FBI's Anthrax Case Not 'Conclusive:' Report

Scientists find long-criticized case against Bruce Ivins has holes
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 16, 2011 1:31 PM CST
Bruce Ivins Anthrax Case 'Not Conclusive': Report
In this undated image attached to an email sent Nov. 14, 2001, by Bruce Ivins, Ivins works with "cultures of the 'Ames' strain of Bacillus anthracis" at his lab according to the text of the message.   (AP Photo/File)

The FBI’s scientific evidence against Bruce Ivins in the 2001 anthrax attacks isn’t as compelling as advertised, the National Research Council concluded yesterday, after an exhaustive $1.1 million review. The case against Ivins has long been criticized (Glenn Greenwald gives a nice history of it here), but the FBI always said it had genetic evidence linking the spores in Ivins’ lab with those found in the anthrax envelopes, and said an NRC scientific review would vindicate it.

But yesterday’s report concluded that the evidence “did not definitively demonstrate” a link between the two spore samples, though it does “support an association.” It also blasted the FBI for not using all the scientific techniques available to check its case, the New York Times reports. Critics latched onto the report. “There are no more excuses for avoiding an independent review,” Sen. Charles Grassley tells the Washington Post. But law enforcement officials complain that the NRC is being too demanding. “They’re talking about hypotheticals,” says one investigator. “We didn’t have that luxury. We were trying to solve a crime.” (More Bruce Ivins stories.)

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