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WEDNESDAY, MARCH 16, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Anthrax scare bad, but officials' response good

Even as officials begin pointing fingers at each other for sloppy cooperation between post offices, it is good to know that the nation is better protected against biological weapons than it was in October 2001.

Monday, two different military mail facilities in the Washington, D.C., area detected signs of anthrax. The alert focused upon two pieces of mail, both of which had apparently been irradiated to kill the toxic bacteria.

Adding to the concerns, Internal Revenue Service employees Tuesday reported a powdery substance in mail they received.

The finger pointing revolves around the fact that the first Pentagon mail facility did not immediately notify other facilities that routinely receive some of the Pentagon mail.

That was a mistake that Homeland Security needs to correct.

The good news, however, is that more than three years after the deadly anthrax scare of October 2001, procedures for detecting and neutralizing anthrax are still in place. All information suggests that officials discovered the possible anthrax exposure quickly enough to safeguard postal workers with antibiotics.

As we hear so much about this nation's vulnerability to terrorism, it is easy to become complacent. If we can't protect ourselves anyway, why spend a fortune in protection?

The latest anthrax alert, however, justifies defensive measures. Officials not only detected the substance, they knew what to do about it. More than three years of expensive and cumbersome measures to protect the mail appear to have paid off.

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