Creepy Bruce, the anthraxer and country music artist.
On Sunday, the LA Times published an excerpt from David Willman’s upcoming book, Mirage Man: Bruce Ivins, the Anthrax Attacks and America’s Rush to War.
There’s nothing new here but it does personalize Ivins’ psychotic behavior with a special focus on his obsession with a national sorority, various revenge plots, and his ability to hide all this from his family and co-workers in the anthrax labs at Fort Detrick.
The Times story, with the drop line — “Bruce Ivins, who became a respected Army scientist and an authority on the laboratory use of anthrax, had a penchant for vendettas, especially against women” — reads:
He roamed the University of Cincinnati campus with a loaded gun. When his rage overflowed, the brainy microbiology major would open fire inside empty buildings, visualizing a wall clock or other object as a person who had done him wrong … Several years earlier, a Cincinnati student had turned him down for a date. He had projected his anger onto the young woman’s sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma. There was a Kappa house in Chapel Hill, N.C., and Ivins cased the building. One night when it was empty, he slipped in through a bathroom window and roamed the darkened floors with a penlight.
The story includes still another picture of Ivins singin’ and playin’ behind his beloved keyboards.
And a couple months back, published here:
Ivins — [a psychiatric] panel concluded, should not have been hired by USAMRIID/Fort Detrick. He had a history of criminal and psychotic behavior dating back to his days as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of North Carolina.
While there he continued an obsession with a women’s sorority and one member of it. The obsession arose when Ivins was rejected by a girl from Kappa Kappa Gamma while at the University of Cincinnati, a rejection that seemed to have curdled his entire life.
In the case of one sorority girl, which the report refers to as KKG#2, Ivins went so far as to steal her lab research notebook, an act of sabotage aimed at screwing up her work toward a Ph.D.
The panel concluded Ivins compartmentalized his life, showing himself only to be a benign eccentric, an antic clown juggler at parties and keyboard player at church, to professional associates at Fort Detrick.
That panel concluded Ivins was most probably the anthrax mailer.
In related news, McClatchy officially became one of the news organs of anthrax denial earlier in the month when it published a long piece on the alleged use of silicon in the preparation of the mailed anthrax.
The silicon story — long pushed by a couple of fringe anthrax gumshoes and scientists — will probably never die. The FBI and a national lab made reasonable efforts to elucidate the silicon found in the anthrax spores but, in the end, none of it has made any difference due to the handling of the case and mythology which has grown around it.
Readers unaware of the fine details only need to know that it is used as part of an argument to exonerate Ivins. Ivins, the reasoning goes, could not have been the anthrax mailer because he knew nothing of the use of silicon in the weaponization of anthrax spores.
The government and other scientists have long maintained the spores were not weaponized and that anthrax spores, when effectively dried, are plenty dangerous, silicon or not.
The NRC report did put another spike through the heart of the idea that silicon was added to the mailings to Leahy and Daschle for purposes of weaponization and dispersion.
It won’t kill the crazies who continue to pursue the argument. But that’s more due to the nature of the people who cleave to it.
“Silicon was present in the letter powders but there was no evidence
of addition of dispersants,” Gast said.
And the report reads:
“The bulk silicon content in the Leahy letter could be completely explained by the amount of silicon incorporated in the spores during growth …
“The inability of laboratory experiments to duplicate silicon characteristics of the latter samples is not surprising given the uptake mechanism (in the anthrax microbe).”
Because of the horrific nature of the anthrax mailings, the fumblings in the case, its long duration and conspiracy-theory thinking entrenched within broad parts of the American polity, efforts to dismiss the official judgment that Ivins was the anthrax mailer will probably continue for years.
The eerie outsider country music of Bruce Ivins:
Bruce Ivins was All Shook Up.