August 29, 2002
For the second time in a month, Steven J. Hatfill of Frederick, Md., stood outside his attorney's office in Old Town to declare he was not the anthrax killer.
"My life is being destroyed by arrogant government bureaucrats," said Hatfill before a throng of media.
That was the emotionally defiant statement issued by Hatfill last Sunday afternoon as he challenged the U.S. Justice Department's designation of him as "a person of interest."
He claimed that he was not the person who sent the deadly germ anthrax through the mails last year resulting in death and serious illness to postal workers and others. Instead, he accused U.S. Attorney General John D. Ashcroft and the FBI of hounding him, his girlfriend, and other friends to prove they were "aggressively pursuing the case."
STANDING ON THE sun-drenched brick sidewalk flanked by his attorney, Victor M. Glasberg, and his designated spokesman, Patrick Clawsen, he read a detailed 40-minute statement outlining the actions taken by the FBI and challenging Ashcroft to legally define "a person of interest."
Hatfill accused Ashcroft of violating his own justice department guidelines, making a veiled reference to the attorney general's religious emphasis, stating he was violating the biblical commandment "Thou shalt not bear false witness."
Throughout the script, Hatfill repeatedly attacked journalists for allowing themselves to be used as pawns of the Justice Department. He was particularly harsh on Nicholas Kristoff for his piece in the New York Times titled "The Anthrax Files."
He detailed with photographs what he alleged was the ransacked apartment of his girlfriend following an FBI search. "They put my girlfriend inside an FBI car and hauled her off to FBI headquarters and interrogated her for hours without telling her she had the right to leave."
HATFILL MAINTAINED that he did not resent being investigated because he had worked at the Army's infectious disease lab at Fort Detrick, Md., from 1997-99. But Hatfill asserted that the FBI had been derelict in its investigation by not applying scientific methods. He also suggested that the FBI test his blood and stated he had already passed its polygraph test.
Following Hatfill's statement, Glasberg urged the assembled media to pressure the government to make its evidence against Hatfill public. He also cited past troubles with the FBI's lab work and warned that "these are dark times for civil liberties."