Schwarzenegger activates Guard in wake of London terror plot

August 10th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Schwarzenegger activates Guard in wake of London terror plot

SAN FRANCISCO - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger activated the National Guard Thursday to bolster security at California airports after authorities said they had foiled a terror plot involving U.S.-bound planes from Britain.
"I have ordered the redeployment of security assets to high-priority locations to respond to this threat," Schwarzenegger said in a statement. "These assets include bomb-sniffing dogs, the California National Guard, and the California Highway Patrol, in concert with local and federal law enforcement agencies."
Some 300 Guard troops were to be deployed by late Thursday to at least three large airports - in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Oakland - where direct flights from Europe were scheduled to arrive.
The troops were to remain at the airports until the nation's threat-alert level is lowered, an aide to the governor said. Their precise role would be determined by airport authorities, said Adjutant General William H. Wade II, the head of the California National Guard.
U.S. counterterrorism officials said the alleged plotters envisioned blowing up multiple aircraft, and these officials said flights to California, New York and Washington were targeted. But the governor's homeland security director, Matthew Bettenhausen, said "specific cities and targets were not known to be part of the plot." Bettenhausen formerly worked for the Department of Homeland Security in Washington.
Bettenhausen also said that because 21 suspects were arrested in England, "it was believed the plot was disrupted." But, he said, government agencies were acting out of an abundance of caution, mindful of the risk that other plotters had not been apprehended, or that copycats might try to "take advantage of this."
DHS raised the threat level to "red" for flights from Britain, the first time the highest threat of terrorist attack had been invoked since the system was created after the Sept. 11 terror attacks. All other flights were under an "orange" alert - one step below red.
The deployment will not affect the Guard's mission at the Mexican border, where they have been helping Customs officials stanch the flow of illegal immigration, Wade said. "We have robust capability to still respond to other emergencies within the state," he said.
California was the second state to activate the National Guard at its airports, following Massachusetts.
"I have taken immediate steps to enhance the security of California's airports and protect the people of this state," Schwarzenegger said.
Even ahead of the troops' arrival, a heightened security presence was noticeable at the airports. Transportation Security Administration personnel, airport police and local police were on hand, officials said.
"Everybody who goes and travels is going to see a significantly heightened security presence as well as an increased screening process, much of it by hand as well as X-ray equipment," said Chris Bertelli, a spokesman for the governor's Office of Homeland Security.

The office served as an information hub between federal and state agencies and airports, ensuring they understood security measures hastily put in place Thursday morning.
Travelers, many of them moving about the country on summer vacations, were barred from bringing liquids and gels including drinks, shampoo, suntan lotion, creams and toothpaste, among other items.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the terrorists planned to use liquid explosives disguised as beverages and other common products and set them off with detonators disguised as electronic devices.
Searches for those items was causing considerable backups at San Francisco International Airport. Screening passengers usually takes an average of six minutes; Thursday, it was at least an hour, airport duty manager Doug Lyon said.
The United Airlines terminal was a scene of high tension by midmorning, with confused travelers pushing and elbowing each other.
"I think it's ridiculous," said Kathy McMahon, 49, of Mill Valley, who was frantically helping her daughter, bound for college in New Jersey, stuff sunscreen, makeup, contact lens solution and other liquids into her suitcases. "But we'll do it anyway. What are you going to do?"
Laurence Fetters, federal security director for the Transportation Security Administration at Los Angeles International Airport, said there was no information indicating the airport or any inbound flights had been targeted. Even so, he urged outbound passengers to leave plenty of time before flights.
At LAX, Minneapolis-bound passenger Sunita Reddy, 25, applied a few final dabs of lotion to her hands and face before dropping the tubes into a large blue trash bin set up by the security staff.
"I think it's OK, it's for the public good," she said. "It's cheap stuff anyway."
Ray Watson, 40, of Denver, mused that companies that make toiletries will make millions when passengers go to replace all their discarded personal products
"The Dumpsters in Phoenix were filled with shampoo and toothpaste," Watson said as he waited to pick up his luggage in Los Angeles. At Oakland International Airport, officials were also contending with a power outage. All security equipment was running on backup generators, said Cyndy Johnson, an airport spokeswoman.
August 10th, 2006  
The Massachusetts National Guard is expected to arrive at Logan International Airport tonight to bolster security after British intelligence uncovered a potential terrorist plot.
Governor Mitt Romney was expected to address about 50 troops tonight before they begin their duties.
Summoned from homes and jobs across the state, Massachusetts National Guard soldiers and airmen began reporting to Logan for training this afternoon to help protect New England's critical travel hub.
From armed patrols to gate security, the Guard will be assigned to the airport indefinitely to supplement security by the State Police, Massport, and Transportation Security Administration, said Master Sergeant Pallas deBettencourt, a National Guard spokeswoman.
August 10th, 2006  
Team Infidel
Interesting that they are the only two states to do this.
August 11th, 2006  
It also involves internal politics. The Governor of NY offered the NG, but the NYC mayor and the NY/NJ Port Authority director probably turned him down.
August 11th, 2006  
Team Infidel
It's funny, Arnold doesn't want to protect the borders and has been fighting to keep California NG soldiers away, but he quickly volunteers them for the airports. HELLO!!! Same threat.
August 12th, 2006  
Borders and airports are different. Airports are inside the state and borders are right next to another country. But what is arnie suppose to do? He's a republican who runs a democrat state, he can't even act republican, i know because i live in California.
August 12th, 2006  
Team Infidel
you are right, borders and airports are different. In fact, there is a greater threat at the boarders for terrorists to get in than the airports.
August 12th, 2006  
Just FYI, from an unclassified source that I have:

State National Guard Support:
  • California (652 personnel)
  • Massachusetts (128 personnel)
  • New York (96 personnel)

All are supporting Transportation Security Agency (TSA) with airport security.
August 13th, 2006  
Team Infidel
That's a lot of Californians.

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