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United States Politics

Ricin Tainted Letter Sent to Senator and Possibly the President 461

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the meant-to-use-sugar dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A letter addressed to Senator Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) was tested and found to contain ricin, a highly toxic, inexpensive, and easily produced substance derived from castor beans. The letter was intercepted at the U.S. Capitol's off-site mail facility and nobody has been injured. The letter was postmarked Memphis, Tennessee, but listed no return address. Sen. Claire McCaskill told reporters that a suspect has been identified." And, this morning, a letter addressed to the President was discovered containing a suspicious substance. Update: 04/17 16:25 GMT by U L : And the substance is ricin. Apparently, air filters at another facility have also tested positive for ricin.
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Ricin Tainted Letter Sent to Senator and Possibly the President

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 17, 2013 @12:11PM (#43473361)

    Source. [nbcnews.com]

  • by nweaver (113078) on Wednesday April 17, 2013 @12:12PM (#43473369) Homepage

    Its someone stupid enough to think a Senator opens his own mail. (Shamelessly stolen from Twitter)

  • Here we go again (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cyberchondriac (456626) on Wednesday April 17, 2013 @12:12PM (#43473379) Journal
    Sounding a little too much like the 9-11 era all over again (which was punctuated by the anthrax mailings) just on a much smaller scale, overall. Though I think it's likely to be totally domestic this time (including the "main event"; in this case, the Boston marathon).
    • Yeah. And unfortunately those bombings are likely to lead to Bomb Control legistlation. Damnit. =/

      Just cuz that would have prevented these deaths, ya know.
    • by gman003 (1693318)

      I also think it's more likely that the two incidents are related.

      9/11 and the anthrax mailings were essentially unconnected (one opportunistically took advantage of the other, but that's about it). In hindsight, this is a lot more obvious from the attack profiles - al-Qaeda tends to use easily-available weapons or improvised attacks, while the anthrax letters used a hard-to-obtain disease. At the time, we didn't really know the capabilities of al-Qaeda, and the mailer took steps to make the letters look lik

  • by ScentCone (795499) on Wednesday April 17, 2013 @12:15PM (#43473421)
    Obviously we must ban all Assault Beans. Even though castor beans aren't even really legumes at all. All that matters is that word "bean" is used, which qualifies them as Assault Beans.

    Just because the Lima Bean ban back in the 1990's didn't reduce the number of assault bean attacks doesn't mean that a properly configured law - which we'll have to pass in order to find out what's really in it, of course - won't save "at least one life."

    Next, we'll have to focus on deaths related to soccer and other Assault Sports. I'm looking at you, Kayaking.
  • by TechieRefugee (2105386) on Wednesday April 17, 2013 @12:32PM (#43473629)
    I've been wondering about that! Man, Walter trying to kill the president?! The finale of Breaking Bad is gonna kick ass!
  • by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday April 17, 2013 @12:38PM (#43473713) Homepage

    If someone wanted to get a piece of [tainted] paper into physical contact with the president or other important US political figure, sending it using the mail system is not the way to do it and I should think it would be more than obvious to anyone. Even without specific knowledge of the fact, various sniffing technologies can and should naturally be presumed as part of the normal mail screening and sorting processes. And even without that, isn't it hard to imagine the president actually opening his own mail?! He must receive 50lbs or mail or more a day from all the concerned citizens and crackpots out there. No way HE goes through it all personally. In which case, even without sniffing and detection technologies, it would likely get to someone else first.

    So the perpetrator was either immeasurably stupid and thoughtless or this is something else.... more 'theater' for another cause supporting the loss of freedom and liberty.... or both.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yes, this has to be theater. Guaranteed to fail in the objective of hurting someone, but guaranteed to succeed to ratchet up the public's fear level due to a scaremongering press.

    • by oodaloop (1229816)

      something else.... more 'theater' for another cause supporting the loss of freedom and liberty.... or both.

      If you were going to stage an attack to justify a response, why would you have a letter sent with crudely made ricin? Doesn't make a lot of sense.

      • by erroneus (253617)

        Because if it wasn't crude or primitive, the public fear would be that we have a sophisticated enemy rather than one we are all "better than."

        The Russians were a fearsome enemy because they were just about as advanced as we were... equals in many respects. Better enemies are the ones we feel superior to like the Vietnamese, Koreans, Iraqis and Afghanis.

    • If someone wanted to get a piece of [tainted] paper into physical contact with the president or other important US political figure, sending it using the mail system is not the way to do it and I should think it would be more than obvious to anyone. Even without specific knowledge of the fact, various sniffing technologies can and should naturally be presumed as part of the normal mail screening and sorting processes. And even without that, isn't it hard to imagine the president actually opening his own mail?! He must receive 50lbs or mail or more a day from all the concerned citizens and crackpots out there. No way HE goes through it all personally. In which case, even without sniffing and detection technologies, it would likely get to someone else first.

      So the perpetrator was either immeasurably stupid and thoughtless or this is something else.... more 'theater' for another cause supporting the loss of freedom and liberty.... or both.

      Never underestimate the stupidity of people.

    • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday April 17, 2013 @02:32PM (#43475103) Journal

      So the perpetrator was either immeasurably stupid and thoughtless

      Do you really think that is implausible?

  • by pclminion (145572) on Wednesday April 17, 2013 @12:38PM (#43473723)

    Are we seriously testing all mail coming to members of Congress for poisons? How the hell is this accomplished in a reasonable amount of time, with reasonable accuracy, and how much is it costing us?

    How about we build a robot that opens the mail, scans the pages into digital form, and skip all that ludicrous bullshit?

    • Yes, we do, apparently there was a special building built after the anthrax attack to test all mail to congress. Why don't you write your senator and suggest that he shut it down? Especially if he's a republican, I'll bet that will go over well.
      • by pclminion (145572)

        Let's say each MoC gets 200 letters per day -- a reasonable estimate based on some quick Googling. 535 members times 200 letters equals 107000 pieces of mail per day.

        Suppose you pay some worker minimum wage to screen mail. They spend on average 20 seconds examining each piece of mail. That's 594 man-hours per day. Minimum wage in DC is $8.25 per hour. So, $4900 per day to screen the mail, just for labor costs.

        $4900 per day is a pretty solid base estimate. On top of that, there are costs associated with enha

    • by cdwiegand (2267)

      Or... allow anyone to email their senators without having to only be from their district (as there's a lot of committees, so by current rules only a few states get to determine energy policy for the whole frickin' US because they won't listen to anyone not from their district, but all bills have to go through committee and most don't make it out alive :( ).

  • Update: 04/17 16:25 GMT by U L : And the substance is ricin. Apparently, air filters another facility have also testing positive for ricin.

    What? "air filters another facility?"

    You a word or two.

    • Update: 04/17 16:25 GMT by U L : And the substance is ricin. Apparently, air filters another facility have also testing positive for ricin.

      What? "air filters another facility?"

      You a word or two.

      "have also testing positive" is another gem. Apparently ricin causes aphasia.

  • by XxtraLarGe (551297) on Wednesday April 17, 2013 @12:40PM (#43473755) Journal
    one Walter White [wikia.com], described as a mild-mannered, former High School Chemistry teacher.
  • http://www.channelregister.co.uk/2013/01/07/john_mcafee_spymaster/ [channelregister.co.uk]

    John McAfee made some far-out claims a few months ago about Mexican cartels helping Muslim terrorists smuggle tons of ricin into the USA.

    Let's hope to all that's holy that he was just bat-shit crazy and the allegations are not true, because if they are then thousands of people could be killed by the alleged "tons of ricin"

  • by Hartree (191324) on Wednesday April 17, 2013 @12:53PM (#43473925)

    It is blatantly obvious that if only we had $Politically_Impossible_Ineffective_Action_Advocated_for_Unrelated_Reasons, this tragedy would have been avoided.

    Those who are blaming $Different_Reason_For_Different_Unrelated_Reasons, are just cynically using the current crisis for their own political gain!

    • I've seen FB posts saying essentially, "We MUST do something to make sure this can never happen again".

      Apparently, these people want a police state, since that's the only scenario where there's even a reasonable probability of that.

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Wednesday April 17, 2013 @12:57PM (#43473965) Journal
    Reminds me of this story: John McAfee predicted it a few months ago [johnmcafeestory.com]. Just like his software, he couldn't stop anything.

    McAfee is a bit crazy, but if he's right, then the corrupt Belize government along with Nicaragua helped Hezbollah and Iran commit terrorist attacks in the US with ricin. Yeah, it sounds crazy.
    • by dgatwood (11270)

      Or they're planting a seed that will turn into an excuse to go to war with Iran. We'll know in a few months.

  • Why are people smart enough to make something like this...so stupid as to think that the people they name on the letters come anywhere near them?

    Newsflash to any mail-related ter'rists in training: Bob Shmoe the Senator doesn't open his mail. He doesn't read it. He doesn't even find out about it. It's some intern or minimum-wage lackey.

  • In french, a castor is a beaver. Reading "castor beans" is somewhat confusing.

  • by bradgoodman (964302) on Wednesday April 17, 2013 @02:45PM (#43475271) Homepage
    Why do images of Tyrone Biggums opening Senator Daschel's mail come to mind. (Am I dating myself here?!)

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