Susannah Cahalan’s NY Post story provides a needed counterpoint to last week’s Washington Post puff piece on the Bruce Ivins case. Who would have expected to find higher journalistic standards at the NY Post than at its Washington namesake?
New information in this story includes the fact that the FBI was renting the house next door to Ivins, the better to perform surveillance (and this establishes FBI harrassment, since surveillance is properly performed in secrecy mode).
“One of Ivins’ former colleagues was being aggressively pressured to confess to the crimes just two months before Ivins killed himself on July 29, 2008, he told the Post. And he identified at least one other employee who was under the same pressure.”
At risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, the available facts in this case point to only one conclusion: the Justice Department was desperate to “solve” (read bury) this case any way it could before the Bush administration left office. To accomplish this feat, the FBI illegally harrassed at least 3 Fort Detrick employees. Recall that Perry Mikesell, a former Fort Detrick scientist under FBI surveillance, began drinking heavily and died in 2002.
For Bruce Ivins, a scientist known to have emotional problems, being prevented near the end from doing his research and from socializing or speaking freely with his colleagues, and having spent a small fortune on attorney fees, suicide may have been a predictable result.
[On the other hand, worrisome questions about his death remain. These include the inexplicable failure to perform an autopsy, the alleged choice of poison–tylenol–by a scientist who had access to easier methods of suicide, and the failure by FBI agents (performing 24/7 surveillance in the next house) to identify Ivins’ overdose in time to save him (a 16-24 hour window during which an antidote can prevent liver failure) make it hard to dismiss the possibility of negligent homicide or even murder.]
If DoJ actions helped push Ivins over the edge, was this because DoJ was required to provide cover for the letter attacks’ real perpetrator? The extreme tactics used in this case suggest that government officials have something major to hide. They do not want this case to remain open, subject to investigation by a Democratic administration that might actually want to know the truth about who sent the anthrax letters, why influential Democratic Senators were targeted, and what the ultimate intent of the letters really was.