Maybe I am old and jaded, or maybe I am more open minded than most. The Anthrax attacks that killed 5 people, and hospitalized a number of others, followed close on the heels of the 9/11 horror story. At the time, the obvious culprit was Osama Bin Laden, or more correctly, one of his minions.

The investigation however went cold, very cold, it was colder than the Arctic in winter within weeks. The Anthrax laced letters ceased as quickly as they began.

There were leads, but many of them became hard to follow. This was yet another case where the FBI at the public level was seen to be failing. However that was not true. The FBI has been the whipping block for Capitol Hill for years. About the only thing that the various administrations that have been in power for the last 50 years can agree on is that the FBI is a major thorn in the side. It matters not what the color is, Republican or Democrat, if you cross the line, the FBI are going to be involved. It is the one organization that our elected officials have not got at their beck and call. Everyone else is happy to cow down to the needs and wants of our elected ‘officials’, the CIA will happily run illegal operations, or even entire Air Forces, the NSA seem to have no problems with tapping into our internet traffic. Even the poor Coasties have come under the gun for harassing recreational boaters. All this in the name of Homeland Security. But there has yet to be a president that has managed to tame the FBI, oh they have all tried. They have all tried really hard. While I might not be enthusiastic about the stories of Hoover and his secret files, I have to give credit where credit is due, Hoover certainly set the stage.

Pretty much the only organization that has dodged the governmental bullet is the FBI. But it has not been for want of trying. The problem is, the mud pies thrown at them don’t stick. They just go about their business and are pretty impervious to the attacks. This naturally has the Pols knickers in a twist!

In 2001 we faced a dilemma, a huge terrorist attack, a landmark building was removed from our skyline. A few weeks later a new threat arose. Blowing buildings up with airplanes is an attention getter, but mailing small amounts of Anthrax is just as disturbing. Five people lost their lives, and a number of others were hospitalized.

As an outsider looking in, this seemed to be another instance where the political leaders were trying to micromanage the FBI.

Last year Terry Turchie published a fascinating insiders guide to life in the FBI, Hunting The American Terrorist. In fact when I interviewed Terry I posed the question of the Anthrax attack. Terry seemed pretty confident that Al Qaeda were not the culprits, it had the hallmark of a home grown lone wolf terrorist.

The hot suspect was Steven Hatfill, he seemed to fit the profile reasonably well, he had the knowledge, he had the access, and in some peoples mind maybe even the motive. The one thing that made no sense to me though was why the FBI would want to ‘out’ a person of interest? Of course it is always possible that it was not the FBI who leaked the information. Maybe it was a political move, some political ‘hay making’? As Orwell so aptly put it ‘Absolute power corrupts absolutely’. The governmental changes caused by the events of 9/11 have in fact done little to secure our safety, but rather secure our politicians position.

Hatfill has been exonerated of wrong doing, and because of the career ending nature of the allegations, took the matter to court. This effectively doubled the cost of the entire Anthrax investigation. Hatfill scored a lottery class victory, $5 million! When you add the rumored $6 million expended on the investigation already you start to get into some significant money.

Last week the story took a new and very awkward turn. It went from Cold Cuts and Salad to hotter than an Indian Vindaloo faster than my wife can spend money at WalMart! On the eve of being indicted, Fort Dietrich bio scientist Bruce Ivins committed suicide. Should we view this as an admission of guilt, an unfortunate side effect of the investigation, or something darker and more sinister?

Terry Turchie is about to release (Sept 25) a new book Homeland Insecurity that explores this disturbing trend. Although he was not personally involved with the Anthrax witch hunt, he is clearly an expert on the inner workings of the FBI, he headed up the hunt for the Unabomber, and for a year the manhunt for Eric Rudolph.

In part two of this article I am going to share with you Terry’s personal view of the Anthrax debacle. Stay tuned, I have a feeling that Terry is going to open our eyes to aspects that we had not considered.

Simon Barrett

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