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Letter containing anthrax opened in office of Sen. Daschle

Monday, October 15, 2001

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A letter opened in the office of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle "had anthrax in it," President Bush said Monday.

Bush said the envelope was field-tested shortly after being received, and the staffers who have been exposed are being treated.

Speaking to reporters at the White House, Bush said "there may be some possible link" between Osama bin Laden and a recent flurry of anthrax-related developments.

"I wouldn't put it past him but we don't have any hard evidence," he said of the man suspected as the leader behind Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington that killed thousands.

But Bush, in responding to a reporter's question, said he had just talked with Daschle. "His office received a letter and it had anthrax in it. The letter was field-tested. And the staffers that have been exposed are being treated."

The president made his comments after a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, the latest in a steady stream of foreign leaders to visit Washington in the wake of the terrorist attacks.

The president said additional tests are being conducted on the letter. It "had been wrapped a lot," he said, and there was "powder within the confines of the envelope."

He said the powder itself had been sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for additional testing.

The disclosure came after days of unsettling reports of anthrax scares in three states, including the death of one man in Florida last week.

"The key thing for the American people is to be cautious," said Bush.


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