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Last Updated

25 Aug 2003

Source: The Advocate (Baton Rouge, Louisiana), September 5, 2002.

LSU axes official

E-mail on Hatfill not forwarded

By JOAN McKINNEY, Advocate Washington bureau

WASHINGTON --- In a second day of staff upheaval for its counter-terrorism program, LSU on Wednesday fired Stephen L. Guillot, who was director of both the National Center for Biomedical Research and Training and the Academy for Counter-Terrorist Education.

Guillot's termination, effective Oct. 4, followed two incidents:

* LSU's dismissal Tuesday of Dr. Steven J. Hatfill, who had been the associate director of the NCBRT and who is under FBI investigation as a "person of interest" in the anthrax mailings that killed five people last fall.

* The university's confirmation Tuesday that the U.S. Justice Department, in an e-mail, had directed the NCBRT/ACE not to use Hatfill on any programs funded with Justice Department grants. Guillot received the Justice Department communication a month ago and did not fully pass it up the line to senior LSU administrators, according to Gregory Vincent, LSU's vice-provost for academic affairs.

"Stephen Guillot has been fired," LSU spokesman Gene Sands said Wednesday.

Sands added that LSU administrators "will take a complete look at the administration and management of these programs" at NCBRT/ACE. The ACE program is part of the NCBRT, and both are under LSU's Division of Continuing Education.

Hatfill has said he is not the anthrax killer. The FBI has not charged him with any crimes; and LSU Chancellor Mark Emmert said Tuesday that Hatfill's dismissal did not imply that the university believes he is guilty of the anthrax attacks.

Hatfill was an LSU employee, but federal grants paid his salary. Before coming to LSU, Hatfill worked for Science Applications International Corp., where his employment also depended on federal contracts. Hatfill also has worked at the Army's Ft. Detrick, Md., bioweapons facility, which conducts anthrax research.

Wednesday, a Hatfill spokesman said Hatfill is taking steps to challenge the Justice Department's restraint on his employment activities.

"The federal government cannot just bar someone from getting federal contracts or working on federal contracts," said Hatfill's spokesman, Pat Clawson of Virginia. "They have to have just cause to do that. There are administrative procedures and due process The Justice Department has done none of these things (in Hatfill's case)."

Clawson said that Hatfill's attorney, Victor Glasberg of Alexandria, Va., had written LSU seeking all the records of all communications between the university and the Justice Department concerning Hatfill. Glasberg is making the same request to the Justice Department, Clawson said.

"We're trying to find out who's at the bottom of trying to railroad Steve (Hatfill)," Clawson said. " What the Justice Department is doing with this blacklisting, it's like the '50s or something, where the Justice Department steps in with an employer and tells people they can't work Steve Hatfill's civil rights have been completely violated by the Justice Department. We intend to find out who was responsible and hold them accountable."

In Washington, Deborah Daniels, assistant attorney general for the Office of Justice Programs, issued a written statement saying that the Justice Department "has not been involved in any decisions made by LSU with respect to Mr. Hatfill's status as an employee at that university."

Daniels said that the Justice Department did tell LSU it could not use Hatfill as an instructor or expert on bioterrorism in programs funded by the department. "It is a specific condition of our grant to LSU that we maintain management oversight and control," she said.

Mark Corallo, a Justice Department spokesman, said the Justice Department cannot tell LSU whom to remove from its payroll but it can tell the recipient of a Justice Department grant who cannot work on that project.

Corallo said that Clawson has misinterpreted the law regarding debarment from federal contracts.

Clawson accused LSU of firing Hatfill to protect its federal funds.

The NCBRT and ACE run almost exclusively on federal funds. The Justice Department has put $16 million into the counter-terrorism center and ACE in 2002 and is projected to give the programs more than $30 million in 2003, according to LSU and congressional appropriations' records.

"It's obvious the chancellor of LSU is more concerned about his funding than he is about stepping up and doing the right thing He's more interested in protecting his money than protecting the Bill of Rights," Clawson said.

According to Vincent, LSU's top administrators fired Hatfill on Tuesday and then learned from a reporter that there was a month-old Justice Department directive restricting Hatfill's work. LSU could not have fired Hatfill for that reason, because Guillot had never told the senior administration that the Justice Department directive existed, Vincent said.

On Aug. 2 -- only one day after Guillot received the Justice Department directive --- Emmert did place Hatfill on 30 days paid leave. However, Vincent said the two events were unrelated -- again because Emmert did not know about the Justice Department communication to Guillot.

When Emmert placed Hatfill on leave, top LSU administrators believed that LSU was acting alone in removing Hatfill from NCBRT/ACE programs, Vincent said.

The paid leave was imposed immediately after the FBI conducted a second search of Hatfill's former residence in Maryland. Following that search and the imposition of Hatfill's administrative leave, LSU said it would conduct a background check on Hatfill before deciding his future at the university. The results of that research have not been announced.

A Justice Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Wednesday that the criminal investigators working on the Hatfill case didn't know that the Justice Department's Office for Domestic Preparedness had issued any directives to LSU concerning Hatfill. The Justice Department's Office of Domestic Preparedness oversees the grant program that funds the LSU counter-terrorism training programs.

Similarly, LSU's Sands would not give the reasons for firing Guillot. He cited the university's policy of not discussing personnel matters.

LSU released a short, terse letter to Guillot that gave formal notice of his firing, provided no detailed reasons for the dismissal, and advised him to contact LSU's Office of Human Resources Management regarding any benefits he may be owed.

LSU also released an Aug. 1 e-mail from Timothy Beres, acting director of the Justice Department's Office of Domestic Preparedness to LSU's Guillot which said:

"Steve, This is a follow-up of the phone conversation you had with Darrell Darnell (another ODP official) earlier this afternoon. I want to reiterate that the Office of Justice Programs/Office for Domestic Preparedness directs that Louisiana State University Academy of Counter-Terrorist Education cease and desist from utilizing the subject matter expert and course instructor duties of Steven J. Hatfill on all Department of Justice funded programs."

Guillot did not return phone messages left at his home and his LSU office.

Hatfill has accused the FBI of making him the scapegoat for the agency's inability to close the anthrax case. His attorney, Glasberg, already has filed complaints against the FBI and Attorney General John Ashcroft at the Justice Department and in Congress. The FBI's actions and the attorney general's public statements regarding Hatfill violate his legal rights, are "un-American" and are a violation of the federal government's standards of professional conduct, Glasberg has said.

The FBI will not answer media questions about the unusually visible nature of the Hatfill investigation. In one instance, the agency circulated only Hatfill's photograph in a Princeton, N.J., neighborhood where anthrax letters may have been mailed. Hatfill has said that FBI agents closely and openly followed him in Baton Rouge.

Hatfill also has charged the FBI with leaking information to the media so that the searches of his home would be highly publicized. Some news agencies have said, however, that they were tipped off to the searches by Hatfill's neighbors.

Ashcroft has said that Hatfill is among several people who are "of interest" because they may have had access to anthrax in the past and they have certain scientific skills. However, Hatfill is the only "person of interest" that the attorney general has publicly named.

Wednesday, Clawson accused the Justice Department and the FBI of routinely abusing the newly passed Patriots Act, which was passed after terrorist attacks on New York and Washington and which gives the government new tools to fight terrorism.

"Steve's government has had him basically railroaded," Clawson said. " Is the Justice Department now taking the position that the Patriots Act is going to interfere with people's employment? These are valid questions that need to be asked of John Ashcroft."