Begley S. 2001. Protecting America: The top 10 priorities. Newsweek (5 November): 26-40.
In the weeks following 9/11, a deadly disease started to be spread in the mail. The first fatal case, was written off by the United State’s government as being contracted from drinking out of a contaminated stream. The public was assured that anthrax could not be distributed by mail in the quantities necessary to cause serious harm. Later, two mail employees were diagnosed with the most serious form of the disease, anthrax inhalation. Traces of anthrax were also found in many mail processing centers that processed the mail for many government agencies, the Supreme Court and CIA. Mail was no longer guaranteed to be safe by the Postmaster General John Potter. An announcement by the then-director of Homeland Security stated that terrorists “intended to use this anthrax as a weapon.” This new bacterial threat presented challenges for the government. New policies and technologies were developed as a result of the need for greater security.
I think the great anthrax the United States faced is a powerful example of the impact of technology on everyday life. More advanced technologies allowed for terrorists specializing in biological warfare to spread a potentially deadly disease through the mail. In response to the terrorists’ threat, the United States began using new technology to successfully increase security and disarm the threat so that now, a little over a decade later, we no longer worry about anthrax laced mail.