The head of the F.B.I.was grilled by Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley on Wednesday during a U-S Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. Grassley has criticized the F.B.I.for focusing on suspect Stephen Hatfill in the anthrax attacks of 2001 after another suspect scientist, Bruce Ivins, surfaced in the case. Grassley says the F.B.I.targeted an innocent man for four years.
Grassley says the Justice Department basically got Hatfill fired yet even after new evidence pointed toward Ivins and away from Hatfill, the F.B.I. waited years to "set the record straight." The F.B.I. leaked information to the media naming Hatfill as the killer. Hatfill won a court settlement over the matter. At the hearing, F.B.I. Director Robert Mueller defended the FBI probe.
Mueller says he didn’t support the leaks and the settlement was an acknowledgement the leaks shouldn’t have happened, still, he says the steps taken through the rest of the probe were appropriate. Suspect Bruce Ivins committed suicide and the F.B.I. is in the process of closing the anthrax case. Senator Grassley wants the files opened, so Congress can investigate on its own whether Dr. Ivins was the author of the anthrax attacks.
The anthrax was linked to the scientist’s laboratory. Grassley said the public deserves to know whether the FBI got it right. Grassley says: "This is one of the longest and most expensive investigations in F.B.I.history. There will probably never be a trial. Congress and the American people deserve a complete accounting of the F-B-I’s evidence." Meanwhile, Mueller explained why it took several years to publicly reveal Dr. Ivins as a suspect:
Mueller says: "There was a tremendous amount of investigative work that had to be done to determine whether or not and who was responsible." He says there were other people who had access to the anthrax during the time the lab was maintained by Ivins. Grassley demanded an apology from the F.B.I. for anonymously telling the media that the earlier suspect, Hatfill, was the killer.