Suspicious letter for Obama surfaces, after one for senator tests for ricin
The interception of the letters appears to demonstrate the effectiveness of security protocols put into place after the anthrax attacks in 2001. The letter that already tested positive for ricin is undergoing further analysis.
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Still, in 2004, ricin was discovered in then-Senate majority leader Bill Frist's mailroom, and three Senate office buildings were closed.Skip to next paragraph
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But in the case of the letter addressed to Wicker, operations at the Capitol complex were not affected, Capitol Police said.
“Luckily, this was discovered at the processing center off premises,” Sen. Richard Durbin (D) of Illinois told AP. Mail addressed to senators is “roasted, toasted, sliced, and opened” before it ever gets to them, he said.
While the Capitol Police said the results indicated the substance is ricin, FBI spokesman Paul Bresson said that the initial tests produced mixed results, and further laboratory analysis would be needed to determine the exact substance.
“I have confidence in our procedures, our personnel, the United States Capitol Police response personnel, the strength and weaknesses of field testing and the need for laboratory confirmation,” Mr. Gainer said in an e-mail to The Washington Post.
There is no known antidote for ricin, which is a poison found naturally in castor beans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ricin can be made from the material left over when processing castor beans for oil. The poison can take the form of powder, mist, or a pellet, and it can also be dissolved in water. Inhalation is considered the most dangerous mode of exposure.
Postal Service spokeswoman Patricia Licata would not say whether any employee had been exposed to the toxic substance found in the letter, but she said the agency is working with health and law enforcement officials.
“Our primary concern right now is the safety of our employees, the safety of our customers, and the safety of the US mail,” Ms. Licata said.
Wicker was appointed to the Senate in 2007 after serving almost 13 years in the House, and he was reelected last year. He issued a brief statement in response to the letter addressed to him, saying that the investigation is ongoing.
“I want to thank our law enforcement officials for their hard work and diligence in keeping those of us who work in the Capitol complex safe,” he said.
• Material from The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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