Scott Shane writes in the NYT (3/23/11) …
A panel of psychiatrists who studied the medical records of Bruce E. Ivins said Wednesday that the F.B.I.’s case that he mailed the anthrax letters in 2001 was persuasive, and that Dr. Ivins’s history of mental problems should have disqualified him from working with dangerous pathogens.
“Dr. Ivins was psychologically disposed to undertake the mailings; his behavioral history demonstrated his potential for carrying them out; and he had the motivation and the means,” the panel wrote in its 285-page report, released at a news conference on Wednesday.
The review was authorized in a confidential 2009 order by Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth of United States District Court in Washington that had not been previously revealed.
The report adds new detail to the F.B.I.’s account of Dr. Ivins’s eccentric and sometimes criminal secret life, including his obsession with a sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma, and break-ins at some of its chapter offices. It documents his preoccupation with several women, including his two laboratory technicians, his stalking behavior and his penchant for long night drives to mail or drop off packages, often under assumed names.
“A man like him, who had committed repeated acts of breaking and entering as well as burglary without having been caught, would have little difficulty mailing the letters late at night or early in the morning without being seen,” the panel wrote.
It also found that Dr. Ivins, who was 62 when he died, was “homicidal” in the last weeks of his life. Only his involuntary commitment for psychiatric treatment, the panel wrote, “prevented a mass shooting and fulfillment of his promise to go out in a ‘blaze of glory,’ “ the report said.
Some colleagues of Dr. Ivins at the Army’s biodefense center at Fort Detrick, Md., have defended his innocence.
Dr. Gregory Saathoff, a University of Virginia psychiatrist and the panel’s chairman, acknowledged that “people very, very close to him believe in his innocence.” But he said that was a result of Dr. Ivins’s success in hiding his obsessions from family and friends.
“The panel was quite struck by Ivins’s ability to lead a parallel life,” Dr. Saathoff said.
Dr. Saathoff is a longtime F.B.I. consultant who was asked after Dr. Ivins’s suicide to review his psychiatric records. He then proposed convening the panel, which was approved by Judge Lamberth.
Dr. Saathoff said the F.B.I. had provided the case files and paid $38,000 in expenses for the nine panel members, who volunteered their time. But he said neither the bureau nor any other government agency had reviewed or altered the report before it was completed. The public text was redacted to protect the privacy of health professionals, investigators and, in some details, Dr. Ivins himself, he said.
“To most of his colleagues and acquaintances, Dr. Ivins was an eccentric, socially awkward, harmless figure, an esteemed bacteriologist who juggled at parties, played the keyboard at church and wrote clever poems for departing colleagues,” the report said. “That is precisely how Dr. Ivins wanted them to see him. He cultivated a persona of benign eccentricity that masked his obsessions and criminal thoughts.”
The report describes Dr. Ivins’s “strange and traumatic childhood,” during which his mother “assaulted and abused her husband — stabbing him, beating him, and threatening to kill him with a loaded gun.”
As early as 1978, Dr. Ivins sought treatment for psychiatric problems that should have prevented him from obtaining the “secret” clearance necessary to go to work in 1980 at the Army’s biodefense center, the report said. When the anthrax attacks occurred, the psychiatrist who treated him then — and who had not seen him for two decades — immediately wondered if Dr. Ivins might be behind them, the report said.
Though he attracted investigators’ suspicions as early as 2004, the F.B.I. never questioned his current or former mental health providers until his involuntary hospitalization in July 2008, the report said.
The panel found that Dr. Ivins carried out the attacks to get “revenge” against an array of imagined enemies, including the news media, as well as “to elevate his own significance” and rescue his research on anthrax vaccines, whose financing was threatened in 2001.
The panel of six psychiatrists, one toxicologist and two officials of the American Red Cross, where Dr. Ivins was a regular volunteer, did not examine records on other suspects who arose during the seven-year investigation.
read the entire article at … http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/24/us/24anthrax.html?_r=1&emc=tnt&tntemail1=y