Nearly a year-and-a-half after implicating U.S. Army researcher Bruce Ivins in the anthrax letter attacks of 2001, the United States government has formally closed the case. In a press release issued this afternoon, the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the U.S. Postal Service said that a 92-page summary of the investigation had been provided this morning to members of Congress and families of the victims who were killed in the attack.
That summary has been released to the public, along with a clutch of new documents pertaining to the case. The FBI has already released hundreds of pages of documents that agency officials say contain incontrovertible evidence that Ivins acted alone in mailing out the letters, which killed five people and sickened 17 others. The newly released evidence includes a hand sketch drawn by Ivins in 2002 in which he attempted to show that the anthrax in the letters did not match the anthrax material that he worked with but that it matched the material used by a former colleague of his at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Frederick, Maryland. Officials say that this was an effort by Ivins to mislead investigators, as proved by scientific analysis in later years that definitively linked the evidence to a flask of anthrax under Ivins’s control.
The formal closure of the case may come as a surprise to a National Academies panel that is conducting a review of the scientific evidence relating to the case. The review is not expected to be complete until late 2010.