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Monday, 20 May, 2002, 21:35 GMT 22:35 UK
Americans shaken by new warnings
World Trade Centre ruins
Dick Cheney said future attacks are inevitable

Lisa Packheiser lives in Rosslyn Virginia across the Potomac River from Washington and just up the river from the Pentagon, and she is considering moving because she believes the US capital is too tempting of a target for terrorists.

She was absolutely shocked about Vice President Dick Cheney's statement that additional attacks are inevitable.

"The statement of not if but when was deafening. That packs a wallop," she said, adding, "I live here in DC; it's terrifying. If I lived somewhere else, it wouldn't matter."

Her relatives from the states of Ohio and Tennessee agree that she should consider moving. "They say you're too much of a prime target," she said.

You're hoping for the best but planning for the worst

Lisa Packheiser

Some of her friends are resigned to not only the possibility but rather the probability of future attacks while others say Americans must be ready to defend themselves.

As for self-defence, "I don't see how - apart from tighter restrictions on our borders," Ms Packheiser said, adding that her friends are concerned about illegal immigrants from the Middle East.

FBI warnings that al-Qaeda operatives have discussed bringing down apartment buildings by renting rooms and packing them full of explosives has made her anxious.

She, as well as most of her friends, live in high-rise apartments. They are common in the suburbs of northern Virginia. She said, "I have difficulty sleeping and a little trouble eating."

She compared her anxiety about future terrorist attacks to waiting for the results of tests for a deadly disease like cancer or Aids.

"You're hoping for the best but planning for the worst," she said.

Life goes on

Anthony Festa was visiting Washington from New Jersey.

He said that Vice President Cheney's statement about the inevitability of future attacks could have easily been made before the attacks on September 11, but he adds most people in the US were unaware of the threat of terrorist attacks and gave little thought to the possibility.

With the FBI alert of possible attacks in apartment blocks, he hopes that the government continues to alert the public if they have specific information.

But he adds that it is difficult to criticise the government about generalised alerts or revelations that there were warnings of attacks ahead of 11 September.

The government must have to sift through numerous leads about terrorist threats and attempt to determine whether they are credible or not, he said.

If they don't have specifics, I don't understand how we can prepare

Laurie Buckman

Warnings about additional attacks frighten Laurie Buckman. She finds that she calls her mother more often now.

But Mr Cheney's statement is not the first time she remembers authorities saying that additional terrorist attacks are inevitable, but she says living in constant fear is not an option.

It is impossible to know where the next attack will be, she said. It could be in Washington or anywhere in the United States. "You can't worry every five seconds, or you're going to drive yourself crazy," she added.

The attacks did have an impact on her, and she was shaken for months after 11 September. But she says she feels calmer now because nothing else has happened.

The alerts have begun to blur for her. "It's warning after warning after warning." She assumes that authorities do not know specifics about future attacks from the general nature of the alerts.

She believes that the public should be warned, but she expresses frustration at how exactly she should act in light of the vague nature of the alerts. "If they don't have specifics, I don't understand how we can prepare."


Talking PointTALKING POINT
WTC attacks
Could the disaster have been prevented?

Key stories

European probe

Background

IN DEPTH
See also:

20 May 02 | Americas
20 May 02 | Americas
18 May 02 | Americas
17 May 02 | Americas
17 May 02 | Americas
16 May 02 | Americas
17 May 02 | Americas
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