Report: 2001 Anthrax Attacks Were Preventable

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The Army scientist believed to have caused the 2001 anthrax attacks that left five dead and paralyzed Capitol Hill and media organizations had severe psychological problems, was obsessed with a sorority and should never have been given security clearance or access to deadly pathogens, according to a newly released report.

An independent review of the psychiatric records of the alleged anthrax killer Dr. Bruce Ivins has revealed that the Army scientist, who committed suicide in 2008, should never have been given a security clearance or access to anthrax based on his psychological profile and diagnosable mental illness.

The report also found that Ivins allegedly carried out the attacks for revenge and redemption for questions about his work with the anthrax vaccine. The findings also delve further into his troubled relationships with women and an obsession he developed for a sorority that had a profound impact on his life.

"Information regarding his disqualifying behaviors was readily available in the medical record and accessible to personnel had it been pursued," the report concluded in its key findings.

The records were obtained by the Justice Department when they sought a court order to obtain Ivins' sealed psychiatric records. The findings were made by the Expert Behavioral Analysis Panel, ordered by a federal judge to review Ivins' sealed psychological records to determine if future acts of bioterrorism could be prevented.

Read the full report here.

Ivins worked at the U.S Army's Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) and committed suicide as FBI investigators, in 2008, zeroed in on him as the main suspect in the Fall 2001 anthrax attacks. The anthrax attacks left five people dead and sickened 17 others after mail containing the toxin arrived on Capitol Hill and at news organizations in Florida and New York.

"Dr. Ivins had a significant and lengthy history of psychological disturbance and diagnosable mental illness at the time he began working for USAMRIID in 1980 that would have disqualified him from a Secret level security clearance had this been known." said panel chairman Dr. Gregory Saathoff at a Tuesday press conference in Washington to announce the panel's findings. Dr. Saathoff is the executive director of the University of Virginia Critical Incident Analysis Group and associate professor of Research Psychiatry at the UVA medical school. He also worked as an FBI consultant during the investigation.

The report also found that Dr. Ivins omitted key information during his security clearance process and that Army investigators did not follow up on conflicting information or review additional medical records that were available despite Ivins signing waivers allowing access to those records.

Information released in the report notes that Ivins was first treated by a psychiatrist in 1978 when he was a graduate student at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. The report concluded: "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."

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