Clayton Lee Waagner Convicted for 2001 Anthrax Hoax
Anti-abortion extremist Clayton Lee Waagner was convicted on Wednesday for mailing envelopes containing fake anthrax to over 700 abortion clinics in 24 states. Of the 53 charges against him, the jury found Waagner guilty of 51 of them, including the threatening use of a weapon of mass destruction, violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinics Entrances (FACE) Act, extortion, and mailing threatening communication, according to Knight Ridder.
Waagner, who represented himself in the trial, said he was "tickled" that the threatening letters disrupted abortion clinics back in 2001 but claimed the government had not proven he had sent the envelopes, according to the Associated Press. Because he has committed a variety of other crimes, this conviction means that Waagner will probably spend the rest of his life in prison.
In 2001, when Waagner mailed his anthrax threats, Congress and media outlets had just received real anthrax by mail. Therefore, Waagner's threats were taken very seriously. When the fake anthrax was mailed to abortion clinics nationwide, the Feminist Majority Foundation, Planned Parenthood, and the National Abortion Federation immediately alerted clinics to prevent clinic workers from opening mail they thought was contaminated. These alerts helped law enforcement by directing them to the "scope of the investigation," allowing the FBI to immediately "declare it a national investigation and start the collection of evidence across the nation," according to Margaret Moore, director of law enforcement for the Feminist Majority Foundation.