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 For Immediate Release
Oct 29, 2001 Contact: Press Office

Government “About Face” on Anthrax Testing Puts Lives At Risk

Backtracks on Promises to Test Private Facilities Which Receive Mail in Bulk from Infected D.C. Postal Facility

Double Standard -- D.C. Area Government Facilities Being Tested for Anthrax Contamination, Private Facilities Must Fend for Themselves

(Washington, DC) Judicial Watch, the public interest law firm that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has learned the government health authorities have reversed earlier promises to test private mailrooms “downstream” from the anthrax-contaminated Brentwood postal facility. As reported by such media outlets as the Associated Press and The Washington Post in recent days, health officials said they would begin environmental testing for anthrax in up to 4,000 private entities which receive mail in bulk from the Brentwood facility. Yet, contrary to these promises, Judicial Watch learned from the federal and D.C. public health authorities today that only private facilities where individuals test positive for anthrax exposure or infection, or facilities which have physical evidence of possible anthrax contamination (unusual powder, suspicious letters, etc.). Private facilities who wish to be tested must plead for testing by the government.

This is both at odds with public statements by health officials and contrary to sound public health policy. Obviously, to wait for an infection before testing susceptible sites is, as the cliche goes, like shutting the door after the horse is out the barn. As troubling, this new stance is at odds with assurances of environmental testing given by government officials to thousands of local D.C. residents concerned about possible deadly anthrax exposure. And it once again raises the prospect of a double standard for anthrax treatment by the government, as all government facilities “downstream” from Brentwood evidently are being tested, while private facilities are left to fend for themselves or plead for testing.

Judicial Watch today sent a letter to Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge demanding that he immediately direct the CDC and other appropriate agencies to begin to arrange environmental testing for anthrax of all entities, public and private, which receive mail in bulk from anthrax contaminated postal facilities in D.C.

“This is the latest example of mismanagement, false information, and gross negligence by the government in its response to the recent anthrax attacks. We hope that Governor Ridge takes immediate actions to ensure no more lives are needlessly lost,” stated Judicial Watch Chairman and General Counsel Larry Klayman.

To view the letter Click Here.

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