Hate Crimes and Terrorism in the United States - Anthrax Hoaxes
letters sent police capitol
As of December 20, 2001, the FBI reported that some 40 individuals were charged with staging anthrax hoaxes in the weeks following the discovery of anthrax-laced letters sent to the nation's capitol and to various news organizations. Between October and November 2001, some 750 hoax letters purporting to contain anthrax were received by organizations worldwide, resulting in the closures of U.S. Postal Service offices, schools, and other organizations.
Some 550 anthrax hoax letters were sent to abortion and family planning clinics nationwide. Of those, 300 were received on October 15, 2001—the same day that an anthrax-tainted letter was discovered in the offices of U.S. Senator Tom Daschle. On November 7, 2001, another 250 such letters were received by various family clinics and advocacy groups nationwide. Some of the letters were labeled "Time Sensitive—Urgent Security Notice Enclosed," while others were sent with return addresses fraudulently ascribed to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America or the National Abortion Federation. On December 5, 2001, Clayton Lee Waagner, 44, was arrested near Cincinnati, Ohio, in connection with both waves of anthrax hoax letters sent to abortion and family planning clinics. Waagner, who had escaped from an Illinois jail in February 2001 while awaiting sentencing for weapons possession and auto theft, was convicted in December 2003 on 51 charges, including extortion, mailing threatening communication, and threatening use of a weapon of mass destruction.
Others arrested for various anthrax hoaxes across the United States included a Los Angeles City fire captain charged with mailing threatening communication to his ex-wife, a former U.S. Postal Service worker who allegedly sent mail labeled "Anthrax Inclosed" [ sic ], a former Social Security Administration employee who threatened to use anthrax to "resolve" a dispute regarding his disability payments, and a U.S. Capitol Police Officer. The police officer allegedly placed an anonymous note in a Capitol Police station as a joke on November 7, 2001. The note read: "PLEASE INHALE. YES. THIS COULD BE ? CALL YOUR DOCTOR FOR FLU-SMPTOMS. THIS IS A CAPITOL POLICE TRAINING EXCERCISE ! I HOPE YOU PASS."
In a press release dated December 20, 2001, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller warned that the FBI "will continue to vigorously investigate and arrest those individuals who commit these crimes." Penalties for such offenses carry a maximum of five years imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000.