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Questions in the anthrax probe

August 05, 2008

Re "Suspect stood to gain from anthrax panic," Aug. 2

From 1992 to 1994, I worked with Bruce Ivins at Ft. Detrick, Md., where he helped me develop anthrax vaccines during my postdoctoral research. Ivins is accused of performing the 2001 anthrax attacks so he could profit from a vaccine he patented. This accusation is preposterous. The government routinely patents work that might eventually be marketable, and these products almost never become developed or sold. Even if one of his vaccines had been mass-produced, the primary beneficiaries would have been the producer and the government, not Bruce. I never heard Bruce talk about money or getting rich. His life was about the work that he loved and the people he loved. The collapse of the Soviet Union and its biological weapons program did lead to cutbacks at Ft. Detrick; however, Bruce's job was never in danger.

The government has followed one trail but only looked for what it wanted to find. I want to see the government's evidence because I believe that a critical analysis of it will show that it stopped far too soon and pushed an innocent man to his death.

John Barnard

Pittsburgh

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Almost as disturbing as the thought that someone would do such a thing as the anthrax-tainted letter attacks during our post-9/11 time of national trauma is the thought that the FBI would not have thoroughly checked out all the people who stood to profit from such attacks. This reminds me of the similar intelligence failure in preventing the 9/11 attacks after the discovery in 1995 of a plot to hijack commercial airliners from the Philippines and other places in Asia and crash them into key structures in the U.S.

Is everyone in our intelligence community asleep at the wheel? How many more innocent victims will have to perish before we finally get some intelligence in our intelligence community?

Dennis McKenna

Pasadena

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