Alert Level Moves To Orange; Cities Boost Security


How are states and localities reacting to the new antional terrorist alert level of orange? U.S. Homeland Security officials said threat indicators are perhaps greater now than at any point since the terrorist attacks Sept. 11, 2001.

Here is the view from Washington State, as related by the Seattle Times:

“There’s not a specific threat to Seattle; there’s not a specific threat to the Northwest,” Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske said. “We’re taking this very seriously, (but) we want people to continue to do their normal activities and enjoy themselves.”

Gov. Gary Locke said all state agencies will implement specific, comprehensive security measures. The governor said security at airports and borders will be increased, “and I encourage people to be understanding and patient.”

Cars headed to the curbside drop-off and pickup areas at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport will face a new checkpoint, or “inspection station,” on the airport expressway. Sea-Tac and other airports around the country are setting up the checkpoints at the direction of the federal Transportation Security Administration. Cars headed for the curbside drop-off areas – the use of which the airport is discouraging – can expect at least a once-over from airport police. “If it’s a vehicle that we can see inside clearly from the outside, you can get through it pretty quickly,” one official said. “If we can’t see inside clearly, or if there are certain other criteria about it, we may take a closer look.”

Increased vigilance will be evident at the Canadian border and other ports of entry, said spokesman Mike Milne of the U.S. Customs Service. “We will search more vehicles and more trunks of vehicles,” he said. That doesn’t mean American travelers shouldn’t buy Christmas gifts in Canada or vice versa, he said, “just don’t wrap them.” The agency also will be stepping up cargo examinations.

In Seattle, the most visible sign of the increased threat level will be more police at places and events where large numbers of people gather, Kerlikowske said. Police presence was stepped up at yesterday’s Seahawks game, he said, and more police will patrol areas such as Seattle Center and Pike Place Market.


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