Hatfill Settles Claim Against Justice Dept. For Anthrax Investigation, Faults Media

Remember Steven Hatfill? He's the scientist who was declared a "person of interest" during the FBI's investigation of a series of anthrax incidents. In Hatfill's case, "person of interest" means "our profiler thinks he did it but we can't prove it so let's publicize the allegation and see if he panics." As TalkLeft reported here, Hatfill sued before the FBI got around to announcing its public regret over the mess it made of Hatfill's life.

That report was in September 2003. The litigation has finally ended.

The Justice Department has agreed to pay former Army scientist Steven Hatfill almost $6 million to settle his claims that the government violated his privacy rights during its investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks.

It's a structured settlement. [more ...]

Hatfill and his lawyers get $2.825 now and an annuity that pays $150,000 a year for 20 years. The settlement agreement includes a standard "no admission of liability" clause.

Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse released a statement Friday that said the government "remains resolute in its investigation into the anthrax attacks," but noted, "By entering into this agreement, the United States does not admit to any violation of the Privacy Act and continues to deny all liability in connection with Dr. Hatfill's claims."

Yeah, that's why the Justice Department is paying out more than $5.8 million: because it did nothing wrong. Hatfill's point of view, a gaze fixed upon both the Justice Department under Ashcroft and the press, is more persuasive:

Attorney Mark A. Grannis released a statement on behalf of Hatfill's legal team, eviscerating government officials and the media.

"Our government failed us, not only by failing to catch the anthrax mailers but by seeking to conceal that failure," the statement said. "Our government did this by leaking gossip, speculation and misinformation to a handful of credulous reporters.

"The collusive relationship between unethical officials and uncritical reporters, which caused such great damage to Dr. Hatfill's personal life and professional reputation, must not be treated by journalists as if it were a respectable method of newsgathering," the statement added.

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  • Display: Sort:
    WOW... a blast from the past....I wondered (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by PssttCmere08 on Fri Jun 27, 2008 at 07:30:55 PM EST
    whatever happened to this "person of interest". This is a perfect example of how the government can screw up a life....remember Richard Jewel?  Hatfill's life will never be the same, but I hope he can salvage something of it....

    These Guys (5.00 / 6) (#2)
    by squeaky on Fri Jun 27, 2008 at 07:33:54 PM EST
    Are the real terrorists. Shameless, ruthless, and will stop at nothing in their grab for power. Hatfield served his purpose. Where is Osama and where are the anthrax mailers?

    Welcome to Dr. Wen Ho Lee redux (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by wurman on Fri Jun 27, 2008 at 07:42:07 PM EST
    Yup.  Brought to you by the same bureaucrats & media hacks who destroyed Dr. Lee's career, personal life, & peaceful retirement.  Sheesh, a nuclear physicist sitting in a straighback chair in handcuffs with a guard standing at his side--who are these fools?  Trial delayed for months to get a "security clearance" for his attorney on information that didn't warrant a CONFIDENTIAL classication.  GRRRR.

    Maybe what the USA needs is some really aggressive attorneys who can go after the gumshoes who do this nonsense & escape any personal liability for their behavior.  Acting on behalf of the gubmint!!!

    Richard Jewell, anyone.

    Have any of our intrepid White House (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Radiowalla on Fri Jun 27, 2008 at 07:45:41 PM EST
    reporters asked the pResident lately "Why hasn't the anthrax killer been apprehended?  What have you been doing these last seven years to bring him to justice?"

    And, by the way, where is Osama Bin Laden?

    I am really happy to hear that he (5.00 / 6) (#6)
    by inclusiveheart on Fri Jun 27, 2008 at 08:07:01 PM EST
    has won this settlement.

    I think back to that security guard who got tagged by the media for being the Olympic park bomber in Atlanta and hope that Hatfill's life turns out better.

    There is real merit in making the government prove its case in a court of law and not just int the court of public opinion.  

    As Hatfill's team points out we still don't know who the real perpatraitors in this case were and that is all because the government was trying to cover up their total lack of success in finding anyone.  It was so clear to me at the time that they were making accusations without much real evidence to support their claims.  Having had a friend who was exposed to those Anthrax attacks - but probably even if I didn't - I thought it was a real travesty for everyone involved.

    The Postal workers who died as a result of those attacks also were never appropriately honored.  Congress wouldn't even fund the screening technology to protect those workers.  Fortunately, the people heading the Postal Service felt the need to protect our workers.  

    That whole incident, I believe, gave everyone a preview of what the Bush Administration and the GOP Congress intended to do to us as a nation.  It is too bad people believed their lies at the time.  Had more people questioned what was going on at the time, we might not have suffered as much dammage as we have.

    This (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Jun 27, 2008 at 08:47:21 PM EST
    kind of stuff has just gotten out of hand and I agree with the lawyers completely. Talk about your life turning into some sort of hell on earth. I simply can't imagine. This case sounds like something from a movie not what would happen in real life. Sometimes I have wondered if the people in this country are going to completely overthrow the government and storm the buildings like they did in the USSR. Then they are going to find some sort of file on themselves, their families or someone else they know. The secretiveness can really make you wonder.

    Good outcome (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by wasabi on Fri Jun 27, 2008 at 09:25:26 PM EST
    Thank goodness he had the ability ($$ and wherewithal) to fight this thing in court.

    Remember the lawyer from Oregon who was a converted Muslim whose fingerprints according to the FBI "matched" up with those found during the investigation of the Madrid train bombings?  He settled his suit against the U. S. government for $2,000,000.

    Very good link (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by jccamp on Fri Jun 27, 2008 at 11:45:55 PM EST
    to this man's troubles. it describes the bogus nature of much of what seemed to implicate him.

    Link is HERE.

    memo to mr. hatfill's lawyers: (5.00 / 2) (#13)
    by cpinva on Fri Jun 27, 2008 at 11:57:28 PM EST
    "The collusive relationship between unethical officials and uncritical reporters, which caused such great damage to Dr. Hatfill's personal life and professional reputation, must not be treated by journalists as if it were a respectable method of newsgathering," the statement added.

    this would be the same methodology used to get us into the iraq debacle.

    perhaps you'd consider representing the citizens of the US, in a class action suit against the entire bush administration, and the entire media/news industry. in this case, thousands of deaths and permanent, life-changing physical and mental injuries have been clearly sustained.

    30% of several trillion should put all your kids through college, and leave a tidy sum for all of you to retire on.

    what do you say?

    Wow. (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by Edger on Sat Jun 28, 2008 at 03:23:58 AM EST
    A glimmer of sanity seeping in through the cracks. Better get this fixed quick before it crashes the system.

    Did illegal wiretapping play a part in this? (none / 0) (#3)
    by PssttCmere08 on Fri Jun 27, 2008 at 07:33:55 PM EST

    Richard Jewell, anyone? (none / 0) (#7)
    by pie on Fri Jun 27, 2008 at 08:41:50 PM EST

    wurman already said that, I see. (none / 0) (#8)
    by pie on Fri Jun 27, 2008 at 08:43:31 PM EST
    Trial by media.

    It's interesting (none / 0) (#15)
    by Makarov on Sat Jun 28, 2008 at 02:28:34 AM EST
    that with all of the election issue discussion of terrorism and national security, no one (in the media or elsewhere) ever seems to bring up the Anthrax case. I worked in Princeton, NJ at the time, and our office received its mail from one of the infected post offices. I recall opening the phone bill for the office manager who didn't want to handle it (came in a plastic bag noting it had been irradiated).

    In any case, I consider the settlement good news that despite the gutting of the Constitution that's taken place over the last 7 years, Tort Law is alive and well.

    The only sad part (none / 0) (#17)
    by Grace on Sat Jun 28, 2008 at 05:56:45 AM EST
    This settlement seems humongous compared to the settlements for people who spent years on Death Row prior to being released.  

    Seriously, how do you compare the two?  

    I believe settlements of $50K a year a far too low...  

    Da Media (none / 0) (#18)
    by This from a broad on Sat Jun 28, 2008 at 07:22:14 AM EST
    Why is he criticizing the media?  They do a great job, they repeat whatever they are told; they get out of the way of the truth and let's not forget -- they are not paid to think!

    "Lap Dog" always bugged me. (none / 0) (#19)
    by wurman on Sat Jun 28, 2008 at 09:07:18 AM EST
    The media shills are not actually lap dogs, but more like a pack of hyperactive Dobermans.  The term "feeding frenzy" is sometimes used to describe their behavior as the gubmint agents hand out the fabricated, fictional information to over-anxious reporters on the hunt for a character assassination & high tech lynching.

    I guess the term "crazed stenographers" may apply, so long as the yapping & running in circles & tail-biting are included with the cartoonish depictions of the reporters & pundits.

    Actually, such an observation may be insulting to the K-9s.


    Hatfill had no reputation to recover (none / 0) (#20)
    by Dadler on Sat Jun 28, 2008 at 11:39:51 AM EST
    He was a fraud and a charlatan, which was known BEFORE the antrhax letters were mailed.  He had no PhD as he claimed, he'd never served in the Green Berets, had never served with the Rhodesian Selous Scouts, also as he claimed.  More disturbing is how such a charlatan and pathological liar rose to the level he did in this nation's bio-weapons labs and programs.  Then again, we elect charlatans and liars all the time, so I guess it fits.  

    That was a pretty cheap diversion (none / 0) (#21)
    by splashy on Sat Jun 28, 2008 at 04:19:22 PM EST
    For those that did the attacks so they could silence the Dems when they wanted to grab more power. (conspiracy theorist here)

    Now, few are asking who actually did the attacks, it's old news. It worked like a charm, except for the poor guy that was falsely accused. But, they figure that he's got millions now of the taxpayers' money (forbid they should part with any of theirs!), so he shouldn't complain.

    They think that money cures everything. Especially if they can grab more along with power.

    Still wondering who it was. Not too many can do that. It takes special knowledge and equipment.