Report: Army Could Have Prevented Anthrax Attacks : The Two-Way Microbiologist Bruce Ivins' psychiatric history provided clues that should have been acted on before the 2001 attacks, a panel of experts says. Ivins, who investigators believe was responsible, killed himself in 2008.
NPR logo Report: Army Could Have Prevented Anthrax Attacks

Report: Army Could Have Prevented Anthrax Attacks

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.

Bruce Ivins. (2003 file photo.) Sam Yu/AP hide caption

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Sam Yu/AP

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.