CASE CLOSED … what really happened in the 2001 anthrax attacks?

* Dr. Annette Hanson writes in Clinical Psychiatry News (6/21/11) … use of the psychological profile prepared by Dr. Saathoff’s EBAP to infer that Dr. Ivins was the anthrax mailer is problematic

Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 23, 2011

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Dr. Gregory Saathoff ... chair of the EBAP panel which issued the report concluding that Dr. Ivins was the anthrax mailer

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 Dr. Annette Hanson writes in Clinical Psychiatry News (6/21/11) …

use of the psychological profile prepared by EBAP

to infer Ivins’s guilt is problematic

  • In March, a panel chaired by Dr. Gregory Saathoff, commonly known as the expert behavioral analysis panel (EBAP), released a report containing a summary and analysis of the investigation of Dr. Bruce Ivins, the suspected anthrax mailer.
  • The panel was convened at the request of the Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court, Royce C. Lamberth.
  • The full report containing Dr. Ivins’s previously confidential and sealed medical information is being sold online by the Research Strategies Network, a non-profit organization that consults to the Department of Defense and whose president is Dr. Saathoff.

After reading the redacted executive summary,

I felt compelled to review the work of the panel in light of standards

set forth in the American Academy of Psychiatry and Law’s

Ethical Guidelines for the Practice of Forensic Psychiatry.

  • Although the panel undertook the investigation with “no predispositions with regard to [Dr. Ivins’s] guilt or innocence and in fact without a focus on that issue,” it nevertheless concluded that Dr. Ivins was the anthrax mailer.
  • Dr. Ivins’s guilt has never been established in a court of law since he committed suicide in August 2008 and was never charged with the deaths of the five anthrax victims.
  • This pronouncement of guilt is not consistent with the ethics and traditional practice of forensic psychiatry.
  • The use of a psychological profile to infer guilt is particularly problematic, since this evidence is not admissible in most jurisdictions.
  • From an ethical standpoint, the sale of the panel report is particularly problematic.

Annette Hanson, M.D. …  is a forensic psychiatrist and co-author of Shrink Rap: Three Psychiatrists Explain Their Work. She is director of the University of Maryland forensic psychiatry fellowship where she teaches about many aspects of civil and criminal law including insanity, competence to stand trial, assessment of dangerousness, malpractice and child custody evaluations. She has evaluated and treated hundreds of mentally ill criminal defendants and has testified in murder trials involving the insanity defense. She has sixteen years of experience treating prisoners in a maximum-security setting. She lives and works in Baltimore, Maryland where she co-hosts the Shrink Rap blog (psychiatrist-blog.blogspot.com) and the My Three Shrinks podcast (mythreeshrinks.com).

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See also …

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4 Responses to “* Dr. Annette Hanson writes in Clinical Psychiatry News (6/21/11) … use of the psychological profile prepared by Dr. Saathoff’s EBAP to infer that Dr. Ivins was the anthrax mailer is problematic”

  1. DXer said

    I believe Annette Hanson touches upon Dr. Ivins and Amerithrax in her 2013 book published, I think, by JHU Press but I do not see it from the online preview available.

    http://www.amerithrax.wordpress.com

  2. DXer said

    Dr. Saathoff says he didn’t actually draft the report. What does the metadata show with regard to who actually drafted the EBAP report? Where was it typed?

  3. DXer said

    My focus is not on the HIPPA issue or any issue under guidelines relating to psychiatrists. (I am not familiar with either and don’t presume to address either of those issues. My focus is on the merits of the report.

    But the psychiatrist who wrote the article explains her views at this blog.

    http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=26666124&postID=395561340142480057&page=1&token=1308914166418

    I wrote in part:

    On the book MIRAGE MAN, I got the book 10 days or so before it published through a special arrangement and overnight delivery.

    I published excerpts of ASCENSION JOURNEY online but David Willman, author of Mirage Man, did nothing to change his course. He and Bantam continue to promote the book which relies heavily on the account by Judith McLean and the EBAP report.

    On the issue of sales, I did consider it important enough to angrily write the person on the panel handling logistics and publicity. I also wrote a panel member — and told them they had no right to sell it under the law IMO.

    I invited them to bring suit against me for ignoring their copyright. I still do. (I emailed a copy to people and encouraged its distribution).

    I knew then that the surest way to hide the massive mistake in analysis it represents would be to have people just rely on Dr. Saathoff’s press conference announcing the “independent” conclusions.

    Amerithrax represents the greatest failure in counterintelligence in United States history and Dr. Saathoff is its spokesman. The country is put at risk because of Dr. Ayman Zawahiri’s plan to attack the United States with anthrax.

    The FBI has a long history of being defensive and not taking criticism well. They seldom correct their mistakes until years later.

    FBI Director Mueller can consider it new information if he likes — or just critical information that Greg overlooked.

    The other mistakes on the merits of the crime are even more fundamental but are beyond the scope of the psychiatric profiling issues. Mr Willman addresses the merits in an Appendix to the Epilogue. The rest of his book is devoted to Dr. Saathoff’s psychological narrative — and includes such bombshells as the fact that Dr. Ivins didn’t kiss his prom date and had the nickname as a child of “Bruce the Goose.”

    The poisoning story was first leaked to the Washington Post and resulted in an August 7, 2008 Washington Post story. Washington Post is also on notice that they need to correct their story.
    The issue was hugely important in persuading the country that Dr. Ivins was guilty.

    … when in fact there is not a shred of evidence indicating Dr. Ivins committed the crime. All the subsidiary points are equally specious — and provably so based on documentary evidence.

  4. DXer said

    Dr. Saathoff wrote by letter dated August 23, 2010: “the Amerithrax Expert Behavioral Analysis Panel is now submitting its Final Report.”

    The book by the panel’s key witness, Judith McClean, ASCENSION JOURNEY was first printed in 2009. It describes her work as an exorcist, medium, remote viewer, telepath, astral traveler — and her exhaustion after 911 due to being pursued by Taliban astral entities in connection with her astral recovery work in Afghanistan and Ground Zero. It is available at amazon.com. The book is lucidly written and Reverend McLean is available by email — and is responsive to email. She is direct and plain spoken in communications.

    The theme of Dr. Saathoff report was to criticize the Army for a failing to consider such issues as the reliability of the perception of reality by personnel. David Willman in Mirage Man says that Dr. Saathoff consulted with investigators — DW says there were multiple lengthy meetings regarding how to approach Dr. Ivins. Their approach was very aggressive — for example, according to Dr. Heine, Dr. Ivins was falsely told that Dr. Heine said that he did it. The FBI submitted the semen on the panties for DNA comparison and threatened to call his family before the grand jury to confirm he was unhappy at home. (The lab specimen form submitted indicates it related to the panties; the DNA on the envelopes was known to be that of a lab technician fired and convicted for falsifying evidence in 100 cases). After being alienated from his support group, the AUSA predicted that he would commit suicide if released from the hospital and he did.

    Where did Dr. Saathoff disclose that he consulted with the investigators both in the Spring of 2008 and prior to the November 2007 search? The startling tone of the report did not sound objective — instead it sounded like an investigator’s spin.

    I sent the EBAP panels excerpts from ASCENSION JOURNEY. But to the best of my knowledge, not one of them has taken steps to contact the United States District Court judge to withdraw or revise their report.

    Under the rules applicable to federal district court proceedings, where factual representations prove to have been incorrect, then steps should be taken so that the mistaken factual allegations are not relied upon.

    Everyone makes missteps. Here, the psychiatrists apparently did not take $10 of the $38,000 or so in expenses funded by taxpayers to read the book written by their key witness — even though, to borrow their terminology, it constituted a “red flag” bearing further reading. Okay. Hindsight is 20/20. A journalist or researcher is judged mainly on whether they correct mistakes — not whether they make them. To err is human.

    They did not conduct interviews and instead in redacted passages relied heavily on Ms. McLean’s claims of what Dr. Ivins and other said.

    I don’t rely on her claims about Taliban astral entities pursuing her to support an Al Qaeda theory. Nor do I credit her stories about helping the police with remote viewing (finding a corpse); the visiting ghosts; the conversations with rocks and bushes; …

    The should not have relied on her claims about what Dr. Ivins or others said in support of an Ivins Theory. But more importantly, they should now revise or withdraw their report.

    Greg’s report reeks of CYA and should be withdrawn given he did not disclose that he was centrally involved in planning the aggressive approach that led to Bruce’s suicide.

    It’s in his self-interest to address this issue whether reading the 2009 book affects his conclusions in the 2010 report.

    Or better yet, have a consultant independent of FBI Quantico and the pursuit of Dr. Ivins do it.

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