- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 25, 2002

A U.S. Department of Transportation warning of terrorist attacks on public transit, including railroads, has local transit authorities increasing security for Memorial Day weekend.
Transportation Department spokesman Chet Lunner said the warning was due to "unconfirmed, nonspecific reports that indicated attacks" being considered against subway trains.
But area transit authorities won't be taking chances, especially in light of repeated cautions this week by top Bush administration officials, according to Metro Transit Police spokeswoman Cheryl Johnson.
Metro Transit Police will be out in full force, although Mrs. Johnson says the FBI's anti-terrorism task force has assured her there is no specific threat against Metro.
"As a direct result of all the recent talk we've been hearing at the national level of nonspecific threats, our officers will be wearing their neon-green, high-visibility outfits that make them easier to spot," she said.
Mrs. Johnson said Metro is making regular announcements to passengers on station platforms encouraging them to tell transit police or Metro employees about any suspicious packages or activities.
"We always act in an abundance of caution," she said, adding that suspicions should be reported to Metro by calling 202/962-2121.
Security also will be tight at annual Memorial Day festivities in the District. "We're going to have a much higher uniformed police presence at this year's events than we've had in years past," said U.S. Capitol Police spokesman Lt. Dan Nichols.
Capitol Police are centering their efforts on the national Memorial Day concert scheduled for Sunday evening on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol.
Vice President Richard B. Cheney and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III this week warned that another terrorist attack is inevitable.
The warnings come more than eight months after hijacked airplanes slammed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, killing about 3,000 people.
The cautions took on an unusual twist when the FBI sent a bulletin to law enforcement agencies nationwide about a terrorist threats from scuba divers.
A U.S. law enforcement official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the warning came from interviews with detainees and documents recovered in terrorism investigations.
Another FBI warning this week of general threats against landmarks in New York, including the Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn Bridge, prompted New York City law enforcement authorities to go on high alert.
New York Gov. George E. Pataki, a Republican, is urging residents not to let the threats disrupt their lives, and most of the annual Memorial Day festivities are set to go as planned. But authorities cancelled a 119th-birthday celebration for the Brooklyn Bridge on June 2.
There have been no cancellations in the District. Law enforcement officials say this weekend's tightened security is not linked to the most recent warnings but is a continuation of general precautions by the Office of Homeland Security since September 11.
Unlike years past, when patrons to the Memorial Day concert were invited to arrive early and mingle freely about the Capitol grounds, this year Capitol Police will restrict entrance to a fenced-in concert area through four secured points. The gates will open at 2:30 p.m.
"We're going to have metal-detector screening for everyone entering the area, and we're also going to have a hand inspection of all packages, such as coolers, bags and picnic baskets," Lt. Nichols said.
The free concert to be televised nationally on PBS begins at 8 p.m. tomorrow, but Capitol Police will begin screening people this afternoon and evening, when hundreds are expected to show up to watch live rehearsals for the concert.
Lt. Nichols said the security is part of the Capitol Police's effort to "re-evaluate how we protect people attending events within the Capitol complex, which encompasses the House and Senate office buildings, the Capitol and all the adjoining streets and parks."
"We want our efforts to be something that encourages people to come and enjoy the concert, not something that causes concern," he said.
Other area events expected to draw large crowds this weekend include the WHFStival concert at RFK Stadium, where about 50 music acts, including Eminem and the Strokes, will perform today and tomorrow.
This year also marks the 15th annual Rolling Thunder rally in the District. The rally is a tribute to the nation's veterans, "particularly those still missing in action or prisoners of war from all wars, and to the victims of September 11," a Rolling Thunder representative said.
Organizers expect thousands of motorcycle riders from around the country to show up for the rally, which will roar through the District tomorrow afternoon.
U.S. Park Police said a special detail has been created to monitor the rally, which is centered on a gathering at the Reflecting Pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.
"The biggest difference from last year is that the general public is going to see more police officers out on motorcycles, horseback and on foot," said Sgt. Scott Fear, U.S. Park Police spokesman.


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