FBI Missed Anthrax Clues

Investigators were fixated on wrong suspect
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 15, 2008 9:29 AM CDT
In this Nov. 13, 2001 file photo, FBI officials wearing protective suits prepare to enter the house of Dr. Irshad Shaikh and his brother, Masood, in Chester, Pa.    (AP Photo/Dan Loh, File)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – The FBI's obsessive focus on the wrong anthrax suspect caused the agency to miss some important clues pointing to Bruce Ivins, the Los Angeles Times reports. Records of key-card swipes show that Ivins, who killed himself last month before being charged, spent hours in a "hot suite" with access to anthrax late at night before the 2001 anthrax mailing.

A 2002 Army report said Ivins had failed to report spilling anthrax at his work station, but the FBI continued using Ivins to help its investigation even after learning of the suspicious spill— instead focusing for years exclusively on Steven Hatfill, a scientist who never handled anthrax. Some agents formally complained that the concentration on Hatfill meant other areas of the investigation were getting insufficient attention.