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Tag: Rep. Rush Holt

Ten Year Anniversary of Anthrax Attacks; Congressman Holt Still Not Satisfied With FBI Probe

Rep. Rush Holt

By Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.)
Ashbury Park Press

Ten years ago, America was a nation shaken by grief and terror. Nearly 3,000 people had perished in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and in the thwarted attack on the Capitol. Federal authorities were warning the public that additional al-Qaida “sleeper cells” still might be at large in the United States. We were living through a national nightmare.

Less than a week later, the nightmare deepened.

Sometime on Sept. 17 or Sept. 18, someone deposited five envelopes — four addressed to media outlets in New York, and one addressed to the National Enquirer in Florida — in a central New Jersey mailbox. Later, two more letters would be mailed to members of the U.S. Senate. Each contained a highly refined dry powder containing spores of Bacillus anthracis, which can cause deadly anthrax infection in humans.

Unlike the attacks of Sept. 11, which erupted over a few terrible hours, the anthrax attacks unfolded in slow motion over several weeks. First, news reports surfaced that a Florida man had died after entering the hospital with an unknown respiratory illness. Then, the public learned he had contracted anthrax, an infection that occurs naturally but has long been explored as a biological weapon.

It was possible, at first, to believe that the Florida infection was just a freak accident, much as it was possible early on Sept. 11 to believe that the first plane crash in New York was simply a catastrophic mistake.

To read the full column click here.

 

Congressman Rush Holt Wants an Anthrax Commission to Investigate the Investigation

Rep. Rush Holt
Rep. Rush Holt

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON – The anthrax caper just won’t go away.
Rep Rush Holt (D-N.J.) on Tuesday introduced legislation to create a Congressional commission to investigate the government’s response to the 2001 anthrax attacks that left five dead and sickened 17.

The legislation, the Anthrax Attacks Investigation Act of 2009, would set up a bipartisan commission that would make recommendations to the President and Congress on “how the country can best prevent and respond to any future bio-terrorism attacks”, according to Holt’s office.

“All of us – but especially the families of the victims of the anthrax attacks – deserve credible answers about how the attacks happened and whether the case really is closed,” Holt said in a prepared statement.

“The Commission, like the 9/11 Commission, would do that, and it would help American families know that the government is better prepared to protect them and their children from future bio-terrorism attacks.”

“Myriad questions remain about the anthrax attacks and the government’s bungled response to the attacks,” Holt said.

Debbie Weierman, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s Washington field office, declined to comment on Wednesday on the bill.

The FBI spent years and millions of dollars following countless leads around the world centering on what turned out to be the wrong suspect- scientist Steven Hatfill. Internally, many in law enforcement circles privately blamed the lead FBI investigator for fixating on Hatfill and not looking beyond him.

That FBI investigator was eventually replaced and last summer FBI and Postal Inspectors began closing in on someone they believed was the real culprit — scientist Dr. Bruce Ivins. Ivins committed suicide before any charges were filed.

The deadly laced anthrax letters were apparently sent from a postal box in Rep. Holt’s district in Central New Jersey.