U.S. officials are increasingly concerned al Qaeda mount a devastating attack aimed at disrupting the political process here, reports the Associated Press. Attorney General John Ashcroft and other senior officials recently held a conference call with all 93 U.S. Attorneys to say that prosecutors and law enforcement officers must take every conceivable step to counter the threat. The FBI has assigned more people to counterterrorism investigations and agents are making more frequent checks with informers and key sources. The Drug Enforcement Administration has been told to check for terrorism leads among its informants. Authorities are increasing what they call overt surveillance of terrorism suspects – letting the suspects know they are being watched – and they may arrest some on minor charges to get them off the street.
The Transportation Security Administration has increased checks of air passengers and is paying special attention to truck rentals. U.S. officials are worried al Qaeda might try to mimic the case of Spain, where the governing party that supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq was defeated after March 11 train bombings in Madrid killed 200 people.