By Luis Cabrera
SEATTLE – Airports and military bases throughout Washington state boosted their security today after the worst terrorism attacks in the nation’s history devastated New York City’s World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
Outgoing flights were canceled at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Spokane International Airport as part of a national stand-down of air traffic. Planes were being allowed to land, however, as the airport went to emergency procedures, said Sea-Tac spokesman Bob Parker.
No threats were reported anywhere in the state, but public officials were jittery as the horrific news of the East Coast attacks spread.
“We are being extremely safety conscious,” said Roger Nyhus, spokesman for Seattle Mayor Paul Schell. Police officers were stationed at the Space Needle, Columbia Tower and other city landmarks.
The Space Needle was closed for the day as a precaution, as was the 76-story Columbia Tower.
The federal Court House downtown also was placed on high alert, Nyhus said, but was not immediately evacuated.
At McChord Air Force Base south of Tacoma, “We are now in a heightened state of awareness,” said spokesman Staff Sgt. Scott McNabb. “Basically, everybody’s I.D. is getting checked and we’re making sure that our people are coming on base and everybody’s extra cautious and trying to make sure that we’re all safe.”
Security also was heightened at the Navy’s Bangor submarine base on Hood Canal, one of the nation’s largest nuclear arsenals, and at other military and defense installations around Washington.
The Hanford nuclear reservation was placed on a heightened level of security, with identification required of all people entering and leaving, said Mike Talbot, spokesman for the Department of Energy.
The U.S. Border Patrol likewise boosted its security.
“We’ve taken all available manpower and we’re working around the ports of entry,” said John Bates, a Border Patrol deputy chief. “We’re trying to be prepared for anything that might happen in those highly targetable areas.”
Dana Middleton, Gov. Gary Locke’s press secretary, said state buildings – including prominent structures such as the Capitol and the Washington Supreme Court – would be open as usual. She said Locke was coordinating with local, federal and military officials.
“It is our understanding through our military channels that there are no targets in Washington,” Middleton said.
Thousands of people at the Seattle airport waited in line to check or rebook flights, and thousands of others milled about, with no place to go.
Honeymooning couple Chris and Evalynn Barrett of Bellevue were waiting for a word on a flight to Cabo San Lucas in Mexico.
“We were the first in line to book our flight again for tomorrow, but we’re not sure we want to got right now,” said Chris Barrett, 29. “We can plan our honeymoon on the ground.”
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