Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Amerithrax 2001

Panic on the Hill

Envelope addressed to Daschle
Envelope addressed to Daschle
 

On October 15, a person working at Sen. Daschle's office opened a suspicious letter, which contained a hate letter and a white powdery substance. The letter bore a marked similarity to the one sent to the New York Post earlier in September that infected Huden and to the letter addressed to Tom Brokaw that infected O'Connor. There was no doubt that the substance was anthrax and that it was sent by the same unknown person.

Daschle letter
Daschle letter
 

The discovery prompted a major evacuation of several government offices, including the Hart Senate Office Building, where Daschle's sixth floor suite was located. According to UCLA's Department of Epidemiology, people who worked in and around the area of the office were tested for anthrax exposure, of which 25 tested positive. All of those infected were immediately treated with antibiotics, as were hundreds of other congressional staff workers.

At the top of the letter was 09-11-01. The rest of the message was in block letters:

YOU CAN NOT STOP US.

WE HAVE THIS ANTHRAX.

YOU DIE NOW.

ARE YOU AFRAID?

DEATH TO AMERICA.

DEATH TO ISRAEL.

ALLAH IS GREAT.

Hart Senate Office Bldg
Hart Senate Office Bldg
  Surprisingly even though it was known that the tainted letter passed through the Brentwood facility, the building remained opened for two days after plant managers and the CDC had been alerted to Richardson's illness. Moreover, the postal employees who were at greatest risk to anthrax exposure didn't receive at that time any antibiotics to prevent the onset of anthrax. Many wondered if they had, would lives have been spared.

Gary Dorsey of the Baltimore Sun reported that "public officials came to the chilling realization that the nation did not have a coordinated plan to contain bioterrorism and efforts to correct those deficiencies began immediately." Sweeps were made of the infected areas of the building, much like in Florida and vast amounts of anthrax spores were found, collected and microscopically analyzed in laboratories. All of the samples obtained in the anthrax cases in Florida, New Jersey, New York and Washington, D.C. were genetically identical.

 

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