Mail sanitized during the response to 2001 anthrax attacks that killed five people and infected 17 others

Mail sanitized during the response to 2001 anthrax attacks that killed five people and infected 17 others

Alaska and Washington DC: 2001. Unbound. This NPR-A (National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska) Update newsletter was sent from Alaska to the Department of Energy in Washington, DC. It has a meter postmark dated "11-30-01" and bears a two-line, blue "MAIL SANITIZED" handstamp located between the postmark and mailing address. The newsletter and all markings are in nice shape. Very good. Item #009138

In September 2001, one week after the Islamic terrorist destruction of the World Trade Center in New York City, postal attacks began using a weaponized strain of anthrax. Poisoned mail was sent to Senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy as well as several news media offices. Five people were killed and 17 others infected. In response, the U.S. Postal Service immediately began sanitizing all mail addressed to federal offices in Washington, DC.

Although initial suspicions focused on Al Qaeda, it quickly became apparent that the anthrax powder would have impossible to create in Afghanistan, and the Federation of American Scientists (a left-of-center lobbying agency) identified Steven Hartfill, a civilian researcher who had worked in an Army program to defend against biological attacks, to the FBI as likely perpetrator.

The FBI focused their investigation on Hatfill--who they found had a phony PhD, puffed -up resume, and questionable employment history--and the attacks ceased. Although the FBI, then led by Robert Mueller, leaked Hatfill's name to the press, and he remained a person of interest for years, Mueller's investigators never found evidence tying him to the attacks. In 2008, the FBI settled a $5.8 suit for violating Hatfill's constitutional rights as well as the Privacy Act of 1974. Mueller then turned his attention to one of Hatfill's former co-workers, Bruce Ivins; however despite significant pressure from Mueller, a grand jury refused to indict Ivins based only on the flimsy circumstantial evidence presented by the FBI. None the less, Muller’s team again notified the media of the proceedings and claimed an arrest was imminent. In the midst of the resulting media frenzy, Ivins was found dead. The FBI quickly declared his death a suicide and closed the case. A number of expert biomedical scientists have disputed Mueller's findings.

Mail sanitized during the anthrax scare occasionally appears in philatelic auctions with two different markings, a rectangular boxed "Received" and a two-line strike like that used on this envelope. The two-line strike appears to be less common than the other.

Price: $100.00