Justice Department attempts to quash testimony by wife of bioweaponeer William
Patrick III in STEVEN J. HATFILL, M.D. v. ATTORNEY GENERAL JOHN ASHCROFT, THE
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE; THE FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION (et al).
Headed by former federal prosecutor Tom Connelly, pro bono attorney's for Dr.
Steven J. Hatfill, the former "person of interest" in the anthrax
letters case, have been quietly doing battle behind the scenes with attorney's
for the US Justice Department, in the United States District Court for The District
Dr. Steven Hatfill's life was publically dismantled, rendering him persona
non grata when John Ashcroft, the former United States Attorney General, labeled
Hatfill "a person of interest" in the still unsolved anthrax case.
Alleged leaks from the FBI to the news media created a macabre media blitz
wherein the news hungry press was culpable, if not instrumental, in perpetuating
the tortuous ordeal Dr. Hatfill, who has never been charged with a crime, was
forced to endure. He became a pariah, lost his job, is unemployable and reportedly
The FBI shadowed Hatfill to the extent that a state of virtual house arrest
existed. At one point, on one of the rare occasions Hatfill left his besieged
apartment, one of Hatfill's keepers ran over his foot with an SUV. Ironically,
it was Hatfill who received a citation a fine over the incident.
The FBI leaks, first appearing in Newsweek and amplified by ABC's Brian Ross,
appeared to be uniquely designed to draw public interest.
Newsweek's Mark Miller and Daniel Klaidman reported in "The Hunt for the
Anthrax Killer", in remarkable detail, how, using bloodhounds that had
been given "scent packs" from decontaminated anthrax letters to sniff,
"went crazy" upon approaching Hatfill"s apartment:
"The dogs, purebred bloodhounds with noses a thousand times more sensitive
than a human’s, were barking and howling and straining at their leashes.
Early last week FBI agents on the trail of last year’s anthrax attacker
turned to a 16th-century technology to help solve a 21st-century crime.
AGENTS PRESENTED the canines with scent packs lifted from anthrax-tainted letters
mailed to Sens. Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy (long since decontaminated), hoping
some faint, telltale trace of the perpetrator’s smell still remained months
after the fact. The agents quietly brought the dogs to various locations frequented
by a dozen people they considered possible suspects -- hoping the hounds would
match the scent on the letters. In place after place, the dogs had no reaction.
But when the handlers approached the Frederick, Md., apartment building of Dr.
Steven J. Hatfill, an eccentric 48-year-old scientist who had worked in one
of the Army's top bioweapons-research laboratories, the dogs immediately became
NEWSWEEK has learned. "They went crazy," says one law-enforcement
source. The agents also brought the bloodhounds to the Washington, D.C., apartment
of Hatfill’s girlfriend and to a Denny’s restaurant in Louisiana,
where Hatfill had eaten the day before. In both places, the dogs jumped and
barked, indicating they'd picked up the scent. (Bloodhounds are the only dogs
whose powers of smell are admissible in court.) " Newsweek reported.
No shrinking violet, Hatfill went public pleading his case: "I love my
country, I had nothing to do with the anthrax letters and it is terribly wrong
for anyone to contend or think otherwise."
In a statement at an Accuracy in Media conference, Hatfill noted "They
brought this good-looking dog in. I mean, this was the best-fed dog I have seen
in a long time. They brought him in and he walked around the room. By the way,
I could have left at anytime but I volunteered while they were raiding my apartment
the second time, I volunteered to talk with them. The dog came around and I
petted him. And the dog walked out. So animals like me"...
As for the overall investigation: "...I didn't know it could be like this
in the United States. We've gone nuts. We eat our own here."
Former Federal Prosecutor vs. The US Attorney General
Eventually, Steven Hatfield, assisted by his friend and former investigative
reporter, Pat Clawson, obtained the pro bono services of a former federal prosecutor,
now practicing with a high powered Washington DC law firm.
To get to the bottom of what was leaked to whom,Tom Conolly threw out a wide
net. In October 2004 the New York Times reported that Justice Department officials
agreed to distribute to federal investigators a document they could sign to
release journalists from pledges of confidentiality.
This was considered a compromise that would advance proceedings in the lawsuit
without interfering with the criminal investigation of the anthrax case by requiring
depositions from a large number of investigators.
The releases were sought as a step toward questioning reporters about their
sources in the case.
In addition to suing the F.B.I. and the Justice Department, Hatfill filed a
separate defamation lawsuit against The New York Times, for columns about him
by Nicholas D. Kristoff. Though the Kristoff lawsuit was dismissed, the news
media appears to have taken a collective vow of silence in regards to Steven
Hatfill, the antithesis of the barrage of shotgun reporting prior to the lawsuits.
Justice Department obtains delays
Naturally, lawyers for the Justice Department and the FBI have forced delays,
citing interference with the alleged on-going anthrax investigation dubbed "Amerithrax".
The news media has been virtually mute after legal motions were filed seeking
that certain journalists wave the commonly accepted confidentiality agreement
with anonymous sources.
In an interesting twist, on June 30, 2005, Hatfill's team submitted its latest
motion to US District Judge Reggie B. Walton, consisting of a series of 52 questions,
seeking to depose Virginia Patrick, friend of Steven Hatfill and the wife William
Patrick III, former chief of product development for the U.S. Army's bioweapons
program at the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Ft.
A significant portion of the questions relate to the strange bloodhound affair:
How did you respond to what the FBI agents told you about the "smoking
gun" evidence from the dogs?
Did you express some skepticism about the use of the dogs?
How did the FBI agents react to your skepticism?
What did you suggest?
What did the FBI agents do after you suggested that you would like to see the
dogs in action?
How quickly did the FBI agents respond?
How many dog handlers and dogs arrived?
How quickly did the dogs and their handlers arrive?
What did this response time lead you to believe?
Were the dog handlers FBI agents?
What did the dog handlers do?
What did the dogs do?
What was the purpose of the demonstration?
Was this the first time the dogs had visited your property?
Why were the dogs at your home and property earlier?
Who told you that the dogs already had visited your property?
Did the FBI tell you why it revealed the information to you?
What did the FBI ask you to do with information regarding Dr. Hatfill?
Did the FBI seek any information from you?
Do you have any idea why the FBI disclosed this information to you?
Did the FBI ask you to keep the information secret?
Did the FBI ask you to sign any sort of non-disclosure agreement? -
Did this experience change your relationship with Dr. Hatfill?
Submitted, By: Thomas G. Connelly, Mark A. Grannis and Patrick O'Donnell
Naturally, the Justice Department immediately filed a motion to quash, and
the news media remains collectively mute on the matter.
Outside of the courtroom
In an encore performance, the FBI exposed another physician, who just happened
to have similarities to Dr. Hatfield.
In August of last year, in a full frontal daylight assault, more than 30 agents,
some in biohazard suits, searched residences in New York and New Jersey connected
to Dr. Kenneth Berry. Both Berry and Hatfill have foreign medical degrees, are
outspoken advocates for bioterror preparedness, and In 1997, both warned of
potential bioterror attacks and how to thwart them.
The FBI raid, complete with reporters and photographers on scene, served as
a catalyst in the subsequent violent disintegration of Dr. Berry's family. Berry's
lawyer, Clifford E. Lazzaro, told reporters, "The great pressure of being
scrutinized by the federal government . . . would be enough to destroy the average
citizen." William Berry, father of Kenneth Berry, stated, "They have
been on him for three years. They have no leads,"
Interestingly, that puts the investigation start date in the vicinity of September
18, 2001, the date of the first anthrax mailing.
On March 18, 2005, Barbara O'Brien of News Southtows Bureau reported "The
former Wellsville physician whose homes were searched in connection with the
anthrax killings has visited Wellsville recently, and is living on unemployment
in New Jersey, according to a friend. "Who's going to hire him?"
Dr. Kenneth M. Berry lost his job as an emergency room doctor at the University
of Pittsburgh Medical Center in McKeesport, Pa., last year after his name surfaced
in the anthrax investigation.
Earlier this year, in his first interview, the Wellsville Daily Reporter quoted
Dr. Berry as saying "(The FBI investigation) totally destroyed my life.
I lost my reputation, my wife, my family, my son, my job ... everything,"
Who could fault the FBI for aggressively pursuing the serial killer who mailed
deadly anthrax, killing 5 human beings and causing untold social and economic
damage? On the other hand, who even attempts to make whole the innocents collaterally
damaged in the pursuit? The the Attorney General? The Justice Department? We
shall closely watch the developments in Hatfill v. Ashcroft, and see.