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I’ve been carefully following the story of Bruce Ivins, the FBI’s prime suspect in the 2001 anthrax attacks, especially after recently reading The Demon in the Freezer.

Richard Preston’s book was scary enough. But, to discover that one of our country’s own scientists, with no training in bioweapons preparation could singly produce and distribute a weapons-grade anthrax powder–at our own Fort Detrick no less–is enough to make you want to wear a self-contained breathing apparatus to bed.

Of course, Ivins committed suicide, so no trial is forthcoming. The FBI needs to complete a thorough analysis of all evidence to determine if their suspicions are correct. After all, they previously targeted another Ft. Detrick employee, Steven Hatfill, who recently won a $5.82 million lawsuit against the government for ruining his career and invading his privacy.

Most of the evidence against Ivins is circumstantial, including testimony of his therapist that indicated he was homicidal. Which begs the question of how an unstable, homicidal man is allowed to work in a Biosafety Level 4 government biodefense lab.

After a complete analysis, if evidence against Ivins is insufficient his name should be cleared and the case should remain open.

If Ivins is confirmed as the attacker, well, that means we’re all pretty vulnerable. His was a brilliant scientist, but his career with the government was in vaccine development, not bioterror. Is it that easy for one person, working alone to create a pathogenic weapon?


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