I just finished watching the DOJ/FBI press conference on the anthrax investigation, and our crack DOJ wants us to believe that, by providing a lot of circumstantial evidence that places Bruce Ivins in the same room as a flask full of anthrax used in the attack, they’ve proven not only that Ivins was involved in the crime, but that he was the only one involved in the crime.

In other words, they haven’t solved this crime, but they want us to all go away and pretend they have.

Specifically, the only evidence that Ivins actually drove to Princeton to mail the anthrax is that he could have. And that he had a latent obsession for sorority girls from sorority that had an office–but not girls–in the vicinity of the mailbox in question. And that he had a porn-related post office box in an area where it was possible to buy the envelopes used in the crime (though you could probably say that about 300,000 other people had ready access to post offices that also had the same envelopes available). Oh, and by the way, there’s no reason to tie Ivins with the handwriting that appeared on those envelopes that so many other people could have gotten, either.

While what I’ve seen of their case so far makes a pretty compelling argument that Ivins was involved in creating the anthrax, they’ve got nothing that explains how it walked out of Ft. Detrick, got into envelopes, and got sent to a bunch of media figures and senators. Importantly, their "motive" for the selection of Leahy and Daschle is piss poor.

And, as I’ve said twice already, if they take their "motive" seriously: a desire to make sure anthrax vaccines were continued, a desire to pass the PATRIOT Act, and a reason to dislike Daschle and Leahy, Scooter Libby (who also lived in an area where he could have gotten those envelopes) and Dick Cheney had much stronger motives for sending the anthrax.

But don’t worry, the FBI says. We’ve got Ivins 200 miles away and no real motive and no real evidence tying him to the emptying the flask, but since we used some really cool science to place Ivins with the flask, that should be good enough for you.



Marcy Wheeler aka Emptywheel is an American journalist whose reporting specializes in security and civil liberties.