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The FBI's Art Attack

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An FBI hazardous materials team enters Steve Kurtz's Buffalo house, where they found unusual art materials. (Don Heupel -- AP)


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"Post-9/11 protocol is such that first-responders have all been given training about unusual things and unusual situations," Moskal says.

And obviously, says Lt. Jake Ulewski, spokesman for the Buffalo police, what the cops eyeballed raised some alarms. "He's making cultures? That's a little off the wall."

Erie County health officials declared the Kurtz home a potential health risk and sealed it for two days while a state lab examined the bacterial cultures found inside. Officials won't divulge what precisely was examined, but it turned out not to be a danger to public health. And the house was reopened for use.

Still, federal authorities think something in that house might have been illegal, Cambria surmises. But Cambria denies there was anything illegal in the house. William Hochul Jr., chief of the anti-terrorism unit for the U.S. attorney's office in the Western District of New York, would not comment on the investigation.

Kurtz, on Cambria's advice, isn't speaking to the press either.

Da Costa, a professor at the University of California at Irvine who has flown to Buffalo to help out, says Kurtz is "depressed" and dealing with the loss of his wife, who died of a heart attack. Today the Buffalo arts community will memorialize her.

Adele Henderson, chair of the art department of the State University of New York at Buffalo, where Kurtz has tenure, is among the people who've been questioned by the FBI.

On May 21, she says, the FBI asked her about Kurtz's art, his writings, his books; why his organization (the art ensemble) is listed as a collective rather than by its individual members; how it is funded.

"They asked me if I'd be surprised if I found out he was found to be involved in bioterrorism," she says.

Her response? "I am absolutely certain that Steve would not be involved."

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