As if the country weren’t already on edge after Monday’s bombing in Boston, the news took an even more alarming turn yesterday with a mailing intended for a Republican senator from Mississippi testing positive for ricin.
Sen. Roger Wicker has been sent an envelope containing a substance that tested positive for ricin.
Several senators around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday confirmed to CQ Roll Call the existence of the contaminated letter. Shortly thereafter, several senators reported that the letter was intercepted in the screening process at the Senate Mail Handling Facility and it never made it to the Capitol itself.
Though the details are still coming together, the mailing was reportedly postmarked from Memphis, Tennessee and had no return address. There’s no evidence that anyone was harmed by the suspected poison.
I’ve seen some speculation as to why Wicker might be a possible target, with some pointing to his vote against last week’s filibuster of gun-safety legislation. It’s difficult to speculate without more information, but I’d note that the Senate vote was just last Thursday, and the processing of congressional snail mail is generally rather slow.
In other words, folks should probably hold off on ascribing motives just yet.
What’s more, let’s also keep in mind that yesterday’s news was the result of a preliminary test and false positives are hardly unheard of when it comes to ricin. Indeed, in the post-9/11 era, this has happened more than once. This isn’t to draw conclusions about the letter to Wicker, but rather, to note that this mailing will need additional testing before any draws firm conclusions. Rachel discussed this in more detail last night.
That said, if the additional scrutiny shows that the poison was directed at the senator, it’s certainly alarming. Ricin is “scary stuff” that’s fairly easy to make.