Staffers for Utah's members of Congress are told they work in the bull's eye of the nation's No. 1 terrorist target - and they are taking some extraordinary steps to protect themselves.
One congressional source said House Sergeant at Arms Jack Russ told a briefing on anti-terrorism, "The Capitol area is probably the No. 1 target in the United States. We don't know how we're going to be hit. We just believe we are going to be hit."So, for example, the staff of Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, received a memo telling them to take some of the following protective steps:
- Window blinds should be kept down until protective Mylar is installed to prevent shattering if a bomb explodes outside.
- Members of Congress should no longer leave their cars at Dulles or National airports. Cars would be prime targets for attached bombs. Staffs should drive members to the airport.
- Staffs should give House and Senate gallery passes only to visitors from their home districts and should ask for a driver's license or otheridentification. Others should be politely referred to their own member of Congress.
- The members' schedules should be kept confidential. Those members who are considered supporters of Israel may be especially targeted. Some have received threats already.
- The House and Senate whip system - which notifies members of scheduled votes and meetings - will also notify offices if a terrorist incident occurs. Staffs are asked to close their doors and remain inside if there is a problem.
- Staffers are urged to report anything suspicious to the Capitol police - not just people, but also unidentified packages in the hallways.
Staffers have also been given cards to keep by their telephones of questions to ask anyone who may call in a bomb threat - including when is the bomb going to explode, where is it now and what kind of bomb is it.
The card also has places on which staffers can describe such things as audible background sound, accents and threat language.
Staffs have also been given warning posters about signs of possible letter bombs.
It tells them to be careful of foreign mail; special delivery; restrictive markings such as "confidential" or "personal"; excessive postage; titles but no names; oily stains; no return address; rigid envelop; lopsided or uneven envelop; protruding wires or tin foil; excessive securing material such as masking tape and string.
Some staffs, such as that of Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, have also locked extra doors that lead directly into some of their offices. All visitors must now check in with receptionists and be escorted into work areas.