Handling of suspected Ricin letters display ‘lessons learned’

APRIL 17, 2013  An FBI spokesperson confirmed that a letter addressed to the office of U.S. Senator Wicker, R-Mississippi that initially tested positive for Ricin poison is undergoing further testing at a Maryland lab to determine if the white powder was indeed Ricin. Initial tests of a letter addressed to U.S. President Barack Obama also tested positive for the deadly substance.

The handling of the suspected Ricin laced letters addressed to U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican Senator Roger Wicker from Mississippi are the result of a “lesson learned” following the Anthrax attacks that occurred in the weeks following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Capitol Police spokesman Shennell S. Antrobus said police were notified that the mail facility had received “an envelope containing a white granular substance.” The suspected Ricin laced envelope addressed to Senator Wicker was postmarked Memphis, Tennessee had no return address or suspicious markings.

Illinois’ Senior Senator Dick Durbin pointed out that all mail to senators is “roasted, toasted, sliced and opened” before it ever gets to them.

“Luckily, this was discovered at the processing center off premises,” Durbin said.

In the weeks following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, envelopes containing Anthrax bacterium spores were sent through the U.S. mail to two U.S. senators and to some well known members of the media in Florida, Connecticut. Washington D.C. and New York. The Anthrax terrorist attacks resulted in 5 deaths and 17 others were hospitalized.

The FBI suspected that a government scientist who committed suicide in 2008 was responsible in the 2001 anthrax attacks, however, no one was ever charged

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