WASHINGTON - Congressional investigators plan to examine how the FBI determined that one scientist was responsible for the deadly 2001 anthrax attacks, a U.S. lawmaker said.
The Government Accountability Office will look into how reliable and accurate the FBI's scientific and technical methods were when it concluded Dr. Bruce Ivins was responsible for the anthrax-laced letters sent in 2001.
The letters killed five people, sickened 17 others, jolted a nation reeling from the Sept. 11 attacks and resulted in one of the FBI's largest investigations ever, with more than 1,000 people facing scrutiny.
By 2007 investigators determined that a single-spore batch of anthrax created and maintained by Ivins at his laboratory in Maryland was the parent material for the spores in the letters.
Ivins committed suicide on July 29, 2008, just as prosecutors prepared to charge him with murder for committing the attacks.
Democratic Representative Rush Holt asked the GAO to conduct the review into the FBI's methods after the agency announced in February that it had officially closed the case.
"Please know that we may encounter challenges to our access to sensitive and classified information from the FBI and the intelligence agencies," the GAO said in a letter to Holt he released this week accepting his request for a review.
The National Academy of Sciences has been doing its own review of the FBI's scientific methods used to investigate the anthrax attacks. The GAO said that report is due to be finished later this year.
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