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April 09, 2015

Former FBI Agent, Dissenter on Alleged Anthrax Mailer Bruce Ivins' Likely Guilt, Files Lawsuit Against Bureau, Claiming Whistleblower Retaliation

He says it's possible Bruce Ivins did it, but he's not convinced, and, either way, the FBI would not have been able to get a conviction against him, because while it was smearing Ivins' name with a (post-death) document dump of disparaging information, it was concealing from the public a pile of exculpatory evidence.

If you've never bought into the FBI's "We Got 'im" claims on the Anthrax mailer -- which always seemed to me to be opportunistically pegging an unsolved, and thus embarrassing, matter on a dead man -- you might want to read this.

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

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

In a lawsuit filed in federal court in Tennessee last Thursday, Mr. Lambert accused the bureau of trying "to railroad the prosecution of Ivins" and, after his suicide, creating "an elaborate perception management campaign" to bolster its claim that he was guilty.

He alleges that the FBI has taken actions against him to punish him for previously speaking out about his doubts.

Apparently the government will not release the exculpatory evidence because the Privacy Act forbids disclosures about government workers!

It must be remembered that the FBI had leaked damaging information about, and harassed, another government lab worker it believed (wrongly) to be the Anthrax mailer -- Stephen Hatfill.

I get an Amanda Knox feeling here -- oh well, our first government lab worker theory went awry; let's just substitute in this new government lab worker suspect.

Huh! Well, this LA Times article from 2011 is interesting for two reasons:

1. It makes Ivins sound more dangerous than I thought he was, more unstable.

2. It notes that the guy suing the FBI now was the guy who was set on Steven Hatfill as a suspect!

After the anthrax letters were mailed in September and October of 2001, the FBI for nearly five years pursued a former Army virologist, Steven Hatfill, as the prime suspect.

Hatfill had filled several prescriptions in 2001 for Cipro, an antibiotic effective against anthrax, among other infections. He had also boasted of his expertise in biological warfare.

Based on this and other information, inspector Richard Lambert, handpicked by FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III to lead the investigation, was convinced that Hatfill was the perpetrator. With Mueller's backing, he drove his agents to find evidence to support an indictment against Hatfill. It never came.

On June 5, 2006, a visiting team of FBI employees arrived at the bureau's Washington Field Office for a long-scheduled audit of its general efficiency and effectiveness. A growing number of investigators were frustrated by Lambert's emphasis on Hatfill. They had felt powerless to do anything about it. Until now.

In a confidential report, the inspection team said more than 90% of the investigators on the anthrax case believed Lambert was concentrating on Hatfill to the exclusion of all other potential suspects. Lambert said the focus was never on one individual, exclusively.

In September 2006, Mueller replaced Lambert with two agents who had extensive backgrounds in criminal investigation, Edward Montooth and Vincent Lisi. A case that had foundered for years was reoriented: Investigators were told to focus on people who had verifiable access to a research batch of anthrax that geneticists had matched to the material used in the letter attacks.

So... I don't know. It seems like Lambert was set on Hatfill as a suspect, and that's why the FBI sidelined him.

For all I know, he's still set on Hatfill as a suspect.

digg this
posted by Ace at 05:15 PM

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