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A 'person of interest'.

Byline: The Register-Guard

Dr. Steven J. Hatfill has been identified as a "person of interest" in the anthrax terrorist attacks last fall by nearly every newspaper in the country.

One minor problem - Hatfill has yet to be arrested and charged in the deadly attacks. And the "unnamed federal investigators" who identified Hatfill note that they're also looking at more than two dozen other "persons of interest."

The government's handling of the case should sound familiar to Americans. Six years ago, the FBI gave similar treatment to Richard Jewell, the security guard who was first hailed as a hero in the 1996 Olympics bombing in Atlanta and then named as a suspect.

Jewell was never charged and eventually was officially exonerated. U.S. Attorney Gen. Janet Reno issued a public apology. Now Hatfill, a former Army researcher and germ warfare expert, is receiving similar treatment based on a hodgepodge of clues, including his authorship of an unpublished novel about a biological warfare attack on Congress.

By floating Hatfill's name in public, investigators have risked damaging a potentially innocent man's reputation. They should move swiftly to either charge Hatfill in the anthrax attacks or clear his name - or risk a repeat of the Richard Jewell travesty.
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Title Annotation:Editorials
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Aug 22, 2002
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