Archived Articles from THE NEW YORK POST



November 1, 2001 -- EXCLUSIVE 

Threatening letters mailed to the media before the World Trade Center attacks - bearing striking similarities to the current anthrax-tainted letters - were mailed from Indianapolis, where the deadly bacteria was discovered yesterday, The Post has learned. 

The pre-Sept. 11 letters were addressed in block letters that virtually match the lettering on the anthrax-laced missives sent to Sen. Thomas Daschle, the New York Post and NBC, law-enforcement sources said. 

One source allowed The Post to see copies of envelopes from several of the earlier letters. 

Each line of the printed address clearly sloped downward to the right and the handwriting eerily resembled that on the anthrax letters. 

Federal investigators checked the return addresses on the letters, the sources said, but none of them was real. 

The return address on one letter - addressed to Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly - listed the name of Sean Hannity, another FNC personality. 

Despite the obvious twisted humor, that letter and about 15 more now are a major focus of the far-flung federal probe, the sources say. 

The similarities between the pre-Sept. 11 and post-Twin Tower disaster letters has further fueled a theory at the FBI and Justice Department that the anthrax scare is the work of a twisted home-grown menace rather than a terrorist linked to state-sponsored action or Osama bin Laden. 

Source say investigators are eyeing a number of groups, including radical members of a pagan cult. 

The Wiccan group fashions itself as modern-day witches seeking religious freedom, but they are not known to be violent. 

Investigators are probing whether a disturbed member of the group may have taken a bizarre turn and is targeting the media and the government in particular. 

Indiana officials yesterday said that it was a coincidence they tested for - and found - traces of anthrax in a facility that repairs parts from sorting machines used by the U.S. Postal Service. 

Inspectors initially started testing for the deadly bacteria in another repair facility, in Topeka, Kan., after several workers experienced flu-like symptoms, said Darla Stafford, spokeswoman for the Greater Indianapolis post office. 

She said inspectors then tested in Indianapolis as a precaution because parts from an anthrax-affected post office in Washington, D.C. were recently repaired there.


January 13, 2002 -- WASHINGTON - Amateur detectives have joined the anthrax investigation as the FBI continues to run into dead ends in the three-month hunt for the culprit who terrified the nation. 

Distinguished scientists, bounty hunters and conspiracy theorists are among the army of sleuths that has begun searching for evidence to expose the terrorist who mailed the anthrax-tainted letters to politicians and media outlets last year. 

Some are encouraged by the $1.25 million reward offered jointly by the FBI and U.S. Postal Service for solving the case. Others are doing it as a hobby. 

And their unofficial investigations have partly been encouraged by the FBI. 

From early on, the bureau solicited help from the public, adding a red button labeled "Submit a Tip" to the elaborate Web site it has dedicated to the investigation the FBI calls Amerithrax. 

Along with a flag-draped logo, photos of the anthrax letters and sound files of FBI experts discussing the case, the bureau's anthrax Web site includes a lengthy handwriting and behavioral analysis of the perpetrator. 

Never before has the FBI made public such extensive material on an unsolved case, said spokeswoman Tracey Silberling. That is partly because of the new technical possibilities offered by the Internet, but mostly because of the nature of the anthrax probe, she said. 

"In the interest of public safety and educating the public about the threat, we've made as much information as possible available," Silberling said. 

"We're also seeking the public's assistance by making information available that might ring a bell with someone." 

Silberling said the bureau has received "hundreds of tips" from the public, but declined to say whether any have proved useful.

Among the part-time sleuths who have joined the hunt is Richard Smith, a computer-security expert in Massachusetts who has earned a reputation in the computer world for helping track down those responsible for unleashing computer viruses. 

Smith says the nine-digit ZIP codes on the anthrax letters could be a crucial clue - as well as the ersatz return address, a made-up elementary school. If the attacker used the Internet to collect his information, he might have left an electronic trail, the 48-year-old investigator says. 

In addition to his own research, Smith has created a Web site called "The Anthrax Conspiracy Theories Page," which includes links to the work of fellow amateur detectives. 

Ed Lake of Racine, Wis., is a 64-year-old retired computer-system designer who writes screenplays. 

He began his part-time investigation because he found the anthrax mystery "fascinating." 

"All these facts were scattered all over the place. But no one was putting them together," he said. 

So Lake took on that job himself, putting together an extensive anthrax-investigation Web site, which he updates and corrects as new evidence is reported. 

"There are so many clues out there - so many odd things," Lake said.

Mon Apr 29, 1:10 AM ET 
The New York Post Editorial

Remember last fall's anthrax attacks? 

We sure do. 

"They" - whoever "they" are - tried to kill us. 

That's not easily forgotten - nor forgiven. 

In the event, the anthrax spores delivered to The Post through the mail last September infected three staffers - each of whom has recovered nicely. 

Still, we've been following the investigation - to the extent that reliable information has been forthcoming. 

There hasn't been a lot. 

But now comes an exhaustive report on the anthrax attacks, courtesy of The Weekly Standard - substantially reproduced on these pages. 

Yes, the piece is tough going in parts. 

Stick with it, though - because the report makes it difficult to deny that the anthrax attacks were carried out in an organized manner by disciplined terrorists, with the assistance of a foreign state. 

Now, it's just possible that the FBI (news - web sites) is waiting to reveal the involvement in the attacks of, say, Saddam Hussein (news - web sites), until a time when the government needs to galvanize support for an attack on Iraq. 

It's also possible that the FBI continues to fixate on the chimera of a domestic source, and to avoid the indications that the anthrax came from abroad, because the bureau is still shot through with incompetence. 

(Certainly the fact that the agency has failed even to interview our anthrax victims, nearly six months after the fact, inspires little confidence.) 

Perhaps, as columnist John Podhoretz suggests this morning, the FBI is hoping that the anthrax campaign can be pinned on a militia group or the equivalent of the Unabomber in order to justify retroactively the FBI's quick trigger-fingers at Waco and Ruby Ridge. 

But, as the Standard reports, a great deal of evidence points the other way. 

  * It turns out that one of the 9/11 hijackers, Ahmed Ibrahim Al Haznawi, visited a Fort Lauderdale emergency room last June with what The New York Times reported was an apparent anthrax lesion on his left leg. (We speak from experience: The wound is distinctive!) 

  * It also seems that journalists from the National Enquirer, the first media organization to suffer a confirmed anthrax attack, frequented the same Florida bar as some of the 9/11 hijackers. 

Coincidence? Pretty long odds against that. 

Moreover, the handwriting and the language of the anthrax-tainted letters suggests that they were not written by a native English speaker. 

And many of the arguments put forward to suggest a domestic source are simply foolish. 

For instance, the FBI and other domestic-conspiracy theorists assert that the letters originated in America because they contained no saliva traces - as if anyone would lick an envelope containing anthrax spores! 

Then there's the matter of the origin of the anthrax by determining its "strain" - or how it was "weaponized." 

It was widely reported that the anthrax powder mailed in the fall was identical to that once made in U.S. military laboratories, and that it lacked an additive favored by Soviet and Iraqi labs. Neither turns out to be true. 

Finally, there is the bizarre choice of targets: a politically conservative newspaper; liberal television personalities; a more liberal U.S. senator; a supermarket tabloid. How likely is it that the senders of anthrax knew much about American media or politics? 

Let's face it: It is extremely unlikely that the anthrax attacks were - or could have been - mounted by a rogue government scientist, Idaho skinhead or Ted Kaczynski wannabe sitting in a basement. 

In the matter of complicated questions, it usually makes sense to opt for the least complicated answers. 

 nd both motive and means speak to the likelihood of a foreign source for last fall's anthrax attacks. 

This substantially increases the degree of difficulty in mounting an appropriate response to the mailings - and it suggests that a repeat performance can be expected whenever it suits the aggressor's purposes. 

A disquieting notion, to be sure - and, again, we speak from a particular experience. 

Sadly, we have no answers this morning - just a growing conviction that Washington, and the FBI in particular, aren't even asking questions. 

COLUMN Opinion by John Podhoretz

April 29, 2002 -- THERE are two great unanswered mysteries following Sept. 11. The first is: Who is the party responsible for distributing anthrax through the mails, killing 5 people and traumatizing tens of millions of Americans?  The second mystery: Why was the FBI so certain so quickly that the anthrax was made here in the United States by an American? 

As David Tell explains in his definitive article on the anthrax crisis, that certainty has proved an illusion, as an extensive investigation into a supposed domestic attacker has turned up nothing so far that we know of. 

It was a weird assumption to begin with. The United States had just been attacked by a terrorist group based in Afghanistan, and there was reason to believe that al Qaeda had been consulting with Saddam Hussein (based on Czech intelligence reports). Everyone in America seemed certain the anthrax was connected to the terrorists - everyone, that is, except federal law-enforcement officials. 

I believe the FBI's certainty was based on organizationalvanity, bureaucratic entropy and a hunger to rewrite the past. 

Organizational vanity: Almost from the outset, we were told that the notes accompanying the anthrax envelopes were written by an American trying to sound like a Muslim. In short order, FBI sources were leaking a full-out portrait of this hidden American: A crazed loner and brilliant chemical engineer who must have worked at a government facility. 

This portrait may have been off-base. But the FBI loved it and leaked it because the FBI loves to do "profiling." 

We all know about FBI profiling from movies like "Silence of the Lambs." It's a strange amalgam of historical crime theory and pop psychologizing. The work done by profilers in Quantico, Va., is glamorous and headline-grabbing. 

The act of designing a "psychological profile" of a psychotic or schizophrenic killer based on limited evidence and knowledge seems wondrous and magical. But it's fundamentally nonsense, the conversion of psychological theory into paint-by-numbers fact. Still, it makes the FBI look good, the way it does in the movies and on TV. And the FBI is desperate to look good. 

Bureaucratic entropy: The FBI is an agency whose mission is national domestic crime-fighting. Over the past 10 or 15 years, it has aggressively sought to infiltrate homegrown terrorist groups with extremist views on matters like taxation and immigration As a result, the FBI knows more about extremist American groups than it does about, say, Muslim extremists here with links to Muslim extremists abroad. 

The FBI was concerned about the possibility of homegrown extremists developing interests in chemical warfare. So it seems to have grafted its own longstanding ideas about the nature of terrorists and terrorism onto Sept. 11, which offered an entirely new model of terrorist warfare on the United States. Consider the fact that the FBI portrait of the anthrax killer sounds a lot like Ted Kaczynski, the modernity-hating Unabomber, and you can see the way bureaucratic entropy can stifle creative new thinking. 

A hunger to rewrite the past: The FBI came to believe that America was being threatened by domestic extremists, but its effort to weed them out brought intense criticism.  Federal law-enforcement agencies are still reeling from the disasters of the early 1990s, when the sieges at Ruby Ridge and Waco ended with the death of innocents at the hands of government agents. 

The FBI considers the criticism it and its brother agencies have received in the wake of those two calamities profoundly unfair (and in many respects they are right to do so). The discovery of a domestic extremist who had successfully unsettled and tortured a nation with anthrax might help cleanse and salve the wound at the FBI. 

In some weird, unconscious way, such a discovery might offer a retroactive emotional justification for the excesses of Ruby Ridge and Waco - because it would prove that wackoes in the woods really are worth getting all excited about. 

These are theories, mind you, based on long observation of the FBI. I may be wrong. But then, evidently, so is the FBI when it has come to its peculiar anthrax investigation.



August 13, 2002 --  WASHINGTON - A month before the first anthrax-laced letters were mailed, the bio-warfare expert now at the center of the probe failed a CIA-administered polygraph test over questions surrounding his mysterious past with a secret commando force in Rhodesia, The Post has learned. 

Dr. Steven Hatfill, 48, the former Army bio-weapons expert publicly named as a "person of interest" in the federal anthrax probe, told friends and colleagues that flunking the lie-detector test cost him his security clearance and his job. 

FBI officials say they have no physical evidence that connects Hatfill to the letters mailed last September and October. 

But Hatfill remains one of 12 bio-warfare scientists under investigation, and law-enforcement officials say the loss of his job at the giant defense contractor Science Applications International Corp. remains a focus of the investigation. 

Hatfill called a press conference Sunday to deny he was responsible and to blast the government for destroying his career. 

He said he lost his job at the McClean, Va.-based firm in March because journalists began calling company officials, "all but accusing me of mailing the anthrax letters." 

But law-enforcement officials and Hatfill's former colleagues at the company gave a different account. 

They claimed that in August 2001, Hatfill had an opportunity to work on a huge CIA-sponsored project for the company and had to "upgrade" his low-level government security clearance for the job. 

But when Hatfill failed the polygraph, even his existing clearance was revoked. 

Company officials say they gave him six months to get it restored, and fired him in March because he was unable to do so. 

The CIA has refused comment on the polygraph. 

But Hatfill told colleagues at the time that he failed questions about how he responded to the 1977 death of his father-in-law and mentor, Dr. Glen Eschtruth. 

Eschtruth, a doctor connected to the Methodist Church, was executed in a village in Zaire in April 1977 when it was invaded by mercenaries participating in a conflict in neighboring Angola. 

Hatfill has claimed he had combat experience with a commando unit of the Rhodesian armed forces fighting against black nationalists in the country now called Zimbabwe. 

His tenure there has also drawn scrutiny because of a "Greendale School" listed as the New Jersey return address on some of the anthrax letters. 

While no Greendale School exists in New Jersey, a school in the Greendale suburb of Harare, Zimbabwe, is informally known as the Greendale school. 

It's actually named for a white Rhodesian fighter Courtney Selous - and the Rhodesian commando unit Hatfill joined was called the Selous Scouts. 

Meanwhile, anthrax spores have been found in a Princeton mailbox tested after workers at a regional mail-sorting facility contracted the bacteria in October, Gov. James McGreevey said yesterday. 

The mailbox was removed last week. 

It's one of 600 mailboxes that fed the regional facility chosen to be swabbed for anthrax spores. Officials said 39 still have to be tested.

The New York Post (Editorial)


September 7, 2002 -- The FBI and the Justice Department had better come up with a case against Dr. Steven Hatfill - and they'd better make it stick. 

Otherwise, Hatfill - who's been named a "person of interest" in the FBI's interminable anthrax probe - will be taking the feds to the cleaners when a jury gets hold of the lawsuit he's sure to file. 

In recent weeks, the bioweapons expert - who has not even been named as a suspect - has been subjected to a very public vilification, courtesy of the feds. 

Actually, he's only one of 30 people under investigation.  But only his name has been made public. 

Now, it appears the folks at Justice have successfully pressured Louisiana State University to fire Hatfill from his job as director of its National Center for Biomedical Research and Training. 

LSU announced Tuesday that Hatfill was out of a job, effective immediately, "in the best interest of LSU." 

What the university didn't initially reveal is that the university was sent an e-mail from the Justice Department ordering it to "cease and desist" using Hatfill on any projects the department funds. 

Unfortunately for Hatfill, the LSU center gets most of its money from the Justice Department. 

So first he was placed on administration leave. Twenty-four hours later, Hatfill was given the boot. 

This, plain and simple, is over-the-top, outrageous behavior. 

Already, Hatfill has been subjected to the kind of prejudicial public behavior that - even if he is eventually charged - could cost the government its case. 

Every search of his premises has been made public. Every detail of his "suspicious" background has been leaked to the press - even the text of a novel on bioterrorism that existed only on his FBI-confiscated computer hard drive. 

As we've noted previously, our interest in this case is more than academic: Three of our co-workers contracted anthrax in the attacks, and we're particularly anxious to see the guilty parties punished. 

If Hatfill is guilty, we want him put away. Period. 

But if he's not, even the most abject public apology won't undo what's been done to him. 

"I do not understand why they're doing this to me," said Hatfill this week. 

Neither do we.


March 7, 2003 -- The United Nations has shot down Iraq's claim to have destroyed huge amounts of biological-warfare agents - including anthrax - 12 years ago. 

Iraq had declared 2,230 gallons of anthrax - but a report being released today estimates that 5,447 gallons of germ agents stored in bulk during the 1991 Gulf War included about 2,641 gallons of anthrax. 

The report, a draft of which was obtained by Reuters, gives 29 "clusters" or groups of weapons programs and a "to do" list for Iraq in order to satisfy U.N. Security Council demands that Saddam Hussein account for his weapons of mass destruction. 

The 167-page report was drawn up by the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, headed by Hans Blix. It will be distributed to ministers at a key meeting today - and is separate from an oral report he will present. 

The report compiles every weapons program, past and do - possibly giving support to a hard line against Saddam. 

Blix questioned Iraqi statements that it had stored all bulk biological warfare agents during the 1991 Gulf War at a plant known as Al Hakam and destroyed those unused after the war. 

"There is credible information available to UNMOVIC that indicates that the bulk agent, including anthrax, was in fact deployed during the 1991 Gulf War," the report said. "The question then arises as to what happened to it after the war." 

"Based on this information, UNMOVIC estimates that about 21,000 liters [5,547 gallons] of biological warfare agent was stored in bulk at locations remote from Al Hakam. About half of this, about 10,000 liters [2,641 gallons] was anthrax," Blix wrote in the report. 

"It therefore seems highly probable that the destruction of the bulk agent, including anthrax, stated by Iraq to be at Al Hakam in July-August 1991 did not occur," the report said." 

Blix said Iraq needed to provide documentation or other evidence to support its account. 

The new report also said Iraq may be producing more banned missiles in addition to the Al Samoud 2 rockets it is now destroying and had declared last year to inspectors. 

"Other missiles systems with ranges in excess of 150 km [93 miles] may possibly be under development or planned," the report said. 

"Indications of this come from solid propellant casting chambers Iraq has acquired, through recent import, indigenous production or from the repair or old chambers," said the report. 

Blix had ordered the Al Samouds destroyed. 

The report had been eagerly awaited by nations opposed to war, who say inspections should go on for months. Canada, on the other hand, has proposed the "outstanding issues" be turned into "benchmarks" with deadlines for Iraq to meet by March 28. 

But for the United States and Britain, however, the report shows how Saddam continues to lie and cheat, despite Blix's comments to reporters on Wednesday that Iraq was beginning to actively cooperate with his inspectors. 

He told a news conference on Wednesday that the destruction of the missiles "is the most spectacular and the most important and tangible" evidence of real disarmament.

New FBI Section Focuses On WMD

By Brian Blomquist
October 22, 2003 -- EXCLUSIVE

WASHINGTON - The FBI is creating a new weapons of mass destruction section to address growing concerns that terrorists will try to detonate a dirty bomb or launch a chemical or biological attack in the United States, The Post has learned.

The new WMD section, which already is up and running, will concentrate on trying to prevent catastrophic attacks inside the United States - or respond to such attacks if they occur.

FBI counter-terrorism and counter-intelligence chief Larry Mefford said the feds know that al Qaeda terrorists are trying to obtain weapons of mass destruction and would like nothing better than to use them to kill thousands of Americans.

"Obviously they have an interest, and that alone is reason enough to take the threat very seriously," Mefford told The Post.

But he added, "I'm not aware of any imminent or specific threats" with weapons of mass destruction.

Raids of al Qaeda houses in Afghanistan revealed a drawing of a nuclear device and procedures for making mustard agents, sarin and VX nerve agents.

Al Qaeda allegedly sent Jose Padilla to the United States to scout a radiation dirty-bomb attack, and at least two of the suspected 9/11 hijackers showed interest in crop dusters.

Mefford, who pushed the FBI to create the new section, said counter-terrorism agents "go over WMD scenarios all the time," but he said agents with real expertise, like biologists and other scientists, are spread out in various sections of the bureau and it makes sense to bring them into 
one section.

The slow-going anthrax investigation has highlighted the need for a WMD section, Mefford said, adding that the new section doesn't yet have a chief.

"We've learned a lot from the anthrax investigation. It's been extremely challenging," Mefford said.


The New York Post

August 6, 2004 --  Feds probing the deadly 2001 anthrax attacks raided two upstate homes and a Jersey Shore bungalow linked to a bioterrorism expert who advocates the mass distribution of the anthrax vaccine.

Dr. Kenneth Berry, 48, returned from breakfast at the Sand Dollar diner yesterday to find 20 FBI agents and postal inspectors swarming over the Dover Township, N.J., bungalow owned by his father, William.

Throughout the day, the agents carried out small items in clear plastic bags and bulky items in dark garbage bags.

They also searched under a pier behind the home and towed away two cars belonging to Berry. One, a 1998 Ford van, was returned shortly after 7 p.m.

Meanwhile, in Wellsville, N.Y., a town of 5,000 near the Pennsylvania border, 30 agents — some in protective gear — raided Berry's home and his former apartment.

The raids were authorized by search warrants.

Law enforcement sources said Berry was on a list of a handful of people who had access to labs capable of producing the anthrax used in the 2001 attacks.

Five people were killed when letters laced with the deadly bacteria were sent to government offices and media outlets, including the New York Post.

The investigation had centered on Dr. Stephen Hatfill, a biological expert who was described in 2002 as a "person of interest."

One source claimed Berry was cooperating with authorities and the raids were aimed at eliminating him from the list of suspects.

Agents led Berry, his wife and their four children away from the bungalow, but it was unclear if he was questioned or arrested. 

A law enforcement source said the FBI arranged hotel rooms for the family so they would not have to face the media.

Berry did not return phone calls. His father, who lives in Newtown, Conn., hung up on a reporter.

Berry has often appeared on national TV as a bioterrorism expert. In 1997, he founded PREEMPT Medical Counter-Terrorism, which trains medical personnel in responding to biochemical attacks.

In a USA Today interview that year, he said, "We ought to be planning to make anthrax vaccine widely available to the population starting in the major cities."

Berry is also president of the American Academy of Emergency Physicians. Both the Academy and PREEMPT appear to be run from his Wellsville home.

His Web site said he has a pilot's license and has investigated aircraft accidents, including the 1996 TWA crash off Long Island.

In 1999, Berry pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct to settle charges of forgery related to being listed as a witness on the fake will of a dead colleague. The plea allowed him to keep his medical license.

"I just can't believe he'd be involved in anything like anthrax," said former colleague William DiBerardino. "From my standpoint, the guy is harmless, but who knows?"

Additional reporting by Murray Weiss, Neil Graves and Charles Fiegl 


The New York Post

August 7, 2004 --  DOVER TOWNSHIP, N.J. — The doctor at the center of the anthrax investigation told cops booking him on domestic-violence charges he was innocent of the biological attacks — as it emerged he tried to patent an anthrax detection system just after the attacks began.

Records at the Patent and Trademark Office Web site indicate Dr. Kenneth Berry applied for a patent on a surveillance system to identify chemical and biological attacks on Sept. 28, 2001, 10 days after the first anthrax letters were postmarked in Trenton.

Berry's computerized system uses weather data and the properties of biological and chemical agents at various concentrations to identify the type of attack, the filing said.

He filed for a provisional patent for the system nearly a year earlier and was granted a patent in March 2004, the records show.

Berry was collared Thursday on the Jersey Shore for brawling with his family — just hours after his homes in upstate New York and Dover Township, N.J., were searched by federal probers.

Jersey cops had no idea Berry was a federal target until they found the search warrant in his pocket — and Berry blurted out his declaration of innocence.

"We came across knowledge of the search warrants by accident when Mr. Berry was searched," said Point Pleasant Beach Police Chief Daniel DePolo. "I believe there was discussion as to the search warrant, and I believe there was denial of any involvement on his part.

"He was apparently very outspoken with the officers."

Berry was nabbed for assault by off-duty Chatham, N.J., Police Chief Elizabeth Goeckel as he allegedly fought with members of his family at a seaside hotel in Point Pleasant Beach.

He allegedly shoved to the ground a woman holding a small child and, after another woman hit him, struck the second woman and knocked her down.

He ran into the lobby of the hotel, and the brawl continued inside.

"The girl came in screaming like she was in trouble," Goeckel said.

"He was swinging at her, and he dove right on top of her. She was screaming. She was trying to get away from him. He was trying to hit her and beat her. They were on the floor. The second woman came in and said he attacked her."

Berry was charged with four counts of assault.

He was released from jail on $10,000 bond and a temporary restraining order was issued against him. With Post Wire Services

The New York Post

By DAN MANGAN Post Correspondent

March 23, 2006 -- SAYRE, Pa. - The West Village performer and drum- maker stricken with severe inhalation anthrax has come through the ordeal smiling - and dancing.

Vado Diomande, 44, was all grins yesterday as he came out to greet report ers at Robert Packer Hos pital in Sayre, Pa., where he has been since falling se riously ill in mid-February.

"I'm very happy to be here today," said Diomande.

The Ivory Coast native - who contracted anthrax while making drums from untreated animal skins - is expected to be released in the next few days, and said he would like to resume dancing in two weeks, after getting some rest.

"My doctors, they were No. 1," said a beaming Diomande, his wife Lisa at his side. "With out them, I would not be here today. So I just want to say thank you to everyone."

Diomande thrilled his audience when he strode to a lectern yester day and briefly spoke before breaking into a wide smile and doing a quick dance to show off his improved condition.

"Right now, I'm OK," said Di omande, who nonetheless looked drawn from having dropped nearly 50 pounds from the first naturally occurring case of inhalation an thrax in the United States since 1976. He held his breath for re porters to demonstrate his recov ery, which followed weeks of ups and downs in his condition.

 "He is a phenomenon, and a tremendously strong man," said Lisa Diomande, marveling at her husband's recovery from the brink of death.

Diomande's doctors agreed, noting the survival rate for inha lation anthrax, which affects the respiratory system, is only about 50 percent.

"I fully anticipate that Mr. Di omande is going to continue to recover," said Dr. James Walsh, adding that the traditional dancer and musician will stay on a regi men of antibiotics after his re lease. While Diomande's lung functions remain "abnormal" for now, Walsh said, "I have every expectation that he's going to be able to dance again." But, he cautioned, "I think [that will happen] more in terms of months, not weeks."

Diomande collapsed Feb. 16 after a performance in Mansfield, Pa. with his Kotchegna Dance Company. News of his diagnosis spurred fears in New York, where several people in 2001 were infected by anthrax spores intentionally hidden in mail on the heels of the 9/11 terror attacks. But authorities quickly suspected that Diomande inhaled anthrax while working with animal skins to make drums in a Brooklyn warehouse on Prince Street.

Yesterday, Diomande said he finally realized Monday night that a large cow skin - not goat skins, as earlier suspected - that he had been cutting on Feb. 9 was the probable source of the anthrax.

"That skin [was] very dirty," he said, adding that when he dropped it onto the floor, dark powder fell off. Diomande said he bought the hide from a dealer who sold both African and American cow skins.

He vowed yesterday to never cut animal skins without wetting them down first, and to make sure to work in well-ventilated spaces while wearing a mask.

Lisa Diomande said she and her husband are likely going to stay with her relatives in Jersey City after his release. Their West Village apartment, she said, is "not in a very livable condition" on the heels of decontamination efforts, in which their clothes and bedding were removed and surfaces were bleached to get rid of anthrax spores found there.

She also said, "We're very sorry" to the tenants of the warehouse in Brooklyn, for any inconvenience. 

The New York Post



The dancer who miraculously survived anthrax claims he can't return to his West Village apartment because overzealous federal and city workers burned everything in it except his furniture.

Vado Diomande, 44, who contracted anthrax from untreated animal skins he used to make drums, told The Post yesterday he has been forced to live with his brother-in-law in New Jersey ever since he was released from a Pennsylvania hospital two weeks ago.

He and his wife, Lisa, say all the clothing, every stitch of linen, the mattresses and pillows, shoes, rugs, towels and other items in their Downing Street apartment have been burned.

The furniture, he said, was ruined by a powerful bleach.

"I have to replace everything," he said.

"Nobody asked me. Nobody asked anybody. They just went in. They were supposed to clean and have everything there. In stead, they burned them. Everything's gone. I'm sick and I've lost everything, too."

The federal Environmental Protection Agency handled the cleanup, which was overseen by the city Health Depart ment.

An EPA spokes woman expressed "sympathy" for Diomande and his family, but said, "our priority is the protection of not only his family and his wife, but the neighbors and everyone else who could potentially become exposed to anthrax."

The Health Department had no comment.

Diomande - who now suffers from respiratory problems - also complained the fumes from the bleach kept him from even entering the rent-controlled apartment. When his wife went inside, he said, she suffered an asthma attack.

The couple said the Health Department also destroyed the precious costumes his Kotchegna Dance Company wears. Instead of washing the costumes, as he says officials promised, they were fumigated, and have now fallen apart. About 600 CDs of African music were also disposed of, he said.

"My company has to perform," he said. "I have no costumes. I don't know what to do. If they can pay me back, I want them to."

He said health officials had initially told his wife they would replace the small number of items that had to be burned. But he said he hadn't heard from the city since.

Diomande collapsed Feb. 16 after a performance in Mansfield, Pa., and fought for his life for more than a month as doctors provided groundbreaking treatment on the first person to contract anthrax naturally in the United States since 1976.

His eyes wide and a huge smile on his face, the survivor gave his first drumming performance yesterday in New Jersey.

"When I was sick, I never thought I would be dead," he said after the performance ended. "Every day, I thought would live."

The New York Post
by Peter Brookes

June 5, 2006  -- This weekend's arrest of 17 homegrown al Qaeda wannabes just across the border in Canada is a nightmarish reminder of the horrors that have been - and could be - right here at home again if we don't fully get our counterterrorism act together soon.

By many accounts, despite a ballooning budget and staff, the FBI is still struggling to get its arms around its newly reinvigorated counterror (CT) mission - a critical capability that could prevent another 9/11.

John Gannon, a former CIA and Homeland Security official, told the Senate in late April: "We still do not have a domestic-intelligence service that can collect effectively against the terrorist threat to the homeland or provide authoritative analysis of that threat."

Many experts say that the competent collection and analysis of domestic CT intelligence could have "connected the dots" and prevented 9/11. Yet this still remains the weakest link in our domestic fight in the War on Terror.

Experts contend that if President Bush hadn't taken the fight to the terrorists in places like Afghanistan and Iraq, we'd have a real terrorism problem here - one they believe the FBI couldn't handle.

And what about the post-9/11 anthrax letters? The FBI still hasn't closed those cases. What's more important: Digging up Jimmy Hoffa's corpse on some Michigan farm, or preventing another deadly anthrax attack? Priorities, puh-leez!

Another obvious sign of failure: The G-men still haven't developed an accurate terrorist watch list. FBI Director Robert Mueller told Congress it will be "some time" before that's done. That the bureau has had to scrap its $500 million Trilogy computer system hasn't helped, either.

So what's the problem?

First, there is the FBI's culture. The bureau has long considered itself a law-enforcement outfit. Getting an executive suite in the Hoover HQ building means cuffing and convicting crooks, not penetrating and analyzing shadowy Islamic terrorist networks.

Insiders are concerned that the long-standing FBI "cop" mentality of investigating a crime after it happens (i.e., reactive) isn't translating well into a CT state of mind, which must prevent a crime before it happens (i.e., predictive).

Personnel turnover has been a snag, too. Six - count 'em, six - senior CT managers have left the bureau since 9/11. Granted, it's a tough, thankless position, but the last one punched out after only eight months in the job. Something is amiss . . .

The flight of key personnel to the outside slows the bureau's much-needed CT transformation. Mueller says burnout and better pay are key factors in the "brain drain" to cushy security chief jobs at Fortune 500 companies.

In fairness, the G-men have made progress, too. The bureau established the National Security Branch from the separate counterterrorism, counterintelligence and intelligence divisions to improve info sharing.

And the FBI has added 2,000 new intelligence agents, doubling their ranks, dispersing them to Field Intelligence Groups in the FBI's 56 field offices - and established 120 Joint Terrorism Task Forces. Both upgrades helped the FBI contribute (along with the Homeland Security Department, the U.S. military, CIA and countless others) to preventing another homeland terrorist strike. No small achievement, by any measure.

And CT info is getting passed down to the local level, too, according to Mueller. According to first responders, information-sharing, while still far from perfect, is improving. Over 6,000 local/ state police have been given access to classified CT info.

On evidence, the FBI's is making only halting progress in balancing its "Book 'em, Dano" law-enforcement culture with its "Get Osama" counterterrorism mission. So what should be done?

First, Congress and Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte must exercise rigorous oversight, pressuring the FBI to fully embrace its CT mandate on par with battling crime. If the job isn't getting done, heads should roll.

Second, don't create another CT agency, like the British MI-5. Keep CT intel/law enforcement at FBI. The intel community is bloated enough already - and MI-5 wasn't able to prevent last year's London terror attacks, which killed more than 50 people.

Third, don't increase the Pentagon's or the CIA's domestic CT role. Beyond civil-liberty concerns, their CT assignments should be overseas, making sure foreign terrorists don't get to our shores. Let FBI (and DHS) do domestic CT.

The idea that the FBI can't do domestic CT is hogwash. It successfully caught spies, saboteurs and ran agents before and during World War II. The mere notion that it can't do the job now must have J. Edgar Hoover rolling over in his grave.

Heritage Foundation Senior Fellow Peter Brookes' latest book is "A Devil's Triangle: Terrorism, WMD and Rogue States." 

The New York Post (Editorial)

June 6, 2006 -- When it comes to bio-terrorism, this newspaper has special standing to participate in the discussion.

It's going on five years now since The Post received a sealed envelope in the mail containing a potentially lethal dose of anthrax spores. The envelope was never opened, but three of our colleagues were sickened by spores that simply migrated through pores in the paper.

Neither the origins of the bacteria nor the identity of the sender has been publicly revealed; if Washington has a clue to either mystery, it remains a closely held state secret.

But when Charles Schumer - then and now New York's senior U.S. senator - on Sunday dedicated his weekly press extravaganza to political complaints about bio-terror funding for New York City, it caused us to wonder once again:

Where did those little beasties come from, anyway?

And are there any more, maybe from the same batch, sitting in an envelope in some terrorist's outbox right this very moment?

We don't blame Schumer for the apparent failure of the FBI to solve this case. Nor do we suspect that the senator is any less concerned about anthrax attacks than the average elected official in Washington.

Still, Schumer has allegedly been one of the most powerful of those officials for some time now. So wouldn't his energy be better spent hectoring the appropriate alphabet-soup of law-enforcement and intelligence agencies down there to work a little harder to find the authors of the anthrax attacks?

And if he's as powerful as he's cracked up to be, why is it necessary to complain about anti-terror-funding shortfalls for New York City in the first place?

Shouldn't the money just sort of, like, be there?

Sure it should.

The New York Post

March 29, 2008 -- Federal investigators have focused their attention on "about four suspects" at an Army research facility in the terrifying 2001 anthrax letter attacks that showed up in the offices of two senators and several newsrooms - including The Post.

The suspects include three scientists - a former deputy commander, a leading anthrax specialist and a microbiologist - at the bioweapons research facility at Fort Detrick in Maryland, sources told Fox News.

As part of the investigation, the FBI has collected writing samples from the three scientists to compare them to handwriting on the letters containing the biological weapon that appeared in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

The New York Post

Last updated: 5:22 am
August 2, 2008
Posted: 3:38 am

A top Army bioweapons expert who killed himself this week as investigators closed in on him for the deadly 2001 wave of anthrax letters had a history of murderous tendencies that dates back decades, according to documents disclosed yesterday.

Scientist Bruce Ivins, one of the feds' leading experts researching cures and vaccines for anthrax exposure, was a dangerous and deranged lunatic who harbored thoughts of killing, according to a recent description of the Maryland man by a therapist who had been treating him and sought a court order to stop his threats against her.

"Client has a history dating back to his graduate days of homicidal threats, actions, plans [toward his therapist]," a freaked-out Jean Duley, Ivins' former mental-health counselor, wrote in a July 24 restraining-order request in Frederick, Md.

"Dr. David Irwin, his psychiatrist, called him homicidal, sociopathic with clear intentions," she wrote. "FBI involved. Currently under investigation and will be charged with five capital murders."

Ivins, 62, took an overdose of Tylenol with codeine Tuesday as the FBI zeroed in to arrest him for sending dozens of anthrax-laced letters that killed five people and sickened 17, including New York Post employees Johanna Huden, William Monagas and Mark Cunningham.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Ivins had been informed he would be charged in the killings.

"It makes sense, what the social worker said," said his estranged brother, Tom Ivins. "He considered himself like a god."

Duley wrote in court papers that she was scheduled to testify against Ivins in a grand-jury proceeding previously scheduled for yesterday in Washington, DC.

Officials said the scientist, a devout Catholic and married father of adult twins, may have faced the death penalty for mailing poisonous letters shortly after the 9/11 attacks. The letters proclaimed, "Death to America, Death to Israel, Allah is Great."

Television-news anchors Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather, along with Sens. Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy, were among the recipients of the missives.

The anthrax expert, an Ohio-born, 18-year civilian employee of the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, had been under increased scrutiny since the Department of Justice in June publicly cleared their original "person of interest," Steven Hatfill, and awarded him a $5.8 million settlement.

Ivins' attorney, Paul Kemp, proclaimed his client's innocence as competing theories emerged on what could have motivated the brilliant microbiologist to murder through the mail.

Among the theories that authorities have suggested:

* Ivins may have launched a terror campaign to test his anthrax vaccines and treatments on live humans. He had bitterly complained that tests on monkeys didn't show how humans would respond.

* The scientist may have wanted put the nation in a state of panic to alert the government to its bioterrorism vulnerabilities.

The Justice Department said in a statement that there had been "significant developments" resulting from technological advances and, "We anticipate being able to provide additional details in the near future." Some reports said there was wiretap evidence against him, as well.

It was unclear whether authorities believe Ivins had any help.

If Ivins was indeed the murderous culprit, he succeeded in making anthrax, bioterrorism and Cipro, an anthrax treatment, household words. In the months following the letters, buildings throughout the nation were evacuated when the slightest bits of dust were mistaken as anthrax spores.

Ivins' lab at Fort Detrick - about 50 miles north of Washington, DC - became the 24/7 testing hub for all suspicious packages, letters and powders.

As the investigation into the anthrax letters went nowhere, Ivins continued his work with numerous strains of the deadly bacteria - including the strain used in the attacks. At one point, he was even asked by the FBI to provide technical assistance in their investigation.

In 2003, Ivins and several colleagues were awarded the Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service, the Pentagon's highest civilian honor, for working to develop anthrax vaccines.

"Awards are nice," he told a military journal at the time. "But the real satisfaction is knowing the vaccine is back online."

An accomplished and respected scientist, Ivins was the co-author of numerous anthrax studies, most recently in the July 7 issue of the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

In all, he spent 33 years as a civilian scientist with the Army at Fort Detrick, according to his attorney.

Ivins did raise suspicion in early 2002, when he took unauthorized samples of anthrax out of the lab and began sampling parts of the lab for spores - which he found - in areas that were supposed to be entirely clean, such as his own office. But Ivins, who even filed a patent application for a new bioterrorism treatment, remained under the radar until FBI Director Robert Mueller ordered a shakeup of the bureau's anthrax team in 2006.

Investigators made further progress by re-analyzing the anthrax powder sent to the two senators.

Colleagues said Ivins was hounded by the FBI at home and the lab.

They took samples and equipment from his workplace and staked out his home nearly every day.

The pressure ramped up when Hatfill was publicly cleared, they said, and Ivins sought treatment for depression and suicidal thoughts.

"The relentless pressure of accusation and innuendo takes its toll in different ways," said Kemp, Ivins' attorney. "In Dr. Ivins' case, it led to his untimely death."

A co-worker, Dr. W. Russell Byrne, added, "I think he was just psychologically exhausted by the whole process . . . If he was about to be charged, no one who knew him well was aware of that, and I don't believe it."

Ivins was found unresponsive Tuesday in his bathroom. His death was ruled a suicide by the Frederick Police Department.

Additional reporting by Geoff Earle in Washington and Post Wire Services


Last updated: 5:24 am
August 2, 2008
Posted: 3:38 am

Nearly seven years after post-9/11 an thrax attacks terrorized the nation, killing five and sickening 17 - including three at The Post - Americans still have no clue what happened.

It's not clear the FBI does, either - notwithstanding reports yesterday of plans to indict a scientist in the case who turned up dead this week.

It's a thoroughly unacceptable situation. And it needs to be rectified - now.

Indeed, the stunning suicide of Bruce Ivins, a top biodefense researcher - who reportedly faced a looming indictment in connection with the attacks - raises more questions than answers.

Did a guilty conscience prompt Ivins to swallow a fatal overdose of Tylenol and codeine? Or was he driven, as his lawyer yesterday suggested, by "the relentless pressure of accusation and innuendo" against an innocent man?

If Ivins was behind the attacks - how, exactly, did he carry them out, and why?

Did he act alone?

Can officials rule out - with absolute certainty - any foreign or terrorist role?

The Post, of course, has a keen interest in this: The paper received an anthrax-laced letter that made three workers ill.

Yet, after all this time, the FBI and the Justice Department haven't said boo about the case. Indeed, there wasn't any official confirmation even of Ivins' involvement, or an indication of whether the anthrax probe will now be closed.

Again: It's time for answers. (And no hiding behind "grand-jury secrecy.")

Remember, the feds haven't exactly won the public's confidence here. Their failures include not only the long delay in producing results, but also their earlier focus on someone they called a "person of interest" - Ivins' colleague Steven Hatfill.

Hatfill eventually was exonerated, and the FBI agreed to pay him $5.8 million for the harm its statements had caused him.

According to information leaked from the probe, Ivins was a brilliant but troubled man. Officials may suspect he sent the anthrax letters as a bizarre way of testing a vaccine he'd been developing.

But records also suggest he was beset by personal demons. On the day he killed himself, he was to appear in court in connection with an order of protection against him.

Documents show that he'd recently been committed to a psychiatric hospital, where his doctor is said to have described him as "homicidal" and "sociopathic," after a serious of overt threats.

If, in fact, Ivins was about to be indicted, the Justice Department has an obligation to lay out the evidence publicly.

That wouldn't be conclusive proof of his guilt, of course. Ivins, after all, can no longer defend himself.

But the American people need to judge whether, at long last, this important case has been solved - or whether it's nothing more than Steven Hatfill, Part 2.

The New York Post
By HAYLEY DAY in Cincinnati, JILL CULORA & GEOFF EARLE in Potomac, Md., and JAMES FANELLI in NY

Posted: 4:07 am
August 3, 2008

The suicidal scientist revealed as the likely culprit behind the 2001 anthrax mailings was part of a megamillion-dollar deal to have his own vaccine mass produced in the wake of those biological attacks and the national panic they created.

Bruce Ivins, 62, was the co-owner of a patent on what was seen as a cure to the terrifying threat.

Before the attacks, the vaccine developed by Ivins - who killed himself last week as a seven-year federal investigation closed in on indicting him for five murders - garnered little attention. But the deadly post-9/11 mailings brought $50 billion in government funding to the field of bioterror prevention.

An $877.5 million contract was inked with biotech firm VaxGen to provide Ivins' vaccine in a deal in which he stood to profit, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times. One estimate put the potential windfall in the tens of thousands of dollars.

A VaxGen executive said his company did not have a profit-sharing agreement with Ivins personally, and he had no knowledge of what arrangement Ivins had with his employers.

A former senior official at the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases - the high-security lab in Maryland where Ivins worked for 36 years - believed the mad researcher mailed the anthrax-laced letters to move government resources to his field.

"It had to have been a motive," the official told the LA Times. "I don't think he ever intended to kill anybody. He just wanted to prove 'Look, this is possible.' He probably had no clue that it would aerosolize through those envelopes and kill those postal workers."

But the VaxGen contract was nixed two years after the signing date because the company could not meet several deadlines.

Ivins also had a patent pending for an additive that would improve vaccines that prevent deadly pathogens used in bioterrorist attacks. It also received federal funding, including $12 million to Coley Pharmaceutical Group to further test the additive.

The revelation of the potential motive came to light as a portrait emerged of a beautiful mind that became warped through frustration and anger over stalled research. Ivins appears as an incredibly intelligent man who lived life in a small world, estranged from his brothers, walking two blocks to work every day for decades and regularly weighing in on morality and mundane issues of life to the local paper.

In his final years, as the FBI began closing in on him as their prime suspect, the mild-mannered scientist purchased two high-powered handguns at a shop a block away from his Frederick, Md., Cape Cod-style home.

Jack Moberly, manager of The Gun Center, told The Post Ivins acted "nervous" and "rocked back and forth on his legs" as he purchased a .40-caliber Glock 27 pistol in 2005. He claimed he wanted the firearm for target shooting.

A few weeks later, he returned to the shop, and exchanged the gun for a .40-caliber Glock 23 because, he said, the Glock 27 felt too small in his hand.

Several months after that, Moberly said, Ivins again entered the store, this time to buy a spare gun, another Glock model.

As he came under increased scrutiny for the anthrax mailings - and was escorted off the Fort Detrick Army base where he worked, admitted to a psychiatric facility and banned from the premises - Ivins went into therapy and in one session claimed he was going to buy a bulletproof vest and shoot his co-workers. He also threatened his group therapist who filed for a restraining order.

She said he "has a history dating back to his graduate days of homicidal threats."

In recent months, authorities had been called to Ivins' home twice, once with a report of an "unconscious man" and again by someone asking that Ivins' welfare be checked.

He overdosed over the weekend and died Tuesday, the same day that federal investigators were scheduled to meet with Ivins' lawyers to discuss a plea deal that could have saved him from the death penalty.

The workaholic Ivins' psychological seeds were sown in a strict, religious household dominated by a smothering mother, his brother told The Post.

"He was a mamma's boy," said his oldest brother, Tom. Their mother turned Ivins and other brother Charles into "wussies."

Ivins grew up in Lebanon, Ohio, a Cincinnati suburb, the youngest child of a Princeton-educated pharmacist, Thomas Ivins, and a civic-minded housewife, Mary Johnson Knight Ivins, who volunteered on the local school's PTA.

Ivins' mother emphasized their spiritual life, said Tom. The stern matriarch made sure the family attended mass every Sunday at Lebanon Presbyterian Church. Ivins later converted to Catholicism when he met his Catholic wife, Diane.

Growing up, household rules were strict. Tom remembered how he once borrowed his parents' car and failed to come home one night. His mother never let him use a car again, he said.

Family ties were strained among the children as well, and the differences between Tom and his younger brothers were stark. Tom lettered as an athlete in high school, but the younger boys, who were much closer to their mother, were forbidden from playing sports.

"When my brother went into high school, he was sheltered," Tom said.

Indeed, Bruce, a slight-framed, gawky teenager, sported dark-rimmed glasses and hit the books rather than the gridiron. He racked up academic achievements as a member of the National Honor Society and was a member in many extracurricular clubs, according to reports.

Ivins spent his extended school years a half-hour from home at the University of Cincinnati, where he earned a BS with honors in 1968, and later master's and doctoral degrees in micobiology.

"He had a master's degree and a Ph.D. - he thought he was a big deal," Tom Ivins said. "He had the feeling that he was lord and God and everything."

Ivins remained devoted to his mother even after he moved away to work for the Army. He fed and nursed her as she was dying of cancer in 1979, caring more for her than his own father, according to his brother.

"He was completely dedicated to her," Tom said.

He was surprised when Ivins married.

"He was a wussy, not a woman's man. He wasn't sociable. He wasn't attracted to the opposite sex. I don't know how he married that woman," he said.

At their father's funeral in 1985, Tom said he learned that Ivins and his wife had decided to adopt twins. Ivins raised twins Amanda and Andy, now 24.

Ivins increasingly became a pen pal with his local newspaper, The Frederick News-Post. His last letter, dated Aug. 24, 2006, supports a local rabbi who rejected the demands of a Muslim imam to start a dialogue. In it, Ivins rants, "By blood and faith, Jews are God's chosen, and have no need for dialogue with any gentile. End of dialogue."

On Feb. 5, 1999, he writes to say he switched morning radio stations because deejays said "God Damn" and mocked a caller as a "pinhead."

Ivins' first letter to the paper, on March 5, 1998, ironically defends religious critics of assisted suicide.

The letter argues that throughout U.S. history, religious movements have taken unpopular stances on issues but have proven morally right in the long run. "We should all be thankful that these religious opponents were quite willing to impose their moral views on others," he wrote.

Colleagues yesterday continued to defend Ivins, saying he was incapable of such dark motives.

"It is hard for me to believe that he would be involved in anything like that," said Dr. Daniela Verthelyi, who co-invented the patent-pending vaccine additive with Ivins.

Dr. Meryl Nass, an anthrax expert and an Ivins friend, said Fort Detrick employed only liquid anthrax in its testing, not the hard-to-make powered version Ivins was suspected of sending in letters.

"He was a gene splicer," said a high-ranking lab colleague. "He did not have the skill set to make the powder. That is pretty sophisticated aerosol engineering, and he had no training in that whatsoever. None."

The family has not made any public comments since his death, but daughter Amanda posted a heartfelt message on her MySpace page, where she listed her mood yesterday as "crushed."

"Rest in peace daddy. You will forever be my hero, forever in my heart, and most of all, forever my daddy, I'll love you always and forever!!!"

Additional reporting by Angela Montefinise


Posted: 3:53 am
August 8, 2008

Loopy lab rat Bruce Ivins showed no remorse for the five strangers the feds say he murdered with anthrax, but the bio-researcher was overcome with compassion when one of his beloved Kappa Kappa Gamma sisters was killed in the Virginia Tech massacre.

KKG sister Caitlin Hammaren, of upstate Westtown, was gunned down by madman student Seung-Hui Cho on April 16, 2007, along with 31 students and faculty in the deadliest shooting spree in American history.

Ivins, the suicidal architect of the country's deadliest bioterrorism attacks, took the death of the 19-year-old English major personally, sending condolences and donations in her honor, the Justice Department said.

"If he had an obsession with the sorority, I hope he didn't send anything in the letter," Caitlin's mother, Marian Hammaren, told The Post yesterday at her home in the Catskills. "I guess that's one less thank-you note that I have to send out."

In the days following the shooting, the Army biodefense scientist reached out to the Virginia Tech chapter of KKG and Hammaren's family to express his sympathies, according to federal prosecutors. He even counseled friends of the victim through an online college message board.

"If the shooter had been in a [Greek-life organization] . . . he would more than likely have received support and help through whatever difficult times he was going through," Goldenphoenix wrote the day of the massacre. Feds say Ivins used the e-mail address

In another post, Goldenphoenix wrote: "The sky is a little dimmer, with a bright star now gone. Caitlin's wonderful promise of a future is no more."

And of the shooter, Goldenphoenix ironically noted: "He didn't go to get professional help (medication and counseling), and he coldly and methodically plotted his evil deeds."

Search-warrant affidavits made public Wednesday document Ivins' obsession with the sorority, which has chapters all over the country, including his alma mater, the University of Cincinnati.

Justice Department prosecutors told anthrax victims on Wednesday about his cards and donations for Caitlin.

Eileen Marin, an adviser for the Virginia Tech KKG chapter, said she didn't recall a letter from Ivins.

Ivins' obsession with the organization may stem from a failed romance with a member in the 1960s, the feds said.

Although he had a moment of sympathy for the slain sister, Ivins also displayed more disturbing behavior, feds said, such as breaking into the KKG house at West Virginia University to steal items used in sorority "rituals."

And investigators have speculated he mailed the anthrax letters from a mailbox in Princeton because it was near Kappa offices there.

Separately, investigators yesterday filed court papers showing they are still looking for evidence against Ivins.

Search warrants filed in Washington, DC, federal court show that federal agents seized two computers from a library in Frederick, Md., that Ivins used the same day he was released from a mental hospital July 24.

The scientist, 62, allegedly spent 90 minutes on the computers to read e-mail and review a Web site devoted to the anthrax investigation. He died from a painkiller overdose July 29.

Additional reporting by Erin Calabrese in NY, Geoff Earle in DC and Post Wires

The New York Post
Posted: 4:23 am
September 14, 2008

The often-partisan Democratic-run Congress has found a worthy target for the legislative branch's constitutional oversight responsibilities:

The FBI anthrax investigations.

The House Judiciary Committee notified FBI Director Robert Mueller that oversight hearings this week will focus on the bureau's investigation of Dr. Bruce Ivins - and the conclusion that he was solely responsible for the 2001 anthrax attacks, which killed five people and injured 17 others (including three Post staffers).

Ivins committed suicide this summer when his name surfaced.

After his death, the bureau held a lengthy press conference, attended by several anthrax victims, to discuss the evidence pointing to Ivins' guilt. Yet the press conference raised nearly as many questions as it answered - including the FBI's admission that the sample of a unique strain of anthrax that it got from Ivins back in 2002 was discarded because he hadn't followed proper protocol.

It took the bureau another four years to obtain a duplicate sample.

Meanwhile, reports surfaced last week that, in April 2007, just as the FBI linked the mailed anthrax to samples in Ivins' labs, he was notified by prosecutors that he was "not a target" of the investigation.

Hovering over all this, of course, is the recent FBI history of misidentifying individuals in high-profile cases.

Indeed, another scientist in the same laboratory - Stephen Hatfill - was previously identified by the FBI and remained under a cloud for nearly five years. The US government finally paid Hatfill $5.8 million this year as compensation for smearing his name.

That, in turn, was reminiscent of what occurred to Richard Jewell (wrongly identified as the Atlanta Olympic Park bomber in 1996) and scientist Wen Ho Lee (falsely accused of selling technology secrets to the Chinese).

Had Stephen Hatfill snapped from the pressure of FBI suspicion and taken his life, would the FBI have been crowing over how "sure" they were that that he was the guy - thus eliminating the need for further investigation?

Hard to say.

But a congressional probe is more than warranted. After years of sloppiness, the FBI has lost any benefit of the doubt.

The American people deserve to have Congress take an independent look a the entire anthrax investigations - if only to render an objective assurance that the real culprit actually was identified.

The New York Post
By Susannah Cahalan

Last updated: 4:02 am
November 2, 2008
Posted: 3:21 am
November 2, 2008

It was an open-and-shut case, the FBI said.

But three months after agents pinned the post-9/11 anthrax mailings on Army scientist Bruce Ivins - who committed suicide as the FBI closed in on him - his former colleagues have approached a lawyer to sue the feds for fingering the wrong man, The Post has learned.

They argue that the FBI abused its power and violated its own policies as they probed an innocent man for six months.

One of Ivins' former colleagues was being aggressively pressured to confess to the crimes just two months before Ivins killed himself on July 29, he told The Post. And he identified at least one other employee who was under the same pressure.

The move by the Army scientists comes on the heels of a Senate Judiciary Committee demand for an independent review of the case following a hearing with FBI Director Robert Mueller in which committee members called the bureau's case an "open matter." The bureau has named a panel of independent scientists to review the evidence against Ivins - a probe that will take six to 18 months.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, a target of the 2001 anthrax attacks, said at the Judiciary Committee hearings that he doubted Ivins, who worked at Fort Detrick, Md., could have acted alone and that he believes "there are others who could be charged with murder."

Anthrax-laced letters were also mailed to then-Sen. Tom Daschle and news media outlets, including The Post.

"The people at Fort Detrick would love to see some suit brought, some way of reckoning, adjudicating this," said Ivins' Maryland-based lawyer, Paul Kemp. The Pentagon had refused a request to allow Ivins' colleagues to speak to Kemp.

The case the feds presented rested mainly on these FBI claims:

* The dry anthrax used in the mailings shared key genetic variables unique to a wet anthrax strain created by Ivins in his lab at Fort Detrick.

* Ivins logged an increasingly large amount of after-hours overtime in his lab in the weeks leading up to the anthrax mailings.

* Ivins submitted false samples of anthrax from his lab to the FBI for forensic analysis in order to mislead investigators.

* Ivins was psychologically troubled and told co-workers that he had "incredible paranoid, delusional thoughts at times" and that he feared he might not be able to control his behavior. They cited his preoccupation with the sorority Kappa Kappa Gamma - which included altering its Wikipedia page, e-mailing former members and spreading Internet chatter about the sorority - as indications of an unstable and obsessive mind.

In interviews with a dozen of Ivins' colleagues at the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick, his friends and independent scientists, The Post found many of them would speak only on the condition of anonymity because they believed they were still under FBI surveillance and their phones were being tapped.

Together, those closest to Ivins cited a laundry list of holes in the feds' conclusions. They include:

1) Ivins could not have made dry anthrax spores in his lab without sickening people.

To convert the wet anthrax strain he had developed at Fort Detrick - the only strain he worked with - into dry anthrax, which can be inhaled and is much more lethal, Ivins would have had to use a lyophilizer, a freeze-drying machine that is able to dry large quantities of liquid.

Ivins' colleagues say they never saw the scientist working with dry spores - in fact, dry anthrax was not made at USAMRIID - until he was asked to examine the anthrax-laced letter sent to Daschle.

The lyophilizer, located in a hallway surrounded by four labs, did not have a protective hood. A hood is necessary to circulate and filter air and make it possible to use the lyophilizer to work with harmful bacteria without the bacteria becoming airborne. Co-workers say the hoodless lyophilizer would have spewed poisonous aerosols, infecting co-workers. But no colleagues of Ivins experienced any symptoms.

Co-workers also point out that the machine would have to be fully decontaminated after use - a 24-hour process called paraformaldehyde decontamination that involves locking down the lab.

Without a full decontamination, the machine would have contaminated other bacteria or liquids used on the machine at a later date. And if it had not been decontaminated, the FBI should have been able to find traces of the dry anthrax on the machine. Yet they swabbed Ivins' machinery numerous times and were unable to find traces of dry anthrax spores in his lab, Kemp said.

2) Records show that Ivins logged an average of only two hours of overtime in the weeks leading up to the attacks - and even at those times, he could not have gone undetected.

Even if Ivins did have access to a freeze-drying machine and a protective hood, sources who worked closely with Ivins estimate it would take a minimum of 40 days of continuous work without detection to create the volume of spores used in the attacks.

"If he was working eight hours a day on spore prep every day, it would be noticed," said Gerry Andrews, Ivins' supervisor between 2000 and 2003. "It's ridiculous."

Ivins' lab - just 200 square feet - was in "highly trafficked areas, and Bruce had colleagues that worked with him every day," Andrews said.

Meanwhile, in September and October of 2001, Ivins was involved in 19 research projects, including working on the Department of Defense-funded anthrax vaccine that is now in clinical trials, anthrax vaccine testing on rabbits and monkeys, and an outside project with a government-contracted lab, the Battelle Memorial Institute in Ohio.

3) The FBI called Ivins the "sole custodian" of the strain of anthrax used in the mailings. But at least 200 people had access to the strain created by Ivins at Fort Detrick.

More than 100 people had access to Ivins' lab at USAMRIID. Ivins' anthrax strain, RMR-1029, was kept there as well as stored at a nearby building between 1997 and 1999, a building to which others had access. In addition, multiple facilities outside of Fort Detrick were sent RMR-1029 for their own research, including government laboratories, the Battelle lab and academic institutions like the University of New Mexico.

In September, FBI Director Mueller conceded other labs and scientists had access to Ivins' anthrax, but would not disclose how the bureau had ruled out other suspects.

4) The FBI has not released any physical evidence linking Ivins to the attacks or defined a motive.

After obtaining three warrants to search the Ivins home starting in October 2007, the FBI never found a single anthrax spore there - though scientists say the kind of airborne anthrax used in the mailings would have clung to any objects it came in contact with.

Nor were they able to place Ivins near the Princeton, NJ, mailbox from which all the lethal anthrax letters were mailed - though they noted that a Kappa Kappa Gamma chapter kept its rush materials, initiation robes and other property 100 yards from where the anthrax letters were sent.

Ivins passed two polygraph tests - one administered after the attacks and another when he became a suspect, according to his lawyer. He also submitted a writing sample that, Kemp said, did not implicate him.

Co-workers said Ivins stood to gain only $2,000 for a patent and minimal royalties from drug companies for the vaccine he helped produce.

"There is not one substantial motive," Andrews said.

In 2003, USAMRIID implemented a Personnel Reliability Program, with employees undergoing psychiatric evaluations, financial background checks and full medical exams. If Ivins had psychological issues, the Army never flagged them - and instead deemed him capable of working with biological weapons.

5) The FBI investigation was filled with inconsistencies and bordered on harassment.

The FBI claims Ivins was a suspect since early 2007, but they waited until July 23, 2008, to gather DNA evidence from him, delayed examining records showing Ivins' late nights spent in the lab, and waited years to swab the mailbox in Princeton.

They also allowed Ivins to have full access to the anthrax labs until November 2007.

Scientists at USAMRIID said the FBI was aggressively pursuing other suspects two months before Ivins killed himself.

In April 2007, the FBI sent Ivins a letter saying he was "not a target of the investigation" and said it was investigating 42 people who had access to RMR-1029 at the Battelle labs in Ohio, Kemp said.

Once they identified him as a suspect, the FBI investigators conspicuously tailed Ivins for six months before he killed himself, two neighbors of Ivins told The Post. They sat outside his house in their cars and rented the house next door for stakeouts.

After three months under surveillance, Ivins hired a lawyer, Kemp, to whom he complained that agents had approached his adopted twins, Amanda and Andy, both 24. Ivins said they offered Andy $2.5 million and a sports car for information on his father, friends confirm.

To Amanda, they showed pictures of anthrax victims and said, "Look at what your father did," according to Kemp. The FBI denied this.

Friends said agents took Ivins' wife, Diane, and the children to hotels where they grilled them for hours.

"Most people in Fort Detrick believe that [the FBI was] just going after the weakest link," said Dr. W. Russell Byrne, Ivins' supervisor between 1998 and 2000. "It looked like an organized effort in intimidation."

Co-workers of Ivins' were warned by USAMRIID officials not to speak with Ivins in his office, and he was told that he couldn't participate in work activities or parties. His friends say it was the last straw for a man who relied on work for his social life.

Since the investigation against Ivins began, workers at USAMRIID have been forced to sign confidentiality agreements.

FBI spokeswoman Debbie Weierman said: "The FBI is still handling administrative business and closing the loop on outstanding issues. Therefore, the investigation is still pending. However, the case has been solved; as the FBI and the Department of Justice have stated publicly.

"The FBI is absolutely positive that Dr. Bruce Ivins and only Dr. Bruce Ivins was responsible for the anthrax mailings."