Lawmakers’ offices targeted by suspicious powder in mail

Jim Kouri by Jim Kouri on February 23rd, 2012

This is article 84 of 129 in the topic US Congress

Mail containing white powder was delivered to the Capitol Hill offices of  U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday, according to officials with the Capitol Police. One U.S. Senator’s home office in Indianapolis reportedly received suspicious mail, as well.

The Senate Sergeant at ArmsTerry Gainer sent out an email warning House and Senate staffers to beware of letters containing “a suspicious powdery substance.”

Garner’s email said a Senate State office and a House District office received on threatening mail that contained the suspicious substance.

The names of the lawmakers who were targeted have not yet been revealed yet.

According to the Capitol Police, the letters received were tested and the enclosed substance found to be harmless. But there may be more threatening letters containing powdery substances still to come, said law enforcement sources.

The Senate’s Sergeant at Arms Gainer stated that his office was in constant communication with both federal law enforcement and local police during the continuing investigation.

As chief law enforcement officer of the Senate, the Sergeant at Arms is charged with maintaining security in the Capitol and all Senate buildings, as well as protection of the members themselves.

The Sergeant at Arms serves as the executive officer of the Senate for enforcement of all rules of the Committee on Rules and Administration regulating the Senate Wing of the Capitol and the Senate Office Buildings and has responsibility for and immediate supervision of the Senate floor, chamber and galleries.

The Sergeant at Arms is authorized to arrest and detain any person violating Senate rules, including the President of the United States.

In addition to the Capitol offices, a suspicious white powder was found in an envelope mailed to the downtown Indianapolis office of Sen. Dan Coates (R-IN) also on Tuesday, according to WRTV Channel 6 News.

The Indianapolis Fire Department Hazardous Materials Team was dispatched to the office in the Key Bank building, Field tests showed the powder was negative for hazardous materials, but the powder will undergo further testing at the Indiana State Board of Health Lab .

Last week, a terror suspect had been arrested near the Capitol as part of an FBI anti-terrorism investigation. Amine El Khalifi, 30, was nabbed by the FBI  following a one-year undercover investigation. He was carrying what he believed to be explosives — including a bomb vest –to launch a suicide attack on the Capitol building and its occupants.

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