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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 December, 2003, 02:38 GMT
US takes terror alert in stride
US Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge warned that terrorists are planning attacks that they believe could rival or exceed the those of 11 September. In Washington, residents and visitors reacted with a mixture of anxiety, vigilance and resignation.

Scott Hodge
Washington DC
"I was fairly nonplussed by it.
Scott Hodge
The terror alert has gone up and down, and most Americans don't know what these colours stand for anything or what the difference is between yellow, red and orange. It really doesn't affect our personal lives. Some of us are perhaps a little more fatalistic than others, but we go about our daily lives and figure we can't do much anyways. What do we do? Hide in our basements? No. We are going to go to work, go to school, ride the Metro."
Elizabeth Hudson Telson
Court reporter
Springfield Virginia
"It doesn't mean anything. The meaning of it really hasn't really hit home.
Elizabeth Hudson Telson
It hasn't really impact me, except for 9/11 when everything shut down immediately. But since then, it's just been an announcement on the radio that we're at orange or yellow in the scheme of things. When the (traffic) light turns to red, I know to stop. When the light turns green, I know to go. When they upgrade the homeland security threat, I don't know what to do.

Its background noise. It doesn't have relevance yet, unless something more concrete happens to really impact me or my family."

James Mead
Attorney
Washington DC
"I'm 75. At the stage of life I'm in, I'm more concerned for my kids and grandkids. The (terror alert) system is about as effective as it humanly can be. With terrorism, I don't think we can be 100% effective.
James Mead

I've known (Homeland Security Secretary) Tom Ridge since he was that high (holding his hand half a metre from the ground). He grew up in my home town, and he is an able official.

He's in a very difficult position, but I'm confident that we're doing as much as is actually possible other than to stop flying. It's a choice. How much risk are people willing to take for what they want to do in life?

We're in a different world. It used to be great protective elements, the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. And battles were in lines, and you could identify the enemies."

Paul Corsi
Works for a non-profit environmental group
Washington DC
"I heard it on this morning's news. Flying out the same day I heard it, I was a little bit concerned, but it was not going to hamper my plans for flying.
Paul Corsi
I'm on my own alert and keeping an eye on everything. I'm watching people."

I don't think it really affects me that much. I still am going to be flying. I was supposed to go through New York, and I kind of didn't want to do that. Now, I'm waiting for a direct flight to Rochester. I wanted get out of town a little earlier, and they said New York, DC and somewhere on the west coast were the three places (the terrorists) had in mind. I wanted to lessen my chances of being in the wrong place at the right time."

Ivory Benton
Educator
Boston Massachusetts
"I think (the terror alert) is a gimmick to keep people on edge.
Ivory Benton
They keep people distracted from domestic issues in this country: High unemployment, increases in poverty. They want to keep people concerned about the war, terrorism and all this kind of stuff. It keeps the momentum for the re-election of Bush in order.

I don't feel threatened by terrorism that much. I think that these so-called terrorists are a lot smarter than we give them credit for. They look at these heightened alerts and say, żlet's just lay low". I don't think they have the right effect on the people who we are trying to change their behaviour. Again, I think it's just political.

Bryon Moffitt
Technician with touring show
Gillette Wyoming
"I personally thought it was going to be the same it normally is checking all the bags. I travel on a regular basis. I pack my bags so that they can go through them, and I know that I'm going to get stopped at least once or twice going on my trip.
Bryon Moffitt
I'm pretty much accustomed to it. Some of the other travellers who aren't as accustomed to it or travelling for the first time, they are a little bit more on edge, especially during the Christmas season."

It's one way of letting travellers know that the government is trying to do something about it. It may not be an actual threat, but more of a security measure to make travellers feel more secure in this time when a lot of people are travelling.

I think that probably the whole reason that (the heightened security level) is in effect is to try to deter terrorists, to let them know that they are making special precautions. It's a way of saying: "You can try, but we're working harder to catch you."

Diane Smith
Washington DC
"I try not to get frightened. I travel a lot. It's an everyday thing. This is my work. I work for the government. I'm a little bit more conscious of the people near me and around me.
Diane Smith
Anything that looks out of the ordinary, I would bring it to someone's attention when I saw it.

(The security alerts) frighten people more than anything. I take the subway a lot, and I notice that when there is a high alert, everybody is on edge. A friend of mine took me to the airport, she said, "You know the alert went up." We listen for it. It works. We all talk about it.

My sister and my mother live in Miami. It doesn't seem to bother them when it's up, but here it does."





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