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The anthrax case, the media, and the innocent

By Michelle Malkin  •  March 28, 2008 01:34 PM

Catherine Herridge reports new developments in the still-unsolved 2001 anthrax attacks, while Steven Hatfill continues the fight to clear his name:

The FBI has narrowed its focus to “about four” suspects in the 6 1/2-year investigation of the deadly anthrax attacks of 2001, and at least three of those suspects are linked to the Army’s bioweapons research facility at Fort Detrick in Maryland, FOX News has learned.

Among the pool of suspects are three scientists — a former deputy commander, a leading anthrax scientist and a microbiologist — linked to the research facility, known as USAMRIID.

The FBI has collected writing samples from the three scientists in an effort to match them to the writer of anthrax-laced letters that were mailed to two U.S. senators and at least two news outlets in the fall of 2001, a law enforcement source confirmed.

The anthrax attacks began shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, further alarming a nation already reeling from deaths of 3000 Americans. Five people were killed and more than a dozen others were infected by the deadly spores in the fall of 2001.

A leading theory is that the anthrax was stolen from Fort Detrick and then sealed inside the letters. A law enforcement source said the FBI is essentially engaged in a process of elimination.

Hatfill, meanwhile, is in court pursuing a civil action against the government for violating his privacy by leaking information to the press. One of the reporters involved, USA Today’s Toni Locy, was held in contempt and ordered to personally pay fines. She’s scheduled to appear before the judge on April 3.

Steve Chapman reflects on the collateral damage in the battle between the news media vs. the innocent:

Hatfill asserted his innocence, and he was never charged in the case. He sued the government, The New York Times and others for damages. Federal Judge Reggie Walton concluded that the claims have “destroyed his life” even though “there’s not a scintilla of evidence to suggest Dr. Hatfill had anything to do with” the anthrax attacks.

Years later, Hatfill is still awaiting vindication. Last week, he inched closer when the judge ordered Toni Locy, a former USA Today reporter, to disclose her sources about Hatfill—or face fines of up to $5,000 a day for contempt. A host of news organizations, including Tribune Co., filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging that she be spared from providing evidence.

Here we find ourselves on depressingly familiar ground. Back in 2005, Times reporter Judith Miller refused to say who told her that Valerie Plame was a CIA agent. She went to jail for contempt before finally acknowledging it was vice presidential aide Lewis “Scooter” Libby.

Five reporters didn’t want to reveal their sources about Los Alamos nuclear scientist Wen Ho Lee, who was tarred for alleged espionage but convicted only of a single minor count of mishandling classified data. Their demands got nowhere, forcing their employers to reach a costly settlement with Lee.

The news media keep losing these cases, yet journalists and their attorneys refuse to recognize reality. They continue to insist on their right to keep evidence of wrongdoing and lawbreaking from the courts, no matter the collateral damage…Journalists and citizens may disagree on the proper role of the news media in a free society. But when the press finds itself protecting the guilty at the expense of the innocent, it’s made a wrong turn somewhere.

Posted in: Anthrax

Judge: USAToday reporter in contempt, must personally pay fines

March 7, 2008 10:08 PM by Michelle Malkin

“The media has to be responsible.”

The media and the Steven Hatfill/anthrax case

February 20, 2008 01:41 PM by Michelle Malkin

“Not a scintilla of evidence.”

Report: MSM Source Disclosure Ordered in Anthrax Suit

August 14, 2007 06:45 AM by Michelle Malkin

Anthrax attacks: 5 years later

September 18, 2006 08:10 AM by Michelle Malkin


February 22, 2006 03:51 PM by Michelle Malkin

Categories: Anthrax