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FBI director anticipates independent review of anthrax investigation

[JURIST] FBI Director Robert Mueller [official profile] told the US House Judiciary Committee [official website] Tuesday that the federal government would commission an independent review of the FBI's use of scientific evidence in its investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks [GWU backgrounder]. Mueller said during a hearing [materials] on FBI oversight that officials have been discussing such a review with the National Academy of Sciences [organization website], which would assemble a panel of experts. The review, which could begin within weeks, would be funded by the federal government. AP has more.

The FBI [official website; JURIST news archive] used a new method of DNA fingerprinting to trace the anthrax to biodefense researcher Bruce Ivins [NPR report], but Ivins committed suicide in July before he could be prosecuted. The Department of Justice (DOJ) had at one point identified former US Army researcher Dr. Steven Hatfill [Washington Post profile] as a "person of interest" in the investigation, but Hatfill sued the agency [complaint, PDF] and this year reached a multimillion-dollar settlement [JURIST report]. Hatfill's attorneys plan to seek counsel fees [JURIST report] from former USA Today reporter and past JURIST student staffer Toni Locy [JURIST news archive], who was found in contempt after refusing to divulge the names of sources [JURIST reports] for her reporting on the anthrax investigation.

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