As the combined American and British offensive against the Taliban-controlled government of Afghanistan and the terrorists it harbors enters its second day, the United States itself is becoming more and more an armed camp.
Security at public and private facilities across the nation tightened today as the air-and-sea assault on Afghan military and terrorist targets that began yesterday triggered concerns that agents of Osama bin Laden may lash back at targets on U.S. soil.
Yesterday the FBI urged local law enforcement agencies 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 stated.
While FBI officials said they had no information on specific threats, Attorney General John Ashcroft has been warning of a high likelihood for more terrorist acts, especially once the U.S. embarked on military action.
According to the Associated Press (AP), after the first bomb and missile strikes by American and British forces, the doors to the Missouri Capitol were shut to visitors, Utah state troopers were shifted from their desks to highway duty, and airports around the country further ratcheted up security.
The Dept. of Energy put its facilities, including nuclear-weapons labs and nuclear-materials storage sites, on a heightened level of security, reported AP.
The Dept. of Transportation’s Coast Guard launched its largest mobilization to defend U.S. ports in more than 50 years. The Coast Guard increased from 51 to 72 the number of special security zones thrown around such sites as nuclear power plants and piers where oil is loaded or offloaded.
In New York City, which saw the Holland Tunnel partially reopened for the first time since September 11, the air strikes brought even more security measures to airports, bridges, tunnels and such landmarks as the Empire State Building. AP quoted New York mayor Rudy Giuliani as saying 4500 National Guard troops and additional police officers have deployed throughout the city in areas “that might be possible targets in minds of terrorists.'' But in midtown Manhattan, concern about terrorism was no match for patriotic pride as the city’s annual Columbus Day Parade marched up 5th Avenue at noon, just as planned.