Magazine article Newsweek

America Goes on Guard

Magazine article Newsweek

America Goes on Guard

Article excerpt

The home front: The threat of terrorism is real. But the country is far from defenseless.

The american peo- ple need to know ... we will be targeted," declared national- security adviser Sandy Berger last week. But cops across the land already were on war footing. In Washington, armored SWAT teams stood outside the Pentagon. Sport utility vehicles parked nose-to-nose blocked the main driveway at the State Department and U.S. Park Police laid on extra patrols at national memorials. In New York, barriers went up around city hall. Bomb-sniffing dogs prowled major airports as tow trucks mercilessly whisked away unattended cars. U.S. Border Patrol agents went on high alert, and military police randomly checked soldiers' IDs under a defense plan called Threat Con Alpha.

Although experts agree that Americans abroad are more at risk after last week's strikes, ordinary folks wonder just how jittery they should be. A CNN poll found 10 percent of those questioned "very worried" about a terrorist attack. When warplanes buzzed the Loop last week in the annual prelude to the Chicago Air and Water Show, a radio talk show's phone lines lit up. "I'm surprised at how afraid they are," said the host, Roe Conn of WLS. "We've always been told it's just a matter of time, and people are really taking that to heart."

But America is far from defenseless against Osama bin Laden and his ilk. The battle has been raging secretly for years, and the FBI's record in containing Mideast terrorism is the envy of Western law-enforcement agencies. …

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