Science agency to review FBI's anthrax inquiry

May 09, 2009 By DAVID DISHNEAU , Associated Press Writer

(AP) -- The National Academy of Sciences said Friday it will review the lab work behind the FBI's conclusion that Army scientist Bruce Ivins was responsible for the anthrax mailings that killed five people in 2001.

The FBI will pay the Washington-based society nearly $880,000 for the independent, 15-month committee review of the genetic and chemical studies used to link Ivins to the attacks, academy spokeswoman Jennifer Walsh said.

The review, which was requested by the FBI, won't assess the evidentiary value of the bureau's detective work or the FBI's conclusion that Ivins acted alone, the academy said.

Ivins' lawyer, Paul Kemp, has said the scientist was innocent and would have been cleared if the case had gone to trial. Some of Ivins' colleagues have expressed doubt about the FBI's conclusions.

Ivins was a civilian researcher at Fort Detrick in Frederick. He killed himself in July as investigators were preparing to charge him.

The scientific review was first reported in The New York Times.

The FBI's conclusions were based on microbial forensics, a relatively new field combining crime-investigation techniques and advanced microbiology. The bureau said scientists performed extensive tests that connected the used in the letters to that in a flask controlled by Ivins.

The academy said it will evaluate "the reliability of the principles and methods used by the , and whether the principles and methods were applied appropriately to the facts."

Specifically, the committee will review genetic studies used to identify potential sources of the anthrax in the letters and analyses of four that were found in the mailed anthrax. The committee will also look at chemical and dating studies that examined how, where, and when the may have been grown and the role that cross-contamination might have played in the evidence collected.

Five people died in October and November 2001 from anthrax inhalation or exposure linked to the letters. They were a Florida photo editor, two postal workers in Washington, a hospital employee in New York City and a 94-year-old woman in Oxford, Conn.

Another Fort Detrick scientist, Steven J. Hatfill, received $5.8 million from the Justice Department in June to settle his lawsuit claiming the government wrongly implicated him in the attacks by publicly labeling him a "person of interest" in the investigation.

---

On the Net:

: http://www.nasonline.org

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explore further: Color and texture matter most when it comes to tomatoes

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

FBI unveils science of anthrax investigation

Aug 22, 2008

They have worked for almost seven years in secret. Most people did not know that the work in Ray Goehner's materials characterization department at Sandia National Laboratories was contributing important information ...

Anthrax cellular entry point uncovered

Jan 25, 2008

The long-sought-after biological “gateway” that anthrax uses to enter healthy cells has been uncovered by microbiologists at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).

Revisiting the anthrax attacks

Jan 22, 2009

When anthrax was sent through the U.S. Postal Service in 2001, an overwhelming majority of postal workers elected not to be inoculated with the available vaccine because of confusion and distrust, according to a University ...

Clemson researchers develop nanotechnology

Oct 03, 2006

Picture a spider web coated with sugar. But instead of luring in unsuspecting creatures, this spider web pulls in deadly anthrax spores, rendering them harmless.

Researchers pave the way for anthrax spore standards

Apr 15, 2008

Researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the U.S. Army Dugway (Utah) Proving Ground have developed reliable methods based on DNA analysis to assess the concentration and ...

Recommended for you

Color and texture matter most when it comes to tomatoes

11 hours ago

A new study in the Journal of Food Science, published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), evaluated consumers' choice in fresh tomato selection and revealed which characteristics make the red fruit most appealing.

How the lotus got its own administration

15 hours ago

Actually the lotus is a very ordinary plant. Nevertheless, during the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) a complex bureaucratic structure was built up around this plant. The lotus was part of the Imperial Household, ...

What labels on textiles can tell us about society

15 hours ago

Throughout Chinese history, dynastic states used labels on textiles to spread information on the maker, the commissioner, the owner or the date and site of production. Silks produced in state-owned manufacture ...

US company sells out of Ebola toys

Oct 17, 2014

They might look tasteless, but satisfied customers dub them cute and adorable. Ebola-themed toys have proved such a hit that one US-based company has sold out.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

COCO
not rated yet May 11, 2009
How about Lt. Col. Dr. Philip Zack, the man actually caught entering the lab at night without authorization AFTER losing his job over a racially motivated attack on an Egyptian co-worker. Who does the FBI work for these days - change - that is the sound of my investments- nothing else.