A top government scientist committed suicide Friday as the Justice Department prepared to charge him in connection with the deadly 2001 anthrax attacks. Bruce E. Ivins, 62, had helped the FBI analyze samples from the attacks and worked at an elite government biodefense research laboratory. He took an overdose of prescription Tylenol mixed with codeine after being told he would be prosecuted. (Los Angeles Times)
What the commentators said
“The Justice Department just can’t win in the long-running Anthrax investigation,” said Dan Slater in The Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog. Last month, it had to agree to a $5.8 million-dollar settlement with former Army scientist Steven Hatfill, who said his life was destroyed after word leaked that he was a “person of interest” in the attacks. And now this.
The deal with Hatfill was a sure sign that investigators believed they had their man, said legal expert Jonathan Turley in his blog. And Ivins’ suicide seems to confirm it. But given the FBI's “outrageous conduct with regard to Hatfill, it is dangerous to jump to any conclusions about Ivins.”
“Unfortunately, the U.S. will not get its day in court,” said Ed Morrissey in a Hot Air blog. If Ivins really was the one who “murdered five people and frightened a nation already reeling from the 9/11 attack,” he cheated us all by taking the easy way out. The nation deserves an explanation.
It would still be “extremely helpful to know exactly what happened,” said Steven Taylor in the Outside the Beltway blog. Coming on the heels of 9/11, those attacks helped “catapult the nation” into a “generalized war against terrorist groups.” If envelopes of deadly white powder mailed to Congress and journalists were the handiwork of “a mentally unstable government microbiologist,” we all read too much into them.