National Research Council to support FBI's 2001 anthrax conclusions

The National Research Council will generally support the FBI’s conclusions in the 2001 anthrax case, even though the purely scientific evidence was inconclusive, a leading anthrax expert recently said.

"I actually have been telling people this is a qualified endorsement of the science in the [FBI] investigation," Paul S. Keim, a microbiologist from Northern Arizona University who helped the FBI investigate the attacks, said, according to "I think the committee did a great job. It's one of the most comprehensive accountings of the investigation anywhere. It makes for a good read. It seems to be factual."

The FBI came to the conclusion in 2008 that Bruce Ivins, a scientist at Fort Detrick, sent anthrax laced letters to three media outlets and two senators in 2001. Ivins killed himself as the FBI prepared charges against him, according to

Experts questioned the FBI’s conclusions, leading it to ask the NRC to review its findings. On February 15, an NRC committee released a lengthy report saying that the anthrax used in the attacks was highly similar to anthrax that was in a flask in Ivin’s possession, but that this did not entirely prove that it came from the same source.

Keim did not say that the FBI was wrong, only that the scientific evidence present was not as strong as initially believed.

"The FBI always said the scientific evidence wasn't definitive," Keim said, reports. "It was never single source; it was always linked to a set of samples constructed in US military labs. The [NRC] committee came back and said the FBI's conclusion and review of the data was consistent with that. Nothing they found said the FBI was wrong. They said the evidence wasn't as strong as the FBI was saying, and they're probably right with that."