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Thursday, August 14, 2008


Strange anthrax "clue"

The Washington Post and some bloggers are making a big deal of this:
Federal investigators probing the deadly 2001 anthrax attacks recovered samples of human hair from a mailbox in Princeton, N.J., but the strands did not match the lead suspect in the case, according to sources briefed on the probe.
To which I say, "huh?" I don't know about you, but when I drop a letter in a mailbox, the chance that some of my hair gets in the mailbox is close to nil. My DNA on the envelope, unless I'm wearing gloves, yes. But hair? Why on earth would I be depositing samples of my hair in the mailbox?

Now, you say, "but there was hair in the mailbox!" Evidently true, but if I were the investigator, my first choice would be one of the dozens of mail carriers who had emptied that box over the years, who are actually leaning in the box, or at least sticking their hairy arms into the box. A less likely alternative would be one of the thousands (tens of thousands?) of people who had dropped mail in the box over the years. Why on earth would you think that the hair would just happen to belong to one person who dropped a letter containing anthrax into the box?

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