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Massive U.S. anti-terror drill winds down

The massive, weeklong exercise designed to test the nation’s anti-terror reflexes finished Friday, as a preliminary evaluation was provided to Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge by representatives of the 121 federal state and local agencies that took part in the $16 million operation. “We’ve ended the exercise safely,” Corey Gruber, the operation’s associate director, told United Press International. Ridge met with 150 officials at a “hotwash,” an immediate de-briefing where the agencies involved delivered their preliminary impressions. The exercise — dubbed TOPOFF2, for “top officials” — simulated a radioactive “dirty bomb” explosion in Seattle and the covert release of a biowarfare agent in Chicago. It was coordinated by the new Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. State Department. The exercise was designed to test the ability of federal, state and local authorities to respond to a two-pronged attack — described by officials as a plausible scenario — by a fictional foreign terror group dubbed Glodo, the Group for the Liberation of Orangeland and the Destruction of Others. Full Story

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