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Journal of Biosecurity, Biosafety and Biodefense Law

Editor-in-Chief: Sutton, Victoria

Ed. by Sherwin, Brie

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A Legal Analysis of the Search Warrants of the Amerithrax Investigation

Courtney Grafft
Published Online: 2012-07-31 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/2154-3186.1040


One of the nation’s most complex investigations in its history stemmed from the 2001 anthrax attack letters. Filled with dead-ends, false leads, and flustered FBI and Postal Inspection officers trying to grapple with intricate scientific details, the Amerithrax investigation caused many to question the efforts of America's forefront investigative entity. The specialized American bioweapons community remained in a constant state of paranoia from late 2001 to 2008, and over 30,000 members of the American Society for Microbiology received a letter indicating the high probability “that one or more of you know” the anthrax killer. Finally, in 2007 the Amerithrax Task Force named Dr. Bruce Ivins, a civilian bioweapons specialist at the United States Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), who only a few years before helped the officers sort through the complicated task of studying the weaponized anthrax, as the prime suspect. Investigative efforts ratcheted up in fall of 2007 when a series of warrants were issued to search Dr. Ivins’ home, office, and vehicles.Since the ratification of the Fourth Amendment in 1791, the United States has recognized the importance of a system with laws designed to prohibit unfettered investigations by the leaders of our country. This paper analyzes the search warrants utilized in the Dr. Ivins’ investigation and discusses the Fourth Amendment implications. First, a brief review of the state of America in September 2001 is detailed. Next, the paper discusses the facts of the Amerithrax investigation, including the mishap involving Steven Hatfill. Section III explains some Fourth Amendment search warrant basics before getting to the meat of this analysis: the actual search warrants of the Amerithrax investigation.

Keywords: search warrants; September 11th; anthrax

About the article

Published Online: 2012-07-31

Citation Information: Journal of Biosecurity, Biosafety and Biodefense Law, Volume 3, Issue 1, ISSN (Online) 2154-3186, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/2154-3186.1040.

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