Bioterrorism Suspect Afflicted with Paranoia; Investigators See Failed Work as Sign of Motive in Attacks

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), August 7, 2008 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Bioterrorism Suspect Afflicted with Paranoia; Investigators See Failed Work as Sign of Motive in Attacks


Byline: Ben Conery, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Army microbiologist Bruce E. Ivins was becoming increasingly paranoid and his work on an anthrax vaccine - which already had been blamed for causing the Gulf War syndrome - was failing when he mailed poison-laced letters to politicians and news organizations, confidential investigative documents unsealed Wednesday show.

Law enforcement officials theorize that Mr. Ivins' decaying mental health and his desire to show people the importance of his vaccine could have motivated him to carry out the worst bioterrorism attack in the nation's history.

The motive will never be known for sure. Mr. Ivins, 62, of Frederick, Md., committed suicide last week as authorities prepared to charge him with the 2001 anthrax mailings that killed five people, sickened 17 and further frayed the nerves of a nation reeling from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

In an unusual move, motivated in part by Mr. Ivins' death, Justice Department officials Wednesday released dozens of documents they say prove his guilt.

Authorities said Mr. Ivins carried out the attacks alone and, as a result, the government will soon close the seven-year investigation known as Amerithrax.

We regret that we will not have the opportunity to present the evidence to a jury to determine whether the evidence establishes Dr. Ivins' guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Taylor of the District said during a press conference.

The release of the documents ended a much-maligned investigation that resulted in a multimillion-dollar Justice Department settlement with former Army scientist Steven Hatfill, who was publicly identified as a person of interest in the case but later was cleared of any wrongdoing. Mr. Hatfill and Mr. Ivins both worked at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, but it wasn't until 2007 that Mr. Ivins became the focus of the investigation.

Authorities said the investigation, conducted by the FBI and U.S. Postal Service, also had successes, such as the development of scientific processes they say linked Mr. Ivins to the anthrax used in the attacks.

According to search warrants released Wednesday, the anthrax spores used in the attack came from a flask belonging to Mr. Ivins. Mr. Taylor called the flask effectively the murder weapon.

No one received material from that flask without going through Dr. Ivins, Mr. Taylor said. We thoroughly investigated every other person who could have had access to the flask, and we were able to rule out all but Dr. Ivins.

The documents also outline circumstantial evidence authorities claim link Mr. Ivins to the case.

Mr. Ivins had come under scrutiny for his work on an anthrax vaccine that some suspect caused the Gulf War syndrome. Before the attacks in 2001, Mr. Ivins had been under heavy stress while working on an anthrax vaccine that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had suspended.

At the same time, his mental health was deteriorating. According to documents, Mr. Ivins wrote in an e-mail to a friend that his psychiatrist thought he might be suffering from a paranoid personality disorder. He was prescribed a variety of psychotropic medications.

Authorities think the volatile mix of stress and mental illness led to the attacks.

Mr. Ivins' work took a bright turn after the attacks.

In 2002, the FDA once again approved the vaccine on which he had worked.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Bioterrorism Suspect Afflicted with Paranoia; Investigators See Failed Work as Sign of Motive in Attacks
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?