The media frenzy over a potential suspect in the Boston marathon bombing has somewhat overshadowed another disturbing story.
A letter addressed to President Obama was found to contain a substance that initially tested positive for the toxin ricin, the FBI said Wednesday.
The letter, intercepted Tuesday by authorities at a remote White House mail screening facility, contained “a granular substance that preliminarily tested positive for ricin,” the FBI said in a statement. It said there was “no indication” of any connection to the bombings Monday that killed three spectators at the Boston Marathon.
The letter follows the discovery Tuesday of a ricin-laced letter sent to Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and came as authorities were investigating suspicious packages in and near the offices of members of Congress.
When the report about Wicker surfaced yesterday, few thought this would be a repeat of the anthrax scare following Sept. 11. (When recollecting the incidents after Sept. 11 and the steps taken to protect the country, it is easy to forget that the anthrax scare geometrically elevated people’s anxiety level.) However, now that security measures are in place to shield potential victims from packages and letters, it is hard to imagine why someone would try this gambit, other than of course to soak up the coverage and, yes, to scare people, especially those without off-site mail vetting facilities.
On one level it is comforting that security personnel are doing their job. But it is a reminder that our grousing about TSA searches, bag checks at museums and mail-room delays are disproportionate to the danger from which the government seeks to protect us. It is also a reminder that while we should be suspicious of unchecked government power, the government is not the enemy. We have plenty of those out there. We want government to be transparent and accountable, but not handcuffed. Credit goes to the post-9/11 reformers and reforms that put in place protections and investigative techniques that by and large do their job. Where effort is misdirected, we should make corrections. But unlike the media, which get it wrong a lot of the time, these people almost always get it right. Gratitude is warranted.