The enemy, once again, is not us

LANTANA, FL — Bobby Stevens was a notably nice man, who got along with everyone at the tabloids where he worked, and where people who indulged in gossip and backbiting never found a mean or suspicious word to say about him.

Though always in search of the perfect Guiness, he always returned home when he said he would. When he died of anthrax poisoning, people remembered his signature wit, which relied on puns and never on malice. In the company washroom, he wiped the counter dry with a paper towel after he washed his hands. He always carried fishing tackle in the trunk of his car, in case the opportunity arose to indulge in his favorite past time. He loved his wife and likely would have enjoyed a happy old age, fishing and continuing to search for the perfect Guiness had he not opened an envelope filled with powder that killed him. 


The sense of omnipresent, omnipotent threatening evil that hung over his hometown after he died would be hard to overstate, particularly as people still shuddered from the news that 17 of the 19 terrorists who had flown the planes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the field in Pennsylvania had mingled in our midst as they trained to commit mass murder.

For their actions, ignored by government agencies in the months leading up to the attacks, we now take off our shoes in airports.

And when investigators asked to look at records from the local libraries, to see what they could find, we could pretty much hear a pin drop in the ensuing outcry. And in the years since, more acquiesence than outrage has accompanied the whittling away of our constitution and our dignity, in the name of security.

Now investigators concede they may never know who sent the letters that killed Bobby Stevens and four others. But they think it was a man who, though cleared to work for the military handling deadly substances is remembered by colleagues as disturbingly unstable.

Whether the murder of Bobby Stevens is ever solved, this outcome suggests that authorities search their methods rather than our library records.


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