August 6th, 2008
03:12 PM ET

Anthrax – still a mystery

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/06/art.anthrax.capital.jpg caption="Anthrax clean-up demonstration in Washington, 2001"]
Joe Johns
° Correspondent

This is a story I truly hate. I was at the Capitol the day the anthrax letters arrived. Like thousands of people I took Cipro for a while just in case I had gotten too close. There was something so insidious about trying to protect yourself from a substance you can’t see, mailed by someone you don’t know, who basically was trying to kill people he/she/they had probably never met.

Also, reporting on this thing was difficult because it was a grand jury case – and unless you’re inside the grand jury, you never know what you don’t know. So we talked to a former guy with the FBI and a conservative watchdog group that has been searching for answers on behalf of postal workers who really had it tough (two died in Washington) when the anthrax hit the mail service.

Today the FBI released documents showing what it had on Dr. Paul Ivins – the microbiologist who killed himself while under investigation for the anthrax attacks back in 2001. Family members of the anthrax victims were invited to its briefing.

But there is still a lot of skepticism about this case… partly because the last time we were led to believe the government had identified a person of interest - Dr. Steven Hatfill - Uncle Sam ended up paying the guy millions because he wasn’t the right guy. So we're looking at what we know about Dr. Ivins – and while there's plenty of evidence that he conducted the attacks, some isn't conclusive.

And now, saying it needs to sort out administrative details, the FBI is calling the case "solved," rather than "closed."

Filed under: 360° Radar • Joe Johns
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Candy

    Regarding the government's assertion that the anthrax case is now closed is absurd. It's easy to pin the charges on a dead man who allegedly committed suicide. He could easily have killed himself due to the stress involved. Until there is absolute proof (and I haven't heard any yet), as far as I am concerned he is innocent until PROVEN guilty. Keep up the good work Anderson!

    August 7, 2008 at 12:04 am |
  2. JIM....TEXAS

    THe FBI had it figured out years ago...Dr. Hatfield did it. Maybe not...and now ????? They were on top of the Atlanta bombings at first too:)

    August 6, 2008 at 10:03 pm |
  3. curious

    I don't think Dr Ivans wrote the note. He would not have made the spelling error as a doctor.

    August 6, 2008 at 9:44 pm |
  4. curious

    I don't know why anyone who looks at Dr Ivan's notes doesn't balk when they see he misspelled penicillin in one of his notes. I don't believe a doctor is capable of doing that...I'm not a doctor, but I am in the medical profession and I cringe every time I see variations of penicillin misspellings. Has anyone questioned that?

    August 6, 2008 at 9:41 pm |
  5. Annie Kate

    I only hope Ivins was the one and that the killer isn't still around and waiting for his next chance to do it again. And if Ivins wasn't the guilty party then how much of the spotlight being on him as the suspect contribute to his suicide? I feel greatly for the victims of the anthrax scare and hope for their sake that the government got the solution to the case right.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    August 6, 2008 at 9:22 pm |
  6. Jan from Wood Dale IL

    I wonder what the government did with their huge stockpike of Cipro? They sure did spend a lot of money on stockpiling that antibiotic and it probably doesn't have that long of a shelf life.

    August 6, 2008 at 8:54 pm |
  7. Dani, Seattle

    Wow, our education system is worse than I thought. People actually believe this. Journalists actually reported this story from a government agency. God help us.

    August 6, 2008 at 7:32 pm |
  8. Sharon from Indy

    I am usually not a conspiracy theorist but I feel Dr. Irvins was not the killer. There are still too many unanswered questions including his suicide. Maybe he knew too much; maybe he was just the scapegoat.

    For the FBI to declare the case closed sounds like the case was "railroaded" into completion without merit. Or does his case have something to do with the Bush Administration's control of information?

    August 6, 2008 at 4:43 pm |
  9. Heather

    As far as I'm concerned they had the right person. The guy had a flask in his office with the same highly purified spores with the same matching genetic mutation as the spores in the envelopes sent. I don't care if there were no witnesses. If there were he would have been stopped. No mentally stable person would allow someone to do what he did. He even gave officials fake samples to test. He knew it was over. He did it. I think the government should have just surprised him and arrested him. He was so mentally unstable that he snapped and killed himself. I think they waited to long. I'm just glad it's over. Feel terrible for the families of the victims.

    August 6, 2008 at 4:11 pm |
  10. Larry

    Yep, the 'suicide' is supposed to explain it all? Did he leave no message to anyone of his intent to do so or admit any guilt? This will hang over the FBI & CIA for a long time.

    August 6, 2008 at 4:03 pm |
  11. david /coon rapids

    i have a question for all you anti-drilling obama supporters who do not want to develope america's natural resources .
    when the oil companys buys oil to refine into the gas for YOUR car – would you rather have them give the money to an
    iranian or a coloradian – to a north dakotan or a venzuwelian dictator – to a saudi arabian or texan. would you rather
    send the money to people who want to destroy us or keep the money in the united states. keeping the money in
    the united states would create millions of high paying jobs and prosperity for all.

    August 6, 2008 at 3:47 pm |
  12. Kim

    It's a little too convenient that the new "suspect" committed suicide. Now the government can put this away and call it "solved." i have been trying to follow this, so I may be missing something, but how does a guy get security clearance year after year to work on a project such as anthrax, and then all of a sudden become a suspect with a suspicious past. I'm not buying it just yet. And what's with "obsession" with the sorority? I have seen no reports that he had any dealings with them or restraining orders or letters or e-mails to them. So he was dumped by a girl 40 years ago... The whole case seems fishy to me at best.

    August 6, 2008 at 3:35 pm |
  13. Cindy

    Yeah it is really hard to believe the FBI when they say that this case is solved and that Ivins was the man responsible for the anthrax attacks when they were so adamant the last time that Halfill was the man yet that was proven to not be true. So now even with doubts still lingering they still choose to say the case is solved and over. That's really a great job that they do with our tax dollars!


    August 6, 2008 at 3:30 pm |