By Brad Friedman on 8/1/2008, 7:21pm PT  

[Ed Note 8/3/08: The article from Washington Post, referenced and quoted in the story below, has now been scrubbed by the paper and replaced with a different story, without explanation or notice. Luckily, we have the original version of the article cached here, however. After reading the following, please see this new follow-up report with details on WaPo's scrubbing of the original story.]

Earlier today we singled out the media's failure to note the purported "liberal" leanings of those targeted by the "Anthrax Killer" (such as two leading Senate Democrats) in their coverage of the reported suicide of suspect Bruce E. Ivins.

Those reports noted that Ivins was soon to be indicted in the case. But was he the one who really dunnit?

A BRAD BLOG reader points us to this curious note, near the end of a late-afternoon story from today's Washington Post coverage, noting that Ivins had "no access to dry, powdered anthrax" at the Fort Detrick lab where he worked [emphasis ours]:

Several scientists who worked with Ivins also question whether he would have had the technical skills to create the sophisticated powder used in the anthrax attack. Creating the kind of highly lethal, easily dispersible powder used in the 2001 attacks requires unique skills not normally associated with vaccine specialists.

"He had no access to dry, powdered anthrax, according to Fort Detrick spokespersons, who said that only liquid anthrax was used at the Fort Detrick facility in animal aerosolization experiments," said Meryl Nass, a physician and bioterrorism expert. "If he had been making dry anthrax, it would have been detectable."

So is the latest, now-deceased, "Anthrax Killer" suspect actually the guilty party? Or is he simply another Steven Hatfill (with whom the government just settled last month for $5.8 million after originally fingering him as the suspect) or Richard Jewell (originally fingered by the FBI as the Olympic Park bomber in Atlanta, who was eventually exhonerated and received settlements in libel cases against the media)?

A few other points in the WaPo article are similarly curious and would seem to cast doubt on the Feds' case against Ivins:

[H]is name never surfaced as a potential suspect in the mailings case. "He was not on my radar," said a Senate source whose office was briefed on the FBI's progress.

He also never raised the suspicions of coworkers, many of whom remained convinced that Ivins had nothing to do with the anthrax attack.

"Almost everybody at 'RIID believes that he has absolutely nothing to do with Amerithrax," said a USAMRIID [U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases] employee, referring to the FBI code name for the investigation. "The FBI has been hounding him mercilessly."

The employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation, said the FBI had visited his lab on "numerous" occasions over the last several years, seizing lab samples, records and equipment.

The constant scrutiny "really pushed this poor guy to the edge," the employee said, and noted that his colleagues were upset at the way Ivins had been treated.

Your guess is as good as mine, at this point. But surely, our government wouldn't mislead us on something as important as this, right? (Sigh...)

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