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4/17/2013 2:37:00 PM
Ricin found in letters to President Obama

WASHINGTON (AP) — Police swept across the U.S. Capitol complex to chase a flurry of reports of suspicious packages and envelopes today after preliminary tests indicated poisonous ricin in two letters sent to President Barack Obama and a Mississippi senator.

In an intelligence bulletin obtained by The Associated Press, the FBI says that the letters to Obama and Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., were postmarked Memphis, Tenn. Both letters say: “To see a wrong and not expose it, is to become a silent partner to its continuance.” Both are signed, “I am KC and I approve this message.”

Reports of suspicious letters also came in from congressional offices in Michigan and Arizona as police investigated the discovery of at least three questionable packages in Senate office buildings.

The rush of activity came as tensions were high in Washington and across the country following the twin bombings on Monday at the Boston Marathon that killed three people and injured more than 170. The FBI said there was no indication of a connection between the letters and the bombing. The letters to Obama and Wicker were postmarked April 8, before the marathon.  

Despite the increased police presence in some areas, normal business continued across most of the Capitol and its office buildings, with tour groups passing through as usual and visitors streaming in and out of Wicker’s office.

Packages were dropped off at the offices of two senators. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said in a statement his office had received one of them.

A third package was found in an atrium on the first floor of one of the two buildings. A man who delivered at least two of the packages was being questioned as Capitol police swiftly ramped up security and temporarily advised people to avoid parts of the office buildings.

Sen. Carl Levin issued a statement saying an aide in his Saginaw, Mich., office had received a suspicious-looking letter. “The letter was not opened, and the staffer followed the proper protocols for the situation, including alerting the authorities, who are now investigating,” the Michigan Democrat said in a statement.

Authorities also are investigating two suspicious letters that were sent to the Phoenix office of Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., police said. Emergency crews in hazardous materials gear were seen outside the building.


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