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Suspicious mailings hold anti-war CDs

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WASHINGTON — Suspicious packages have been sent to National Guard and Reserve facilities in 36 states, including Utah, federal authorities said Wednesday.

Initial reports from the Guard that one of the packages contained a powdery substance turned out to be incorrect, officials said.

The 51 packages included anti-war CDs and began arriving at locations around the country last Friday, said National Guard spokesman Mark Allen.

A classified meeting about the mailings was held Wednesday at the Guard's joint operation center, which monitors deployments of teams sent out to investigate such incidents, Guard spokesman Randy Noller said.

Some of the packages were postmarked from Tennessee and Oklahoma, Allen said.

"It doesn't appear that we have a problem," Allen said Wednesday.

Officials initially were told by a number of people that a package received at Utah's National Guard headquarters in Draper also contained a suspicious powdery substance that was tested and found not to be toxic.

But Lt. Col. Hank McIntire, a spokesman for the Utah Guard, said Wednesday that "first reports of the incident were incorrect."

The package sent to Guard headquarters was discovered Tuesday morning by a mailroom worker. As a precaution, the 400 employees who work in the headquarters building were evacuated immediately and employees were dismissed for the day, said Robert Maes, a postal inspector for Salt Lake City.

Mailroom workers were screened for exposure to hazardous materials, and a postal inspection team found no workers had been exposed and that there was no residual hazardous substance detected in the mailroom area, Maes said in a statement.

The National Guard notified the FBI about the suspicious packages. However FBI spokesman Rich Kolko said these packages appeared to be someone exercising their First Amendment rights, which is not a crime. He said the FBI is not investigating these mailings, and they are unrelated to the suspicious packages sent to some governors' offices and U.S. embassies.

Sixteen U.S. embassies in Europe have received letters containing a suspicious white substance, and tests have shown all but one of them to be harmless, State Department spokesman Robert A. Wood said. Test results for one letter has not yet been received, he said.

More than 40 governors' offices nationwide have also gotten the letters, which contain an unspecified note, Kolko said Tuesday.

The FBI said all of those were postmarked from Texas; the letters began showing up in states last week. They all appear to be from the same source, and have tested negative for any dangerous toxin or other threat, authorities said.