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Saturday December 8 1:51 PM ET

Anthrax Sender May Have Military Past, Daschle Says

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Reuters Photo


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, whose Capitol Hill office received an anthrax-laced letter in October, said on Saturday he believes the sender was probably someone with a military background.

``I think as we look at all the possibilities, that one has the greatest degree of credibility right now,'' the South Dakota Democrat said on CNN's ``Novak, Hunt and Shields'' program.

While the source or sources of the anthrax-laced letters sent to Daschle, Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy (news - bio - voting record) and the offices of three news media is not known, investigators have said they believe they were of domestic origin.

They have also raised the possibility that the sender had served in or worked with the military.

Asked if he believes the source was someone with a military background, Daschle said, ``That's correct.'' Daschle has been in frequent contact with investigators.

Eighteen people have been infected with anthrax and five have died from the inhalation form of the disease since early October. The Senate Hart Office Building is still closed and undergoing decontamination from a letter opened in Daschle's office on Oct. 15.

On a separate issue, Daschle threw cold water on many lawmakers' hopes that Congress will recess for the year by next weekend.

``We'll be in to a period of time up until just about Christmas,'' he said. ``I'm convinced that if we're going to get economic stimulus and the insurance bill and the appropriations bills completed, there is no way we'll finish by the 14th.''

Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, a Mississippi Republican, on Friday said it was time for Congress to wrap up its work and leave for the year.

``We need to do whatever we're going to do by next Friday, the 14th, and call it a day,'' he said.

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