Orange alert taken in stride

By Ed Brock

On the cusp of flying to his new home in Germany, Bob Kindsvater was more confused than worried despite the heightened alert for the threat of terrorist attack.

"I have all the confidence in the world in our country," Kindsvater said. "I'm not going to discount it but on the other hand I'm going to keep on going."

Even Kindsvater's confusion came from the former Tennessee resident's embarkation on a new life with his wife Sandi rather than the increased security at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. On Sunday the Department of Homeland Defense announced that the threat level would be raised from Code Yellow, or elevated, to Code Orange, or high. Orange is the second-highest level under Code Red, an alert that means a terrorist attack is imminent.

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said threat indicators are "perhaps greater now than at any point" since Sept. 11.

The Code Orange alert led to increased screening of passengers passing through Hartsfield-Jackson's security gates and random checks of vehicles approaching the airport. Lines at the security gate seemed to be moving fairly quickly Monday afternoon.

On his way home to Brazil Monday after finishing a four-month internship, Eduardo Pinto said he was not worried.

"He said he felt safer here than at home," said Virginia Benefield of Marietta who was waiting with Pinto.

Derek Hearn of Roswell was waiting for his mother and daughter to arrive from his native England.

"Certainly orange alert doesn't worry me," Hearn said. "It gives me a feeling of security because they're taking more care."

The heightened alert was not what concerned the mother-in-law of Joe Wooden of Marietta.

"I think she was more nervous about making the flight in general," Wooden said.

It was during another holiday travel in May that the terror alert system was last on Orange, and Clayton County Sheriff Stanley Tuggle, a member of Georgia's Homeland Security Task Force, said it might become a regular part of holidays in America.

"But the information we have now is that the chatter (from terrorist sources) has been more active," Tuggle said.

Tuggle's department is standing by to help at the airport if needed.

Around the country the alert prompted heavier security at buildings ranging from nuclear plants to shopping malls. Checkpoints for trucks were heightened at bridges including the Golden Gate Bridge and spans into New York City.

New York mobilized hundreds of extra police officers to patrol in and around locations considered susceptible to attack ? places of worship, landmarks, tourist attractions, Wall Street, subway stations among them.

At the U.S-Mexico border, the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection said it would be conducting more thorough inspections of the 55,000 vehicles that cross from Tijuana, Mexico, to San Diego each day. Agents were paying close attention to pedestrians, documents and merchandise, and carefully examining trunks and cargo.

Officials also increased security in the waters surrounding the Port of Los Angeles and began random inspections of ships entering the port, Los Angeles Mayor Jim Hahn said.

The FBI's Joint Terrorist Task Force in Philadelphia set up a command post to check out tips, said FBI spokeswoman Linda Vizi. Residents who hear or see something suspicious should call 911 if they think a threat is imminent or the FBI if it's something that can wait, she said.

The American Red Cross is urging people to review their Personal Disaster Plan and restock their Disaster Supplies Kit, to check on neighbors who are elderly or who have special needs and to organize neighborhood blood drives if the need arises.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.