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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