Open Questions on a Closed Case
For some of the innocent, F.B.I. scrutiny led to lost jobs, canceled visas, broken marriages and frayed friendships.
The New York Times
August 10, 2008
By WILLIAM J. BROAD and SCOTT SHANE
When Perry Mikesell, a microbiologist in Ohio, came under suspicion as the anthrax attacker, he began drinking heavily, family members say, and soon died. After a doctor in New York drew the interest of the F.B.I., his marriage fell apart and his practice suffered, his lawyer says. And after two Pakistani brothers in Pennsylvania were briefly under scrutiny, they eventually had to leave the country to find work.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s path to Bruce E. Ivins, the Army scientist who committed suicide late last month as federal officials moved closer to indicting him for the 2001 anthrax letter attacks, was long and tortuous. Before the investigators settled on Dr. Ivins — and his defenders still say the F.B.I. hounded an innocent man to death — they had focused on Steven J. Hatfill, another Army researcher, for several years.
But along the way, scores of others — terrorists, foreigners, academic researchers, biowarfare specialists and an elite group of Army scientists working behind high fences and barbed wire — drew the interest of the investigators. For some of them the cost was high: lost jobs, canceled visas, broken marriages, frayed friendships.