Microbiologist’s Suicide Demands a Full Probe of ‘01 Anthrax Attacks
Posted on Aug 1, 2008
Editor’s note: Originally posted on The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Web site.
Washington, D.C.—Today’s shocking revelation [Aug. 1] about the apparent suicide of an Army microbiologist, a lead suspect in the 2001 anthrax attacks, has intensified the need for a thorough investigation into the only significant bioterrorism attack on U.S. soil, said Alan Pearson, Director of the Biological and Chemical Weapons Control Program at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.
“The FBI must not let the death of Bruce Ivins deter it from completing a full and thorough investigation of the attacks,” said Pearson. “The chance to prove Ivins’s guilt before a court of law has been lost, but the need for a thorough investigation and a full accounting to the American people remains.” CNN reported today that the FBI will soon close the case “because a threat no longer exists.”
Pearson says that the number one question still to determine is whether Ivins was responsible for the attacks and, if so, whether he acted alone and with complete secrecy. “If Ivins was indeed responsible for the attacks, did he have any assistance? Did anyone else at the Army lab or elsewhere have any knowledge of his activities prior to, during, or shortly after the anthrax attacks?” asked Pearson. “The FBI must see this investigation through to completion.”
Pearson added that if it is established that Ivins or anyone else working at the government’s biodefense lab at Fort Detrick, Maryland produced the anthrax used in the attacks or diverted anthrax powder from the lab’s stocks, the implications would be significant.
“It appears increasingly likely that the only significant bioterrorism attack in history may have originated from right within the biodefense program of our own country,” said Pearson. “The implications for our understanding of the bioterrorism threat and for our entire biodefense strategy and enterprise are potentially profound.”