-- Brad Friedman
We're glad it's the Washington Post, and not just us "bloggers," asking questions about this anthrax case. Had we been the ones pointing to the questions that WaPo is now pointing to, we'd have been accused of forwarding "just another conspiracy theory" and the notable questions raised might have been relegated to the trash-bin of history.
Since it's WaPo raising the questions, on the other hand, the trash-bin will take an extra day or two to fill up, but we suspect the results may eventually be the same: Legend will have it that the lone "Anthrax Killer," Bruce E. Ivins, killed himself just before he was to be indicted on capital murder charges. Case closed on the previously-unsolved deadly series of terrorist attacks that occurred on American soil since 9/11.
That said, it's certainly odd the way that WaPo has been covering this story. While their top story on page A1 today is headlined "Scientists Question FBI's Probe of Anthrax Attacks" and sub-titled "Ivins Could Not Have Been Attacker, Some Say," the paper nonetheless managed to scrub from their website --- or at least completely replace --- a story they ran originally on Friday afternoon questioning the same points (whether Ivins had the means, ability, or access to the dry, weaponized anthrax used in the attack letters against senior Democratic Senators and other perceived "liberals") with another that greatly softened concerns about those questions.
No retraction or correction notice --- unethically, in our opinion --- was given for WaPo's odd swaperoo. The Friday WaPo story we linked to that day --- which was dated "Friday, August 1, 2008; 5:46 PM" and reported that that the purported "Anthrax Killer," Bruce E. Ivins, "had no access to dry, powdered anthrax" at his U.S. Army bioweapons lab in Fort Detrick, MD --- was simply swapped out with a completely different story in its place on the matter, dated Saturday, August 2, 2008. The same URL was used for both stories, but the Saturday story didn't have the bulk of the reporting which quoted named experts and colleagues questioning Ivins' ability to even carry out such an attack.
After noticing the swap/excising of the original Friday story (hat-tip BRAD BLOG commenter Bruce Sims), we were set to run a story focusing on the spiked report, when we then checked today's paper to see that they were leading the Sunday edition with a story that raised many of those same questions from the Friday story again.
Fortunately, we cached the original Friday story here, before it was disappeared and replaced, and have done the same for today's story, should that one go missing as well. Comparisons between WaPo's (disappeared) Friday, Saturday, and Sunday coverage is curious enough, however, --- and offers some fresh, additional unanswered questions --- that it seems worth noting all of it, and the differences in each days' coverage, for the record...