Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Why send letters containing ricin to public figures?

You probably heard about the Texas woman who was indicted for sending letters containing the deadly poison ricin to President Obama and New York's Mayor Bloomberg.

What goes through the mind of someone who would try to send the president ricin? Did this individual really think that presidents open their own mail?

She might have thought it was something like this.

Barack Obama: "Michelle, did you get the mail today?"
Michelle Obama: "No, I didn't, honey. Would you mind doing it?
BO: "OK. I'll be right back." [Goes out the front door of the White House, goes to the end of the driveway, greets tourists through the fence, opens mailbox, grabs mail and walks back.]
MO: "Anything important in the mail?"
BO: "Not much. A bill for the healthcare of everyone in the United States, a coupon for 20% off from Bed, Bath and Beyond, some credit card offers … wait, here's something interesting. It's a letter. Hmmm, no return address, but it's postmarked 'Boston, Texas,' so it might be worth reading. I'll open it and see what it says."

Not likely. In fact, inconceivable.

Why on earth would someone in their wildest dreams think that poison sent to any prominent person would reach them?

If you think that was bad, how about the two Upstate New York men who were charged with conspiracy to support terrorism? Using an x-ray machine, they constructed a "death ray" for targeting certain groups and possibly the president.

ABC News reported the story uncritically, but the Huffington Post quoted a radiologist as saying the device was unlikely to have been effective because it would have required a large amount of electricity, would not have been very portable and any potential victim would have had to remain stationary for a long time.

One of the plotters was an industrial mechanic for General Electric, a company that makes x-ray machines.

Despite that background, he and his henchman apparently didn't consider all the details.

Neither did the ricin lady. There wasn't enough ricin in the envelopes to harm anyone.

Ricin? Death ray? What were they thinking?


Pik Mukherji said...

It's easy to forgive the crazy schemes for fulfilling the "crazy" part. I really take offense at the doctors who put forth terrible murder/assassination plots. As a matter of professional pride, I'm wounded that persons who spent years learning the minutiae of physiology must resort to crushing the skull with a bat and then immediately get caught. What happened to the physicians who Sherlock Holmes would call the most dangerous opponents?

Skeptical Scalpel said...

Like many murderers, doctors act impulsively. They rarely plan it carefully.

SeaSpray said...

Stupid people.

I am just so sick of terrorist concerns. And what is WRONG with people that plot to do these things? Even the well executed plots? And off track a bit - but school shooters, Again - WHY?

Rhetorical questions.

I will be putting a post up soon (maybe today)- funny but sad in that my husband and I actually felt concern about the safety of something we opened last night and wondered if tampered with. It will sound ridiculous when I explain - but it is really sad that because of the exacerbating threats in our society/around world that we even had the concern. I said this here because we actually wondered if ricin.

Skeptical Scalpel said...

If it had been enough ricin, you wouldn't have been around to comment on this post. That's good.

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