First, there was the report last night that mail containing ricin had been intercepted on its way to Mississippi Republican Sen. Roger Wicker.
Now, there’s this:
WASHINGTON – A letter addressed to President Obama, containing a suspicious substance, was intercepted at a screening facility outside the White House, the Secret Service said on Wednesday.
The letter was received on Tuesday – similar timing to the letter addressed to Senator Roger Wicker, Republican of Mississippi, which tested positive for ricin. The letter had similar markings and is similar in appearance to the one addressed to Mr. Wicker, according to a law enforcement official.
The Secret Service did not disclose what was in the letter or provide any details, saying it was intercepted in a facility that “routinely identifies letters or parcels that require secondary screening or scientific testing before delivery.”
The mailing facility is not close to the White House grounds, the Secret Service said. An official said the Secret Service is working with the United States Capitol Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
This is more than weird. After 9/11, we had the anthrax mailings. Now this, after Boston. Is there something about overt terrorist acts on U.S. soil that stimulates a certain kind of deviant to put poison in the mail?
This really brings back the memories. Since some media types were among the targets last time around, we went the extra mile at The State to make sure ensure the safety of employees. Some regular travelers like Doug experienced inconvenience at airports. For me, the biggest direct impact of extreme security measures was dealing with the mail in the fall of 2001.
It was decided to move mail sorting out of the main building, into a smaller structure located on the grounds of The State. And senior staff members — the executives in charge of news, editorial, advertising, circulation, etc. — worked shifts supervising the process. So it was that I found myself going over to the other building for an hour or two, a couple of times a week, to personally supervise the shuffling of mail. There was no practical point to senior staff doing this, beyond the point of showing that we would share any one-in-a-million danger involved in the process.
It was as boring as it sounds, and every moment was imbued with a sense of absurdity. But such was the atmosphere in the country at the time.
The interesting thing about these latest developments, for me, was that I learned that Congress and the White House were still processing mail at remote locations. Well, it makes a lot more sense for them to be doing it than for a private business. But I didn’t know it until now.