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October 23, 2003 - Image 8

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2003-10-23

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4

8A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, October 23, 2003

NATION/WORLD
Poison-containing letter
found in S.C. post office

As

an engineer in

the U.

S.

Air Force,
no telling what

there s

you'U work on.
(Seriously, we can't tell you.)

WASHINGTON (AP) - A vial con-
taining the deadly poison ricin was
found inside an envelope at a South Car-
olina postal facility, federal officials said
yesterday. The FBI was investigating but
terrorism was not suspected.
"Based on the evidence obtained so
far, we do not believe this is linked to
terrorism but is related to threats crimi-
nal in nature," said Brian Roehrkasse,
spokesman for the Homeland Security
Department.
A letter inside the envelope refer-
enced legislation in Congress involving
truckers and included an extortion threat
against the government, according to a
federal law enforcement official who
spoke on condition of anonymity.
The envelope carried the typewritten
message "caution-Ricin-poison" on the
outside, according to a statement issued
by the Greenville County Sheriff's
Office. It arrived at a Greenville postal

facility between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. on
Oct. 15.
A postal worker noticed the :wording
and law enforcement officials were
summoned. The letter was sent to the
Centers for Disease Control and Preven-
tion, which determined Tuesday that the
vial contained ricin.
Officials would not say to whom the
envelope was addressed or where it was
postmarked. The federal law enforce-
ment official did say the letter was not
addressed to a government official.
Postal Service spokesman Gerry
McKiernan said tests on the envelope
and the outside of the vial showed that
none of the toxin escaped.
William Brown, spokesman for the
postal facility in Greenville, said three
employees came in contact with the
envelope.
"There was no substance on the out-
side of the envelope at all," Brown said.

"We do not feel that there is any risk to
the employees."
Still, as a precaution, workers have
been moved to another Greenville facili-
ty while tests are conducted on the
building where the envelope was
received.
The worst bioterrorism attack in U.S.
history was perpetrated through the mail
two years ago. Five people died and 17
were sickened by anthrax-infected let-
ters sent to media companies and the
Capitol Hill offices of Democratic Sens.
Tom Daschle of South Dakota and
Patrick Leahy of Vermont.
Ricin is derived from the castor bean
plant, is relatively easy to make and can
be deadly in very small doses. When
inhaled or ingested, fever, cough, short-
ness of breath, chest tightness and low
blood pressure can occur within eight
hours. Death can come between 36 and
72 hours after exposure. There is no
antidote.
The FBI repeatedly has warned local
police about the possibility that terrorists
might use ricin in an attempt to poison
people through ventilation systems,
through drinking supplies or infood.
British police earlier this year arrested
seven members of an Algerian extremist
group on charges of plotting use nicin to
kill a small number of people and terrify
the London population. Instructions for
making ricin also were found in an al-
Qaida safehouse in Kabul,Afghanistan,
according to the FBI.
Ricin has also been used in crimes in
the United States that have no connec-
tion to terrorism. Last summer a Wash-
ington state man was convicted of
making and possessing about 3 grams of
ricin, enough to kill 900 people.

4

Finding a British identity

United States Air Force applied technology is years ahead
of what you'll touch in the private sector, and as a new
engineer you'll likely be involved at the ground level of new
and sometimes classified developments. You'll begin leading
and managing within this highly respected group from day
one. Find out what's waiting behind the scenes for you in

I
4

the Air Force today. To request more information,

call

1-800-423-USAF or log on to airforce.com.
®1
U.S. AIR FORCE
CROSS INTO THE BLUE

KtLLY LIN/Dally
Sociology Prof. Sonya Rose, author of "Which People's War? National identity
and Citizenship in Britain," celebrates her new book during a reception at
Shaman Drum yesterday evening.

4
I

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-9,,

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OCT

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2

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I
6

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Thurs. Oct. 30 7:30 p.m.

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.j

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