From today’s Washington Post:
FBI continues to claim Ivins misled them with his original anthrax sample, although NAS pointed out that the instructions for sample collection were ambiguous, and FBI failed to collect needed information about the specific procedures used by those submitting samples.
FBI claims it had to meet a stiffer standard than The National Academy of Science committee, which had the luxury to be “theoretical.”
“It’s somewhat disingenuous that they can use the word ‘theoretical,’ ” said one investigator involved in the case, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to be candid about the report’s findings. “They’re talking about hypotheticals. We didn’t have that luxury. We were trying to solve a crime, and we didn’t know if the mailer would strike again.”
Every story I’ve read, in which FBI spokespeople are questioned, has given the FBI personnel anonymity. This is the most expensive and likely the most complex case the FBI has ever handled, and it was botched from start to finish. The lives of at least 3 scientists have been ruined (Hatfill) or lost (Ivins and Mikesell) as a result of the investigation. Yet FBI continues the pernicious practice of twisting the truth, claiming it solved the case definitively when it has essentially NO hard evidence, and covering its butt via lack of attribution of any of these claims.
[The NAS Report] offered another possible explanation for the apparent link between the letters and the Ivins flask: that some of the mutations identified in the letters could have arisen independently, through a process known as “parallel evolution.”
The report said this possibility “was not rigorously explored” by the FBI.
So FBI retorts that “rarely does science alone solve an investigation.” (No, it doesn’t if the science is done poorly.) Yet back in 2008, when FBI announced it had solved the case, the critical evidence was supposed to have come from the microbial forensics science.
And now? FBI has created the lie (anonymously, of course) that
… the government was satisfied that its science would have met the standard of proof in federal court, which is to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty. “The standard is not beyond all doubt,” the official said.
Luckily for the FBI, with Ivins’ death, they dodged federal court.
UPDATE: And don’t forget Ivins passed 2 polygraph tests. FBI later claimed he used classic countermeasures to defeat them, but the evidence for this is slim to none. The WaPo comments on this here.