The suicide of a suspect in the post-9/11 anthrax attacks in 2001 seems to have tied up that trauma into a neat package that can be filed away under national scare stories, case solved.
But the subject is too important for such a quick and tidy solution. As shocking as the attacks on the Twin Towers and Pentagon were, it was numbing weeks of public anxiety over deadly letters to the media and US Senators that spread fear across America to create an atmosphere that let Bush-Cheney Neo-Cons take us to war in Iraq and trample the Constitution.
Now, the anthrax story presumably ends with the death of researcher Bruce Ivins in the face of a therapist's taped testimony that he had a "detailed homicidal plan" to kill his co-workers after learning he was going to be indicted on capital murder charges in the mailings.
But secrecy so far, according to Glenn Greenwald in Salon, "has generated far more questions about the anthrax attacks than it has answered" as he cites MSM complicity in efforts to tie the 2001 threat to "Saddam Hussein's biological weapons program."
(A transcript from that time shows John McCain telling David Letterman, "There is some indication, and I don't have the conclusions, but some of this anthrax may--and I emphasize may--have come from Iraq...If that should be the case, that's when some tough decisions are gonna have to be made.")
In the following years, the FBI hounded another anthrax researcher, Steven J. Hatfill, with leaks labeling him "a person of interest" by Attorney General John Ashcroft that culminated five weeks ago in the government's payment of $5.82 million for wrecking Dr. Hatfill's reputation.
Now, the Army is being evasive about the history of Ivins' security clearance in their labs, where ironically he had been spent years working with dangerous pathogens and viruses, trying to find cures in the event they were used as weapons.
Other doubts are emerging. Today's New York Times reports "at least 10 people had access" to the flask of anthrax in Ivins' lab and that the FBI has "no evidence proving that Dr. Ivins visited New Jersey on the dates in September and October 2001 when investigators believe the letters were sent from a Princeton mailbox."
We have to know much more. The 2001 anthrax episode is far too important in helping us understand how to deal with future threats to be swept under the rug of one man's psychiatric history and cover up seven years of bumbling and possibly worse by the government and media.
The truth may turn out to be scary, but it couldn't be any worse than imagining what it might be.