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Governors run through hypothetical terror attack with Ridge
SEATTLE (AP) -- Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge gave governors a taste of terror Monday, playing out a simulated "tabletop" bioterrorism attack and likely responses -- from trying to keep the public informed and calm to carrying out massive vaccinations.
Gathered here for the final day of a National Governors Association meeting, state leaders brought their own concerns about homeland security to the simulation. Some worried about administrative logjams over money. Others talked of pressure on the National Guard.
The exercise comes at a critical time, with increased chatter about a potential attack during the election season -- even as Ridge's agency has kept the official terror alert at "yellow," the midpoint on the five-step terror alert system.
Behind closed doors, governors were faced with a scenario of simultaneous bioterrorist attacks in cities in several unspecified states, then discussed responses through several steps -- from the first credible report, to engaging law enforcement, intelligence, and information officials to deploying of stockpiled vaccines.
The hypothetical attack involved anthrax, brought into the country by al-Qaida through the ports and spread by crop-duster planes, according to one person attending the private meeting. Governors were particularly interested in how much information they would get from the federal government, and discussion included the state of readiness of bioterror vaccines.