8:20am

Wed March 23, 2011
The Two-Way

Report: Army Could Have Prevented Anthrax Attacks

Originally published on Wed March 23, 2011 6:20 am

A panel of behavioral analysts has concluded that the "Army scientist believed responsible for the 2001 anthrax letter attacks that killed five people and crippled mail delivery in parts of the country had exhibited alarming mental problems that military officials should have noticed and acted on long before he had a chance to strike," the Los Angeles Times reports this morning.

And, the Times writes:

"The anthrax attacks, the nation's worst bioterrorism event, 'could have been anticipated — and prevented,' the panel said."

Bruce Ivins, a microbiologist and researcher at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, killed himself in 2008. The Justice Department was about indict him in connection with the anthrax attacks.

As NPR's Joe Palca reported last month, another independent review panel has concluded that "the scientific evidence alone is not enough to prove that ... Ivins was the perpetrator of the anthrax attacks."

The Times reports today, though, that the panel of behavioral analysts says that Ivins' "psychiatric history offered 'considerable additional circumstantial evidence' that he was indeed the anthrax killer."

The nine-member panel was led by University of Virginia psychiatrist Dr. Gregory Saathoff.

The Times says a spokesman for the institute where Ivins worked declined to comment.

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