NEW YORK (AP) – Police and Secret Service agents determined Friday that a suspicious white powdery substance found at former President Clinton’s office in Manhattan was not toxic.

A staff member opened package delivered to the president’s office that contained the white powdery substance and a letter, and called authorities, said Secret Service spokesman Richard Staropoli. He described the letter as a “rambling diatribe,” but would not say if it contained threats.

Clinton was not at the office at the time, but was in the city attending events for his three-day birthday bash, a fundraising event for his foundation. His birthday was in August.

“The situation has not affected the president or Mrs. Clinton in any way whatsoever,” Staropoli said.

Police and emergency services officers were called to the Harlem office building at about 3:45 p.m., said New York Police Sgt. Reginald Watkins. Clinton’s spokesman, Jay Carson, said the building at 55 W. 125th St. had not been evacuated. He had no other immediate comment.

Staropoli said it appeared the powder was intentionally placed in the package, but it was not a large enough amount to cause a cloud.

Officials determined through a field test that the substance was inert and not toxic. The package was turned over to the Secret Service for investigation, but officials would not comment on the specifics of the letter, how it was addressed, who sent it, or the type of substance found in the package.

Staropoli said that every letter or package that arrives at the office undergoes a security screening, but he declined to say whether this package went through the screening process.

About 47 people who were on the floors where the package was being held to make sure any toxin discovered would not spread. Staropoli said officials were trying to decide whether they would need to decontaminate anyone as a precaution.

Yellow police tape blocked off the sidewalk in front of the building, but there was no traffic disruption.

The office was evacuated briefly in April 2004 after a worker opened a package containing a suspicious powder, which authorities later determined was not toxic.

Clinton signed a 10-year lease for the 8,300 square foot penthouse floor of the 14-story building in 2001. The Secret Service takes up 300 square feet of the space.

The city’s Administration for Children’s Services has a field office on four lower floors of the building.

The William J. Clinton Foundation operates programs to combat AIDS in Africa, as well as global poverty and ethnic strife.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.