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House Wants to See if There Was Any Foreign Connection to Anthrax Mailings

Rep. Holt/official photo

Rep. Holt/official photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI may have just officially closed the case in the anthrax murders, but that hasn’t stopped Rep. Holt (D-N.J.) and Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md) from pushing for more answers.

The two successfully got the House on Thursday to approve an amendment to the Intelligence Authorization Bill that would require the Inspector General to examine the possibility of  a foreign connection to the deadly letters that were mailed in 2001 that resulted in the death of five people and the sickening of 17 others.

Last Friday, the Justice Department, FBI and Postal Inspectors announced that they were officially closing the investigation after concluding that scientist Bruce Ivins was responsible for the mailing of the anthrax.  Ivins committed suicide  in July 2008, about a month after the Justice Department agreed to pay a multi-million out of court settlement to scientist Steven Hatfill, who had publicly been named a “person of interest.”  Hatfill had sued the Justice Department, claiming it harmed his reputation and went on a smear campaign against him by leaking information to the press.

The FBI has expressed confidence in its findings that Ivins was the guy, and issued a 92-page report on Friday laying out its case. The report was based on roughly 3,000 pages of documents in a 8-plus year probe that led investigators to six continents.

Holt, the  Chair of the Select Intelligence Oversight Panel and a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, who has been skeptical of the FBI findings in the case,  said in a statement Thursday:

“The FBI botched this case from the very beginning, and now they have arbitrarily closed the investigation because they are sure they have their man – just as they were sure they had their first man, who they had to pay $6 million for false arrest. Yet, there are too many questions that the victims’ families, law enforcement, and the general public deserve answered.

“This amendment would help answer one of those questions. Given that samples of the strain of anthrax that was used in the attacks may have been supplied to foreign laboratories, it is important to examine whether or not evidence of a potential foreign connection to the attacks was overlooked, ignored, or simply not passed along to the FBI.”

“To date, there has been no independent, comprehensive examination of the FBI’s conduct in this investigation,” Holt added.

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