From the Associated Press, Maureen Stevens settles with the US government for her husband’s death by anthrax, due to lax control of the material at government’s Fort Detrick lab.
UPDATE: From Scott Shane at the NY Times:
… A Justice Department spokesman, Charles S. Miller, said he could not comment on why the government was trying to preserve the secrecy of documents beyond what was already in the public court file. Court orders prohibit the disclosure of security measures at the Army lab and records of missing pathogens and other lapses.
For the Justice Department, simultaneously pursuing a criminal investigation and defending the Stevens civil suit has made for a tricky balancing act. By hunting for the anthrax mailer at Fort Detrick, F.B.I agents and prosecutors highlighted the very security problems the lawsuit was seeking to expose.
In a July filing in the civil case, Justice Department lawyers said Dr. Ivins “did not have the specialized equipment” in his lab to make the dry anthrax powder in the letters — appearing to contradict the department’s claims in the criminal case. Days later, the lawyers retracted the statement.
An Army spokesman, George B. Wright, said “significant progress” has been made in improving security at the biodefense lab, including continual evaluation of lab workers, tighter control of access to areas where pathogens are stored and continuous monitoring by closed-circuit television. [Interesting name of the spokesman, as George G. Wright, another army employee, was the original developer of the US anthrax vaccine.]