Nicholas Kristof, meet CNN and a few of your colleagues at the New York Times. Apologies are in order for Dr. Hatfill, who was all but accused by the media, and the government, of involvement in the 2001 anthrax killings, as news comes to light that Bruce Ivins, a bioweapons scientist at the government's Fort Detrick lab, has killed himself hours before he was to be charged with the murders.
A top U.S. biodefense researcher apparently committed suicide just as the Justice Department was about to file criminal charges against him in the anthrax mailings that traumatized the nation in the weeks following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to a published report.
The scientist, Bruce E. Ivins, 62, who worked for the past 18 years at the government's biodefense labs at Fort Detrick, Md., had been told about the impending prosecution, the Los Angeles Times reported for Friday editions. The laboratory has been at the center of the FBI's investigation of the anthrax attacks, which killed five people.
I have no idea whether Ivins was guilty or not. But I think it's safe to say that Hatfill wasn't guilty at all. Yet the media and the government, and in particular New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, treated him as though he was. Hatfill seems to be merely an odd bird, which unfortunately is all but enough to get one all but convicted in our society, if one happens to be, like Jewell or Lee, in the wrong place at the wrong time.