Shortly after September 11, 2001, mailings containing the lethal toxin anthrax were sent to members of Congress, including then Senate majority leader Tom Daschle, the National Enquirer, and others. The first suspect, Steven Hatfill, was pilloried in the press as the prime FBI suspect. He was subsequently cleared and awarded a multi million dollar settlement by the government for harassment in late June 2008. The mystery remained.
Bruce Edwards Ivins, PhD, a leading bioweapons scientist at the Fort Detrick, Maryland research center on infectious diseases, was the backup suspect. He had been under heavy surveillance by the FBI for over a year. Associated Press reported claims that he’d been “stalked” by FBI agents. There were other stories about his counseling for substance abuse problems and alleged erratic personality. These breaches of Ivin’s confidentiality were followed by a less than flattering profile of his counselor, Jean Duley of Frederick, Maryland
Ivins was found dead in his home on July 27, 2008. The death was ruled a suicide. Shortly after Ivins’ death, the FBI leaked that Ivins was the only suspect in the anthrax mailings case. Scientists at Fort Detrick objected to the bureau’s tactics and conclusions. The FBI turned over it’s scientific evidence to the National Academy of Sciences for a full review.
The FBI closed the case on February 19 naming Ivins as the lone perpetrator. The announcement came prior to the completion of a National Academy of Science report evaluating the FBI’s scientific forensics in the case. Also, yet to be answered are the arguments by Edward Jay Epstein that the presence of silicon in the anthrax mailings virtually ruled out Ivins or Fort Detrick scientists since they lacked the ability to create that combination.