Bruce Ivins, a bioweapons scientist at Ft. Detrick, Md. reportedly killed himself via overdose earlier this week. He was about to be indicted in connection with the 2001 anthrax attacks (remember those?). But there are pieces of this story that simply don’t add up at this moment…
Most of the time, I bypass stories that just don’t pass the smell test, even if they’re ultimately found to be correct. This one is just too strange to pass up.
In the immediate aftermath of 9/11/01, while America was still extremely jittery about terrorism on U.S. soil, people started dying from weaponized anthrax spores that were placed in the mail. By historic standards, 5 deaths and 17 sicknesses were not all that significant, but it was the fear of the unknown – combined with 9/11 itself – that sent the country into another panic, and gave the talking newsheads on TV fodder for ratings for a couple of months.
A long time passed before any suspect was identified, even though it was clear early on that the anthrax originated from within the U.S., rather than being imported from one of Saddam’s alleged (though non-existent) mobile WMD labs. As the investigation progressed, the FBI identified a scientist who worked at the bioweapons lab at Ft. Detrick, Md. as a “person of interest”. Turns out the guy ultimately had nothing to do with the attacks, but that didn’t stop the government from leaking info and essentially destroying the guy’s career. He recently settled with the government for nearly $6 million in compensation.
In subsequent years, the entire investigation seems to have slipped down the memory hole, but in reality it just proceeded apace outside of the window of media interest. It was old news. Still, every now and then, someone would ask: “Hey, what about the anthrax attacks in 2001? Whatever happened with that? Why did BushCo lose interest?”
The short answer: because the attacks were domestic terrorism, and likely originated from inside one of the U.S. government’s own labs.
Today, it was reported that Bruce E. Ivins, another scientist from Ft. Detrick, was about to be indicted by a grand jury on charges stemming from the attacks. And conveniently enough, Ivins committed suicide earlier this week by taking an overdose of what was originally reported as Tylenol w/codine. It’s likely that the investigation will now be closed.
Several things don’t ring quite right with this story:
- The timing is certainly curious. If Ivins offed himself several days ago, why is the report just coming to light?
- Reports indicate that Ivins had been informed of his pending indictment. I’m not sure how that happened, as federal grand juries operate in secret, most importantly so indicted suspects don’t hit the road before they can be detained.
- The method of his reported suicide simply doesn’t square with how men kill themselves. Men put guns to their head or jump off a bridge; they generally don’t pill themselves to death. Plus, I’d hazard a guess that someone would have to take a whole lot of Tylenol III’s (a controlled substance) and get no medical attention in order for death to result.
- The first question that any amateur CSI sleuth asks is, “What’s the motivation?” According to earlier reports, Ivins was loosing the deadly spores into the wild in order to field test a vaccine that he’d been involved in developing. Is that a normal government protocol for testing bioweapons? (Just kidding. Maybe.)
My internal BS detector is fairly reliable when incidents like this hit the media. There’s more to this story than meets the eye. Stay tuned…
Update, from the comments: Apparently, Bruce Ivins was a strong opponent of the Jack Kevorkian school of suicide. And Ivins has also written some interesting letters to the editor over the years. Link here. Also, for someone so vehemently opposed to creeping christo-social fascism, it’s strange that he would target Democratic Party congressional representatives (no Republicans received anthrax letters) if Ivins was indeed the person behind the attacks.
Update II: Most of the reports I’ve been hearing and reading today have focused on the quirks in Ivins’ personality. It’s clear that the intent is to develop a public portrait of him as an unstable individual; a loner driven to do heinous acts at the behest of his interplanetary masters. (Magic bullet, anyone?).
Ok, so the guy had more missing screws than a Chinese-made ValuPak box of drywall fasteners at Home Depot. I’m not sure I know any scientists or PhD-level researchers who don’t have some “beautiful mind” type of quirks (except for maybe our good friend and former ASZ colleague Oolius).
………..yet Bruce Ivins had the clearance to work at a U.S. military bioweapons facility for over 30 years? By all accounts, he was a published, well-respected researcher in the field, and had written a peer-reviewed science journal article as recently as two months ago.
This is like an itch that I can’t scratch. There’s something terribly amiss in this whole situation.