White Powder Mailed to Wall Street Journal, Dershowitz

By Robin Shulman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 22, 2009

NEW YORK, Jan. 21 -- Envelopes containing white powder arrived at the offices of top editors and executives of the Wall Street Journal and Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz on Wednesday, causing several floors of the newspaper to be evacuated and rousing memories of the 2001 anthrax mailings.

By the end of the day, however, the substance delivered to the Journal proved to be a harmless "flour or food-based powder," said Paul Browne, the chief spokesman for the New York Police Department. The letters all had return addresses in Knoxville, Tenn.

The substance mailed to Dershowitz was still undergoing tests, said Gail Marcinkiewicz, a spokeswoman for the Boston office of the FBI.

Dershowitz said his assistant underwent a decontamination process after being exposed to the powder while opening the envelope. He said he had been told that tests had shown the powder was not anthrax.

FBI offices in New York, Boston and Knoxville were investigating the source of the mailings along with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, said James Margolin, a spokesman for the FBI in New York.

"There were 13 white letter envelopes," said Robert Christie, a spokesman for the Wall Street Journal. He said 250 employees were evacuated from the paper's newsroom, executive offices and editorial board offices at the World Financial Center in Lower Manhattan.

The letters all contained a blank piece of paper and white powder, said Paul Browne, chief spokesman for the New York police. It looked like "sugar or salt," said one Wall Street Journal employee who saw the contents of an envelope.

Five women who work for the Journal were exposed to the powder while opening three of the letters and underwent a decontamination procedure, Browne said.

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