Tag Archives: anthrax

Ivins not murdered

While I never believed that Dr. Ivins, the main suspect for the 2001 anthrax attacks, was murdered in a way to look like suicide so as to shut him up or set him up as a patsy, it did make me wonder a tiny bit. But such suspicions have been put to rest due to reports that Dr. Ivins wanted to die, given the way he explicitly said so in the hospital and tried to remove his tubes.

Of course, it's still possible that the report itself could be a fabrication or that he was somehow blackmailed into suicide, but for better or worse, I'm not that paranoid.

Ivins deduced the anthrax attacker

In a bizarre twist in the anthrax case, Dr. Ivins seemed to have thought that he figured out who the culprit was in the anthrax attacks of 2001. From what I hear about him, he seemed to be an Internet troll and an eccentric, but this hardly makes a compelling case for Dr. Ivins being the perpetuator. And it's even harder to think so given that he emailed himself about figuring out who the actual perpetuator was.

It's odd that he failed to tell anyone about his suspicions, though. On the other hand, he may have indeed told the authorities and was harassed for it. Perhaps he was silenced and his death set up to look like a suicide to hide a conspiracy in the government. I've always thought that the FBI was scapegoating Dr. Ivins to avoid the political embarrassment of being unable to solve the case, but this new twist gives a little bit of credence to conspiracy theories that the anthrax attacks were orchestrated by the government.

Apparent flimsiness of anthrax case

Despite the FBI offering to release their evidence against Dr. Ivins, their case against him in the anthrax case still seems to be rather flimsy. At least to me, it seems that their entire case is based on him being eccentric and that he had access to the strain of anthrax used in the attacks.

He may or may not have been responsible, but I find it hard to conclude that Dr. Ivins was responsible. I know a lot of people who are as comparably eccentric (I'd say that would include me, and I can't conceive myself of hurting someone else). And with a hundred people also having had access to the same strain, the FBI hardly has a slam-dunk case. Even though there are plenty of cases where a hypothesis is strongly supported only in the context of the accumulated evidence, this doesn't look like one of them, despite claims to the contrary by the FBI.

Is there some public information that I'm missing? Maybe I missed a press release by the FBI that presents a strong case. Or is the FBI desperate to close the case only for political reasons? At least the science behind their claim that the strain of anthrax used in the attacks came from Fort Detrick sounds fascinating, although I don't have the competence to judge how strong it is.

Questionable media coverage of anthrax attack suspect

Glenn Greenwald wrote an excellent summary of certain facts concerning the anthrax attack suspect that killed himself. It highlights the fact that most media claims concerning his instability comes from a social worker who isn't terribly credible, especially when everyone else had a very different impression of him. It strengthens my suspicion that Dr. Ivins, the suspect for the anthrax attack, was an innocent researcher on whom the pressure from the FBI investigation drove him to suicide. However, I don't think the investigation was the main impetus for his suicide; it's more probable that it had merely aggravated an already existing mood disorder. Even if the social worker was telling only the truth, it could easily have been due to a depression made worse by the investigation, rather than him being psychopathic from birth.

Of course, I'm rather removed from all the facts and the above is largely speculation, but I think it's most likely. It's still entirely possible that he was indeed the perpetuator of the attacks or that he was murdered in a way to look like suicide so that the case could be officially closed. In any case, all the evidence that has been made available to the public so far is purely circumstantial; the FBI would have to reveal really strong evidence to convince everyone that the case should be closed.

Anthrax suicide: suspect or victim?

A possible suspect for the anthrax attacks in 2001 has apparently committed suicide. He was a researcher at USAMRIID working on biodefenses such as a vaccine against anthrax. He was being quietly investigated by the FBI, which is not surprising given what happened the last time a suspect's name was leaked to the public.

He had access to anthrax and lived within 200 miles from where the anthrax-tainted letters were apparently mailed from, so it's feasible that he was indeed the culprit, although not enough details are public to even form an opinion if it really could have been him. But if he was indeed the culprit, in which case I apologize to the FBI for saying they didn't have a clue, what would have been his motive? Was it a cynical attempt to get increased funding into anthrax research? Was it a severely misguided attempt at venting his frustrations? Or was he just a patsy for certain government agencies trying to ferment a climate of fear?

On the other hand, it's quite possible he's innocent. Losing his job and being harassed by the FBI could have made him depressed enough to commit suicide. Of course, this is assuming that it was suicide. For all we know, it could have been murder by the actual culprits of the 2001 anthrax attack, killing a known suspect and making it look like suicide in order to halt any further investigations.