WASHINGTON — The Federal Bureau of Investigation has requested a last-minute delay in the release of a report on the bureau’s anthrax investigation by the National Academy of Sciences, prompting a congressman to say that the bureau “may be seeking to try to steer or otherwise pressure” the academy’s scientific panel “to reach a conclusion desired by the bureau.”
Representative Rush D. Holt, a Democrat of New Jersey and a physicist who has often been critical of the investigation, made the remarks in a letter Thursday to the F.B.I.’s director, Robert S. Mueller III, saying that he found the bureau’s request for a delay “disturbing.” The F.B.I. has told the committee that it wants to turn over an additional 500 pages of investigative documents not provided previously despite the committee’s request for all relevant material when it began the review in April 2009.
“If these new documents were relevant to the N.A.S.’s review why were they previously undisclosed and withheld?” Mr. Holt wrote. The anthrax-laced letters that killed five people in 2001 were sent from a mailbox in Princeton in his district.
Michael Kortan, an F.B.I. spokesman, declined to respond to Mr. Holt’s remarks. But he said, using the bureau’s name for the investigation, that the F.B.I. “continues to work with the National Academy of Sciences to support their ongoing review of the scientific approaches employed in the Amerithrax investigation.”
The seven-year inquiry, by some measures the largest and most complex in F.B.I. history, concluded that Bruce E. Ivins, a microbiologist at the Army’s bio-defense research center in Maryland, prepared the deadly powder and mailed it to two senators and several media organizations. The F.B.I. has made public its circumstantial case against Dr. Ivins, including genetic fingerprinting linking the mailed anthrax to a supply in his laboratory and his late hours in the lab in the days before the two mailings.
Dr. Ivins killed himself in 2008 and was never criminally charged. Some of his colleagues at the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases say they do not believe he was guilty. The F.B.I. had already paid another former Army scientist, Steven J. Hatfill, a settlement worth $4.6 million to drop a lawsuit saying the bureau had falsely accused him of being the anthrax mailer.
E. William Colglazier, the academy’s executive officer, said the F.B.I.’s request was a surprise and came after the bureau saw the panel’s peer-reviewed final report, which was scheduled for release in November. He said that the committee’s 15 members, top scientists who serve as volunteers, were “exhausted,” but that the panel had agreed to extend the study and consider revising the report in return for an additional fee, probably about $50,000, beyond the $879,550 the F.B.I. has already paid for the study.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Justice delayed is justice denied, indeed. Here's an excerpt from Scott Shane's NY Times story: