Thursday, October 18, 2001

FRIST IN RECEIPT OF 'SUSPICIOUS' PACKAGE

FRIST IN RECEIPT OF 'SUSPICIOUS' PACKAGE

Posted By on Thu, Oct 18, 2001 at 4:00 AM

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Bill Frist, who as the Senate's only physician has taken the lead in communicating information about the anthrax menace through the media, may have become a victim of the hazardous bacterium himself on Wednesday -- at least in the sense than his Memphis office was evidently targeted by a letter said to contain the anthrax spore.

Also reporting the receipt of suspicious packages Wednesday were Shelby County Mayor Jim Rout and U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr. in his Washington office. Both officials said they would have their mail specially bagged for inspection by the FBI or other law enforcement authorities.

Nick Smith, a spokesperson for Frist, said that the senator's office in Memphis received in Wednesday afternoon's mail what appeared, when opened by a staff member, to be a dosed envelope.

Further details were not immediately available and will be reported as soon as they are.

The senator, who was in Washington, where offices began closing Wednesday in response to the anthrax scare, has by now appeared on virtually every political news or talk show, regular or cable, discussing the disease and the various means for responding to it.

Frist later issued a statement on the receipt in Memphis of what he called "a suspicious package." He called the circumstances "a deplorable act, which I'm hopeful turns out to only be a hoax." After noting that the FBI was now in charge of investigating the package, Frist said that he would remain "in touch with authorities to ensure that the appropriate actions are taken to ensure the safety of those individuals affected."

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