Bioterrorism Is Serious Matter

WASHINGTON?Declaring the threat of bioterrorism is no joking matter, Attorney General John Ashcroft said Tuesday, those who fake anthrax or other terrorist scares will face federal prosecution. He announced the indictment of one such man in Connecticut.

False threats of anthrax attacks are ?grotesque transgressions of the public trust,? Ashcroft said at a news conference.

Ashcroft said the hoaxes tax the resources of an already overburdened law enforcement system.

?The threat of bioterrorism is no joking matter,? the attorney general said.

He detailed the prosecution of a Connecticut state employee who sat by quietly as a state agency building was evacuated for what the man allegedly knew to be a false threat involving white powder.

It is a federal crime to threaten to use biological agents or toxins.

No connection between the anthrax letters and the suspected hijackers responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks has surfaced.