Dear John letter

Dear Mr. Ashcroft,

Let’s say the Federal Bureau of Investigation let you know that 200 hospitals across the country had been sent Federal Express packages containing white powder and an alarming message: “This contains anthrax. You’re going to die.”

Would investigating this occurrence make your list of things to do that day?

Sure it would. Same thing if the packages had been sent to 200 police departments, 200 courthouses, 200 schools or 200 supermarkets. You would have opened an aggressive investigation, John. You would have held a showy press conference, labeled the act an outrageous example of domestic terrorism and admonished the criminals responsible for it. You would have used the incident to warn others that law enforcement intends to catch and punish those involved in such acts. As you’ve said yourself, “terrorism hoaxes are the destructive acts of cowards.”

But you didn’t do any of these things when 200 abortion clinics across the country were Fed Ex-ed anthrax threats less than two weeks ago. You didn’t utter a word. Even when you learned that some of the packages were signed by the Army of God, a group of anti-abortion activists with a long history of bombing abortion clinics and taking credit for the murders of law-abiding doctors.

John, we all know that you are no fan of abortion clinics. Let’s face it: you can’t stand the fact that they exist legally in our society! It’s also no secret that abortion rights groups—such as Planned Parenthood, the Feminist Majority Foundation and the National Abortion Federation—don’t much like you. They fought your nomination to the nation’s top law enforcement job, called you an extremist and reminded everybody that, in addition to being anti-abortion, you opposed gay rights, fought voter registration in urban areas and opposed school desegregation plans in St. Louis.

But you landed the job anyway.

Since September 11 you’ve been getting lots of attention for your part in waging the “war on terrorism” and, especially, for trying to get to the bottom of the anthrax scares. You’ve come down hard—justifiably so—on the idiots who’ve been caught sending “hoax” white powder letters.

So why no mention of the clinics?

After an October wave of 250 abortion clinic anthrax threats, the FBI did announce they were turning the case over to the domestic terrorism unit of the bureau. That was good news. In fact, abortion-rights advocates were thrilled, thinking maybe you and the FBI were finally going to take this form of terrorism seriously.

But nothing’s happened since, John. Then recently, the 200 alarming anthrax-scare packages went out and still nothing from you. Your silence is loud as hell.