Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Bioterrorists Beware!

54-year-old Tom Tholen will be facing federal charges April 29 for "misprision of felony" which means he failed to report a crime. The crime is related to the activities of the wanna-be bio- terrorist Roger Bergendorff. A man who last February had been playing around with creating the toxic substance ricin and accidentally exposed himself to the chemical and wound up hospitalized in a comatose state for four weeks.

The bare facts of the story gave everybody goosebumps and warranted the mobilization of countless federal agents from Homeland Security to the FBI to scour the mans Vegas strip hotel as well as the site of his Riverton storage unit, looked after by his cousin Tholen.

In the end what was discovered is that this miscreant turned out to be an out of work, formerly alcoholic graphic design artist. His apartment at the time was only shared by a few cats (who may soon be charged with conspiracy).

Although Tholen alerted authorities to the whole incident when he reported vials of what may have been ricin to the motel clerk, Tholen has apparently not cooperated enough and is now going to trial because of it.

Undoubtedly the Bergendorff character was unstable and even possibly dangerous (if even only to himself) but the fact that his cousin Tholen is being brought up on charges of failing to report his cousin's "suspicious" activities years ago, smacks of a costly multi-departmental, multi-agency investigation clamoring to harvest some fruits from a very costly investigation.

Nothing wrong with being prepared for bio-terrorism, of course, but overemphasizing the spectre of the fear-inspiring bug--whether it's ricin, anthrax or whatever doesn't serve our country's interest. It's easy to forget that our worst terrorist attack was not committed by chemicals, or even bombs, so much as it was simply men with fake IDs and box cutters. (Eric S. Peterson)

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