Federal judge blocks Justice Department's attempt to backtrack Ivins admissions

A federal judge recently blocked an attempt by the U.S. Justice Department to back away from admissions that appeared to undercut Federal Bureau of Investigation's assertions that a U.S. Army researcher was behind the 2001 anthrax attacks.

U.S. District Judge Daniel Hurley of West Palm Beach, Florida, issued an order that the government must show good cause before he will allow the change to the original filing, according to the Kansas City Star.

The Justice Department’s Civil Division had made the original filing in an eight-year-old case brought by the family of one of the victims. The filing asserted that Dr. Bruce Ivins, who the FBI asserts manufactured the anthrax used in the attacks, did not have access in the lab to the equipment needed to process the anthrax.

The Justice Department is seeking to revise the filing so that it states that Ivins had access to the equipment elsewhere at the U.S. Army bio-weapons facility at Ft. Detrick, Maryland, where he worked, the Kansas City Star reports.

It is still unclear whether the department’s attempts to undo the filing will shed more light on the FBI’s theory as to how Ivins could have made the anthrax powder he allegedly mailed to Florida, New York City and Washington, D.C.

The judge’s objection to the filing appears to be predominantly procedural in nature. Hurley advised the department lawyers to seek court permission to file an amended motion, but also said that an amendment must show good cause as to why material statements accompanying a motion to dismiss the suit were changed.