Airport traffic backed up Thursday in Phoenix as officials launched random vehicle inspections, and from Oregon waterways to heartland statehouses security increased on the homefront of a nation now at war in Iraq.
Amid the skyscrapers of New York, where war came home one clear September day, helmeted tactical officers stood guard on Wall Street. Authorities fanned out to power plants, bridges, and other facilities to shield them against possible retaliatory strikes.
While spot checks went on at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, camouflage-clad National Guard troops patrolled in the Arizona desert west of the city, guarding the Palo Verde nuclear power plant, the nation's largest.
Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano dispatched the troops for round-the-clock duty at Palo Verde, which officials said might have been a target of terrorists.
Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday that he couldn't go into details about intelligence reports concerning the plant. However, he acknowledged there were indications that it might have become a target.
Testifying separately Thursday, Homeland Security Department chief Tom Ridge said there had been no reports of incidents since the bombing of Iraq commenced Wednesday night.
Though most protections had been in place since the terror alert status was raised from "elevated" to "high" Monday night, some states planned to further tighten security now that war has begun.
"The first 96 hours of the war is very important, and it deserves special consideration," said Missouri's homeland security adviser, Tim Daniel.
At the Statehouse in downtown Columbus, Highway Patrol officers searched the bags of people arriving for early morning appointments Thursday.
"I'm glad they're here -- I feel more secure now that they're checking people," said Barbara Flesher, 49, after chatting with a trooper who checked her bag at a basement entrance. Flesher works in the Ohio Senate clerk's office.
Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius ordered employees at the Capitol complex in Topeka to wear their identification cards and said visitors to the Statehouse and state office buildings would be required to sign in.
"We're taking this seriously," Sebelius said after a conference call Wednesday night in which White House staff and homeland security aides briefed governors on the airstrikes.
The countermeasures were most conspicuous in the two cities terrorists targeted on Sept. 11.
In Washington, the White House was closed to tourists as police used the city's network of 14 closed circuit cameras to monitor activity at landmarks, including the Washington Monument, the Capitol and Union Station.
In New York, police prowled city streets with bomb-sniffing dogs, submachine guns and radiation detectors. Officials worried about suicide bombers and armed takeovers of television stations.
"There is a two-front war here," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. "One is on the streets of our cities, and one is overseas."
In Iowa, officials arrived at the state's Emergency Operations Center late Wednesday to monitor the first hours of the war and prepare any necessary response. Since Monday, guards have kept a 24-hour watch at the Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe rail bridges over the Mississippi River.
Authorities at the North American Aerospace Defense Command and the new Northern Command in Colorado Springs said war could mean more jet fighters patrolling the skies around big cities and ground-based air defenses around population centers.
Airports, schools, truck stops, casinos -- all saw increased security in the days leading up to war.
At Atlanta's Hartsfield International Airport, one of the world's busiest, orange barricades outside parking lots kept cars at least 300 feet from the terminal. In Virginia, Fairfax County public schools canceled all field trips to Washington and New York.
In Berkshire, Ohio, truck driver Dave Worden said he didn't mind the increased inspections at highway weigh stations.
"I'm willing to do what it takes for the country to be protected," Worden said.
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