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Posted by on Mar 24, 2011 in Infectious diseases, Neuropsychiatry

Panel Finds Bruce Ivins Capable of “Anthrax Attacks”

Panel Finds Bruce Ivins Capable of “Anthrax Attacks”

As reported by yesterday’s NYT, a court-authorized psychological review of Bruce Ivins found the USAMRIID scientist capable of mailing letters containing spores of Bacillus anthracis in 2001, which led to the deaths of 5 people. The review, authorized in 2009 by Judge Royce Lamberth* of the US District Court in Washington, DC, and conducted by a 9-member panel (consisting of 6 university-based psychiatrists, 1 attorney, and 2 representives of the American Red Cross) concluded,

Dr. Ivins was psychologically disposed to undertake the mailings; his behaviorial history demonstrated his potential for carrying them out; and he had the motivation and the means.

The panel’s assessment was based on examination of previously sealed records, including psychiatric records.

Two repeatedly raised objections to fingering Ivins as the bioterroristnamely that he didn’t have the opportunity to drive 200 miles to mail the tainted letters at a Princeton, NJ, mailbox and that his close colleagues had trouble suspecting him as the culprit are met with these rebuttals by the panel:

  1. Ivins had a “long-established habit of making secret, night-time drives to faraway locations many much more distant than Princeton University.”
  2. Ivins was adept at compartmentalizing and hiding his deepest troubles, so that colleagues perceived him to be an eccentric, but otherwise harmless, individual.

Also noted in the 285-page redacted report, the first 20 pages of which are available here, is Ivins’s bizarre obsession with the sorority Kappa Kappa Gamma and his strange or outrightly criminal acts against a former laboratory colleague and KKG member, labeled “Sorority Sister #2” in the report and identified elsewhere as microbiologist Nancy Haigwood (for background posts, go here and here).

* He of stem-cell litigation fame.

Public domain photograph of Daschle “anthrax” letter from Wikipedia.

bmartin (1127 Posts)

A native East Tennessean, Barbara Martin is a formerly practicing, board-certified neurologist who received her BS (psychology, summa cum laude) and MD from Duke University before completing her postgraduate training (internship, residency, fellowship) at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. She has worked in academia, private practice, medical publishing, drug market research, and continuing medical education (CME). For the last 3 years, she has worked in a freelance capacity as a medical writer, analyst, and consultant. Follow Dr. Barbara Martin on and Twitter.