States Step Up Approach to Anti-Terrorism

NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

From the marine highway in Alaska to Virginia's motor vehicles office to the Florida coast, states are reviewing and tightening security to guard against potential terrorist attacks.

Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore held his first meeting Friday with his newly created anti-terrorism task force. Last week, Missouri Gov. Bob Holden created the first state-level Cabinet anti-terrorism position, echoing what President Bush has done on the federal level.

"The world has changed and we must confront those changes effectively to keep our families safe and to make sure our state is secure," said New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen.

New Hampshire's steps include frequent patrols of the Portsmouth Harbor and the Piscataqua River, and increased security at the Seabrook nuclear power plant, she said. There will be more inspections for vehicles containing hazardous materials.

Gilmore ordered his 21-member task force to analyze potential terrorist targets in Virginia, assess the ability to respond and identify necessary changes in policies, laws and funding. Recommendations are due by Nov. 30.

"Our watchword in the coming weeks and months must be security and safety," Gilmore told the group of elected officials, law enforcement officers, public safety experts, educators and business executives.

Florida, Idaho, New Hampshire, Ohio and Wisconsin also created state panels or began reviews of anti-terrorism efforts.

In Florida on Thursday, dozens of local authorities met to assess the state's potential vulnerability, following Gov. Jeb Bush's directive to review water supplies, hospitals, energy sources, military bases and more.

In Alaska, the head of the marine highway system -- the ferry system that runs along the state's island- and glacier-strewn West Coast -- said passengers must now show photo ID and go through a series of stricter baggage controls.

In Virginia, Gilmore said the state closed a loophole that was meant to make renewing licenses easier but may have allowed hijackers to fraudulently obtain ID cards from the state motor vehicle department.

Across the nation, governors acted to call up National Guard units to protect airports, after the president requested help until better long-term security measures are in place.

State officials also began intensive inspections of trucks carrying hazardous materials after warnings from the federal government. In many places, the safety of water supplies was also being re-examined.

The new state-level efforts were in addition to commissions that have been set up by local U.S. attorneys offices.

Those federal efforts will be coordinated with the new Office of Homeland Security created by President Bush, officials said. The new Cabinet will be directed by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge.

"Enhancing state and local response capabilities is a significant priority for this new office," said White House spokesman Tucker Eskew. "Health, medicine, border security, bio-detection capability. All of it."