OUR OPINION: Letter threats require fresh will to proceed

By NEMS Daily Journal

The United States’ week of deadly actions and dark impulses continues as federal, state and local enforcement officials canvass every suspect place and person seeking those possibly linked to the Boston Marathon bombings and, separately, dispatch of letters, possibly laced with deadly poison, to President Obama and several federal lawmakers, including U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, a Tupelo resident.
An arrest in Northeast Mississippi in the letters case was reported early Wednesday night (see the Daily Journal reporting for more details), but that does not necessarily mean the final arrest.
In a swirl of events reported since Tuesday, it’s been acknowledged that letters, which may be linked, were sent to Wicker and President Obama. The letter to Wicker was intercepted at an official screening location, as was a letter to Obama. A letter to Sen. Carl Levin was sent to his office in Saginaw, Mich.
In other developments, Capitol Police removed what news reports called a “suspicious letter” from Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby’s Washington office, along with two additional suspicious letters in other parts of the Capitol – one from an unnamed second senator’s office and another from the atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building, where staff members were ordered to stay in their offices.
As with the massive investigation of the Boston bombings, intense energy has been poured into solving the mystery of the letters.
Ricin is a sinister poison. Ricin stops cells in the body from producing the proteins that keep people alive, and can kill people within 36 to 72 hours. It can kill after being eaten, inhaled or injected.
It has a history of use by agents of the former Soviet Union.
Its past is not the problem today, but its possible use this week in obvious attempts to kill members of the U.S. Senate and President Obama is compelling.
The latest threats involving high elected officials have been met with calm and cautious behavior by those targeted, even as the investigations deepen. As with the Boston bombings, the newest apparent acts of terror require resolve to carry on.
If, as has been suggested, the letter threats are part of internal political differences, a reminder is needed that democracies don’t resolve splits with threats and death, but with debate and deliberation, as is Congress’ job.