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Wed, Nov 21, 2001 - Page 6 News List

FBI identifies links between anthrax letters to senators


The FBI said it believes a letter to Senator Patrick Leahy, belatedly found last week, was written by the same person who sent an anthrax-laced letter to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle last month.

Investigators also said Monday they are looking into the possibility that the letter to Leahy was misdirected, which could have been the source of anthrax contamination at a State Department mail facility that sickened one worker.

Two Senate office buildings struck by the anthrax scare reopened, and US health experts provided assistance to authorities in Chile who found a new letter that may contain anthrax.

Tom Skinner, spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, said the agency was planning to test a substance found in a letter that the Chilean government said was tainted with anthrax. The government of Chile said the letter came from Switzerland.

US Postal inspector Dan Mihalko said the letter to Leahy contained a handwritten postal code that could have been misread by optical character reader machines at the postal service.

"It raises an interesting possibility that the letter to Leahy could have been misdirected through the State Department mail system, which might explain how that system got contaminated," said Mihalko.

The Leahy letter was found Friday by the FBI and hazardous-materials personnel from the Environmental Protection Agency in one of 280 barrels of unopened mail sent to Capitol Hill and held since discovery of the letter to Daschle.

The outside of the Leahy letter appears virtually identical to the Daschle letter and bears the same fictitious "Greendale School" return address, all-capital block letters with a slight slant to the right and a postmark from Trenton, New Jersey.

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