Tight BudgetsPosted by marie on 3/19/03 at 10:47 (113450)
Higher Alert and Tighter Budgets
By JODI WILGOREN
CHICAGO, March 18 As the nation returned to a high level of alert, state, local and federal officials stepped up security today at sensitive sites. But many states stopped short of activating the National Guard, despite the Bush administration's call for governors to deploy such troops or state police.
Even as Tom Ridge, the secretary of homeland security, announced plans to safeguard everything from ports to air travelers to food supplies, many state domestic security chiefs and local emergency managers were still trying to find the right balance for a time of war and tight budgets.
'If we know of a threat we will meet it and deal with the checkbook later,' said Clifford Ong, director of Indiana's Counter-Terrorism and Security Council, 'but absent a threat, we have to make real decisions on what we can do with National Guard and state police overtime.
'One thing I've learned in my job is someone will always trump you in security measures I put out three guards, somebody will say there should be four. That is an incredibly difficult balancing act.'
In Massachusetts, Edward Flynn, the secretary of public safety, said, 'We're not going to fix people at locations for the purpose of calming people down.'
Mr. Flynn added, 'What we have to refrain from doing, even though it's natural to engage in symbolic deployments, is not to take our state police and spread them over places that could be probable targets.'
Such measured judgments, seemed to contrast with the tone of urgency in Washington, where Mr. Ridge, in a televised news conference today promised heightened security, saying he had asked the nation's governors 'to deploy National Guard and other law enforcement personnel' at critical locations around their states.
Mr. Ridge's appearance followed an F.B.I. alert to local police agencies warning that 'sleeper agents' with ties to Iraqi intelligence services 'represent a significant threat.'
The confidential F.B.I. memorandum, issued on Monday night after President Bush gave Saddam Hussein a 48-hour ultimatum to leave Iraq, warned that 'the intensity and scope of opposition to a U.S.-led war against Saddam Hussein has grown to levels that far exceed any such opposition that existed in 1991,' and that 'Al Qaeda may be in the last stages of planning for large-scale attacks.'
Law enforcement officials said they were worried about traditional terrorists as well as Iraqi agents.
'Are we concerned that Iraqi intelligence officers masquerading as diplomats might launch terrorist attacks? Yeah, that's something we're definitely concerned about,' one government official said, adding, 'More likely than not, they would launch these attacks abroad against U.S. interests rather than in this country, because it would be easier to pull off.'
Based on telephone calls pouring into headquarters, an F.B.I. official said, 'There's a growing nervousness on the part of people who have the responsibility for public safety.'
Mr. Ridge said the government was increasing Coast Guard air and sea patrols off shore and at ports, as well as near petroleum and chemical plants. He said that security would be strengthened at airports, rail lines and borders and that new flight restrictions had been enacted over some cities.
He also pledged to step up disease surveillance and food security and to monitor the Internet for signs of a terrorist attack.
In states and cities, officials spent the day balancing the need to calm a jittery public with concern about going overboard in the absence of specific threats against particular sites, cities or states.
The actions varied by region. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York said federal authorities had agreed to secure the city's air space and provide military air patrols. The overflights were just one part of a broad police plan to safeguard against attacks.
Elsewhere, uniformed police patrols were ratcheted up at some state government buildings and flying was restricted over Florida theme parks. The most substantive change for many citizens was the reinstatement of random car searches at many airports where the federal government controls security.
Around the country, officials reviewed the lists of potentially vulnerable sites five in Missouri, three in Minnesota sent on Monday by federal domestic security officials. In many cases, they decided that the mechanisms already in place there were sufficient.
But the heightened alert did bring other changes.
In Ohio, weigh stations on highways stayed open around the clock. In Rhode Island, the Coast Guard increased surveillance along the coastline and at the Port of Providence.
In South Dakota, six satellite parking lots at Mount Rushmore were shut down and park rangers brandishing shotguns screened each vehicle. In San Francisco, National Guard troops that have been stationed at the Golden Gate Bridge since November were joined today by California Highway Patrol officers, some on bikes, inspecting trucks. At the border crossing in Nogales, Ariz., the normal 30-minute wait across the six lanes of traffic stretched to 45 minutes or more.
Of 31 states surveyed by reporters today, six had deployed the National Guard. Officials in Indianapolis and New Orleans began planning for tightened security at this weekend's N.C.A.A. basketball tournaments Louisiana officials said the state would use its National Guard troops, as it did for the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras.
'The challenge in all this is, without a specific threat, it's trying to strike a balance between not overreacting, but trying to do something,' said Lt. Gov. Dave Heineman, Nebraska's top security official.
Amid the worst fiscal crises since World War II, most states held off activating their emergency operations centers, an expensive proposition, at least until the shooting starts. Col. Tim Daniel, Missouri's director of domestic security, said of Mr. Ridge's call for increased security at feed lots and meat-packing plants: 'There are a lot of them, and we just don't have the resources to protect those kinds of things with state resources.'
Gov. Ronnie Musgrove of Mississippi declared a state of emergency and, like his counterparts in Arizona and Connecticut, sent guard troops to protect nuclear plants.
New Mexico sent troops this afternoon to Albuquerque's airport, and Massachusetts and Kansas also activated the National Guard for unspecified security assignments.
Other state officials said they saw no need for a costly and cumbersome National Guard callup, instead choosing to add patrols by local law enforcement agencies.
Col. Timothy Payne of Alabama's office of domestic security said, 'The governor wants to know what the need is before deciding to use a limited resource.'
Brian Roehrkasse, a spokesman for the federal domestic security agency, said it was up to states to decide how to protect their infrastructure.
'We certainly realize that homeland security costs are significant,' Mr. Roehrkasse said tonight. 'The greatest concern is to make sure we have personnel there.'
Here in Chicago, there was a stark contrast between the increased security at O'Hare International Airport and the status quo at landmarks like the Sears Tower and the John Hancock building, where guards checked identification and searched bags as they have every day since Sept. 11, 2001.
'I have not noticed anything different I can't tell if that's a good thing or a bad thing,' said Iliana Cuellar, an office worker who is seven months' pregnant, as she visited the Sears Tower for her daily frappuccino. 'You want to have everyone alert and focused, but you also want people to keep living their normal lives.'
At O'Hare airport, Pete Fischer, a Chicago police officer, stopped vehicles at random for a quick scan of the trunk.
'We're basically roving around, trying to keep people off guard,' Officer Fischer said. 'We're looking for something that might cause considerable damage; if it's small enough to hide under the vehicle it would only affect a few people.'
But one man, Houston Bolton, 66, said terrorists could simply hide explosives somewhere other than the trunk. 'These people are not stupid they'd find another place to put it,' Mr. Bolton said.
Re: Tight BudgetsSharon W on 3/19/03 at 11:33 (113456)
Good article. I too am very worried about the devastating impact all of this is likely to have on our country's economy. If we don't even have the money for homeland security, where is all the money for the war coming from? In the previous Gulf War, our allies paid 90% of the cost... and it still put the economy into a tailspin.
Re: Tight Budgetsjohn h on 3/19/03 at 12:54 (113468)
Our economy is very much in the condition it is in because of 9/11 Sharon. The fallout form this action is so astronomically no one can beging to even guess the real cost of 9/11. I think our military spending is around 3% of our gross national product which is actually much less than many nations but in actual spending is probably more than the next 5 combined. Our economy is certainly hurting but let me tell you of my childhood rememberances during WWII. Gas was rationed and I think we got about 20 gallons a month per family. We received gas stamps. Tires were rationed. Butter was rationed. Victory Gardens were encouraged and many families grew veggies in their back yards. No new cars were made from 1942 through the end of the war. Almost any product made of aluminum was not available.Many food products were rationed including meat.Shoes were rationed as the heels were rubber. All of us bought war stamps and war bonds. I bought war stamps for $.10 and put them in a little book until I got enough to get a bond which I think was around $19.75 and had a face value of $25.00 when redeemed. We all walked everywhere including about 2 miles to school. I never remember anyone complaining about the economy. We all sucked it up and gave our full support to the war effort. Gold Stars were in windows of every block. I never heard of or saw a protester
Re: Tight Budgetsmarie on 3/19/03 at 13:19 (113476)
The teachers in Indiana will bail out our dept of education once again. We are loaning them 8 million dollars out of our retirement fund. We don't mind because it will keep our schools up to snuff. The state borrowed funds from the teacher's retirement fund was under a Republican president. I suppose it's just a coincidence. Those funds have never been repaid...again we teachers made the sacrafice so our students in this state will have a quality education.
Re: Tight BudgetsSharon W on 3/19/03 at 13:26 (113477)
I agree that our current economic problems are largely because of 9/11 -- and because of our (necessary and justified) attacks on Afghanistan afterward. All of that cost us dearly and our economy has not recovered from it yet.
Re: Tight BudgetsSharon W on 3/19/03 at 13:30 (113478)
The teachers of Indiana are very noble indeed, to make that sacrifice for their students. I applaud the sacrifices made during and after WW2 and I applaud anyone who makes sacrifices or donates their time to help our armed forces now.
Re: Tight Budgetsmarie on 3/19/03 at 13:30 (113479)
As long as we are on education I might add that our current president had a total of four sentences about education in state of the union address. We did get a very nicely written document titled 'No Child Left Behind'. Good thing we had some money in our retirement fund to help implement his ideas.