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News from the National Academies

Date: Dec. 9, 2010

Statement by E. William Colglazier, Executive Officer, National Academy of Sciences, and Chief Operating Officer, National Research Council, Regarding Status of Review of the Scientific Approaches Used by the FBI During Its Investigation of the 2001 Anthrax Mailings

On Sept. 15, 2008, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) received a letter from the Federal Bureau of Investigation requesting that NAS conduct an independent review of the scientific approaches used by the FBI in its investigation of the 2001 anthrax mailings.  In response, the National Research Council, the principal operating arm of NAS and the National Academy of Engineering, convened the Committee on the Review of the Scientific Approaches Used During the FBI’s Investigation of the 2001 Bacillus anthracis Mailings to carry out this task under the terms of an April 24, 2009 contract.  The committee’s project scope, as agreed to by the National Research Council and FBI, was limited to an assessment of the scientific approaches, methodologies, and analytical techniques used by the FBI in its investigation.

The committee completed its assessment earlier this fall after satisfying the rigorous report review process of the National Research Council, and a report was delivered to the FBI on Oct. 27 for a security review pursuant to the contract.  Since that time, the FBI has informed us it has additional materials relevant to the committee’s charge, materials that had not been provided previously to the committee.  On Dec. 3, the FBI delivered a summary of additional materials and certain documents for the committee’s consideration, and in an accompanying letter asked for the opportunity for an additional presentation to the committee by forensic experts, investigators, and federal prosecutors who worked on the investigation.  We have determined that some of this material is the type of information previously requested by the committee during the course of its review and that some of this information is relevant to the committee’s report.  To consider this information, the committee will reconvene for one last meeting.  We have requested that any additional information the FBI wishes to turn over to the committee be provided by Dec. 15.  The committee expects to complete its work by February 2011, with the goal of producing the most thorough and accurate analysis possible.