As The Media's Case Against Bruce Ivins Seems to be Going from Bad to Worse...
By Brad Friedman on 8/5/2008, 7:46pm PT  

-- Brad Friedman

The case against the supposed "Anthrax Killer," Bruce E. Ivins, a researcher who worked at the Army lab confirmed by the government as being the source for the dry, powdered anthrax used in the letters targeted mainly at Democrats and other perceived "liberals," is going from bad to worse. At least the coverage of it from mainstream outlets such as AP is.

We noted, when we first jumped into this horrendous beat last Friday, that AP and many of the other corporate outlets failed to even bother noting the perceived "liberals" who made up the targets of the post-9/11 terrorist attacks. Today, Glenn Greenwald (who's been doing yeoman's work on this beat) notes AP's latest unnamed government source-based buffoonery.

Offering a fresh new bizarre angle in the anthrax case --- as per their wont, from "Multiple U.S. officials," all unnamed and all who "spoke on condition of anonymity" --- AP purports to explain Ivins' supposed seven-hour round-trip drive from Frederick, MD, to Princeton, NJ, to mail his letters, by describing a long-term obsession he supposedly had with the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority.

"The bizarre link to the sorority," AP's report proffers based on leaks from those unnamed officials, "may indirectly explain one of the biggest mysteries in the case: why the anthrax was mailed from Princeton, 195 miles from the Army biological weapons lab the anthrax is believed to have been smuggled out of."

Oookay...we'll bite. But then, with the unsubstantiated genie out of the bottle, a few problems appeared as AP's initial report then morphed shortly thereafter, and an update was filed...

Greenwald picks up the absurdities [emphasis his]:

[A]s it turns out, the leaked information wasn't even close to accurate. Shortly after that leak appeared, it transformed into this laughable claim in an updated AP story:

The mailbox just off the campus of Princeton University where the letters were mailed sits about 100 yards away from where the college's Kappa Kappa Gamma chapter stores its rush materials, initiation robes and other property. Sorority members do not live there, and the Kappa chapter at Princeton does not provide a house for the women.

That would be quite an unusual and bizarre way for such an obsessive interest to express itself --- he used a mailbox in proximity not to a sorority house, which doesn't even exist on that campus at all, but was merely near a storage room the sorority uses to store some material.

Oookay...

Both AP reports go on to note that nobody had actually seen Ivins, at any time, in Princeton, and that "Kappa Kappa Gamma also has chapters at nearby colleges in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Washington." But instead, Ivins decided to drive 195 miles each way instead, in order to be near the sorority's storage facility in New Jersey.

The first AP report then concludes by dutifully repeating the government's still-undisclosed case theory, despite any known evidence to actually back it up. In one neat nutshell for the record:

Prosecutors had planned to indict Ivins and seek the death penalty but, knowing investigators were closing in, he killed himself with an overdose of acetaminophen, the key ingredient in Tylenol.

That so-far unsubstantiated claim --- that Ivins offed himself "knowing investigators were closing in" --- was somewhat softened in the update to read only: "Ivins, 62, killed himself last week as the Justice Department prepared to indict him on capital murder charges".

Given this entire bungled mess, while we are not fond of unsubstantiated conspiracy theories, it sure seems there damned well better be good documentation for the "killed himself" part as well at this point.

It's been announced there would be no autopsy of Ivins, since the blood tests reportedly confirmed his death by an overdose of Tylenol with codeine, as the original media accounts had said. But now even that's been softened to "an overdose of acetaminophen, the key ingredient in Tylenol."

The first AP report relied heavily on testimony from Ivins' short-time social worker Jean Duley, who, as we noted yesterday, has a criminal record consisting of several drunk driving charges and narcotics possession. She doesn't know how to spell the word "therapist," according to her hand-scrawled note to the judge which she filed while seeking a restraining order against Ivins, but nonetheless she's being treated as credible by AP. Their update to the story relies somewhat less on Duley and more-responsibly reports that she "has a minor criminal record."

The Frederick News-Post then notes today that apparently the FBI encouraged Duley to seek the restraining order. "She decided to get the peace order after an FBI agent working the case suggested it," they write.

And again...Oookay...

They also confirm an earlier report that Duley claimed Ivins had made some extraordinary claims during a group therapy session:

During a July 9 group session, Duley described Ivins as "extremely agitated" and "out of control." When she asked him what was going on, he told the group "a very long and detailed homicidal plan" including killing his co-workers and roaming the streets of Frederick trying to pick a fight with somebody so that he could stab the person.

Those are some very serious charges, obviously, but they should be easy to confirm, or quickly dismissed, by interviews with other patients, since it was group therapy after all, and theoretically, many others heard the same thing that Duley did. Has the FBI talked with those folks yet? If so, they haven't decided to leak the confirmation to the media, even though they bothered to leak the sorority house nonsense.

After all, Duley had testified to the judge (on the suggestion of the FBI) that Ivins "has been forensically diagnosed by several top psychiatrists as a sociopathic homicidal killer." Oddly enough, however, despite those supposed diagnoses, Ivins was allowed to continue working in his high-security job at a U.S. Army facility, with access to the world's most dangerous bio-terror viruses.

The News-Post also reports that threatening phone calls Duley says that Ivins made to her were not entered "into evidence for the court because FBI agents had taken them for their investigation."

So we suppose we can look forward to hearing those tapes soon, as word has it --- again, from the always-reliable MSM --- that the feds will reveal all tomorrow.

See Greenwald at Salon today for much more in this quickly disintegrating matter, and the FBI's apparent drive "to demonize Ivins as a creepy, porn-loving drunk," in lieu of any apparent legitimate evidence brought forward so far.

As well, he goes on to pick up our scoop from last night, in which we reported that Ivins was, oddly enough, a long-time registered Democrat. We further, personally, confirmed the information --- originally tracked down and shared with us by our friend, Bob Kincaid of the Head-On Radio Network --- this morning with the Frederick County, MD, Board of Elections.

Noreen Schultz, Frederick County's Deputy Election Director, confirmed to us that Ivins had been registered as a Dem there since 1982, and has voted in every Democratic Primary since 1996, which is as far back as their database goes. "He was a very regular voter," she noted during our phone call earlier today.

It seems curious then that a Democrat would target only Democratic government officials in these attacks, clearly meant to look as if they were coming from Islamic jihadists. It seems at least as curious that Ivins, a devout Catholic by all accounts, and one who even is said to have volunteered regularly at his local parish, would target Senators Daschle and Leahy, also both Roman Catholics themselves, before committing suicide --- a mortal sin in the Catholic faith --- and then finally fail to leave even a suicide note.

But what do we know? We don't have any "unnamed government sources" whose information we repeat without even bothering to ask for evidence to support their claims.

On the Radio...

We've picked up on this case in a number of radio venues over the last 24.

Early today, we did a quickie with our bud Stephanie Miller's show (appx 5 minutes)...

...Followed by a longer conversation on the good Michael Jackson's program. The first segment features Jackson's interview with bio-weapons expert and Ivins' former colleague Dr. Meryl Nass who has been a valuable resource to us on this case. We chat with Michael then in the subsequent two segments of the show:
Appx 40 mins. Download MP3, or listen here...

...And finally, if you missed it in our update to yesterday's story, here's my interview with Bob Kincaid from last night, concerning many issues in the case, including his scoop about Ivins' Democratic voter registration:
Appx 1 hour, Download MP3, or listen here...

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