continued to live in an apartment at Detrick Plaza, a civilian complex inside the security perimeter of the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, home of some of the deadliest pathogens known to man. Hatfill worked as a virologist at Fort Detrick only from September 1997 to January 1999, but continued to have access to laboratories there and at another military bio-war facility, Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah, until at least March this year. Hatfill claims his work at the institute focused on finding new treatments for the killer Ebola and Marburg viruses, but the FBI says he is one of "only a handful" of scientists who had both access and the detailed knowledge needed to culture and weaponise the highly lethal concentrated dry powder anthrax spores posted to the politicians.
Just two months before the first anthrax victim died in Boca Raton, Florida, last October, Hatfill's security clearance was cancelled by the US Department of Defence. His employers, SAIC, were given no reason for the sudden withdrawal, and sacked Hatfill as a result. He told former colleagues that he had applied for a higher security rating in order to bid for a top-secret government job, and was required to take a lie-detector test, which he failed "on aspects of his earlier activities in Rhodesia". Hatfill allegedly complained that the polygraph was carried out by "amateurs" incapable of "understanding what Cold Warriors like himself had to do in Rhodesia".
Several of Hatfill's acquaintances said he had hinted over the years at having been involved in the world's worst recorded anthrax outbreak, which killed at least 180 of more than 10 500 human victims between 1978 and 1980 in the Rhodesian Tribal Trust Lands. The outbreak is believed to have been caused deliberately by Rhodesian security forces with the assistance of the late Professor Bob Symington, head of the anatomy department at the Godfrey Huggins School of Medicine in Harare and father of a crude but effective bio-warfare programme launched against guerrilla fighters and confirmed in recent years by senior ex-Rhodesian military officers.
It was Symington who arranged for Hatfill to study medicine in Zimbabwe and served as his mentor. Although serving at the time as a signaller with US Special Forces, Hatfill went to Zimbabwe in 1976 after spending eight months as a "health assistant" at a Methodist mission hospital in Kapanga, Zaire. In October 1976 he married chief medical missionary Glenn Eschtruth's daughter, Caroline. In April 1977 a group of Cuban-led mercenaries invaded the mission station from Angola, and while eight Americans were later evacuated unharmed, Eschtruth was executed and buried in a shallow grave. Although his marriage ended after less than two years and Hatfill did not even know his wife had given birth to a daughter, Kamin, until she herself had a son in 1996 and tracked her father down, he often told colleagues his father-in-law's brutal murder had "caused me to undertake some actions other people wouldn't understand". However, when Hatfill told the story he claimed Eschtruth had been killed by "terrorists in Rhodesia".
Details about Hatfill's war experiences are shrouded in mystery, starting with the fact that he could not have simultaneously served as a member of the US's "Green Berets" and two Rhodesian military units without high-level official sanction. US military experts say it would also be "just about impossible" for anyone with known links to the last white regime in Zimbabwe and the AWB in South Africa to have gained employment at Fort Detrick -- one of the most sensitive facilities within the US military -- unless this, too, was part of an official plan.
Whatever the truth about Hatfill's background, FBI and media interest have caused his newest employer, Louisiana State University, to suspend him on full pay for 30 days before he starts his next job: training emergency personnel and federal agents -- possibly including some of those involved in the investigation against him -- on how to deal with a bio-terror attack.
irate over FBI's anthrax probe
Thursday, August 15, 2002
By BILL CAHIR
U.S. Rep. Rush Holt on Wednesday demanded that the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation explain what Holt describes as foot-dragging in the investigation of anthrax mailings that originated in the Princeton area last fall.
Holt, D-Hunterdon, in a letter to FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, claimed he was dismayed to learn that the bureau only last week had identified a mailbox on Nassau Street in Princeton that had tested positive for anthrax.
The second-term lawmaker noted that the anthrax-laden letters had been mailed with Trenton postmarks and had passed through the Hamilton postal facility. Five people were killed while 12 were sickened.
"It now appears that it has taken the FBI nearly a year to test all of these mailboxes (around the Hamilton facility) for anthrax," Holt wrote. "One does not need to be a trained criminologist to know that identifying where the tainted envelopes entered the mail stream should be a primary goal of the FBI investigation."
"Failure to test all mailboxes and other paths certainly hurts a criminal investigation and it also fails to close the possibilities that there are still infectious quantities of anthrax in the system," Holt continued. "I have some doubt whether the FBI has even now tested all the mailboxes feeding Hamilton for anthrax."
An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment on the congressman's letter, claiming the bureau as a general matter does not respond through the news media to members of Congress.
Holt in his missive asked that Mueller provide a chronology explaining when the mailboxes feeding the Hamilton postal facility were tested.
The Democrat also sought "an explanation of the methodology" the FBI was using to choose mailboxes and other sites that it was testing for anthrax spores.
Holt insisted that he receive an update, perhaps through a face-to-face meeting with Mueller, "within the next few days."
The anthrax scare, which shocked lawmakers and closed congressional offices for several months last fall, including Holt's, gradually has evolved into a worsening black eye for the FBI.
The bureau has made no arrests. A former U.S. Army scientist, meanwhile, has denied his involvement in the anthrax mailings. Dr. Steven Hatfill also has denounced federal authorities for identifying him as a person of interest to the government. Hatfill, of Alexandria, Va., has proclaimed his innocence and has stated that he was appalled by the bio-terrorism that succeeded the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
Schorr from the August 16, 2002 edition of the Christian Scientist
the spotlight on the FBI
WASHINGTON We thought the FBI's practice of manipulating the news media against its targets had gone out with J. Edgar Hoover, but apparently not. Dr. Steven Hatfill, the germ scientist, has been left to contend with suspicion of involvement with anthrax. That suspicion appears to have been orchestrated by an FBI suffering from a tattered reputation in the war against terrorism.
Dr. Hatfill, who worked in the Army's biological research center in Maryland, was one of many persons questioned by the bureau in its unrewarding search for the mailers of the anthrax letters that killed five people. The FBI stresses that he is not a suspect, only a "person of interest." But twice his home was searched and each time the news media were tipped off in advance, coming with cameras, satellite trucks, and helicopters. The public was left to surmise that he was more than just a person of interest.
Last weekend, Hatfill did something unusual. He launched a retaliatory media strike. He called a news conference to denounce the federal authorities for a smear campaign trying to make him the fall guy for their failure to solve the anthrax puzzle. The FBI denied any such intention.
In the past, targets of FBI media campaigns have found it difficult to respond. Richard Jewell, a security guard at Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park in 1996, spotted an abandoned knapsack that turned out to contain a pipe bomb. Before it could be disarmed, the device exploded, killing one person, injuring more than a hundred. Soon, Mr. Jewell was under surveillance, his apartment searched with the media on hand, and he was designated in the press as the FBI's "prime suspect." Eventually he was recognized as the hero, not the villain, of the episode and was left to recover his reputation by lawsuits against his newspaper and television defamers.
Wen Ho Lee, Los Alamos scientist, was under an FBI espionage investigation for 10 years with periodic leaks to the press. He spent 278 days in solitary confinement before the government gave up and accepted a guilty plea on a minor charge. Federal Judge James Parker denounced the FBI and the prosecution for misleading him and made a public apology to the defendant.
Wen Ho Lee's book is titled "My Country Versus Me," and it blames the FBI for the end of his American dream. Whether Steven Hatfill ultimately turns out to be innocent remains to be seen. But he has done what no FBI target has done before: summon the news media to proclaim his patriotism and to put the FBI on the defensive for its manipulation of the all-too-eager media.
Daniel Schorr is a senior news analyst at National Public Radio.
Five Deaths, Five Grams, Five Clues
By Paul de Armond
Albion Monitor August 16 2002 (http://albionmonitor.net)
A close look at the anthrax attacks reveals the deadly bacteria could only have been produced by a covert bioweapons program in violation of international law. Is that the reason why the FBI hasn't been able to catch the killer?
Somewhere out there in America is a would-be mass killer. Someone who has killed five people already, injured many more and set off a nationwide panic -- and who may well be poised to strike again.
Remember the anthrax attacks? Back in October 2001, they regularly led the news as fear of anthrax gripped the nation. Five people died.
Approximately two dozen victims developed full-blown infections. Many more were exposed, but were treated in time to avoid becoming ill. Tens of thousands at risk of exposure were prescribed antibiotics as a precaution. Many developed qualms about opening mail.
The FBI launched an investigation of the attacks, widely believed at first to be more terrorism by Al Qaeda. But as the preponderance of evidence gradually grew to show that the attacks have domestic roots -- the attacker is profiled by the FBI as a "lone wolf" type with a personal agenda -- rather than international terrorism linked to al Qaida or Iraq, the news receded from the front. The evasive silence by baffled law-enforcement officials on the case caused the story's retreat to the neverland of media coverage.
Now as the anniversary of the attacks approaches, the investigation remains an embarrassing failure. The problems with the investigation lie with the circumstances that made the attack possible, not with the cleverness of the attacker.
One of the many puzzles in the case is why the FBI pursued a case theory of international terrorism for three months -- until the trail went stone cold -- and then, when the domestic roots of the attack became glaringly public, suddenly switched to a theory the attacks were the work of a "lone wolf" working in isolation. The puzzle is what led the FBI to conclude that only one person was involved -- and at the same time have no clue as to who that single isolated individual could possibly be.
The killer or killers, however, remain at large. Indeed, as the trail grows colder daily, the likelihood anyone will ever be brought to trial becomes more faint ... unless the attacks resume.
The attacker's elusiveness so far is a direct product of the incredibly dangerous nature of the anthrax itself. Among the few things we know about the killer is that he is well trained in microbiology and handling biowarfare agents. Along with the letters to various public figures in which the anthrax was delivered, he left behind virtually none of the usual clues -- hairs, fibers, smudgeprints -- that help forensic scientists narrow the investigation in most such cases. The care required to avoid exposure to such a powerful toxin -- one that has killed two victims in New York and Connecticut by routes that remain obscure -- make it virtually certain the attacker never had physical contact with the letters after they were filled with anthrax.
However, there is the anthrax itself. Importantly enough, just the fact of its use provides important evidence about the killer. And from the sample used by this killer, there are five clues that emerge clearly -- clues that eventually may reveal his identity:
* We know the culprit used a particular strain obtained from USAMRIID at Fort Detrick
* We know the letters contained about seven to ten grams of material, of which roughly two to three grams were weaponized spores
* We know the spore powder was remarkably pure in the later attacks, less so in the earlier ones
* We know the range of particle sizes and the method used to make the dry powder
* Finally, the spore powder contained chemical additives developed specifically for weaponization
Very little information about the anthrax has been made public by federal authorities, despite repeated pledges of disclosure by the White House, the Office of Homeland Security and the FBI. Much of the information appearing in the press is attributed to unnamed sources or "officials speaking on condition of anonymity" and very little hard information can be traced to on-record sources. Unfounded speculation, conflicting reports and uncorrected misinformation are common. Erroneous reports of links between the anthrax case and the Sept. 11 attacks continue to be publicized, though none of these supposed connections have panned out.
Was the anthrax produced domestically, as part of an undisclosed biological weapons program? If so, how did it come to be used to commit a series of murders that threw the country into an uproar? Was the attacker acting as an agent of a foreign government? Or was the crime an extortion plot that got out of hand? Was the motive political? Or was it intended to inspire a spate of funding for research into bioweapons? An attempt to erode American inhibitions on the first use of nuclear weapons? Or even an attempt by criminals to establish credentials in the international black market in weapons? And finally, might the attacker simply be insane and his motives purely idiosyncratic?
None of these questions can be answered until those responsible are brought to justice. The publicly available evidence, such as it is, casts little light on whatever motive impelled the crimes.
It is widely acknowledged that there is a link between the murderer and biological weapons research. But we don't know who mailed the anthrax. We don't know who made the anthrax. We don't know who stole the anthrax from USAMRIID -- or how. We don't know if those are the same people or different. And if they are different, we don't know what the connection between them might be. We don't even know if there might be more than one person involved. There is a lot we don't know.
But thanks to the anthrax, there are a few things we do know.
The problem, however, is where these clues inevitably lead. Tracing the anthrax, it has become clear that in order for the case to be solved, the FBI must take the lid off the nation's bioweapons-development program. And with a bevy of national-security issues at stake -- not to mention a host of political realities -- that makes the solution of the anthrax case by federal agents a critical test of the reorganization of the FBI.
Six other countries also have the Ames strain
The first clue is the use of the Ames strain of anthrax. Ames is one of the more virulent strains and is used in research to "challenge" vaccines. Anthrax is one of the least genetically diverse bacteria known. As of the beginning of this year, there were less than two hundred genetically identified strains, a fraction of the diversity found in other bacteria.
Highly sensitive DNA tests using both genomic sequencing and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing shows that the attacker's anthrax is identical to a strain used in biological weapons research. The DNA test results were complete sometime in February, but the results were kept from the public until mid-May.
Only a handful of laboratories do anthrax research, but until 1997, the exchange of samples between researchers was both common and informal. After the Oklahoma City bombing, Congress passed a law requiring all transfers of biological agents to be registered with the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia. The transfer documents are open records under the Freedom of Information Act. FOIA requests unearthed by the Washington Post show that USAMRIID distributed samples of the Ames strain to about a dozen researchers.
To date, about fifteen locations in the United States and another half-dozen in other countries are identified as receiving the Ames strain from USAMRIID. Some of them appear to have shared samples with others still unknown. In addition to this distribution, there could be specimens of anthrax in many places, none of which are labeled "Ames," but which are the same strain. Nobody really knows. So the use of the Ames strain is weak evidence for prosecution, but it shows a direct link between the attacker and research connected to USAMRIID. The real question is how direct is the connection.
The second clue is the quantity of the anthrax used in the attacks, which was also noteworthy largely because of the nature of the sample.
The total amount of material used in the letter attacks was about seven to ten grams. Earlier reports lean to the higher numbers and the later reports cite smaller amounts. Of this, most was comprised of harmless, dead vegetative cells and other non-infectious debris, but roughly two to three grams were pure spores -- a fact that stops researchers in their tracks. Growing anthrax bacteria is one thing, but turning living vegetative cells into dormant spores is something else.
Producing quantities of vegetative cells is difficult, but not incredibly so. The problem lies in getting the vegetative cells to turn into spores without killing them. Making purified spores in quantity is a difficult and complex task -- not just hard to do, but hard to discover how. An amateur could conceivably grow live anthrax bacteria. But it is unlikely someone could independently rediscover how to purify and dry spore powder without drawing on knowledge and techniques gained from experience in weapons research.
Weapons production works in enormous quantities of anthrax. Under these conditions, producing pure spores is relatively easy. The attacker's anthrax was roughly 75 percent non-infectious material. This was probably due to the attacker working with a relatively small quantity in weapons terms. In medical research, the quantity produced by the attacker is considered enormous.
Growing purified spores in larger than microscopic quantities is strongly associated with bioweapons research and development. Spores are only of interest for examining inhalatory infection, a subject of mostly military concern. Even then, only tiny quantities are necessary. A lethal dose of inhaled spores is about 1/100,000th of a gram. Anthrax research for non-military purposes rarely if ever uses spores. Producing quantities of spores is the object of weapons-related research.
Thus the quantity of spores is a second, and even more substantive, link between the attacker and weapons research. The overwhelming odds are that if the attacker produced the anthrax, he found out how to do it from contact with military research.
It also suggests that similar weaponized anthrax powder may have existed at some as-yet undisclosed laboratories. Whose laboratory and where it is located will be critical information in a criminal trial.
One Batch or Two? Particle Size in the Anthrax Mailings
The third clue from the spores is ambiguous -- namely, the anthrax used by the attacker varied in purity. It seems likely there were two batches of letters; three letters mailed in mid-September to New York and Florida, followed by two letters mailed in early October to Washington, D.C. The anthrax for the New York mailings was not very high in purity; those batches contained about 10 percent anthrax spores. The powder in the Daschle and Leahy letters is remarkably pure, consisting almost entirely of viable spores.
The composition of the Florida anthrax is critical to the case. It appears to have been intermediate in purity between the New York and Washington, DC samples. It was more concentrated than the New York anthrax and contained a sufficient amount of aerosolized spores to cause three inhalatory exposures (one fatal and one nearly so), numerous trace instances of contamination in post offices, and a distinct pattern of airborne and non-airborne contamination in the American Media, Inc. offices. The epidemiological evidence shows that it was mailed at the same time as the New York letters. The great significance of these facts has been consistently overlooked.
Maj. Gen. John Parker, commander of the division that includes USAMRIID, says the New York samples were considerably less pure than the Daschle sample. "Times ten difference," according to Gen. Parker. According to the testimony of Dr. Kenneth Alibek, the former head of the Soviet Union's bioweapons research program, before the House International Relations Committee, the impurities included dead vegetative anthrax cells.
The Daschle and Leahy samples were reportedly nearly-pure spores. However, the anthrax used in U.S. and Soviet weapons was not this pure. The impurities in the military anthrax were mostly due to the milling process used to reduce the size of the particles to the tiny size necessary to enter people's lungs. This milling debris would dilute the anthrax with killed or damaged spores. Its absence in the Senate samples is highly suggestive of a spray-drying process -- a recent innovation in anthrax-weapons research.
The high purity of the anthrax is an indication the attacker knew critical details of weaponization technology and was familiar with the process. It's unlikely anyone would be able to produce such a pure result on the first try. That suggests the quantity used in the attacks was only one of several batches, some of which may have been failures. What happened to the earlier trial batches? Why does it appear the attacker had such a small amount, compared to the quantity necessary to perfect the process?
Most importantly, how do the five samples of anthrax in each of the letters compare to each other? Are they different portions of a single batch or do they differ in their essential chemical and physical characteristics?
Clearly NOT the kind of anthrax used by the military
The fourth clue is the size of the anthrax particles. The earlier mailings used coarser powder than the later ones. There is conflicting information about the size of the particles. All of the envelopes were tightly taped to seal the seams and openings. It appears the anthrax that escaped in the mail leaked through the paper, not through openings or seams. To pass through the microscopic pores in the envelopes' paper, the particles would have to be smaller than 50 microns. To get into the lungs, anthrax particles have to be smaller than 10 microns (a single spore is about 1 micron). The tightly taped envelopes worked as filters, passing only the deadliest size of particles.
The only inhalatory infections were related to the letter sent to Florida and the two letters sent to Washington, D.C. Tiny amounts of fine powder leaked out of the Florida letter in the mail, enough to be detected in several post offices, but not enough to make people sick. The pattern of contamination in the American Media, Inc. offices suggests a mixture of coarse and fine particles. Three people at the AMI offices were exposed to airborne particles. One died, one became very ill and one received antibiotics before an infection developed. The two who became ill are believed to have handled or opened the letter.
Neither of the two letters sent to New York can be tied to any inhalatory infections, but they did cause several cutaneous infections. Those letters contained coarse granules -- according to one eyewitness, the New York anthrax was like sand, not fine powders.
The known dates of initial infectious symptoms occur first in New York and are followed by the deaths in Florida. The New York infections (not including Kathy Nguyen's anomalous death in late October, which appears to be linked to the Washington DC anthrax letters) were cutaneous -- not inhalatory -- and there is no evidence of airborne transmission with the anthrax in the New York letters. The onset of infections in Florida followed several days after the initial symptoms appeared in New York. The difference between the Florida and New York anthrax samples will have to be explained during any prosecution of the attacker.
Given what is known about how anthrax can be weaponized, the most likely (but not the only) explanation is that the anthrax used in the attacks was dried and weaponized as a single batch and the separation into different particle sizes and purities occurred after the spores were dried. This conclusion, if supported by additional evidence, has the corollary that the envelopes were filled in the following order: New York, Florida, Washington, D.C..
Some reports -- which appear to be leaks from a FBI/CIA briefing given to senators on the morning of October 25 -- say the particle size of the Washington D.C. anthrax was between 1 and 5 microns or between 1.5 and 3.5 microns. The same anonymous reports claim that the anthrax was "milled" -- ground into a fine powder. The narrow range of particle sizes and use of milling are typical of the older processes used by the U.S. and Soviets during their offensive weapons programs. It is now clear the anthrax used in the attacks is distinctly different from the anthrax made and stockpiled for military use.
None of the reports of milled powder with a narrow particle size range have identified sources speaking from direct knowledge. Nor do these reports discuss the varying purity and particle size between the early and late letters. Yet these unsubstantiated hearsay reports have been continuously repeated in describing the powder. It now appears these leaks from the Senate briefing were wrong in several details: the quoted range of particle size is too small and the anthrax used in the attacks was not milled. The misinformation about the particle size and milling continues to be repeated in news reports.
A weapons research program is the most likely source
Three Office of Homeland Security press conferences given by Tom Ridge and others between October 25 and October 29, beginning immediately after the closed Senate briefings, contained little specific information. This is the only official source of information on the characteristics of the anthrax powder, and the specific size range of the particles was not disclosed. Overall, the information given out at the Homeland Security press conference was vague, muddled and created more speculation than answers. It did not settle the questions about the size of the anthrax particles or the process for producing the powder. It did, however, confirm the presence of weaponization additives. And unlike all but one other instance, the White House press conferences featured identified sources speaking on the record.
Dr. Kenneth Alibek -- a Russian scientist who worked at the very top of the Soviet anthrax program and defected to the United States in the early 1990s -- is a third source of information about the anthrax powder. On December 5, Dr. Alibek and two other experts testified before the House International Relations Committee about the anthrax attacks. Of the three, only Alibek claimed to have direct knowledge of the investigation. He said he had been shown "pictures" of anthrax from two of the letters.
Alibek identified what he called the "first sample" as being largely contaminated with vegetative cells; these would be dead anthrax bacteria that didn't turn into spores. This "first sample" was probably the New York Post anthrax, though Alibek did not make that clear. The second set of pictures were of the Daschle anthrax. An anthrax spore is about one micron in diameter. Alibek said the Daschle sample had particles ranging from one to fifty microns in size. This size range is typical of powders produced by spray-drying, but not of milled anthrax.
Alibek unequivocally said that the particles showed no signs of milling. Alibek's testimony about the particle size has not appeared in any news reports, though some stories have described other parts of the hearing. To date, though, Alibek has declined interview requests to discuss what he calls "detective questions" about the anthrax.
Following the completion of the tests on the Leahy sample, unidentified sources were cited repeating the details about the range of particle sizes, the lack of milling debris and the presence of chemical additives. The newer information about the Leahy anthrax further reduced the likelihood of the older military process (which is what was described in the Senate leaks) being used by the attacker. Most significant among the Leahy results was the report of individual coated spores being observed in the sample -- something that had never been observed with the older military process.
The two different descriptions of the anthrax powder correspond to the two ways of weaponizing anthrax into a dry powder. At least one of the descriptions is wrong. The anthrax used in the attacks is either one description or the other or neither -- but not both. The leaks from the Senate briefing describe the drying and milling process used by the U.S. and the Soviets. Alibek appears to be describing a spray-drying process similar to one the Iraqis were experimenting with a decade ago.
The United States is known to be intensely interested in this newer technology for weaponizing anthrax.
Both the milling and spray-drying processes have been reproduced by the United States in several recent "defensive" research programs. The CIA has done extensive research on biological munitions and production processes. Two of these efforts have been identified as Project Jefferson (actually a broad program involving many separate projects) and Clear Vision, the reproduction of a Soviet anthrax bomb. The Defense Threat Reduction Agency has built a pilot plant in Nevada capable of producing anthrax as part of Project BACHUS (Biological Activities CHaracterized by Unconventional Signatures.) Reportedly, this project acquired milling equipment, though DTRA has denied it was used for weaponization. The publicly- acknowledged work at BACHUS used Bacillus globuli, a less-dangerous "simulant" of anthrax. And the U.S. Army has been producing small quantities of weaponized anthrax for several years at the Dugway Proving Grounds. Prior to the disclosure of these activities, the U.S. government has routinely denied such research has been taking place.
Use of the Ames strain, quantity, purity and particle size: These four points are strongly suggestive of weapons research being the source of the anthrax used in the attacks, but none of them are conclusive in and of themselves. Together, they paint a very strong circumstantial picture.
It is unlikely that a loner, even with a strong background in microbiology, could produce five grams of purified anthrax spores with fine particle sizes. It's possible, but it would be very difficult and time-consuming to independently reproduce the results of years of research from highly specialized military programs. If the attacker had access to secret technical information about weaponizing anthrax, the difficulties become less of a barrier. If he had experience with the process, they practically disappear.
The use of the Ames strain, the quantity, the purity and the particle size suggest the attacker had access to secret bio-weapons research. But there is nothing about these facts that points unequivocally to a source for the anthrax.
The telltale link to the world of bioweapons
The fifth clue implicating weapons research is the most damning -- namely, the presence of chemical additives. Without going into the details, this is the one part of the weaponization process that lacks other uses or applications and is unique to producing biological weapons. These additives are necessary to produce small particles from the spore slurry. They were detected in the anthrax used in the attacks by energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS), a very sensitive test for chemical composition. These additives were discussed in the leaks from the Senate briefing, as well as at two Homeland Security press conferences. They also are mentioned in the still-secret FBI report on the Leahy sample.
In mid-April, some facts from the analysis of the Leahy anthrax sample were leaked to CNN, U.S. News and World Report and Newsweek magazines. All three reports are based on anonymous sources. They disagree as to whether the weaponization additives are previously known or unknown to U.S. researchers, but they all agree that the additives are present.
Chemical additives are a crucial part of the weaponization process. The specific chemicals are a tightly held secret (which should not be disclosed to the public). But the particular combination of ingredients would be strong evidence if the attacker used a formula similar to one developed in recent U.S. bioweapons research. The EDS testing is sensitive enough to identify the elements present in the anthrax powder. In some circumstances, it can also identify the chemical compounds themselves. So again, the critical information is not a mystery to the investigators, though it is not being made public.
The bioweapon world's secretive environment protects the killer
These five clues sum up what is publicly known about the anthrax used in the attacks. Together, they strongly suggest the attacker had access to either the technical information or the product from biological weapons research. The Ames strain from USAMRIID, amount of spores, purity, particle size and chemical coatings point to a well-funded and sizable research program with government support. The investigators know the composition of the additives, a highly restricted and specialized area of research. They also know whether the powder was milled or spray-dried, which means they know the type equipment which must have been used to make the anthrax.
All of the questions posed in this article have answers. Many of the answers have been known to the investigators since late October, less than a month after the attacks became known. They have not been publicly disclosed nor has there been any explanation for this secrecy. The FBI investigation has been an embarrassing failure and it has taken many wrong turns. Some of the general information about the anthrax powder should be made public. There are details which can be revealed that could aid the investigation without revealing technical secrets -- and this kind of information may very well jog the memory of witnesses who can provide valuable leads.
The secrecy surrounding the anthrax is central to the mystery of how this investigation has gone so wrong. Some facts are clear about the case. The weaponization process used by the attacker is newer and more sophisticated than allowed under the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, which specifically forbids developing new weapons. The attacks have shown how small quantities of a biological weapon are sufficient to be used as a strategic offensive weapon. The problem with the investigation may not be the attacker's attempts at concealment, but what the existence of the anthrax itself implies.
And that is that somewhere --
in an environment insecure enough to allow diversion to criminal use --
secret, illegal and unauthorized research has developed new and dangerous
ways to proliferate biological weapons. If that secrecy can also shield
a murderer and a traitor, then murder is not the only crime the FBI should
Paul de Armond is research director at the Public Good Project, a privately-funded research network. In 1995, de Armond was the first source to identify the Oklahoma City bombing as domestic right-wing terrorism. He has written about crime and political conflicts which threaten democracy. His most recent works include an analysis of the WTO protests in Networks and Netwar: the future of crime, terrorism and militancy (a much longer version first appeared in Albion Monitor) and a discussion of right-wing domestic terrorism and weapons of mass destruction: Hype or Reality? The 'New Terrorism' and Mass Casualty Attacks (Chemical and Biological Arms Control Institute, 2000).
Sunday, 18 August, 2002, 02:37 GMT 03:37 UK
Anthrax killer 'is US defence insider'
An FBI forensic linguistics expert believes the US anthrax attacks were carried out by a senior scientist from within America's biological-defence community.
Professor Don Foster - who helped convict Unabomber Ted Kaczynski and unveiled Joe Klein as the author of the novel Primary Colors - says the evidence points to someone with high-ranking military and intelligence connections.
Speaking about the investigation for the first time, Prof Foster told the BBC he had identified two suspects who had both worked for the CIA, the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) and other classified military operations.
Controversially, Prof Foster says the killer is likely to be highly patriotic individual who wanted to demonstrate that the US was badly prepared for an act of biological terrorism.
The weapons-grade anthrax was posted in letters just days after the 11 September terror attacks, leaving five people dead, 18 injured and 35,000 forced to take precautionary antibiotics.
The professor says he does not believe the killer will strike again as he has achieved his goal.
He explained: "To that end his misplaced patriotism has worked. Today millions of government dollars have gone into research and anthrax antibiotics are now available to the public."
However, he fears the investigation is now being hampered in its gathering of vital documents that could lead to the killer.
Prof Foster says investigators need examples of the suspects writing to analyse their style and use of language - which the professor believes is as unique as DNA and could unveil the perpetrator.
He said: "It's very frustrating. Ordinarily with the FBI if there's some documents needed - known writings - boom, they're on my desk the next day.
"My two suspects both appear to have CIA connections. These two agencies, the CIA and the FBI, are sometimes seen as rivals.
"My anxiety is that the FBI agents assigned to this case are not getting full and complete co-operation from the US military, CIA and witnesses who might have information about this case."
Killer 'diverting suspicion'
Prof Foster was given four letters recovered by investigators to analyse for clues to the killer's identity.
"As I worked through these documents it became apparent that USAMRIID was ultimately the best place for the FBI to begin looking for a suspect," he said.
All of the letters contain the following messages "Death to America" and "Death to Israel". All were dated 11 September, a clear reference to the terror attacks.
But while investigators searched for links between the anthrax attacks and al-Qaeda, Prof Foster immediately suspected that dating the letters 11 September was merely a ruse to throw the authorities off the scent.
He says: "When an offender gives you some piece of information that's just completely unnecessary and that, in this case, is inaccurate, it becomes immediately suspect.
"It becomes a statement of 'Here's what I want you to believe about this document'."
Prof Foster also says the killer seems to have tried implicating two former USAMRIID scientists who had left the laboratory in unhappy circumstances by posting the letters from near their homes in New Jersey.
He says only someone in contact with a senior insider at USAMRIID would have known how the two scientists left the lab and that they would then be likely targets for the FBI investigation.
He says: "They are looking at someone who's a little bit higher up the food chain, who would have to have access to personnel information."
The professor also identified a number of mistakes and misspellings in the letters which he suspects are a deliberate ploy to confuse investigators.
The author of the anthrax letters tells his victims to take penicillin. Not only is penicillin the wrong antibiotic to take, the killer also misspells the word.
Prof Foster says: "You mean to tell me this guy is dealing with anthrax, a trillion spores a gram, and he thinks penicillin is going to be the antibiotic of choice?
"There's something very fishy about that misspelling there, that this particular word should be misspelled and it should be misspelled in such an unconvincing way.
"It looks like an attempt on the offender to say 'Hey, don't think I'm a scientist, don't think I know anything about antibiotics'."
The FBI have placed a number of scientists under intense scrutiny and recently questioned US scientist Dr Steven Hatfill in connection with the attacks.
Dr Hatfill strenuously denies any involvement in the attacks saying: "I have never worked with anthrax; I know nothing about this matter."
The FBI's investigation continues.
Russia tussle over deadly anthrax sample
U.S. officials have made repeated requests for vaccine-resistant strain
By Peter Eisler
''Is (the anthrax) resistant to their vaccine? To our vaccine? We don't know.''
-- Anthrax expert Arthur Friedlander SERPUKHOV, Russia -- The genetically engineered strain of anthrax locked in an old Soviet bioweapons lab in this rural district near Moscow is especially feared for its potential as a tool of terror. Officials in Washington can't wait to bring it to the United States.
The Pentagon wants the anthrax because it reportedly resists vaccines, but Russia has balked at repeated requests for a sample. U.S. officials worry that the strain may defeat inoculations given to troops and medical workers who would be on the front line in a biological attack by terrorists or an enemy state. They want to test it and, if necessary, develop defenses.
The U.S. government has spent years seeking a sample. Russian officials have failed to fulfill two contracts in which they agreed to provide a sample of the strain and data on its makeup in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars in U.S. grants to study its vaccine resistance. That is just a fraction of millions of aid dollars sent to former Soviet bioweapons labs to foster reciprocal biodefense research.
The previously unreported tug of war over the anthrax represents a significant snag in a new era of security cooperation between Washington and Moscow. In May, President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin renewed a mutual pledge made last fall to expand joint work on biodefense. But a lack of U.S. access to the unparalleled stocks of Soviet-made bioweapons agents inherited by Russia stands as a major hurdle.
The altered anthrax is among thousands of pathogens at Russian labs that once supported the secret Soviet biowarfare program. U.S. officials fear that the germs -- or the science behind them -- could fall into the hands of America's foes. They're eager to study how the most dangerous ones work and how to defeat them.
Several strains are on the U.S. wish list, including two particularly nasty smallpox types from the Soviet collection of more than 100 varieties of the virus. But the altered anthrax has been pursued with the most vigor -- and money.
When scientists at the lab in Serpukhov revealed in 1997 that they had altered the anthrax's DNA to make a vaccine-resistant strain, the lab already had received about $2 million in U.S. aid to help it shift to cooperative research with peaceful or defensive applications.
More U.S. cash followed: first, to pay for additional study of the new anthrax strain in exchange for a sample; then, to pay for deciphering the strain's genetic code, which would yield clues to its virulence. U.S. aid even paid to replace the lab's decrepit security system.
Still, the United States hasn't yet received the strain or the genetic code that it paid to decipher.
''Is it resistant to their vaccine? To our vaccine? We don't know. The vaccines work differently -- they're made differently,'' says Arthur Friedlander, an anthrax expert at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, the Pentagon's biodefense lab at Fort Detrick, Md. If the strain can, in fact, beat the U.S. vaccine, he adds, ''it would be of enormous interest to find out how.''
Without a sample, U.S. scientists can't assess how big a threat the anthrax may pose. It also is hard to know whether the strain can be replicated by any of a dozen or so nations and terror groups believed to be building biological arsenals.
The logjam isn't simply a matter of Russian intransigence.
Rules set up roadblock
The United States and Russia have no formal agreement on exchanging dangerous pathogens, and Russian export rules bar their shipment. The controls were adopted last year amid U.S. complaints that Russia needed tougher laws to prevent proliferation of bioweapons technology. No one anticipated the rules would be a roadblock to pathogen exchanges for joint biodefense work.
Russian officials say the rules supersede the aid contracts promising access to the engineered anthrax. U.S. officials want the contracts honored, but the State Department and the Pentagon differ on how to press the matter.
Some U.S. officials say the export control issues cited by Russia in withholding the anthrax are legitimate, noting that U.S. samples of similarly dangerous pathogens also have not been shared. Others say that because Russia takes U.S. aid, it should be more cooperative.
Since 1994, well over $20 million in U.S. aid has gone to joint projects that provide peaceful work for former Soviet bioweapons facilities. The strategy aims to keep cash-strapped labs and scientists from selling their services to rogue states or terrorists. At the same time, the assistance is meant to allow U.S. agencies to tap the labs' expertise on everything from vaccine research to epidemiology. Getting to study Soviet bioweapons strains is a key U.S. goal.
The strain-exchange problem has reached top U.S. diplomats and defense officials. But talks with Moscow have yielded no deal.
''It's a very serious concern,'' says Peter Jahrling, lead scientist at the Fort Detrick lab and a top federal adviser on joint biodefense work in the former Soviet Union. ''We're making a significant investment with no assurance that we're going to get any of these strains or even the genome of these strains.''
Questions of intent
The story of the engineered anthrax illustrates the secrecy and suspicion shrouding the vestiges of the Soviet bioweapons program.
The strain was created at the State Research Center for Applied Microbiology, called Obolensk for the town it occupies in the Serpukhov district. The lab was a jewel in the bioweapons network, specializing in anthrax and other bacteria.
Officials at Obolensk say work on the strain began after Russia's then-president, Boris Yeltsin, admitted in 1992 that the Soviets had run an illicit bioweapons program and banned such work. The goal, they say, was to decipher the disease-causing properties of anthrax bacteria from the Soviet collection in an effort to improve vaccines.
''We were trying to find out the nature of the pathogenicity of the original strain,'' says Vladimir Volkov, deputy director of Obolensk. ''If you understand the nature of the pathogenicity, you can develop a better vaccine. We were working openly on this; we did not hide it.''
Indeed, top U.S. scientists knew of the anthrax work in 1995, but alarms didn't sound until late 1997, when Obolensk scientists published a journal article noting the strain's vaccine resistance. Some U.S. officials questioned whether the strain was created with an eye toward its use as a weapon -- an objective barred under rules governing recipients of U.S. aid. But there was no evidence that U.S. aid to the lab directly financed the anthrax project, so officials focused their energy on getting a sample.
The questions of Russian intent reflect broader concerns about the old Soviet bioweapons network.
U.S. officials fret about Russia's refusal to catalog its thousands of strains of biological agents, from fearsome Marburg and Ebola viruses, which cause fatal internal hemorrhaging, to highly virulent plague bacteria.
Some also suspect that certain labs may still be doing weapons work, especially four facilities, now run by Russia's military, that don't admit outsiders.
''There are a lot of questions about what is going on at some of those facilities,'' says Gordon Oehler, founding director of the CIA non-proliferation center, which checks the spread of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
Oehler has regularly advised the government on security matters since retiring from the CIA in late 1997 to join Virginia-based defense contractor SAIC. ''Many of us don't believe Russian leaders have total control over what the military does,'' he says.
But the civilian-run Obolensk is seen more as a proving ground for the idea that former Soviet weapons labs can be American partners. It uses U.S. aid for everything from vaccine studies to research on drug-resistant tuberculosis.
The catch is that much of the joint biodefense work at Russian labs also can have weapons applications. There's a fine line, for example, between finding vaccines for a pathogen and finding ways to make a pathogen resist vaccines.
Chasing the unknown
It's unclear whether the engineered anthrax from Obolensk would make a good weapon. U.S. scientists have been told by their counterparts at the Russian lab that the strain isn't very stable, meaning it's tough to keep alive, and would be hard to reproduce.
But anthrax is a pathogen of choice for states and terrorists seeking bioweapons. In Iraq, for example, international arms inspections after the Gulf War found a robust anthrax-making program. So, there is no ignoring a strain that may beat the U.S. vaccine.
''We've vaccinated millions of soldiers; we have to know if our vaccine would be efficient against it,'' says Raymond Zilinskas, a former U.S. bioweapons inspector in Iraq who still advises federal agencies.
''It seems unlikely that a terrorist group or a country like Iraq could duplicate the strain easily,'' adds Zilinskas, a senior scientist at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. But he notes that U.S. officials know of at least one Iraqi with expertise in such work, so the possibility must be considered.
Officials initially hoped to get a sample directly from Obolensk, which already was getting U.S. assistance when its scientists published their work on the anthrax strain in 1997.
U.S. officials quickly ponied up $55,000, including a $28,000 grant to the new strain's chief developer, for the lab to do more study of the altered anthrax's infectious qualities. The aid contract with Obolensk stipulated that the lab would provide a sample of the strain as part of the cooperative research.
Obolensk had earlier given the U.S. some more benign pathogens, but when it came time for the anthrax strain to be exchanged, officials at the lab said they lacked government approval.
With the issue mired in Russian bureaucracy, the Pentagon made a parallel push in 1999 to get the strain's genetic sequence, a blueprint of its makeup.
Officials contracted with Obolensk, again through the International Science and Technology Center, to pay $325,000 for more analysis of the strain and to decipher its genome. The lab agreed to share the results.
Again, the contract has not been fulfilled. The sequencing was done this spring, but U.S. scientists don't have the data. Russian officials say the sequence is subject to the same export rules they used to withhold a sample of the anthrax.
''It's not in Obolensk's power to resolve this,'' says Volkov. ''Our criteria for exchanges are no less rigid than the Americans'. There must be an official request at the governmental level; there has to be an agreement'' saying it will not be transferred to a third party from labs in the United States.
Investing in security
The struggle over the anthrax fuels a growing recognition that a strain-exchange pact is needed for the Bush-Putin vision of cooperative biodefense work to succeed.
''It's going to be more and more of a problem because we really need to work with some of these more dangerous pathogens, especially anthrax and smallpox,'' says a U.S. Embassy official in Moscow. ''There are a lot of logistical concerns, just moving these strains from Moscow to the U.S. and vice versa. We need to determine who'll get access to the strains, how they will be used.''
The matter has gone to the National Security Council and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. Talks have intensified recently with top Russian officials.
But it's a tough issue, compounded by both sides' inclination to keep a tight hold on their knowledge of bioweapons and their ability to defend against them. Many officials blame the anthrax hang-up on midlevel bureaucrats with a Cold War mindset.
''Maybe if people at the top bang some heads together, something will happen,'' says Jahrling at Fort Detrick. ''I don't have a lot of hope. Secrets are secrets. The Russians have theirs, we have ours. A lot of people don't want to share.''
Much of the cooperative work now going on centers on less dangerous strains, such as plant and animal viruses and bacteria, and research on vaccines and disease diagnosis. Such projects have applications in biodefense, but some U.S. officials want to ratchet it up.
Meanwhile, the influx of U.S. aid at Obolensk has brought progress on at least one concern with the altered anthrax: keeping it safe.
Obolensk is one of several former Soviet bioweapons sites where U.S. aid has brought big improvements in security. The Pentagon has spent nearly $1 million for fences, electronic sensors, cameras and vault upgrades at the lab, still one of Russia's chief bacteriological research sites. Similar investments were made at its Siberian counterpart, called Vector, a viral research site.
''We call those quick fixes,'' says Thomas Kuenning, head of cooperative threat reduction programs at the Pentagon's Defense Threat Reduction Agency. He notes that such work has occurred only at ''the most vulnerable locations'' among scores of old Soviet weapons labs.
The enhanced security at Obolensk has eased concerns about the engineered anthrax being stolen. But U.S. officials remain worried by their lack of knowledge about the strain -- and the possibility that an enemy could recreate it, perhaps with the help of an insider at the lab.
Reassurances from Obolensk are little solace.
''The Americans are our partners now,'' says Volkov, and the anthrax issue ''will resolve itself'' over time. Until then, he adds, ''it's locked up tight -- thanks to the American assistance.''
- Denver Post
Anthrax probe troubling
Tuesday, August 20, 2002 - The FBI's handling of the Steven J. Hatfill case is troubling not because of what it has revealed about the former Army biological researcher, but for what it has shown the public about federal law enforcement.
Americans would like to believe that their law-enforcement agencies can both track suspected bad guys and still honor basic human rights.
But in at least two previous high-profile cases, the FBI ignored the fundamental tenet of American law that a person is innocent until proven guilty. After the 1996 bombing at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta during the summer Olympics, the FBI focused heavily on part-time security guard Richard Jewell, nearly wrecking the man emotionally and certainly damaging his career. Later, evidence showed that Jewell had nothing to do with the bomb. The FBI has not, by the way, ever arrested the person it suspects is the real culprit.
More recently, the FBI kept Wen
Ho Lee behind bars for nine months, claiming that the Los Alamos researcher
had stolen sensitive national security information. But the evidence never
supported the most serious allegations, Lee eventually accepted a very
watered-down plea bargain, and the FBI had enough egg on its face to make
Now, 10 months after last fall's deadly anthrax mailings, the FBI is focusing on a series of unusual aspects of Hatfill's life. It cannot be said with any certainty at this point whether Hatfill is wholly innocent, as he publicly proclaimed last week, or somehow linked to the anthrax-tainted letters.
What is obvious, however, is that the FBI's public focus on Hatfill has been heavy-handed and unprofessional.
For example, it's very common
for police to show pictures of a suspect to people who live in the neighborhood
where a crime has occurred. FBI agents recently showed Hatfill's photo
to people who live near where traces of anthrax reportedly were found on
a New Jersey mailbox. But any testimony arising from this inquiry might
be tainted, and thus
Americans want thorough and energetic investigations into potential terrorism attacks. We do not, however, want any modern-day witch hunts.
individual can relate with a media frenzy
August 20, 2002
When Dr. Steven J. Hatfill stood before a battery of microphones and cameras nine days ago to deny involvement with last year's anthrax attacks, Jordan Arizmendi felt a pang of empathy. "Welcome to the club," he thought.
Arizmendi doesn't know if Hatfill had anything to do with the bioterror mailings that killed five, but he's one of the few people who knows what Hatfill is going through.
For a few days last October, shortly after anthrax killed a photo editor for a tabloid weekly published in Boca Raton, Arizmendi was Hatfill.
America thought he did it. He was a summer intern at the National Enquirer who had "mysteriously disappeared." He wrote a cryptic e-mail in his last week that said, "You'll all remember me by the little tricks and treats I hid." He had dark skin and a foreign name.
"It all happened so quickly," Arizmendi, 24, said Monday. "The media just jumps on you."
So he's being careful not to jump to conclusions this time.
Hatfill, an ex-Army scientist who specialized in biological warfare, has become the subject of intense scrutiny and suspicion. The FBI has raided his apartment twice in recent months. Investigators, journalists and even bloodhounds have sniffed through his life, from the Beltway to Zimbabwe.
But Arizmendi knows not to believe everything he hears and reads. Experience has taught him. He knows how things can be twisted, how a name with roots in the Basque region of Spain can be reported to be Middle Eastern or Sudanese. He knows how an innocuous e-mail can be misconstrued as a dark warning. He knows how an oblique reference to bagels and cream cheese can be confused with a deadly biological agent.
He's able to look back and laugh about it now. He calls it "my five minutes of fame."
"It didn't really scar me in any way," said Arizmendi, who graduated from Florida Atlantic University with a communications degree and now works at Boater's World in Pompano Beach. "I got to go on the CBS Morning Show with Bryant Gumbel. That was phat. That's why I'm a little hesitant to compare my case with Hatfill."
But Arizmendi recalled some scary moments when he realized that "the college intern of Middle Eastern descent" authorities sought was him.
"I thought my future was over," Arizmendi said. "That first day I was just praying my name didn't get out." The FBI came for him in the middle of an on-campus job interview with Disney. "Tall guys in suits," Arizmendi said. "They asked me what I knew about anthrax. I said, `Isn't that the hair band from the '80s?' That's when they ruled me out as a terrorist mastermind."
The e-mail sounded more sinister than it was, inspired by a similar note his brother once sent at the end of a summer law internship. Arizmendi was going to send it to just a few workers near his desk, but then discovered the mass-mailing button. He thought it would be funny for people who didn't know him to get it. The treats he wrote about? Bagels he brought from Einstein's.
When Hatfill went public to maintain his innocence last week, Arizmendi sat down to write his thoughts: "The notorious and exclusive Terrorist Suspect Club has inducted yet another member... [Dr. Hatfill, if you are cleared] eventually this entire memory will fade away. But it'll never be erased from your mind completely, and you'll always be a bit skeptical of your neighbors' smiling faces.
"Hysteria forces people to do ugly things. Just as Richard Jewell's life was turned upside down [after the 1996 Atlanta Olympic bombing], and mobs of people had careers shattered in the height of the McCarthy era, when society is frightened there must be people to point fingers at."
So what does Arizmendi want to do? Become a journalist, naturally. "Know of any jobs?" he said. "I'm a real fast typer."
Copyright © 2002, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
work continued after firing
State Department funded SAIC anti-terrorism contract
By JOAN McKINNEY
WASHINGTON -- LSU scientist Dr. Steven J. Hatfill has accurately reported that he continued to work on a State Department-funded anti-terrorism project this year, after his difficulties with a CIA polygraph test and after his firing by a federal defense contractor.
LSU placed Hatfill on paid administrative leave on Aug. 2 after the FBI had searched his Maryland residence twice in connection with its investigation into the anthrax mailings last year. LSU is waiting for the results of a background check before it decides if Hatfill can keep his newly acquired, $150,000-a-year post as associate director of LSU's bio-terrorism training program for public-safety personnel.
In interviews, spokesmen for the State Department and for Science Applications International Corp., Hatfill's former employer, confirmed that Hatfill worked on an SAIC-State Department contract this spring, after LSU hired him. They said they did not know, or would not comment on, the circumstances of Hatfill's departure from SAIC.
Privacy laws forbid SAIC from revealing that information, SAIC spokesman Benjamin A. Haddad said.
Hatfill's attorney, Victor M. Glasberg of Alexandria, Va., has said SAIC fired the scientist in March, citing the CIA polygraph results that were then already several months old.
At a news conference Aug. 11, Hatfill said he believes he lost his job at SAIC because of publicity surrounding the FBI's investigation. Hatfill proclaimed his innocence and said he's the "fall guy" for the FBI's inability to close the nearly year-old anthrax case.
Hatfill was dismissed from SAIC in March and was on the LSU payroll by the end of April. Still living in Maryland, he was an adjunct professor who prepared course materials for training police and other emergency workers who respond to terrorist attacks.
Hatfill was promoted to the associate director's job on July 1.
At his news conference, Hatfill said that, in February, a reporter called him about the anthrax case and then later called his employer, SAIC.
"Shortly, thereafter, SAIC laid me off. … On leaving SAIC, I took a job with LSU to work with a group of universities on important federally funded programs for biological defense. Ironically, I was called back to SAIC on numerous occasions to assist with projects I had started, as well as help with new projects. SAIC eventually had to contract for my continued services through LSU."
In a phone interview immediately after Hatfill's news conference, Haddad said, "… To the best of my knowledge, we have not compensated him in any fashion since he left our employment."
Haddad said Hatfill might have been "working on things that we were working on in conjunction with LSU, but we were not compensating him."
In a followup e-mail statement, Haddad added that SAIC "knew that Dr. Haddad would be working on the State Dept. contract. … SAIC knew that the job fit Dr. Hatfill's skill set and that the Dept. of State wanted him on the job. Therefore, SAIC had expectations that Dr. Hatfill would be working on this contract. But, again, the final decision on that was left to his employer, LSU."
LSU and SAIC are partners in several federally funded contracts, according to SAIC and the university. In some cases, SAIC is the lead contractor and LSU is a subcontractor; in others, their roles are reversed.
SAIC is the lead contractor on the State Department contract in question in the Hatfill case. The contract involves protecting the State Department's facilities and personnel from chemical and bio-weapons. While he was still at SAIC, Hatfill "helped create the program" for the State Department, according to Haddad.
The public affairs office for the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security confirmed that SAIC holds that contract, and that Hatfill worked on it after he went to LSU "for a brief period of time, probably for about a month, from April to May of this year."
Through a public affairs officer, the bureau said, "He (Hatfill) was on the SAIC payroll. Then he left SAIC and went to LSU. … He became a contract worker with SAIC while at LSU.. I don't know who gave him the paycheck."
It's not clear if Hatfill's work on the SAIC-State Department contract has any bearing on the anthrax case.
His attorney has said that the continued association among Hatfill, the State Department and SAIC proves that some government officials and former work colleagues did not consider Hatfill a security threat, even after the CIA polygraph incident. The CIA test did not cover issues in the anthrax case, and its ambiguous results covered incidents from Hatfill's past in South Africa, Glasberg has told the Washington Post.
Without naming Hatfill publicly, a New York professor who's prominent in weapons-control circles has charged that unnamed "officials" have tried to help one anthrax suspect overcome a recent career setback. Barbara Hatch Rosenberg made that allegation in a June article for redflagsweekly.com.
Rosenberg also has attacked the FBI. She has charged that the FBI is moving slowly in the anthrax case because some government officials and private contractors want to shield suspects who know about secret U.S. government programs to develop biological weapons.
Hatfill once worked at the Army's bio-weapons laboratory at Fort Detrick, Md., and he has done private contracting work in several bio-terrorism areas.
Rosenberg has announced her suspicions in a speech at Princeton, in newspaper interviews and in her own articles.
Rosenberg is a research professor of environmental science at the State University of New York and previously was an associate professor of biochemistry at Cornell Medical School and a cancer researcher at Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. She chairs the Federation of American Scientists' working group on biological weapons. She has said her views do not represent the federation's.
Citing a Maryland newspaper's account, Hatfill said Rosenberg reportedly discussed him in private interviews with federal investigators.
"I don't know Dr. Rosenberg," he said. "I have never met her. I have never spoken or corresponded with her. To my knowledge, she is ignorant of my work except in the broadest of terms."
At the press conference, Glasberg said Hatfill and Rosenberg disagree on U.S. policy toward the international Biological Weapons Convention. Rosenberg favors inspections of U.S. biological weapons facilities. Glasberg said Hatfill has opposed that, because he fears exposure of U.S. companies' trade secrets.
The Justice Department has confirmed that Hatfill is a person of interest in the anthrax case. However, the FBI denies having used that terminology, will not disclose what information, if any, it has to implicate Hatfill, and did not respond to Hatfill's news conference.
Hatfill said that the FBI also has polygraphed him, during the early stages of its anthrax investigation.
"After reviewing the polygraph charts in private, the polygraph examiner told me I had passed and he believed I had nothing to do with the anthrax letters," Hatfill said.
Before Hatfill's employment at LSU, SAIC and LSU already had cooperated on various State Department contracts for about 10 years, according to SAIC spokesman Haddad.
In addition, at the time of Hatfill's employment, LSU's Division of Continuing Education -- which hired Hatfill -- had its own relationship with the State Department. It has a State Department contract to train foreign security forces in counter-terrorism measures. The training is conducted by LSU's national center for biomedical research, where Hatfill is the newly hired associate director.
In a series of interviews over the past two weeks, LSU spokesman Gene Sands said it will take some time to sort out information about Hatfill and about federal contracts shared by SAIC and LSU. These contracts may be held by several LSU departments, not only by the Division of Continuing Education, Sands said.
BARBARA HATCH ROSENBERG:
Unconventional Detective Bears Down on a Killer
by Jennifer Couzin
Science Magazine - Aug. 22, 2002
A veteran of the bioweapons treaty wars has taken on a leading role in pressing the FBI to find out who mailed the anthrax letters.
Representatives from nongovernmental organizations were supposed to sit quietly in the gallery as the delegates to a 4-week conference last summer in Geneva debated how to strengthen the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) protocol. But that rule didn't stop molecular biologist Barbara Hatch Rosenberg from plopping herself down in a seat on the main floor. "I just walked in; nobody said anything," explains Rosenberg, who serves as chair of the Federation of American Scientists' (FAS's) working group on biological weapons verification. Members of the U.S. delegation were unhappy with the ad hoc seating arrangement, however, and forced her to move back to the gallery.
Rosenberg's supporters and detractors already knew she was a hard-nosed and vocal activist who's unmovable once she takes a stand. "Barbara obviously makes no bones about her views," says Stephen Morse, an epidemiologist at Columbia University in New York City and a longtime friend. A government scientist who's battled Rosenberg for years puts a sharper edge on his description of her: "What she brings [to discussions] is an attitude."
That attitude has helped Rosenberg become one of the most visible critics of the FBI's investigation into the anthrax mailings last fall that killed five people and sickened at least 17 others. Less predictably, she also has become the leading nongovernment authority on who might have committed the crimes. Coming soon after the 11 September terrorist attacks, the mailings heightened the country's sense of vulnerability from abroad. But within weeks, Rosenberg asserted in a very public setting that the attacker was an American -- specifically, a scientist with access to a federal lab that studies biological agents. The FBI's actions in the case have since converged with that profile, in particular, shining a spotlight on Steven Hatfill, a microbiologist who earlier this month vehemently proclaimed his innocence and accused the government and the media of ruining his life (Science, 16 August, p. 1109).
How did a 70-something academic--she's an environmental science professor at the State University of New York (SUNY), Purchase--and bioweapons expert come to take on such a prominent role in this manhunt? Rosenberg professes surprise at the attention she's received, saying simply, "From what I knew the FBI knew, I knew they should be farther along" in their investigation. "That's why I began making statements."
Her motivation, she says, is to deter future assaults by helping solve the first deadly bioweapons attack within the United States. But her profile of the attacker also jibes with other stances she has taken. They include support for a protocol to strengthen the BTWC by advocating inspections to assess bioweapons production--a protocol from which the United States recently walked away (Science, 24 August 2001, p. 1415). She also opposes building more bioweapons labs.
Profiling the attacker. The anthrax letters that struck down and disrupted lives in New York, Florida, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C., last fall embodied the fears of Rosenberg and many other bioweapons experts, who had long warned that the country was ill prepared to handle such an attack. Her 2 decades of work in bioweapons control have given Rosenberg deep ties in the community; almost immediately following the attacks, she began receiving unsolicited tips from U.S. scientists whose connections with federal programs prevented them from speaking publicly.
By early November, Rosenberg says that certain clues, including signs that the anthrax strain had come from the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick, Maryland, convinced her that the perpetrator was an American. She went public with those thoughts on 21 November at a BTWC meeting in Geneva, asserting that New York City "has just been attacked, first by foreign terrorists, then by an American using a weaponized biological agent."
Rosenberg declines to explain why she chose that venue. But her voice rises in anger when she recalls how U.S. officials refused to join with other delegations at the November meeting. "[The U.S. was] accusing everyone else of having bioweapons, when the attack was coming from our program. ... I felt that it was necessary to point out."
Rosenberg came to believe that the scientist-perpetrator didn't intend to kill--after all, she says, the attacker warned that the letters contained anthrax or that the recipients should take penicillin--but rather nursed a grievance against the government for unfairly neglecting the U.S. bioweapons program. Since November, her theories have been widely disseminated over the Internet and in the media.
Earlier this year, Rosenberg wrote that the FBI had a suspect in mind but was reluctant to pursue him because "the suspect knows too much and must be controlled forever from the moment of arrest." She has since grown more circumspect about a possible conspiracy, saying, "I can only speculate as to why" the FBI hadn't been more aggressive.
That view still doesn't sit well with some scientists, although few are willing to criticize her in public. "My feeling is that if there is such a conspiracy, the FBI is not a part of it," says Steven Block, a biophysicist at Stanford University who has advised the U.S. government on bioweapons. Some scientists also felt that it wasn't a coincidence that Rosenberg's profile of the attacker fit one person. "She just seems to be too anxious to pin this on [Hatfill]," says Peter Jahrling, a senior USAMRIID researcher, who says Rosenberg's comments about the case led him to decide early on that she had Hatfill in mind. Rosenberg maintains that she never named Hatfill or anyone else in comments to the FBI or in her statements.
Rosenberg zealously preserves the anonymity of her sources, saying only that they are government scientists and other insiders. Those within and outside government labs agree that her sources seem knowledgeable. Jahrling, however, suggests that Rosenberg doesn't have many friends in the government's biodefense labs because she opposes their planned expansion. Any expansion, she has argued, just adds to the pool of scientists with the means to pull off another bioweapons attack.
Both admirers and detractors agree that she has pushed the FBI forward. "Without question, she's influenced this investigation," says Block, who also strongly suspects that the culprit, if not a U.S. citizen himself, has ties to the U.S. bioweapons program. Privately, scientists who support Rosenberg praise her for taking on what they call a thankless job.
Rosenberg, whom the conservative Weekly Standard ridiculed as "the Miss Marple of SUNY/Purchase" in a recent article, maintains that the importance of finding out who sent the anthrax-tainted letters demanded her involvement and that her celebrity is purely accidental. Mark Wheelis, a microbiologist at the University of California, Davis, and a member of the FAS working group that Rosenberg runs, agrees that she generally shuns the limelight. But her determination, he notes, serves her well here: "The toughness is not part of her normal manner; it's a reserve she can draw on when it's called for."
And what if she's wrong? Rosenberg concedes that interrogating Hatfill might not help the FBI crack the case. But she quickly reverts to character. Even if that's true, she says, "the broad principles and the things I've said, I stand behind."
to reveal new data
Surveillance 'borders on confrontational'
By JOAN McKINNEY
WASHINGTON --- The FBI surveillance of LSU scientist Steven J. Hatfill, who has moved to Baton Rouge, "borders on the confrontational," a spokesman for Hatfill said Saturday.
The FBI has used "a cavalcade of vehicles," and Hatfill "is driving around Baton Rouge with FBI agents two or three feet off his bumper," said Pat Clawson, a Virginia-based friend of Hatfill's.
Hatfill occasionally has tried to speak with the FBI agents, but they have ignored him, Clawson said.
The U.S. Justice Department describes Hatfill as a person-of-interest in the anthrax mailings that killed five people last fall.
Hatfill has said he's innocent and has accused the FBI of making him "the fall guy" for its slowness to solve the case.
Hatfill worked at the Fort Detrick, Md., U.S. Army research center for biological warfare from September 1997 to September 1999.
Hatfill has also done some private contracting work in several bio-terrorism areas.
Hatfill says he has not worked with anthrax, but said he has studied it.
LSU is running a background check on Hatfill after placing him on paid leave from his $150,000-a-year job as associate director of its National Center for Biomedical Research and Training.
That center, funded by the Justice Department, trains law-enforcement and other public-safety personnel in counterterrorism and the response to bioweapons attacks.
Hatfill's leave, imposed Aug. 2, runs for 30 days.
Clawson said Hatfill believes that university officials may say something about his case in the next week.
Hatfill will have a news conference today in northern Virginia where he will make a statement to LSU officials, release some documents and talk about ethical issues related to some law-enforcement officials, Clawson said.
Until recently, Hatfill lived in Maryland while he worked as an adjunct professor for LSU, preparing course materials for the bioterrorism training center.
He was promoted to the associate director's job July 1 and was preparing to move to Baton Rouge when the FBI conducted its second search of his Maryland residence and LSU placed him on leave.
Hatfill moved to Baton Rouge about two weeks ago and has spent his time setting up a new household and "watching TV," Clawson said. Meanwhile, FBI surveillance has become more aggressive, he said.
The FBI's Washington field office is conducting the anthrax investigation. A spokesman for that office, Chris Murray, declined Saturday to comment on Clawson's description of the agency's actions.
According to Clawson, documents to be released by Hatfill today will include:
· Payroll records from a former employer that will help support Hatfill's claim that he was not in New Jersey when anthrax letters were mailed from there.
· Photographs of the apartment of Hatfill's girlfriend, taken after FBI agents searched it. Hatfill has claimed that the FBI treated his girlfriend roughly and left her apartment in disarray. Hatfill and his girlfriend took the photographs, Clawson said.
to search for more evidence at anthrax site in Boca
By Terri Somers
BOCA RATON -- The FBI plans to go back into the shuttered former Boca Raton headquarters of American Media Inc. in a renewed attempt to gather evidence that could help investigators figure out how the deadly anthrax spores spread through the building last October.
Sources said investigators expect to spend about two weeks in the building, which was the first of several sites around the country found to be contaminated last fall.
FBI officials are expected to provide more details, including what brought them back to the building and what they'll be doing, at a news conference this morning in Boca Raton.
The AMI building on Broken Sound Boulevard has been quarantined since Bob Stevens, a photo editor for AMI tabloid The Sun, died from anthrax exposure on Oct. 5. Subsequently, four others died and 18 were sickened by contaminated mailings in New York, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., and Connecticut.
Anthrax from contaminated mail shut down the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., for months.
The FBI now is questioning former U.S. Army scientist Dr. Steven J. Hatfill in connection with the attacks. Hatfill has denied any involvement and on Sunday said the FBI had accepted his offer to undergo a blood test to determine whether he had been exposed to anthrax or vaccinated against it recently.
Top intelligence officials have said the FBI's investigation into the attacks has been troubled since its first days in Boca Raton. FBI sources have said that when the obvious avenues of investigation -- such as fingerprints or analysis of the envelopes -- failed to pan out this winter, the bureau decided to go back to the basics.
In May, the FBI and the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry wanted to go back into the building for about 10 days for further investigation, including an examination of how the air-handling system spread the bacteria. But AMI Chairman David J. Pecker refused to allow them entry until his company received a proposal on what they planned to do.
Anthrax spores were found in 84 locations in the AMI building, according to a summary report released Nov. 30 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Seventy-eight percent of the contaminated samples were taken from the first floor, where the building's mail room was located, the report said. Investigators found 66 anthrax-laden samples on the first story -- including 35 taken from desks, computers and keyboards, file cabinets and mail slots. Spores were found in another 31 samples vacuumed from the floor.
Boca Raton Mayor Steven Abrams, Police Chief Andrew Scott and Gov. Jeb Bush met with FBI officials in late June to discuss the investigation, but no one would provide any details of that meeting. U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, is among those pushing to have the federal government take over and clean up the building.
As a courtesy, federal officials recently notified the Palm Beach County Health Department that they planned to enter the quarantined building, said Tim O'Connor, a spokesman for the department. O'Connor did not know on Sunday whether the federal authorities had received AMI's permission to enter the building or if they were doing so with a court order.
Pecker could not be reached for comment Sunday.
Staff Writer Ryan Pastrovich contributed to this report, which was supplemented by The Associated Press..
Terri Somers can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org or 954-356-4849.
Copyright © 2002, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
26, 2002, 12:30 p.m.
Hatfill Strikes Back
The “person of interest” in the anthrax investigation moves to clear his name.
The National Review
The second press conference held by Dr. Steven Hatfill, the "person of interest" in the anthrax-mailings investigation, played out Sunday much like a movie sequel, where the stakes are higher, the emotions are more profound, and the dramatic tension is escalated.
In a long, passionate address, Hatfill used stronger language than in his first press conference on August 11 and stated his intention to take specific steps to clear his name, volunteering for blood tests and handwriting comparisons. The man who has been the sole target of media speculation about the possible identity of the anthrax mailer singled out three individuals for condemnation: biologist and conspiracy-theorist Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, and Attorney General John Ashcroft.
Although there were harsh words for Kristof during the Q&A portion of Sunday's press conference, Hatfill's prepared remarks reserved the most firepower for the attorney general. As Hatfill pointed out, the FBI has said repeatedly that he is not a suspect, and the FBI does not officially use the term "person of interest" — yet Ashcroft has twice now made direct reference to Hatfill as a "person of interest."
Ashcroft, however, needs to offer the public more than a few leaks that amount to little more than implication and innuendo. Otherwise, the FBI and Ashcroft welcome charges of engaging in a Richard Jewell Redux, repeating the 1996 disaster where the FBI destroyed the reputation of the man who actually thwarted an attempted bombing at the Atlanta Olympics.
Meanwhile, the media maelstrom against Hatfill has been predominantly fueled by Kristof.
In a May 24 column in the New York Times — eight months after the first anthrax mailings were sent to media outlets — Kristof proclaims that "we" need to "light a fire under the F.B.I. in its investigation of the anthrax case." He "prod[s] the authorities" by guiding their attention to "one middle-aged American who has worked for the United States military bio-defense program." His reason for singling out this individual? "Experts" are "buzzing" about him. He never bothers to mention in the column which "experts" were doing the "buzzing" and why.
Without any hard evidence to work with — Kristof actually acknowledges that "[t]here is not a shred of traditional physical evidence linking [Hatfill] to the attacks" — the best the columnist can muster is a collection of puzzle pieces designed to create a "Jewell profile" for Hatfill.
Much as FBI leaks in 1996 noted that Jewell still lived with his mother — not a far stretch from a Norman Bates-type murderer, apparently — Kristof's case against Hatfill boils down to him being a lone scientist with access to an "isolated residence," who's also a racist with an embellished resume. Even if all those points were true — and while some may be, there are others that are either dramatic distortions or simple falsehoods — Hatfill would be at worst a loathsome character, not a mass murderer.
The three most damning "facts" that Kristof offers seem to wilt upon closer inspection. In his fifth and latest column, the Pulitzer Prize-winner states flatly that Hatfill had failed three consecutive polygraphs since January. Hatfill denies this, claiming that he has taken one polygraph and passed it. If that were a lie, odds are every major news outlet would already have copies of the failed polygraphs.
The other two "facts" served up by the columnist point to a direct Hatfill connection to anthrax. In a July 2 column, Kristof discusses the "isolated residence" where Hatfill "gave Cipro to people who visited it." That's a jaw dropper. It also seems to be a distortion of reality.
According to Pat Clawson, a friend of Hatfill's for a number of years and who is acting as his spokesman, the "isolated residence" is actually a furnished three-bedroom modern house — with a hot tub and large TV — two hours outside of Washington, D.C. Clawson, who was an investigative reporter for years at both NBC and CNN, explained at the second Hatfill press conference what actually happened regarding the Cipro.
Last October, Clawson opened a letter intended for Oliver North (who works for the same company), and there was a white powdery substance inside. Understandably, Clawson was a little worried about possible exposure to a deadly toxin, given the intense media coverage that heated up a week later about the anthrax letters. When skeet- shooting at the "isolated residence" with Hatfill and about ten other guys that month, Clawson asked his biologist friend if he needed Cipro. (Hatfill advised that the tetracycline Clawson was already taking for jaw pain should suffice, and then the guys joked about sexual diseases and creative uses of Cipro.)
A third "fact" Kristof uses to tie a direct connection between Hatfill and anthrax — bloodhounds reacting to Hatfill and places he's been — is dubious at best, according to the Baltimore Sun. Kristof writes in his August 13 column: "Specially trained bloodhounds... responded strongly to Dr. Hatfill, to his apartment, to his girlfriend's apartment and even to his former girlfriend's apartment, as well as to restaurants that he had recently entered." Although he doesn't cite a source, this is apparently a reference to a Newsweek story that has been called into doubt by, among others, the Sun.
The Sun reported: "Three veteran bloodhound handlers interviewed by the Sun were skeptical that a useful scent of the anthrax mailer would have remained on the letters months after they were mailed, rubbed against other letters and then decontaminated to kill the anthrax." But more significantly, the Sun contacted the managers at all twelve Denny's restaurants in Louisiana — the restaurant where the bloodhounds went nuts according to Newsweek — and all said they had not been visited by federal agents with bloodhounds. But again, since Kristof never mentions which restaurant he was citing, there is no way to prove — or disprove — his allegation.
Maybe Kristof is unwilling to attribute sources to his claims because of where they seem to have come from: Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, whom Kristof describes as "a microbiologist who studies bioterrorism for the Federation of American Scientists" the one time he quotes her. Given her rants on the Internet — which list many of the same "facts" that have later turned up in Kristof's columns — Rosenberg might best be labeled a crank conspiracy theorist with an axe to grind against Hatfill.
It doesn't take a long look at Rosenberg's website to realize why Kristof would not want to be too closely associated with her. The microbiologist muses that "perhaps the [anthrax] letters were actually an official assignment" of the U.S. government. Following on this "official assignment" theory, Rosenberg posits that the perpetrator would not be arrested and instead "rewarded for his service."
Rosenberg also considers the prospect that the anthrax was not mailed at the behest of the U.S. government. In that instance, Rosenberg speculates that the mailer has not been arrested either "because the Suspect knows too much and must be controlled forever from the moment of arrest" or because "the FBI is sympathetic to [his] views."
The attention from Rosenberg, Kristof, and Ashcroft makes clarifications that Hatfill is not actually a suspect relatively meaningless — especially after his name and face are now known, and we also know his house has been searched. The former U.S. government biologist has become the presumed anthrax mailer, and he will remain so unless and until someone else gets nailed or Hatfill manages to clear himself.
Hatfill will soon undergo blood tests, which he claims he requested months ago, that will test antigens in his blood to see if he has had recent exposure to either anthrax or an anthrax vaccination. Hatfill will also submit a handwriting sample to the FBI, which will be compared to the handwriting in the four anthrax letters. Hatfill has waived his privacy rights with respect to the blood and handwriting tests, and he wants the results made public as soon as possible.
These are not the sort of tests that a guilty man volunteers for. Hatfill actually did not even hire a criminal-defense attorney until after the second time his apartment was searched. In addition to the tests he's volunteered for, Hatfill has also made public his timesheet for the four days during which the anthrax letters could have been mailed. Given his post-9/11 workload at the government contractor where he was employed, even if he fudged his work hours, it seems unlikely that he could have pulled off the traveling involved in sending out the letters.
With Hatfill on the offense, the government ought to make its move: Go public with the legitimate evidence against Hatfill, or, if there isn't any, publicly exonerate him and apologize. It seems only appropriate to ask of the Department of Justice.
on Tue, Aug. 27, 2002
Anthrax probe to use new methods
BY WANDA J. DeMARZO
Nearly a year after a photo editor for American Media Inc. died from anthrax exposure, FBI officials said Monday a new search of the contaminated ghost-like AMI building could lead investigators to the source of the fatal spores and the person who unleashed them.
The search, which could begin today or Wednesday, of the shuttered Boca Raton building, will employ new techniques that investigators say could lead them to the person responsible for the anthrax attack that killed Robert Stevens, 63, of Lantana.
Last fall, after Stevens died and three of his colleagues became ill, agents said the safety of the public was their main concern, not collecting spores. FBI and health officials ordered the building shut down and quarantined without doing further searches.
''Last year, we were in the building for a different reason,'' said Hector Pesquera, the FBI's special agent in charge of the Miami division. ``It was not as comprehensive an investigation as the one we are planning but judgmental around the victims. It was more of a public health concern investigation. This investigation will be scientifically driven for a criminal investigation.''
Last year's scouring of the AMI building on Broken Sound Boulevard, off Yamato Road in Boca Raton, focused on mailrooms and areas surrounding the infected employees' workstations. This time, scientists will search the entire three-story, 67,000-square-foot building.
Pesquera said the agency has several goals for the operation: to do a detailed comprehensive search of the building; a complete assessment of spores in the mailroom; to locate the dissemination device; and to determine how the spores were transmitted.
Some of the new techniques scientists will be using were successfully applied in the search for the letter mailed to Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont. All spores gathered will be compared to spores found on infected letters mailed to Sens. Leahy and Tom Daschle of South Dakota. The letter to Daschle contained almost a gram of anthrax, officials said.
Steven Block, a Stanford University professor and bioterrorism expert, said newly developed tests can determine whether the anthrax spores are from the same strain as those used in the mailings to politicians and other news organizations.
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry -- a public health agency -- previewed newly designed, disposable chemical suits with air masks and latex boots agents will wear to protect them against the spores when they enter the building this week.
The AMI building has been under federal quarantine since Stevens died Oct. 5, after being exposed to anthrax spores. Ernesto Blanco, 74, who lives in Miami-Dade, recovered.
In separate exposures, 11 Americans, from Florida to Connecticut, contracted the inhaled form of anthrax after a rash of terrorist mailings to politicians and media outlets. Five people died, including two postal workers from the Brentwood Road Northeast mail processing center in Washington, D.C.. Six were treated and survived; of those, three live in the Washington area.
While transmission through the mail at AMI was suspected, investigators have never determined for sure how anthrax spores were sent to the building or dispersed.
Pesquera said Monday he believed scientists, because of the new techniques, would be able to find the letter, package or other item that carried the anthrax inside the AMI building -- if it still exists. FBI officials would not comment on the techniques they will be using.
He stressed that the operation ''has nothing to do'' with Dr. Steven J. Hatfill, a bio-warfare expert who has been called a ''person of interest'' by Attorney General John Ashcroft in the anthrax investigation.
David Pecker, CEO of AMI, which publishes six supermarket tabloids, including The National Enquirer and The Globe, said front pages from the Oct. 4 editions are still taped to the walls. Coffee cups sit on employees' desks. Family photos remain scattered across work stations and fish tanks have long gone dry.
''Psychologically, it would not be good for our employees to move back into that building,'' Pecker said.
AMI spends $50,000 each month for 24-hour daily security, taxes and upkeep on the property, Pecker said. The company spent $10 million to relocate to a nearby office.
'It's almost the anniversary of Bob Stevens' death and his family really wants to know who's responsible,'' Pecker said. ``I'm hoping that they really can find something.''
on Wed, Aug. 28, 2002
Anthrax mail may still be inside American Media offices
BY MANNY GARCIA AND DAVID KIDWELL
Federal investigators believe the anthrax-laden envelope sent last year to American Media Inc. headquarters that killed photo editor Bob Stevens could still be inside the building.
Agents wearing protective gear Tuesday entered the building, which has been under federal quarantine since October, after Stevens was exposed to deadly anthrax spores.
The current theory: investigators re-examining the trail of anthrax spores did not turn up any around or inside trash bins used to remove refuse from the building, a federal source familiar with the case said.
Since trails of spores were found at post offices and routes leading into AMI headquarters, some investigators theorize, spores also should have been found at points leading out of the building.
''It's establishing a trail,'' said a federal agent involved in the cleanup. ``The working theory is the envelope never left the building because no spores were found in the bins used to remove trash from the building.''
Last year, AMI workers told the FBI that all trash is removed and incinerated.
But now, using new scientific methods to detect anthrax, investigators hope to create a better pattern that details potential anthrax hot spots inside the building. For example:
Investigators would divide the AMI building into grids, and then receptacles that detect anthrax spores would be placed within these grids. Chemicals within the receptacles would color up differently based on the level of spores detected.
''The higher the concentration of spores detected would be where we would begin searching for an envelope or package,'' an investigator said. ``This could also help us develop a pattern to determine how the anthrax moved through the building.''
Last year, Stevens' co-workers told the FBI that he had opened an envelope for actress Jennifer Lopez that contained a Star of David and some powder -- which co-workers said turned out to be a busted detergent packet. AMI workers said they often received packages for Lopez, a popular actress and singer.
South Florida investigators never found that envelope and could not say for sure it was the envelope used to transmit the anthrax spores. AMI workers told agents they believed the Lopez envelope was incinerated, which is how the publishing house gets rid of its waste. Agents have also examined the possibility that more than one letter was sent to AMI, but have not been able to support that theory because they don't have an envelope.
Investigators believe it could take one to two weeks to complete their current sweep, but possibly longer.
NEARLY A YEAR
It's been nearly a year since the anthrax crisis first hit the AMI building, killing Stevens and nearly killing a mailroom employee Ernesto Blanco -- who barely survived the attack.
Since that outbreak in early October, mailings have hit the offices of two network news anchors, both the Senate and House office buildings, and post offices from New Jersey to Boca Raton.
Five people were killed by the anthrax attacks, and federal authorities have focused on the theory that a disgruntled former employee of a U.S. military lab took advantage of the timing of Sept. 11 to begin the anthrax mailings.
Scientists say the anthrax was sent in the form of a powder most likely manufactured by the U.S. military at one of two facilities - Fort Detrick in Maryland or Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah. Federal investigators for months have narrowed their search for suspects to lists of current and former employees.
Among them is Dr. Steven Hatfill, who used to work at the Army's biological weapons defense laboratory at Fort Detrick. They have searched his apartment twice, and have publicly identified him as a ''person of interest'' among nearly two dozen others. Hatfill lost his security clearance last August.
Hatfill has been adamant about his innocence, and federal authorities have turned up no physical evidence linking him to the crimes.
Some anthrax experts say the FBI most recent incursion into the AMI building is a ``prayer.''
''It's a bright idea, but I don't think they've thought it through all the way,'' said Martin Hugh-Jones, a Louisiana State professor and one of the nation's leading anthrax experts.
''They've waited 10 months to go back 30 years. The method they are using is notoriously inaccurate,'' he said.
Hugh-Jones said it would be far more fruitful to just conduct a thorough search for the envelope, just as they checked mail for weeks in several U.S. postal facilities.
The building has been locked down since its evacuation in October, but federal investigators and workers for the EPA were all over it during the initial investigation, finding spores on Stevens' computer keyboard, the mailroom, cabinets -- a total of 84 locations within the building.
''It's been 10 months, God knows how many people have been traipsing through there,'' Hugh-Jones said. ``The more time that goes by, the less likely they are to find anything.''
get anti-snoop pledge
By John Murawski, Palm Beach Post
BOCA RATON -- One day before the FBI returned to search the quarantined American Media Inc. office building here, the U.S. Justice Department gave the supermarket tabloid publisher written assurance that federal investigators wouldn't snoop through reporters' private files and remove notes or other unpublished material from the building.
The government's letter, limiting the scope of an Aug. 26 search warrant, served as the FBI's go-ahead to begin a two-week operation and search the building for more anthrax spores and the letters that may have delivered the deadly powder to Boca Raton.
AMI officials requested a written statement from the Justice Department, along with a modification of the federal search warrant, to protect the company's network of confidential informants.
"The confidentiality of our sources is so important that we needed to get that in writing," AMI Senior Vice President and General Counsel Michael Kahane said.
The Justice Department agreed with AMI's concerns and granted the company's request the same day. The government's interest was not in identifying the sources that tip off AMI reporters about celebrity sex scandals and Elvis sightings, but in finding anthrax and the letters that may have carried the spores that are believed to have killed Sun photo editor Bob Stevens.
FBI agents spent Tuesday and Wednesday conducting reconnaissance sweeps in the empty building in the Arvida Park of Commerce, and are now training with federal health specialists, who arrived Tuesday night in Boca Raton, said FBI spokesman Wayne Russell.
On Friday, FBI agents are expected to start their anthrax search, teamed with technical specialists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
AMI officials agreed to an FBI search of the building when agents introduced their plans at a July 1 meeting at AMI's new offices at the T-Rex Technology Center.
"It was very cordial," Kahane said. "We have a very good relationship with them."
At the time, the FBI was perfecting new techniques to be used in finding the letters that had been presumed thrown out with the trash.
"The methods to be used for the analysis of AMI are on the cutting edge of bioterrorism investigations," Dwight Adams, assistant director of the FBI's Laboratory Division, wrote July 12 to AMI Chief Executive David Pecker. "This operation will put to the test a variety of methods and concepts that are among the first to be applied in the emerging field of microbial forensics.
"The quantity of spores at each sampling location will be estimated, providing data for a three-dimensional map relating levels of contamination with positions in the building," Adams wrote. It is believed that such a map may allow a reconstruction of events that led to the illnesses of the AMI employees.
The FBI had already briefed officials on its plans on June 24 in Miami. Final details and logistics were worked out Friday at the FBI's Miami field office.
With nearly everything ready to go, the FBI presented Kahane a draft of a search warrant Monday, at the FBI news conference at the Patch Reef Park Community Center to announce the FBI's search plans.
That version would have authorized the seizure of "business records, computer files or other papers that might explain the motive, method or intent" behind the anthrax dissemination.
As the publisher of such household titles as The National Enquirer, National Examiner, Globe, Sun and Weekly World News, AMI is home to some of the best professional snoops in the tabloid business. The last thing the company wanted was FBI agents sifting through files that contained notes, tips, story ideas and names of confidential sources.
AMI is "heavily lawyered" to defend its legal rights and fight libel lawsuits generated by its exposés, said Paul McMasters, First Amendment ombudsman at the Freedom Forum's First Amendment Center in Alexandria, Va. The company for years has been represented by Williams & Connolly, the powerhouse Washington law firm that defended former President Clinton during his impeachment hearings.
"In other kinds of circumstances, a newspaper would be fighting such a search warrant tooth and nail," McMasters said.
AMI quickly asked the Justice Department to limit the search warrant, and within hours, the government agreed to appease the publisher's concerns in writing.
"It is not our desire or intention to remove any documents, business records or other objects from the AMI building that may compromise your journalistic sources," Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth Kohl wrote.
The Justice Department was interested primarily in removing evidence in the anthrax case. The agency agreed to provide AMI with property receipt forms for anything it removed. In a gesture of goodwill, federal officials gave broad reassurances to AMI execs.
"If, at that time, you feel that any items taken during the search exceed the scope of the search warrant or the limitations imposed by this letter," Kohl added, "you may contact me directly and I am confident that we will be able to resolve the matter to the satisfaction of AMI."
The FBI had never intended to scour AMI's business or other proprietary records, Kahane said. The boilerplate phrase in the search warrant referred to past issues of AMI publications, which federal agents wanted to check for possible clues linking the AMI anthrax case to the mailings sent to two U.S. senators in Washington, Kahane said.
The FBI simply wanted access to AMI's back issues in bound volumes sitting in the building on Broken Sound Boulevard.
In the end, it was decided AMI researchers would help the FBI by searching through back issues, Kahane said.
"It's very difficult for them in those suits, in those conditions, to go through that library," Kahane said.
The warrant approved Monday by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia "authorizes the search, swabbing, and collection of samples from the entire premises." The warrant mentions "desks, briefcases, bags and file cabinets, and containers of any kind, whether locked or unlocked."
The warrant limits the search to 14 days. Computers used by reporters, editors and other AMI staffers will be off-limits to federal agents, Kahane said.
"We were advised by the FBI and the Justice Department that they weren't interested in our confidential sourcing," Kahane said. "They were very respectful of it."
scouts back issues of tabloids in search for anthrax motive
By Kathy Bushouse and Kevin Krause
August 30, 2002
BOCA RATON -- Federal agents seeking clues on why American Media Inc. was a target of anthrax mailings will search old copies of three AMI tabloid publications to find articles that may point to a motive, according to a letter from the U.S. Department of Justice.
“Our desire is to review these back issues and databases (published material only) to determine whether any past article published by AMI may be relevant to the motive for the anthrax mailings,” U.S. Attorney Roscoe C. Howard Jr. wrote in a letter faxed to AMI on Monday and obtained by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel on Wednesday.
The letter clarifies an earlier search warrant that stated that agents would search for “business records, computer files or other papers that might explain the motive, method or intent behind the [anthrax] dissemination” at AMI.
The FBI deleted that language in the search warrant at AMI’s request, since the company told federal officials that a database of archived stories isn’t available at the building at 5401 Broken Sound Blvd. but at a different location.
The letter also indicated AMI officials would not object to the FBI searching or removing a “library of bound volumes” for all three publications dating to the late 1980s and early 1990s, as well as a “file system…that contains hard copies of past issues sorted by topic.”
According to the letter, AMI was concerned about the language in the search warrant, but federal agents only wanted to see published material from the National Enquirer, the Globe and the Star, as well as collect anthrax-tainted items, Howard wrote.
“It is not our desire or intention to remove any documents, business records or other objects from the AMI building that may compromise your journalistic sources.”
FBI spokesman Wayne Russell declined to comment on that aspect of the search.
The FBI returned to the AMI building on Monday to search for the letter they think delivered the anthrax in September or October that killed Sun photo editor Bob Stevens and infected AMI mailroom worker Ernesto Blanco.
They think the letter may contain evidence that will lead them to the person who mailed the anthrax responsible for five deaths throughout the country, including Stevens’. Agents also want the letter because it will reveal the intended target of the mailing. A detailed search by the Environmental Protection Agency late last year documented the location of anthrax spores throughout the AMI building, but the letter was never found.
If agents do locate the letter, “We’ll look at the postmark and work it backwards to determine the location of the initial mailing,” said U.S. Postal Inspector Del Alvarez. That could be a collection box or a post office, Alvarez said. So far, all of the known anthrax letters sent to media companies in New York and to two senators in Washington D.C. were postmarked in the Trenton, N.J, area.
Meanwhile, the FBI trained Wednesday with members of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry at an undisclosed location in preparation for Friday’s evidence search at the AMI building, Russell said.
Kathy Bushouse can be reached at email@example.com or 561-243-6641.
Copyright © 2002, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
scientist discounts Hatfill's blood-test offer
By JOAN McKINNEY
WASHINGTON -- Blood tests on LSU scientist Steven J. Hatfill will not prove or disprove his possible involvement in last year's deadly anthrax mailings, according to another LSU scientist with anthrax expertise.
Dr. Martin Hugh-Jones, an epidemiologist who researches anthrax and maintains a world-renowned anthrax data base, said Hatfill's offer last weekend to undergo FBI blood analysis "signifies nothing."
"His offer to take blood tests is braggadocio," Hugh-Jones said. "He's trying to get the FBI off his back, and he's taking the war to them."
Dr. John Clements, chairman of microbiology and immunology at Tulane University, concurred. Running blood tests on Hatfill "is a pretty meaningless exercise," Clements said.
Clements added that Hatfill himself should know the limitations of blood analysis.
"The man's got a medical degree. Anyone with a medical degree knows about this. … He knows about concentrations (of antibodies in blood)," Clements said.
U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft has described Hatfill as a "person of interest" in the investigation into the anthrax mailings in September and October that resulted in five deaths. LSU placed him on administrative leave Aug. 2, after the second FBI search of Hatfill's residence.
Through a spokesman, Hatfill issued a statement saying, "I'm becoming desperate to find ways to clear my name, and I'm willing to consider any scientific test that may be appropriate."
The spokesman, Pat Clawson, said Hatfill "is not an anthrax expert." Hatfill would welcome any recommendations from reputable scientists to improve the tests he has suggested to the FBI, and "if anyone can suggest a test that's got better validity, it would certainly be considered," Clawson said.
Clawson said that before asking the FBI to test his blood, Hatfill consulted with anthrax experts at the Army's Ft. Detrick, Md., laboratory -- where Hatfill once worked -- for help in proposing a legitimate test.
Hatfill and Hugh-Jones do not work in the same department at LSU. Hugh-Jones is at the School of Veterinary Medicine. Hatfill is employed by the Division of Continuing Education, where he has a $150,000 leadership post in LSU's counter-terrorism program.
At news conferences this month, Hatfill acknowledged having been vaccinated against anthrax, but said he received his last one in late 1999. He said the vaccine lasts a year, which means he lost protection around December 2000, nine to 10 months before the anthrax mailings.
Clements said a person seeking anthrax protection first receives six immunizations over 18 months, then takes an annual "booster." The protection is good for a year, but some people can have residual protection for longer and that extended protection varies widely among individuals, Clements said.
Hugh-Jones said that Hatfill could have handled anthrax spores without personal contamination. Therefore, blood tests that did not detect anthrax exposure or did not detect evidence of an anthrax vaccine could be irrelevant, he said.
A person with Hatfill's reported skills "can minimize exposure," Hugh-Jones said. "This is a guy who had himself photographed wearing a do-it-yourself hazardous materials suit."
The reference is to Hatfill's past public demonstrations of how someone could commit bioterrorism using simple tools and a crude laboratory, such as an ordinary kitchen.
Hugh-Jones said that, after the anthrax mailings, he himself constructed anthrax-protection garb using plastic bags and plastic gloves. He said he also demonstrated that it was possible to use clear plastic bags and simple tools to place anthrax spores into an envelope without personal contamination.
Clements also said that after handling anthrax spores, a person "might not have antibodies (in the blood)."
A blood test could yield markers (antibodies) for a previous anthrax exposure, Hugh-Jones said. "However, the concentration is what you go by," he said.
Hugh-Jones said it would be difficult to reach conclusions about a person's history of anthrax exposure without also knowing a person's previous concentrations of these markers at different periods of time.
At his news conferences, Hatfill read prepared statements, but, on his attorney's instructions, did not answer reporters' questions.
Clawson is a personal friend of Hatfill's and is his designated liaison to the news media.
Clawson was told Wednesday about Hugh-Jones and Clements' comments about blood testing and later called back, saying he had relayed the comments to Hatfill.
Clawson said Hatfill understood the importance of measuring the changing concentrations of antibodies in his blood and was working with the FBI to design tests that measure his blood over time.
"He has offered to take blood samples three times during a six-week interval and to have the results compared to the wealth of data that exists on the anthrax vaccine to show that he has not been vaccinated since leaving Ft. Detrick," Clawson said.
Reading from what he said was Hatfill's statement, Clawson said, "What we are looking for is a detectable level of antibody titer (concentration) that would not be consistent with vaccination or exposure to anthrax over the past year." In addition, Hatfill "has not been exposed to anthrax, so far as he knows," Clawson said.
However, experts have noted that people can have accidental exposures to anthrax. For example, Ft. Detrick has confirmed two incidents early this year when anthrax spores escaped from a sealed laboratory at the base.
Clawson said negotiations about the blood tests are being handled by Hatfill's attorney, Victor C. Glasberg. Glasberg expects the sampling will begin soon, but that a date has not been set, Clawson said.
In a telephone interview, Hugh-Jones gave a hint of the controversy at LSU over Hatfill's employment. He said that, after the FBI's interest in Hatfill became widely known, he issued a directive barring Hatfill from his laboratory.
Hugh-Jones said he does not know Hatfill, does not have any evidence that implicates Hatfill, and does not have any information about the FBI's investigation of any suspects in the anthrax mailings.
However, Hugh-Jones said he barred Hatfill from the lab to protect his own working relationship with the agency.
"I don't need any more trouble with the FBI," he said.
As part of its investigation into the deadly mailings, the FBI has subpoenaed data and collected information from Hugh-Jones' lab and from other university labs known to have handled anthrax. Hatfill became a "person of interest" by a similar route. The U.S. Justice Department has said that it is doing routine investigations of many scientists who, like Hatfill, worked at Army bioweapons laboratories or other institutions where anthrax was present or where they could have acquired the skills to handle anthrax.
Hugh-Jones specializes in tracing the sources of anthrax breakouts and has become a source for both the news media and law enforcement officials studying anthrax. He said he has talked many times with the FBI, but did not disclose details of those discussions.
Further signaling the sensitivity of the Hatfill case at LSU, the university this week refused requests for interviews with Dr. Daniel C. Walsh Jr. and Stephen L. Guillot, the two LSU officials most directly responsible for Hatfill's employment. Walsh is dean of the Division of Continuing Education. Guillot is director of the division's counter-terrorism programs.
About two weeks ago, LSU Chancellor Mark Emmert directed The Advocate to Walsh for information on Hatfill, and Walsh spoke at length about Hatfill's expertise in bioterrorism and the process Walsh followed in approving Hatfill's employment.
Guillot has talked with the Baltimore Sun, which quoted him as saying that Hatfill is a "patriot" and that the FBI had assured him in June that it had no evidence against Hatfill.
However, calls to both men Tuesday were routed to LSU's vice-provost for academic affairs, Gregory Vincent. Vincent said Emmert "has asked that all media inquiries (about Hatfill) go through me. … He wants one spokesperson."
Vincent said he did not know the name of the private firm that LSU has hired to conduct a background check on Hatfill. He said he could not describe what the firm is doing because "we don't comment on personnel matters."
Vincent said he does not know what LSU will do when Hatfill's leave expires next week.
Vincent said that, to his knowledge, Hatfill and LSU have had no substantive contacts since Hatfill was put on leave Aug. 2.
"He was aware he was not to act on any official LSU business," Vincent said. "We shared with him that he was not supposed to have any contact with the (counter-terrorism) program."
Hatfill was told that Walsh was his only permissible contact point with LSU and that any communications with Walsh should be limited to personnel issues, Vincent said.
bullying tactics are growing tiresome
August 29, 2002
BY ROBERT NOVAK SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST
Photographs produced Sunday by former government scientist Steven J. Hatfill, purporting to show his ''girlfriend's'' apartment trashed by FBI agents, evoked an uneasy sense of recognition among law enforcement experts. Applying pressure on loved ones of an investigative target is a favorite method by the bureau, and rough treatment in the execution of a search warrant is a familiar application of that pressure.
The problem with the FBI, however, goes beyond strongarm tactics. Since the FBI has affirmed that Hatfill is not a suspect in last year's anthrax murders, why is he subjected to such treatment? Why have the news media been tipped in advance of repeated searches of his home? These unanswered questions spawn unsubstantiated conspiracy theories that testify to the FBI's deteriorating prestige.
FBI Director Robert Mueller and Attorney General John Ashcroft will say nothing about what they are up to, and congressional investigators generally get no cooperation in seeking answers from this Justice Department. But the handling of the Hatfill affair has aroused the interest of Republican Rep. Dan Burton, whose investigations have uncovered some of the FBI's unsavory past.
Hatfill has had a checkered career, including service among white mercenaries in Rhodesia. Last year, he lost his government clearance and then his job for undisclosed problems that may have been unrelated to the anthrax attacks. That background, however, hardly justified the media feeding frenzy when the FBI search of his living quarters was leaked.
Hatfill has compared himself to Joseph K., doomed by unspecified charges in Franz Kafka's The Trial. Although no official charges are filed, Hatfill reports FBI agents are indicting him to close friends--especially his unnamed girlfriend. ''Her apartment was wrecked,'' he said Sunday, ''while FBI agents screamed at her that I had killed five people and that her life would never be the same again.''
Neither the Justice Department nor the FBI responded to this, either immediately or when I sought a reply from them this week. Indeed, Kafka is recalled in the attorney general's opaque comments about Hatfill.
Ashcroft was asked on ''The Early Show'' on CBS Aug. 6 whether Hatfill was a suspect. The FBI had said he is not, but Ashcroft replied: ''Well, he's a person of interest. . . . I'm not prepared to say any more at this time other than the fact that he is an individual of interest.''
Veteran FBI watchers suggest the bureau, looking at Hatfill off and on for nearly a year, does not have the goods on him. Law enforcement sources confirm that he passed a polygraph test administered by the FBI last fall.
What the Justice Department and the FBI have in mind here is a mystery. Apparent absence of evidence suggests either incompetence at the level of false accusations in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Park bombing--or something worse. By calling attention to its investigation of the scientist, the FBI invites speculation about an effort to divert attention from the unsolved anthrax case.
It surely bothers Burton, no ACLU zealot but a traditional Indiana conservative. Speaking of the Hatfill case, Burton told me: ''It always worries me when the accusations and investigations are put out in advance of solid evidence.''
The day is long gone when knowledgeable conservatives worship at the FBI's altar. As chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, Burton was stunned when he learned of FBI complicity in the wrongful conviction in 1968 of four men (two of whom died in prison) for murder committed by FBI informants in Boston. To protect these sources, Director J. Edgar Hoover sent innocent men to prison. Before the current congressional recess, Burton introduced a bill to remove Hoover's name from national FBI headquarters.
Ashcroft's Justice Department resisted surrendering FBI files relating to this outrage by claiming executive privilege but gave up after Burton threatened to cite President Bush for contempt of Congress. Ashcroft is even more intractable than his predecessor, Janet Reno, in refusing information to the legislative branch. He is currently stonewalling requests by Rep. James Sensenbrenner, Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, about Justice's administration of the anti-terrorist Patriot Act. Predictably, efforts to get to the bottom of the Hatfill affair will meet the same resistance.
Copyright © The Sun-Times Company
Online News Hour Focus
SEARCHING FOR CLUES
Aug. 29, 2002
Investigators are renewing their search for clues into the source of the deadly anthrax bacteria used to taint letters last year. Experts discuss the latest developments as well as the joining of the scientific and investigative communities.
MARGARET WARNER: FBI agents returned this week to the American Media Company building in Boca Raton, Florida, where deadly anthrax spores were first detected ten months ago. The contaminated building has been sealed since last October, after Robert Stevens, a photo editor who worked there, died from an anthrax infection. Another employee fell ill, but recovered. Investigators believe the anthrax contamination came in a letter or letters delivered to America media, the publisher of the National Enquirer and other supermarket tabloids.
Letters containing anthrax spores were also mailed last fall to NBC anchorman Tom Brokaw, and Senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy. Four people, including two postal workers, died from exposure to those letters, and more than a dozen others became ill. On Monday, FBI officials in Florida explained what they hoped to accomplish in their new search.
DWIGHT ADAMS, FBI: Number one, we hope to do a very comprehensive, detailed assessment of the spore contamination throughout the entire building; number two, a very detailed assessment with regard to the mailroom in particular. Both of these efforts are to generate new leads in the criminal investigation. Number three, we're looking for a dissemination device, such as a letter or letters, again, to generate new leads for the investigation. And then finally, we're looking for large quantities of spores in order to chemically characterize those spores and compare them against the spores found in the Senator Leahy and Daschle letters.
MARGARET WARNER: Another recent public development in the anthrax investigation involves germ weapons expert Steven Hatfill. Hatfill is one of roughly two dozen people who've been characterized as "persons of interest" by the Justice Department because of their background and expertise. From 1997 to '99, Hatfill worked in the bioweapons program of the Army Medical Research Institute at Fort Detrick, Maryland, where anthrax was made and studied.
While he has not been officially designated a suspect, his apartment has been searched twice, and he's been publicly identified in numerous news accounts, apparently based on leaks from investigators. Last weekend, Hatfill once again denied any involvement. He volunteered to take a blood test for anthrax exposure to prove his innocence, and he harshly criticized Attorney General John Ashcroft, the Justice Department and the media.
DR. STEVEN HATFILL: This assassination of my character appears to be part of a government-run effort to show the American people that it is proceeding vigorously and successfully with the anthrax investigation. Today, I again appear before the TV cameras. I want to look my fellow Americans directly in the eye and declare to them, I am not the anthrax killer. I know nothing about the anthrax attacks. I had absolutely nothing to do with this terrible crime.
MARGARET WARNER: The new search in Florida is expected to take two weeks.
The renewed investigation
MARGARET WARNER: For insights into this investigation, we now turn to Clinton Van Zandt, a former FBI special agent. During his 25 years at the Bureau, he ran the behavioral science unit at the FBI Academy. And there, he helped develop profiles of domestic terrorists like Unabomber Ted Kaczynski. And Dr. C.J. Peters, director of the Center for Bio Defense at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. He's the former chief of special pathogens at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And he also served as deputy commander of the Army Medical Research Institute at Fort Detrick. Welcome to you both.
Clinton Van Zandt, beginning with you, why would the FBI now, ten months later, be returning to this building in Florida? When I heard this agent say what they were going to do, looking for detail contamination in the mail room and in the building or looking for the letters or a lot of spores I thought, surely they did that earlier.
CLINTON VAN ZANDT: At the time. Well, in the investigation, Margaret, as most of us recall, that was the first place the FBI really found the anthrax contamination. We know, of course, Bob Stevens died. The anthrax was found on his computer, at his desk. But that was such a hot area, the anthrax being there, it was sealed off. And I think we've learned a lot since... in the last ten months, as to how to identify anthrax, how to investigate it. The learning curve, Margaret, has been almost vertical at least for the FBI -- it has because this is the first time that we've had this incident, this type of terrorism, in the United States.
And now we've had these bedfellows, the scientific community and the investigative community have had to get together, have had to learn each other's strengths and weaknesses and in the case of the facility now in Florida, we're going back to look for a delivery vehicle. We learned since that time that letters were used. But, you know, in a crime something is brought to a crime scene, something is left there and something is carried away. That's Criminal Investigation 101. The FBI is there now saying how did that anthrax get in? Could there be an envelope addressed to an entirely different person because the investigation suggests Mr. Stevens was not a target. If he was not, is there an envelope addressed to another person and, if so, maybe that will help the government identify who the real target might have been, trace that back, maybe we'll find the anthrax sender.
MARGARET WARNER: All right. But why are you saying that the investigation now suggests that Mr. Stevens wasn't the target?
CLINTON VAN ZANDT: Well, there's been nothing in the past ten or eleven months that says he, as an individual, would have been targeted for any reason. Now, we look at Tom Brokaw, we look at the Senators, the Senate, the House have been sent. There's reasons those anthrax letters were sent there. It was sent to Brokaw and others in the media....
MARGARET WARNER: Who have high profiles.
CLINTON VAN ZANDT: High profile. They will go on air and tell about it. It was sent to members of government so they would do something about it -- announce it, do something about it. This man who died in Florida, he didn't fit in either of those. He was a photo editor. So it looks like cross contamination and now we have to find why that happened to him.
MARGARET WARNER: So, Dr. Peters, what from a scientific point of view, what are they able perhaps to find in this search that they didn't before, and would the anthrax that's still there, for instance, still be hot, still be potent?
DR. C. J. PETERS: Well, the anthrax spores can persist for decades in the environment. So the anthrax that was there the day they closed the building is still there in spore form. You have to look at the quantitative assessment of anthrax in the building. Those letters give off spores through the pores in the envelopes and so on. We know that. And now if you go back in and quantitatively or semi-quantitatively and examine the environment, you should be able to trace that letter just like you would follow a set of muddy footprints over your white carpet.So that's one thing.
Another thing in addition to the issue of evidence in the envelope and so on, if there's a large quantity of anthrax in an envelope or whatever, that could be extremely difficult in terms of decontamination. It would be one issue to decontaminate small quantities of spores that were present on surfaces and so on and quite another to deal with a concentrated powder that might be tucked away in the back of a drawer in someone's desk, so there are practical implications.
Identifying the anthrax strain
MARGARET WARNER: Have investigators -- just bring us up to date on this-- been able to definitively identify the strain of anthrax, we keep hearing about the Ames strain used in the Brokaw and the letters sent to the Senate – and/or have they been able to identify that the anthrax used in Florida was the same? How far along are they in identifying what kind of anthrax it was?
DR. C. J. PETERS: Well, from what's been released publicly, they have applied extremely powerful techniques to determine the genetic sequence of the entire genome of the cell lot and from what's been released publicly, they are identical and correspond to what we call the Ames strain. The problem arises... actually I can illustrate the problem by telling you why it's called the Ames strain. It was isolated actually in Texas, where I am today from a dead cow and it was sent to Ames, Iowa where the national veterinary lab is situated and then it was sent to Fort Detrick for a further study. And they just jotted down from the postmark Ames. And it was called the Ames strain. The problem is that these strains move around from laboratory to laboratory. It's not only common but it's really the source of some of the strength of our science that we can interchange these strains between laboratories and different people examine them.
MARGARET WARNER: And so, Mr. Van Zandt, how useful has it been, the progress they've made on identifying this strain, in narrowing a list of suspects in terms of who either here or worldwide had access to this strain?
CLINTON VAN ZANDT: Well it's been useful because we've identified it as a strain that originated, that is in the United States. We're told it was created, manufactured, milled within the last two to three years. So when the question comes up foreign versus domestic, not only do the letters themselves from a linguistic standpoint does the behavior also suggest domestic but it looks like the identification of the strain is also in the United States. Now there's still a two-track investigation. The FBI will continue to look at a foreign terrorist aspect as well as a domestic terrorist. But it seems that as hard as they look, they're still drawn back to this domestic theory.
MARGARET WARNER: So we keep reading about these profiles. And before we talk about Mr. Hatfill or any other possible suspect let's just talk about profiling. What can you tell us from what you know about what the profile the FBI has developed now about the likely perpetrator?
CLINTON VAN ZANDT: Well, a profile is simply an investigative tool. It helps you take a very large population group and shrink it down so that the investigators, the people who will really solve the crime, can go out and wear out their shoe leather and figure out who did this. The profilers who are looking at this -- I know I looked at the letters initially -- when we look at those, there are so many points, Margaret.
Let's say, for example, the date, September 11. We know the letters were mailed a week and three weeks later but the writer tried so hard to connect them to the events of September 11. When I see someone try that hard, that makes me want to look behind a curtain like in Wizard of Oz. I want to look behind and see what's behind that curtain. I think there's a curtain here that we have to see around.
MARGARET WARNER: And, Dr. Peters, what would you say from what we've learned about the likely level of scientific expertise of this individual or individuals?
DR. C. J. PETERS: Well, I think it may be quite low or quite high. But I'd like to go back to something that Mr. Van Zandt said that I just totally disagree with. Knowing that this strain was originally isolated in the U.S. has absolutely nothing to do with where the weapon may have been prepared because, as I tried to make the point, these strains move around. A post doc in somebody's laboratory could have taken this strain to another lab and it could have been taken overseas and it could have ended up absolutely anywhere. Tiny quantities of anthrax that you couldn't see, that you couldn't detect in an inventory can be used to propagate as much as you want. So that's just not, in fact, very helpful.
I think one of the issues is that anthrax is the easiest of the biological weapons or potential biological weapons to grow and to process. It's very, very stable in spore form so you don't have to worry about special stabilizers. So a lot of the microbiology of this could have been done with ordinary equipment, impossible to trace, by someone with very modest skills. One of the big issues here, I think, is the weaponization. I'm a virologist. I don't work with bacteria like anthrax. I could make this stuff and so could a smart technician in a hospital clinical laboratory. But what I couldn't do is make the powder that is so readily aerosolized as we saw in the Hart Office Building.
So I think that is the crux of one intersection of knowledge that has to come together with the ability to grow it, and this could come together in two people working together or it could come together because someone, for example, grows Bacillus Therengensis, the bacillus that secretes an insecticidal protein in a pesticide company.
Persons of interest in the investigation
MARGARET WARNER: Mr. Van Zandt, now let's talk about these persons of interest. As we said in the introductory piece the Justice Department says they have 20 or 30. This Mr. Hatfill's name has come forward. We don't want to fall into impugning him.
CLINTON VAN ZANDT: Absolutely not.
MARGARET WARNER: -- when we have no one here to speak for him. But what is it about him that makes him typical of the class of persons of interest, and also what does that term mean?
CLINTON VAN ZANDT: Well, person of interest is something that apparently the attorney general coined to separate him from a suspect. I think it's a lower degree of interest. And I think that's all that's supposed to indicate. As far as a person of interest, it appears that Dr. Hatfill had access to laboratories where anthrax was used. He was --supposedly written a book about it. In 1999 he commissioned a study about how anthrax could be used as a weapon and sent through the mails so we have the access, we have the background. Then when we start to look on the personality side we're always interested in any person's background. What is there or was is not there?
In the case again of Dr. Hatfill we're told through the media that he suggested he had a PhD that he hadn't finished. We're told that he indicated he was a member of Special Forces and he really wasn't. So there's a number of perhaps Walter Mittyian type of aspects to his or another person's personality we need to look at.
MARGARET WARNER: So why would his name because apparently many other people fit part of the profile. Why is his name become public? Is he right that he's been selectively leaked against?
CLINTON VAN ZANDT: Well, leaked I think is a very important issue. The first time he was... the FBI was conducting a search, a local TV crew happened to be in the area, saw FBI cars and came over. The second time a search took place, a neighbor called up the media and said, hey, you might be interested. The FBI is back again. So to me that's not a FBI leak. That's a happenstance. And he, as you suggest, is one of at least 80 people that they're looking at.
MARGARET WARNER: Dr. Peters, briefly, how does this Hatfill controversy look to you? In other words, does it seem to you as if he's been kind of unfairly -- his name put out there?
DR. C. J. PETERS: You know, I don't know what the FBI knows about Hatfill but none of the things that I've heard for example just now make me feel that he is a likely person more so than many others that could be identified. I think that the fact that his name came out is very deleterious to his reputation and to his livelihood.
MARGARET WARNER: Right.
DR. C. J. PETERS: One of the things that people don't realize is that he worked at USAMRIID -- the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases. They are concerned with medical countermeasures that would be applied to infected people. They're not concerned with making these powders. They don't make the powders.
MARGARET WARNER: All right, Dr. Peters, I'm sorry to interrupt you.
DR. C. J. PETERS: They use the liquids.
MARGARET WARNER: I'm sorry. But we are out of time. Thank you both very much.
CLINTON VAN ZANDT: Thank you.
'Not the killer'
Pursuit of anthrax culprit fundamentally flawed, down-right wrong
Editorial from The Wichita Times Record News
Something's badly out of whack in our criminal justice system when you are, in effect, sentenced to a ruined life and a lousy reputation before -- before -- you're ever arrested, indicted or tried.
Richard Jewell, the pitiful character who was accused in the media of setting off a bomb during the Atlanta Olympics, knows what's wrong.
Wen-Ho-Lee, the scientist who was accused of giving U.S. nuclear secrets to the Chinese, knows what's wrong.
Steven Hatfill, accused of spreading anthrax, knows what's wrong.
And the rest of us should now be waking up to the fact that something truly is fundamentally flawed and scary about a system that intentionally puts people presumed innocent under the Constitution and the law of the land through a meat grinder designed to turn their life into a hell and their future into a black hole.
Hatfill is the latest victim of this extraordinary process.
Sunday, he struck back.
"I want to look my fellow Americans directly in the eye and declare to them, 'I am not the anthrax killer; I know nothing about the anthrax attacks; I had nothing to do with this terrible crime," Hatfill told reporters, according to a story appearing on CNN.com. "My life is being destroyed by arrogant government bureaucrats who are peddling groundless innuendo and half information."
He, Jewell and Lee, among others, became embroiled in a crude system that puts them under the bright light of public scrutiny until they wither and/or crawl under a rock.
In Hatfill's case, the Justice Department's prosecutors triggered the process of his public skinning when the FBI told the news media that Hatfill was a suspect in the anthrax distribution cases of last year.
The big guys in the media, the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, et al, then took the FBI's bait and, acting as prosecutors, judge and jury themselves, began the process of making Hatfill's life utterly miserable.
The FBI has helped out by staking out Hatfill, doing searches, issuing statements, etc.
You know how it works. You've seen it before with Jewell and Wen-Ho-Lee.
Both of whom, by the way, were never convicted of any crime whatsoever.
This process is sick and it's wrong, and the prosecutors, investigators and journalists involved ought to be ashamed of themselves.
Ted Gup, a former reporter now a journalism professor at Case Western Reserve University, summarizes our feelings on the matter. For a piece in The Washington Post, he writes: "There is nearly always something malodorous about a case that is deemed ripe enough for leaking but too green for prosecution. And when law-enforcement officials put a face on their suspicions but hide their own, look out. It is not just Hatfill who is entitled to a higher standard of prosecutorial or journalistic conduct than we have seen in the past few weeks. We all are. Each slipshod case whittles away our collective liberties, our self-respect, our confidence in the legal system...."
Scientist Barbara Hatch Rosenberg has pressed to keep the investigation into last year's anthrax attacks alive. But bio-weapons researcher Steven Hatfill is not amused.
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Aug. 31, 2002 | Salon On-Line Magazine
The man the FBI has fingered as a subject in its ongoing investigation of the anthrax killings, bio-weapons researcher Steven Hatfill, unloaded on his critics last week during a press conference aimed at clearing his name. He accused John Ashcroft of violating the Ten Commandments, the New York Times of violating journalistic ethics, and a New York scientist of spearheading a vendetta against him.
The scientist Hatfill named was Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, a biological arms control expert at the State University of New York at Purchase and chairwoman of the Federation of American Scientists' Chemical and Biological Arms Control Program. For months, Rosenberg has been quoted widely on all things anthrax. Her memos, which were first published on the FAS Web site back in January, have served as both laboratory and road map for theories about who is responsible for the anthrax attacks.
Rosenberg says her memos began as an effort to pressure the FBI, which she has repeatedly accused of dropping the ball in its investigation. "I began just putting together the data that was available, and discussing it on this e-mail list. Then people starting sending me information, so I sort of became a center for collecting information on the subject," she says.
While there is anything but consensus about Rosenberg's controversial theories, they clearly have informed much of the media speculation about the anthrax killer -- speculation that has thrust Hatfill's name into the headlines.
on Mon, Sep. 02, 2002
Culprit in anthrax attacks still elusive
Concern grows that whoever sent the contaminated letters will never be caught. The attacks did result in stepped-up efforts against bioterrorism.
By Marie McCullough
With the trail to suspects in last fall's anthrax attacks growing colder, the FBI returned to the quarantined headquarters of tabloid publisher American Media Inc. in Boca Raton, Fla., last week to search for clues.
But the latest development in "Amerithrax," as the FBI calls the investigation, seemed to underscore the fact that no one has been charged, arrested or even identified as a suspect almost a year after the nation's worst episode of bioterrorism.
Norma Wallace, 57, who nearly died in October from anthrax she inhaled while working at the Hamilton, N.J., postal facility, has become increasingly disillusioned.
"I get depressed when I think about the fact that there's no resolution. They haven't found the person or persons responsible," the soft-spoken woman said from her home in Willingboro. "I get cynical. It's very frustrating."
To be sure, the anthrax attacks have prodded all levels of government to plan and prepare for the once-unthinkable. But with each passing month, concern grows that whoever sent the anthrax-tainted letters may get away with it - get away with killing five people; sickening 13; triggering a nationwide panic; and forcing the costly quarantine of congressional buildings, two East Coast postal centers, and the American Media headquarters.
"Unfortunately, it's the kind of crime where we may never know who did it," said Gregory Evans, a bioterrorism and public-health expert at St. Louis University.
The FBI recently doubled its reward to $2.5 million for information leading to the anthrax terrorist.
Scientists plan to use new methods to compare the latest spore samples collected from the American Media building with anthrax found in letters sent to the Washington offices of Democratic Sens. Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont and Tom Daschle of South Dakota.
Authorities previously found spores on the desk of photo editor Robert Stevens, the first person to die of an anthrax infection last fall. Another American Media worker became ill and was hospitalized for more than three weeks.
The company, which publishes six supermarket tabloids, including the Enquirer, Globe and Weekly World News, moved its headquarters shortly after its building was federally quarantined in October.
While the sealed building has been fenced off and abandoned, the Hart Senate Office building reopened in January after a high-tech, $14 million fumigation.
The huge Brentwood postal facility in Washington, D.C., began its cleanup last month, to be followed by the Hamilton center - at a combined cost of $35 million.
On Aug. 22, during a news conference, Attorney General John Ashcroft sought to reassure the public that "progress has been made" in the case.
"There is a sense of intensity in the investigation," Ashcroft said. "But frankly, the ultimate plateau that's necessary is for us to cross a threshold which provides a basis for prosecutable facts."
Federal authorities say 20 to 30 scientists are under scrutiny, but the only one they have talked about publicly is bio-defense expert Steven Hatfill.
Hatfill - who has submitted to FBI interviews, searches and lie-detector tests, and offered blood and handwriting samples - recently called two news conferences to angrily declare his innocence. The media have begun to compare him to Richard Jewell and Wen Ho Lee, subjects of other high-profile FBI investigations that turned into embarrassing failures.
Three Chester city officials, natives of Pakistan, are still in limbo, neither cleared nor charged with any crime eight months after the FBI raided their homes in an apparent search for biological weapons.
"You would think there would be only a limited number of people capable of doing" the production and mailing of weapons-grade anthrax, said Evans, the bioterrorism expert. "Why they [federal agents] can't trace this is a mystery to me. Certainly, tremendous resources have been invested" in the investigation.
The anthrax attacks, while unsolved, have prompted dramatic efforts to prepare for bioterrorism:
All mail sent to federal offices in the Capitol is irradiated at a Logan, N.J., plant, a detour that has added to the Postal Service's growing budget deficit. The agency says that ultimately, it plans to install biohazard detection systems in facilities nationwide.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has created a bioterrorism program to coordinate federal, state and local preparation for biological or chemical attacks. The agency also has set up a rapid-response laboratory and helped develop a national medical stockpile and an early warning communications network.
States have received federal financing for biopreparedness. New Jersey, for example, has used $27 million for an elaborate network of emergency services, testing labs, disease surveillance, crisis simulations, and supplementary communications systems.
The nation's only maker of anthrax vaccine resolved manufacturing problems and, in February, resumed shipment of the shots. A month later, a National Academy of Sciences panel endorsed the vaccine, rebutting persistent concerns about its safety. In June, the government announced that precautionary vaccination of certain soldiers will continue, while a vaccine stockpile will be reserved for exposed civilians.
Researchers are also developing new vaccines. Wallace and five other survivors have contributed to this effort by giving periodic blood samples.
"That's my contribution. It's also a way for me to say, 'Thank you, Lord, for giving me another chance,' " Wallace said.
A divorced mother of two grown children, she praised her doctors and treatment at Virtua-Memorial Hospital Burlington County in Mount Holly. She still has persistent fatigue, joint pains, and shortness of breath, and like all but one of the anthrax survivors, has been unable to return to work. She is receiving worker's compensation.
She said she was also in therapy to cope with flashbacks, insomnia and fears.
"I keep running through what happened
in my head and thinking, 'This couldn't have happened unless that happened,'
" she said. "I think it's going to take years before the truth comes out."
Contact Marie McCullough at 215-854-2720 or firstname.lastname@example.org. This article contains information from the Associated Press.
© 2001 inquirer and wire service sources.
teams scour former AMI building for traces of anthrax
By Jon Burstein
September 3, 2002
Boca Raton · The Labor Day holiday offered no break for federal investigators searching for clues to how anthrax entered the American Media Inc. building last year, killing photo editor Bob Stevens.
Investigators continued to focus Monday on the building's third floor, where Stevens worked and which the moon-suited detectives first entered on Sunday.
Investigators working in pairs hoped to complete initial sampling on that floor by Monday night, said FBI spokesman Wayne Russell.
In addition, teams spent Monday collecting evidence on the first and second floor, he said.
Federal officials have declined to comment on specifics about the search, including how many people are working inside the building and what evidence has been collected. Agents are looking for the letter they think delivered the anthrax and evidence of the letter's path through the building and who the intended target might have been.
John Florence, a spokesman for the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, one of the agencies involved in the project, said Sunday's work in the three-story building had been successful but declined to elaborate.
Stevens was the first of five people to die from anthrax attacks last year and was the first victim of inhalation anthrax in the United States since 1976.
In addition to Stevens, American Media mailroom employee Ernesto Blanco became sick and was hospitalized for three weeks before recovering.
The search for evidence will continue today, marking the fifth day since investigators re-entered the building.
The investigation will continue until Sept. 11, the deadline agents set in their search warrant for completing their investigation at the building.
The FBI is searching the 70,000 square-foot building in grids, instead of the random method investigators used in their initial search after Stevens' Oct. 5 death.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Jon Burstein can be reached at email@example.com or 561-832-2895.
Copyright © 2002, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
firing devastates Hatfill
By JOAN McKINNEY
WASHINGTON -- LSU fired bioterrorism expert Dr. Steven J. Hatfill on Tuesday and the scientist, through a spokesman, said he was emotionally and financially devastated by the decision.
U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft has described Hatfill as a "person of interest" in the investigation of last fall's anthrax mailings that killed five people.
In a written statement, LSU Chancellor Mark Emmert said LSU "is making no judgment as to Dr. Hatfill's guilt or innocence regarding the FBI investigation." Emmert said that he decided to dismiss Hatfill "in the best interest of LSU."
Hatfill's dismissal came a month after LSU placed him on 30-days' paid leave from his $150,000-a-year post as associate director of the National Center for Biomedical Research and Training. The center provides counter-terrorism training for law enforcement officers and other public safety personnel. Hatfill worked on a contract basis for LSU from late April through June, and received the promotion to a permanent job on July 1.
The firing also came a month after the U.S. Justice Department, in an e-mail, asked LSU not to use Hatfill on projects financed with Justice Department grants. That restriction would have complicated Hatfill's ability to function at the center.
Hatfill's salary was financed with federal grants, and the center gets about 97 percent of its budget from the Justice Department, according to LSU. However, it's unclear if the Justice Department initiative was a factor in either Hatfill's placement on administrative leave or his subsequent firing.
The e-mail communication from the Justice Department arrived on Aug. 1, a day before Hatfill was placed on leave, according to Gregory Vincent, LSU's vice provost for academic affairs. The communication was known inside the Division of Continuing Education, which houses the counter-terrorism program, but "unfortunately no one else seems to know about it," Vincent said.
Vincent said he first learned about the Justice Department communication late Tuesday, after the Justice Department confirmed it to a reporter.
According to Ashcroft, there are several "persons of interest," who -- like Hatfill -- have certain scientific skills and may have had access to anthrax spores. Hatfill once worked at the Army's Fort Detrick, Md., bioweapons lab, which does anthrax research.
Hatfill has said he worked in another program at Fort Detrick and has never worked with anthrax.
The FBI has twice searched Hatfill's former residence in Maryland and has circulated his photograph in the Princeton, N.J., neighborhood where some of the anthrax mail may have originated. Hatfill has said he also is under constant FBI surveillance. The FBI will not explain its actions to the media, has not characterized Hatfill as a suspect, and has not charged him with anything.
When it placed Hatfill on leave, LSU said it had hired a private firm to do a background check on Hatfill. Emmert made no reference to that Tuesday.
A spokesman for Hatfill, Pat Clawson of Virginia, said LSU informed Hatfill's attorney, Victor C. Glasberg of Alexandria, Va., of the Hatfill's termination.
The university did not provide an explanation, Clawson said. "They fired him. No reason, no severance, no nothing. Just goodbye."
In a statement issued through Clawson, Hatfill said, "LSU did not even have the decency to phone me directly... They did not even tell my supervisor or co-workers ... This could have been decided a month ago. Why did they wait until I moved all of my furniture and all of my possessions to Baton Rouge?"
In prepared statements read at recent press conferences, Hatfill has said the FBI is making him "the fall guy" because the agency has not been able to solve the nearly year-old anthrax case.
In Tuesday's statement, Hatfill said, "My life has been completely and utterly destroyed by John Ashcroft and the FBI. I don't have a job. I'm unemployed. My professional reputation is in tatters. All I have left is my savings, and they will soon be exhausted because of my legal bills. I have nothing left but the love of my girlfriend and the support of my friends."
In his statement, Emmert said:
"After careful thought and consideration, I have decided that it is in the best interest of LSU to terminate its relationship with Dr. Steven Hatfill. My decision was not reached quickly or easily.
"Dr. Hatfill was placed on administrative leave on Aug. 2 in order to provide us the opportunity to thoroughly and objectively assess this situation. During this time, Dr. Hatfill has not been on the LSU campus."
"... Our ultimate concerns are the ability of the university to fulfill its role and mission as a land-grant university, to fulfill its contractual obligations to funding agencies and to maintain its academic integrity. In considering all of these objectives, I have concluded that it is clearly in the best interest of LSU to terminate the relationship."
"It is the university's policy and practice not to discuss specifics of personnel actions. Therefore, we are not at liberty to make further statements on this matter."
In the five months that Hatfill worked for LSU -- first as a contract employee and then on regular staff -- his compensation created a curious situation: Hatfill was being paid with grants from one part of the Justice Department, the Office of Domestic Preparedness, while he was being investigated by another part of the Justice Department, the FBI.
In Washington on Tuesday, ODP spokesman David Hess, "ODP did request that LSU not use Dr. Hatfill on any of the training courses associated with the Department of Justice."
Asked about Hess's comment, Vincent said, "I'm not aware of that. I thought we (LSU) acted on our own accord" to remove Hatfill from activities at the counter-terrorism training center.
Vincent later said he had asked Stephen Guillot, director of the NCBRT, about the reported communication from the Justice Department. "Steve Guillot did get an e-mail Aug. 1 from the Department of Justice, and he indicated that he let Dan Walsh know. Unfortunately, no one else seems to know about it.... Obviously, that's something we should have known."
Daniel C. Walsh is dean of the Division of Continuing Education, which houses the Guillot-run counter-terrorism program.
The Justice Department gave $16 million in grants in 2002 to the NCBRT, according to LSU.
According to records of congressional appropriations, the counter-terrorism center received about $11 million in Justice Department grants for fiscal years 1999 through 2001, and it is projected to get as much as $35 million in Justice grants for fiscal 2003.
E-mail on Hatfill not forwarded
By JOAN McKINNEY
WASHINGTON --- In a second day of staff upheaval for its counter-terrorism program, LSU on Wednesday fired Stephen L. Guillot, who was director of both the National Center for Biomedical Research and Training and the Academy for Counter-Terrorist Education.
Guillot's termination, effective Oct. 4, followed two incidents:
· LSU's dismissal Tuesday of Dr. Steven J. Hatfill, who had been the associate director of the NCBRT and who is under FBI investigation as a "person of interest" in the anthrax mailings that killed five people last fall.
· The university's confirmation Tuesday that the U.S. Justice Department, in an e-mail, had directed the NCBRT/ACE not to use Hatfill on any programs funded with Justice Department grants. Guillot received the Justice Department communication a month ago and did not fully pass it up the line to senior LSU administrators, according to Gregory Vincent, LSU's vice-provost for academic affairs.
"Stephen Guillot has been fired," LSU spokesman Gene Sands said Wednesday.
Sands added that LSU administrators "will take a complete look at the administration and management of these programs" at NCBRT/ACE. The ACE program is part of the NCBRT, and both are under LSU's Division of Continuing Education.
Hatfill has said he is not the anthrax killer. The FBI has not charged him with any crimes; and LSU Chancellor Mark Emmert said Tuesday that Hatfill's dismissal did not imply that the university believes he is guilty of the anthrax attacks.
Hatfill was an LSU employee, but federal grants paid his salary. Before coming to LSU, Hatfill worked for Science Applications International Corp., where his employment also depended on federal contracts. Hatfill also has worked at the Army's Ft. Detrick, Md., bioweapons facility, which conducts anthrax research.
Wednesday, a Hatfill spokesman said Hatfill is taking steps to challenge the Justice Department's restraint on his employment activities.
"The federal government cannot just bar someone from getting federal contracts or working on federal contracts," said Hatfill's spokesman, Pat Clawson of Virginia. "They have to have just cause to do that. There are administrative procedures and due process … The Justice Department has done none of these things (in Hatfill's case)."
Clawson said that Hatfill's attorney, Victor Glasberg of Alexandria, Va., had written LSU seeking all the records of all communications between the university and the Justice Department concerning Hatfill. Glasberg is making the same request to the Justice Department, Clawson said.
"We're trying to find out who's at the bottom of trying to railroad Steve (Hatfill)," Clawson said. "… What the Justice Department is doing with this blacklisting, it's like the '50s or something, where the Justice Department steps in with an employer and tells people they can't work … Steve Hatfill's civil rights have been completely violated by the Justice Department. We intend to find out who was responsible and hold them accountable."
In Washington, Deborah Daniels, assistant attorney general for the Office of Justice Programs, issued a written statement saying that the Justice Department "has not been involved in any decisions made by LSU with respect to Mr. Hatfill's status as an employee at that university."
Daniels said that the Justice Department did tell LSU it could not use Hatfill as an instructor or expert on bioterrorism in programs funded by the department. "It is a specific condition of our grant to LSU that we maintain management oversight and control," she said.
Mark Corallo, a Justice Department spokesman, said the Justice Department cannot tell LSU whom to remove from its payroll but it can tell the recipient of a Justice Department grant who cannot work on that project.
Corallo said that Clawson has misinterpreted the law regarding debarment from federal contracts.
Clawson accused LSU of firing Hatfill to protect its federal funds.
The NCBRT and ACE run almost exclusively on federal funds. The Justice Department has put $16 million into the counter-terrorism center and ACE in 2002 and is projected to give the programs more than $30 million in 2003, according to LSU and congressional appropriations' records.
"It's obvious the chancellor of LSU is more concerned about his funding than he is about stepping up and doing the right thing … He's more interested in protecting his money than protecting the Bill of Rights," Clawson said.
According to Vincent, LSU's top administrators fired Hatfill on Tuesday and then learned from a reporter that there was a month-old Justice Department directive restricting Hatfill's work. LSU could not have fired Hatfill for that reason, because Guillot had never told the senior administration that the Justice Department directive existed, Vincent said.
On Aug. 2 -- only one day after Guillot received the Justice Department directive --- Emmert did place Hatfill on 30 days paid leave. However, Vincent said the two events were unrelated -- again because Emmert did not know about the Justice Department communication to Guillot.
When Emmert placed Hatfill on leave, top LSU administrators believed that LSU was acting alone in removing Hatfill from NCBRT/ACE programs, Vincent said.
The paid leave was imposed immediately after the FBI conducted a second search of Hatfill's former residence in Maryland. Following that search and the imposition of Hatfill's administrative leave, LSU said it would conduct a background check on Hatfill before deciding his future at the university. The results of that research have not been announced.
A Justice Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Wednesday that the criminal investigators working on the Hatfill case didn't know that the Justice Department's Office for Domestic Preparedness had issued any directives to LSU concerning Hatfill. The Justice Department's Office of Domestic Preparedness oversees the grant program that funds the LSU counter-terrorism training programs.
Similarly, LSU's Sands would not give the reasons for firing Guillot. He cited the university's policy of not discussing personnel matters.
LSU released a short, terse letter to Guillot that gave formal notice of his firing, provided no detailed reasons for the dismissal, and advised him to contact LSU's Office of Human Resources Management regarding any benefits he may be owed.
LSU also released an Aug. 1 e-mail from Timothy Beres, acting director of the Justice Department's Office of Domestic Preparedness to LSU's Guillot which said:
"Steve, This is a follow-up of the phone conversation you had with Darrell Darnell (another ODP official) earlier this afternoon. I want to reiterate that the Office of Justice Programs/Office for Domestic Preparedness directs that Louisiana State University Academy of Counter-Terrorist Education cease and desist from utilizing the subject matter expert and course instructor duties of Steven J. Hatfill on all Department of Justice funded programs."
Guillot did not return phone messages left at his home and his LSU office.
Hatfill has accused the FBI of making him the scapegoat for the agency's inability to close the anthrax case. His attorney, Glasberg, already has filed complaints against the FBI and Attorney General John Ashcroft at the Justice Department and in Congress. The FBI's actions and the attorney general's public statements regarding Hatfill violate his legal rights, are "un-American" and are a violation of the federal government's standards of professional conduct, Glasberg has said.
The FBI will not answer media questions about the unusually visible nature of the Hatfill investigation. In one instance, the agency circulated only Hatfill's photograph in a Princeton, N.J., neighborhood where anthrax letters may have been mailed. Hatfill has said that FBI agents closely and openly followed him in Baton Rouge.
Hatfill also has charged the FBI with leaking information to the media so that the searches of his home would be highly publicized. Some news agencies have said, however, that they were tipped off to the searches by Hatfill's neighbors.
Ashcroft has said that Hatfill is among several people who are "of interest" because they may have had access to anthrax in the past and they have certain scientific skills. However, Hatfill is the only "person of interest" that the attorney general has publicly named.
Wednesday, Clawson accused the Justice Department and the FBI of routinely abusing the newly passed Patriots Act, which was passed after terrorist attacks on New York and Washington and which gives the government new tools to fight terrorism.
"Steve's government has had him basically railroaded," Clawson said. "… Is the Justice Department now taking the position that the Patriots Act is going to interfere with people's employment? … These are valid questions that need to be asked of John Ashcroft."
Article published Sep 6, 2002
Attorney: Hatfill is owed new job
WASHINGTON - An attorney for Dr. Steven J. Hatfill, called a "person of interest" in the anthrax attacks, demanded Thursday that Attorney General John Ashcroft find the fired researcher a new job.
Attorney Victor Glasberg wrote in the letter that Hatfill was fired from his job as a researcher and probably won't be able to find employment because of the Justice Department's "inappropriate actions" in naming him a person of interest.
"With all due respect, it is proper for you to take the lead in setting this right immediately," Glasberg wrote.
The letter also asked why Hatfill has been targeted by the Justice Department and FBI. The department had no immediate comment.
Louisiana State University fired
Hatfill on Wednesday from his job with the university's
In addition to the letter, Glasberg
has filed a complaint with the department's Office of
Glasberg also asked the agency to define what a "person of interest" is, saying the intention in using the phrase appears to be to defame his client. "This functional equivalent of blacklisting is reprehensible and sanctionable," Glasberg wrote. Also in the complaint, Glasberg quoted Hatfill's girlfriend, who was not identified, as saying FBI agents ransacked her apartment and told her Hatfill was a murder suspect.
University officials confirmed Thursday that they also fired Stephen L. Guillot, director of the National Center for Biomedical Research and Training and the Academy for Counter-Terrorist Education.
Sands declined to discuss why Guillot was fired, saying it was a personnel matter. Guillot was not at home and could not immediately be reached for comment.
Law enforcement officials have said Hatfill, 48, is not a suspect in the deaths of five people killed by anthrax-tainted letters.
They also have said no evidence links him to the letters.
Hatfill worked until 1999 for Fort Detrick's Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Maryland - the primary custodian of the virulent Ames strain of anthrax found in the anthrax letters.
Hatfill, who recently moved to Baton Rouge, La., taught classes for the LSU center on the East Coast before getting the $150,000-a-year associate director's job on July 1.
Guest editorial: Blacklisted
Friday, September 6, 2002
Scripps Howard News Service
By blacklisting Steven Hatfill, the Justice Department has cost the germ-warfare expert his $150,000-a-year job at a bioterrorism training center run by Louisiana State University.
Taking his job away is pretty severe punishment for someone the Justice Department has ostentatiously never accused of a crime. He is guilty, in the department's Orwellian phrase, of being "a person of interest."
Hatfill, a one-time bioweapons scientist at the government's Fort Detrick, Md., lab, is the only person who has publicly figured in the FBI investigation of last fall's anthrax attack that killed five. But Justice has said specifically and pointedly that Hatfill is not a suspect.
Nonetheless, the FBI has twice, once quietly and once very publicly, searched his apartment, as well as his car, storage locker, the building's trash bin and his girlfriend's apartment. They also showed his photo around the New Jersey neighborhood where the anthrax-laced letters were mailed. As far as is known, the feds have turned up nothing. This is beginning to look like an investigation that's reached a dead end but that the department can't bring itself to let go because it has nothing else.
In August, LSU placed Hatfill on paid leave. The department then e-mailed LSU saying that it did not want Hatfill working on any government-sponsored projects. On Tuesday, LSU fired Hatfill and on Wednesday fired his boss, both without explanation, although the desire not to lose lucrative federal contracts seems self-explanatory.
Since the Justice Department provides 97 percent of the LSU center's funding, it has every right to say who should work on its projects. Neither Hatfill nor his boss was tenured, so the university had every right to fire them for any reason or no reason.
Hatfill says the Justice Department and FBI have "completely and utterly" destroyed his life: "I'm now unemployed; 20 years of training has now gone down the tubes; my professional reputation is in tatters."
All of this may have been legal, but it doesn't pass any sort of smell test. The Justice Department should hold itself to loftier standards. In cases like this, the public generally gives the feds the benefit of the doubt under the rationalization: "Maybe they know something." Maybe they don't.
continues hunt for clues in Boca Raton anthrax attack
The Daytona Beach News-Journal
BOCA RATON -- Federal agents and scientists combed through the anthrax-tainted building owned by tabloid publisher American Media Inc. on Thursday, adding to the samples they have collected over the past week.
Investigators tentatively plan to finish scouring the quarantined complex by Friday, though their search warrant allows them to keep working until Sept. 11, said John Florence, a spokesman for the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. The agency, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has sent teams of scientists into the AMI building with FBI agents.
"Things are going very well," Florence said. He declined to comment on whether the letter or package that brought the anthrax into the building and fatally infected a photo editor last fall has been found.
The discovery of the letter would be a key piece of evidence in the 11-month-old investigation. Investigators want to compare it and samples of anthrax spores found inside the AMI building to those collected from a Senate office building in Washington.
The anthrax attacks killed five people nationwide, including photo editor Robert Stevens and two postal workers in Washington. Another AMI employee, Ernesto Blanco, became ill and was hospitalized for more than three weeks.
Federal officials searched the AMI building after quarantining it Oct. 7 but said they were most concerned with the public health threat. Since then, they've developed new techniques to detect large amounts of anthrax spores and possibly the source.
Investigators can use the samples to determine if the anthrax used in all the attacks came from the same batch and if it was manufactured by the same person.
After the building was quarantined, American Media moved its headquarters to rented offices nearby to publish its six supermarket tabloids, including The National Enquirer, Globe and Weekly World News.
Anthrax trail on wrong path?
Bio-weapons experts say the FBI is investigating the wrong suspect
September 5, 2002
FREDERICK, Md. - I came here in search of Steven Hatfill and the anthrax trail, and, along the way, I kept bumping into Saddam Hussein.
You do have to be careful these days.
Hatfill is, of course, the "person of interest" in the anthrax deaths, the interesting person who is either a mad scientist/killer or the latest Richard Jewell. Hatfill worked in this town that dates to colonial days, set 40 miles northwest of Washington, at Fort Detrick, which is where the government has conducted much of its bio-weapons work.
If you've seen the pictures of the old labs at Fort Detrick - and the labs have long since been disbanded - they look like something out of a B-movie. And if you talk to the experts here - I tried two - you still might have trouble figuring out what exactly is science fiction.
First, meet Richard Spertzel, the man who was once in charge of bio-weapons inspections in Iraq. Before retiring, Spertzel worked for decades at Fort Detrick.
Spertzel, who knows Hatfill only slightly, insists he didn't do it. Spertzel says the people at the FBI are bunglers at best and disingenuous at worst. And anyone who trusts FBI profilers, he says, hasn't been paying attention.
He's making a strong case for the defense. But the more we talk, the more I realize that Hatfill - who just lost his latest job, even as the FBI leaves him dangling as a suspect/non-suspect - is not the story. At this point, Hatfill can't even star in his own drama.
Not when someone like Spertzel says he's sure the anthrax came from a foreign source - yeah, that foreign source.
"I think it's got written in big letters: MIB. Made in Baghdad," says a man who spent parts of four years in Iraq looking for the stuff.
You may remember that in the first days of the anthrax scare - about the time we learned the word cipro, long before anyone had heard of Hatfill or his padded resume or his time in Rhodesia at the time of the anthrax outbreak there - everyone was looking for a way to tie anthrax to the 9-11 attacks. Iraq was an early contender.
Iraq is back. The rationale for an invasion - the phrase of choice is "regime change" - is not simply that Saddam is dangerous. No one seriously argues that point. The rationale is that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, which could be used against a number of countries, including ours. It's certainly more believable than the one about bringing democracy to the region.
On Wednesday, Bush met with congressional leaders and promised to consult before regime changing ensued. What he didn't promise to do was to take the consultation seriously. This is the strangest political battle in memory. The Democrats have basically opted out because the last thing they want is for foreign policy to become an issue this November. Their only issue is consultation - and, please, don't consult until after the elections are over. Yes, a real profile in group courage.
Meanwhile, the loyal opposition has come from Republicans, mostly from those who worked for Bush Senior, in what is being called the who's-your-daddy campaign. You know the arguments. They range from the danger of a wider war to the cost of occupation to the need for at least one ally who is not Tony Blair.
No one in the government is trying to pin the anthrax mailings on Saddam. But anything else goes. Dick Cheney has upped the stakes by saying Iraq will soon have nuclear weapons, to go with chemical and biological weapons. Spertzel says Iraq is dangerous even without nuclear capability. What he worries about is Iraq passing on its weapons to terrorists.
His greatest fear, he says, is that someone will find a crowd and smother it in anthrax. He gives me an example of one site, but asks me not to use it, saying only, "If it's weapons grade material, you can throw it up in the air with a handful of confetti. Once it's airborne, it will stay airborne until meteorological conditions change. Imagine how many people could be exposed."
When I ask him why, if it's that easy, someone hasn't done it, he says, "In the Iraqi way of thinking, patience is golden. They'll take their time."
Clear enough? That's what I thought, too. Then I went across town to see Joe Jemski, who also spent decades at Fort Detrick, many of those years as part of the group working to weaponize anthrax. The idea was to figure it out before the evil doers - at that point, the Soviet Union - got there first.
Jemski is retired now. In case you think he's a dove, in his working days he killed 4,000 monkeys and 100,000 guinea pigs in various bio-weapons experiments, using every bug you could name. Well, it's a living. And his only point of agreement with Spertzel is that he thinks Hatfill is innocent. But he thinks it's some other disgruntled American - possibly one who works for a pharmaceutical company.
When I ask him about Spertzel's nightmare scenario, he jumps right in.
"It's science fiction," Jemski says. "Just like the subway scenario when I was on with (Ted) Koppel. It won't work."
He doesn't stop there: "Logistically, everyone loves anthrax, because it lasts forever. If you use the plague (in a warhead), every month you have to take it all out and resupply it. You don't have to change the anthrax. But if you ask me to rate anthrax as a weapon on a scale of 1 to 10, I'd give it a 2. Maybe."
He actually thinks the five deaths attributed to the anthrax mail prove his point - that anthrax is an ineffective mass killer. It's certainly not in the same league, he says, with smallpox.
"It killed five people," he says. "Two were elderly and another had a predisposition. This mass destruction thing will never work. If it could have, somebody would have done it."
I don't know which expert is right.
I know which one I prefer to believe. In the months since 9-11, you learn
to take comfort where you can.
Mike Littwin's column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Call him at (303) 892-5428 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
administration changing after dismissal of Hatfill
By JOAN McKINNEY
WASHINGTON -- Gregory Vincent, LSU's vice-provost for academic affairs, moved Friday into the Division of Continuing Education, where he will conduct a management review and assume day-to-day responsibilities for budgeting and personnel.
The division's dean, Dr. Daniel C. Walsh, remains in his post and is assigned to monitor the contractual and working relationships with the U.S. Justice Department, the U.S. State Department and state-government entities that provide funds for programs in his division.
This month and last, Walsh's division has been hit with:
* An involuntary, 30-day paid leave and then a dismissal for Dr. Steven J. Hatfill, an associate administrator for LSU's counter-terrorism programs who also is under FBI investigation as a "person of interest" in the anthrax mailing case. Hatfill has said he is not the anthrax mailer, and he has not been charged with any crime.
* The firing of Stephen L. Guillot, director of LSU's counter-terrorism programs and Hatfill's immediate supervisor.
* Vincent's belated discovery this week of a month-old directive from the Justice Department forbidding the use of Hatfill on programs funded by the Justice Department.
The National Center for Biomedical Research and Training, where Hatfill and Guillot worked, is housed inside the Division of Continuing Education and runs almost exclusively on Justice Department funds. For instance, Hatfill was an LSU employee, not a federal employee. However, LSU paid him with federal funds.
Before coming to LSU, Hatfill worked for Science Applications International Corp., where his employment also depended on federal contracts. Hatfill also has worked at the Army's Fort Detrick, Md., bioweapons facility, which conducts anthrax research.
By telephone and e-mail, the Justice Department conveyed its instructions regarding Hatfill to Guillot. According to Vincent, Guillot has said that he relayed the Justice Department's directive to Walsh, who was his dean. However, the information was not passed along to more-senior LSU administrators, who learned about Justice's action from a news reporter, Vincent has said.
In an interview Friday, Vincent acknowledged campus speculation that Walsh's job also is in jeopardy, but he said that is not accurate. Vincent said he does not expect that Walsh will resign or be fired.
"He is the dean," Vincent said.
"It (the continuing education division) is reporting to me, but I am not the dean," Vincent continued. "Dan is still the dean, but he is reporting to me … I am administering the department."
Vincent said that administering means "budgeting and personnel and all those things."
As vice-provost for academic affairs, "I had that kind of authority in the first place," Vincent said.
Walsh's assignment is "to maintain our contractual obligations with the entities that fund us," Vincent said.
LSU spokesman Gene Sands announced earlier this week that the LSU administration would conduct a complete management review of the continuing education division. Vincent said that his movement to the division is the first step in that comprehensive review.
Both Vincent and Sands said Friday that LSU has done similar, comprehensive evaluations of other departments as part of a regular and routine program to upgrade the university. The evaluation of the continuing education division will be no different from those regular management re-evaluations, they said.
However, both men also acknowledged that the decision to review the division now was prompted by the turmoil in its counter-terrorism program.
The division also is under slightly increased scrutiny from state government auditors. However, state Legislative Auditor Dan Kyle characterized the action by his office as precautionary.
Auditors from Kyle's office already were doing the regular annual audit of LSU when Hatfill was placed on administrative leave. Kyle said the auditors then made a specific request for Hatfill's compensation records.
Kyle said that he has no reason to believe that Hatfill or any of his LSU supervisors have done anything wrong. In the course of a regular audit, his office would review the payroll records of any state employee who has become a source of major controversy, Kyle said.
LSU hired Hatfill in April of this year as an adjunct professor. He worked briefly from his home in Maryland and sometimes traveled to Baton Rouge, primarily developing the course material for training law enforcement and other public safety personnel in counter-terrorism measures. He also worked on a program to protect State Department personnel and State Department facilities from terrorist attacks.
LSU payroll records show that as adjunct professor, Hatfill was paid $75 an hour. He submitted timesheets and was paid almost $57,000 for work claimed between April 6 and June 30.
According to the timesheets, Hatfill typically worked 6 to 8½ hours a day. For a brief period of about five days in April, he claimed hours for simultaneously working on both the training-course preparation and also the State Department project. In that brief period, the timesheets indicate that Hatfill's workdays were about 14 hours.
On July 1, Hatfill was promoted to associate director of the NCBRT, earning $150,000 a year. He subsequently moved to Baton Rouge, but was already on paid leave and under intense government and news media scrutiny when the move was actually completed.
By the time he was terminated this week, Hatfill had earned almost $82,000 at LSU.
That was the combination of his earnings as adjunct professor and the money he earned in his brief stint as the NCBRT's associate director.
kills Butte County cattle
By Steve Miller, West River Editor
Anthrax has broken out in a Butte County cattle herd, the third appearance of the disease in South Dakota this year, according to the South Dakota Animal Industry Board.
The outbreak doesn't pose a significant danger to humans, according to state veterinarian Sam Holland.
Thirteen cattle in Butte County, part of a herd of about 240 cow-calf pairs and 15 bulls, died in August. Tests at the state diagnostic laboratory in Brookings on Wednesday confirmed that the cattle died of anthrax. Several more cattle from the herd have died since, Holland said in an interview Friday.
Holland, head of the Animal Industry Board, said the remainder of the Butte County herd would be treated with antibiotics and vaccinated. The carcasses are being disposed of under the board's direction, according to a news release from the industry board.
The herd will be quarantined for 30 days, although the disease isn't contagious from animal to animal. Neighbors have been alerted, Holland said.
Anthrax is a serious disease because it can kill large numbers of animals in a short time.
It is also communicable to humans as well as other animals, so strict enforcement of quarantine and proper burning and burying of carcasses suspected of dying from anthrax is important, Holland said.
He said farmers and ranchers should take precautions such as wearing gloves and washing thoroughly after handling animals that die suddenly. Through contact with an infected animal, people can contract cutaneous anthrax through a break in the skin.
However, the skin form of anthrax is easily treatable and seldom fatal, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Humans generally can't get the much more dangerous inhalation form of anthrax from infected livestock, Holland said.
He pointed out that "weaponized" anthrax such as the spores sent to Sen. Tom Daschle, NBC News and others must be manufactured in a laboratory.
But the disease has a high mortality rate in livestock, he said. Animals are often found dead with no illness detected.
Holland said anthrax spores survive in contaminated soil indefinitely and that much of South Dakota has the potential for an outbreak.
Major climate changes such as drought, flood and wind can carry anthrax spores to grazing livestock. In alkaline soils, high humidity and high temperatures can encourage anthrax spores to vegetate and become infectious to grazing livestock.
With this summer's hot, windy weather, "conditions are right for anthrax," Holland said.
Although anthrax shows up in South Dakota almost every year, the Butte County case is the first in West River since about 1996 or 1997, Holland said.
Besides the Butte County deaths, Jerauld County in eastern South Dakota had two separate cases. On June 26, a buffalo cow died. It came from a herd of 35 buffalo.
The second anthrax case was diagnosed July 9. One cow died, the only one of the herd of 256 cattle not vaccinated for anthrax, according to the news release.
A Wessington Springs veterinarian contracted a skin form of anthrax after doing an autopsy on the infected cow, state officials said. It was the first documented case of human anthrax in the state, according to Doneen Hollingsworth, state health department secretary.
Holland also said he is advising veterinarians to be alert for anthrax. He is asking rendering companies to make sure livestock carcasses are burned and buried on the farm rather than rendered.
Cutaneous anthrax symptoms usually occur within seven days of exposure, according to the CDC Web site. Skin infection begins as a raised itchy bump and then develops into an ulcer. With appropriate therapy, death is rare.
In addition to the skin form of anthrax, humans can become infected by inhaling anthrax spores from contaminated animal products. Anthrax can also be spread by eating undercooked meat from infected animals, the CDC said.
When anthrax is contracted by inhaling the spores, initial symptoms may resemble a common cold but can progress to severe breathing problems and shock. It is usually fatal, the CDC said.
Intestinal anthrax shows up after consuming contaminated meat and is characterized by acute inflammation of the intestinal tract, nausea, vomiting, fever and diarrhea. It results in death in 25 to 60 percent of cases, according to the CDC.
Holland said farmers shouldn't salvage animals that get sick and die.
Questions or comments? Call West River Editor Steve Miller at 394-8417 or e-mail him at email@example.com.
Hunting of Steven J. Hatfill
Why are so many people eager to believe that this man is the anthrax killer?
by David Tell
The Weekly Standard
09/16/2002, Volume 008, Issue 01
1 Who is Steven J. Hatfill?
Hatfill is a 48-year-old scientific researcher who specializes in emerging infectious diseases. Various details on his r sum -- to say nothing of a televised FBI raid on his apartment -- have inspired a mini-industry of speculation that he may somehow be implicated in last fall's deadly anthrax attacks. But as we shall see, much of that speculation pretends to be something more: certainty of his guilt, and certainty that in every nook and cranny of his life must be found some blot or scar or mark of the devil that proves his guilt. The evidence of his biography, that which is publicly available, cannot sustain such absolute conviction. But it is an unusual and interesting biography just the same.
Hatfill was born in St. Louis, attended high school in Mattoon, Illinois, and studied basic biology and chemistry at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas. After graduating from Southwestern in June 1975, Hatfill served what Newsweek, citing "a copy of his military records," calls "a three-year stint in the Army, stationed in the United States." The Newark Star-Ledger, also claiming to have reviewed his personnel records, says Hatfill remained on some form of reserve or National Guard duty until January 1981, but by all accounts his regular Army active duty ended in the spring of 1978, and a few months later he moved to Africa, where he would live and work for the next 16 years.
Hatfill spent the first six of those years in Harare, earning his medical degree from what is now the University of Zimbabwe. In June 1984, he relocated to South Africa for his clinical internship and residency -- and for a decade's worth of additional study during which he was awarded three master's degrees (microbial genetics and recombinant DNA, medical biochemistry and radiation biology, and hematological pathology) and completed at least some of the work necessary for a doctorate in molecular cell biology. Hatfill finally left Africa in the summer of 1994 and spent a year doing clinical research at Oxford University before returning home to the States for good.
On a postgraduate training fellowship from the National Institutes of Health, Hatfill worked at NIH headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland, and other civilian federal laboratories until the fall of 1997. Then he took another two-year fellowship, this one from the National Research Council, to the nation's top biowarfare defense laboratory, the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick in Maryland. There Hatfill investigated therapeutic responses to "filoviridae," the family of primate-borne tropical viruses, Ebola and Marburg specifically, that cause lethal hemorrhagic fever in humans. By the time Hatfill's Fort Detrick grant expired in September 1999, he had already undertaken related research at a private-sector laboratory in McLean, Virginia, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), which does federal biodefense work on contract.
SAIC fired him in March of this year shortly after a newspaper reporter phoned the company seeking a response to rumors that Hatfill, whose name had not yet dribbled into public view, was under FBI investigation in connection with last fall's anthrax murders. Eight months earlier, an unrelated CIA polygraph examination -- which reportedly generated unresolved questions about Hatfill's account of his life in Africa -- had led that agency to refuse him the "top-secret" security clearance necessary for certain SAIC projects. And, pending review of that refusal, Hatfill's basic-level "secret" clearance had been suspended, as well. The extent to which this security issue figured in SAIC's eventual decision to fire Hatfill remains unclear, however, and there are indications that SAIC may have been less than fully confident about the move; Hatfill's attorneys say the company later offered him a financial settlement, and the company itself has acknowledged having retained him, following his formal dismissal, as an outside consultant.
In any case, whatever the exact circumstances of his separation from SAIC, that incident alone had no immediately damaging effect on his career as a whole. Hatfill quickly found a new and important job as associate director of the National Center for Biomedical Research and Training at Louisiana State University. And it was to this new job in Baton Rouge that he was preparing a final move when, on August 1, the FBI -- with whose earlier anthrax-case inquiries Hatfill had, by all accounts, cooperated fully -- suddenly executed a court-issued criminal search warrant at his Frederick, Maryland, apartment. The raid was covered live on national television.
No less authoritative a spokesman
than Attorney General John Ashcroft has since confirmed, also on national
television, that Hatfill is a "person of interest" to the Bureau's anthrax
investigation. Hatfill, for his part, at two public press conferences organized
by his attorneys, has vehemently denied any involvement in or knowledge
of the anthrax murders. Despite those denials, however, the past month's
developments and attendant publicity appear to have overwhelmed him. "My
life has been completely and utterly destroyed," he says. Most saliently:
"I'm unemployed" and "my professional reputation is in tatters." Early
last week, having been advised by the attorney general's Office for Domestic
Preparedness not to use Hatfill on programs receiving federal law enforcement
funding, Louisiana State University took steps to
2. Why is Hatfill a "person of interest" to the FBI?
That designation, which has no formal legal meaning or consequence, is not exactly unprecedented in federal law enforcement practice. But it is nevertheless extremely uncommon, and the Justice Department has so far declined to offer any official public explanation for its current application to Hatfill. Nor, apparently, has the department clarified the matter privately to Hatfill's attorneys, whose multiple letters of complaint have yet to win a substantive response. Even when speaking on background to reporters, Justice "sources" routinely defend the propriety of their approach to Hatfill by insisting that he has not received "any more attention than any other person of interest to the investigation." But no other such "person of interest" has ever been identified by name. And one particularly candid FBI official has conceded to the Washington Post that "we're obviously doing things related to [Hatfill] that we're not doing with others. He is obviously of more interest to us than others on the list at this point."
It's possible to fashion a reasonably educated guess about why that might be. Most basically, Hatfill -- along with hundreds, if not thousands, of other people -- fits the FBI's "behavioral analysis" suspect profile, announced as the anthrax investigation was just getting underway last November. (For an extensive and skeptical consideration of that profile, see "Remember Anthrax?" in The Weekly Standard of April 29, 2002.) More precisely, for a window on particular evidence the FBI may believe makes Steven Hatfill uniquely interesting among American scientists with training and experience in agents of biological warfare, we now have at our disposal Newsweek's exclusive report on the Bureau's August 1 apartment search.
The FBI had conducted an earlier, prearranged and consensual search of the place in late June and had apparently come up empty. But during the final week of July, Newsweek says, two things happened that made the Bureau think it ought to try again. First, agents exposed police bloodhounds to a set of "scent packs" which had been "lifted from anthrax-tainted letters mailed to Sens. Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy . . . hoping some faint, telltale trace of the perpetrator's smell still remained months after the fact." The dogs were brought to a series of locations "frequented" by Hatfill, including a Denny's restaurant in Louisiana, and at each spot, according to "one law-enforcement source," the beasts "went crazy." Around the same time, surveillance teams posted outside Hatfill's apartment building noticed him chucking great lots of stuff into a backyard trash bin and became worried that he was attempting to destroy evidence. These two factors, "the dogs and the dumpster," the Newsweek story suggests, are what prompted the FBI to obtain permission for an involuntary, unannounced criminal search of Hatfill's property.
Inside the dumpster, agents found only innocuous personal belongings that Hatfill explained he was purging in anticipation of his move to Baton Rouge. Inside the apartment, on the hard drive of Hatfill's computer, agents found the draft of a never-published Tom Clancy-like thriller the scientist had once toyed with writing in his spare time. Initial, partial descriptions of the book -- this bit of the story was broken, very excitedly, by a local television station in Washington, D.C. -- made it out to involve a deadly biological attack on Congress with eerie and frightening parallels to the real-life events of last September and October. Subsequent accounts of Hatfill's novel, however, their accuracy confirmed to The Weekly Standard by one man who has read the entire manuscript, suggest a plot centered around mad cow disease and bubonic plague, not anthrax, with no mention at all of pathogenic powders delivered by mail.
Still, there are the bloodhounds, one of whom is reported by Newsweek to have "excitedly bounded right up to Hatfill" on August 1, inspiring an FBI observer to exclaim, "Damn!" The dogs have since become a fixture of news features about the Hatfill case, invariably accorded the status of potentially incriminating physical evidence. Realistically, though, the "potential" here is limited at best, and many forensic experts seem inclined to think it nonexistent. For one thing, Scott Shane of the Baltimore Sun has phoned the managers of all 12 Denny's restaurants in the state of Louisiana, each of whom insists that no such bloodhound search as is recounted by Newsweek has ever been performed on his premises. Furthermore, Shane and the handful of other journalists who have troubled to consult technical specialists knowledgeable on the question all report considerable skepticism about the possibility that any kind of "scent evidence" from the anthrax letters might at this point remain available for use in a police dog's nostrils.
Those letters were mailed nearly a year ago, by a perpetrator who apparently left no trace of his fingerprints and no recoverable sample of his DNA. And, crucially, as Newsweek itself mentions in passing, without elaboration, those letters have been "long since decontaminated." Decontamination (by irradiation) would structurally transform or outright destroy any organic material left on a piece of paper -- like the skin cells or body oils necessary to construct an evidentiary "scent pack." So if the scents supposedly lifted from the anthrax letters were obtained by the FBI after such a decontamination procedure, they are very likely worthless as a tool of identification. And that appears to be the case.
Without exception, news reports from late last year, when preliminary examination of the anthrax letters was still underway, describe a process by which federal investigators first collected all extant bacterial spores for biochemical and physical analysis, next decontaminated the envelopes and Xeroxed enclosures, and only then delivered that paper evidence to FBI laboratories for forensic testing and development. In fact, the FBI more or less admits straight out that it was unable to pursue its standard evidentiary protocols with the anthrax letters until after they'd been permanently altered by irradiation. Posted on the Bureau's informational "Amerithrax Investigation" website is an interview to that effect with Joseph A. DiZinno, chief of the FBI Laboratory's Scientific Analysis Section (www.fbi.gov/anthrax/dizinno/transcript.htm).
Even assuming, for the sake of argument, that the Justice Department has somehow managed to recover a microscopic trace of the killer's characteristic aroma, where the FBI's sniffer canines have gone barking with the stuff should be interpreted with a measure of caution. History suggests that bloodhound evidence is a feast or famine enterprise. It has sometimes, miraculously, helped track down and save the lives of kidnapped children. But it has sometimes, disastrously, helped track down and falsely accuse an innocent man. In September 1998, a dog named TinkerBelle, her nose full of a "scent pack" very much like the ones employed by the FBI at Hatfill's apartment, led local police to a Long Beach, California, recreation department staffer named Jeffrey Allen Grant -- who on the basis of TinkerBelle's wagging tail was promptly arrested, and advertised throughout the state, as a serial rapist. He would spend three pretrial months in jail before anyone thought to test his blood against DNA evidence retrieved from three separate crime scenes. Grant, it turned out, was not the rapist.
In short: As a bill of particulars against Steven J. Hatfill, the dogs and the dumpster and the dime-store novel are rather less than a bolt of lightning. So federal investigators must have, or must think they have, some further solid reason to make Hatfill a special focus of anthrax-case attention. We do not know for certain what that reason might be. But we have a wide array of would-be reasons to consider, in a variety of combinations. This because, feeling liberated to do so by Hatfill's public outing as a "person of interest," American journalism has lately rushed before the nation's eyes almost every unflattering story and rumor and outr theory that anyone has ever privately advanced against the man -- up to and including the possibility that he has a history of white-supremacist violence.
One would like to think that the FBI long ago tracked down and resolved what's true and false in all this "information." Whether what's true in it actually ties Hatfill to a multiple murder, of course, is another matter entirely.
3 Where does the notion that Hatfill is a racist come from?
Hatfill has lived in two different African countries formerly ruled by white minority regimes, and he appears in the past to have claimed a "military background" or "combat experience" in one of those countries, and "reserve" and "consultant" relationships with the army of the other. What these claims might mean, and what part of them is true, are wide open questions that probably can't and won't be settled until Hatfill comes forward with a clarification. For now, he is operating under an attorney's instructions not to answer media inquiries about his past. So there remains a quite considerable leap of speculation between what is known for certain about Hatfill's student days, on the one hand, and the widely circulating charge, on the other, that he "served in the armed forces of two white racist governments," as New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof has put it. Documentary and testimonial corroboration of this "fact" (sometimes attached to vaguely sourced "suspicions" that Hatfill helped the racists kill black people with germs) is very hard to find, as it happens. And, oddly enough, what little, shaky evidence there is, insofar as anyone ever bothers to cite it, inevitably traces from -- or through, or back to -- an outfit called the Jewish Defense Organization (JDO).
That group's current role as a central clearinghouse of Hatfill demonology is never acknowledged by mainstream reporters who make use of the material -- and for obvious reasons. JDO is located at the farthest, shadowy margins of American public life. It was founded in the 1980s as a radical, breakaway faction of Meir Kahane's already-quite- radical Jewish Defense League (JDL) by a man named Mordechai Levy. And under Levy, JDO has established a long record of scurrilous, sometimes even homicidal attacks on its real or imagined enemies. One day in August 1989, for example, when process servers attempted to present him with legal papers in a libel action brought against the JDO by a leader of the rival JDL, Levy mounted the roof of a Manhattan apartment building and opened fire on his visitors with an automatic rifle, missing the intended targets and wounding a 69-year-old bystander instead. For which crime Levy was sent to prison. More recently, in April 2000, Levy pled guilty to charges of assault after a 12-year-old boy told police that the man had kicked him in the face and testicles.
Levy and the JDO have not yet threatened Dr. Hatfill with bodily harm, though visitors to the organization's website -- every American reporter on the anthrax beat has surely been there -- immediately discover that its top-featured section (www.jdo.org/hatfill.htm) includes a lovingly imagined account of some future day, very soon, when "Dr. Steven 'Mengele' Hatfill," having first "attempted suicide," will be "awakened at 4 a.m. and transported to a cold, damp, and dirty holding cell," then tried, convicted, and given a lethal injection, "just like the lethal injection his former boss, Wouter Basson, gave to hundreds of black South Africans." This and much, much else besides is contained in an extraordinary, 50-some-page, always expanding dossier, "soon to be a paperback book," entitled The Bioevangelist and purporting to prove that "he did it."
To wit: Hatfill is a "Nazi" who "participated in genocide." Hatfill's "mentor" at the Godfrey Huggins School of Medicine was supposedly one Robert Burns Symington, "father of Rhodesia's biological warfare program." Hatfill helped Symington and the "white supremacist regime" start an epidemic of anthrax "in the latter phase of Zimbabwe's liberation war." The White Man having lost that war, Hatfill then took his wares to the "Medical Special Operations Battalion of the South African Army founded in 1981 by Wouter Basson," the Afrikaner regime's notorious biowarfare capo. While in South Africa, Hatfill was a "close associate of Eugene Terre Blanche," head of the Afrikaner Resistance Movement and a convicted murderer. And so on.
Trouble is, nothing in the many, impressive-looking footnotes appended to The Bioevangelist substantiates these assertions. Nothing links Hatfill to Robert Burns Symington. Nothing links Symington to anthrax, and nothing explains how Hatfill, then a first-year medical student with no biochemical laboratory training, could have helped Symington weaponize anthrax spores in the first place. Nothing links Hatfill to a "Special Operations Battalion" in South Africa. Nothing links Hatfill to Wouter Basson. And nothing links Hatfill to Eugene Terre Blanche (Terre Blanche denies the connection) -- except a risibly amateurish South African news-service story, which cites a photograph that no one can find, and an unnamed "former colleague" who says Hatfill once claimed to have run a Resistance Movement training session (whose leader denies that).
Trouble is, too, that transparent innuendo like this -- in sanitized, journalism-school, "some say," "is alleged" form -- has now entered the American news-media bloodstream (thanks most prominently to New York Times columnist Kristof), casting an awful cloud of "racism" over Steven Hatfill's head.
Asked by e-mail for his name, and for additional evidence to buttress his case against Hatfill the "Nazi," the author of The Bioevangelist has sent The Weekly Standard a reformatted version of the same essay, with many additional but entirely peripheral citations, and he has identified himself as A.J. Weberman.
4. Who is A.J. Weberman?
During the 1970s, A.J. Weberman was briefly famous (in certain circles) for having decided, by virtue of extremely close, drug-fueled analysis of the lyrics to Bob Dylan songs, that Dylan was a heroin addict. In an effort to prove the point, Weberman then began collecting . . . things. He took out newspaper classified ads: "If anyone has a sample of Dylan's urine, please send it to me." He once broke into Dylan's home to confront the singer. And, most notably, he developed a habit of going through Dylan's garbage can and publicizing whatever he found. Weberman retains a casual interest in Dylan even today, it would seem. (A Dylan song plays in the background on the JDO Bioevangelist web page, if you have the right browser.) But Weberman eventually suspended his full-time practice of Dylan "garbology," moving on to the trash bins of such as Jackie Kennedy and Norman Mailer. And Weberman then, at some point, abandoned garbology altogether -- and hooked up with Mordechai Levy and the JDO.
It was from the rooftop of A.J. Weberman's apartment building that Levy sprayed lower Manhattan with automatic rifle fire that day in 1989; the two men were named co-defendants in the libel action Levy was attempting to evade. And it was with A.J. Weberman as named co-defendant that Levy and his organization were very recently and successfully sued for libel again -- by a man whom JDO's website had called a "pathological liar" and "psychopath." Six months ago, a Brooklyn, New York, jury unanimously assigned Weberman responsibility for $300,000 of a total $850,000 judgment.
5. A.J. Weberman aside, might Hatfill actually have served a role in the Rhodesian or South African armed forces?
Yes, but the facts are murky and the "racism" now being automatically ascribed to Hatfill in this context is unsubstantiated.
Hatfill first traveled to Africa as a college undergraduate when he took eight months off from school -- at the recommendation of his Methodist pastor, friends say -- to change the bedpans of indigent villagers at a volunteer mission hospital in Zaire. Which is not the sort of thing one would expect to find in the background of a man who, three years later, is supposed to have taken up arms on behalf of Rhodesian white supremacists. Be that as it may, Hatfill next showed up in Africa around the summer of 1978 to begin his M.D. program in Salisbury, Rhodesia (now Harare, Zimbabwe), drawn, those same friends say, by the interest in tropical medicine he'd developed in Zaire, and by the convenience of study in an English-speaking country. Now floating around the Internet is what appears to be a version of Hatfill's curriculum vitae dating from sometime after 1998, and that document refers to "active combat experience with C Squadron Special Air Service" during his medical school years. Also floating around the Internet is what appears to be a biographical sketch Hatfill may once have sent his Southwestern College alumni magazine, which mentions a "military background" in both the SAS and another Rhodesian unit, the Selous Scouts. Finally, Newsweek says that interviews and "military records in Zimbabwe" indicate that Hatfill "did serve in the military in Rhodesia" in some unspecified capacity.
But here things get tricky. Nothing has yet emerged to corroborate Hatfill's association with the Selous Scouts. The Associated Press reports that "sources linked to Rhodesian security forces have no memory of [Hatfill]." A.J. Weberman reports, without explanation or comment, that an "SAS web site" has "denied that [Hatfill] was ever a member" of that squadron. And National Public Radio reports that a forthcoming United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research study by South African expert Chandr Gould will throw "cold water" on any suggestion that Hatfill fought with elite troops of the "white minority government" of Rhodesia -- or had anything to do with an anthrax epidemic. Gould has apparently located and interviewed the man who was Hatfill's direct superior in the Rhodesian army, and that man rejects the notion that Hatfill's duties were at all unusual or important or sinister.
Which stands to reason. Because, though the fact appears to have escaped the attention of everyone else who has so far publicly commented on the subject, by the time Steven Hatfill enrolled at medical school in Rhodesia, the country was no longer governed by a white-minority regime. African Methodist bishop Abel Muzorewa had already taken charge of a biracial transition government, whose majority-black army was fighting a desperate counterinsurgency war against Soviet-bloc-backed guerrillas led by the hideous Robert Mugabe. Before Hatfill's first year of med school was done, Muzorewa had been elected prime minister outright, in a successful popular election protected from violence by the Rhodesian army. And ten months later, in another election, this one highly irregular but also, nevertheless, protected by the Rhodesian army, Mugabe replaced Muzorewa as prime minister and quickly imposed a dictatorship on the newly renamed Zimbabwe. Hatfill would stick around for another four years.
The curriculum vitae alluded to above indicates that while Hatfill was subsequently living in South Africa, which was itself then undergoing a troubled but ultimately triumphant transition to majority rule, he may have been "assigned to" a reserve medical unit of that country's army, and may also have been a "consultant flight surgeon" with an air/sea rescue squadron of its air force. No independent confirmation of these claimed experiences has yet appeared, and nothing more is known about what they might have entailed -- or when, exactly, they might have occurred. It might bear mentioning, however, that Nelson Mandela was president of South Africa when Hatfill finally departed for England and home.
Then, too, it might bear mentioning that some -- or more than some -- of the military adventures attributed to Hatfill could well represent pure fancy or embellishment on his part. Newsweek reports that the U.S. Army Special Forces duty he once claimed on a r sum submitted to NIH was exaggerated; an Army spokesman says Hatfill "flunked out" of Special Forces school after just one month. Relatedly, and potentially more damaging a reflection on his character, the Ph.D. Hatfill listed on that same r sum has never actually been awarded to him for some reason -- though his dissertation research seems incontrovertibly real, having been published and cited in more than one medical journal or report, and though he later took steps to correct his federal personnel records.
Just the same, however discreditable they might be, and assuming that's what we're dealing with here, inaccurate boasts about past accomplishments, even when a man is attempting to secure a government job, are not enough to raise an inference that the fellow is a racist or a murderer.
6 Let's get out of Africa. Hasn't it been established that Hatfill had experience with and access to anthrax while he was working at Fort Detrick?
No. Hatfill maintains that he has never worked with anthrax bacteria or seen a sample of the organism outside of photographs. He further maintains that he knows nothing about either the bug or the disease it causes beyond what he has randomly picked up in the normal course of his scientific career -- and, lately, in the normal course of reading about himself in the newspaper. So far as we know, these avowals remain completely uncontradicted. Which fact cannot by itself, however, resolve the question whether Hatfill might, while at Fort Detrick, have been able secretly to gain access to the installation's anthrax and then steal a quantity of spores; it is next to impossible to prove that something can't have happened. Still, the scenario seems more than a little dubious.
Most of us remember the blizzard of stories that appeared last winter about a history of lax security at the Detrick laboratories. Most of us do not remember that most of the security lapses at issue in those stories, and all of the worst ones, dated back to the early 1990s. And that the principal evidence adduced for those lapses was derived from documents released in connection with an employment-discrimination lawsuit brought against USAMRIID by a scientist who claims the agency had fired him without cause. And that this man, along with another, similarly disgruntled ex-USAMRIID researcher involved in another, similarly bitter wrongful-discharge suit, were the primary quoted sources for last winter's "Fort Detrick in Chaos" exposes.
It is true that even current Fort Detrick scientists, some of them, have lately told reporters that they can conceive of methods by which they might, if they wished, sneak out of the labs with samples of those pathogens they are authorized to use in official experiments. But making off with pathogens they are not authorized to use is a very different matter. Current and former officials familiar with security arrangements at USAMRIID tell The Weekly Standard that the place has considerably tightened up since the early 1990s. Even before last fall's anthrax attacks, key cards issued to Fort Detrick scientists granted them access only to their own labs and associated facilities -- and were programmed to set off security alarms whenever misused. Steven Hatfill was a virology researcher when he worked at Fort Detrick. Consequently, as USAMRIID has publicly confirmed, he was never authorized to enter the bacteriological buildings where anthrax was kept and studied; he was never tasked to perform anthrax-related work of any kind; and he was never issued vials of anthrax for his own, private use.
Finally, as the New York Times reported on June 23, FBI technicians, through some form of radiocarbon dating, seem to have satisfied themselves that last fall's anthrax letters contained powders prepared from a freshly grown batch of bacteria, no more than two years old. If so, that would suggest that the perpetrator cannot have acquired the anthrax spores from which he cultured his weaponry any earlier than September 1999. Hatfill's National Research Council Grant at Fort Detrick, by its formal terms, ended that same month. But according to numerous published reports, Hatfill was no longer working at USAMRIID by then. He had been full-time at SAIC since the previous February.
7 Hasn't it been established that Hatfill had an up-to-date anthrax vaccination at the time last fall's letters were mailed? No. All Fort Detrick laboratory workers are required to undergo vaccinations against a broad range of pathogens, including anthrax bacteria, whether or not it's something they're likely ever to come in contact with. The standard course of immunizations for anthrax involves six initial shots over a period of eighteen months and then one regular booster shot every succeeding year. Hatfill, through his attorneys, says that his last anthrax shot came in late 1999, and that he hasn't had a booster since -- which, if true, means that he was out of sequence and many months overdue for the relevant vaccination when the anthrax killer was putting last fall's powders together. Yes, the scientific literature, such as it is, suggests that anthrax vaccinations may continue to provide certain individuals, in widely varying degrees and according to factors that aren't yet fully understood, with significant protection against disease -- even after a final booster shot has "expired." But that is not a bet you'd think an experienced scientist like Hatfill would be willing to make.
Of course, Hatfill could be lying about his vaccination history. But, so far as anyone can tell, there isn't any basis on which to level such an accusation.
8 Hasn't it been established that Hatfill once commissioned a secret study detailing exactly how a terrorist could effectively ship anthrax through the mail? No. The now-infamous "blueprint" study by retired U.S. bioweapons scientist William Patrick III, commissioned by SAIC on Hatfill's recommendation in February 1999, was treated as a case-breaking blockbuster when its existence was first publicly disclosed more than three months ago. "Whoa, something may be going on here," burbled "bioterrorism expert" Kyle Olson on ABC News; "our attacker may very well have used this report as something of a -- if not a template, then certainly as a rule of thumb." Reactions like Olson's look foolish in retrospect, though. According to the latest published reports, vouched for to The Weekly Standard by a scientist who's read the Patrick study and is familiar with the circumstances under which it was written, the document seems not to have discussed, much less revealed, any sensitive information about how one might best use the postal service to kill someone with anthrax. Rather, Patrick's (very short) report was designed to serve as the first draft of a mass-distribution advisory pamphlet concerning the public health and emergency response issues raised by a then-much- publicized wave of anthrax hoax letters mailed to abortion clinics. Clinic employees around the country were being hosed down with misted bleach by well-meaning but ill-informed local police and ambulance crews. Hatfill, SAIC, and Patrick thought the nation could and should do better.
Whatever technical information was included in Patrick's draft, incidentally, he appears to have put there on his own initiative. Hatfill did not request it. And none of it constituted a missing scientific ingredient for the preparation of anthrax terror letters.
9 If the allegations addressed in items 6 through 8 above haven't any certain foundation, where are they coming from, and why have they so often been repeated as fact by the media, without attribution or elaboration? Excellent question. Each of these "suspicions" about Hatfill -- and many others, too, like the now thoroughly debunked X-Files story concerning a "conveniently located but remote location" where Hatfill skulked around "without risk of observation" last year, only to leave the place "contaminated with anthrax" -- have originated with, or been most aggressively circulated by, Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, a professor of environmental science at the State University of New York in Purchase. We have met Rosenberg before in these pages. But it is time to amend her entry in the anthrax Who's Who. Rosenberg directs a working group on chemical and biological weapons for the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), and so she has generally been identified, here and elsewhere, in news accounts of the FBI's Amerithrax investigation. That practice must end forthwith, because it has become terribly unfair -- to the Federation of American Scientists. At least since mid-June, the group has properly and palpably and publicly recoiled from Rosenberg's heedless, one might even say unscientific, defamation campaign against Steven Hatfill. "I would like to make clear that Rosenberg's remarks on this topic do not represent the views of the Federation of American Scientists," FAS president Henry C. Kelly has announced. "FAS opposes any effort to publicly identify possible suspects or 'persons of interest' in the anthrax investigation outside of a formal law enforcement proceeding," the Federation's website now honorably proclaims.
Rosenberg's most energetic and
irresponsible media accomplice in the Fry Hatfill crusade, Nicholas Kristof,
should need no introduction. And, alas, the institution with which he is
most obviously affiliated definitely does not yet deserve protection or
respite from the criticism his Hatfill work may have engendered. On August
26, New York Times editorial page editor Gail Collins briefly descended
from Olympus to tell the rest of us mortals what the paper of record thinks
about the many fascinating ethical questions raised by Kristof's months-long
series of Hatfill slanders. Collins said this: "We have confidence in our
columnists." Which is an unfathomable journalistic
Kristof has passed many of Barbara
Hatch Rosenberg's rumors about Hatfill directly onto the pages of the nation's
most important newspaper, with hardly a paraphrase, and without ever once
giving the man an opportunity to explain himself in advance. Some of Rosenberg's
fairy tales Kristof has actually "improved," as when, in the July 2 Times,
he proposed that Hatfill's "isolated residence" may have been a "safe house
10 Where will the Hatfill investigation go from here?
Hard to predict. One does detect signs, however, that even the most obsessional of Hatfill's private-sector stalkers -- and the Justice Department officials whose recent indiscretions make them look very much like stalkers, too -- have started to feel pangs of nervousness about the project. Okay, maybe not A.J. Weberman. But Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, while still ridiculous and screechy as ever, is suddenly squirmy and defensive, as well. "No question, it was the FBI who outed him," she feebly insists. "I have never said or written anything that pointed only to one specific person. If anyone sees parallels, that's their opinion." Yeah, sure, lady. Nicholas Kristof mumbles briefly to the Baltimore Sun, "I stand by the columns." But he is otherwise nothing but gooey, hypocritical piety: There must be "a genuine assumption that [Hatfill] is an innocent man caught up in a nightmare" -- and we don't want to go ruining people's lives "by tossing their names out there before they've been subject to any kind of criminal process," do we? Tu quoque, mister.
One "law enforcement official" admits to the Los Angeles Times that, "to be honest, we don't have anybody that is real good [as a possible anthrax suspect]. That is why so much energy has gone into Hatfill -- because we didn't have anybody else." Other "senior law enforcement officials" express "embarrassment" to the New York Times over last week's e-mail directive to Louisiana State University, acknowledging that the Justice Department "acted improperly" by demanding the firing of a man who isn't even technically suspected of a crime. Yet another "senior Justice Department official" tells the Wall Street Journal that Attorney General Ashcroft "blundered" when he called Hatfill a "person of interest."
Fine, honest words, all of them. But to what practical effect, at this point? How many millions of Americans, you wonder, must already have seen a nightly telecast or two, noticed a lowered voice about "Rhodesia" or an eyebrow raised about "bloodhounds," and moved quickly from these hints to the only and obvious and probably indelible impression: that Steven J. Hatfill, M.D., must be some kind of monster?
11 Should we be ready to exonerate him, then? Should the FBI no longer be thinking about Dr. Hatfill at all?
That's not the point, really. If it's truly the case that "we don't have anybody that is real good" -- if the Justice Department, after a massive, historically unprecedented hunt for evidence, still isn't ready to consider ruling anybody in as a serious suspect in the anthrax murders -- well, then it can't, as a matter of prudence, be ready to rule all that many people out as suspects, either. Some terrorist or group of terrorists has sent virulent bacteria through the mail and killed five Americans more or less at random. The FBI can't very well simply stop looking for the perpetrator. The FBI has to keep nosing widely around. It has to keep checking out "persons of interest," in the old-fashioned, informal, pre-Hatfill sense of the term. And in the old-fashioned, informal, pre-Hatfill sense of the term, yes, Hatfill himself might well be such a person.
But he might simultaneously be as innocent as a lamb. And if so, the way things have worked out, hasn't he been done a horrible wrong?
Under the system of justice we're supposed to enjoy, according to the canons of journalism we're supposed to observe, and by the rules of simple decency A.J. Weberman and Barbara Hatch Rosenberg's mommies are supposed to have taught them, none of us at this point should ever have heard the name Steven J. Hatfill.
David Tell is opinion editor at The Weekly Standard
on Mon, Sep. 09, 2002
investigation at AMI still `day-by-day'
BOCA RATON - Federal investigators continued their sampling Sunday at the anthrax-infected offices of American Media Inc., said John Florence, spokesman for the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). ''We're still going day-by-day,'' he said.
The 14-day search warrant, officials said, expires Wednesday. Florence said he didn't know if the FBI will ask for an extension. ''It's been an exceptionally smooth-run operation,'' he said.
Teams of FBI investigators and ATSDR scientists have spent two weeks sweeping the building for anthrax spores and looking for letters presumed to have delivered the deadly powder that killed photo editor Bob Stevens.
For the past several days, workers' samplings have been more focused since they are driven by previous results, Florence said.
on Tue, Sep. 10, 2002
Feds still stumped by source of anthrax in Boca
BY DAVID KIDWELL
Nearly a year after the first man died from a series of anthrax-laced mailings, an army of frustrated federal sleuths has come full circle and is right back where it started -- inside the Boca Raton headquarters of the tabloid publishing giant AMI.
Apparently no closer to an arrest than they were on Oct. 5 -- when Sun photo editor Bob Stevens became the first of five to die from the posted spores -- some federal sources suggest the return to Boca Raton is the equivalent of football's Hail Mary pass, a last-ditch effort in an extensive probe some insiders now compare to the two-decade-long hunt for Unabomber Theodore Kaczyanski.
Few hold out much hope they will find the first elusive anthrax-laced letter inside the building that once published supermarket tabloids such as The National Enquirer and Weekly World News.
And, sources say, even if they get lucky and do find the missing letter, no one can predict how it might help.
''It's a fair assessment,'' said one senior-level federal law enforcement source familiar with the probe. ``I think many of us are resigned to the fact this could be another Unabomber case.
''The only way we may ever find this guy is if he says the wrong thing to the wrong person at the wrong time,'' the source said. ``That could be next week. It could be eight years. It could be two decades.''
Hector Pesquera, special agent in charge of the Miami FBI office, declined comment, an office spokesman said.
The investigation of the anthrax attacks has cost millions and historically, according to the FBI, it ranks second in intensity only to that of the Sept. 11 terrorist hijackings.
Nearly 2,000 subpoenas have been served, hundreds of polygraphs taken, new science has been developed. Agents throughout the country have attempted to trace every single prescription to antibiotics that could be used to immunize the culprit from anthrax infection.
The result: A refined theory of the type of person they are looking for and a wide list of suspects that many in federal law enforcement believe may very well include the name of their man.
''There is a limited list of suspects,'' one federal source said. ``The thinking is the person could be on that list, and now it's a process of elimination.''
The size of the list changes, sources say. At its smallest, it had fewer than 50 names.
Many of the people on it live in the United States. Many are disgruntled former government employees or people who had access to anthrax in private agricultural companies or universities. They are men with some level of scientific knowledge, perhaps even capable of developing the anthrax bacteria on their own.
In recent weeks, the FBI has publicly confirmed the name of one person on that list -- Dr. Steven Hatfill, a germ warfare specialist who worked at the Army's biological weapons defense laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md., for two years ending in 1999. He lost his security clearance two months before the attacks, in part because of inconsistencies in his résumé.
Hatfill has voluntarily submitted to two FBI searches of his home and has offered to give blood samples and take lie detector tests. Since the disclosure of his name as a ''person of interest'' by the FBI, Hatfill has gone on the offensive.
He even staged a news conference last month to declare his innocence. Earlier this month, Louisiana State University fired him after the federal government told the school it would bar him from working on U.S. programs.
Sources have acknowledged that they have no physical evidence to suggest Hatfill is the anthrax attacker.
But scrutiny has closely followed former employees of two military facilities where the particular strain of anthrax, the Ames strain, was stored and researched -- Fort Detrick and the Dugway Proving Grounds in the Utah desert.
The type of anthrax powder mailed to U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy and Sen. Tom Daschle last fall bears remarkable similarities to anthrax developed and stored in those facilities. But some within the academic community say the minute biological differences between the anthrax mailings and the military anthrax open a world of different possibilities.
''I don't think it's possible to say beyond a doubt that this anthrax came from those facilities,'' said Dr. Martin Hugh-Jones, a leading anthrax expert at LSU in Baton Rouge.
Federal authorities also base their prevailing theory that the attacker is domestic on their extensive and failed effort to link it to foreign biological warfare research. There is no evidence that Iraq, or any other country considered hostile, ever obtained the Ames strain, government sources have told The New York Times.
Last month, the FBI announced plans to re-enter the AMI headquarters to look again for the letter or letters that prompted the death of Stevens and near death of mail room worker Ernesto Blanco.
Federal authorities theorize that because no anthrax spores were found in garbage receptacles that led out of the building, there is a strong likelihood it remains in the building, although, so far, the searches have yielded no smoking gun.
It is only by chance that federal authorities are able to conduct the search. The government released the building to AMI last year with the proviso that it not be occupied until a thorough cleanup approved by the Environmental Protection Agency.
AMI executives have been trying to get rid of the building ever since, company spokesman Gerald McKelvey said. He said AMI was unable to find a private company either willing or qualified for such a cleanup.
The company has been so frustrated by its efforts to deal with the problem they have even offered to give the building to the government.
Department of Injustice?
by Reed Irvine
The Justice Department's treatment of Dr. Steven J. Hatfill has been so shameful that it is an embarrassment. The FBI, apparently desperate to find someone to charge in the anthrax murders case or cases, decided to focus on Dr. Hatfill for three reasons: (1) He had worked at Fort Detrick, where work on agents, like anthrax, that may be used in biowarfare is carried out; (2) He had written an unpublished novel about a germ warfare attack on Congress; and (3) He had been asked, at a dinner to which he had been invited, about the anthrax attacks and about Cipro, the medicine recommended for those who may have been exposed to the spores.
At Fort Detrick, Dr. Hatfill never worked with anthrax spores. He worked with viruses. His unpublished novel, which was submitted for a copyright four years ago, was about an Iraqi terrorist spreading bubonic plague, not anthrax. There were probably thousands of dinner-table conversations throughout the country in which the subject of anthrax was brought up and medical doctors were asked about the effectiveness of Cipro.
Fearing that if they called Dr. Hatfill a suspect, they would have another Richard Jewell case on their hands, the FBI behaved as though he was a suspect while describing him as "a person of interest." [The FBI had treated Jewell as a suspect in the Olympic bombing case in Atlanta and were forced to admit they were wrong.]
Hatfill's longtime friend, journalist Patrick Clawson, has emerged as his spokesman. Clawson described the FBI's behavior as "one of the most egregious abuses of government power" that he had seen in the 27 years he has been in Washington. He describes Hatfill as a loyal American with no criminal record who had been granted security clearances. Susan Schmidt, a veteran Washington Post reporter, wrote that "no physical evidence" had been found to implicate Hatfill. There was nothing that could bear the weight of the FBI's suspicions.
Clawson says Dr. Hatfill is a patriot and a hawk when it comes to defending America who would like to see more attention paid to the question of biowarfare and how to defend against it. Clawson totally rejects the idea that Hatfill would stage a deadly anthrax attack to try to focus attention on the need for stronger biowarfare defense.
The FBI's way of generating suspicion of Dr. Hatfill is despicable. They have searched his apartment near Fort Detrick twice. Reporters and camera crews were there when they made the second search, which involved the use of bloodhounds. It was reported that the bloodhounds went crazy when they entered Hatfill's apartment, supposedly because they detected scents there that were on envelopes in which anthrax had been mailed. This has been questioned by bloodhound handlers, and an FBI spokesman says they gave no such information to the media. A knowledgeable source says what was reported was completely wrong.
Dr. Hatfill says the FBI has ruined his life. It is too early to say that, but they, with an assist from the Department of Justice, have at least destroyed his livelihood. He had been teaching classes for the Louisiana State University National Center for Biomedical Research and Training. The center hires instructors to train emergency personnel around the country on how to deal with biowarfare agents. On July 1, Dr. Hatfill was appointed associate director of the center at a salary of $150,000 a year, and he recently moved to Baton Rouge.
It has been revealed that 97 percent of the center's funding is provided by the Department of Justice. On August 1, Justice sent an e-mail to Stephen L. Guillot, the director of the center, ordering him to "cease and desist" from using Hatfill on Justice Department-funded projects. Guillot complied. He ceased using Hatfill, placing him on administrative leave with pay the next day. He didn't notify all the top officials at LSU about the Justice Department e-mail until Sept. 3. Then Hatfill was fired immediately, and Guillot was fired the next day, effective Oct. 4.
Being "a person of interest" to the FBI is not a crime. Putting "a person of interest" on paid administrative leave is not a crime. Hatfill and Guillot have been punished severely for "committing" these non-crimes. It is true that Hatfill embellished his resume by claiming some honors he didn't have, but that does not justify the treatment that he and Stephen Guillot have received to satisfy the FBI and bureaucrats in what some think should be called the Department of Injustice.
Reed Irvine is chairman of Accuracy in Media.
finishes searching AMI building for clues
By Neil Santaniello
September 11, 2002
BOCA RATON · The FBI concluded its investigation of the anthrax-contaminated American Media Inc. building on Tuesday, withdrawing from the site 12 days after entering it to search for more clues in the unsolved crime.
"I can confirm that we finished up today, and that we have left," Judy Orihuela, an FBI spokeswoman in Miami, said Tuesday.
She said she could not comment further on the pullout. Federal investigators have provided little information about their searches and the taking of hundreds of samples from the building. Nor have they said whether they accomplished one important goal: finding the source of the anthrax that killed Sun photo editor Bob Stevens last fall.
Investigators had access to the quarantined, three-story building on Broken Sound Boulevard until today, the deadline agents set in their search warrant for completing their work. The operation was led by the FBI and involved investigators from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Searchers looked for the letter or package they thought delivered anthrax to the tabloid publishing building and its employees, its path through the building and evidence pointing to the target of that deadly mailing.
They came armed with new technology to determine the amounts and locations of anthrax spores.
The parking lot in front of AMI, once abuzz with people and activity, was nearly deserted Tuesday. A few people milled around. A Boca Raton Police Department bus, some office trailers and a small blue tent remained.
Federal officials have never disclosed how many people had combed the 70,000-square-foot building.
Boca Raton Mayor Steven Abrams said the city wants to know whether the FBI intends to return to the building, because that affects efforts to move forward and purge it of anthrax.
Stevens died from inhaling anthrax spores. Another AMI employee, mailroom worker Ernesto Blanco, also contracted inhalation anthrax, but recovered.
AMI spokesman Gerald McKelvey said the end of the FBI search had no real reverberations for AMI.
"We had a very relaxed relationship with them, it's not a big deal as far as we're concern," he said. "It's not like we're using that building for anything."
Washington legislators, meanwhile, are seeking a federal cleanup of the site. U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida is pushing legislation to have the federal government take over the building or help with the cleanup.
After the quarantine, American Media moved to rented offices to publish its six supermarket tabloids, including the National Enquirer, Globe and Weekly World News.
Overall the search this time around was "highly successful" and somewhat groundbreaking, said John Florence, a spokesman for the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
"This was the first time that FBI agents had worked literally side-by-side with public health scientists," Florence said. "People were determined to get results out of the time we had available."
Neil Santaniello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 561-243-6625.
Copyright © 2002, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
hunters' next job: Checking 5,000 samples
By JOHN MURAWSKI, Palm Beach Post
BOCA RATON -- The FBI took nearly 5,000 evidence samples during its search of the quarantined National Enquirer headquarters for new anthrax clues, the agency said Wednesday.
The FBI was operating under a 14-day search warrant as part of a criminal investigation into last year's fatal anthrax mailings that killed five people.
Investigators removed unspecified items for "further forensic examination" from the three-story building owned by supermarket tabloid publisher American Media Inc.
"These results will provide the FBI with valuable data to further advance the ongoing investigation of last year's anthrax attacks," the FBI said in a statement.
The building in the Arvida Park of Commerce "has been turned back over to AMI, so they're free to do whatever they want to do with it," FBI spokeswoman Judy Orihuela said.
At this point, the agency has no plans to seek another search warrant and resume its search for additional evidence, Orihuela said.
The FBI did not reveal whether any of the items it removed included the letter or letters that are believed to have delivered the anthrax spores that killed AMI photo editor Bob Stevens in October.
FBI investigators and scientists from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry began searching the building Aug. 30.
It was the largest effort of collecting hazardous material evidence in the history of the FBI's Hazardous Materials Response Unit, created in 1996.
finds 800 anthrax-tainted AMI letters
By JOHN MURAWSKI and LARRY LIPMAN,
Palm Beach Post Staff Writers
BOCA RATON -- In search of a letter that could have caused the death of photo editor Bob Stevens, the FBI has carted out more than 800 anthrax-tainted letters from The National Enquirer's quarantined headquarters, court records show.
Focusing on the first-floor mail room, the FBI did not take any items from the third-floor office area where Stevens worked before he became the nation's first inhalation anthrax fatality in 25 years, the agency said in a 34-page inventory filed in federal court in Washington.
The disclosure caps the FBI's second search of the anthrax-contaminated Boca Raton building since Stevens died in October. Four others outside Florida were killed by anthrax mailings after Stevens.
Revealing sparse details about its work, the FBI publicly has hailed its search as a major success. Nearly 5,000 pieces of evidence were collected under a 14-day search warrant, the agency said Wednesday.
But much remains unclear. FBI spokesman Chris Murray would not say Thursday whether the agency achieved one of its main goals: to find a letter that is presumed to have delivered the anthrax spores that killed Stevens.
He also would not say how the materials were removed or where they are being stored.
In addition to the letters, the FBI also seized 33 mail-cart folders, 12 mail-room shelves, 11 mail-slot vacuum samplings and 11 box tops collected throughout the mail room.
Most of the removed items the FBI listed in its inventory were air filters, culture plates and air samplers used in the search. Those are items FBI agents, working with scientists from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, had brought into the building.
In addition, the FBI took two vacuum samples and six carpet samples.
Agents also took a green trash bag containing 769 pieces of mail that had tested positive for anthrax last year and was set aside in AMI's underground parking garage.
Another 42 letters were taken from sorting bins. The FBI also collected an "unknown amount" of mail from mail cubbyholes.
The mail was largely contest mail sent in by readers hoping to win prizes.
The FBI also took broom heads and dust-mop heads as well as a "mophead from wet type mop," the court papers say, but AMI officials did not know whether those items came from AMI's janitorial supplies or whether the FBI brought them in as part of its investigation.
Many parts of the building remained untouched by the seizures, including AMI's photo library collection containing 5 million images and slides, 4.5 million pages of newspaper clippings and 600,000 pages of bound copies of periodicals dating back three decades.
The letters and other items taken from the office will undergo further forensic testing as part of the FBI's 11-month-old probe, the agency told AMI officials.
"We have been assured by the FBI that the purpose of recovering the letters is to determine if they have traces of anthrax," AMI spokesman Gerald McKelvey said.
The presence of anthrax in the building was never in question. Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency found 84 areas in the building with trace residue of anthrax. The Palm Beach County Health Department quarantined the building as a public health hazard.
But the FBI wanted to search the building a second time. The agency was eager to use the building as a living laboratory to test new investigative techniques that had been recently developed for use on biochemical hazard sites. The FBI also wanted to trace anthrax trails throughout the building to determine how the spores entered and how they spread.
At least two weeks passed between the time officials believe anthrax entered the building and the time the office was shut down, health officials have concluded.
During that time, some 350 employees continued to work there and janitorial crews cleaned and vacuumed every day.
After the building was closed, the air conditioner kept running to prevent heat and humidity from damaging AMI property, according to the company's request for a cleanup cost estimate.
"Therefore conditions related to the location and amounts of anthrax bacteria may be different than previously documented by EPA and FBI," AMI said in the document to toxic waste companies.
at AMI traveled via copiers
By John Murawski, Palm Beach Post
BOCA RATON -- FBI investigators believe photocopy machines helped spread anthrax throughout the American Media Inc. headquarters last year before the building was quarantined.
While testing the three-story building for anthrax spores, investigators found that every copy machine in the building -- more than two dozen in all -- tested positive for anthrax, according to a source familiar with the investigation.
The anthrax is believed to have gotten into the copiers from reams of copy paper that had trapped airborne spores in the company's mail room, where the paper was stored.
The FBI's theory helps explain for the first time the presence of anthrax throughout the 68,000-square-foot building.
Since AMI photo editor Bob Stevens died last October and AMI mail room employee Ernesto Blanco was hospitalized, officials surmised the anthrax might have been spread by a rolling mail cart used to deliver the letters to AMI departments.
More important, the FBI's discoveries will lay the foundation for an emerging branch of science that studies anthrax dispersal in public buildings.
Anthrax previously had been studied as a livestock disease or in the context of biochemical warfare on the battlefield.
"No doubt, whatever they discover will be significant, because it will be a onetime opportunity to see what happened," said Dr. Keith Ward, program manager in the Biomolecular and Biosystems Group at the federal Office of Naval Research in Virginia. "The problem is we don't have a lot of experience with this sort of thing."
The FBI search operation, which began Aug. 27 and ended last Sunday, was the first comprehensive search of the supermarket tabloid's publishing office, the FBI said.
The Environmental Protection Agency last year had detected trace residues of anthrax in 84 spots in the building in a partial search.
One of the FBI's objectives this time was to map the entire AMI building for anthrax distribution.
The agency said it would use newly developed forensic techniques to determine how the anthrax spread through the building once it was brought in.
Officials surmised last year that anthrax entered the building in at least two letters, because of anthrax contamination at two different post offices that served the building.
Once investigators realized the copy machines were contaminated, they traced the anthrax back to its point of origin: an open storage area in AMI's first-floor mail room.
Apparently, someone in the mail room opened a letter containing anthrax, which dispersed the microscopic particles. The spores settled on the company's supply of copy paper.
Anthrax spores tend to stick to surfaces upon settling, said Palm Beach County Health Department spokesman Tim O'Connor. The spores can detach from surfaces, but loosening the particles requires sufficient force.
This adhesive quality was described to local health officials by anthrax experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during last year's anthrax crisis in Palm Beach County.
"Once it falls, it stays," O'Connor said. "It was stuck to the keyboard in Stevens' office. It stuck in the machinery that sorts the mail in post offices."
According to the FBI's reconstruction of events, AMI employees unwittingly distributed the clinging spores throughout the building when taking reams of copy paper to every department in the building, including AMI's library, executive offices and such publications as The National Enquirer, Weekly World News and National Examiner, which were published in the building.
When the copy paper was inserted into the machines and used to make copies, investigators believe, the spores dislodged and were "aerosolized" into the atmosphere by the whirring fans and other moving parts of the high-speed copiers.
FBI investigators, working with scientists from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, removed nearly 5,000 pieces of evidence during their search of the building.
The property seizures included more than 800 letters tainted with anthrax as well as shelves and folders from AMI's mail room.
However, no copy machines were removed from the building, according to a 34-page inventory the FBI filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Washington.
It's not clear whether the FBI took any items from the photocopying areas. The FBI's court filing lists two vacuum samples and six carpet samples, but it doesn't disclose where they came from. The court papers also list several broom heads and mop heads.