Skip to comments.New Jersey Mailbox Tests Positive for Anthrax
Posted on 08/12/2002 7:55:13 PM PDT by B-bone
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This specific mailbox tested positive for anthrax on 8/8/2002.
Scratch that connection, the story I read was incomplete. Now that I found the full account, it doesn't offer any clues. The traffic stop was on northbound I-95 (which is the NJT for part of its length), but was in fact all the way down in Pikesville, MD, a northwest suburb of Baltimore some 150 miles south of Princeton. That circle is just too big to draw any kind of conclusions fromfor all we know Jarrah was coming back from meeting Hatfill.
It still makes you wonder, though, just what Jarrah was doing all the way down there.
Sorry that I misread your question the first time.
I'm relying on memory here, but the first cases of anthrax in that area came from the Hamilton Township mail sorting facility. If I'm not mistaken, the Princeton post office also tested positive for anthrax, and the Princeton post office sends its mail to Hamilton to be sorted. And now a mail box in Princeton tested positive (although it may be a false positive, even though I doubt that they did just one test on the box before hauling it away).
Again, relying on my memory, the envelopes were heavily taped, and the anthrax spores didn't start spewing until they had gone through a mail sorting machine, one with rollers, that in essence squeezed the anthrax out of the envelopes. That, of course, didn't happen at the mailbox or at the post office. It happened at the mail sorting facility. The only thing I can think of is not enough anthrax had gotten out of the envelope at the mailbox to cause a healthy person to have gotten anthrax--and I don't think there would have been enough anthrax coming out of the mail slot to make for major contamination of a person mailing a letter. To the best of my knowledge, no one at the Princeton post office contracted anthrax either. It was only persons at the Hamilton mail facility (as far as this path of the anthrax letters goes) who were the first in this chain to contract anthrax. This doesn't include, of course, the persons who were at the other end of the mail delivery system or the persons who died because their mail probably came in contact with the contaminated letters.
Not when it's Postal related, that's the job of the US Postal Inspection Service.
Like I said, This is the kind of detail work which was once done very well by the F.B.I.
I did not say the work above was THE work which is THE immediate responsibility of the F.B.I.
I said it was the kind of work: Thorough application to details.
However, since you somewhat asked, I am given to understand, the F.B.I. is part of the investigation, wearing out the soles of their shoes, like they once did, very well ... right there on some of the actual work details with the Postal Inspectors.
Also, U.S. Secret Service.
They share workloads on the nitty gritty detail stuff.
What those particulars are, I cannot tell you.
But you might say, that there's a bit of a push on to get back to what works.
This kind of work --- the need for it --- cannot be overstressed, especially at the state police departments' level across the country.
The states need to dramatically beef up their highway patrol; they need to triple their investigative operations; and they practically need to do it overnight.
Yet overall, they need to follow the once, good model of when the F.B.I. really performed thorough investigations.
This is a method for defense of our communities --- the resolve that a "bad guy's" work will come to light, and he and his will be smoked --- make life miserable for the plotters of destruction.
This work is tedious, but it should not be forsaken as it has, in exchange for newsreel time demonstrating budgetary "justification" by way of accosting people.
It is often possible to know so much more about a person, when it comes to whether or not they mean harm, by thorough fact-finding from the distance.
The greatest artists in the F.B.I. were the agents who knew you but you never knew it. Investigators who came into your life and then left, you, unaware.
Instead of trying to impress upon you, their authority being a legend in their own mind.
Mailbox with spores has been replaced
Tuesday, August 13, 2002BY ROBERT SCHWANEBERG AND JOHN P. MARTIN
Authorities probing last fall's deadly anthrax mailings found traces of the chemical agent on a mailbox last week in the heart of Princeton, the first time they have found what could be the point of origin for the fatal letters.
Gov. James E. McGreevey said yesterday the box was removed after state health officials detected the anthrax spores Thursday, and he called the risk to the public "exceedingly small."
Federal agents said they have not yet determined if the mailbox was subject to cross-contamination from another source or whether it was the box where the deadly letters were mailed last fall. But it was the only mailbox among 561 tested in recent weeks that showed traces of the germ.
The box sat at Nassau and Bank streets, near the gates of Princeton University. Its contents were transferred each day to the Hamilton Township postal facility that processed the deadly letters and remains closed after it was contaminated by anthrax spores.
Five people died and 13 were sickened, including six in New Jersey, from handling or receiving the anthrax-tainted letters. The scare caused the closings of postal facilities in New Jersey and Washington, D.C., as well as the evacuation of government offices from Capitol Hill to the Federal Reserve and flashes of panic nationwide.
State officials cautioned yesterday that the latest discovery was not a reason for alarm. Representatives at the U.S. Postal Service and Princeton University said the news of the anthrax detection wouldn't affect their operations and hadn't sparked a run for antibiotics.
"Nobody needs to be taking medication because of this," state Health Commissioner Clifton Lacy said. "This is the culmination of law enforcement activities."
Those activities appear to have intensified in recent weeks. Lacy said the FBI had delivered hundreds of specimens for anthrax testing to health department labs in the past week, though he didn't know why. And FBI Special Agent Bill Evanina confirmed that agents were questioning people in the neighborhood of the mailbox.
"They will be for quite a while," Evanina said.
Four people who work near the intersection said investigators specifically asked them yesterday about Steven Hatfill, a bio-defense expert from Maryland who on Sunday accused federal investigators of fueling rumors about him and who proclaimed his innocence.
The workers, who asked not to be identified, said a postal inspector and Trenton detective showed them a photo of Hatfill and asked if they had seen him near the area. Neither recalled seeing him there, they said.
Authorities have said only that Hatfill is among a group of "persons of interest" in the investigation. A law enforcement source told the Associated Press yesterday that agents have no physical evidence linking Hatfill to the attacks but that the FBI is not yet ready to clear his name.
Nick Manetto, a spokesman for Rep. Chris Smith (R-4th Dist.), who has been actively following the investigation, said an FBI agent mentioned Hatfill's name during a conversation with Smith's office.
"He said they have a reason to be looking at him, but wouldn't call him a suspect," Manetto said.
Manetto said the bureau regards the mailbox contamination as potential evidence left behind by the anthrax-laced letters that were postmarked "Trenton" last fall, not of a new round of attacks.
Scientists have determined that anthrax spores can survive for years, possibly decades. They are frequently found in the soil in cattle-raising areas and can cause infection if they come into contact with a hospitable environment, such as an open sore or a cut on the skin.
McGreevey said the state health department should complete testing of 39 more boxes by the end of the week. He declined to discuss the scope of the investigation or to categorize the significance of the discovery.
He announced the finding at an afternoon news conference at FBI offices in Newark, where he was flanked by state Attorney General David Samson and FBI Special Agent in Charge Louie F. Allen.
The Governor said he decided to announce the finding yesterday after being authorized by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Newark, which is overseeing the federal probe into the anthrax mailings. McGreevey repeatedly deferred questions to the federal prosecutor's office.
But a law enforcement source with knowledge of the case said federal investigators were unaware that McGreevey planned a news conference or that he would be speaking about the anthrax case.
"The Governor's decision took them by surprise," the source said.
U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie was unavailable for comment yesterday. But in response to McGreevey's remarks, his office released a three-paragraph statement acknowledging the postal box had been removed. It declined to discuss the ongoing investigation.
Staff writers Joe Donohue and Kelly Heyboer contributed to this report.
Your daughter sounds like my wife who is in the same exact situation.
Anyway, I've gotten an e-mail from her. She assures me that she hasn't stuck her head in any mailboxes on Nassau Street, that there are many biotech labs & personnel in the Princeton area, that Princeton and the surrounding area is ground zero for anthrax--and that she avoids anyone wearing a class A hazmat suit walking down Nassau Street or anyone driving with one on. Oh, and that she was mailing me a paper bag so I didn't hyperventiate.
I think she was making fun of her mother :-))
By JEAN SU
Princetonian Staff Writer
A 51-year-old woman living in Mercer County, N.J., left a local hospital Oct. 28 after being treated for a case of skin anthrax.
The woman remains the only non-postal worker to have contracted the bacteria in New Jersey.
Though state health officials are withholding the victim's name, one official, who wished to remain anonymous, released information on the woman's hospital testing.
A lesion that developed on the woman's forehead originally spurred her to undergo analysis. "She initially tested negative for anthrax," the official explained. The hospital diagnosed her with a different ailment and gave her antibiotics.
"Anthrax tests can be somewhat inaccurate," Hamilton Township's mayoral aide Richard McClellan said. "They have their positive aspects and flaws."
A biopsy later confirmed that the woman had been wrongly diagnosed and had contracted skin anthrax.
Because time passed since her first test, the woman had no recollection of where she could have contracted the bacteria, throwing investigators off any leads they had.
Though the public and several news sources have speculated that the victim was exposed to anthrax through mail delivered by the United States Postal Service, officials denied this claim due to lack of evidence.
"We will probably never know [the source of her exposure]," McClellan said. "Investigators haven't found contamination in either site [her home or office]."
FBI investigators, according to McClellan, tested the victim's home, work place and the group of condominium offices surrounding hers including U.S. Rep. Chris Smith's district office for the presence of the bacteria. They did not find a trace of anthrax at any of these sites.
In an interview with a CNN correspondent Wednesday, Smith said he "did not believe he had been the target of any tainted letters."
The reasons why she would be targeted are overshadowed by a more significant and urgent question: the means by which she contracted anthrax. "Officials have no idea about a.) how she got sick and b.) whether it was blind luck that she was three doors down from Chris Smith," McClellan said.
The 16th American to contract anthrax, the woman "is expected to fully recover," the health official said.
By the way, isn't there a post office in downtown Princeton near that corner?
October 31, 2001
By DAVID ROBINSON
Princetonian Staff Writer
The University is suspending delivery of outside mail, two days after the discovery of a small amount of anthrax prompted the closure of the main Princeton post office, which is located off of Route One.
Lauren Robinson-Brown '85, University Director of Communications, explained that the University's mail normally flows through the now-closed facility.
"There's no reason to believe, unless there is a suspicious letter that meets the guidelines we have posted on the website, that any mail we receive has anthrax contamination," she said. "Any measure we take is precautionary in nature."
Robinson-Brown explained that the University is putting its mail handling staff through a compulsory safety-training program.
She added that members of the mail-handling staff are not being tested for anthrax. "The state hasn't changed their guidelines in terms of what they will respond to in providing testing of people, places or substances, and in terms of independent resources, resources are being taxed and so there's just no one available to do it," she explained.
The University has also chosen not to offer antibiotics to its mail handling staff. "I have to emphasize, our health officials do not want people on antibiotics unless a high index of suspicion has been reached. If people are over-medicated, it will actually prevent health officials from responding with reasonable means. They're not going to, as a precaution, put people on prophylactic treatment," Robinson-Brown said.
"Given that the processing of mail in various parts of the country, including New Jersey, has slowed down, we are being appropriately sensitive and flexible with respect to our deadlines," a statement posted on the University's admissions website said. "We assume (hope) that you have made copies of your application."
Meanwhile, the FBI has continued working on campus. "Our focus has centered around New Jersey, and yes, the Trenton area," an FBI spokeswoman said. The University has repeatedly stated that it is not engaged in any biological research with anthrax.
November 12, 2002
By DAVID ROBINSON
Princetonian Staff Writer
The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services has announced that a trace of anthrax was found inside a letter carrier case at the Palmer Square post office in the heart of Princeton Borough. The area where the anthrax was found was cleaned early Saturday before the post office opened.
Palmer Square was one of about 50 local post offices that were tested for anthrax because their mail is sorted at the Hamilton mail processing facility, where postal workers have contracted the inhalation form of the disease. Palmer Square was among four post offices that had one trace of anthrax each, while a fifth post office had an ambiguous test result. No anthrax was found in any of the other offices tested.
At the Hamilton facility, on the other hand, swabs in 34 separate locations tested positive for anthrax, according to state health department spokesman Dennis McGowan.
Because the amount of anthrax found in the Palmer Square building is so small, state officials have determined that the risk of postal workers developing the disease is extremely low.
State Epidemiologist Eddy Bresnitz said in a press release that none of the workers at the four offices with positive test results have come down with the illness.
According to state health officials, the positive reading is most likely the result of cross-contamination with mail from the Hamilton facility.
They said that there is no need to close these post offices in response to the anthrax finding.
I doubt if anyone would remember Hatfill after all this time. And people can go anywhere they want. It's just that I haven't seen any public account of his whereabouts during the time period in question, and none of the reporters at his whatever-it-was on Sunday asked the question.
And I could ask my daughter where the post office in Princeton is located, but she made fun of me (you know--she doesn't put her head into mailboxes and she avoids people wearing class A hazmat suits) the last time I asked about the Princeton-anthrax connection. Kids.
I'll see if I can come up with a street address for the post office without her assistance.
That one passed by me. Any links?
BTW, check out this link about the Letters and a "Greenbrook School"
Lives in the Monmouth Junction/Franklin Park area. Messed up the zipcode for some petty obfuscation - or just wrong.
Works at or near Princeton. Might be a grad student there.
Princeton was also where they were testing the copier equipment (since the Anthrax letters were all copies).
I agree we're looking for a quiet, attentive graduate student(s) with some connection to a lab???
(He, she, they would be missing student(s) at this point in time (unable to locate).
With all the aliases and phoney IDs that abound in the terrorist groups, it's going to be an unprovable trail.
If I keep this up, my head will blow up. I'm glad I'm not on the task force investigating this heinous crime.
Interesting, the only cases apparently that were found at targets, or among postal workers, was this woman, Mrs. Nguyen who worked in the ear, nose and throat facility in NYC, and the elderly lady in Connecticut.
Not hardly, as the circumstantial evidence surrounding Hatfill is fairly significant, such as:
Hatfill owned property and rented a storage area in Florida, the site of the first attack. Read rest of article here.
Hatfill had medical school training in Africa and a connection to biological weapons training programs run by the CIA. Hatfill graduated in 1984 from the Godfrey Huggins Medical School in Zimbabwe, which was known as Rhodesia until 1980.
Not far from the medical school in the nation's capital, Harare, is the upper-middle-class suburb of Greendale. The anthrax-laced letters to Daschle and Leahy each contained the same fictitious return address: 4th Grade, Greendale School, Franklin Park, N.J. There is no Greendale School in New Jersey. But there is a grade school by that name in the Harare suburb.
In the late 1970s, when Hatfill was in Rhodesia, an anthrax outbreak killed hundreds and sickened thousands of villagers. In 1993, an African news agency reported that a former officer from the white minority army's special forces claimed that the anthrax outbreak that killed 182 and sickened more than 10,000 people between 1978 and 1980 was launched by the army.
On his college biography and his resume, Hatfill says he worked with the Rhodesian army and a group called the Selous Scouts during the time frame of the anthrax outbreak. The Selous Scouts were an elite unit of the white Rhodesian government's army that specialized in tracking and killing enemy units in the back country.
Hatfill has been immunized against anthrax and had access to the bacteria while he worked as a research fellow at the Fort Detrick lab in the late 1990s. He is also very comfortable working with extremely hazardous material. Hatfill studied the deadly Ebola virus in the Army's highest level "hot suite" during his stint at the Maryland lab.
Rest of article here .
This is Case 18 by UCLA's reckoning. The patient is a bookkeeper and thus handles quite a bit of mail; the presumption is that she tore open a piece of mail cross-contaminated by the 10/9 (Leahy and Daschle) letters at the Hamilton Township processing facility where four postal workers were infected.
I thought that anthrax spores passed through envelope paper like sand through a sieve, but apparently the paper acts more like a sponge. Spores were absorbed by the Leahy and Daschle envelopes, then were squeezed out by the postal handling machinery. Other envelopes absorbed these spores in turn; when those cross-contaiminated envelopes were ripped, the spores along the tear became aerosolized. For Case 18, that meant contracting cutaneous anthrax through a small break in her facial skin (such as a pimple); for poor Otillie Lundgren, who habitually ripped her junk mail in half, that meant dying of inhalation anthrax. So the lesson for today, kids, is to use a letter opener, the sharper the better.
Wouldn't this have been undertaken last November/December?
If I'm right, this is old information that has been released as "new". Which would serve as proof that the anthrax story is being "managed". It would also mean, in turn, that the time has come for the "managers" to start releasing such information.
Which means something is underway...
I've no doubt the two events are related. But I'm not sure how...
Was Hatfill Step 1 and the mailbox story a counter-step? Or was Hatfill Step 1, the mailbox story Step 2, further steps to follow...???
She really wants apprehending the anthrax crew to be her "win" but if you read her from beginning to end, she doesn't come up with anything out of the ordinary.
What are the chances that they're really investigating YOU???
What are the chances that they're really investigating YOU???