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FBI Investigating Suspicious Letter Sent to Senator Daschle - 2002-01-03

The FBI is investigating a suspicious letter containing what police describe as a powdery substance that was sent to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. In October, the South Dakota Democrat received a letter containing the deadly anthrax bacteria.

The letter arrived in Senator Daschle's suite just a short distance from the Senate floor. Unlike the letter sent to him in October, this one initially tested negative for anthrax. It is now being turned over to the FBI, which has begun a criminal investigation.

"The material is not hazardous right now," explained Capitol Police spokesman Dan Nichols. "What I can not tell you is what the material is. The FBI will take the material as evidence. They will do further analysis and they will determine exactly what it is."

Congress is in recess, but police briefly closed the Capitol building to Congressional staff and tourists.

In October, dozens of Senate staff members were treated for anthrax exposure after a letter containing the deadly bacteria was sent to Senator Daschle's Capitol Hill office. Investigators have yet to charge anyone in connection with that letter.

They have also been unable to determine who is responsible for several other cases of anthrax exposure left five people dead around the country.