Sen. Talent raises questions over Ivins anthrax case

A senior Republic senator recently questioned the Justice Department as to why its civil lawyers filed papers in court questioning their own prosecutor’s conclusions that army researcher Bruce Ivins was responsible for the 2001 anthrax attacks.

Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) wrote a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Robert Mueller that decried the decision to file the papers, which resulted in a new set of questions regarding the crime, according to

Grassley, one of several congressional skeptics regarding the FBI’s handling of the case, honed in on the contradictory filings after they were reported on collaboratively by PBS, McClatchy Newspapers and ProPublica.

On July 15, the Justice Department’s civil lawyers claimed that Ivins, the now-deceased U.S. Army researcher accused of the killings, lacked access to the laboratory equipment needed to dry wet anthrax spores so that they could become an airborne powder to be inhaled by the victims.

The lawyers then asked a federal judge in Florida to allow them to make 10 revisions to the filings after they heard from the FBI and the department’s Criminal Division, according to The revisions brought the lawyers stance into conformity with the FBI’s position that Ivin’s did have access to the proper equipment.

Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee and a longtime critic of the FBI, said that he wanted a briefing to help him understand why the different parts of the Justice Department were not acting in consort.

A spokesman for the Justice Department, Dean Boyd, would not comment on Grassley’s letter, reports.