• Story alerts
  • Letter to Editor
  • Pin it

“I don’t necessarily think the people who sent anthrax through the mail are the same people who were involved with September 11th.”

“Do you expect a major anthrax attack in the U.S.?”

“I’m expecting to hear they’re sending anthrax to individuals — mass mailings — but I continue opening my mail. If it’s my time to go, it’s my time to go.”

On November 26th, 2001, Patrick Leahy, U.S. senator from Vermont, said the anthrax letter sent to his office had enough anthrax in it to kill 100,000 people.

“Have you changed any personal habits since September 11th? For instance, do you take a second look when you get into your car or have a second thought before entering shopping centers, movie theaters, or crowded places in general?”

“Not really. Actually, I go out more often now.”

Merrilee Boyack

“It’s exceedingly strange to say this, but we could have nuclear, biological, chemical, or who knows what other kinds of attacks on the United States. Which one is the most likely?”

“The biological, simply because it’s easier to get the bacteria to somewhere. It’s hard for the government or postal system to track that.”

“Have you done anything to deal with a biological attack, like storing additional food and water in your home?”

“The only thing I’ve done is make sure I have cash, in case the banking system goes down.”

“In general, do you feel pretty secure?”

“I do.”

Over 15,000 postal employees have taken anthrax antibiotics. “Do you think the government has been doing a pretty good job?”

“I do. The only part I’ve been upset about is the press and their ‘Well, we should have known this was going to happen.’ The government was probably more shocked about September 11th than it will ever admit.” Meeker is quiet. “If somebody wants to kill himself, it’s impossible to stop that person from causing havoc.”

“What would it take to make you think, ‘Whoa, I’d better figure out how to defend myself’? What would have to happen to get you to that point?”

“I don’t know. There’s not a whole lot an individual can do, other than support the people I’ve elected. If I lived near the airport, if I saw an airplane blow up, or if something happened downtown, I would get very frightened. If I saw something happen in front of me, or to the city, I would become worried, very worried.”

“How long have you lived in your neighborhood?”

“Almost two years.”

“Do you know all the neighbors?”

“I know most of them.”

“What do they say?”

“I haven’t talked to them about it.”

From a November 6, 2001, hearing held by the Senate Subcommittee on Technology, Terrorism and Government Information.

Senator John Edwards of North Carolina: “The bottom line is this: as of now you don’t know where the anthrax came from, and you have not been able to identify all the people who may have access to it. Is that fair?”

FBI Deputy Assistant Director James Caruso: “That’s correct.”

Senator Dianne Feinstein of California: “How many labs in the United States handle anthrax?”

Deputy Director Caruso: “We do not know that at this time.”

Senator Feinstein: “Could you possibly tell me why you do not know that?”

Deputy Director Caruso: “The research capabilities of thousands of researchers is something that we are just continuing to run down.”

Sam Naibauer

Job: Front desk, Aqua Café Water Store

San Diego Neighborhood: Bay Park

Single, 25 years old

“Are you getting more orders for bottled water, more than you had prior to September 11th?”

“Not right now. Right after it happened, we had people come in and buy a whole bunch of stuff. But it’s been pretty slow lately.”

“Did the rush happen right after the attack, on the 12th, 13th of September?”

“Yeah. All the way through the weekend we had a lot of people. One gentleman came in and bought ten five-gallon containers.”

“About how many people in all?”

“Three to four hundred.”

“Three to four hundred new people!”

“No, maybe 30 new people came in — the rest were our regular customers.”

“I see, they were customers, but they came in ahead of their regular schedule, made a special trip to get water?”

“Right, everybody was panic-shopping.”

“Everyone has a story. Everyone here has a story. It’s driving me crazy.” Anonymous Internet posting from a New York City teenager, September 13, 2001.

“Have you purchased more water?”

“No, I haven’t.”

“Did customers say ‘I want water’ and go about their business, or did they talk about why they were buying more water?”

“Everybody wanted to talk about it. I tried not to mention it. Everybody in their own mind is an expert on things. In this business, business comes in waves. You’ll be really busy one minute, and the next minute you’ll be sitting there doing nothing. Hearing that all day would…”

“Drive you nuts?”


“What did you hear? ‘I’m getting this water because…’ ”

“’Cause ‘we’re going to war,’ and they’re afraid people are going to poison the water supply, stuff like that.”

Reuters, October 10, 2001. “The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said on Wednesday US water supplies can be considered a ‘logical target for a possible terrorist attack.’

“What did you think when you saw that first rush of people on September 12th?”

“I thought, ‘Here comes the nuts.’ Everybody does things a certain way. If a person feels they need to buy a large amount of water because they think war is coming, by all means he should do it. He might have the last laugh on everybody else. But I’m not worried about poisoning the water supply. I know if I was going to plan something, I wouldn’t go for the obvious.”

What follows is a portion of the poem “Sorrow” by Tannaz Ebadollahi. Originally published in the Iranian, an online magazine and the most visited Iranian site on the Internet.

  • “My birds are all alone at home…”
  • “My dogs…”
  • “My cat…” I heard while running.
  • “Just run,” said the cop!
  • I walked over the Manhattan Bridge
  • to Brooklyn, with thousands of people.
  • People were covered with ash, dust, and some blood.
  • The sun was shining; it was so hot.
  • The sky was gray on the right side.
  • Kept walking and walking.
  • Some cars were passing by,
  • Giving rides to older people, the tired, the injured.
  • Cops were blocking the way;
  • no cars allowed into Manhattan.
  • Some Jewish men and women were waiting for us:
  • “Take this cup dear. Here’s some Sprite and spring water.
  • Drink it, you’ll feel better.”
  • “Thank you lady!” I said.

  • Story alerts
  • Letter to Editor
  • Pin it

More from SDReader


Sign in to comment

Win a $25 Gift Card to
The Broken Yolk Cafe

Join our newsletter list

Each newsletter subscription means another chance to win!