Back in 2002, in preparation for an interview on the anthrax letters for “Unsolved Mysteries,” I reviewed the media coverage. As I read article after article, I found that the statements most germane to an understanding of the case were almost entirely unsourced. It was unnerving to conclude that I knew very little about the letters, as so little of the reported “evidence” was derived from people willing to go on the record.
The same appears to be happening in current reporting on Bruce Ivins. Though I deeply respect LA Times reporter David Willman, who has twice won a Pulitzer, his breaking stories on Bruce Ivins are almost entirely unsourced. Did Ivins really stand to gain financially from his anthrax vaccine patents? Historically, government employees do not receive these royalties: the government does. If this modest bench scientist had a financial motive (plus access to weaponized anthrax, plus ability to mail letters from New Jersey and other places such as the UK) it is critical to the case, and the evidence needs to be unimpeachable.
Lest we forget: this case has had 3 false leads, who were probably deliberately set up, before Bruce Ivins: Hatfill, Assaad, and the ex-Detrick scientists who harrassed Assaad.