Explained: Why The Anthrax Strain Was Found in Ivins' Office → Washingtons Blog
Explained: Why The Anthrax Strain Was Found in Ivins' Office - Washingtons Blog

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Explained: Why The Anthrax Strain Was Found in Ivins' Office

The government's central piece of evidence against Bruce Ivins is that it has found anthrax in Ivins' lab that matches the anthrax letters exactly.

Pretty persuasive, right?

No, actually . . .

According to a story today in Time Magazine:

"It is hard to understand why the match could not simply be explained by the lab's prominent involvement in the federal investigation, notes Randall Larsen, a retired Air Force colonel and a senior associate at the Center for Biosecurity, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

The FBI itself sent the anthrax letters to Ivins and his colleagues at the biodefense lab for analysis "almost immediately" following the attacks in 2001, confirms Caree Vander-Linden, a spokesperson for the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, where Ivins worked."
Another government allegation turns out to be without substance.

Even if the presence of anthrax in Ivins' office was not so easily explainable, there were still perhaps a dozen people who had access to whatever anthrax Ivins was handling. As the Time article points out:

"A group of people have access to the anthrax at any given lab. 'What you can do with all those forensic techniques is trace the anthrax to a lab, but you can't trace it to a person,' says Meryl Nass, a Maine doctor who studies the anthrax vaccine and was a professional acquaintance of Ivins for over 15 years. What's more, Nass adds, the link is not accurate with 100% certainty. 'You can't convict someone with that evidence.' "

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