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Soldier in Terror Case Called Mentally Ill

September 02, 2004|From Associated Press

FT. LEWIS, Wash. — A soldier accused of trying to pass military secrets to Al Qaeda suffers from bipolar disorder and other mental health problems, a psychologist testified at his court-martial Wednesday.

"He has been an outsider, a social misfit, most of his life," Jack Norris said of Spc. Ryan G. Anderson.

Norris, a psychologist at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Wash., said he began evaluating Anderson in mid-July, eventually diagnosing him with bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression.

He said Anderson had always been socially awkward. "The friends he has had usually revolved around their mutual involvement in some arcane interest," Norris said.

Anderson was videotaped providing military information to federal agents who prosecutors say he thought were Al Qaeda agents. Testimony concluded Wednesday.

Anderson, a Muslim convert, is charged with five counts of trying to provide Al Qaeda with information about U.S. troop strength and tactics, as well as methods for killing American soldiers. He could face up to life in prison if convicted.

A second defense expert said Wednesday that Anderson was able to tell right from wrong.

Dr. Russell Hicks, a retired Army colonel and a staff psychiatrist at Madigan, said he had diagnosed Anderson with Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism that impaired cognitive and social functioning.

He said his diagnosis did not conflict with Norris' assessment.

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