2013年4月25日木曜日

Ricin Iam KC and I approve this message

封筒検査で毒物反応があった。
 ミシシッピ州選出のウィッカー上院議員(共和党)に宛てた封書から猛毒
のリシンが検出されたと報じた。議員らに被害はなかった。ボストン爆弾
テロ事件との関連は不明。

封書
・テネシー州メンフィス消印
・宛書はRoger Wicker議員
・封筒受取後、未破壊検査で、封筒内に白い粒状物質混入を発見。
 警察に通知。
・警察の予備検査封筒内の白い粒状物質は、リシンと判明。
 さらに詳細な分析をFBIの研究所へ依頼。

元軍人の共和党上院議員宛にリシンが混入した封筒が送付された。
炭素菌混入封筒以来、郵便物は内容を検査してから、宛先に届けるように
なったが、検査を難しくする者もいるようだ。

米国では、度々、リシンが送付されるが、原材料や精製プラントがないと
安全に繰返し製造できないと思うが、炭素菌製造と同様、専門家が製造し
て、供給していているのだろうか。

リシンが粒状とのことだから、DNAの分析が可能なら、原材料の生息域が、
成分分析でプラントが見つかる可能性がある。

と思っていたら、オバマとMS州判事にも封筒を送付したようで、すぐに
容疑者が逮捕されたが、真犯人ではないとのこと。

ラスベガスでリシン見つかる
反政府弁護士体調不良 露関与か
船頭多くして船進まず
アルカイダ 毒ガス爆弾製造計画


Miss. Sheriff Links Letters in Ricin Case


---米猛毒リシン送付事件、検察が容疑者の訴追取り下げ---
2013年 04月 24日 08:42 JST
http://jp.reuters.com/article/jpUSpolitics/idJPTYE93M06R20130423

 [トゥペロ(米ミシシッピ州) 23日 ロイター] オバマ米大統領や上院議員宛てに猛毒リシン入りの封書が送られた事件で、検察当局がポール・ケビン・カーティス容疑者(45)の訴追を取り下げたことが23日、裁判所の資料で明らかになった。
 検察の決定に先立ち、カーティス容疑者は保釈された。
 判事が署名した訴追取り下げの裁判所命令で、検察は「現在進行中の捜査で新たな情報が出てきた」としたが、これ以上の詳細は明記されていない。
 カーティス氏は記者会見を開き、オバマ大統領を尊敬しており、公務員を傷付けるようなことはしないと強調し、「私はこの国を愛している」と述べた。
 地元紙は、今回の事件に関連して捜査当局がミシシッピ州に住む別の男の自宅を捜索したと報道。カーティス氏の弁護士はCNNテレビに対し、同氏が無実の罪を着せられた可能性があると語った。


---米検察、リシン事件で男訴追 政府不信か、容疑否認---
2013年4月19日 10時56分
http://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/s/article/2013041901001005.html

 【ワシントン共同】オバマ米大統領らに猛毒物質リシンが入った郵便物を送ったとして、検察当局は18日、南部ミシシッピ州コリンス在住のポール・カーティス容疑者(45)を脅迫などの罪で訴追した。政府に不信感を抱いていたとされるが、弁護士によると容疑を全面否認している。AP通信が伝えた。
 連邦捜査局(FBI)によると、カーティス被告は大統領のほか、同州選出のウィッカー上院議員(共和党)と地元の裁判官の3人に、リシンを入れた郵便物を送付した。郵便物には「誰も自分に耳を傾けようとしなかった」などと、同じ文面が記されていた。


---猛毒送付 容疑の男逮捕 FBI 爆破テロは無関係か---
2013年4月18日 夕刊
http://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/world/news/CK2013041802000238.html

 【ワシントン=斉場保伸】オバマ米大統領ら宛ての封筒から猛毒のリシンが見つかった事件で、米連邦捜査局(FBI)は十七日、ミシシッピ州在住のポール・ケビン・カーティス容疑者を逮捕したと発表した。ボストンの連続爆破テロとは無関係とみられる。
 調べでは、カーティス容疑者はリシン入りの封筒をホワイトハウスのほか、共和党のウィッカー上院議員(ミシシッピ州選出)と同州の司法当局者に計三通郵送した疑い。犯行動機などは明らかになっていない。
 封筒にはいずれもテネシー州メンフィスの消印があり、酷似していた。ミシシッピ州はテネシー州と隣接しており、メンフィスはその州境近くにある。
 大統領宛ての封筒は十六日にホワイトハウスとは別の場所にある政府の郵便物検査所に届いた。ワシントンに隣接するメリーランド州の研究施設で詳しく調べた結果、リシンと断定した。FBIは、消印の日付が八日であったことなどをふまえ「ボストンのテロと結び付ける根拠は見られない」と分析している。
 リシンはヒマ(トウゴマ)の種子に含まれる植物性毒素タンパク質。細胞組織そのものを壊死(えし)させて、ショック死や呼吸できない状態にする。人間に対する致死量はわずか一ミリグラム以下とされ、化学兵器にも使われる。
 米メディアによると、十七日午前、共和党のシェルビー上院議員(アラバマ州選出)の議員会館の事務所で不審な小包が見つかり、警察当局が捜査を始めた。議会の一部は一時立ち入り禁止となったが、まもなく危険がないことが判明。封鎖は解除された。
 さらに、民主党のレビン上院議員(ミシガン州選出)の地元事務所からも不審な封筒が見つかり、警察が調べを進めている。首都ワシントンは緊迫の度を高めていた。


---米上院議員宛て封書に猛毒リシン テロとの関連不明 FBI捜査---
2013.4.17 11:30
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/world/news/130417/amr13041711360005-n1.htm

 【ワシントン=柿内公輔】米メディアは16日、ミシシッピ州選出のウィッカー上院議員(共和党)に宛てた封書から猛毒のリシンが検出されたと報じた。議員らに被害はなかった。ボストン爆弾テロ事件との関連は不明。
 封書がウィッカー議員に配達される前の検査で、リシンの陽性反応が確認されたという。連邦捜査局(FBI)のモラー長官らが爆弾テロ事件に関し議員らに説明した際、封書の発見についても明らかにした。CNNテレビによると、ウィッカー議員は現在、ボディーガードに警護されているという。
 リシンは植物性毒素タンパク質で、2003~04年にもホワイトハウスや議会の郵便室でリシンが検出される事件が起きた。米国では2001年の中枢同時テロ直後に、炭疽(たんそ)菌が入った郵便物が上院議員らに送りつけられる事件が発生し、議員宛の郵便物は配達前に検査するようになった。


---Paul Kevin Curtis and the Weird History of Domestic Ricin Terrorism---
By Michael Crowley April 17
http://swampland.time.com/2013/04/17/yemenis-militias-and-angry-truck-drivers-the-strange-story-of-ricin-as-a-terror-tool/

Late Wednesday afternoon, the FBI arrested a Mississippi man accused of sending ricin-laced letters to Barack Obama and Republican Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi, and possibly other government officials. The arrest was a relief to anxious members of Congress and staffers, surely mindful of the five deaths and 17 illnesses that followed the anthrax letters sent to Capitol Hill and several media outlets in September 2001.

But the arrest, which the FBI says is not connected to the Boston Marathon bombings, also spotlights the strange past of a bioweapon that has attracted numerous bumbling would-be domestic terrorists, a rogues’ gallery of antigovernment cranks who in some cases managed to scare people, but mostly just wound up in federal prison.

Among their ranks may now be Paul Kevin Curtis of Corinth, Miss., whom a local newspaper describes as a celebrity impersonator of everyone from Johnny Cash to Prince to Bobby Chesney. He appears to be the same Curtis who claimed, in a comment under this article on an Elvis website, to have gone “undercover” to expose corruption in Elvis impersonation contests. The comment suggests that its author may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer: “Consumer-reports mag published article last year stating Mississippi as the most corrupt state in all 52 states in the U.S. so go figure!” How Curtis might have acquired ricin, and whether his letters contained more than harmless trace elements, isn’t known.

To be clear, ricin is no laughing matter. The toxic compound, which can be extracted from widely available castor beans with relative ease, is lethal in tiny quantities. In a John le Carre-style plotline, a pellet of ricin deployed with a jab from a pointed umbrella tip killed the Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov in 1978. If ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin, ricin can cause vomiting, bloody urine and seizures, then massive organ failure. It has no antidote.

Hence its appeal to some nasty characters. Saddam Hussein tried to weaponize it in large quantities. Al-Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate has worked to produce ricin, and the organization’s online English-language Inspire magazine touted the substance to aspiring lone-wolf terrorists in America who “possess basic scientific knowledge.”

There have actually been several domestic ricin plots in recent years, none involving jihadists and most the work of antigovernment radicals. Not that any have come close to executing a successful attack: in late 2011, for example, federal agents arrested four Georgia men with militia ties whose plans included bombmaking and killing government officials with ricin. “This is worse than anthrax,” one of them reportedly boasted. “There ain’t no cure for it either.” The men, all in their 60s and 70s, were busted before they even began brewing the substance, which experts said they likely would have been unable to use on the mass scale of their imagination anyway.

This compilation of ricin-related cases reveals numerous other motley characters caught seeking or trying to use ricin: Denys Ray Hughes, a Phoenix survivalist nabbed trying to manufacture ricin in 2006; James Kenneth Gluck of Tampa, who planned to kill federal judges in 1999 and was found with ricin ingredients, recipes and lab equipment; Debora Green, an oncologist who tried to kill her husband by surreptitiously feeding him mail-ordered castor beans; and four members of the radical antitax Minnesota Patriots Council, nabbed after they ordered a ricin kit by mail from an ad in a militia magazine.

And let’s not forget the peculiar case of Roger von Bergendorff, an unemployed computer-graphic artist found comatose in a Las Vegas hotel room in 2008. Von Bergendorff had apparently inhaled ricin he’d produced himself. Prosecutors later said a vial in his possession held enough ricin to kill hundreds of people, though it was never clear why von Bergendorff had the stuff. (After awaking from his coma he was sentenced to three years in prison.)

One person who has delivered ricin and gotten away with it is someone who goes by the name Fallen Angel. In late 2003 authorities discovered two ricin-laced letters sent by someone using that name, one addressed to the Transportation Department and one to the Bush White House. The letters had a peculiar axe to grind, complaining about pending new regulations on the trucking industry requiring more rest hours for long-haul truckers. “If you change the hours of service on January 4, 2004, I will turn D.C into a ghost town,” warned the author, who described himself as the owner of a tanker-truck fleet company. Fortunately, his ricin was of a relatively nonlethal grade, and no one was sickened. But the FBI still posted a reward of up to $100,000 for him, though he was never caught.

For a moment this week it appeared that Fallen Angel might have returned. The ricin letters to Obama and Wicker were both postmarked in Tennessee, as was Fallen Angel’s letter to the Bush White House. It happens that long-haul regulations are scheduled to tighten this summer. And, bizarrely enough, a Pennsylvania man was arrested outside the White House last week after threatening to detonate a truck bomb there over his anger about - you guessed it - trucking regulations.

It doesn’t appear that Curtis is Fallen Angel. There’s no indication that his letters, both reported to contain the phrase “to see a wrong and not expose it is to become a silent partner to its continuance,” made reference to trucking. Both were signed with his initials. Or, more accurately: “I am KC and I approve this message.”

Say this for Fallen Angel: he was smart enough not to reveal his initials. And in the hapless world of America’s would-be ricin killers, that may pass for genius.


---UPDATE: FBI says Corinth man arrested, accused in ricin letters to Obama and Wicker
by Staff and wire reports
20130413
http://djournal.com/view/full_story/22280561/article-DEVELOPING---FBI--Mississippi-man-arrested--accused-in-ricin-letters?instance=home_news_right

TUPELO - The Corinth man and Elvis impersonator arrested and accused of sending poison-laced envelopes sent to President Barack Obama, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker and a local justice court judge seems to have had different personas.

Paul Kevin Curtis, 45, was arrested by the FBI and Lee County authorities today at his home after an investigation by multiple local, state and federal officials. With Curtis in police custody, different versions of the his life continue to unfold, some wacky and entertaining and others conspiratorial, threatening and violent.

While many people throughout the country have identified Curtis with mailing potentially lethal letters to elected officials, locally, he has been known for his passion for Elvis and hatred for a local hospital.

Some people know Curtis through his passion as an Elvis impersonator, including a snarl and long sideburns. He has dozens of YouTube recordings of his performances and even won second place in a song writing competition here in 2002. However, the divorced man was also known in many online communities and others locally for criticizing the North Mississippi Medical and state Rep. Steve Holland for alleged crimes.

As a janitor working in a cleaning service, he claimed to have insider information. Combing through his online postings including Facebook and message boards and interviews with people who have had altercations with him, Curtis sounds more and more conspiratorial.

“I’m on the hidden front lines of a secret of a secret war,” Curtis posted on his Facebook profile at 2 a.m. today. “A war that is making Billions of dollars for corrupt mafia related organizations and people. (bone, tissue, organ, body parts harvesting black market)”

Curtis’ phone number listed on his Facebook profile was disconnected.

In online postings, Curtis ends letters with a phrase similar to those found in letters to President Obama and Sen. Wicker.

“This is Kevin Curtis and I approve this report,” he posted in an online rant against the NNMC on September 2007.


****

Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson just held a press conference Wednesday night to discuss information from today's events.

Johnson only talked about a case of a letter being sent to a Lee County Justice Court Judge on April 10th.

"This was a joint operation between local, state and federal authorities," Johnson said.

Johnson said the envelope was opened and handled by members of the Lee County Court Judge. He didn't release the name. Earlier in the day Lee County Justice Court Judge Sadie Holland's family confirmed she received the letter.

Johnson said the letter was very similar to the letters that were sent to Senator Roger Wicker and President Barack Obama. The letters are still being tested and Johnson said he could not give an official results of the letter.

Johnson said there is no reason to believe anyone in the Justice Court Judge office's life is in danger at this time.

An individual is in custody, but Johnson did not release any names and said no charges have been filed at this point in the investigation and the person is not jailed in Lee County. He did say local authorities they've talked to the individual.

****

Press Release from FBI ...

Today at approximately 5:15 p.m. (CDT), FBI special agents arrested Paul Kevin Curtis, the individual believed to be responsible for the mailings of the three letters sent through the U.S. Postal Service which contained a granular substance that preliminarily tested positive for ricin. The letters were addressed to a U.S. senator, the White House, and a Mississippi justice official.

The individual was arrested at his residence in Corinth, Mississippi following an investigation conducted by FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces in Memphis, Tennessee and Jackson, Mississippi; the U.S. Capitol Police; the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; and the U.S. Secret Service, aided by the following state and local agencies: the Lee County (Mississippi) Sheriff’s Office; the Prentiss County (Mississippi) Sheriff’s Office; the Corinth (Mississippi) Police Department; the Booneville (Mississippi) Police Department; the Tupelo (Mississippi) Police Department; the Mississippi National Guard 47th Civil Support Team; and the Mississippi Office of Homeland Security.

Updates ...

Daily Journal's John Pitts is at the Alcorn Regional Jail and says at least a dozen uniformed people are visible, but no law enforcement officials will not confirm any arrest or anyone in custody at this time.

The Associated Press is reporting - In Corinth, police cordoned off part of a subdivision where Curtis may live. Police on the scene would not confirm why they had blocked a few roads and set up a crime scene in the area of brick, single-family homes. At least five police cars were on the scene.

***

Rep. Steve Holland posted this on Facebook tonight ....

"My 80 yr old mom, Justice Court Judge Sadie Holland is alive, well and thriving after getting a threating letter w/ ricin last week. She is a tough, unafraid renaissance woman. Who lives every day of her life joyfully. Thx to all of you for your concerns. To my knowledge, she will be on the job holding Court tomorrow. Mom is a jewel-a devoted public servant and extraordinary blessing. Rep Steve holland"

***

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) has issued the following statement regarding the arrest of an individual who is believed to be responsible for a mailing sent to his Washington office:

“Gayle and I want to thank the men and women of the FBI and U.S. Capitol Police for their professionalism and decisive action in keeping our family and staff safe from harm. My offices in Mississippi and Washington remain open for business to all Mississippians. We particularly want to thank the people of Mississippi for their thoughts and prayers during this time.”

***

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) - The FBI has identified a Mississippi man suspected of mailing letters containing poisonous ricin as 45-year-old Paul Kevin Curtis.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Daniel McMullen said Curtis was arrested Wednesday afternoon at his apartment in Corinth, near the Tennessee state line about 100 miles east of Memphis.

Authorities still waited for definitive tests on the letters sent to President Barack Obama and Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss.

An FBI intelligence bulletin obtained by The Associated Press said those two letters were postmarked Memphis, Tenn.

***

Daily Journal has confirmed Lee County Justice Court Judge Sadie Holland received letter similar to one sent to Senator Wicker and President Obama.

***

By HOLBROOK MOHR, The Associated Press

OXFORD - A man in Mississippi has been arrested and accused of sending letters with suspected ricin poison to President Barack Obama and other leaders.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Daniel McMullen said the man was arrested Wednesday. His name wasn't immediately released publicly.

Authorities still waited for definitive tests on the letters to Obama and Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., which had raised concern Wednesday at a time when many people were jittery after the Boston bombings.

An FBI intelligence bulletin obtained by The Associated Press said those two letters were postmarked Memphis, Tenn.

I am KC and I approve this message."

***

Earlier report ...

Federal and local law enforcement are in Tupelo on an investigation, but Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson can’t say what it’s about at this time.

However, the investigators apparently are using the administrative side of the Sheriff’s Office in Tupelo as a staging area for the investigation.

Tuesday, a envelope addressed to Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Tupelo, twice tested positive for the poison ricin and local observers speculate that joint investigation is related to the case.

The FBI also reported Wednesday that President Obama was the target of a similar mailed item.

Both envelopes were postmarked in Memphis.

Johnson said anyone with jail business can use the local facility.

He said as soon as he has any details he can release about the investigation, he will.

Extra deputies are posted at the building to ensure privacy in the investigation.


---Envelope tests positive for ricin at Washington mail facility---
By Mike Brooks and Dana Bash, CNN
April 17, 2013 -- Updated 0253 GMT (1053 HKT)
http://edition.cnn.com/2013/04/16/us/tainted-letter-intercepted/index.html

Washington (CNN) -- An envelope that tested positive for the deadly poison ricin was intercepted Tuesday afternoon at the U.S. Capitol's off-site mail facility in Washington, congressional and law enforcement sources tell CNN.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he was told the letter was addressed to the office of Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi. A laboratory in Maryland confirmed the presence of ricin after initial field tests indicated the poison was present, Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer said.

The letter had a Memphis, Tennessee, postmark and no return address, Gainer wrote in an e-mail to senators and aides. In a statement late Tuesday, the U.S. Capitol Police said more tests would be conducted at the Army's biomedical research laboratory at Fort Detrick, Maryland.

Sen. Claire McCaskill told reporters after a briefing for lawmakers that a suspect has already been identified in the incident, but a knowledgeable source said no one was in custody Tuesday night.

Wicker, the junior senator from Mississippi, has been assigned a protective detail, according to a law enforcement source.

Postal workers started handling mail at a site off Capitol Hill after the 2001 anthrax attacks that targeted then-Majority Leader Tom Daschle and Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, among others. Senators were told the post office would be temporarily shut down "to make sure they get everything squared away," McCaskill, D-Missouri, said Tuesday afternoon.

"The bottom line is, the process we have in place worked," she said. Members will be warning their home-state offices to look out for similar letters, she added.

A previous ricin scare hit the Capitol in 2004, when tests identified a letter in a Senate mailroom that served then-Majority Leader Bill Frist's office. The discovery forced 16 employees to go through decontamination procedures, but no one reported any ill effects afterward, Frist said.

Ricin is a highly toxic substance derived from castor beans. As little as 500 micrograms -- an amount the size of the head of a pin -- can kill an adult. There is no specific test for exposure and no antidote once exposed.

It can be produced easily and cheaply, and authorities in several countries have investigated links between suspect extremists and ricin. But experts say it is more effective on individuals than as a weapon of mass destruction.

Ricin was used in the 1978 assassination of Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov. The author, who had defected nine years earlier, was jabbed by the tip of an umbrella while waiting for a bus in London and died four days later.

Wicker, 61, was first appointed by former Republican Gov. Haley Barbour to the U.S. Senate in December 2007 after the resignation of then-Sen. Trent Lott. He was then elected to the seat in 2008 and won re-election in 2012 to a second term.

Before joining the Senate, he was a U.S. representative in the House from 1995 to 2007. Before that, he served in the Mississippi Senate.


---Letter with ricin sent to Roger Wicker---
By JOHN BRESNAHAN and GINGER GIBSON | 4/16/13 6:24 PM EDT
http://www.politico.com/story/2013/04/roger-wicker-letter-ricin-90171.html?hp=t3_3

An envelope sent to the Washington, D.C., office of Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) included a substance that has tested positive for the toxic substance ricin.

The Senate mail facility on Tuesday notified the U.S. Capitol Police that it had received an envelope containing “a white granular substance,” according to a release. The envelope “was immediately quarantined” at the off-site facility, and Capitol Police hazardous material personnel responded.

“Preliminary tests indicate the substance found was Ricin,” said the police statement, which was released late Tuesday night. “The material is being forwarded to an accredited laboratory for further analysis.”

The Capitol Police says it is partnering with the FBI for an “ongoing investigation.” The statement added that the Capitol complex has not been affected.

The U.S. Senate mail facility is currently closed for more testing - all mail bound for Capitol Hill is now being directed through a U.S. House facility.

The letter was postmarked Memphis, Tenn., and had no suspicious markings or return address, according to a message sent to congressional staffers by Senate Sergeant at Arms Terrance Gainer. Gainer indicated that the Senate mail facility would be closed for two to three days “while testing and the law enforcement investigation continues.”

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said members were briefed that the substance had been found in a letter and that a suspect has been identified.

McCaskill said the letter came from an individual who frequently writes to lawmakers. She wouldn’t identify the person but confirmed officials were investigating someone.

McCaskill said state offices have been told what to look for if there are more letters containing the toxic substance.

The Senate went into recess shortly after 6 p.m. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and FBI Director Robert Mueller began briefing senators shortly afterward about the incident. A Homeland Security official said that the briefing was intended to address cybersecurity but that the subject pivoted after the ricin substance was discovered.

All congressional mail is screened ever since Capitol Hill-bound letters laced with anthrax were discovered in October 2001, which contributed to the death of five people and infected 17 more. Senate offices were closed for several days in 2004 when ricin was found in the offices of then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.).

The incident comes one day after three people were killed and 176 were injured as two bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon. The FBI is investigating the Boston bombings as an “act of terrorism,” though whether domestic or international is unclear. President Barack Obama will travel to Boston on Wednesday. Lawmakers reacted to the unfortunate timing.

“I don’t know if that’s coincidence,” said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said of the timing. “It’s too early to tell. We don’t know enough about Boston to even speculate.”

Napolitano ignored questions from reporters as she left the briefing. The FBI had no comment on the matter, and the Secret Service said it’s not involved in any investigation. “Metro Transit Police are aware of the ongoing investigation on Capitol Hill and are monitoring developments,” said a spokesman for the District of Columbia police force.

“This matter is part of an ongoing investigation by the United States Capitol Police and FBI,” Wicker said in a statement released on Tuesday night. “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. Gayle and I appreciate everyone’s thoughts and prayers.”

Michigan Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) commended authorities for taking “real good precautions to notify everybody as to what happened. So what happened is far enough away and was caught in a way that did no damage that I’m not excessively concerned about it,” Levin said. “I think they’ve taken strong steps to avoid any problem.”

Levin said he didn’t think other senators were targets.

“Not that they gave us. I’m not sure [Wicker] was a target. You’re assuming he was a target - and I don’t know that. It wasn’t stated in that meeting.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) confirmed the letter was sent to Wicker’s office and said that at that point, the incident appeared to be a solitary one.

In his letter, Gainer urged state Senate offices to use a device known as the Postal Sentry, which is offered free of charge to Senate offices, to scan mail for potentially harmful substances.

Ricin is a toxic substance made from castor beans. Ricin poisoning could cause symptoms such as respiratory distress, fever, cough, nausea, and tightness in the chest, as well as heavy sweating and chest tightness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There is no known antidote.


---Letter Mailed to Senator Tests Positive for Ricin---
By JONATHAN WEISMAN
Published: April 16, 2013
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/17/us/politics/toxic-ricin-detected-on-mail-sent-to-senator.html?_r=0

 WASHINGTON - A letter sent to a Mississippi senator tested positive for the poison ricin, federal authorities revealed Tuesday, adding to security concerns in the Capitol after the Boston Marathon bombing.

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, confirmed that an envelope addressed to Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi, a Republican, had been tested twice for ricin in a mail facility away from the Capitol with positive results both times. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was briefing senators on the Boston attack when she told them about the ricin.

The letter was postmarked in Memphis and had no suspicious markings or return address, the office of the Senate sergeant-at-arms reported.

A federal official said the letter had been sent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s laboratories in Quantico, Va., for further examination because field tests for ricin can be unreliable.

Ricin can be fatal if ingested or inhaled. In 2004, Senate offices were closed for days after the poison was found in the mailroom of Senator Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican, who was the majority leader then. And detection of ricin carried echoes of the anthrax attack on the Senate just days after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, told reporters after the Napolitano briefing that the letter had come from someone who frequently writes lawmakers. She said the person had been identified, but she declined to divulge the name.

Senator Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, said: “Obviously, I’m concerned. It’s not just members concerned. It rarely gets to a member before it goes through a lot of staff, and that’s a big concern, obviously, for all of us. We’re very anxious to get more details.”

As a precaution, Senate post offices on Capitol Hill were shut down and will most likely remain closed for the rest of the week. Senators were told that there was no evidence of contamination inside the Capitol or on the grounds, but investigators were still looking into whether any similar envelopes had been sent to anyone in the House.

As Senator Angus King left Ms. Napolitano’s briefing, he said, “It’s now been confirmed that ricin was found in an envelope at the screening facility, which is off-site, not here at the Capitol.”

“I don’t have any information that it’s in any way connected with what happened in Boston,” Mr. King, an independent from Maine, said. “It may just be an unfortunate coincidence.”

News of the discovery was reverberating outside Washington on Tuesday evening. Senators’ offices in their states, which do not have the same kind of mail screening that the Capitol does, were told to look out for suspicious packages.

The anthrax-tainted letters addressed to members of Congress after the Sept. 11 attacks were the first modern instance of bioterrorism to rattle Capitol Hill. The discovery of anthrax in a letter addressed to Senator Tom Daschle, a Democrat from South Dakota and the majority leader at the time, led postal inspectors and the F.B.I. to seize all mail on Capitol Hill, seal it in 55-gallon barrels and move it to a warehouse outside Washington.

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