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Press Release

Chriss Swaney

For immediate release:
March 19, 2003

Carnegie Mellon to Host Author of a New Book about Anthrax in America

PITTSBURGH—Carnegie Mellon University's Center for Computer and Communications Security (C3S) will host award-winning Washington Post investigative reporter and editor Marilyn Thompson, as she discusses her new book about the year in which bioterrorism became reality in the United States.

Thompson's talk on April 7, 2003, begins at noon in Room 1112 of Hamerschlag Hall, on the Carnegie Mellon campus. The talk is free and open to the public.

Thompson's book, "The Killer Strain — Anthrax and a Government Exposed," goes behind the scenes to examine the confused and often bungled response by federal agencies to the anthrax attacks of 2001. It shows how the Bush Administration's efforts to control information and downplay risk led to mistakes that ultimately cost two postal workers their lives.

Based on hundreds of hours of interviews and a review of thousands of pages of government documents, "The Killer Strain" reveals unsung victims and heroes in the anthrax debacle. It also examines the FBI's slow-paced investigation into the crimes and the unprecedented scientific challenges posed by the case. It looks into the coincidence of timing and geography that spurred the FBI's scrutiny of Steven J. Hatfill, a key person of interest for the authorities. Hatfill, a medical researcher turned "bioterror expert," proclaimed his innocence but spent most of 2002 under round-the-clock FBI surveillance.

Thompson is an assistant managing editor of investigations at The Washington Post where her investigative team has won two Pulitzer Prizes for public service. She is the author of "Feeding The Beast: How Wedtech Became the Most Corrupt Little Company in America" and co-author along with Jack Bass of "Strom: An Unauthorized Biography of Strom Thurmond."

She is also a judge for Carnegie Mellon's new Cybersecurity Journalism Award. Thompson will work with a panel of judges chaired by Pradeep Khosla, head of C3S and Carnegie Mellon's Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, and Susan Bennett, director/international exhibits of the Newseum, to recognize one print and one broadcast journalist for outstanding work in educating the public about America's ongoing war against terrorism.


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