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Security tight for September 11 anniversary

The Pentagon has deployed armed surface-to-air missile systems around Washington.
The Pentagon has deployed armed surface-to-air missile systems around Washington.  

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- As part of the heightened state of alert in the United States, every federal air marshal will be deployed Wednesday, armed missile launchers will be situated around the nation's capital, and airport security workers will conduct extensive searches of bags and passengers.

The Coast Guard said it is bolstering its patrols and working closely with the Defense Department, FBI, Homeland Security Office and other law enforcement agencies to monitor U.S. waters and ports.

U.S. embassies and consulates closed for a review of their "security posture" in Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia and Vietnam, as well as in Malawi, Pakistan, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Tajikistan.

U.S. military installations in the Central Command region overseas overnight moved to Condition Delta, the highest level of alert, according to U.S. military sources. There are 55,000 U.S. troops in Central Command, which covers much of the Persian Gulf, eastern Africa and parts of southwest Asia.

Those are just a few of the unprecedented security measures being implemented as America grieves one year after the September 11 attacks killed almost 3,000 people.

"We will do everything we can to protect the American people, and Americans need to go about their lives," President Bush said Tuesday.

U.S. officials for the first time Tuesday raised the nation's terrorist alert status from "yellow" to "orange," signifying a high risk of terrorist attacks.

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Bush plans to attend ceremonies at the three sites of last year's attacks -- the Pentagon, the World Trade Center and the Pennsylvania field where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed after passengers battled with the hijackers.

The Secret Service will coordinate security at those events. People who attend will have to go through security checkpoints, including metal detectors. Police will search bags and dogs will sniff out the areas for bombs.

In New York, where about 2,800 people were killed in the attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center, security will be especially tight.

The city's landmarks, religious institutions and places where there are commemorative ceremonies will get a special focus, with law enforcement officers patrolling rooftops and scuba teams patrolling docks and harbors, police said. There will be unannounced security checks at bridges and tunnels.

Guards at the New York Stock Exchange said the city may close subway entrances within six blocks of the stock exchange and restrict access to many streets in Lower Manhattan and around Ground Zero.

Federal Aviation Administration flight restrictions will be in effect from 7 a.m. Wednesday to 8 p.m. Friday. Ground Zero will be the center of a 30-nautical mile radius in which there will be no "general aviation flying" before, during and after outdoor events on the three days.

Flight restrictions have also been ordered over Washington and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

U.S. Capitol Police had been on a heightened state of alert since last Friday. Capitol Police are working 12-hour shifts and no additional leave is being granted. The heightened security will be in effect through Wednesday and as long as the situation warrants, said Lt. Dan Nichols.

In Pennsylvania, State Trooper Tom Spallone said police will have logistical and traffic headaches in Shanksville, with 20,000 to 30,000 people expected to descend on the area.

"It's a small country town. Most of the roads to the crash site are two-lanes," Spallone said. "Our biggest job is getting people in and out."

No one is permitted to drive to the crash site. Buses are being provided and a perimeter will be set up around it.

Other developments

  • The FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center issued a bulletin to state and local law enforcement warning that there have been a number of threats that "make reference to the events of September 11, 2001, and to New York City and Washington, D.C." The alert was also sent to companies considered "critical infrastructure." The industries are electrical power, telecommunications, transportation, gas and oil storage and delivery, water supply, banking and finance, emergency services, and government operations.
  • About 2,100 National Guard troops will be dispatched throughout New York state, with a large concentration at stationed at power plants, Grand Central Station, Penn Station and the George Washington Bridge.
  • Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ordered Tuesday the air defense systems deployed around Washington armed with surface-to-air missiles. The portable air defense systems were put in place at military installations around the city Monday as part of what the Pentagon had called "an exercise." (Full story)
  • Security is "at the highest level" at the United Nations, officials said, where the 57th General Assembly opened Tuesday. First Avenue is closed between 42nd Street to 57th Street around the building. The FBI said there have been no specific threats against the United Nations, but the meeting makes "a potentially attractive target." Bush is scheduled to speak there Thursday.
  • Most military bases in the United States have upgraded their security levels, moving into Condition Bravo, according to the Pentagon. A Condition Bravo is declared when "an increased and more predictable threat of terrorist activity exists."
  • The FBI emergency operations compound in Los Angeles, California, and the Atlanta, Georgia, field office will be staffed around the clock.
  • U.S. Park Police Chief Teresa Chambers said leave for some of her officers has been canceled and virtually her entire force is either working or on call, with a half-dozen events being staged on Washington' National Mall this week. The national monuments will be open to the public, but Chambers asked that visitors be especially vigilant.
  • The National Park Service has no plans to shut down major attractions. Four park sites have increased security since last year -- the Washington Monument, the Liberty Bell Pavilion in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, and Liberty Island in New York.




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