Opening 2001 anthrax cases would require new evidence

According to a senior Republican senator, reopening an investigation into the 2001 anthrax killings would require a powerful grassroots movement or startling new evidence.
Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and others on Capitol Hill who have been skeptical of the case against the late Bruce Ivins said that adamant opposition from the FBI and Justice Department was likely to block further inquiry into the case. Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, would question his ability to get the case reopened even if he was the committee's chairman, the Miami Herald reports.
Members of Congress commented after McClatchy Newspapers, PBS' "Frontline" and the online newsroom ProPublica disclosed evidence from an investigation that is at odds with some of the science and circumstantial evidence behind the government's conclusion that Ivins mailed the anthrax letters that killed five people.
Ivins worked for 27 years at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Md., and committed suicide in July 2008 after learning that federal prosecutors were preparing to indict him on five capital murder charges. Prosecutors closed the case last year, but the news organizations allege that nearly all the evidence was circumstantial.
Some of the evidence scrutinized included that the FBI claims Ivins worked unusually late hours at a secure bio-containment lab at Fort Detrick before the letter attacks, but records show that Ivins had worked similar hours at other USAMRIID facilities in the previous months; that Ivins was motivated to create fear about the program because the government's anthrax vaccine was under heavy fire, but his job to develop a second-generation vaccine had full funding; and while it was asserted that Ivins' flask was the murder weapon, a panel of the National Academy of Sciences and two scientists who worked on the investigation described holes in that and other laboratory conclusions.
Former FBI agent Brad Garrett, a profiler who advised agents in the investigation periodically before his retirement in 2006, said that Ivins fit the mold of the suspect because, "(He was) a really super angry guy...and dangerous on some levels. He clearly had grudges with people...(To reopen the case would take) something fairly compelling...somebody comes forward, (or) there's a new piece of evidence that links it to somebody else," Garrett said, the Miami Herald reports.
While a measure to investigate whether all relevant foreign intelligence had been passed to FBI investigators was shot down last year, there are many questions remaining about the investigation and controversies about the case may continue with or without future investigations.