Saturday, October 27, 2001


Josh Talking Points Marshall -- whose website should definitely be rechristened "Anthrax Central" now -- brings to our attention a splendidly elegant demonstration of common sense by CNN Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, which aired a couple days ago.

All very well and good -- but surely, anyone with (a) a brain in their head, and (b) who has ever sent a greeting card or thank-you note to Aunt Clara, had already solved the mystery without Dr. Gupta's help: The traces of anthrax that have contaminated the country's mail sorting facilities have obviously leaked through the ungummed, unsealed corner edges of a very few envelope flaps. (If spores also leaked through the actual porous paper from which the envelopes were constructed, it was just a bonus!)

But leave it to overnight paranoia-king Art Bell to intuit this far-fetched explanation: The CIA, according to Bell's source -- i.e., the fevered imagination of some anonymous caller -- has developed a means to use the gummy backing of ordinary postage stamps to act as a medium for growing Anthrax spore cultures. No envelopes are even necessary! Wanna wreck a little havoc? Just moisten one of those specially-prepared stamps -- presumably with a damp sponge rather than your toungue -- and mail a hundred blank post cards to an undeliverable false destination, with no return address. Then sit back and watch the fun!

Unlikely, you say? Look at it this way: When zebras hear hoofbeats, do you imagine they're thinking horses?


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