In late October 2001, Tomas Foral, a 26-year-old master’s student working in a pathology laboratory at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, was asked by a professor to help clean out a failed basement freezer. Foral discovered that the freezer contained several vials of cow tissue infected with anthrax. What happened next is in dispute: university officials would later say the professor told Foral to destroy the vials, while Foral maintains that the professor’s instructions were unclear. In any event, he saved two of the vials for future research by putting them in another laboratory freezer. A month later, according to media accounts, an anonymous tip led police to Foral and the saved vials. The pathology laboratory building was shut down for more than a week, the FBI began an investigation of Foral, and in July 2002 the government charged him with having violated the antiterrorist USA Patriot Act. Initiated in the wake of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and passed on October 26, 2001, the act contained a section that responded to the anthrax mailings and deaths that had begun early that month. The section prohibited possession of any of more than three dozen… Read full this story
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