politics, hypocrisy and meanness in public affairs, alligators, anti-empire-ism, occasional personal stuff

Monday, April 26, 2010

 Below is the beginning of a story from the NY TImes regarding the case of the scientist who killed himself in 2008, after seeing that his arrest was imminent in the anthrax murders 8 years before. This speaks directly to the issue of government overreach - and government error based on "facts" that officials believe they "know" - and specifically to President Obama's order to kill an American citizen, discussed in earlier posts on this blog. Recall that the scientist that the authorities previously "knew" was responsible for these anthrax attacks - Stephen Hatfill - has been acknowledged as not having, in fact, been responsible for those attacks - after the government had ruined his professional career. Recall also the security guard at the Atlanta Olympics whose life was ruined because the authorities "knew" he had planted a bomb that they later acknowledged he had found and reported, saving lives of those around him.

Colleague Disputes Case Against Anthrax Suspect

WASHINGTON — A former Army microbiologist who worked for years with Bruce E. Ivins, whom the F.B.I. has blamed for the anthrax letter attacks that killed five people in 2001, told a National Academy of Sciences panel on Thursday that he believed it was impossible that the deadly spores had been produced undetected in Dr. Ivins’s laboratory, as the F.B.I. asserts.

Asked by reporters after his testimony whether he believed that there was any chance that Dr. Ivins, who committed suicide in 2008, had carried out the attacks, the microbiologist, Henry S. Heine, replied, “Absolutely not.” At the Army’s biodefense laboratory in Maryland, where Dr. Ivins and Dr. Heine worked, he said, “among the senior scientists, no one believes it.”

Dr. Heine told the 16-member panel, which is reviewing the F.B.I.’s scientific work on the investigation, that producing the quantity of spores in the letters would have taken at least a year of intensive work using the equipment at the army lab. Such an effort would not have escaped colleagues’ notice, he added later, and lab technicians who worked closely with Dr. Ivins have told him they saw no such work.

He told the panel that biological containment measures where Dr. Ivins worked were inadequate to prevent the spores from floating out of the laboratory into animal cages and offices. “You’d have had dead animals or dead people,” he said.

The public remarks from Dr. Heine, two months after the Justice Department officially closed the case, represent a major public challenge to its conclusion in one of the largest, most politically delicate and scientifically complex cases in F.B.I. history.


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