RealNews

In Federal Offices, Too, Readiness Varies Widely

At the headquarters of the Environmental Protection Agency last week, thousands of employees found themselves in a tight spot. Security officials had ordered them to take shelter in their offices for a counterterror drill and not venture outside. But someone tripped the fire alarm, setting off a voice that repeatedly demanded that everyone leave the building immediately. Chaos ensued. “Nobody ended up knowing what to do,” an official of the agency said. “It was a bust.” Across Washington, federal workers are preparing for possible terrorist attacks. Not since the days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, when federal officials worried that there would be a second assault here, by Germany, has the government’s response been at once so sweeping and uneven. The government has counseled Americans with color codes and advice about duct tape, but officials here are fumbling over preparing their own agencies. The approach is to leave each agency essentially responsible for its own security and training. As a result, preparedness varies widely. Full Story

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