November 26, 2008 / by emptywheel


The Hatfill Search

Aside from the fact that Steven Hatfill’s girlfriend kept her own bottle of Cipro hidden inside a Mason Jar full of coffee, the most interesting part of the searches conducted on Steven Hatfill in 2002 is his Florida storage locker. It appears to be a collection of Hatfill’s toys left over from his days in Zimbabwe and elsewhere.

  • Soldier of Fortune magazine
  • Flight computer
  • A confidentially marked document titled "Presentation Exercise Urban Guerilla Warfare" 
  • Infantry training manual
  • Military manuals and patches
  • Zimbabwe phone book
  • Blank diplomas
  • Passport
  • One foreign beret
  • Document labeled "Proposals for the Use of Biological Weapons and Unconventional Warfare Operations"
  • University of Zimbabwe letter
  • Subversive warfare manual
  • Jacket bearing Ames Research Center patch
  • Helicopter manual

In short, the storage locker contained a lot of evidence that fleshed out the story of the FBI’s confidential witness (whose name is redacted from the affidavit). Hatfill was a mercenary in the Rhodesian military in the late 70s, at a time when the Rhodesian government was using chemical warfare and anthrax attacks against rebels. He had complained that the US was not taking the threat of a biological attack seriously–and said that it would take a "Pearl Harbor" attack to get them to take it seriously. He had  been engaged with–and thought about–biological warfare for two decades.

In addition to those toys and that past experience with biological weapons, the affidavit in support of the warrants explains, Hatfill had admitted that he kept some anthrax simulant in his apartment, and the FBI had found that he had Cipro prescriptions from January, July, September, October, and November 2001.

He might not be the kind of guy I’d invite to a dinner party (then again, he might have some really fascinating stories), but he’s also not someone who had been tied to the anthrax letters. He had the capability, maybe even a motive (in the same way Scooter Libby did). But no apparent ties to the deed (note, seven bullet points following the "Scope of the Search" are redacted entirely).

And interestingly, the reference to the mock mobile-bioweapons lab (purportedly a mock-up of what Saddam turned out not to have) he constructed is mostly redacted. And the affidavit is careful to always refer to the US’ "former offensive bio-program." Is it possible that FBI agents investigating the anthrax attack were unaware that a recipient of a dummy attack had written an article just weeks before the attacks describing, "Earlier this year, administration officials said, the Pentagon drew up plans to engineer genetically a potentially more potent variant of the bacterium that causes anthrax"?

One final point. The affidavit describes "several textile fibers" recovered from … a redacted location, suitable for comparison purposes. If I’m not mistaken, this affidavit (submitted on July 31, 2002) was written around the time–but possibly just before–the evidence was recovered from the mailboxes in New Jersey. Were these fibers mentioned in Ivins’ affidavits?  

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