Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Colonel Arthur Anderson is the chief of human use and ethics at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), the bioweapons facility where Dr. Ivins worked and where the anthrax strains were apparently obtained by the anthrax killer.
In that position, Colonel Anderson's responsibilities include the following jobs:
"Conduct inquiries and investigations upon receipt of allegations of scientific misconduct or improper researcher behavior.Colonel Anderson is also a highly-respected scientist in his own right (a pathologist).
Prepare timely and intensive fact-finding reviews of minimal risk protocols that qualify for expedited review; ... Advise senior officials in writing of the approvability of protocols, and addenda; ... Conduct substantive continuing review of active protocols; ... Investigate issues arising during conduct of studies"
Anderson disputes two of the government allegations against Dr. Ivins.
First, he disputes the allegation that Ivins told no one that he had found anthrax in his lab for many months. Specifically, as reported in today's Wall Street Journal:
"Col. Anderson says Dr. Ivins told him about the lapse in safety shortly after it occurred, contradicting Army findings in 2002 that Dr. Ivins had told no one."Anderson's role as the person in charge of "conduct[ing] inquiries and investigations upon receipt of allegations of scientific misconduct or improper researcher behavior" and of "investigat[ing] issues arising during conduct of studies" is therefore important. He was an appropriate person for Ivins to speak to about his anthrax tests (admittedly, protocol required Ivins to tell others as well; but the fact that Ivins told Anderson shows good faith and a lack of guilty conscience on Ivins' part).
Second, Anderson says that social worker Jean Duley's conduct was wholly inappropriate and lacked credibility. Anderson, as an ethics expert and someone who knew Ivins well, simply doesn't buy Duley's allegations.
Again, I don't know whether Ivins is guilty or not. But the government's allegations to date hold no water.