Ghost of terrorism past

We're tempted to say shame on all of us for so easily forgetting the terror and the five deaths of the post-9-11 anthrax murders. It just had disappeared from the public consciousness.

On the other hand, what a blessing that we were able to leave it behind. That was not something we could've hoped for back then.

Indeed, it seemed, after 9-11 was followed quickly by the anonymous anthrax mailings, that none of us could truly feel safe from terrorism. We saw a science fiction future of bio-threats and haz-mat suits. We wondered if we should all get vaccinations for - whatever 21st-century people get vaccinated for.

In government and the media, especially, every letter from an unknown source had to be viewed with suspicion. Mail headed for Congress and the rest of official Washington was subjected to radiation to disinfect it, leading to damaged goods and delayed parcels.

And not knowing the source was maddening, frightening. Was the anthrax attack coordinated with the horror of the 9-11 strikes? Were additional radical Muslims laying in wait to kill more of us?

In the years since, we've been blessed with no more such terror attacks. But the FBI so botched the investigation that the government - with your money - recently had to pay a former government scientist $5.8 million in damages for smearing him in the media. Can you say "Richard Jewell"?

Now, the government says it had the real culprit: Bruce Ivins, a government biodefense scientist at Fort Detrick, Md.

Unfortunately, Ivins' case will never be tried. He apparently killed himself last Tuesday as investigators closed in on charges.

They say they've got DNA evidence linking him to the attacks. And his therapist has testified he was a "sociopathic, homicidal killer."

We hope they had the right guy, and that it is truly over.

Maybe the only thing worse than an enemy attack is the treachery of a traitor.

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