Thu, 12 Feb 2004

Mailroom ricin

The detection of ricin, a deadly poison, in the mailroom of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is a pointed reminder that bioterrorism is a threat that cannot be discounted. Although it appears that no one has been harmed in this incident, the potential for harm is undeniable.

The source of the powder is not yet known, but regardless of whose hand was involved in this attack it serves to illustrate that vulnerability exists, even in a closely monitored operation.

It further illustrates that an act of terrorism can be far less spectacular than flying an airplane into a building, but still be insidious and deadly. Americans surely remember the earlier anthrax attacks, in which spores of that potentially fatal disease were mailed to congressional offices and to some private-sector offices.

This incident raises once again the call for vigilance in an age in which terrorism, foreign or domestic in origin and varying widely in scale, is an all too common tactic.

-- Montgomery Advertiser, Montgomery, Alabama