Honolulu Lite


Wednesday, December 12, 2001

Everyone’s a
detective these days

Law enforcement has finally wised up to the fact that when it comes to solving crimes, it's best to use that living super computer: Us.

American citizens constitute a massive database of information and they have methods of analyzing evidence unimpeded by traditional investigative shackles such as forensic training and common sense.

The Unabomber was not caught until investigators finally published the lunatic's rambling manifesto. It took about 30 seconds for an average citizen to recognize the whacked-out writing of the manifesto as coming from his own whacked-out brother. Case closed.

So Washington investigators have been quick to release the anthrax letters sent to U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle, Tom Brokaw and the New York Post, hoping someone will uncover a clue in the bizarre handwriting, silly grammar and cryptic message.

Already, Web sites are popping up with analyses. One site ( analyzed the scrawl and found "the writer is suffering from clinical depression," which may be valuable, but like we care.

Another site ( looks only at the address on the envelope, which it claims is chock full of important clues.

With a $1.25 million reward being offered by the U.S. Postal Service for information leading to a break in the anthrax investigation, armchair sleuths across the country are poring over the letters for clues.

I personally uncovered some important evidence and expect my cut as soon as postal investigators read this column.

I took the first letters from the 23 words in the Daschle letter, ground them through a computerized anagram program that processed literally thousands of words. Using every letter, I came up with only two complete sentences:

1. A sad day at Utah city, W. dying.

2. "Atta Day" why Saudi at NYC dig.

The first could be a warning for President Bush if he goes to the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

The second could refer to the weird visit to Ground Zero in New York by Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, whose $10 million check was rejected by Mayor Rudy Giuliani after the prince made disparaging remarks about Israel. The prince visited the WTC disaster site on Oct. 11, just two days after the Daschle letter was postmarked. Suicide hijacking mastermind Mohammed Atta was a Saudi. Was the anthrax letter-writer an American upset that a Saudi would be visiting hallowed ground or was he a foreign terrorist assuring his buddies that the prince was there to honor Atta, not the Americans who died?

Or are the messages just flukes of the alphabet, cobbled together by an uninformed, untrained columnist Junior G-man? Only time and common sense will tell.

Alo-Ha! Friday compiles odd bits of news from Hawaii
and the world to get your weekend off to an entertaining start.
Charles Memminger also writes Honolulu Lite Mondays,
Wednesdays and Sundays. Send ideas to him at the
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 7-210,
Honolulu 96813, phone 235-6490 or e-mail

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