It's not a prank. It's not a joke. It's a federal offense with a penalty that ranges from five years to life in prison.
Those were the words of United States Attorney General John Ashcroft, spoken yesterday during a press conference. He was referring to the anthrax hoaxes upon which the government is having to spend its time and resources on top of the actual anthrax threat.
Ashcroft spoke with stern words aimed at the thousands of manufactured scares that local, state and federal agencies have no choice but to investigate drawing manpower away from law enforcement entities and fire departments nationwide.
"The federal government will take strong action against anyone, anywhere, who perpetrates an anthrax scare," Ashcroft said.
As citizens, we can't control every nut out there with a twisted mind who wants to disrupt the everyday lives of people by perpetuating this type of nightmare. We can however, talk to our children. We can let them know this is a new type of prank which does not hold a candle to crank calls, or dialing 911 from a phone booth and running.
Our law enforcement, fire departments and public health officials have enough to contend with in these stressful times. We must do our part to support them, not add to their burden.
President Bush made the statement that the terrorist act on Sept. 11 had "awakened a sleeping giant."
Let it be known that an anthrax hoax could bring an arm of the sleeping giant, better known as the FBI, knocking on your door with a pair of silver bracelets and reservations at a federal hotel.
Charlene Hunt, reporter