Handwritten Envelope Throws Senate Into Panic

Remember the good ol’ days, when national-security threats came in powdery white envelopes? A mysterious object that appeared on the desk of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Wednesday sparked a security scare that briefly paralyzed much of the Senate. A Senate postal clerk noticed an envelope on Reid’s desk addressed ominously by hand and without postage. So a Reid staffer alerted the Capitol Police, who responded with a “small swarm” of officers. The police shut down the hallway outside Reid’s office and then—in a rare move—closed the corridor used for press conferences outside the Senate’s main entrance. Hazardous-materials teams tested the envelope, then opened it to reveal a typed letter from C. Everett Koop, Reagan’s surgeon general. Citing concern about health-care legislation, Koop, 93, had asked Sen. Orrin Hatch to give Reid the letter, and a Hatch staffer had dropped the envelope in Reid’s mailbox. “I didn’t mean anything nefarious,” Koop said. “There’s no law about how to deliver a letter. I can appreciate all of the security that surrounds the leader, but this all could have been settled in a few minutes.”