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High Alert

High AlertEntering its second week on high terrorism alert, the U.S. must be prepared for attacks in unexpected places, says a Tufts expert. Medford/Somerville, Mass.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [02.14.03] Last Thursday, the United States Department of Homeland Security raised the national terrorist threat assessment level to "orange," the second-highest level on its five-point scale. As Americans scrambled to buy emergency supplies including water, food and plastic sheeting, a Tufts expert says the nation must be ready for attacks in unexpected places.

"[Terrorists hone in on] targets least likely to be protected," Robert Pfaltzgraff -- professor of international security studies at Tufts' Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy -- told the Christian Science Monitor. "We need to take that into account in preparing a response."

The code orange alert by the Department of Homeland Security calls for a variety of preparations, including increased precautions in public places and at events.

In Boston, officials have been implementing special measures for the last week. Managers at the FleetCenter arena are using metal detectors at Celtics and Bruins games, and asking fans to show up an hour earlier than usual, reported MSNBC. In addition, several security roadblocks have been set up on roads leading to the Logan Airport.

According to the Tufts professor, increased security precautions like these are making a difference.

"Pfaltzgraff points out that Americans are much more alert now than before 9/11," reported the Monitor.

The Tufts expert says that personal awareness of the terror risks are also contributing to increased security. At least one planned attack, he said, has already been prevented.

"Remember," Pfaltzgraff told the Monitor, "it was alert flight attendants and passengers who subdued shoe bomber Richard Reid on that trans-Atlantic flight."

Increased security measures and vigilance by the general public and law enforcement are important, Pfaltzgraff said. But the Tufts professor -- who is teaching a seminar on homeland security at Tufts this semester -- said the nation's ability to strike the source of terrorist attacks can be a strong deterrent.

"We should realize the ability of the U.S. to retaliate and go to the source of terror, which was demonstrated by the U.S. response to 9/11," the Tufts expert told the Monitor. "That hasn't eliminated the danger, but it may make those who perpetuate these acts think twice."


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