Sen. Roger Wicker has received a letter which tested positive for the deadly poison ricin, Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid has confirmed.
Little else is known about the circumstances surrounding the letter received by Sen. Wicker, a Mississippi Republican, but Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano is said to be currently briefing senators regarding the ricin letter incident and possible implications.
The poisoned letter intended for Wicker was received to an off-site sorting facility, and has been sent to a Maryland lab for testing. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri), commented briefly on the ricin letter, confirming that the piece of mail was addressed to Wicker but safety measures prevented the senator from being the first to handle the deadly item:
“It was caught in the screening facility. That’s why we have an off-site screening facility for mail.”
Reid did not disclose when the letter was postmarked nor when it was received, but did indicate that the ricin letter initially turned up a positive result. It was tested twice more, confirming the presence of the deadly poison — one used in a 1978 political assassination in Eastern Europe.
Confirmation of Sen. Wicker’s targeting with the ricin letter comes as Americans are already on high alert following yesterday’s attack in Boston, one that injured more than 170 people and killed three.
Ricin is a highly toxic poison, one that can in minute amounts kill an adult. Derived from castor beans, ricin cannot easily be detected and once it is administered, there is no known antidote to the poison.
Reports indicate a suspect linked to the ricin letter may have already been identified.