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Security Might Get Tighter Yet, Officials Say

Gainer also responded to critics: "By golly, it is inconvenient to people. It would have been inconvenient to people in August 2001 to increase security at the airport. But if we had done that, two airplanes wouldn't have flown into the World Trade Center and one into the Pentagon."

Restrictions on Capitol Hill soon could spread. Treasury, Homeland Security, Secret Service and District officials met last night, and a decision on possible new limits around the White House could come as early as today, two U.S. officials said.

Traffic approaches a security checkpoint on Constitution Avenue. (Ben Connors - washingtonpost.com)

Tourists React to Terror Threat
Securing the City: Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey discussed security procedures throughout the District.
Tightened Security
Possible Targets
Tracking Code Orange
Descriptions of Threat Levels
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Some Sluggishness Detected In New District Alert System (The Washington Post, Aug 4, 2004)
U.S. Capitol Police Focused on Terror (The Washington Post, Aug 4, 2004)
D.C. Emergency Plan (The Washington Post, Aug 4, 2004)
Street Closing Irks D.C. Leaders (The Washington Post, Aug 3, 2004)
Williams Battles Anxiety About Terrorism (The Washington Post, Aug 3, 2004)
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Old Data, New Credibility Issues (The Washington Post, Aug 4, 2004)
Seriousness of Threat Defended Despite Dated Intelligence (The Washington Post, Aug 4, 2004)
U.S. Capitol Police Focused on Terror (The Washington Post, Aug 4, 2004)
Some Sluggishness Detected In New District Alert System (The Washington Post, Aug 4, 2004)

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Authorities may bar most trucks from a three- or four-block stretch of 15th Street NW just east of the White House and Treasury Department, between about E Street and New York Avenue, because of the threat from truck bombs, officials from two agencies said.

The Secret Service imposed a similar prohibition on an eight-block span of 17th Street NW on the west side of the White House in August 2002, enforced by electric road signs and uniformed Secret Service police officers.

In addition, Treasury officials are discussing closing the sidewalk on the west side of 15th Street alongside its headquarters, officials from two agencies said, to deter a suicide bombing.

Robert Nichols, a spokesman for Treasury Secretary John W. Snow, and Secret Service spokeswoman Lorie Lewis declined to comment about the proposal publicly. "A number of options are under consideration, but no final decision has been made," Homeland Security spokeswoman Valerie L. Smith said.

While D.C. Council member Carol Schwartz (R-At Large) protested that federal officials should "leave us alone," and Capitol Hill council member Sharon Ambrose (D-Ward 6) called the closures "a sneak attack on the District of Columbia based on old information," residents coped in the streets.

A number of Metrobus routes were delayed by the Capitol Hill closures and checkpoints -- Routes 30, 96, 97, A11, J11, N22, X3 and X8. Metro transit officials advised riders to visit www.metroopensdoors.com or call 202-637-7000 for details.

To Chris Adams, a coffee service delivery driver, having his truck stopped and searched by D.C. police in Foggy Bottom was just a part of doing business. "I'm fine with it,'' said Adams, 33, of Greenbelt. "If I can't make a delivery, my customers will know why.''

David Garrison, a Brookings Institution scholar, altered his walk to work to take in the checkpoints along Second Street NE but seemed unfazed by the sight of uniformed officers, concrete barriers and fluorescent orange traffic cones. "We're used to it up here on Capitol Hill," he said. "To some extent it seem like an overreaction, but how can we assess it as a private citizen?"

Practices varied from checkpoint to checkpoint. At the intersection of Second Street and Independence Avenue SE, 19 uniformed officers infrequently looked in vehicle trunks, while two blocks away at C Street, nearly every car was searched.

At Second Street NE, Robert Nettey was asked to pull over, produce identification and hand over his car keys. Officers did not explain why, he said.

An inscription on the Dirksen building affirms that "the Senate is the living symbol of our union of states." Yesterday the street beneath, nearly devoid of traffic, was unusually quiet.

Staff writers Dakarai I. Aarons, Arielle Levin Becker, Helen Dewar, Sari Horwitz, Lyndsey Layton, Daniele Seiss, Eric M. Weiss, Martin Weil and Del Quentin Wilber contributed to this report.

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