Justice Department questions Ivins' guilt in anthrax mailings

The Justice Department has called into question the FBI's case against Bruce Ivins, the Army scientist accused of mailing anthrax-laced letters that killed five people a decade ago.
Justice Department lawyers acknowledged in court papers on July 15 that the sealed area in Ivins' lab did not contain the equipment needed to turn liquid anthrax into the refined powder sent to congressional buildings and post offices in the fall of 2001. Ivins committed suicide in 2008 and was later identified as the man who sent the letters to members of Congress and the media, PBS reports.
Federal officials argued that Ivins had the means, opportunity and motive to make the deadly powder at the U.S. Army research facility at Fort Detrick, in Frederick, Md. While the government continues to maintain that Ivins was "more likely than not" the killer, the filing in a Florida court did not explain how Ivins could have made the powder.
"(The lab) did not have the specialized equipment (in Ivins' secure lab) that would be required to prepare the dried spore preparations that were used in the letters," the filing said, according to PBS.
The department's concession that the equipment wasn't available "is at direct variance to the assertions of the government on July 29, 2008 (the day Ivins died, thus) invalidating one of the chief theories of their prosecution case," Paul Kemp, Ivins' lead defense attorney, said, according to PBS.
The anthrax mailings came just weeks after the September 11, 2001, attacks, as the perpetrator sent at least five letters containing anthrax powder to three media outlets and the offices of Senators Leahy and Daschle starting on Sept. 18, 2001. Two postal workers, photo editor Robert Stevens, a nurse and an elderly woman in Connecticut died, and some 32,000 Americans were administered long-term antibiotic treatments.