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By Amy Goldstein, Anne Hull and Julie Tate, Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service
Published: August 08, 2008, 00:00
Washington: More than a year before the anthrax attacks that killed five people in 2001, Bruce E. Ivins told a counsellor that he was interested in a young woman who lived out of town and that he had “mixed poison” and taken it with him when he went to watch her play in a soccer match.
“If she lost, he was going to poison her,” said the counsellor, who treated Ivins at a Frederick, Maryland, clinic four or five times during the summer of 2000. She said Ivins emphasised that he was a skillful scientist who “knew how to do things without people finding out.”
The counsellor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said in a two-hour interview Wednesday that she was so alarmed by her client’s emotionless description of a specific, homicidal plan that she immediately alerted the head of her clinic, Comprehensive Counselling Associates (CCA), and a psychiatrist who had treated Ivins, as well as the Frederick Police Department. She said the police told her nothing could be done because she did not have the woman’s address or last name.
Dark portrait emerges
The account of the counsellor, who was interviewed by the FBI early last week, is part of a dark portrait of Ivins that emerges from documents made public Wednesday by the Justice Department, as well as e-mails, chat room postings, and an interview with a former graduate student at the University of North Carolina who said Ivins was obsessed with her sorority when he was at the university three decades ago.
These glimpses of Ivins, involving episodes predating the anthrax-laced envelopes that were sent through the mail in 2001, conflict markedly with the depiction of him by many friends and colleagues as a church-going family man and volunteer whose mental health eroded because of escalating pressure applied on him by federal investigators.
Ivins’ e-mails released by the Justice Department and other writings discovered by The Washington Post also reveal a man intensely focused on his and his family’s mental health.
E-mails between Ivins and a friend show that the bioweapons researcher sought help in February 2000 from a psychiatrist who immediately prescribed antidepressants.
Early that April, he wrote that at times “it’s like I’m not only sitting at my desk doing work, I’m also a few feet away watching me do it. There’s nothing like living in both the first person singular and the second person singular!”
By late June, he was writing that the medication was not working. “What is really scary is the paranoia. … Ominously, a lot of the feelings of isolation – and desolation – that I went through before college are returning.” It was about this time that he became a client at CCA.
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