When Hatfill, now 54, landed a government-funded university job, the Department of Justice forced his dismissal. Ashcroft and FBI officials testified in the lawsuit that they knew of no precedent for such intervention.Mueller's role in all this has to attract suspicion. Did he know who was responsible for the anthrax attacks? Is that why he was happy to turn the whole investigation into a media circus?
Investigators also questioned orders from their bosses to share confidential information with political leaders, a departure from normal procedure. The security of information within the probe was so lax that FBI agents found news helicopters racing them to the scenes of searches...
On Oct. 15., 2001, Mueller assigned the anthrax investigation to Van Harp, a veteran FBI official. A photo editor in Florida had already died mysteriously from anthrax about a week earlier. But the onslaught of biological terrorism was not recognized until an aide to the U.S. Senate majority leader opened an envelope Oct. 15 on Capitol Hill, unleashing a plume of powdery material and a wave of national fear.
Harp learned that this investigation would not follow FBI procedures for strict confidentiality. For starters, Mueller instructed him to brief U.S. Sens. Thomas Daschle (D-S.D.), then the majority leader, and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee. Each had been intended recipients of anthrax letters.
FBI officials wanted to assure the senators that the bureau was "very aggressively investigating the case," Harp testified. Nevertheless, sharing confidential investigative information was, he said, "an unusual step."
By the end of October, two Washington-area postal employees had died. In New York, a hospital supply worker also succumbed. On Nov. 21, 2001, the fifth anthrax victim, a woman in Oxford, Conn., died...
On Jan. 4, 2002, New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof began goading the FBI. "I think I know who sent out the anthrax last fall," he wrote, describing the unnamed suspect as "an American insider, a man working in the military bio-weapons field."
On May 24, Kristof called for lighting "a fire under the FBI" and described the suspected American insider in more detail. Later, the columnist wrote that he was referring to Hatfill...
Hatfill was cooperative throughout, they testified. He told the investigators he would welcome a search of his apartment.
But as Hatfill was signing a search authorization June 25, 2002, at the FBI office in downtown Frederick, Roth spotted a media helicopter heading "right toward Steve's house." Within minutes after Hatfill had signed, droves of Washington and Baltimore-based camera crews and reporters descended on his apartment.
"How many people knew in advance that you intended to go to talk to Dr. Hatfill and try to get a consent to search?" asked Hatfill's lawyer, Thomas C. Connolly, during a deposition.
"It was probably several hundred," Roth replied, including the mayor of Frederick...
When the FBI searched Hatfill's apartment a second time, on Aug. 1, 2002, the media helicopters and the van loads of camera crews were there again...
At one point, Roth and other FBI officials tried to trace who was accessing the central computer file in which all investigative interviews and other developments were stored. Roth said the file was "an open book," used by "a huge group of people."
... [FBI Director Robert] Mueller resisted when an official recommended a criminal probe of the leaks, with mandatory lie-detector tests for the anthrax investigators, Roth testified. The FBI director raised a hand and said, " 'I don't want to do that. . . . It's bad for morale to go after these people,' " Roth said.
Mueller testified that he did not recall the episode. He said he had backed at least one other leak investigation but did not know if any action was taken.
Why did he instruct agents to brief Senators on their investigations? And why were only Democrat Senators targetted anyway? Did someone want to keep powerful politicians living in fear for their lives? Could it be that the whole thing was just a follow-up scare campaign to 9-11? Could it be that the same perpetrators were involved, with the same top-level protections in place?
Is that why the media was given unprecedented access to this bogus investigation? To keep revelations about the 9-11 attacks off the front pages?
Bloodhounds were brought in to seek any scent of anthrax in Hatfill's apartment and places he frequented.Can you believe it? They drove over his foot and then charged him with walking the wrong way!
On Aug. 12, 2002, Newsweek magazine reported that the dogs "immediately became agitated." An unnamed law enforcement source was quoted, saying the bloodhounds "went crazy."
But FBI tests found no traces of anthrax, and investigators concluded that the dogs' excitement was useless as evidence. Harp and Roscoe C. Howard Jr., then the U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C., acknowledged in testimony that they had confirmed details about the bloodhounds to Newsweek before the article was published.
In addition to the searches, a caravan of FBI agents photographed and videotaped Hatfill seven days a week for months. An FBI employee drove over Hatfill's foot, prompting Washington, D.C., police to ticket him for "walking to create a hazard."
Next time somebody calls you a Crazy Conspiracy Theorist, just run that one past them.