- The AnthraX Chronicles Part 1| Spills of the Fort Detrick Kind
- The AnthraX Chronicles Part 2 | Pakistan, Rabbit Fever & Duct Tape
- The AnthraX Chronicles Part 3 | Anthrax Letters Revisited| Deliberate Deception
- The AnthraX Chronicles Part 4 | Hero In The Morning, Bio-Terrorist By Night
Given the links between anthrax and Wuhan, I was genuinely curious to look into the weaponization of this bacteria. While I spent more than two months reading and researching anthrax, I could have spent a lot more time. George Webb’s recently re-released book on Substack led me to a sizzling and now-scrubbed article in WIRED about Bruce E. Ivins.
The well-written article described a tale so fascinating that I looked up the WIRED author, Noah Shachtman. I was surprised to learn that he’s now the Editor-In-Chief of Rolling Stone and was at The Daily Beast in the same capacity before that. Was he co-opted?
In this world, there is so much more here than meets the eye. When I looked further, I found a recent scandal involving Rolling Stone, where Shachtman purposely removed information (a.k.a. “editing”) from a story that involved the FBI and an associate journalist named James Gordon Meek who seemingly was involved with child pornography.
One more thing about Shachtman before we return back to Ivins and anthrax– in October 2021, a month after he took over Rolling Stone Magazine, the rag ran a story, titled Eric Clapton Isn’t Just Spouting Vaccine Nonsense—He’s Bankrolling It.
NPR wrote that this “served notice” that Shachtman “wouldn’t look away from rock icons just because they had been featured on the magazine’s past covers.” To me, this served as notice that Shachtman operates in the world of Tries (truth + lies).
I secretly surmised Shachtman was a gatekeeper for the FBI and/or an inadvertent intel script writer for Tavistock.
Articles like Shachtman’s played a role in resting the anthrax case to bed and pinning the tail on Ivins.
But what kind of criminal asks the authorities to test his own gun for ballistics?
Reframe + Rewrites
Years after Ivins had died, ProPublica investigated the investigation. They concluded that once the FBI identified Ivins as the perpetrator, prosecutors pointed to his deceptions, his shifting explanations, his obsessions with a sorority and a former lab technician named Nancy Haigwood, and his penchant for taking long drives to mail letters under pseudonyms from distant post offices.
Arguably, the FBI took his actions from other situations, reframed them, and stretched them out to fit their working theory. Haigwood was integral.
“I had a gut feeling it was Bruce,” Haigwood would tell PBS. He seemingly was obsessed with her, and yes it was indeed stalkerish. She claimed Ivins had taken her lab notebook while she was in grad school.
The idea someone of Ivin’s stature would take a lab notebook is ridiculous, says investigative journalist George Webb, who has dug deep into Ivins.
At one point, while Ivins was still alive, Haigwood called the FBI. She said that what cinched her suspicions was the fact Ivins sent her (and others) photographs of himself working with what he claimed to be the Ames strain. To me, it seemed like a man showing off for some attention.
Had Haigwood conflated his obsession with definitive guilt? She tells PBS, that he went after her but did that mean he’d gone after the country with anthrax letters?
“And later I learned from the FBI that he in fact had been the perpetrator,” Haigwood would tell PBS. But that wasn’t exactly true. It wasn’t a fact. The FBI had no solid proof.
With the FBI closing in, Ivins fell into drinking and depression, and then during a group therapy session, he supposedly made threats to harm his colleagues. Later, an FBI search of Ivin’s home before he died turned up a cache of guns and 250 rounds of ammunition. They also argued that in September, Ivins spent a lot of hours in the labs during “off-hours” within Building 1425. They estimated it amounted to 33 hours before 9/11 and eight hours after 9/11 before the letters were sent.
Ultimately, the FBI took bits and bobs and created a tapestry of guilt but it was all circumstantial evidence. In defense, the FBI even argued that “thousands of prosecutors in thousands of courthouses prove cases beyond a reasonable doubt using circumstantial evidence.”
Is that so?
The keyword here is “circumstantial.”
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