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FBI to examine computers in anthrax probe

  • Story Highlights
  • FBI seized 2 computers from a Frederick, Maryland, public library
  • FBI hopes computers yield more clues about anthrax suspect Bruce Ivins
  • Justice Department said Wednesday the anthrax case had been solved
  • But officials said there was still work to be done before closing the probe
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From Kevin Bohn
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Federal agents hope two computers seized from a Frederick, Maryland, public library yield more clues regarding anthrax suspect Bruce Ivins, according to new case documents.

In applications requesting authority to search the computers, taken last week, an FBI agent says Bruce Ivins, on the evening of July 24, just over 48 hours before taking an overdose of pills, was seen entering the library and using each of the two terminals.

Ivins, who was under FBI surveillance, was observed "reviewing a Web site dedicated to the anthrax investigation and examining e-mail accounts," agent Marlo Arredondo states in an affidavit.

CNN BackStory
The FBI probe into anthrax-tainted letters that killed five people spanned almost seven years.

"A search of the computers may reveal documentary evidence that will assist the investigation into ... threats to witnesses related to the anthrax investigation," the affidavit says, in a reference to statements Ivins allegedly made to his counselor. "The search is for any indication of electronic communications, electronic documents, Internet activity, and stored writings identifying a plan to kill witnesses or names of intended victims, suicide letters or any other relevant electronic data."

While the Justice Department said Wednesday the anthrax case had been solved, officials said there was still some work to be done before closing the probe.

In his first public comments since the public presentation of the evidence against Ivins, FBI Director Robert Mueller, visiting Vermont to talk about a new counterterrorism effort, said, "I am unapologetic. I do not apologize for any aspect of the investigation that was undertaken over the years. And I think it is erroneous to say there were mistakes."

Mueller said a $5.8 million Justice Department settlement with former scientist Steven Hatfill was not a reflection of a mistake by the FBI in its investigation. The settlement ended a lawsuit in which by Hatfill, who had been declared a person of interest in the anthrax probe, alleged invasion of privacy.

"The reason for settlement in that particular case was attributable to leaks that ... occurred in the course of the investigation [that] should not have occurred. And as I say, whatever resolution there was, was attributable to the leaks that were not only unfortunate but unconscionable in the course of the investigation -- not to the substance of the investigation itself," Mueller told reporters in a news conference.


Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, who was the intended recipient of one of the anthrax-laced letters, was briefed by Mueller during Thursday's visit. Leahy had said he wanted to withhold most comment on the declaration of Ivins as the anthrax killer until he received more information.

"I certainly hope as the press has indicated, that this was the sole person involved," Leahy told reporters. "Obviously I'm interested in what the motivation is. The person who did it knew they faced a potential death penalty because of the nature of the crime and we just want to know that this is the only person."

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