Suspicious Letters, Packages Inundate Washington [Updated]

US President Barack Obama holds up letters he has received from citizens who need health care as he speaks with members of the House Democratic Caucus at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, March 20, 2010. Obama looked to energize his Democratic allies Saturday with an in-person appeal for his historic health care overhaul on the eve of a cliffhanger vote on the sweeping legislation. AFP PHOTO/Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
This is why we should just get rid of mail. Photo: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty

That ricin-laced letter that was intercepted before it could be delivered to Mississippi senator Roger Wicker was apparently just the tip of the ric-berg (pronounced rice-berg, like iceberg … probably should have just gone with iceberg).

•A suspicious letter, addressed to President Obama and screened at an off-site mail facility before it reached the White House, has now also tested positive for ricin, a poison derived from the castor bean.

•A second letter sent to the Senate has tested positive for ricin, according to ABC News. It’s not immediately clear whether this is the same suspicious letter that “was delivered to Sen. Manchin’s office,” as ABC News’s Sunlen Miller reports.

•The first and third floors of the Hart Senate office building were evacuated owing to suspicious packages.

•The hallway outside Senator Richard Shelby’s office in the Russell Senate office building was also cleared owing to a suspicious package.

•A man was being questioned by police in the Hart building. CNN reports: “The man raised suspicion with the content of his backpack and how he responded to police questions, two Capitol Hill police officers said. The backpack contained sealed envelopes and was being x-rayed, one of the officers said.”

Washington is justifiably jittery right now, and it’s possible that some of these suspicious packages and letters turn out to be nothing. As for the letters that have tested positive for ricin, presumably all of them are related, and Senator Claire McCaskill said yesterday that the police already have a suspect — a person who “writes a lot of letters to members.”

There’s no indication so far that the ricin letters are in any way related to the bombings in Boston, and we’re personally still holding out hope that they are merely part of an ill-advised guerrilla marketing campaign for the final season of Breaking Bad. (But, really, they’re not. The world is just a horrible place.)

Update, 12:50 p.m.: CNN is reporting that Capitol Police have removed all suspicious packages from the Hart and Russell buildings and given both areas the all clear. No word yet on the nature of the packages. 

Update 3:41 p.m.: ABC News has some information on the contents of the letter:

The letter addressed to President Obama that field-tested positive for the poison ricin included the message, “to see a wrong and not expose it is to become a silent partner to its continuance,” according to a source familiar with an investigation of the incident.

I am KC and I approve this message,” it reads.

Somebody Sent Ricin to President Obama