Suspicious Substance In Letter Sent To President Obama

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WASHINGTON, (UPI) — A letter addressed to President Obama at the White House contained a suspicious substance and is being tested, the Secret Service said Wednesday.

The letter arrived at the White House mail facility Tuesday, the same day a letter addressed to Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., tested positive for the poison ricin. The Wall Street Journal said officials indicated the letter to Obama initially tested positive for ricin.

CNN said authorities evacuated parts of the U.S. Capitol complex Wednesday because of suspicious packages found on the first and third floors of the Hart Senate Office Building and a suspicious envelope at the office of Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala, in the Russell Senate Office Building.

The Hill said staffers in Democratic Sen. Carl Levin’s local Saginaw, Mich., office reported a suspicious letter to law enforcement and the building was evacuated as a precaution.

Security had been increased in House and Senate office buildings since Tuesday.

Capitol Hill police reportedly were questioning a man with a backpack in the Hart Office Building, CNN said.

The Hill said the letter addressed to the president was intercepted and sent to a Secret Service mail screening facility off-site from the White House for testing. The Secret Service has not said whether the letter tested positive for the poison.

“This facility routinely identifies letters and parcels that require secondary screening or scientific testing before delivery,” the Secret Service said in a statement. “The Secret Service White House mail screening facility is a remote facility, not located near the White House complex, that all White House mail goes through.”

Media reports said the White House letter — like the letter sent to Wicker — was postmarked Memphis, Tenn., and contained similar language.

Ricin is a potentially deadly poison found in ground castor beans that disrupts the absorption of proteins on cells.

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