- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 28, 1999

NEW YORK While publicly downplaying "terrorist hype," city officials have made Times Square the focus of an elaborate security plan that puts the nation's biggest metropolis on a virtual war footing for the year-2000 celebration.
The plan, code-named "Archangel," will turn an area of midtown Manhattan 24 blocks long and three blocks wide into a pedestrian-only zone.
Six police helicopters will hover overhead and 8,000 officers, some with bomb-sniffing dogs, will be on duty New Year's Eve in and around Times Square.
As many as 2 million revelers are expected in Times Square alone for a 25-hour celebration of lights, lasers and noisemakers.
Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and Police Commissioner Howard Safir said they knew of no specific threats against the city, but the recent arrests of people suspected of extremist connections at U.S.-Canada border crossings in Washington and Vermont have heightened fears of terrorist acts timed to the new year.
"There are no guarantees, but we can take every precaution that's humanly possible," Mr. Safir said in the New York Times. "I think the public should come to Times Square, and I think they should not be deterred by all this terrorist hype that is going on."
He called last week's comments by former New York FBI chief James Kallstrom, who urged people to avoid Times Square, "caving in to terrorism." Mr. Kallstrom later insisted he wasn't referring to terrorism.
Nevertheless, many of the precautions outlined in "Archangel" which was three years in the making are designed specifically to thwart terrorists.
Manhole covers will be sealed, garbage cans removed and mailboxes locked to remove possible hiding places for explosives. Parking will be banned, beginning at midnight on Dec. 30, and private vehicles left there will be towed and impounded.
In the hours before the giant lighted ball descends to mark the start of the new year, twice the normal New Year's Eve complement of police officers will deploy in the Times Square area.
Officers will be watching from helicopters and rooftops while plainclothes officer teams with bomb-sniffing dogs mingle with the revelers and watch for suspicious people, Mr. Safir said. The exact definition of suspicious behavior was not divulged.

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