Reports are beginning to filter through the media that a letter laced with the deadly poison Ricin was received by Republican Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi.
The letter was received in the Senate mail facility, although at this point it is unclear when the letter was received, or how it was handled.
The fact of the poisoned letter was discussed at a Homeland Security briefing for senators that took place this afternoon, April 16.
According to the media site Politico, senators were told that a suspect had been identified.
Wicker, the junior senator from Mississippi, was appointed by Governor Haley Barbour to fill the seat vacated by Trent Lott in 2007. He is the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services subcommittee on Airland, which has jurisdiction over most Army and Air Force programs as well as Navy and Marine Corps tactical aviation programs. He is also a member of the U.S. Senate’s Seapower and Emerging Threats subcommittees.
The Senate went into recess as of 6:00 pm ET today.
UPDATE 10:02 pm ET The ricin-laced letter was discovered at an off-site location where all congressional mail is sent ever since 2001 when anthrax-laced letters were received at the Capitol in 2001. The tainted letter addressed to Wicker was tested and re-tested, and both times came up positive for ricin.
Ricin is a poison derived from castor beans. According to the Centers for Disease Control, inhalation of ricin powder can lead to respiratory distress, fever, cough, and nausea. Heavy sweating may follow, as well as heavy buildup of fluid in the lungs, causing even greater breathing difficulties. At an advanced stage, low blood pressure and respiratory failure may occur, leading to death.