June 27, 2002 -- The former government scientist whose home was searched by the FBI this week commissioned a report three years ago on how to deal with an anthrax attack by mail, ABCNEWS has learned.
The scientist, Steve Hatfill has denied to ABCNEWS any connection with the anthrax attacks that left five dead and at least 13 others ill last fall. But the FBI says he is one of 20 or 30 present and former government scientists who remain under scrutiny in the case.
The FBI obtained a copy of the secret anthrax report last week just before agents raided Hatfill's home in Frederick, Md., and a storage facility he maintains in Ocala, Fla.
The report describes a hypothetical anthrax attack, specifying an amount and quality of anthrax that is remarkably similar to what was sent to the offices of U.S. Sens. Patrick Leahy and Tom Daschle last October.
The report, obtained by ABCNEWS, was written in February 1999 by William Patrick III, a leading bioweapons expert and submitted to a defense contractor, Science Applications International Corporation where Hatfill worked at the time. It says that a terrorist would use 2.5 grams of powder in a standard envelope, about the same amount sent to Leahy, a Vermont Democrat and Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Same Spores, Particle Sizes
The report says any "more powder makes the envelope bulge and draws attention."
"Anytime you pick something up like this, and it seems to layout the whole story for you months or years before the fact, your immediate response is to step back and say 'whoa, something may be going on here,'" said bioterrorism expert and ABCNEWS consultant Kyle Olson.
The report also depicts the same number of spores, one trillion per gram, and particle size as actually were found in the Senate letters — a far more deadly anthrax than most experts thought doable.
"Our attacker may very well have used this report as something of a — if not a template, then certainly as a rule of thumb," said Olson.
Former colleagues say Hatfill received the anthrax vaccine and had ready access to anthrax as a government scientist, until his security clearance was suspended shortly before Sept. 11 for unknown reasons.
One former colleague has told the FBI Hatfill was seen taking home a large piece of surplus lab equipment used to handle dangerous materials and it was one of the things the FBI sought in this week's searches. The FBI said nothing immediately incriminating was discovered.
Hatfill said he consented to the search in an effort to clear his name. He told ABCNEWS he understood his background and comments made him a logical subject of the investigation. He has been interviewed by FBI agents four different times.
Investigators are also intrigued by the fact that Hatfill lived for years near the town of Greendale while attending medical school in Zimbabwe, Africa. Greendale School was the phony return address used in the anthrax letters.
Hatfill responded to this report in a phone message to ABCNEWS tonight, calling the it "completely inaccurate, scandalous and libelous."