The Secret Service recently confirmed that on Monday of this week, the White House received a package which tested positive for cyanide.
The potentially lethal package was intercepted upon arrival at the White House Mail Screening Facility, reported CNN. Brian Leary, a spokesperson for the Secret Service, stated as follows.
“On Monday 3/16/15, an envelope was received at the White House Mail Screening Facility. Initial Biological testing was negative; however, on 03/17/15, the chemical testing returned a presumptive positive for cyanide. The sample was transported to another facility to confirm the results.”
The package at issue was described as an envelope containing a “milky” substance inside of a container wrapped in a plastic bag, according to an issued internal alert. The same report indicated that the man who sent the package, who also listed his own return address, has a “long” history with the Secret Service. According to the same CNN report referenced above, the currently unnamed man has previously sent a package covered in human excrement to the White House. Furthermore, in 2012, the same unidentified man sent a package to the White House containing miniature alcoholic beverages, according to a report by the Intercept.
Such an occurrence rings reminiscent of the anthrax attacks of 2001. The 2001 anthrax attacks came close on the heels of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The 2001 anthrax attacks have become known as the worst biological attacks in U.S. history, having taken five American lives and injuring seventeen others. As with the recent White House cyanide shipment, the federal government identified a suspect in the anthrax attacks — albeit seven years later.
Continuing on with the morbid theme of anthrax packages — in 2013, the the White House was assumed to have been sent a package containing anthrax. The the deadly substance was found on a mechanical device used to open mail but the ultimate source of the poison was never found.
Like anthrax, cyanide can be extremely lethal to humans. Cyanide’s lethal characteristics come from its ability to prevent cells from utilizing oxygen. Though most deadly when inhaled in its gaseous state, cyanide may also prove lethal when ingested orally. Perhaps the most disturbing fact about the toxic substance most recently sent to the White House is that cyanide can be almost impossible to detect in its purest form, as cyanide often does not give off any detectable odor.
Gratefully, the cyanide mailed to the White House this past Monday did not cause any injuries.
[Featured Image credit to wavy.com]