2008年8月5日火曜日

炭疽菌事件 自殺した研究者

炭疽菌事件の自殺した研究者の状況が少しわかった。
報道によれば、25年以上前から妄想癖があり、今年になってグループセラピー
を受けた。その時、「銃と防弾チョッキを買い、殺人容疑で起訴されようと
していたため、同僚を殺す非常に詳細な計画をねっていた」ので、精神衛生
機関をソーシャルワーカーから勧められていたらしい。

大陪審が開かれていたが研究者は殺人容疑で起訴となることを知り自殺した
ため、大陪審も閉廷するらしい。


---Pressure Grows for F.B.I. to Show Anthrax Evidence---
By SCOTT SHANE and NICHOLAS WADE
Published: August 5, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/05/washington/05anthrax.html?ref=science

WASHINGTON — After four years of painstaking scientific research, the F.B.I. by 2005 had traced the anthrax in the poisoned letters of 2001 to a single flask of the bacteria at the Army biodefense laboratory at Fort Detrick, Md., according to government scientists and bureau officials.

But at least 10 scientists had regular access to the laboratory and its anthrax stock — and possibly quite a few more, counting visitors from other institutions, and workers at laboratories in Ohio and New Mexico that had received anthrax samples from the flask at the Army laboratory.

To get that far, the Federal Bureau of Investigation had helped invent what was virtually a new science, microbial forensics, the use of biochemical clues to track a germ weapon to its source.

The bureau sponsored research at a score of government and university laboratories aimed at estimating the age of the anthrax, tracing the water used to grow it, assessing how it was made into an inhalable powder and, perhaps most important, taking its genetic fingerprint.

But at that point, the science had largely reached its limits. To figure out who in the narrowed pool of scientist-suspects was the perpetrator, the F.B.I. would have to rely on traditional gumshoe investigative methods: interviewing colleagues and family members, searching houses and cars, doing surveillance, and assessing personalities.

About 18 months ago, investigators appear to have sharpened their focus on Bruce E. Ivins, a veteran anthrax researcher, whom they placed under intensive surveillance as they examined every aspect of his life and work.

Since Dr. Ivins’s suicide last week, F.B.I. officials have said prosecutors were preparing to indict him for sending the anthrax letters, which killed five people, although charges appear to have been a few weeks away.

Dr. Ivins had been a respected microbiologist for three decades at the United States Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick. He was a popular neighbor in Frederick, Md., a Red Cross volunteer and an amateur juggler who played keyboards for Sunday services at his church.

But the investigators found some personal quirks, according to law enforcement officials and people who knew the scientist well. They found that Dr. Ivins, who had a history of alcohol abuse, had for years maintained a post office box under an assumed name that he used to receive pornographic pictures of blindfolded women.

Years ago, he had visited Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority houses at universities in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, an obsession growing out of a romance with a sorority sister in his own college days at the University of Cincinnati — although someone who knew him well said the last such visit was in 1981.

What is more relevant, agents focused new attention on a 2002 Army investigation of a spill of anthrax the same year outside the secure laboratory that Dr. Ivins worked in, and his puzzling behavior in trying to clean the area with bleach while failing to report the contamination. They studied his anthrax vaccine patents and considered whether the promise of royalties after a bioterrorism scare might have been a motive.

They had even intensively questioned his adopted children, Andrew and Amanda, now both 24, with the authorities telling his son that he might be able to collect the $2.5 million reward for solving the case and buy a sports car, and showing his daughter gruesome photographs of victims of the anthrax letters and telling her, “Your father did this,” according to the account Dr. Ivins gave a close friend.

As the investigation wore on, some colleagues thought the F.B.I.’s methods were increasingly coercive, as the agency tried to turn Army scientists against one another and reinterviewed family members.

One former colleague, Dr. W. Russell Byrne, said the agents pressed Dr. Ivins’s daughter repeatedly to acknowledge that her father was involved in the attacks.

“It was not an interview,” Dr. Byrne said. “It was a frank attempt at intimidation.”

Dr. Byrne said he believed Dr. Ivins was singled out partly because of his personal weaknesses. “They figured he was the weakest link,” Dr. Byrne said. “If they had real evidence on him, why did they not just arrest him?”

Another former co-worker, Dr. Kenneth W. Hedlund, who collaborated on anthrax research with Dr. Ivins in the 1980s, had a similar theory.

“The investigators looked around, they decided they had to find somebody. They went after all of them but he looked the most susceptible to pressure,” Dr. Hedlund said. “It is like prisoners of war: if they are harassed enough, they will be driven to do anything. But I don’t believe he would have done what they say he did.”

With such views voiced by Dr. Ivins’s acquaintances — and vocal skepticism from key members of Congress — the pressure is growing on the F.B.I. to unveil its evidence.

On Monday, officials began to contact survivors of the anthrax attacks and family members of the five who died to say they would get a briefing, in person or by telephone, before the case against Dr. Ivins was made public.

Shirley Davis, the primary caretaker for Ottilie W. Lundgren of Oxford, Conn., a 94-year-old woman who was killed in the anthrax letter attack, said that she received a call on Monday.

“They asked if we could put together a list of questions we would like to have answered, just to get an idea of just exactly what happened,” Ms. Davis, 78, said. She said she had not yet been given a day or time for the briefing.

“It is a relief to know that they have found something,” Ms. Davis said. “It has been seven years now. But it may end up still that they don’t really know why this happened or what happened.”

F.B.I. officials say they do know a great deal about what happened and will make it public, possibly as early as Wednesday. They say the core of their case will be the science, which produced the giant step from a globe of possible suspects to a single lab and a single flask.

Faced with the scientific mystery of the powder, government and outside scientists first looked at chemical isotopes in the attack strain for clues as to when and where the bacteria had been grown. Analyzing traces of the beef broth used to grow the anthrax, scientists measured carbon-14 left from nuclear weapons tests in the 1950s, whose quantity diminishes every year.

By calculating the ratio of carbon-14 to the normal kind in residue of plants eaten by the cow from which the broth was made, investigators learned by June 2002 that the anthrax had been grown within the last two years.

A second clue was developed from the new ability to sequence, or decode, the chemical letters of DNA. Scientists at the Institute for Genomic Research, a pioneer in genome sequencing, sequenced the full genome of the anthrax recovered from the blood of Robert Stevens, the first victim of the attacks.

The genome of various stocks of the Ames strain of anthrax used in the attacks were almost identical in all the 5 million chemical letters of their DNA. But researchers found enough differences in the attack strain to provide a reasonable chance of identifying its source.

The chief difference was that a stretch of DNA was flipped head to tail in some bacteria in the attack strain, but not in any other samples.

Further, the attack strain contained bacteria with both the flipped and the unflipped DNA, showing that it was a mixture of two strains, which analysts later found reflected a mix of origins — 85 percent from the Dugway Proving Ground of the Army in Utah and 15 percent added at Fort Detrick, according to one person close to the investigation.

To make sure the case for the distinctive features of the attack anthrax could hold up in court, agents collected thousands of samples of Ames strain anthrax from labs around the world, said scientists familiar with the F.B.I.’s thinking. “This is the step that took so long,” one scientist said.

Decoding the genome of a bacterium like anthrax may have cost around $500,000 in 2002, and even the F.B.I.’s budget would have been strained to decode thousands of genomes. A new generation of sequencing machines can now sequence bacterial genomes for around $500. But those machines did not become available until about 2005, which may have been another reason for the delay.

Despite speculation that the anthrax had a special coating to make it more deadly, an F.B.I. scientist, Douglas Beecher, published an article in 2006 saying no such sophisticated additives had been found. That finding broadened the number of scientists and technicians who could have made the anthrax, another obstacle to a quick resolution.

Richard Ebright, a Rutgers University biochemist and an opponent of the rapid expansion of biodefense research since 2001, said the F.B.I. should long ago have released some of its scientific conclusions.

“The finding that the attack material could be traced definitively to a U.S. bioweapons research lab could, and should, have been released as soon is it was obtained,” Dr. Ebright said, noting that the finding could raise questions about the wisdom of proliferating stocks of anthrax and other pathogens.

“This is not just a finding with Agatha Christie-Perry Mason implications,” he said.

Scott Shane reported from Washington, and Nicholas Wade from New York. Eric Lipton, Eric Lichtblau and Sarah Abruzzese contributed reporting from Washington.


---FBI Plans to Close Anthrax Case Following Suspect's Suicide---
posted 4:49 pm Mon August 04, 2008 - FREDERICK, Md.
http://www.wjla.com/news/stories/0808/541272.html

The Federal Bureau of Investigation hopes to close out the anthrax killer case Monday after the suicide of Bruce Ivins, a newly identified suspect, bringing an end to the nearly seven-year investigation, sources tell ABC 7/NewsChannel 8. The official closure may not come until overnight or Tuesday morning, said the sources.

Investigators plan to release the evidence in the case after meeting with the 17 anthrax survivors and the family members of the five people killed in the attacks. That meeting could happen as soon as this week, according to the sources. Family members have reportedly said they have been asked to come to Washington this week to meet with FBI (web) agents.

The reported evidence against Ivins, a former Army scientist at Fort Detrick, includes a Post Office box he reportedly rented under an assumed name, his alleged extensive use of laboratory equipment after hours, and anthrax spores found in his office that were linked through DNA matching to the spores sent through the mail.

Ivins killed himself last week, apparently distraught about the fact a grand jury had been impaneled to indict him on capital murder charges. The grand jury was expected to continue hearing evidence for several weeks.

Other evidence includes comments from a social worker who met with Ivins during group therapy sessions for about six months in 2008. Jean Duley sought and received a restraining order against Ivins on July 24, 2008, claiming he had homicidal fantasies about killing co-workers. In audio tapes of the court proceedings, obtained by The New York Times, Duley claimed that in a July 9, 2008 session:

"He was extremely agitated, out of control..." She said he had bought a gun and a bulletproof vest and had "a very detailed plan to kill his co-workers because he was about to be indicted on capital murder charges. He was going to go out in a blaze of glory."

Duley later sought to have Ivins involuntarily committed to a high-security mental health facility.

FBI agents had been trailing Ivins and had seized his personal computers. Last week, the FBI seized two computers from the Frederick Public Library that Ivins allegedly used after his were taken.

The Associated Press also reported on Monday that the former Army scientist had a long obsessions with a New Jersey sorrority, Kappa Kappa Gamma, that was located fewer than 100 yards from the postal boxes where the anthrax-laced letters were mailed to media organizations and lawmakers in September and October of 2001.

U.S. officials told the AP e-mails or other documents detail Ivins' long-standing fixation on the sorority. His former therapist has said Ivins plotted revenge against those who have slighted him, particularly women. There is nothing to indicate, however, he was focused on any one sorority member or other Princeton student, the officials said.

One hole in the investigators' case has been their inability to place Ivins in Princeton when the letters were mailed. Had Ivins not killed himself last week, authorities would have argued he could have made the seven-hour round trip journey to Princeton after work, the AP reported Monday.

Ivins' attorney, Paul F. Kemp, did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment Monday but has asserted his client's innocence and said he would have been vindicated in court.

Many people remain skeptical of the evidence, especially considering the initial focus the FBI and Justice Department had placed on biowarfare researcher Steven Hatfill, who was described as a person of interest by then-Attorney General John Ashcroft in 2002.

"It seems like they from one guy to next to next," said Frederick resident William Dennie. "[I] hope they know what they're doing; [they're] going to make a wreck of someone's life if they're wrong."

Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, one of the recipients of the anthrax letters, also remains skeptical of the FBI's new emphasis on Ivins.

"Given their checkered past and the difficulty that they had in getting to this point, the bungling of the Hatfill part of the investigation, leads me to be very skeptical," Daschle told CNN.

Some of the scientist's friends and former co-workers have reacted with skepticism as details about the investigation surfaced. They questioned whether Ivins had the motive to unleash such an attack. There are also questions about whether he would be technically capable of creating the highly refined, powdered form of the deadly toxin without co-workers noticing.

Some reporters have also raised questions about Jean Duley, the social worker who was granted a restraining order against Ivins.

According to court records, Duley has two recent arrests for driving under the influence. In 2006, she pleaded guilty to reckless driving and the DUI charge was dropped. In 2007 she pleaded guilty to a DUI charge. In 1992, she was charged with battery against her then-husband, William Duley. Prosecutors dropped the charges, and the case was not adjudicated. She was also charged with possession of drug paraphernalia with intent in use in 1993. The charges were later dropped.


---研究者の炭疽菌事件関与、DNA分析で判明と---
2008.08.04 Web posted at: 15:31 JST Updated - CNN
http://www.cnn.co.jp/usa/CNN200808040015.html

ワシントン(CNN) 生物兵器の研究者で、先月薬物で自殺したブルース・E・イビンズ博士(享年62)が01年秋の炭疽(たんそ)菌事件に関与していた容疑は、DNA分析で判明していたことが、捜査関係筋の発言で3日分かった。

関係筋によると、米連邦捜査局(FBI)は新たな遺伝子工学による調査で、事件当時に報道機関や政府機関に送りつけられた郵便物内の炭疽菌が、メリーランド州フォートデトリックの米陸軍感染症医療研究所にあったイビンズ博士の研究室のフラスコに由来することを突き止めた。当局は捜査終結に先立ち、早ければ今週中にも証拠を公表する可能性がある。

同博士は同研究所に数十年間勤務し、炭疽毒素に対抗するワクチンの開発に取り組んでいた。検察当局と司法取引について話し合った先月27日、自宅で薬物を服用し意識を失っているところを発見され、29日に搬送先の病院で死亡した。

事件では郵便局職員2人を含む5人が死亡し、十数人に健康被害が出た。捜査当局は、同博士が炭疽菌を研究室の外に出した目的が、開発していたワクチンの試験だったのではないかと見て調べを進めている。

同博士は自殺当時、以前カウンセリングを受けたソーシャルワーカーへのいやがらせや付きまとい、脅迫といった行為で、一時的接近差し止め命令を受けていた。ソーシャルワーカーが法廷で述べたところによると、同博士は精神病院への入院歴があったという。

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