Letter to the Editor: Not a Mystery after All

It takes only about five minutes of internet research to answer the questions that an Aug. 4 letter to the editor [Peninsula Pulse, “Unbelievable Mystery”] asked about the recent discovery in the White House of a small plastic bag containing about one gram of cocaine.

According to multiple news reports, the bag was discovered on July 2 by a uniformed Secret Service officer in Locker 50, one of 182 lockers in a vestibule near the entrance to the West Wing where contractors, congressional staffers and other visitors must store cell phones and other electronics that they are not allowed to have in the building. 

The discovery of the powdery substance triggered an evacuation of sections of the White House because of concern that it might be a highly toxic substance such as anthrax or ricin. Upon discovering that the substance was cocaine, the FBI laboratory tested the bag but did not find any fingerprints or DNA. In addition, the Secret Service reviewed visitor logs and concluded that more than 500 visitors had used the vestibule since June 30. There was no surveillance video footage. 

Under the circumstances, the agency announced on July 12 that it had no good basis to continue its investigation, and it provided a closed briefing about the matter to a congressional oversight committee.

The Aug. 4 letter asserts that the writer’s supposedly unanswered questions about the cocaine show that the current administration investigates only when “the opposition” is involved. I disagree. 

First, it is misleading to suggest that the letter writer’s questions – which were, ‘Who found it, and where? Was the packaging ever tested for fingerprints?’ – have not been answered. Second, people of all political parties and viewpoints are allowed to visit and conduct business in the West Wing, so the source of the cocaine could, in fact, be someone from “the opposition.”

There is no evidence that the unknown party affiliation (if any) of the source influenced the nature or intensity of the Secret Service’s investigation.

Laird Hart
Ephraim, Wisconsin