Sen. Lieberman’s district office latest mail attack victim

Sen. Joe Lieberman’s (I-Conn.) district office is the latest victim of a series of threatening mailings sent to lawmakers this week containing a suspicious powder.

On Wednesday, Senate Sergeant at Arms Terry Gainer circulated an email to congressional staff warning them to be on the lookout for letters postmarked from Portland, Ore., or with a specific return address containing The MIB, LLC.

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On Thursday afternoon, staff at Lieberman’s district office in Hartford, Conn., received such a letter and immediately contacted local authorities and the FBI.

“Yesterday when our staff in our state office was sorting the mail — around the lunchtime hour — they came across a package with the same return address,” Lieberman’s press secretary, Whitney Phillips, told The Hill.

“They secluded the package and closed off the room,” she said.

Authorities evacuated the office, and initial tests of the envelope’s contents came back negative for harmful material, Phillips said.

“Everybody is safe, everybody is fine,” she said, noting that staff in the district office were telecommuting from home Friday. Lieberman himself was out of the office, but in the state, at the time of the evacuation Thursday.

Lieberman is just the latest lawmaker this week to receive a suspicious package in the mail. On Tuesday, a Senate state office and a House district office received threatening mail that contained the substance.

The names of the lawmakers whose offices were targeted have not yet been disclosed.

According to emails circulated by Gainer on Wednesday, the letters received were tested and the enclosed substance found to be harmless. But there were threats of more letters to come.

“The author of these letters has indicated that additional letters containing a powdery substance will be arriving at more Senate offices and that some of these letters may contain an actual harmful material,” he wrote. “Although all letters received thus far have proved harmless, it is essential that we treat every piece of suspicious mail as if it may, in fact, be harmful.”

Members of Congress are not the only reported targets of the mail attack. According to local news reports, letters addressed to Comedy Central TV hosts Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert were also sent to parent company Viacom. The FBI was said to be investigating the matter.

The mail attacks come just one week after another significant threat against Congress, this time in the form of a potential suicide bomber near the Capitol. On Friday, the FBI arrested 29-year-old Amine El Khalifi, an illegal immigrant from Mexico residing in Alexandria, Va., after a one-year sting operation.

El Khalifi has been charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction against property that is owned and used by the United States, according to the Department of Justice.