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August 13, 2002
4:25 AM   Subscribe

I find it hard to believe that the bio-chemical weapons specialist, and expert Steven Hatfill, was responsible for the tragically amateurish Anthrax attacks, responsible for senselessly killing mainly postal employees. Greenpeace Germany unsurprisingly supports the 'inside job' conspiracy, and whatreallyhappened.com decides to blame it on the Jews again, among other things.
Hatfill: suspect or pawn?
posted by hama7 (21 comments total)

 
Of course his guilt or innocence is something to be decided by the courts (if he is ever charged) but there are several interesting things about this man that everyone should know.
1) Hatfill claimed to have completed his doctoral studies. He did not.
2) Hatfill claimed to have served in Special Forces. He did not.
3) It is probable that Hatfill did serve the Rhodesian white military as a bioweapons expert.
4) It is probable that Hatfill did serve the apartheid government of South Africa as a bioweapons expert.
5) It is probable that Hatfill did serve the CIA in covert operations.
6) Hatfill was outed not by the FBI but by his peers in the bio-weapons business as the most probable suspect.
posted by nofundy at 4:43 AM on August 13, 2002


This post is a bit misleading. The group that's been most aggressive in holding the FBI's feet to the fire on this one and pushing the insider theory (which still has the best evidence, btw) has been the Federation of American Scientists, not far left-wing groups or conspiracy theorists. The main spokesperson has been a woman named Barbara Rosenberg; her February report to the Federation raised issues about FBI incompetence and a possible cover-up that are still relevant to the case. Interestingly, she never named Hatfill. More in this June 25 thread.
posted by mediareport at 5:09 AM on August 13, 2002


The text of Hatfill's statement is online. This sounds like another Richard Jewell situation.
posted by rcade at 5:10 AM on August 13, 2002


Considering they found Anthrax in my town recently, I'm still wondering who is responsible
posted by mad at 5:22 AM on August 13, 2002


This sounds like another Richard Jewell situation.

What makes you say that? The FAS report provides plenty of reason to suspect FBI foot-dragging and/or plain incompetence in this investigation, but the one thing you can say for the FBI here is that it didn't do any of the things that got it into trouble in the Jewell case: leaking the suspect's name to the press, trying to trick him into waiving his rights, wiring is friends to secretly record his conversations, etc. This is a very different situation.
posted by mediareport at 5:26 AM on August 13, 2002


What makes you say that?

In both cases, leaks to the media about a potential suspect led to a huge amount of coverage that treated the person as if he was already convicted of the crime, when he hadn't been charged with anything.
posted by rcade at 5:54 AM on August 13, 2002


His links to Zimbabwe are ironic given the events going on there now.
posted by stbalbach at 6:05 AM on August 13, 2002


RCade--I'm with you. For the time being, the media caught wind of Hatfill being checked and double-checked and maybe ran with it a little too far. A couple of hundred scientists have been investigated, I believe--we now know one of them. The press really ignited when he held a press conference.

Not that he's definitely innocent. He might very well be the guy. But he *hasn't* been charged with anything yet.

(nofundy's facts are pretty interesting--what's the source on those?)
posted by fred_ashmore at 6:05 AM on August 13, 2002


Hatfill claimed to have completed his doctoral studies. He did not.

Where's your support? In his press conference he quite clearly called himself a "medical doctor." I find it hard to believe that he would have been so emphatic knowing that he would be exposed if it were not true.

And whether or not this will ultimately turn out to be a "Richard Jewell" situation, I find it highly ironic that the people who are now screaming about the FBI "dragging its feet" are the same people who relentlessly criticized the FBI for rushing to name Jewell as a suspect.
posted by pardonyou? at 6:06 AM on August 13, 2002


7)He has also failed three successive polygraph examinations since January, and canceled plans for another polygraph exam two weeks ago.

Again, this man was not "outed" by the FBI but by a group of concerned scientists (his peer group, if you will) worried about FBI foot dragging. Totally unlike the Richard Jewell case.

Pardonyou, I'm rather busy at the moment so I'll have to leave the research to you but I assure it's "out there." Try Google. Some University in South Africa is where he claimed to have gotten his degree, but they refute the claim. Sorry I don't have the time to do this for you right now.
posted by nofundy at 6:22 AM on August 13, 2002


I find it highly ironic that the people who are now screaming about the FBI "dragging its feet" are the same people who relentlessly criticized the FBI for rushing to name Jewell as a suspect.

I knew that would come up, but it's unfair. It's entirely possible to look at the evidence Rosenberg collected and conclude that something stupid or sneaky is going on in the anthrax investigation, while simultaneously being glad that the FBI isn't, say, lying to a suspect about making a "training film" to trick him into waiving his Miranda rights.
posted by mediareport at 6:23 AM on August 13, 2002


Here's a good link to help answer questions:
http://www.nytimes.com/2002/08/13/opinion/13KRIS.html
posted by nofundy at 6:23 AM on August 13, 2002


I'm rather busy at the moment so I'll have to leave the research to you but I assure it's "out there." Try Google. ... Sorry I don't have the time to do this for you right now.

I'm sure that the information is probably out there, and as a default presumption, I assume that you've at least seen some evidence to support your assertions. However, it's pretty cavalier to make those assertions and then just brush off questions by saying you "don't have the time" to do the proper research. It seems that's precisely what's making people think this is another Richard Jewell situation.

That being said, the American PRospect has an article on Hatfill's background.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 6:39 AM on August 13, 2002


He has also failed three successive polygraph examinations since January, and canceled plans for another polygraph exam two weeks ago.

According to the Baltimore Sun and other sources Hatfill has only been polygraphed once in regard to the anthrax investigation and he passed that test. What's your source for the claim that he has failed three tests in a row?

Even one of your sources admits there isn't any physical evidence connecting Hatfill to these crimes. Suspicion and a shady background should not be enough to hound the guy out of two jobs and give him the Gary Condit treatment.
posted by rcade at 6:59 AM on August 13, 2002


The polygraph claim comes from a thoughtful Nicholas Kristof column in today's NYT. Today's Papers points out that the info is a leak. If it hits a grand jury, I'll bet the evidence there will get leaked, too. Not right.
posted by mediareport at 7:06 AM on August 13, 2002


AfricaOnline.com reports that Hatfill may have been connected to elite Rhodesian military units around the same time as the "world's largest outbreak of human anthrax in what was then known as Southern Rhodesia. Between 1978 and 1980, nearly 200 people died and more than 10 000 cases were recorded."

Mr. Hatfill may know where a lot of bodies are buried.
posted by xiffix at 7:30 AM on August 13, 2002


I find it even more interesting that the FBI has not yet issued a statement about Hatfill -- whether it is to suggest that they're still investigating him or have cleared him. Shouldn't they weigh in already?
posted by timyang at 7:49 AM on August 13, 2002


Hatfill sent out the anthrax to avenge Jewell . . .
posted by hackly_fracture at 8:28 AM on August 13, 2002


http://www.nandotimes.com/nation/story/493278p-3933941c.html

Hatfill claimed to have completed his doctoral studies. He did not.

Where's your support? In his press conference he quite clearly called himself a "medical doctor." I find it hard to believe that he would have been so emphatic knowing that he would be exposed if it were not true.


Doctoral studies refers to studies leading to a PhD, not a Medical Degree (MD.) It is not disputed that he has an MD from the University of Zimbabwe Medical School in Harare, but officials at Rhodes University in South Africa say he never earned a PhD there.

This story examines a lot of the questions about Hatfill's resume. Of course resume falsification should not implicate him in sending anthrax through the mail.
posted by pitchblende at 9:45 AM on August 13, 2002


If the bloodhound and polygraph reports are true, it would strongly influence my gut feeling about him. To this point, the only real bellwether has been that while he's been under surveillance there have been no further anthrax attacks. I haven't seen that the FBI has anything that would, as they say, hold up in court. Clearly their caution has much to do not only with Richard Jewell, but with the Wen Ho Lee case as well. In the latter, the early reporting of the NYT badly politicized an incomplete investigation (recall that attention went all the way to the white house, and Energy Secretary Richardson was involved too), which if it hadn't been botched already was certainly beyond hope of salvage afterward. Whether it's a difference in temperament or priorities at the White House, or just an indicator of a better relationship between the FBI Director and Attorney General, Mueller has managed to keep this one from blowing up in his face ... so far.
posted by dhartung at 10:51 AM on August 13, 2002


Hatfill sent out the anthrax to avenge Johnny
posted by stbalbach at 12:05 PM on August 13, 2002


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