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Lawmakers urge FBI to release information on 2001 anthrax attacks

[JURIST] US Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) [official websites] announced [press release] Tuesday that they have sent the FBI [official website] a letter [PDF] signed by thirty-three members of Congress asking it to release information from its probe into the 2001 anthrax attacks [GWU backgrounder], in which letters containing anthrax spores were sent to senators and news organizations, leading to the deaths of five people. The letter, signed by members of both parties and addressed to US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, demands that the FBI release information to Congress on the five-year-old investigation. Until now, the FBI has refused to share information about the probe due to possible leaks, but the lawmakers dismissed the idea that the concerns should prevent them from effective oversight of the agency:

Given recent revelations that FBI agents were the anonymous sources for New York Times stories casting suspicion on “person of interest,” Stephen Hatfill, it appears that the FBI may itself be responsible for the inappropriate disclosures of sensitive case information. Whether on Capitol Hill or within the FBI, individuals who make inappropriate disclosures should be held accountable. However, as an institution, Congress cannot be cut-off from detailed information about the conduct of one of the largest investigations in FBI history. That information is vital in order to fulfill its Constitutional responsibility to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch.
Earlier this month, New York Times asked a federal court to dismiss [JURIST report] a libel and intentional infliction of emotional distress lawsuit brought by Hatfill after the newspaper published a story stating that the government's decision not to further pursue him as a suspect was the result of "poor investigation." AP has more.

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