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Another Failure for the Bush Administration

By now, it is hard to keep up with the vast amount of failures that the Bush administration has accumulated. Two of these failures arrived in the lap of the American people at the same time. The first is the anthrax investigation. The second is the trial of Salim Hamdan (I’ll talk about this later).

After almost 7 years, an unknown number of man-hours and the huge cost of this investigation (must be in the tens of millions of dollars), the FBI concludes that Army scientist Bruce Ivins was the sole person responsible for the anthrax letters. Over the last several days, there’s been lots of speculation but yesterday, the FBI is basically closed the case. Unfortunately, this whole incident looks like an old Alfred Hitchcock TV show plot: “As the confused but brilliant scientist lays gasping for breath on the floor after taking an overdose, the camera pulls back to see a shadowy figure in the foreground with the queer smile on his lips. He walks out of sight as the credits roll.” This is crazy.

When all is said and done, there was a lot of compelling evidence presented by the FBI. The problem can be found in what was missing, not in what was presented. Most of the letters were written in the handwriting of a very young child. How did Bruce Ivins do that? Although Bruce Ivins had access to the strain of anthrax that was used in the attacks, how did he turn the suspension of anthrax into the lethal powder form (technically very challenging)? Did he have the knowledge to do this? Did he have access to the equipment needed to convert the liquid form into the powder form?

By the way, what was his motive? I’m not buying the flimsy excuse that the FBI tossed to reporters, suggesting that he was worried about losing grant funding for an anthrax vaccine and therefore caused a whole nation to panic over the death of five people. I’m sorry, that just doesn’t make sense. I’ve dealt with a lot of crazy people of my life, including people who were truly schizophrenic. They all had a particular logic that can be followed. Yes, the logic may be bizarre but it could be followed. But, this guy caused nationwide panic so that a grant could be funded?

Finally, what I believe is the biggest flaw in the government’s case is describing how all of this accomplished without any help. Our government has tried on multiple occasions to get us to believe that some catastrophe was caused by one lone crazed madman. Whether it was the assassination of John F. Kennedy or the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, the common thread is that the government is telling us that only one person did it. I find it hard to imagine that one man had all of this expertise. He might have been a brilliant genetic scientist but did he have the skills and the equipment to carry this out.

Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa has called for a congressional investigation. It will be interesting to see what happens in this investigation. Personally, I’m not sure that Congress is ready for a serious investigation into any wrongdoings. They haven’t seriously investigated anything in the last seven years, why start now?

Glenn Greenwald and Marcy of Emptywheel have some thoughts. Marcy has put together a time-line.