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Scientists Question FBI Probe On Anthrax
"USAMRIID doesn't deal with powdered anthrax," said Richard O. Spertzel, a former biodefense scientist who worked with Ivins at the Army lab. "I don't think there's anyone there who would have the foggiest idea how to do it. You would need to have the opportunity, the capability and the motivation, and he didn't possess any of those."
Another scientist who worked with Ivins acknowledged it would have been technically possible to manufacture powdered anthrax at Fort Detrick, but unlikely that anyone could have done so without being detected.
"As well as we knew each other, and the way the labs were run, someone would discover what was going on," said the scientist, "especially since dry spores were not something that we prepared or worked with."
Scientists, co-workers and people who for years have researched the anthrax investigation, only to encounter frustration, misinformation and false leads, say law enforcement authorities should lay out their case as soon as possible. They want authorities to explain how Ivins, who led a seemingly normal life as a family man, churchgoer and volunteer, could have been responsible for one of the nation's most notorious unsolved crimes.
Authorities cast doubt yesterday on reports that Ivins had acted for financial gain based on patents and scientific advances he had made. Experiments by Ivins, working with several other Fort Detrick colleagues, led to two patented inventions considered crucial in the development of a genetically modified anthrax vaccine made by VaxGen, a California company that secured large government contracts after the 2001 anthrax attacks.
But sources familiar with details of the Army's patent process said it was unlikely that Ivins or the other scientists would reap a big financial windfall from VaxGen's vaccine production. They say the government restricts income from inventions produced in its laboratories to no more than $150,000 per year, but the amount is often considerably less.
Jaye Holly, who lived next door to the Ivinses until she and her husband moved to New York a month ago, said she couldn't believe that her former neighbor, who was obsessed with grass recycling and who happily drove a 20-year-old faded red van, would endanger others for financial gain.
"I can't imagine him being involved in a scheme to make money or to make a profit, especially one that would put people at risk or even die," Holly said. "That's not the Bruce we knew. He was sweet, friendly. I mean, he was into grass recycling."
Court records obtained yesterday shed further light on the concerns of a mental health professional who met Ivins during his final months -- a period when, friends say, he fell into depression under the strain of constant FBI scrutiny. The records also suggest that a Frederick social worker, Jean Duley, passed on her concerns to the FBI after receiving death threats from Ivins.
Duley became so worried that she petitioned a local judge for a protective order against Ivins. According to an audio recording of the hearing, she said she had seen Ivins as a therapist for six months, and thought he had tried to kill people in the past.
"As far back as the year 2000, [Ivins] has actually attempted to murder several other people, [including] through poisoning," she said "He is a revenge killer, when he feels that he's been slighted . . . especially towards women. He plots and actually tries to carry out revenge killings," she told a judge.
She described a July 9 group therapy session in which Ivins allegedly talked of mass murder.
"He was extremely agitated, out of control," she said. Ivins told the group he had bought a gun, and proceeded to lay out a "long and detailed homicidal plan," she said.
"Because he was about to be indicted on capital murder charges, he was going to go out in a blaze of glory; that he was going to take everybody out with him," she said.
Staff writers Carrie Johnson and Paul Kane and staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.