Postal Service Concedes Errors In Handling Suspicious Letter At Hartford Facility

WASHINGTON – Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., Wednesday released a letter from the postmaster general in which the postmaster admits error in the handling of a suspicious letter at a Hartford postal facility on November 19, 2002. Postmaster General John Potter told Lieberman that postal service procedures for “a suspicious powder incident” were violated and the supervisor involved has been disciplined.

“I recognize the seriousness of this occurrence, and I am grateful no employees were actually placed at risk,” Potter wrote. “Safety of postal employees will always be our foremost concern and we have moved quickly to ensure future adherence to proper procedures.”

Michael Berghuis, president of the American Postal Workers Union, Hartford CT Local 147, had contacted Lieberman last year about the incident at the Hartford Processing and Distribution center, which involved a letter with the following message inscribed on the envelope: “To anyone who wants anthrax have a nice day.” Berghuis reported, among other things, that the letter had been transported by hand through the postal facility.

In October 2001, Lieberman held two days of hearings on the subject of protecting the public and postal service employees from terrorism through the mail. Lieberman wrote to Potter, December 2, 2002 seeking an accounting of the Hartford incident. In his response, Potter said the supervisor “placed the letter in a tray and brought it to the Postal Police Office. He did not consider this was a suspicious powder piece, but rather a written threat letter.”