America's New War?
City Is Now A 'Police State'
A jittery New York was on high alert yesterday as security was beefed up at major road crossings, seaports and power stations in a bid to prevent further terrorist attacks on the city.
"This is how it is because this is how it has to be," said one law-enforcement official. "This is a police state now."
The increased vigilance came after Attorney General John Ashcroft's warning Tuesday that there was "a clear and present danger" of more attacks against the United States, including the possibility of chemical and biological weapons being used.
There were conflicting accounts about whether the city's super-security was in response to any specific threat.
Some law-enforcement sources said there weren't any beyond the normal cranks phoning in, but others said they had credible information that terrorists had planned to bring hazardous materials into the city by truck.
Another law-enforcement source said highway checkpoints were particularly focusing on trucks on the theory that only a large truck bomb - not anything that could be transported in a car - would be able to do serious damage to city tunnels or bridges.
Suicide bombers would be a likely option to conduct further terror strikes, a federal source said, adding they expect any future wave of terror against the United States to come from the ground - not the air.
Those worries had U.S. Customs inspectors, Port Authority police and National Guardsmen tightening security at ports in New York and New Jersey yesterday, opening hundreds of cargo containers that arrived on ships.
They scrutinized containers after they were loaded onto tractor trailers in Red Hook, Brooklyn and ports in Elizabeth and Newark, N.J.
"We're searching for some type of weapon," said one Customs official. "We believe it is either in the United States or is about to be introduced here, and we're going through everything."
Security was also stepped up at Con Edison substations after security cameras spotted two different people snapping pictures of the power company's buildings on 14th Street and West End Avenue.
Law-enforcement sources declined to say when the photographs were taken, except to say the incidents were after the horrific terror attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center and left more than 6,500 people dead or missing. One of the photographers was a man, and the other was a woman, officials said.
Extra security measures at the plants include police officers surrounding the plants and concrete barriers blocking sidewalks and streets to deter car bombs.
Security was already stepped up near the city's upstate reservoirs. Police stopped a Middle Eastern man in Peekskill on Monday who was driving around with a map that had the reservoir and town's police station marked off on it.
The man was questioned by the FBI and later released.
City officials and the federal government also are working together to fight terrorism here.
Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, New York FBI head Barry Mawn, Secret Service
agents and representatives from several city agencies met together yesterday
to "open up lines of communication" and share intelligence, a source said.