U.S. Facilities Go on High Alert

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

U.S. Facilities Go on High Alert Posted: 10/8/2001 by: NewsWire

WASHINGTON (AP) From nuclear labs to ocean ports, Americans are tightening security to guard against revenge attacks by terrorists in the aftermath of the U.S. military strikes on Afghanistan. Legislators were advised not to wear their congressional pins except on Capitol Hill.

The Coast Guard mobilized its largest security force since World War II while the FBI on Sunday urged local law enforcement agencies nationwide to move to their highest level of alert.

"The current operating instructions are based on the possibility of additional terrorist activity occurring somewhere in the world," the FBI said.

As if to underscore the real threat of additional attack, plans for Vice President Dick Cheney to give Tom Ridge the oath of office as head of the new Office of Homeland Security were scrapped so that Cheney could remain at an undisclosed, secure location. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas administered the oath instead.

Senior Transportation Department officials reopened a command center to monitor the situation, and warned DOT agencies and the industries they oversee, including harbors, railroads and subways, to watch for possible attacks. The Federal Aviation Administration also alerted airports.

DOT spokesman Chet Lunner said the various agencies already were at a high level of security prior to the attacks on Afghanistan. "Everybody's at their highest level," he said. "The preparation put them in a position to react immediately."

On Capitol Hill, members of Congress were advised not to wear their congressional pins when they are away from the Capitol, said Rep. John Sweeney, R-N.Y.

"There is a sense that this effort on the part of al-Qaida and the like is meant to attack American institutions and to that degree, as a member of Congress, you are a symbol and a representative of that," Sweeney said. "But I think all Americans are at some risk now."

The Capitol was closed Monday because of the holiday and there were no tourists in the building. Several streets around the Capitol have been closed since the terror attacks of Sept. 11, but no new closures were added Sunday, Capitol Police spokesman Lt. Dan Nichols said.

More police were deployed around the Capitol on Sunday, and the force remained on high alert Monday, Nichols said.

The Customs Service, which helps guard the nation's borders, has been at its highest security status since last month's attacks, resulting in additional inspectors being brought on board and more frequent examinations of cargo and travelers' luggage.

"Our employees see the news. They know about the airstrikes. I think individually officers are a little more vigilant than they were the other day," said Customs spokesman Dennis Murphy. "But our policy has not changed. We are still at the highest security level."

Around the country, local police were urged to "be at the highest level of vigilance and be prepared to respond to any act of terrorism or violence should it become necessary."

Phil Orlandella, spokesman for Logan Airport in Boston, said there were no threats at the facility where terrorists boarded two flights on Sept. 11. "Everything's going smoothly," he said.

Julie Wong, spokeswoman for Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn, said police were working extra hours but received "no credible threat" against the city.

FBI officials said they had no specific threats, but U.S. intelligence officials and Attorney General John Ashcroft had been warning for days there was a high likelihood of additional terrorism activity, particularly after the United States took its first military action.

The bureau issued the advisory through its National Threat Warning System after Sunday's U.S.-British air assault on Afghan military sites and camps belonging to Osama bin Laden.

Within hours of the first strikes by American and British warplanes, Missouri shut the doors at its state Capitol to visitors, Utah state troopers were shifted from their desks to the highways and airport officials in Chicago, Detroit, Kansas City and Florida further tightened security.

The Energy Department placed its facilities, including nuclear weapons laboratories and nuclear materials storage areas, on a heightened level of security, spokeswoman Jeanne Lopato said.

The State Department issued a warning to Americans overseas of the possibility of "strong anti-American sentiment and retaliatory actions against U.S. citizens and interests throughout the world," and urged them to monitor local news, limit their movements and stay in touch with U.S. embassies and consulates.

Meanwhile, the Coast Guard increased from 51 to 72 the number of special security zones surrounding such facilities as nuclear power plants and piers where oil is loaded and unloaded, Cmdr. Jim McPherson said.

"A lot of this is because of the USS Cole incident," McPherson said, referring to the suicide attack on a Navy ship moored in Yemen last year that killed 17 sailors and injured 37.

The changes followed an increase Thursday in the amount of notice that all ships must give to enter U.S. ports, McPherson said. Instead of 24 hours, ship captains must provide 96-hour notice, and the Coast Guard then checks crew, passenger and cargo manifests.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks in New York and Washington, the Coast Guard also has maintained separate naval protection zones around Navy and Coast Guard ships, a procedure that had not been used since World War II, McPherson said.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), October 08, 2001


I think we are giving the terrorists a little more credit than they deserve for their ability to create widespread havoc in the near-future.

We must remember the disaster of Sept. 11 was a rag-tag operation. The whole thing, years in the planning, involving numerous cross-country and international trips, living and travel maintenance, still came in at a price tag of under $200,000.

Furthermore, the entire operation was built around the use of our own assets - e.g. jumbo jets loaded with fuel - to pull it off. They provided nothing but brains, skill, planning, and execution. The development and movement of expensive things like biological and chemical agents, nuclear devices, etc. would require a great deal more expense, and, importantly, expertise, than that demonstrated by the Sept. 11 desperados.

-- Wayward (wayward@webtv.net), October 08, 2001.

I hope paranoia does not become the order of the day. Reporting of the anthrax cases in Florida may be a sign of this. If so, this is just what the terrorists want.

-- Loner (loner@bigfoot.com), October 08, 2001.

I say strike fear of the Lord into them. Not into us.

-- Buck (bigbuck@trailways.net), October 08, 2001.

I'm glad everybody is so brave. I'm not. I guess I am a coward. But I have a son in the Marines, and I can honestly say that I have been losing sleep ever since this thing happened, worrying about him.

-- LillyLP (lillyLP@aol.com), October 08, 2001.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ