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Wednesday, 31 October, 2001, 15:16 GMT
Terror alerts worry US press
FBI Director Robert Mueller and Attorney General John Ashcroft
Attorney General John Ashcroft (R) looked concerned
As warnings by the Bush administration of a possible 'second wave' of terror attacks raise public anxiety, some US newspapers are questioning the government's handling of the security situation.

"It is certainly a cause for worry when the attorney-general of the United States shows up on national television, ashen-faced and puffy-eyed, heaving heavy sighs before going into a hastily called news briefing on terrorism," says the Washington Times.

With each ambiguous warning, another wave of anxiety sweeps through an already jittery nation

Boston Herald
"You wonder how useful Mr Ashcroft's warning really was. Warnings are much appreciated these days, of course, but against what? Who knows?" it wonders.

Echoing the Times, USA Today points out that: "No one was given information to guide rational decisions. Even some police agencies, which can do far more to thwart an attack, were complaining about the vagueness of the warning."

"Yet despite the generalised anxiety such imprecise warnings induce, this almost certainly isn't the last one the country will receive," USA Today says.

It considers that while there may indeed be specific information, "clearly, there is a line to be drawn between the public's need to know and the government's need to protect critical intelligence."

The nation is better off frightened and informed than left happily in the dark

New York Times
But as President Bush takes time out to attend the World Series Baseball tournament, the Washington Times believes the government is in danger of sending out mixed messages:

"It's great that the president is confident enough to venture out among tens of thousands of baseball fans, but he might try to convey a little of that spirit to members of his cabinet, who look like they need it," it says.

'Frightened and informed'

The New York Times believes that "the Bush administration must continue to keep the public informed, even when the information is unpleasant and unsatisfactorily vague."

President Bush at the World Series
President Bush wants Americans to carry on as normally as possible

"There is, of course, the danger that too many warnings could become mere background noise, and that somewhere down the road the public would wind up ignoring the one that really matters," it adds.

"But the nation is better off frightened and informed than left happily in the dark," it concludes.

The Boston Herald says such heightened anxiety is taking already its toll.

"With each ambiguous warning, another wave of anxiety sweeps through an already jittery nation, causing many Americans to stay close to home and cancel travel plans," the paper says.

"It's generating massive amounts of anxiety," local clinical psycologist Dr Thomas Tokarz tells the paper. "It's the uncertainty of what will happen next," he adds.

A new CBS/New York Times poll shows that 53% of Americans are "very concerned" about future terror attacks.

See also:

31 Oct 01 | Americas
America on edge
27 Oct 01 | Americas
UN sets anti-terror deadline
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