Ricin-Laced Letters Sent to President Obama, Senator Wicker

Ricin Letter Secret Service

Ricin-laced letters addressed to President Obama and at least one lawmaker containing traces of the toxin were intercepted before delivery according to procedures put in place after the Anthrax scare that followed 9/11 back in 2001.  The timing in relation to the Boston Marathon bombing raises fears that we may be facing a copycat of the 2001 Anthrax threat that followed 9/11.  Presently, there is nothing to link the letters to the events in Boston.

WASHINGTON POST:  A letter addressed to President Obama was found to contain a substance that initially tested positive for the toxin ricin, the FBI said Wednesday.

The letter, intercepted Tuesday by authorities at a remote White House mail screening facility, contained “a granular substance that preliminarily tested positive for ricin,” the FBI said in a statement. It said there was “no indication” of any connection to the bombings Monday that killed three spectators at the Boston Marathon.

The letter follows the discovery Tuesday of a ricin-laced letter sent to Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and came as authorities were investigating suspicious packages in and near the offices of members of Congress.

WASHINGTON POST:  Federal officials discovered Tuesday a poison-laced letter sent to Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), uncovering the material at an off-site location where congressional mail has been screened since anthrax-laced letters were sent to Capitol Hill in 2001.

Once mail with federal addresses is sorted at a Washington facility, USPS trucks it to a New Jersey irradiation facility operated by Sterigenics, a company known for its medical sterilization equipment. The Postal Service said it spends about $12 million annually on irradiation but declined to comment further, citing security concerns.

But a 2008 Government Accountability Office report details what happens in New Jersey: The mail sent to federal addresses in Washington is heated to temperatures often exceeding 150 degrees. Large containers holding first-class mail and packages are scanned by a high-energy electron beam or X-rays to kill potentially harmful biological agents, including anthrax, the GAO said. The process delays the delivery of federal mail for two to three days.

The USPS irradiated about 1.2 million containers of government mail between 2001 and 2008, according to the GAO. That amount has dropped significantly in recent years with the government’s embrace of the Internet.

Much more at The Daily Caller…


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