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Judge Lets Justice Correct Anthrax Filing that Created PR Mess

One of the real anthrax letters in 2001/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A federal judge has allowed the Justice Department to correct a court filing that created an embarrassment and public relations goof for the agency in the anthrax case.

ProPublica reported Friday that U.S. District Judge David Hurley of West Palm Beach, Fla., gave the ok to the government to withdraw a court filing that mistakenly said that the late scientist Bruce Ivins did not have access to “specialized equipment” to make the deadly anthrax, when in fact he did.

The revised filing says Ivins had access to a refrigerator-sized machine known as a lyophilizer, which can be used to dry solutions such as anthrax, ProPublica reported.

The filings were in response to a lawsuit filed by the wife of National Enquirer photo editor Robert Stevens, who died as a result of an anthrax mailing. She contends the government did not do enough to protect the anthrax supplies from being used against citizens.

The erroneous filing created a stir in the media, which printed stories saying the Justice Department had undermined its own claim that Ivins was to blame for the attacks. Ivins committed suicide in July 2008 before authorities could file criminal charges against him.

The erroneous filing provided more fodder for critics who are skeptical that Ivins was in fact the one who mailed the letters.


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