Anthrax is a spore-forming bacillus that is deadly to humans and is transmitted in three different forms: cutaneous (contracted through the skin), gastrointestinal (ingested orally while eating), and pulmonary (inhaled by its victims). Various countries, including the United States, have stockpiled anthrax since the early 1930s, constantly experimenting and reﬁning the disease to make it more effective as a biological weapon.
In recent years, the FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION (FBI) has twice investigated plots to use anthrax within the country, as a terrorist weapon, with unfortunate results in both cases. The United States suffered a tragic brush with anthrax in 2001. Between October 4 and November 21, at least 46 residents of the eastern United States tested positive for exposure to anthrax, after a series of infected letters were mailed to various media outlets and government ofﬁces. Five of those victims died: two Washington postal workers, an employee of a Florida tabloid, a New York hospital employee, and an elderly Connecticut woman. Despite a massive nationwide investigation, including a $1 million reward offer for information leading to the arrest of persons responsible for the anthrax mailings, the case remains unsolved today. FBI failure to crack the case, despite unprecedented effort and publicity, opened the bureau to harsh criticism from Congress, the media, and the U.S. public at large.
In August 2002 Newsweek magazine reported “intriguing new clues” in the bureau’s search for the anthrax killer(s). According to that report, tracking dogs employed to screen a dozen possible suspects “went crazy” at the Maryland home of Dr. Steven Hatﬁll, a 48-year-old scientist once employed at an army bioweapons-research lab. Newsweek dubbed Hatﬁll “eccentric . . . [f]lamboyant and arrogant,” proclaiming that FBI agents were “ﬁnally on the verge of a breakthrough” in the case. Hatﬁll was placed under round-the-clock surveillance and subjected to a polygraph test (which he reportedly passed), and his home was searched twice without revealing evidence of any criminal activity.
Still, that did not prevent Attorney General JOHN ASHCROFT from publicly branding Hatﬁll “a person of interest” in the case, refusing to deﬁne the term when challenged by Hatfill’s attorneys. Hatfill held a press conference to declare his innocence on August 11, 2002; two days later his attorney ﬁled complaints with the bureau’s Ofﬁce of Professional Responsibility, alleging misconduct in Hatﬁll’s case.
On September 4, 2002, Hatﬁll was ﬁred from his job at Louisiana State University’s biomedical laboratory, after JUSTICE DEPARTMENT ofﬁcials barred him from working on projects funded by federal grants. In May 2003 G-men acting on “a tip” dredged a pond near Hatﬁll’s home and again came away empty-handed. Disposition of Hatﬁll’s lawsuit against the FBI and Justice Department was pending as this volume went to press.
Taken from The Encyclopedia of Conspiracies and Conspiracy Theories – Written by Michael Newton
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