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Posted by on Feb 17, 2011 in Genetics, Infectious diseases

Scientific Evidence Not Enough to Implicate Ivins in Anthrax Attacks; But That’s Nothing New

Scientific Evidence Not Enough to Implicate Ivins in Anthrax Attacks; But That’s Nothing New


On Monday, the investigative committee of the National Research Council released its review of the FBI’s scientific evidence in the Amerithrax case. The conclusion: The evidence wasn’t strong enough to identify flask RMR-1029 at USAMRIID in Fort Detrick, MD, as the only possible source of the Bacillus anthracis spores that were used in the attacks. The implication: That the evidence against Bruce Ivins, the USAMRIID scientist identified by the FBI as the perpetrator of the anthrax attacks, is weaker than originally proposed by the investigative agency.

But in rebuttal to the NRC report, the FBI stated Tuesday that “it was the totality of the investigative process that determined the outcome of the anthrax case.” Rightly so.

It is crucial to remember that there was other compelling circumstantial evidence in the Amerithrax case, whichwhen taken in conjunction with the fact that flask RMR-1029 was one possible source of the anthracis sporesstrongly points to Ivins. Part of that evidence is this: USAMRIID was the only relevant lab in the geographic area where the “federal eagle” envelopes that were used in the attacks were distributed and sold.

Other important evidence implicating Ivins is that 1) he worked alone in late-night shifts during September 14-16, 2001, and from September 28 to October 5, 2001, before the rounds of Post/Brokow and Leahy/Daschle letters were respectively mailed; and 2) Ivins, in highly disingenuous fashion, submitted “unusable” and false B. anthracis spores to the FBI for testing.

And, depending on how much emphasis you place on general weirdness, the guy was scarily weird. To wit, see posts “Allegation: Ivins’s 1983 Letter as Former Colleague” and “Bruce Ivins as KKΓ-Obsessed “jimmyflathead.”

Scanning electron micrograph of spores of Ames strain of B. anthracis from CDC/Janice Haney Carr.

bmartin (1127 Posts)

A native East Tennessean, Barbara Martin is a formerly practicing, board-certified neurologist who received her BS (psychology, summa cum laude) and MD from Duke University before completing her postgraduate training (internship, residency, fellowship) at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. She has worked in academia, private practice, medical publishing, drug market research, and continuing medical education (CME). For the last 3 years, she has worked in a freelance capacity as a medical writer, analyst, and consultant. Follow Dr. Barbara Martin on and Twitter.