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Political train "railroading" Hatfill?

By April Shenandoah
web posted September 2, 2002

"Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Steve Hatfill. I'm a medical doctor and a biomedical scientist. I am a loyal American, and I love my country." Hatfill continued his statement to the press in early August, " I have had nothing to do in any way, shape or form with the mailing of these anthrax letters, and it is extremely wrong for anyone to contend or suggest that I have." He remarked that he was appalled that his experience, knowledge, dedication and service relative to defending the United States against biological warfare has been turned against him in connection with the search for the anthrax killer.


As Attorney General John Ashcroft put it, Hatfill is a"person of interest." Does this "interest" stem from the fact that the government has a need to solve a crime and they don't have anyone to pin it on? After an extremely intensive eight-month investigation, there is not a shred of evidence showing that he had anything to do with the anthrax mailings. Last fall, two investigators came to his office and explained that polygraphs were being conducted on several scientists in connection to the anthrax letters and would he mind consenting to one. There was an immediate agreement to take the test - when it was over, he was told that he passed it and that they believed he had nothing to do with the anthrax matter.

In February, Hatfill received a phone call from a reporter who all but accused him of the anthrax mailings. The reporter also called his employer, Science Applications International. Shortly after that he was laid off. He then took a job with Louisiana State University to work with a group of Universities on federal and Justice-funded programs for biological warfare defense. He was later put on paid leave from the University.

In June 2002, Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, who affiliates herself with the Federation of American Scientists, saw fit to discuss Hatfill as an anthrax suspect in a meeting with FBI agents and Senate staffers. Rosenberg and Hatfill differ on whether the United States should sign on to the international biological weapons convention. He opposes. She favors. Hatfill said, "I don't know Dr. Rosenberg. I have never met her; I have never spoken or corresponded with this woman. I am at a complete loss to explain her reported hostility and accusations. I don't know this woman at all." Does Rosenberg see Hatfill as an enemy to the FAS or is this harassment a tool for persuasion -- to change his views?

The FBI requested to search his home and had promised that the search would be quiet, private and very low-key. However, within minutes of Hatfill signing the release to have his residence and property searched, television cameras, satellite TV trucks and overhead helicopters were all swarming around his apartment. The FBI agents arrived in a huge truck and were garbed in protective space suits. Hatfill said, "The agent in charge apologized to me, saying that the request for this search had come from very, very high up." He told reporters that his girlfriend's home was also searched and that the FBI upon their entry manhandled her. According to him her apartment was wrecked while agents screamed at her that Hatfill had killed five people. She was put into isolation and interrogated for hours. That search was also a media event.

Hatfill, a son of a thoroughbred horse breeder, was born in St.Louis, Missouri, in 1953, and raised in Illinois. He studied biology at Southwestern College in Kansas, halfway through he went to work with a Methodist doctor in Zaire. He graduated in 1975, married in 1976, had a daughter, and got divorced in 1978. He served with the U.S. Army Institute for Military Assistance based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. From 1978 to 1984 he attended medical school in Rhodesia and then moved to South America obtaining three master's degrees and practicing in a South African clinic. He received a medical degree from the Godfrey Huggins School of Medicine in Rhodesia, with board certification in hematological pathology from South Africa. The South African government recruited him to be a medical officer on a one-year tour of duty in Antarctica, and he completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Oxford University in England. In 1995, he took a research fellowship at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. In 1997, Hatfill landed his dream job as a research scientist at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases. A former colleague described Hatfill as very bright but restless. And though he did jump from project to project this does not make him an anthrax killer.

Hatfill was extremely upset by the fact that the press has started a campaign of character assassination. He said," No more than any of you, I do not claim to have lived a perfect life. Like yourselves, there are things I would probably do or say differently than I did 10 or 20 or more years ago. Modern information-retrieval technology, coupled with sufficient motivation, can lead to anyone's life and work being picked apart for every error, wrinkle, failed memory or inconsistency. Mine can; so can yours."

"I'm also a human being. I have a life. I have, or I had, a job. I need to earn a living. I have a family, and until recently, I had a reputation, a career and a bright professional future." Hatfill ended the press conference by saying, "I acknowledge the right of the authorities and the press to satisfy themselves to whether I am the anthrax mailer. This does not however, give them the right to smear me and gratuitously make a wasteland of my life in the process. I will not be railroaded."

If Steven Hatfill is indeed innocent, he has been fingered as a fall guy. Please pray for "truth" to prevail and for the peace of God to help Steve through this trying time.

April Shenandoah is the author of So...Help Me God! An Inspired Letter/Book addressed to President Clinton. Since serving as the Los Angeles press contact for Pat Robertson's presidential campaign Shenandoah has researched and gathered material pertinent to the "changing" world we live in. Her weekly column Politics & Religion appears in the Tolucan Times in Los Angeles and her political commentary is posted throughout the Internet. Shenandoah conducts Freedom Tea Party forums and wears the unofficial title Ambassador of Prayer. She sits on the board of The National Council for Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, headquartered in Greensboro, North Carolina and ABC-Learn, Inc., in San Fernando, California. She can be reached at washdc777@aol.com.

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