- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The press conference held on the Mall yesterday by Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge was a highly visible indication of how much public life in the District has changed since the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The agency did not exist four years ago, and reporters were briefed outside City Hall on inauguration plans, a law-enforcement official recalled.

But yesterday, the troops dressed in camouflage and carrying M-16 machine guns with grenade launchers were just one visible sign of how security has become a dominant part of public events in the nation’s capital.

The troops appeared designed to intimidate those who might want to commit terrorism and, at the same time, show skeptics that federal officials are prepared.

“Post-9/11, it’s more complicated, but we’ve got all the resources we need,” Mr. Ridge said.

The idea of a complete and carefully arranged presentation of security originated during the Democratic and Republican conventions in Boston and New York in the summer, sources said.

As at least 25 television cameras recorded Mr. Ridge’s almost every word, he said there is very little intelligence about possible terror attacks, but that officials remain “as vigilant as ever.”

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