U S Scientist Falsely Implicated in 2001 Anthrax Attack Awarded $5.8 Million
By Philip Fernando in Alaska for Asian Tribune
Alaska, 30 June, (Asiantribune.com): U S Army scientist Steven Hatfill implicated in the deadly anthrax mailings to Washington offices soon after the terrorist attack of 9/11 in 2001, won his law suit against the Bush administration. U S Justice Department said on Friday it would pay Hatfill over $ 5.8 million to settle his lawsuit accusing officials of violating his privacy rights by talking to the media and unfairly implicating him in anthrax attacks in 2001.
Government’s failure to find the anthrax attacker and its acts of deception bordering on fear mongering marked an era of terrorist phobia injected into the post 9”11 scene.
Hatfill, a bioterrorism expert denied any involvement with the anthrax attacks.
Hatfill.who formerly worked at the Army Medical Institute of Infectious Disease at Fort Detrick in Maryland, was wrongfully implicated in the mailings of the anthrax-laced letters that killed five people weeks after the September 11 hijacked plane attacks. Hatfill was called a person of interest by federal law enforcement officials, including then Attorney General John Ashcroft. Hatfill then sued various Justice Department officials, including Ashcroft.
Officially, U S government has conceded that the settlement is in the best interests of the United States and has agreed to pay Dr. Hatfill and his attorneys $2.8 million dollars immediately and purchase for Dr. Hatfill an annual annuity of $150,000.
Under the settlement the government of the United States does not admit to any violation of the Privacy Act and continues to deny all liability in connection with Dr. Hatfill's claims.
The anthrax attacks remain unsolved and the FBI's investigation continues. The mystery mailings may become political fodder against the Bush administration. Democrats have always maintained that using fear tactics marked the workings of the Bush administration politicos since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The lawyers of Hatfill said that US government failed them, not only by failing to catch the anthrax mailers but by seeking to conceal that failure. The statement also blamed journalists for not questioning the motives of the government's statements or its tactics.
"As an innocent man, and as our fellow citizen, Steven Hatfill deserved far better," the lawyers said.
Five people were killed and 17 sickened by anthrax that was mailed to lawmakers on Capitol Hill and members of the news media in New York and Florida just weeks after Sept. 11. Hatfill, was the subject of a flood of media coverage beginning in mid-2002 after television cameras showed FBI agents in biohazard suits searching his apartment.
An outcome of this settlement is that former USA Today reporter Toni Locy may not face up to $5,000 a day in fines in the case. A federal judge ordered her to identify the officials who discussed Hatfill. When she said she couldn't remember, the judge ordered her to identify all her sources on the anthrax case.
She challenged that order, but a federal appeals court has yet to rule in the case. As the Hatfill case is now over, Locy's case will probably be dismissed as moot, though that will be up to the appeals court.
- Asian Tribune -