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February 18, 2011

Revenge Bruce Ivins!

Roy Meachum

Employing the FBI’s $800,000 grant, the Academy of Science’s National Research Council investigated the anthrax case that resulted in the suicide of Bruce Ivins.


The group of scientists could find no definite proof that tied the Fort Detrick microbiologist to the deadly letters dispatched to the three major TV networks’ Manhattan headquarters, the New York Post and the Florida main office of National Enquirer. The New Jersey postmark for the first mailings was dated about seven days after radical Muslims hijacked four jets they crashed into lower Manhattan’s World Towers, the Pentagon and instead of the White House, into a Pennsylvania field, their grand goal thwarted by rebelling passengers.


Several weeks later, two more anthrax-laden letters appeared on Capitol Hill, addressed to Patrick Leahy and Tom Daschle, both Democratic senators. A Daschle’s aide contracted the virtually deadly disease; National Enquirer editor Bob Stevens and four others lost their lives. In all, five people were fatally attacked; another 17 infected but survived.


On the publication of the FBI pronouncement, my March 2, 2010, column (“FBI Report? Hog Wash”) scoffed at the official finding, quoting Meg Eckstein’s Frederick News-Post front-page article: “Ultimately, a task force of 25 to 30 full-time investigators spent 600,000 hours interviewing witnesses and reviewing evidence.”


After all that investment in resources and money, I wrote “the Justice Department could not announce they were stumped, lost, confused; finally they had no one else to finger. That, however, is the conclusion reached by most of his colleagues and the people (Bruce Ivins) knew in Frederick. Add me to the hundreds confused why the (FBI) report took so long.”


Combining feared anthrax to the several thousand American dead on 9/11 ensured passing of the Patriot Act that took away citizens’ rights that were guaranteed by the Constitution. That October, when President George W. Bush signed the act passed by a hefty majority of U.S. representatives and senators, both Democrats and Republicans, the FBI firmly focused on Fort Detrick and The U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases.


USAMRIID virologist Steven Hatfill wriggled out of agents’ clutches, costing U.S. taxpayers nearly $6 million to him and uncounted costs for the aborted investigation. The feds hung on to Bruce Ivins, finally declaring he was the sole culprit, declaring nobody else was involved in the mailed anthrax attacks. Nobody.


Now comes the National Research Council to contradict the FBI. In their study, council members are properly scientific; the events and circumstances were never as simple as J. Edgar Hoover’s old agency pronounced. The latest summation asks questions that were out-of-bounds, or ignored, since 2001.


We may indeed never learn what happened in that autumn, 2001, except radical Muslims wrecked the equanimity Americans long enjoyed in this continent, guarded by the Pacific and Atlantic oceans that, in effect, are moats.


In my heart, I continue to weep for the man who, in a letter to the News-Post, questioned my columns on his Roman Catholic faith. In light of that religious fact, I find even more painful that Bruce Ivins swallowed Tylenol and codeine to end life. His church, that he strenuously defended, considers suicide among the most heinous sins. Dr. Ivins’ associates and friends attribute his ultimate despair to the intensity of the inquisition he endured. I don’t know. We never met.


My immediate concern is his family, and the recognition and the recompense they are due from the country he served intensely, sometimes erratically, until he died.


In past public utterances I have acknowledged passings with the classical Latin “Requiescat in Pace” – may he/she rest in peace.


In Bruce Ivins’ instance, my Scotch-Irish blood boils; he must be revenged!


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