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Letter to Governor Was Rigged to Ignite

Officials intercept an envelope that was intended for Schwarzenegger. Other governors have also been targeted.

September 15, 2004|From Associated Press

SACRAMENTO — The California Highway Patrol confirmed that it intercepted a rigged envelope Monday among "tens of thousands of pieces of mail" intended for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, one of three governors targeted Monday by letters rigged to ignite when opened.

"We received one of the letters," spokesman Tom Marshall said Tuesday. Since last week, officials in 19 states have intercepted rigged letters that were sent to their governors.

Similar letters intended for the governors of Virginia and West Virginia were also seized Monday before being delivered.

"We've been notified by law enforcement to be on the lookout," Marshall said. "Having been alerted and doing normal screening, they did find what they thought might be one of the letters." He said the letter was forwarded to the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Beyond saying "there was something we were looking for," Marshall declined to specify what identified the letter to Schwarzenegger as suspicious. But he said it was spotted at a CHP center in West Sacramento by screeners who inspect thousands of letters intended for the governor and other members of the state's executive branch.

At least three of the 18 letters opened last week caught fire. No one has been injured.

Schwarzenegger's office had no comment Tuesday on the incident.

Marshall said authorities initially decided "because of the security issue" not to announce the interception. But the CHP confirmed the letter after receiving numerous calls asking about bombs and terrorist materials allegedly intended for the governor.

He said CHP screeners routinely inspect mail bound for the executive branch, while sergeants at arms for the Assembly and state Senate do the same for mail addressed to the Legislature.

FBI officials nationally said they haven't yet opened other intercepted envelopes and that lab analysis of the mail could take several days.

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