So what evidence did the FBI have against Hatfill? There was none, so the agency did a Hail Mary, importing two bloodhounds from California whose handlers claimed could sniff the scent of the killer on the anthrax-tainted letters. These dogs were shown to Hatfill, who promptly petted them. When the dogs responded favorably, their handlers told the FBI that they’d “alerted” on Hatfill and that he must be the killer.

You’d think that any good FBI agent would have kicked these quacks in the fanny and found their dogs a good home. Or at least checked news accounts of criminal cases in California where these same dogs had been used against defendants who’d been convicted — and later exonerated. As Pulitzer Prize-winning Los Angeles Times investigative reporter David Willman detailed in his authoritative book on the case, a California judge who’d tossed out a murder conviction based on these sketchy canines called the prosecution’s dog handler “as biased as any witness that this court has ever seen.”

Instead, Mueller, who micromanaged the anthrax case and fell in love with the dubious dog evidence, personally assured Ashcroft and presumably George W. Bush that in Steven Hatfill the bureau had its man. Comey, in turn, was asked by a skeptical Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz if Hatfill was another Richard Jewell — the security guard wrongly accused of the Atlanta Olympics bombing. Comey replied that he was “absolutely certain” they weren’t making a mistake.