In an eerie echo of 9/11, a letter laced with the deadly poison ricin was intercepted by the post office on its way to Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker.
You will recall that shortly after the 9/11 attacks, letters containing anthrax were sent to House and Senate members.
Preliminary tests indicate the substance found was Ricin," said the police statement, which was released late Tuesday night. "The material is being forwarded to an accredited laboratory for further analysis."
The Capitol Police says it is partnering with the FBI for an "ongoing investigation." The statement added that the Capitol complex has not been affected.
The U.S. Senate mail facility is currently closed for more testing -- all mail bound for Capitol Hill is now being directed through a U.S. House facility.
The letter was postmarked Memphis, Tenn., and had no suspicious markings or return address, according to a message sent to congressional staffers by Senate Sergeant at Arms Terrance Gainer. Gainer indicated that the Senate mail facility would be closed for two to three days "while testing and the law enforcement investigation continues."
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said members were briefed that the substance had been found in a letter and that a suspect has been identified.
McCaskill said the letter came from an individual who frequently writes to lawmakers. She wouldn't identify the person but confirmed officials were investigating someone.
McCaskill said state offices have been told what to look for if there are more letters containing the toxic substance.
The Senate went into recess shortly after 6 p.m. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and FBI Director Robert Mueller began briefing senators shortly afterward about the incident. A Homeland Security official said that the briefing was intended to address cybersecurity but that the subject pivoted after the ricin substance was discovered.
McKaskill is not the brightest bulb in the room, as evidenced by her letting the cat out of the bag and telling the press - and the suspect - who the perp might be.
Still, something like this puts the whole country on edge. I know people who refused to get their mail for weeks after the anthrax attack. The subsequent investigation - some say it was botched by the FBI - led to an army research scientist Bruce Ivins who committed suicide after enormous pressure was placed on him by the feds.
If McCaskill is right, this is the work of a lone nut. That doesn't lessen the danger by any means but it makes him easier to catch.