While Americans worry about war in Iraq, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah - a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee - also worries about Iraq waging war in Washington.
"There's no question there are terrorists within this country poised to strike," Hatch said. And what better place than the capital, where terrorists could leave bombs by blending in with the thousands of tourists who visit government buildings daily."I don't think they (police and intelligence agencies) are comfortable they are able to do enough against terrorism. They are very concerned. That's why they're holding classes (for senators and their staffs)," Hatch said. "They help show what to watch for, and how to plan for situations that may come up."
Hatch is in position to know well of what he speaks. He has been receiving several briefings daily on the Persian Gulf and terrorism from the administration as a member of the Intelligence Committee.
Hatch's comments came as security at buildings throughout Washington has increased dramatically in recent days as the threat of war has grown.
On Tuesday, the Pentagon canceled all public tours of its building. A Deseret News reporter who has been able to enter that building easily found officials checking his credentials closely and examining contents of his briefcase thoroughly.
On Capitol Hill, passing through metal detectors successfully is not enough for the press and visitors. They are all asked to remove their coats for thorough inspection. Police played a reporter's tape recorder to ensure it really was a tape recorder.
Congressional staffers - who have often been able to avoid metal detectors by showing their credentials - are now asked to walk through them anyway and open all packages.
A few tourists who left backpacks or other packages on the ground even momentarily are quickly approached by Capitol police and asked if that is their package, and would they kindly take it with them.
A television crew outside the Capitol that had covered some of its equipment in plastic sheeting because of rain also found several police approach to inspect what was underneath the covering.