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Sen. Leahy Awaits Anthrax Results

Associated Press, November 18, 2001


WASHINGTON (AP) - Sen. Patrick Leahy and his anxious staff awaited results of anthrax testing Sunday on a letter that resembled the contaminated mail sent last month to the Senate's majority leader.

The letter to Leahy, D-Vt., was tested at the Army's Fort Detrick in Maryland while two more Senate office buildings were shut down Saturday for anthrax testing.

``It's kind of chilling when you see your name on something like this,'' said Leahy, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

The unopened envelope resembled the envelope mailed last month to Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D. The Leahy letter was discovered in the 280 barrels of congressional mail quarantined after the contaminated Daschle letter was opened.

The Hart Senate Office Building has remained closed since the discovery. All three Senate office buildings are now shut, but the closings will have little effect during Congress's Thanksgiving break this week.

Leahy's chief of staff, Luke Albee, said it was not known whether the letter reached Leahy's office or whether any Leahy employee had touched it.

Except for the name and address, the two envelopes were similar: They had block printing with a slight slant to the right; an Oct. 9 postmark from Trenton, N.J.; and the same, nonexistent school listed as the return address.

All congressional mail set aside after discovery of the Daschle letter has been inspected, and the Leahy letter was the only suspicious piece, said Van Harp, assistant director in charge of the FBI's Washington Field Office.

No congressional staff member or lawmaker has contracted anthrax, and business for the most part has returned to normal on Capitol Hill despite the introduction of National Guard troops this weekend to help overburdened Capitol Police.

Four people have died from anthrax: two Washington postal workers, a hospital worker in New York and a photo editor in Florida.

Leahy's spokesman, David Carle, said that his office decided on its own Oct. 12 to set aside all unopened mail after an anthrax-contaminated letter was sent to NBC anchor Tom Brokaw.

Lt. Dan Nichols of the Capitol Police had warned repeatedly that another letter with anthrax could be found in the congressional mail that was set aside.

© 2001 Associated Press
Reprinted for Fair Use Only.

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