Suspect in 2001 Anthrax Attacks Kills Self

Fascinating stuff, although this early story leaves me with more questions than answers.

Posted on August 1, 2008 at 7:00 AM • 39 Comments

Comments

HellfireAugust 1, 2008 7:38 AM

This is horrible phrasing:

"A woman who answered the phone at Charles Ivins' home in Etowah, North Carolina, refused to wake him and declined to comment on his death. "This is a grieving time," she said."

Waking the dead, are we?

EponymousAugust 1, 2008 8:05 AM

Definitely one of those situations where the much trumpeted "insider threat" mantra should have netted results far sooner than 7 years later, especially given the exclusivity of this type of knowledge and access. Maybe those years were spent out profiling rogue farmers.

"In the news today, a Washington man was found murdered by a thousand cuts, lying next to the sharpened I.D. card of a man named Philip J. Cardslicer...the police have no leads."

Trichinosis USAAugust 1, 2008 8:54 AM

Another one to add to the list of dead biochemists and conveniently timed accidents, disappearances and suicides on the watch of the Bush administration. Say hi to the six USAF nuclear weapons handlers at Minot, five of your biochemistry colleagues, the DC Madam and Muscles the Dominatrix, Mr. Ivins.

http://www.devvy.com/micro_20020104.html

http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=24190§ionid=3510203

http://www.freedom4um.com/cgi-bin/readart.cgi?ArtNum=66276

America, any time you're ready to have the Bush Mafia stop running our country into the ground, by all means me know...

JasonAugust 1, 2008 9:27 AM

Hellfire: Charles Ivins is the dead scientist's brother. He, at least, is just resting.

I get the impression that the reporter for this story called everybody in Bruce Ivins' family at three in the morning for comment. How considerate.

DC MadamAugust 1, 2008 9:38 AM

Yes, scuicide is 100% effective, especially when detected by an early press release.

Follow the fear.

nAugust 1, 2008 9:42 AM

The opposite of anti-depressants are a secret drug invented by our government called "pro-depressants." This drug blocks your brain from producing dopamine.

If you become politically unpleasant to the current administration, they give you this drug (which can be absorbed through the skin. You then take care of yourself before you take the witness stand...

/spawns a new conspiracy theory

nAugust 1, 2008 9:44 AM

This forum software is glitchy. After you post, it redisplays the comments page, but doesn't show your new comment.

Bruce, get that fixed, will ya?

SethAugust 1, 2008 10:24 AM

Maybe whoever actually did it decided that a convenient "suicide" would provide him safety.

Maybe I read too many mysteries.

Or perhaps I'm just appropriately paranoid. (Cue TNH)

C. RoyAugust 1, 2008 10:35 AM

From the first link posted by Trichinosis USA (http://www.devvy.com/micro_20020104.html):

"Police said he did not know the room was full of deadly gas which had leaked from a liquid nitrogen cooling system."

Since when is Nitrogen a deadly gas?

AnonymousAugust 1, 2008 10:58 AM

"Since when is Nitrogen a deadly gas?"

Without oxygen you will die. I'd give some relevant references, but the spam-filter is giving me the finger. Go to google and try "liquid nitrogen accident asphyxiation" (no quotes) for some examples.

George SmileyAugust 1, 2008 11:08 AM

The "dead biochemists" meme is pure observer bias. Hate to tell ou guys this, but there are a lot of scientists (I'm one) and they die pretty regularly. Or did you think that 9/11 would magically reduce the normal death rate?

George SmileyAugust 1, 2008 11:09 AM

I should add that in the case of Ivins, there is good reason to ask whether he jumped, or was pushed.

Carlo GrazianiAugust 1, 2008 11:13 AM

Folks, keep in mind, "Bruce Ivins Done It" is the FBI's current take on an investigation they've been consistently botching for six years. It can't be taken seriously, certainly not on the evidence that has been made public so far. If announcements, smears, and leaks to the media were convictions, Stephen Hatfill would be in prison today (or worse).

The Justice Department and the FBI have a great deal to answer for in this case, and are certainly feeling very defensive about it. Anyone who thinks they wouldn't be willing to cut a few corners to pin those anthrax attacks on someone, irrespective of actual guilt, has unjustified faith in the integrity of those institutions, and in their remaining ability to conduct actual criminal investigations (as opposed to chasing down terrorist threats regardless of legality).

nfbAugust 1, 2008 11:13 AM

"Another one to add to the list of dead biochemists and conveniently timed accidents, disappearances and suicides on the watch of the Bush administration."

Why must people link every bad thing that happens to Bush? Weird deaths are nothing new in the world of politics but you imply that Bush had something to do with this.

Check out the number of weird deaths under Clinton. Sometimes people just die and we would be better off concentrating on the lousy job that Bush (and Congress for that matter) are doing instead of implying that Bush has hit squads out there knocking people off for political reasons.

EricAugust 1, 2008 11:31 AM

@C Roy

Nitrogen is an odorless, tasteless and inert gass. It's perfectly harmless and will kill you if quantites are such where it displaces the oxygen you breath in to live.

Didn't you have highschool chemistry class?

andyinsdcaAugust 1, 2008 12:02 PM

A scientist with access to interesting chemicals and an acute awareness of how the body works decides to off himself by chewing on a bunch of Tylenol,which isn't that reliable a method?

C. RoyAugust 1, 2008 12:26 PM

@ Eric

Yes, I realize that a room filled with nothing but nitrogen will kill you, for oxygen is pushed away. The thing I'm saying is, it's silly to call nitrogen 'deadly'.

That's like saying that helium or water is/are deadly; sure they push away the oxygen, preventing you from breathing (anything usefull, anyway), but it isn't the water, or helium, that kills you, it's the lack of oxygen.

The term 'deadly gas' should, in my opinion, only apply to a gas that kills you on its own (ie. chlorine).

AnonymousAugust 1, 2008 12:31 PM

@C Roy

I see your point and I agree. I think the context is giving the subject, in this case Nitrogen, the deadlyness.

I guess one could say, ``Nitrogen, a potentially deadly gas..''

I reread my earlier post, it wasn't meant to be as sarcastic as it reads. Not enough caffiene....

ShaneAugust 1, 2008 12:37 PM

Smells like bullshit to me, for a number of reasons, but I suppose we'd have to hear what the FBI has to say.

This guy served 36 years of his life researching defense methods for bio-weapons, where is the motive? Why, after that long, would he mail two parcels to two random jack-ass senators? How many hundreds of other jack-ass senators have there been in his 36 year stint?

C'mon.... The best I've heard so far is that he conducted two 'unauthorized tests' for anthrax spores in his office and the desk of a concerned worker, found evidence of anthrax, and cleaned it up without notifying his superiors. Okay, mind you, a little sketchy, but how many other reasons would there be to clean it up without telling your boss? They regularly transported batches of anthrax to other labs / military sites / et al... if someone let a bit get out, it would be their asses. Leaves a shit-ton of reasonable doubt, as does his awards for helping to create some of the most effective anthrax immunization deliveries out there.

I mean, I wouldn't rule it out, but seems to me to be more than a bit unlikely, and a bit too convenient that after 7 years, the FBI has 'stunning new developments' on a man who just committed suicide after a documented history of deep depression.

I'd be depressed too if I worked in a bio-weapons research lab.

Again, the FBI has yet to show their cards on the case. I'm wondering if they will at all...

George SmileyAugust 1, 2008 1:14 PM

"FBI has yet to show their cards on the case. I'm wondering if they will at all..."

Yeah. That's gonna happen.

RoyAugust 1, 2008 2:13 PM

The investigation of him seems to consist solely of interviewing friends, relatives, neighbors, and acquaintances for anything damaging they might say against him as their way of helping the FBI get enough 'evidence' to arrest him.

This process, which 'poisons the ears' of everybody who knows you serves two purposes. It collects all the available rumors, innuendoes, and maliciousness, which will be cherry-picked for the worst character assassination they can create, while it systematically isolates you from family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, and everyone else who is aware of your existence.

AndrewAugust 1, 2008 5:02 PM

Perhaps bioweapons researchers need a powerful union.

The Union of Mad Scientists!

Eric HAugust 1, 2008 10:28 PM

Carlos is right: given the track record on this, I wouldn't believe anything they say until it has been in front of a jury and cross-examined (and maybe not even that). Hatfill? Jewell?

And it wasn't just Tylenol, it was the good stuff (with codeine).

@ C. Roy - The public must be warned not only about nitrogen, but also the dangerous solvent dihydrogen monoxide (DHMO) and the combination of sodium (a metal which reacts violently in water) and the toxic gas chlorine, all of which could be slipped into our food supply as easily as nitrogen is into our air supply.

reagentAugust 2, 2008 8:15 AM

better gas would be ethylene bromide, fumigant for all your cereal grains, quick deadly and disperses without a trace. will take out a whole building like a neutron bomb

AnonymousSourceAtlantaAugust 2, 2008 11:55 AM

The anthrax scare was created as an excuse to install mail surveillance, once they got what they wanted the incidents stopped.

60-70% of the CIA and NSA budgets are paid to private contractors, some of them are corrupt.

When Hatfill wouldn't fall they pinned it on Ivins.

The harassments Ivins endured are classic CIA / NSA tactics to discredit, disgrace and destroy. It reads like a bad remake of Arlington Road.

pound sandAugust 3, 2008 8:10 AM

The corrupt private contractors are datamines specifically including Choice Point, the people who were selling identity theft information to the nigerian 419's.

NozAugust 5, 2008 1:37 AM

Mr. Bruce Ivins was simply a scapegoat...and they needed to put this thing to rest before any damning information actually came out.

They've been working on him for six years to make him go away...one way or another...and they got what they wanted.

AnonymousAugust 5, 2008 10:01 AM

Bruce Ivins' psycho-"theripist" [sic] Jean Duley is now closeted with Vice-President Cheney:

"'Jean is currently at an undisclosed location,' McFadden said.

"Duley had numerous meetings with the FBI in the past month, McFadden said, but he declined to provide specific information about those meetings."

http://www.fredericknewspost.com/sections/news/display_Comments.htm?section=a1&storyID=78336

Rumour has it that Jean Duley will be played by Paris Hilton, and Vice-President Cheney will be played vy Howard Hughes' re-animated corpse in an upcoming made-for-television cartoon.

ToddAugust 5, 2008 2:24 PM

This was obviously murder, because no one has ever used suicide to escape punishment. Ever. Nope, not once. Oh, and since the president is a republican/W, the FBI *must* be setting aside its integrity and the law to conduct hits on hard-to-pin suspects. Yeah, that makes way more sense than some guy avoiding a trial and life in prison and being the "anthrax guy" for the rest of his short life. Yup. Makes total sense.

NozAugust 7, 2008 3:57 PM

Actually what makes more sense is to look back at the last 5 years and realize everything you've been told is a lie...

Of course, that's unless you watch Fox News (which seems like you do)...so you're forgiven for your naivety and ignorance.

AnonymousAugust 7, 2008 5:57 PM

MAD scientists --especially the more talented and creative ones-- have their own special psychological problems. This is well known.

I myself know absolutely nothing about the biowarfare program, but I do that other MAD scientists working in other special programs receive their own special psychological care. When your day job involves creating the very worst nightmares, then your psychologist has to be cleared to go poking around in your head.

It looks like the FBI suspected IVINS. But they didn't have any hard proof. They believed he would confide in someone. So they set him up with a "theripist"--an ex-biker, ex-junkie chick they had on the snitch payroll.

The ex-biker, ex-junkie social worker wasn't qualified to give IVINS the special therapy a MAD scientist needed. Instead, she was there to get a confession. And the poor, special, MAD scientist suicided.

GregWAugust 12, 2008 4:49 PM

I read through a few of the newly-released FBI affidavits. From what I could tell, loosely speaking, the lynchpin of the case is that Ivins was responsible for a given strain of Anthrax in a particular storage container. When asked in 2002(?) to hand over his strain, he did not hand over the same strain that was found when his storage container was searched in 2006, and the 2006 strain was genetically identical to the strain used in the attacks.

My question is this: how do we know that someone didn't just plant the 2006 strain in his storage unit?

For example, one of the victim's widow's attorney's indicated security was quite poor:

"'They had no system for keeping track of some of the most dangerous substances known to mankind,' Schuler said. 'One of the people that worked at the laboratory told me they had better security at a 7-Eleven.'"

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/opinion/content/local_news/epaper/2008/08/07/0807anthraxwidow.html?cxntlid=inform_artr

Or alternately that he had a partner who had weaponized the anthrax (since there is some dispute whether he could have had the skills to manufacture it) and he had merely worked late-nights post-9/11 to ensure that he (and thus the USG) did have sufficient ability to neutralize the anthrax that he and his partner were going to release?

I am not saying I possess facts that further indicate these possibilities are true, but there certainly as a taxpayer I would want these possibilities eliminated to a large extent before closing a case as the FBI seems imminently prepared to do, without further explanation.

And even if the official line is true, this has significant (national) security implications. As Col. Larsen points out in the WSJ today, prior assumptions that a "lone biologist Ted Kazinski" couldn't create a sophisticated bioweapon are incorrect. Instead, "if the FBI theory on Dr. Ivins is correct, we could be living now in a world where a single individual -- with no prior training in weaponization of pathogens -- can convert anthrax spores into a dry-powdered weaponized form that was of a quality equal to (some would say better) than that produced in the not-too-distant past in billion-dollar, superpower arsenals."

As you say, more questions than answers.

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