- Title: USA: NEW YORK REMAINS ON HIGH ALERT FOLLOWING ANOTHER TERRORISM WARNING
- Date: 24th May 2002
- Summary: WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES (MAY 22, 2002) (REUTERS) MV JOSEPH CIRINCIONE DIRECTOR OF THE CENTER FOR NON-PROLIFERATIONWALKING OUT OF HIS OFFICES SOUNDBITE (English) CIRINCIONE SAYING "There's no doubt that the intelligence agencies are picking up real threats but the way the administration is presenting them at this point is more politics than threat warning. They're making sure that the senior officials, the administration as a whole and above all the president cannot be accused of not alerting the public. In a sense they're giving us too much warning, they're telling us too much without distilling it themselves and giving us a real specific warning we can actually act on." NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES (MAY 22, 2002) (REUTERS) SLV BROOKLYN BRIDGE; SLV POLICE AT BRIDGE (2 SHOTS)
- Embargoed: 8th June 2002 13:00
- Location: WASHINGTON, D.C., AND NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES
- Country: USA
- Topics: Crime,Conflict,Politics
- Reuters ID: LVADAXEVW211W6KVPUT0CKDGUWAY
- Story Text: New York remains on high alert following another terrorism warning, one of a string in recent days from U.S.
officials who caution that it is only a matter of time before the United States is attacked again.
But the warnings did not stop a flotilla of U.S. Navy ships from gathering in the waters off Manhattan for the annual "Fleet Week" celebrations.
Far from being canceled out of fear, this year's naval parade is bigger than usual.
Security for the maritime celebration will be be unprecedented, with airport style checks on anyone wanting to tour the ships.
New York City is still on high alert, following FBI warnings that the Brooklyn Bridge and Statue of Liberty could be potential targets. Police are monitoring cars and trucks crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, stopping anyone they deem suspicious.
The most recent warning is just one of several from U.S.
officials over the past few days.
Since Tuesday, warnings have come from the Vice President, the Secretary of Defense, the FBI director and the Homeland Security Director.
But some analysts say the number of warnings may not necessarily indicate that a terrorist attack is imminent.
"There's no doubt that the intelligence agencies are picking up real threats," says Joseph Cirincione, Director Of The Center For Non-Proliferation, "but the way the administration is presenting them at this point is more politics than threat warning."
Cirincione believes that the number of threat warnings may make it harder for members of the public to anticipate potential attacks.
"They're making sure that the senior officials, the administration as a whole and above all the president cannot be accused of not alerting the public. In a sense they're giving us too much warning," Cirincione says.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said warnings and increased security are a way of life in post-September 11.
"It is not something that's gonna end, it is something we're going to have to learn to live with and we're going to have to learn to get better at it," Rumsfeld said on Wednesday (May 22).
Threat warnings about attacks on apartment buildings, New York landmarks, or from suicide bombers striking on U.S. soil have made headlines in recent days.
And on Tuesday (May 21), U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld offered one of the grimmest threat assessments yet, telling members of Congress it is inevitable that terrorist groups will get weapons of mass destruction.
One of the most likely terrorist attacks, Cirincione says, could come from so-called "dirty bombs," radioactive material wrapped around conventional explosives.
The bomb is considered attractive to terrorist groups like al Qaeda because it is relatively crude, but capable of causing widespread terror.
The radioactive ingredients could come from nuclear waste from a power plant, or from chemotherapy machines. And while the bomb explosion itself would cause most of the damage - the real terror would result from radioactive material spreading over several miles.
"This does two things, one it freezes rescue operations, as the first responders are hesitant to go into a radioactive area. Second, it spews poison, an unseen poison that's detectable but you can't see it or touch it and it spreads exactly the kind of horror the terrorists are after,"
And the economic damage that would result from such a blast in an urban area could be costly, rendering blocks and perhaps miles uninhabitable during clean-up.
In New York, a city still jittery after the hijacked plane attacks that caused the collapse of the World Trade Center towers eight months ago, the latest alerts are unnerving to some.
James Oakes, a resident of Manhattan said "As a New Yorker we're always nervous, so we're always looking over our shoulder I guess."
But continuous security alerts do not phase everyone.
Another city resident, Jaqueline Morse says "I just feel because you hear all these warnings all the time and you live in New York that you just become desensitized."
This weekend is a three day holiday for Americans, who will celebrate Memorial Day on Monday ( May 27).
Meanwhile, the City's bioterrorism experts were playing a massive mock security operation on one of Manhattan's piers.
Health officials, the New York Fire Department and New York Police Department were testing to see how quickly they could dispense antidotes to biological weapons to citizens of New York.
The training day had initially been set for September 12th 2001, but had to be canceled following the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11th.
Health Commissioner Tom Frieden says no-one should panic that the exercise is taking place. He said "The purpose of today's exercise is quite simply to make sure that we are as prepared as anyone could be. New York City is a safe place, by continuing to do exercises such as this, we ensure that we stay as safe as possible and we're at the cutting edge of preparedness."
City officials hope to be able to assess and treat 100,000 potential victims of a small pox or anthrax attack in the space of six hours. They say last autumn's anthrax attacks demonstrate how vital it is to be able to treat those exposed to a biological agent as quickly as possible.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2015. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None