The Anthrax Attacks: 10 Years Later

October 3, 2011
/

US Marines with the Chemical Biological Incident Responce Force (CBIRF) working in hazmat gear as they decontaminate the Longworth House Office building of Anthrax. (Greg Mathieson/Mai/Mai/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Ten years ago this week, Florida photo editor Bob Stevens died shortly after being diagnosed as having inhaled anthrax.

Hours earlier, a scientist analyzing a sample of the bacteria that eventually killed Stevens came to a starting conclusion: It matched a particularly lethal strain of anthrax used mainly in U.S. Army laboratories.

Envelopes carrying deadly anthrax were delivered to U.S. Senate offices and network news divisions. Four more people died, and many more were infected before the attacks stopped. The nation was terrorized.

Seven years later, after mistakenly pursuing one suspect, the most expensive and complex investigation ever undertaken by the FBI ended when they identified Army scientist Dr. Bruce Ivins as the sole perpetrator of the attacks. The FBI made their announcement after Ivins had taken his own life.

But questions about the case continue. Earlier this year, a National Academy of Sciences panel raised doubts about the FBI’s scientific conclusions. And many of Ivins’ colleagues insist the FBI got the wrong man.

Next week, in our season premiere, FRONTLINE, along with our partners ProPublica and McClatchy Newspapers, will take a hard look at the FBI’s handling of the country’s most notorious act of bioterrorism. After 10 years and a $100 million investigation, how strong was the FBI’s case? Was Dr. Bruce Ivins the anthrax killer?

In order to foster a civil and literate discussion that respects all participants, FRONTLINE has the following guidelines for commentary. By submitting comments here, you are consenting to these rules:

Readers' comments that include profanity, obscenity, personal attacks, harassment, or are defamatory, sexist, racist, violate a third party's right to privacy, or are otherwise inappropriate, will be removed. Entries that are unsigned or are "signed" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. We reserve the right to not post comments that are more than 400 words. We will take steps to block users who repeatedly violate our commenting rules, terms of use, or privacy policies. You are fully responsible for your comments.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Support Provided By