The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) will conduct an examination of the scientific and technical methods used by the FBI during its investigation of 2001 anthrax attacks, in response to a request made by U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (NJ-D) earlier this year.
After an eight year-long investigation, the FBI closed the Amerithrax case back in February and concluded that Bruce Ivins, a troubled lab worker at Ft. Detrick, was solely responsible for the anthrax mailings that killed five people in 2001. However, skepticism has long lingered the minds of many on the science and validity behind these conclusions, particularly after Ivin’s suicide in 2008. After maintaining that the FBI’s work on the case was insufficient, Holt and several other congressmen from the House and Senate sent a formal request for inquiry to the GAO regarding the Bureau’s investigation methods. The letters were originally mailed from Princeton, NJ, a district currently represented by Holt. In his request, questions concerning forensic methods, scientific concerns and uncertainties and laboratory security were asked to be addressed. Holt has also advocated for a formal congressional commission, similar to the 9/11 commission, to further investigate the 2001 anthrax attacks.
The GAO examination will be the first Congressionally-directed investigation of the FBI’s handling of the case. A separate review of the FBI’s work, by the National Academy of Sciences, is expected to be conducted this fall. The GAO states that it will conduct the review after the NAS releases its conclusions on the case. Click here to read the GAO letter to Rep. Holt.