The US Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has asked the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to delay releasing its long-awaited report on the 2001 anthrax attacks that created havoc in the country in the wake of the September 11 attacks. [The New York Times]
The NAS report, which was due out last month, according to the New York Times, examines the scientific evidence used by the FBI to accuse army microbiologist Bruce Ivins of perpetrating the attacks. Ivins committed suicide in 2008, before he could be formally charged with the crime.
Controversy surrounding the FBI’s evidence and handling of the case prompted the agency to ask the NAS to convene an independent panel to review the scientific evidence. The FBI filed its own closing words on the matter earlier this year.
The request to delay the report came after the NAS recently shared a draft copy with the FBI. The reason stated for the delay: an additional 500-page stack of previously undisclosed documents that the agency says is relevant to the investigation and now wishes to turn over to the NAS committee.
The move has prompted Representative Rush Holt (D-New Jersey) to accuse the FBI of possibly “seeking to try to steer or otherwise pressure” the NAS “to reach a conclusion desired by the bureau.” [Statement]
The NAS panel says it can extend its review as requested, but the additional work will cost the FBI another $50,000 on top of the $879,550 the agency has already paid for the study. [The New York Times]
Meanwhile, the Government Accountability Office in September began its own review of the case.
Image: Envelope in which the letter containing anthrax was sent to Senator Tom Daschle during the 2001 attacks/ Wikipedia