Threats not hampering air travel

By Greg Gelpi

More threats to the nation's security aren't fazing air travelers at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

The country should be poised for an increase in terrorist activity during the coming elections, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said. He announced "credible" threats from al-Quaida during a press conference Thursday.

"It's kinda scary," Leo Matzelle of Stockbridge said. "It makes you think whether you should drive or fly."

Matzelle said, though, that the warnings quickly fade into the back of his mind, and don't hamper his travels.

His wife, Brigitte Matzelle, flew to New York to visit their children and grandchildren Thursday, something she does monthly.

"It's frightening me," Brigitte Matzelle said, although she continues to fly.

Robert Kennedy, a spokesperson for Hartsfield, said that the airport would continue to have measures in place corresponding with terrorist threat level yellow.

"At this point, the (Transportation Safety Administration) has not changed the threat level," Kennedy said, but added that the airport doesn't discuss specifics regarding its security or preparedness.

Ridge spoke of general threats, but did not specifically mention threats to aviation.

Carlos Gonzalez flew into Hartsfield from Miami for a business meeting Thursday.

"I feel very secure in the airport," Gonzalez said. "I don't really feel threatened. It's not something I think about when I travel."

Michele Walker said that she is concerned because her daughter is flying for the first time, but that she feels safe.

"I don't think it will alter our travel plans. I just say my prayers," she said.

The Department of Homeland Security is responding to "credible" threats to prevent an attack from al-Quaida, Ridge said. The department is concerned that America could experience attacks similar to those that preceded elections in Spain in March. Those attacks killed about 200 people.

He also cited recent terror arrests in England, Jordan and Italy.

"This is sobering information about those who wish to do us harm," Ridge said. "But every day we strengthen the security of our nation."

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said that the nation could expect a major announcement on homeland security soon.

"There's, obviously, no reason for panic, or paralysis," Frist said after a briefing for senators on intelligence matters. "The country is at some increased risk between now and the time of the presidential election. It's important for people to be aware of that."

Representatives from law enforcement, homeland security and intelligence met in April to prepare for election events that could be terrorist targets in the months prior to the presidential election in November.

The Republican and Democratic party conventions in New York and Boston have been designated as National Security Special Events, which enables them to receive additional funding and security.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.