Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Anthrax case remains a mystery-- in many ways


Surprisingly it has been a pretty eventful week in news. From Paris Hilton announcing her bid for presidency, thanks to John McCain; to Osama bin Laden's driver being convicted of terror charges; to Brangelina's twins going for $14 million, I've had a lot of choices on what I wanted to write about for this week's post. I think the winner has to be the ever-changing Anthrax case — with more twists and turns than a Telemundo soap opera.

Bruce Ivins, 62, a former Army biowarfare scientist, was about to be indicted with capital murder charges related to the spreading of anthrax in the high-fearing post-9/11 world of 2001 — until he committed suicide. Since then, controversy has surrounded the case over whether the FBI terrorized him or if he legitimately did kill people.

The attacks, during one of the most vulnerable times in U.S. history, were the worst bioterrorism attacks the country has ever. In total, 5 people were killed and 17 injured.

After Ivins' death, pressure mounted against the FBI over how legitimate their evidence really was. After many high-profile slip-ups, the bureau has been facing a lot of doubt, including some from victims' families.

The FBI was forced to open the case this afternoon, in efforts to prove Ivins is the culprit in the seven-year-old case.

But during all this, some insanity has pursued.

For one, the FBI allegedly offers an explanation as to why Ivins would travel from his lab in Bethesda, Maryland to where the virus was mailed in Princeton, New Jersey — sorority girls. Sources say Ivins had an obsession with members of the sorority Kappa Kappa Gamma since he was dumped by a member of sorority during his days as a student at the University of Cincinnati. Authorities say this is the reasoning for the journey to Princeton, where the letters were mailed less than 100 yards from Kappa Kappa Gamma's center.

But while this does seem to be a rather interesting theory, not many are convinced that Ivins did mastermind the anthrax mailings. They claim the intense investigation drove the former alcoholic to drink again, and later commit suicide with a lethal concoction of Tylenol and codeine.

Ivins apparently had a rapid decline after his children and wife were questioned, and his home searched last November. And skeptics continue to question — how could he have stolen anthrax in front of 10 other colleagues? And why can't investigators pin him to Princeton on the day the disease was mailed?

The FBI's materials will be released this afternoon. I, for one, am very curious about whether Ivins could have done it. Innocent until proven guilty? I'm not sold, yet. I'll update again when information from the case is revealed.

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