Concerns about the FBI’s circumstantial case against military microbiologist Bruce Ivins are reaching Capitol Hill.
Last night, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) sent a three-page letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey and FBI Director Robert Mueller III, asking them to respond to 18 questions about virtually every aspect of the probe.
In the House, Rep. Rush Holt, a Democrat who represents the New Jersey district where the anthrax-laced letters were mailed, says he’s talking to other House members about a combined inquiry involving the judiciary, intelligence, science and technology, and government oversight committees.
Grassley has some pretty good questions. For example:
Was Dr. Ivins ever polygraphed in the course of the investigation? If so, please provide the dates and results of the exam(s). If not, please explain why not.
What role did the FBI play in conducting and updating the background examination of Dr. Ivins in order for him to have clearance and work with deadly pathogens at Ft. Detrick?
Read more for the full text of the letter.
The Honorable Michael B. Mukasey
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.,
Washington, DC 20530
The Honorable Robert S. Mueller, Director
Federal Bureau of Investigation
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20535
Dear Attorney General Mukasey and Director Mueller:
Thank you for ensuring that Congressional staff received an advanced briefing yesterday of the information released to the public in the Amerithrax investigation. The three affidavits provided represent an important, but small first step toward providing Congress and the public a full accounting of the evidence gathered by the FBI.
At yesterday’s briefing, Justice Department and FBI officials invited follow-up questions after there had been time to read the affidavits. Indeed, there are many important questions to be answered about the FBI’s seven-year investigation, the basis for its conclusion that Dr. Bruce Ivins conducted the attacks alone, and the events leading to his suicide. To begin this inquiry, please provide complete and detailed answers to the following questions:
1. What is the date (month and year) that the FBI determined that the anthrax came from a specified flask in Ivins’s lab (“RMR-1029”)?
2. When (month and year) did the FBI determine that Dr. Hatfill never had access to the anthrax used in the killings?
3. How did the FBI determine that Dr. Hatfill did not have access to the anthrax used in the killings? Was that because the FBI determined that Dr. Hatfill no longer worked at USAMRIID when the powder was made?
4. Was Dr. Hatfill or his counsel informed that Dr. Hatfill had been cleared of any involvement in the anthrax killings before the Department of Justice offered a settlement to him? Was he informed before signing the settlement agreement with him? If not, please explain why not.
5. Was Judge Walton (the judge overseeing the Privacy Act litigation) ever informed that Dr. Hatfill had been eliminated as a suspect in the anthrax killings? If so, when. If not, please explain why not.
6. Was Dr. Ivins ever polygraphed in the course of the investigation? If so, please provide the dates and results of the exam(s). If not, please explain why not.
7. Of the more than 100 people who had access to RMR 1029, how many were provided custody of samples sent outside Ft. Detrick? Of those, how many samples were provided to foreign laboratories?
8. If those with access to samples of RMR 1029 in places other than Ft. Detrick had used the sample to produce additional quantities of anthrax, would that anthrax appear distinguishable from RMR 1029?
9. How can the FBI be sure that none of the samples sent to other labs were used to create additional quantities of anthrax that would appear distinguishable from RMR 1029?
10. Please describe the methodology and results of any oxygen isotope measurements taken to determine the source of water used to grow the spores used in the anthrax attacks.
11. Was there video equipment which would record the activities of Dr. Ivins at Ft. Detrick on the late nights he was there on the dates surrounding the mailings? If so, please describe what examination of the video revealed.
12. When did the FBI first learn of Dr. Ivins’ late-night activity in the lab around the time of the attacks? If this is powerful circumstantial evidence of his guilt, then why did this information not lead the FBI to focus attention on him, rather than Dr. Hatfill, much sooner in the investigation?
13. When did the FBI first learn that Dr. Ivins was prescribed medications for various symptoms of mental illness? If this is circumstantial evidence of his guilt, then why did this information not lead the FBI to focus attention on him, rather than Dr. Hatfill, much sooner in the investigation? Of the 100 individuals who had access to RMR 1029, were any others found to suffer from mental illness, be under the care of a mental health professional, or prescribed anti-depressant/anti-psychotic medications? If so, how many?
14. What role did the FBI play in conducting and updating the background examination of Dr. Ivins in order for him to have clearance and work with deadly pathogens at Ft. Detrick?
15. After the FBI identified Dr. Ivins as the sole suspect, why was he not detained? Did the U.S. Attorney’s Office object to seeking an arrest or material witness warrant? If not, did anyone at FBI order a slower approach to arresting Ivins?
16. Had an indictment of Dr. Ivins been drafted before his death? If so, what additional information did it contain beyond the affidavits already released to the public? If not, then when, if ever, had a decision been made to seek an indictment from the grand jury?
17. According to family members, FBI agents publicly confronted and accused Dr. Ivins of the attacks, showed pictures of the victims to his daughter, and offered the $2.5 million reward to his son in the months leading up to his suicide. These aggressive, overt surveillance techniques appear similar to those used on Dr. Hatfill with the apparent purpose of intimidation rather than legitimate investigation. Please describe whether and to what degree there is any truth to these claims.
18. What additional documents will be released, if any, and when will they be released?
Please provide your responses in electronic format. Please have your staff contact (202) 224-4515 with any questions related to this request.