Friday, August 04, 2006

'The killer that comes in the post'

US gripped by fear as evidence mounts that disease is being used by terrorists

Robin McKie
Sunday October 14, 2001
The Observer


The story still remained low key, however, and was played down by the FBI - until Friday, when two further cases, both from media targets, raised the prospects that America was facing a flood of bio-letterbombs targetted on its TV and newspaper outlets.

Firstly, it was revealed that a letter - sent to NBC network newsman Tom Brokaw - contained a strange white powder. One of Brokaw's assistants, 38-year-old Erin O'Connor - who had opened the letters - was tested and found to be infected with cutaneous anthrax. The letter was sent from Trenton, New Jersey. Yesterday, a second letter sent to Brokaw was also found to contain anthrax bacteria.

Brakow was not the only Manhatten target, however. On Friday, the New York Times newsroom was evacuated after Judith Miller, a reporter who had recently written a book on biological warfare, opened a letter postmarked St Petersburg, Florida, and found it contained a white, powdery substance.

In her book, Germs: Biological Weapons and America's Secret War, Miller had warned that anthrax was 'the poor man's hydrogen bomb', words that now have a stark, predictive ring. And finally, last night, it was revealed that five more employees at American Media in Florida had been exposed to anthrax.

Americans, and in particular, New Yorkers - already reeling from the World Trade Center atrocity - have reacted with predictable alarm, flocking to hospitals to demand tests for contamination and antibiotic prescriptions.



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