Living in the threat zone
Take a walk and relax
Shortly after 9/11, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge had us scrambling like lemmings to buy duct tape and plastic sheeting. It was a “duck-and-cover” drill. I was traveling to work at various defense organizations, using the metro. On the way to the Pentagon Metro one morning, I noticed that a passenger had left a large bag with a box inside under a seat.
I walked to the back of the train car and used the communications box to notify the conductor about the abandoned bag and box. At the next stop a security guard jumped in while the doors remained opened. He examined the bag, “Nice pair of new boots. Somebody is going to miss those.”
Then, we experienced a period of constant anxiety while the Washington snipers terrorized the Maryland and DC area. I believe we actually saw them eye ball to eye ball once, though authorities had us watching for a white van when the shooters were driving a an old blue GM gangbanger.
What had we learned?
1) Be alert
2) Be sensible
3) Don’t overreact
When criminals want to carry out a crime, there isn’t much you can do to interdict it. In the case of terrorists, however, they have become a special subset that has brought far more attention than the common lot of evil doers. In the end, they are all just criminals.
“Because anything in the current climate could be significant or nothing, the Prince George’s County Police Department notified federal agencies and neighboring jurisdictions about two U-Haul vans that were stolen in the county Friday night.
“We are not viewing this as being terror-related — we are viewing this as two stolen vans — but in the current 9/11 climate, we are taking extra precautions,” said Evan Baxter, a spokesman for the department.
Later Saturday, Prince George’s police said that one of the vans was found empty in the 900 block of Marcy Avenue in the Glassmanor area. They were searching for the driver.
Still, the reports of a possible terrorist threat didn’t seem to jangle the nerves of people in the area.
With sun shining and a slight breeze Saturday afternoon, people wandered the Capitol grounds and snapped pictures as a helicopter flew overhead.
“I don’t feel nervous,” said Keith Dykstra, as he headed to a grassy area near the Capitol to read a book on India. “I don’t want to live my life in fear.””