Police carrying rifles patrol Capitol; government warns industry about terror threat - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

Police carrying rifles patrol Capitol; government warns industry about terror threat


WASHINGTON (AP) _ Business goes on in the nation's capital, but signs of preparation for possible terrorism are everywhere. Members of Congress are being told to put together a ``go bag'' and keep a low profile while the government warns key industries about potential attacks.

``Everyone in (the Capitol) has remained calm but cautious,'' said Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, chairman of the House Administration Committee. ``There is not a panic situation here.''

Even so, lawmakers were told to gather up supplies, sensitive documents, medicine and a laminated list of key phone numbers in case they have to leave quickly. Congressional staffers this week received training in how to operate ``escape hoods'' that protect against chemical and biological substances.

The security measures are the latest to follow last week's increase in the nation's terror threat level to orange, or high, second from the top on a color-coded scale of five. Justice Department officials said Thursday there were no plans to raise the threat level to red, or severe, meaning an attack was imminent or under way.

Eying a jittery public, President Bush planned a speech Friday at FBI headquarters to highlight steps the federal government is taking to increase security, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said. Bush was making the short trip down Pennsylvania Avenue primarily to talk up the new Terrorist Threat Integration Center.

First announced in Bush's State of the Union speech, the center will analyze foreign and domestic intelligence gathered from a wide array of federal agencies and report to CIA Director George Tenet. In some cases, the center will also decide which intelligence should be collected at home and overseas.

Visible anti-terror security measures around Washington included officers carrying rifles in the Capitol complex and the deployment of anti-aircraft missile batteries.

A new bulletin from the FBI and the National Infrastructure Protection Center was issued to companies involved in such industries as telecommunications, energy, and banking and finance, as well as operators of water systems and electric utilities, law enforcement agencies and emergency services.

Officials believe al-Qaida could target these entities with chemical, biological or radiological attacks. Such an attack, officials say, could prompt terror and mass casualties and disrupt the regional or national economy.

Of particular concern is the ``dirty bomb,'' a crude, easy-to-make device that would spew radioactive material over a wide area.

Industry officials should check out their employees in an effort to root out any terrorists who may have been working there for years, waiting for the signal to strike. Al-Qaida's mode of operation is patience, sometimes taking years to plan an attack _ as it did for those that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001.

``Operatives will likely research potential targets extensively prior to an attack,'' the bulletin said. ``Planning may begin months or years before an actual terrorist attack.''

In addition, the warning said officials should check Internet sites describing their facilities and ``consider how that information might assist terrorists interested in planning an attack.''

Company officials should make sure that security routines are varied and think back to any unusual incidents in the past that might indicate their facility was under surveillance or being targeted.

For people who might be faced with or respond to an attack, the bulletin recommends reading the Chemical, Biological and Radiological Incident handbook available on the CIA Internet site. This handbook describes warning signs of chemical, biological and radiation attacks and steps individuals can take to protect themselves.

The FBI bulletin urges people who come in contact with a suspect substance to ``cover their mouths with a cloth while leaving the area, avoid touching surfaces and wash their hands thoroughly.''
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