By Ed Lake
Aug. 7-11, 2002
(updated January 20, 2013)
"How often have I said to you
that when you have eliminated
the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable,
must be the truth?" - Sherlock Holmes
"Pfooie! … Hogwash! …. Humbug!" - Nero Wolfe
What happened on August 1, 2002?
Suddenly on that Thursday, the first day of August, 2002, Dr. Steven J. Hatfill was all over the news once again. WUSA was saying that a criminal search warrant had been issued "pursuant to an arrest". CBS was saying that Hatfill had "emerged as the chief focus of the anthrax investigation." CBS added, "Federal law enforcement sources told CBS News that Dr. Steven Hatfill was ‘the chief guy we're looking at’ in the probe."
Other reporters were clearly expecting an arrest before the end of the day.
Like a latter day Nero Wolfe, I sit in my office analyzing clues and seeking the truth. But unlike Wolfe, I have no trusty, reliable investigator like Archie Goodwin to go out and hunt for clues, to track down and question witnesses and to bring the results back for me to analyze. I depend almost entirely upon the media to ask the questions and to provide me with the clues via the Internet. But in article after article about Dr. Hatfill, the writings of the media are very often clueless, i.e., totally devoid of clues.
I just couldn’t make any sense of what had happened on August 1. What could possibly be learned from yet another search of Hatfill’s home?
Was Hatfill really now the "focus" of the anthrax investigation? Why? What happened? I didn't think that Hatfill was the culprit (see my page about "Other Theories"), and I didn't think the FBI believed it, either.
A few hours later, WUSA changed their web site to eliminate all references to Hatfill being on the verge of an arrest. And CBS changed their web site to suggest that Hatfill was merely the "focus" of the "probe" into his apartment. Duh!
I was left with a puzzle: What was the August 1 search really all about? Clearly the media didn’t have a clue. And the FBI wasn't saying. A day or two passed, and the whole story seemed to be forgotten by the media. The feeding frenzy was over, and instead of analyzing what had happened, the media was simply waiting for their next feeding.
Then came the Newsweek article about the bloodhounds. Bloodhounds!!?? Wha ...?
Newsweek reported, "Early last week FBI agents on the trail of last year's anthrax attacker turned to a 16th-century technology to help solve a 21st-century crime. Agents presented the canines with ‘scent packs’ lifted from anthrax-tainted letters mailed to Sens. Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy (long since decontaminated), hoping some faint, telltale trace of the perpetrator's smell still remained months after the fact."
That’s hard to believe – really, really, REALLY hard to believe.
In fact, even people on the Internet didn’t believe it. Did
believe it? Anyone except the media?
And even if a bloodhound could locate the scent of a suspect on such a letter, how was the scent transferred to a "scent pack"? And how does the FBI know it’s the scent of the suspect and not one of a billion other possible scents?
If the technology exists that can separate all the possible scents that could be on the letter and pick out only the scent of the person who mailed it, why can’t that technology simply be used to identify the culprit by comparing scents?
missing critical pieces of information in what was being published in
media. I was being asked to believe the unbelievable.
|Note added April 11, 2010:
According to documents released when the case was closed on February
19, 2010, Amerithrax investigators did indeed use
scent packs to try to take scents off of the Brokaw, New York Post and
Leahy letters. (See pdf
pages 43, 44 and 45.)
Who believed it? The Department of Justice attorney who leaked the information about Dr. Hatfill to Newsweek, that's who.
The attorney was probably aware that scents were extracted from the letters, so he was ready to believe that the scent belonged to Dr. Hatfill and to pass that information on to Newsweek. In reality, however, it was a setup by the FBI to nab the person who was leaking information about Hatfill to the media.
That changes nothing about whether or not the culprit's scent was actually on the letters. There's no information that Dr. Bruce Ivins was ever sniffed by the bloodhounds.
It also changes nothing about what kind of scent the bloodhounds were following when they located Dr. Hatfill. The evidence still says that they were using Dr. Hatfill's scent, since the bloodhounds first began their work a the Denny's restaurant in Louisiana after Dr. Hatfill lost his FBI tail there. At that point in time, the bloodhounds were only hunting for Dr. Hatfill, not for the anthrax mailer.
Newsweek also reported, "when the handlers approached the Frederick, Md., apartment building of Dr. Steven J. Hatfill, an eccentric 48-year-old scientist who had worked in one of the Army's top bioweapons-research laboratories, the dogs immediately became agitated, NEWSWEEK has learned. ‘They went crazy,’ says one law-enforcement source."
Wow! These are some bloodhounds. They can not only pick out a scent from a letter that has gone through assorted handlings and various decontamination processes for the past eleven months, but they can pick out the matching scent from outside the building where Hatfill lived as their handlers approached the building!
After examining all the articles that I found in a dozen or so sources, I had a head full of Hatfill and decided against writing anything about it. I’d just let the links to the articles speak for themselves.
But then, after several days of thinking about it, I suddenly came up with an idea. There apparently were clues in those articles. But if I was looking at the right clues - and if they really were clues - then my conclusions derived from those clues were very different from what had been reported in the media.
Clue #1 or "Me and my Camaro".
Somewhere in all the articles about August 1, I had read that Steven Hatfill drove a Camaro. I drive a Camaro. What can I deduce from the fact that Hatfill drives the same kind of car I drive? And was I right about Hatfill driving a Camaro?
I spent a half hour going through all the articles on my site again and again, looking for some mention of a Camaro. But I couldn’t find it. Finally, I located it in a transcription from Lou Dobbs Moneyline - of all places. It said, "Witnesses to the search say FBI agents confiscated a Camaro, among other items." Was it Hatfill’s Camaro? I couldn’t be sure. Maybe it was his girlfriend’s. Did it matter? It had to be connected to the case. Why would they "confiscate" his Camaro?
Clue #2 or "Dogs at Denny’s"
Somewhere I remembered reading that a Denny’s Restaurant in Louisiana had been searched by bloodhounds, and the bloodhounds got all excited when they picked up Hatfill’s scent. It was in the Newsweek article: "The agents also brought the bloodhounds to the Washington, D.C., apartment of Hatfill's girlfriend and to a Denny's restaurant in Louisiana, where Hatfill had eaten the day before."
Hatfill had eaten in a Denny’s restaurant in Louisiana the day before? Were they saying that, on August 1 he was in his apartment in Maryland, but on July 31 he was in Louisiana? Wha ….?
There are many articles that say Hatfill hadn’t lived in the Ft. Detrick apartment since the first search. According to WUSA, "Hatfill keeps a residence at the apartment building, but has not lived there since the first search, according to neighbors." But he was in the apartment when the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspectors arrived to do the search. According to The Washington Post: "Hatfill left the apartment when the FBI began its search and was not questioned". The Post also said, "agents arrived at Hatfill's apartment complex shortly after 10 a.m., blockaded the entrances with unmarked cars and in the afternoon began carrying cardboard boxes from Hatfill's residence into a dark blue van. Agents began leaving at 3:30 p.m., and the FBI vacated the complex at 5 p.m."
If Hatfill was in Louisiana the day before, and they were searching his house on August 1, that means he’d somehow transported himself the 1,140 miles from Baton Rouge to Washington. It’s about 19 hours by car (maybe less in a Camaro). Did he fly? No one seems to mention anything (or even care) about how he got from Louisiana to Washington. My gut was telling me he drove - probably straight through. 19 hours with only stops for food, gas and toilets. I've done that - or close to it - in my Camero.
Or did I misread the Newsweek sentence? "The agents also brought the bloodhounds to ... a Denny's restaurant in Louisiana, where Hatfill had eaten the day before."
Did that mean that Hatfill had eaten in the restaurant in Louisiana the day before the August 1 search of his apartment in Maryland? Or did it mean that the FBI had used bloodhounds on some unspecified day in the recent past to sniff through a Denny's were Hatfill had eaten the previous day? What sense did that make? Was I supposed to believe that the FBI wanted to see if Hatfill's scent matched what was on the anthrax letters, so they had bloodhounds sniff around a Denny's restaurant where Hatfill had eaten the previous day? Huh? Why not just sniff Hatfill?
It certainly made more sense that the bloodhounds sniffed around the Denny's the day before Hatfill's apartment was searched. But that's a problem with sifting through news reports and evaluating phases and words. They could mean many different things.
Scott Shane of The Baltimore Sun couldn't find any confirmation that the incident happened at all. "Managers at the 12 Denny's in Louisiana said they have not been visited by federal agents with bloodhounds," he later reported HERE.
However, whether the bloodhound story can be confirmed or not, it still seems likely that something happened between the time of Hatfill's last appearance in Louisiana and his reappearance at his apartment in Maryland - whether that time frame was a day or several days.
The same Washington Post article said, "Hatfill had been trying to arrange a meeting with FBI agents at the time of the search." Is that another clue? What did Hatfill want to talk about?
A Washington Post article from the 4th said it was the "first criminal search warrant in the case".
The "clues" had rattled around in my head for days and finally produced a wild conclusion: Hatfill was probably in Louisiana for a while in late July. He was probably apartment hunting and doing all the other things necessary when moving to a new job in a new town. And being around Louisiana State University also allowed him to avoid the media that is staking out his apartment near Ft. Detrick in Maryland. And since he was going to be in Louisiana for awhile, he probably drove there so that he'd have his Camaro available to use.
The FBI almost certainly has Hatfill under 24-hour surveillance. With Barbara Hatch Rosenberg and the media pointing at him as the most likely culprit in the anthrax case, they couldn’t do anything but put him under 24-hour surveillance. Even if they believed he was innocent, they’d still have to do it if they didn’t know who actually did the crime. That means they would also have to follow Hatfill when he went to Louisiana. But rather than keep agents from the Washington Office in Lousiana for the duration of Hatfill’s stay, they probably let the Baton Rouge office take over.
What happened before the search of August 1? Whether it wsa "the day before" or several days before, it still seems highly probable that ...
Hatfill ditched his tail!
Tired of being constantly followed, and being a guy who thinks he’s the James Bond type, he could have decided to put his Camaro to the test and head back to Washington unexpectedly - perhaps driving straight through.
If so, the Baton Rouge FBI office had lost him! They called in the bloodhounds! Using a "scent pack" for Hatfill they started to search, possibly beginning at the Denny’s restaurant where Hatfill was last seen.
The FBI had to find him. Barbara Hatch Rosenberg and the media would have a field day if they learned that anyone under 24-hour surveillance in the anthrax case had disappeared - and they’d go berserk if they learned it was Hatfill. The FBI checked his storage locker in Florida to see if he’d gone there.
Finally, the bloodhounds (human and canine) found him back at his apartment near Ft. Detrick.
Realizing that the FBI doesn’t like that sort of thing (being ditched by a guy who thinks he’s James Bond), Hatfill probably wanted to talk with the FBI to explain why he did what he did. But the FBI (notorious for lacking any sense of humor) wasn’t in the chatting mood and put the screws to Hatfill by impounding his car (perhaps to check the odometer to make sure he didn’t travel to Maryland by the way of Cuba), searching his place for 9 hours, and issuing the first criminal search warrant in the case.
Is this what happened? It seems to make a lot more sense than that bloodhounds got Hatfill's scent off of the anthrax letters. But who knows? The bloodhounds acted as if they were looking for Hatfill, and the "scent pack" was far more likely a scent pack for Hatfill, not one taken from the letters. That still indicates they were looking for Hatfill or for where Hatfill had been. That still indicates that Hatfill had ditched his tail.
And the FBI could be trying to keep quiet about the embarrassing incident, since it doesn’t make them look good - even if they feel certain that Hatfill isn’t the culprit. Until they arrest the real culprit, they have to treat Hatfill as if he could be the culprit - otherwise they’d have to explain to the media how they know he didn’t do it. So, they’re not about to tell the media that all the fuss was simply about losing their tail on Hatfill.
It’s a theory that stretches a few clues to their breaking points, and the whole idea could burst like a balloon with the addition of a solid fact or two. But I like it. And if it turns out to be totally wrong -- I'll just hit the delete key.
NOTE: In Dr. Hatfill's August 11, 2002, news conference, some of these subjects were either clarified a bit (or made less clear. It's hard to tell.) It was implied that the search of Aug. 1 was somehow connected to Barbara Hatch Rosenberg's meeting with a Congressional Committee late in July. But it could be more likely that it was done because the FBI couldn't let Hatfill throw anything away. Hatfill was cleaning out his apartment in preparation for moving to Louisiana. If he threw anything away, Rosenberg could go before Congress and imply that the FBI let him throw away valuable evidence. So, the FBI had to go in to gather up the junk he was tossing away just to avoid bad publicity from Rosenberg's camp. It makes a certain amount of sense. Until the anthrax case is solved, the FBI might be collecting everything that Dr. Hatfill throws away.
The FBI apparently first asked Dr. Hatfill if they could do the search, but instead of immediately granting access as in the past, he told them to check with his lawyer. That apparently caused the FBI agent in charge to have a fit and obtain a criminal search warrant rather than go through Hatfill's lawyer.
It was clearly stated by Hatfill's lawyer during the news conference that the bloodhound story was totally "bogus". But that could also mean that whatever was done with the bloodhounds was never seen by Dr. Hatfill. It could mean that they lost his tail on his return from Louisiana but he wasn't aware of it or didn't even know he was being followed. Hatfill's lawyer thought that the bloodhound story was one that the media should dig into. So do I.
Hatfill Do It?
(added Aug. 10, 2002)
(Modified Aug. 11, 2002)
With all the scrutiny into Dr. Steven J. Hatfill’s life, you would think that someone would find a few pertinent facts that actually directly relate to the anthrax case. But all we seem to have is innuendo and baseless accusations.
The media tells us that Dr. Hatfill realized that someone could send anthrax through the mails long before it happened. Big deal. He even commissioned a study of the subject. That’s evidence that he’s a pretty smart guy. It isn’t evidence of his guilt. To use that as an indicator to accuse him of guilt tells us more about the accusers, since it indicates that they believe anyone smarter than them is not to be trusted. They criticize government agencies who failed to predict the attack and accuse the scientific experts who did.
The media tells us that Dr. Hatfill has a done a lot of odd and suspicious things in his past. In other words, he’s not a straight-and-narrow guy who does straight-and-narrow things, and that makes him a suspect. That really says that narrow minded people are making the accusations.
It appears clear that Dr. Hatfill is a non-conformist. To conformists, that’s a hanging offense without question.
Dr. Hatfill is "flamboyant". Okay. Not a crime. He’s been described as "The Warren Beatty of Science". Okay. Funny, but not a serious indicator of guilt. His resume has been picked apart and discrepancies have been found - discrepancies which he apparently corrected in later resumes. Okay. If everyone who stretched the truth a bit on a professional resume were put in prison, we’d all be there. He brags about things that aren't exactly true. Who doesn't? (In the distant past, I occasionally told people "I once worked with the CIA", when actually all I did was clear Air America spotter planes for landings at a remote airstrip. It wasn't a lie, but it wasn't exactly true, either.)
Nearly all this stuff about Dr. Hatfill’s past is just conspiracy theory nonsense.
The only really important question is: Where was Steven J. Hatfill between Sept. 11 and Oct. 9, 2001?
The FBI has repeatedly stated that they have nothing to indicate that Dr. Hatfill was anywhere near Trenton, New Jersey, where the anthrax letters were mailed during that time. Plus, a New York Times article dated August 10, 2002, says, "Borrowing investigative techniques used in espionage cases, they [the FBI] have compiled a minute-by-minute timeline of Dr. Hatfill's whereabouts on days when the anthrax-tainted letters were mailed."
The FBI knows where Hatfill was! The only assumption that can be made by outsiders like myself is that he was somewhere near where he lives - just outside the gates of Ft. Detrick, near Frederick, Maryland - roughly 40 miles northwest of Washington, DC.
Trenton is about 183 miles from Frederick, MD, to Trenton, NJ. About a 3-1/4 hour drive. 6-1/2 hours round trip. It can easily be driven during a single evening.
However, the evidence seems to indicate that the anthrax culprit had access to a sophisticated laboratory between the two mailing dates, and he used that laboratory to experiment and to refine the anthrax - creating a much more refined batch for the second mailing.
Hatfill was probably working for the Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) at the time of the attacks of September 11. He'd lost his security clearance and could no longer work for the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) lab at Ft. Detrick, but SAIC also has a facility at Ft. Detrick, as well as in Virginia. Based upon the location of Hatfill's apartment, it's possible he just moved to a different part of the Ft. Detrick facility when he left USAMRIID (but there are indications he worked at McLean).
It seems highly unlikely that he had unsupervised access to a sophisticated laboratory. And, since he'd just lost his security clearance, he certainly couldn’t use Ft. Detrick’s USAMRIID lab at that time without people remembering and without setting off alarm bells all over the place. Particularly since lab work apparently wasn’t his area of expertise. And particularly since Ft. Detrick had gone into "lockdown" the day after September 11, according to "The Public I". The 3,804 civilian and military personnel at the 1,153-acre Ft. Detrick biological weapons facility were evacuated.
The anthrax mailer, whoever he is, seems familiar with the Trenton area. He mailed all the letters from there, and he may have used a Xerox machine there. Would someone from Frederick, MD, go 183 miles to the Trenton area to use a Xerox machine? And, if the intent was to blame al Qaeda or Iraq for the mailings, why pinpoint the Trenton area? Why not send the first batch of letters from one place and the second batch from somewhere else? If you are mailing letters to New York, why go to 183 miles to Trenton? Why not drive the 239 miles to New York City? It's only an extra hour's drive. And mailing the anthrax letters to New York from New York would really cause panic among the media located in New York.
We need to remember that the original conspiracy theories from Barbara Hatch Rosenberg had the CIA manufacturing "weapons grade" anthrax at Ft. Detrick, and some unnamed individual stealing the stuff from there in the same form used in the mailings. Or being duped to send the letter on behalf of the CIA. Or turning into a rogue CIA operative running amok. But later findings indicated that the anthrax in the letters was NOT weapons grade, and that the anthrax in the batch of letters to the media was less refined than the anthrax in the letters to the two Senators. This indicated that the culprit had access to a lab during the 3-week period between the mailings and worked in that lab to experiment and refine the second batch of anthrax. He may also have worked in that same lab between Sept. 11 and Sept. 18 to get the first batch of anthrax ready. There's no evidence that Hatfill had any such access.
At 1 p.m. on Sunday, August 11, 2002, Dr. Hatfill and his lawyer held a press conference to address some of the charges against Dr. Hatfill.
In The Washington Post on August 10, an exclusive interview provided a preview to most of the key points in Dr. Hatfill's press conference the next day. The Post listed Hatfill's attorney Victor M. Glasberg's rebuttals to various claims:
• That he had unfettered access to the Army bioresearch lab at Fort Detrick after his grant ended in 1999. He did not, Glasberg said. "After he stopped working there, he had to be escorted, like everybody," Glasberg said. Dasey confirmed that.
• That he had been given a booster vaccine for anthrax. He did not, Glasberg said. His last anthrax vaccination was in December 1998, and he has not received a shot since then, making him as vulnerable as anyone else, Glasberg said.
• That he removed cabinets from Fort Detrick that could be used to culture anthrax. The cabinets, weighing more than 350 pounds, were moved by truck to a training site for a military exercise and then blown up, Glasberg said.
• That the "Greendale School" listed as a return address on the anthrax mailings is in Harare, Zimbabwe, near Hatfill's medical school. "To the best of our knowledge, there isn't any Greendale School," Glasberg said. "There is a subdivision near Harare called Greendale, but there are Greendales everywhere."
• That Hatfill was disgruntled at losing his security clearance. At Fort Detrick, Hatfill never had nor needed security clearance, Glasberg and Dasey said. Once at Science Applications International, he got low-level security clearance for one project. When he was detailed to work for the CIA on another project, a CIA lie-detector test was ambiguous when he was asked about his days in Africa, Glasberg said. His clearance was revoked pending an appeal.
Virtually none of Hatfill's work at Science Applications International required a clearance, Glasberg said, but the company used its revocation as a reason to fire Hatfill in February. He said the company has since offered Hatfill settlement payments, which he rejected, and more work, which he accepted.
In May, Esteban Rodriguez, a supervisor at the Defense Intelligence Agency, wrote a letter lauding Hatfill's "unsurpassed technical expertise, unique resourcefulness, total dedication and consummate professionalism" in helping the military prepare for possible biowarfare in Afghanistan.
What the article in the Post didn't mention that seemed extremely interesting at the news conference, was that - as I long suspected - Dr. Hatfill is anti-BTWC and Dr. Barbara Hatch Rosenberg is pro-BTWC. That simple fact could explain most of her attacks upon Dr. Hatfill.
Questions about the bloodhounds came up, and the answer that Glasberg gave several times was: "It's all bogus! It's bogus!" He ridiculed the idea that bloodhounds would be used that way and asked he media to check the story themselves instead of just reporting what someone else reported. Instead of checking, however, the media seems to believe it. Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times falls for it completely in his column of August 13.
Unfortunately, no specific references were made to Dr. Hatfill's work in Africa, but Kristof fell for the Internet gossip about that when he wrote this trash: "what was a man like Dr. Hatfill who had served in the armed forces of two white racist governments (Rhodesia and South Africa) doing in a U.S. Army lab working with Ebola?"
The most inept researcher these days should be able to find a copy of Dr. Hatfill's résumé. If Kristof had even bothered to check it - instead of just blindly accepting rumors from the Internet - he would have found this:
As I read this, it tells me that when Dr. Hatfill was with the Special Air Service in Rhodesia he was also with the United States Army Institute for Military Assistance. In other words, he was there as an advisor or observer for the U.S. Army. And for this he is being pilloried as a racist! Plus, if my memory of the history of the Flying Tigers and the American Eagles in the RAF serves me correctly, no American can serve in the armed forces of another country without losing his U.S. citizenship - unless he has specific permission from the U.S. Government. (According to some stories, Hatfill claims to have served as a double agent during some of this time, so he could also have been there as a CIA "asset". But to Barbara Hatch Rosenberg's followers, that just implies he's guilty of anything and everything.)
The media questions about a possible "frame-up" were interesting, but it was pointless to ask Dr. Hatfill or his lawyer. The question should be asked of the FBI. It seems clear, however, that no evidence has been planted to implicate Dr. Hatfill because there is no evidence to implicate Dr. Hatfill! Or am I mistaken? There are indications that the possible "frame" that Barbara Hatch Rosenberg first mentioned and the media keeps mentioning could be the hoax anthrax letter sent to Senator Daschle from England during the time that Hatfill was also in England (November 15, 2001). If so, the implications could be staggering.
The main source of information about the hoax letter is from CNN. It can be viewed HERE or HERE. The letter contained a harmless powder and a threatening note. Unfortunately, there's nothing in the media about the nature of the threat.
A piece by Laura Rosen included this:
"In the meantime, some former SAIC colleagues have gone to the FBI with concerns that nagged them in the wake of October's letters. They have pointed out that Hatfill was in the UK around November 15 for a business meeting at the very place and time from which a little-publicized hoax anthrax letter was apparently sent to Senator Tom Daschle."
Does it really seem reasonable that Dr. Hatfill would go to England and mail a hoax letter while there? An argument that it was an attempt to "frame" Dr. Hatfill seems more logical, since it would be a simple matter to prove Dr. Hatfill was in England on that date.
After the news conference, the news talk shows seemed only interested in who in the FBI may have leaked a copy of Dr. Hatfill's unfinished novel to ABC. Instead of being outraged, they seemed jealous of ABC. CNN's Paula Zahn in a weird demonstration of total cluelessness even questioned why Dr. Hatfill held a news conference - implying that it was suspicious of him to do so, and further implying that the FBI wouldn't be looking so hard at him if they didn't have some reason to do so. Paula Zahn seemed never to have heard of Dr. Hatfill before, and she seemed totally oblivious of all the prior media coverage of Dr. Barbara Hatch Rosenberg's speeches where she had all but named Dr. Hatfill as the anthrax killer. Zahn clearly saw no connection between the news conference and the fact that Dr. Rosenberg went before a Congressional Committee late in July and Rosenberg all but demanded that Dr. Hatfill be investigated and arrested. Doesn't the media realize what pressures can be put onto the Justice Department and the FBI when the media keeps pointing at someone like Dr. Hatfill? Clearly Paula Zahn didn't.
NOTE: All evidence seems to indicate that ABC read the manuscript for Hatfill's novel "Emergence" by going to the Copyrights Office, filling out a form and paying $60. That allowed the reporter to view the manuscript and take notes. As a writer, this access to unpublished works is total news to to me (and to every other writer I know), and it was probably unknown to Dr. Hatfill and his lawyers when they accused the FBI of getting the novel from Dr. Hatfill's hard drive and turning it over to a reporter.
On an ABC news show after the conference, Brian Ross made a very interesting statement: "the FBI concedes he [Dr. Hatfill] could not himself make anthrax, does not have what they call 'the bench skills' to make it [weaponized anthrax]." On wonders how such a critical fact can casually be mentioned in passing while a nonexistant Greendale School in Africa is considered "hard news" and makes headlines.
Somewhere among the hundreds of articles about this case there's another quoted comment from someone in the FBI who said that the anthrax mailer doesn't necessarily have to be a scientist, he could be a lab technician with "good bench skills". One has to wonder how Dr. Hatfill can be a "person of interest" if he doesn't have the skills, but the answer almost certainly lies in the area of politics not criminology. Apply enough political and media pressure and you can turn Donald Duck into a suspect.
As far as this web site is concerned, I much prefer spending my time trying to figure out who sent the anthrax letters - rather than trying hopelessly to prove that Dr. Hatfill didn't send the letters. You can't prove the negative. The only good way to prove someone didn't commit a crime is to find out who actually did.
But, with the media usually being clueless, i.e., devoid of solid clues, I'm often reduced to reading between the lines and interpreting phrases. One such phrase that nicely fits my theories is this one from the Trenton Times dated June 28, 2002:
"Despite having focused its investigation on scientists, the FBI still believes the attacker may not be associated with anthrax research, the official said."
As made very clear in the main page of this web site, I do not believe that the person who took the anthrax from some government lab is the same person who mailed it. (Yes, it could be Dr. Hatfill, but there's no reason to put him before hundreds of other possibilities.) I do not feel that the anthrax mailer is anyone currently (nor probably any time previously) associated with anthrax research. He’s in some vaguely related area - probably microbiology, and that’s what makes it so difficult to prove that he did it.
Another phrase that I like is this one from the July 23, 2002, issue of Newsday:
"Dozens of theories as to who was responsible have appeared in the media since last fall, mostly relying on information from non-FBI sources. FBI insiders, however, say no published account has correctly disclosed the investigation's leading hypotheses."
There seem to be countless "published accounts" accusing Dr. Hatfill or some CIA plot, and more countless accounts blaming Iraq or al Qaeda. But no published accounts point to one person stealing the anthrax and another - someone unconnected with any biodefense program - doing the refining and the two anthrax mailings.
That’s the kind of interpretation of a possible clue from clueless sources that keeps me reading countless newspaper articles and continuously updating this site.
Meanwhile, if the Dr. Hatfill press conference convinced people in the media that he's innocent, where will they shift their focus? To blaming Iraq and/or al Qaeda? It's the only other theory that has numerous "experts" ready to provide news bites. Or will they just rant against the FBI for not providing better material for the news shows?
Or will they realize what this is all about?
all just politics.
by Ed Lake
(Revised: Aug. 19, 2002)
The Dr. Steven J. Hatfill "investigation" isn't about the anthrax case. It's about politics.
When one stands back and looks objectively at "the case against Dr. Hatfill", one sees a very familiar pattern.
The pattern consists of a list of serious accusations and claims against Dr. Hatfill, which, when matched with actual evidence, turn out to be wildly exaggerated and totally unsubstantiated:
1. It’s been claimed
he worked with anthrax. There's no record that he ever worked
anthrax. He worked with viruses, not germs like anthrax.
2. It’s been claimed that he had unfettered access to a lab where anthrax was made. He didn’t.
3. It’s been claimed that he had booster shots to prevent getting anthrax at the time of the anthrax mailings. He didn’t.
4. It’s been claimed that he took some obsolete biological cabinets to make anthrax. The nonfunctional cabinets were used in military training exercises and then destroyed.
5. It’s been claimed that he once lived near a "Greendale School". There is no Greendale School in the African community of Greendale near where he once lived.
6. It’s been claimed that he’s a Nazi who "joined" the Rhodesian SAS. According to his resume, he was still in the U.S. Army when he was with the Rhodesian SAS, so he was apparently acting as an observer for those anti-communist forces.
7. It’s been claimed that Dr. Hatfill lost his security clearance over something that happened at USAMRIID. He didn’t need a security clearance for his work at USAMRIID. He applied for a higher-level clearance to work with the CIA, and he lost his clearance because the polygraph examiner didn’t like Dr. Hatfill’s answers to some questions about his work in Africa.
8. It’s been claimed that Hatfill had an "isolated residence" - often described as a "remote cabin" - which may be a safe house operated by "American Intelligence". But in reality, it’s an apartment in a 3 story building and rented by a friend, at which Dr. Hatfill occasionally attended parties.
9. It’s been claimed that bloodhounds sniffed the anthrax letters and matched the scent to Dr. Hatfill, although this appears to be a scientific absurdity that very few truly believe.
10. It’s been claimed that he was around locations at times when suspicious events occurred, from hoax letters sent from England, to the anthrax outbreak in Rhodesia in the 1980s to the outbreak of the West Nile Virus in Louisiana in 2002. If anything odd happened anywhere he’s been, he’s been blamed for it - totally without proof.
And that’s just a partial list.
All these wildly exaggerated claims and insinuations are just too numerous and too bizarre to have come about simply because Dr. Hatfill is one of a couple dozen "persons of interest" in the anthrax case. So many irrational, wild distortions couldn’t have come about that way. They certainly didn't come about because the FBI leaked the fact that they were searching Dr. Hatfill's apartment on June 25, 2002. No. The FBI initiated that search because of the rampaging rumors, exaggerated claims and personal attacks. The FBI search was an effect, not a cause.
Here is a .pdf from Daniel J. Bryant of the FBI to Senator Senator Charles Grassley where Bryant states very clearly (in the second letter) that the media was poised and ready - as a result of rumors and activities by the media and others - to leap on any news that Dr. Hatfill was under investigation. No "leak" from the FBI was needed to start the snowball moving.
That kind of intense emotional interest in Dr. Hatfill could only be the end result of months of rampant rumors plus the type of festering distrust of the U.S. government that turns mysteries into complex conspiracy theories where the lack of evidence is seen as proof of a conspiracy. It's the same pattern and the same distrust that convinces millions of Americans that the moon landings were a hoax, that JFK was killed by the CIA, that the government has alien flying saucers hidden in a secret location in Nevada. And all evidence to the contrary is just a cover-up. And "If you can't prove me wrong, that proves I'm right."
It's also standard procedure for political infighting. Make an accusation and let the other side prove it incorrect. Then make another accusation and another and another. The public (and the media) often only remember the accusations, not the proof that the accusations were incorrect.
But why pick on Dr. Hatfill for a conspiracy theory? How did he become the focus of this rampant rumor mongering? And how could it spread so fast? It couldn’t have happened just since the anthrax attacks of Sept. and Oct. 2001.
To some, Dr. Hatfill must have been seen as a potential perpetrator of evil acts prior to those attacks. He must have been a suspect before there was a crime! And one doesn’t have to look very far to find out why.
Dr. Hatfill is an outspoken opponent to the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention (BTWC). He publicly demonstrated the ease with which biological weapons could be created. He was actively convincing people that terrorists were the biggest threat - not secret government projects run by the CIA. But opinions aren't enough to set off a whisper campaign against someone. There had to be a catalyst that truly put things in motion. There was.
The Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention
According to a July 26, 2001 story on CNN, at the July meeting the U.S. rejected "a draft accord intended to ensure compliance with a United Nations ban on biological weapons." CNN added, "Nations had been negotiating for almost seven years to agree on a way to implement the ban, when the United States announced on Wednesday that it had ‘long-standing concerns’ and could not support the draft."
This was a great shock to many American scientists who had labored for years to implement the Biological [and Toxic Weapons] Convention's (BTWC or BWC) resolution. CNN reported:
"U.S. chief negotiator Donald Mahley told representatives from 56 nations who held talks in Geneva that the U.S. still supports the global ban on biological weapons as outlined in the BWC."
"A central concern for the United States, Mahley said, was uncovering ‘illicit activity’ regarding biological weapons."
"The draft accord fails to provide any deterrent to states manufacturing illicit biological weapons, Mahley said."
"The U.S. said the checks would not stop cheating by states wanting to develop biological weapons and could open the door to industrial espionage."
Like the battle between Senator Leahy and Attorney General Ashcroft over the Patriot Act, which may have caused Senator Leahy to be targeted with an anthrax letter, the BTWC controversy is another area where most Americans never paid any serious attention. I certainly didn’t. But some did - primarily scientists concerned about biological weapons.
To many microbiologists and other scientists, the BTWC was an ideological battle with sides as fiercely committed as other battles better known to the general public: the abortion battle, the capital punishment battle and the battle over rights to own guns. It’s seen as a "life and death issue". To some scientists, the BTWC controversy is apparently a no-holds-barred war where tempers can flair, sides are solidly entrenched, and hatred reaches the same temperature as that exhibited by people who bomb planned parenthood clinics and kill abortion doctors.
The BTWC "war" entered into a new phase during those meetings in July of 2001, when the pro-BTWC advocates lost a critical battle to those who they feel support government-run bioweapons labs where scientists without conscience or concern are developing bioweapons of mass destruction.
In a surprise move, the Bush Administration threw the conference into turmoil and rejected the proposal for inspections of government labs. To those behind the conference, this was the trashing of six years of work. One can only imagine the outrage they must have felt - particularly the American scientists who supported the convention and now found their own government standing alone in opposition to the 56 nations at the convention which favored it. Some details of the battle was described in a CNN story which is also HERE.
In this atmosphere we have two concerned scientists at opposite ends of the ideological spectrum - Dr. Barbara Hatch Rosenberg and Dr. Steven J. Hatfill.
The Rabble Rouser Rouses the Rabble
One can only imagine the outrage after the July 26, 2001, conference. And the intensity of those discussions must have soared after the September 11 attacks when the rest of the world was suddenly participating in near panicky fears that the next attack from al Qaeda could be - and probably would be - biological. Millions could die!
Two months later, on November 21, 2001, undoubtedly after many many heated discussions, Barbara Hatch Rosenberg began her (documented) rants against the U.S. Government weapons programs in a speech to the BTWC in Geneva. And she began pointing at a single "unnamed" individual as being the most likely suspect for the anthrax attacks.
In no uncertain terms, at the November conference she declared, "My city has been attacked, first by foreign terrorists, then by an American using a weaponized biological agent." And, she added, the U.S. anthrax used in the attacks was "almost certainly" derived from a U.S. government laboratory.
This declaration couldn't have suddenly occurred to her at the convention. It must have been the subject of many discussions with associates. And the most likely suspect was probably identified during those discussions - a suspect who was the most visible poster boy for the opposing side in the BTWC debate - Dr. Steven J. Hatfill! He may not have done it, but, in many people's opinion, he was the type who could and would do it. (At that particular moment in time - as Dr. Rosenberg was giving her speech in Geneva - Dr. Hatfill just happened to be attending a meeting for potential United Nations inspectors at Proton Down in England.)
It may be no coicindence that while Dr. Rosenberg was in Geneva and Dr. Hatfill was in England, someone sent a hoax anthrax letter to Senator Daschle from England. More about this below.
When Dr. Rosenberg returned home from Geneva, she put a "Compilation of Evidence and Comments on the Source of the Mailed Anthrax" onto the Federation of American Scientists' web site. It has since been removed, but a copy of the revised version from December 3, 2001, can be viewed by clicking HERE.
She begins by explaining why the anthrax must have come from a U.S. lab and how it's from a secret process invented by William Patrick.
She makes her first big mistake when she says,
"All the letters probably contained the same material. The clumping of the anthrax in the two letters mailed on Sept 18 (to NBC and the NY Post) probably resulted from the letters getting wet in the course of mail processing or delivery, according to Army scientists."Many who read her "Compilation" believed as a result of this statement that the anthrax in the first batch of letters was no different than the anthrax in the second batch. That later proved to be critically untrue.
Dr. Rosenberg then methodically goes through the step by step logic where she concludes that (1) the anthrax was produced in a small quantity in a government lab ("investigators can identify with great certainty which lab produced the anthrax, but it will be a laborious, time-consuming process"), (2) the anthrax was mailed by an individual who worked in one of those labs ("The perpetrator appears to be a forensic expert. He has successfully covered every personal trace."), (3) the anthrax had been made prior to Sept. 11 ("the anthrax was already in hand before Sept 11"), and (4) a cover-up is underway ("The Secretary of Health and Human Services said in October that some of the relevant information is classified, and some is restricted by the FBI.").
She then begins her "most likely hypothesis" describing the culprit:
"The perpetrator is an American microbiologist who has access to recently-weaponized anthrax or to the expertise and materials for making it, in a US government or contractor lab. He does not live in or near Trenton".
"The anthrax in the letters was made and weaponized in a US government or contractor lab."
"Weaponization of dry anthrax after 1972, when the BWC was signed, could be construed as a violation of the BWC."
"The choice of media as targets seems designed to ensure publicity about the threat of biological weapons. One can only speculate that the perpetrator may have wished to push the US government toward retaliatory action against some enemy, or to attract funding or recognition to some program with which he is associated."
"The US government has known for some time that the anthrax terrorism was an inside job. They may be reluctant to admit this. They also may not yet have adequate hard evidence to convict the perpetrator."And what does all this unsubstantiated "evidence" mean to her?
"Conclusions: A recent report by the GAO, and many recent statements by experts in the BW field, hold that terrorists are unlikely to be able to mount a major biological attack without substantial assistance from a government sponsor. The recent anthrax attack was a minor one but nonetheless we now see that it was perpetrated with the unwitting assistance of a sophisticated government program. It is reassuring to know that it was not perpetrated by a lone terrorist without such support. However it is not reassuring to know that a secret US program was the source of that support. Secret threat assessment activities are undermining the intent of the Biological Weapons Convention and encouraging BW proliferation in other countries, which in turn may support terrorist attacks on the US."As with the people from Camp Jingo who insist that only a government project could have made the anthrax, but who conclude that the government must have been Iraq, Barbara Hatch Rosenberg concludes that the government was the United States Goverment and that someone from an illicit U.S. bioweapons program obtained anthrax from that program and sent it through the mail to undermine the position of those in favor of the BTWC. In other words, it's a plot by a person (or group) opposed to the BTWC to undermine the position of those in favor of the BTWC.
When you look at the history behind the Dr. Hatfill accusations, there is only one conclusion: It's all politics! It's pro-BTWC people against anti-BTWC people.
Identifying "the culprit"
The motivation was made clear (but unsubstantiated). The access to anthrax was defined (but unsubstantiated). The means for committing the crime was clear:
"He does not live in or near Trenton, which is a stop on the Amtrak line that runs along the East coast. If he is smart enough to handle anthrax he is smart enough not to mail it from his home town. Trenton is probably accessible to him, however."All that was needed was to publicly identify the culprit. And since she specifically states that "he does not live in or near Trenton", she clearly had a specific person in mind - and probably had that person in mind for a long time prior to this "conclusion" of December 3. 2001.
How many others also had the same person in mind? Dr. Hatfill has stated that he doesn't know Barbara Hatch Rosenberg and has never met her. So, the pinpointing of Dr. Hatfill undoubtedly came from many discussions with her friends and associates (pro-BTWC scientists) on who might have done it. And, with the motive defined, it would have to be someone opposed to the BTWC. There are undoubtedly many people opposed to the BTWC, but how many go around talking about and demonstrating tactics that could be used by terrorists? How many have vaguely sinister backgrounds that could include work with the CIA? How many are non-conformists who do things that annoy conformists? There apparently was only one: Dr. Steven J. Hatfill.
Barbara Hatch Rosenberg didn't stop after her "compilation" of December 3, 2001. She contined to beat the drum for her cause A January 6, 2002, article from the Baltimore Sun begins with speculation on motive by "webhead" Richard M. Smith:
"Somebody in the know says, 'This stuff is so dangerous, and we're not treating it with the right amount of concern,'" Smith says. "'So why don't I give a demonstration?'"
Rosenberg says such a notion was occasionally aired jokingly in the small circle of those who worried about biological terror prior to Sept. 11.
"There have been a number of occasions when we've said in frustration, 'What we need is a biological weapons attack to wake the country up,'" she says.
The public evidence - that the mailed anthrax was the Ames strain used in U.S. biodefense research, and that it was prepared with great expertise - points to a U.S. military or government contractor program, Rosenberg says.
"I think it's somebody who's got a screw loose," Rosenberg says. "But I think the existence of the U.S. [biodefense] program made it possible."People from her group thought that a biological weapons attack would wake the country up? Now isn't that interesting? She's saying her side thought exactly as she's accusing the other side of doing. But viewed another way: The culprit could be from either side!
On February 19, 2002, Dr. Rosenberg was still at it. An article in The Trenton Times reported on an inflamitory speech she'd just given:
"[Dr. Rosenberg] said the evidence points to a person who has experience handling anthrax; who has been vaccinated and has received annual booster shots; and who had access to classified government information about how to chemically treat the bacterial spores to keep them from clumping together, which allows them to remain airborne.
"We can draw a likely portrait of the perpetrator as a former Fort Detrick scientist who is now working for a contractor in the Washington, D.C., area," Rosenberg said. "He had reason for travel to Florida, New Jersey and the United Kingdom. . . . There is also the likelihood the perpetrator made the anthrax himself. He grew it, probably on a solid medium and weaponized it at a private location where he had accumulated the equipment and the material.
"We know that the FBI is looking at this person, and it's likely that he participated in the past in secret activities that the government would not like to see disclosed," Rosenberg said. "And this raises the question of whether the FBI may be dragging its feet somewhat and may not be so anxious to bring to public light the person who did this.Not everyone in the media knew who she was talking about. On February 25, 2002, The Washington Times was saying that the FBI was focusing on someone similar to the individual Dr. Rosenberg was talking about, but with very clear differences:
"The unidentified scientist, according to the sources, was twice fired from government jobs and, after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that killed more than 3,000 people, reportedly made a threat to use anthrax."In February of 2002, Dr. Hatfill hadn't been fired from anywhere, and, as far as I know, he has never made any threats "to use anthrax". Apparently, the Times reporter was combining information about two different people, Dr. Hatfill and another scientist mentioned in an article from The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
While it's very likely that Barbara Hatch Rosenberg made many such speeches during the intervening four months, it wasn't until June 13, 2002, that she made headlines again. The Baltimore Sun reported:
The scientists' accounts are among several developments that suggest the FBI is seriously exploring the possibility that a Fort Detrick insider could have clandestinely produced and removed anthrax spores to a private location, where they could be refined into the lethal powder sent through the mail last fall.
That premise also is at the center of a new assessment of the investigation by a prominent bioweapons expert, who says five biodefense experts have given the FBI the name of a former Fort Detrick scientist who had access to "a remote location" that could have been used to refine anthrax spores into a weapons form.
In her assessment - scheduled to be posted today on the Federation of American Scientists' Web site - Barbara Hatch Rosenberg all but names the scientist and provides details about his background. The Hartford, Conn., Courant obtained an advance copy of the six-page paper written by Rosenberg, who is chairwoman of the federation's working group on biological weapons.
She says, in her assessment, that the unidentified scientist suffered a career setback last summer that "left him angry and depressed" and that the FBI, with his consent, searched his home and computer.
The unidentified scientist has declined interview requests, but in a voice-mail message left for a Courant reporter last month he denied that he was a suspect.On that same day, June 13, 2002, Barbara Hatch Rosenberg published a rant on the Internet where she all but named Dr. Hatfill. That rant is HERE.
What kind of public pressure can be applied by such tactics? How many people were listening to Dr. Rosenberg? How many scientists and private citizens were reading her writings? How many were calling their Congressmen to complain about the "cover-up"?
When public pressure is applied, only a public response will relieve the pressure. It didn't take long for the FBI to respond to the pressure and turn the whole thing into a public spectacle.
On the 26th of June, after a very visible search of Dr. Hatfill's apartment, the New York Times published Dr. Hatfill's name to all the world and it became clear to anyone following the case that Dr. Rosenberg had been talking about Dr. Hatfill when she talked about a former Ft. Detrick employee who could be the anthrax mailer. The New York Times wrote:
Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation examined the apartment of Dr. Steven J. Hatfill near Fort Detrick, Md., after he consented to the search, the officials said. They had said before the search that Dr. Hatfill was not a suspect, and today's results seemed to strengthen that position.
Dr. Hatfill, 48, had been the subject of Web site gossip among scientists, journalists and other professionals about possible domestic suspects in last year's anthrax attacks. After reporters pursued him, he was fired in March from his job at Science Applications International Corporation, a contractor for the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency that helps the government with germ defenses. From 1997 to 1999, he worked at the Army's biodefense laboratory at Fort Detrick.
In an interview, Dr. Hatfill said he had been the victim of a witch hunt.This turned the heated debate over Dr. Hatfill that had previously been primarily among scientists into a national and international debate. If he was guilty, why hadn't he been arrested. If the FBI was saying wasn't a "suspect", why did they search his home so publicly? Was it a cover-up? Was it incompetency? People were demanding action. Politicians were demanding action.
But no one was looking that the evidence! No one cared about the validity of the accusations, only that they accusations had been made. It bordered on a lynch mob mentality. It was unreasoning hatred based upon uncontrolled inuendo and speculation!
Then, a little over a month later came the second search. The one of August 1. The results were more of the same. An arrest was imminent, some media outlets declared!
And then, finally, Dr. Hatfill's news conference of August 11. Suddenly Dr. Hatfill was no longer this mysterious, invisible demon who existed only in gossip and news stories. He was a living man with a face and a valid complaint.
It wasn't until Dr. Hatfill's news conference that people started looking at all the accusations against Dr. Hatfill and began evaluating the "evidence". And then the whole list of accusations began to look like what they were: wild exaggerations and unsubstantiated inuendo. Virtually everything said about Dr. Hatfill was shown to be "bogus" - with the exception of some innaccuracies on what is otherwise a very impressive resume! So, some true believers in the media harped that the innaccuracies on his resume suggested he was guilty!
It was the only item they could prove! Early versions of his resume contained inaccuracies! Hang him! Lynch him! If that item was true, all the other items could be true also - just covered up by the FBI and the CIA!
Did Dr. Hatfill send the Anthrax letters? According to several sources, the FBI has Dr. Hatfill's journal and have used it and every other available source to track Dr. Hatfill's movements during the period that the anthrax letters were mailed, and they found no evidence that he was anywhere near Central New Jersey at that time. What's more, his work sheets from his job at SAIC in McClean, VA, indicate he was working long hours at that time and Hatfill says that other employees will verify that he was truly at work and not somewhere else. But that's not good enough for true believers. For true believers, gut feelings take precedence over facts.
When you have such mindless political hatred, such idiotic logic, so many totally bogus claims, and when all are aggravated by the screwball conspiracy theory mentality of people who blame the CIA for everything that goes wrong in the world, the end result can only be the defamation of a man who is very likely innocent. And the defamation may even have included an attempt at a "Frame Up".
An attempted "Frame Up"?
According the The Times Of London, "Hatfill travelled to Britain shortly before November 12 last year and left some time after November 23."
"His travel expenses to Britain were paid by the Foreign Office. At Porton Down he trained as a United Nations bio-weapons inspector so he could be on call to go to Iraq and track down anthrax and other germ weapons. During the course he worked with other scientists inside a mock-up of an Iraqi germ warfare laboratory."On or around November 15, someone in England sent a hoax anthrax letter to Senator Daschle. That letter is described in a Los Angeles Times article dated Jan. 4, 2002. The conspiracy theorists think that Hatfill sent it. There is a possibility that it was just a coincidence. (And Dr. Hatfill says he didn't visit London on that trip.) But, since the hoax letter was sent to Senator Daschle, there seems a good chance that it was sent by someone who knew that Dr. Hatfill was in England. I.e., it was a "frame". I'm trying to track down what was said in the letter. Someone dumb enough to try to implicate Dr. Hatfill probably wouldn't be smart enough to do a good job of it. The fact that the handwriting on the letter attempted to mimic the handwriting on the anthrax letter, could mean it's just a hoaxer being "creative, but the fact that Dr. Hatfill was in England at that time makes it seem to be something more than just a hoax
The FBI's "Person Of Interest"
The beginnings of this spiral of accusations against Dr. Hatfill are almost forgotten by the media. All that remains are a lot of fingers still pointing at Dr. Hatfill. They ask, "Even if all the evidence is bogus, why is the FBI looking at him so hard?" Why? Because they have no choice! With so many ill-informed people accusing Dr. Hatfill, and with Dr. Rosenberg going before Congressional Committees to discuss her "unnamed suspect", how can the FBI not look at him - even if the FBI is certain he is innocent! They are forced to look like they are doing something - even if it's wrong! Or should they provide a true suspect for another media circus?
It was the media - driven by Dr. Rosenberg's speeches - that put Dr. Hatfill before the public eye. NOT the FBI. The FBI was merely reacting to pressures from Congress and Dr. Rosenberg's rabble rousing. The FBI had two choices: (1) investigate Hatfill quietly once again and appear to ignore all the people who are publicly pointing at Hatfill and demanding action, or (2) investigate Hatfill publicly and let all those people pointing at Hatfill see that something is being done. In a perfect world, people with integrity would take choice #1 and risk the public outrage. But in the real world of politics, the only politically-sound choice is #2.
Fortunately, some in the media are beginning to realize that the "proof" implicating Dr. Hatfill is almost entirely nonsense. Unfortunately, they are blaming the FBI for it all. Or accusing the FBI of ignoring all the "evidence" they see that points to al Qaeda and/or Iraq as being the culprit - evidence that is just as unsubstantiated and bogus as the evidence against Dr. Hatfill!
And they've yet to realize what the Dr. Hatfill episode was all about: It was just some intense political infighting by those in favor of the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention - infighting that Barbara Hatch Rosenberg and the media turned into an international event.
In summary: It
all just politics.
Aug. 7-19, 2002
Revised April 11, 2010 - Added a boxed note showing that they actually did try to get the culprit's scent off the letters.
Revised January 9, 2013 to fix a broken link to a letter from Daniel J. Bryant to Sen. Grassley.
Revised January 20, 2013 to fix broken links to Washington Post articles.
© Ed Lake - All Rights Reserved