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San Diegans Urged To Stay Vigilant As 9/11 Anniversary Approaches

Audio

Aired 8/24/11

If you see something, say something. That’s the message San Diego officials are urging to the public as the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 approaches.

Video

Eight Signs Of Terrorism

If you see something, say something. That’s the message San Diego officials are urging to the public as the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 approaches.

San Diego County officials and regional leaders launched an “anti-terrorism public awareness campaign” Wednesday that includes the video, “Eight Signs of Terrorism.”

The video demonstrates how people can help maintain security in the region, how terrorists generally carry out attacks, and when the public should get involved by calling law enforcement.

San Diego’s military bases and close proximity to the border require an extra level of vigilance, said San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders.

Keith Slotter, FBI Special Agent in Charge of San Diego, said the community is the cornerstone to keeping us safe.

“We have to take every precaution and up our game even higher than we already do," said Slotter, "to get through this Sept. 11 weekend. Because the date signifies a lot. It signifies a lot to our enemies -- especially Al Qaeda. They’re extremely focused on what they consider significant events and dates. And in their world, it doesn’t get much bigger than this.”

Slotter said there’s a concern nationally of a terrorist attack, but there are no specific threats to San Diego or anywhere else in the country.

A 30-second radio and television public service announcement began airing Wednesday, directing the public to watch the full six-minute video on www.ReadySanDiego.org

Video

Travelers Say They Feel Safe As 9/11 Anniversary Approaches

Above: Most people we spoke with at San Diego's International Airport seem to feel pretty secure as the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approaches. KPBS reporter Dwane Brown got reaction from passengers, workers and others at Lindbergh Field.

KPBS Midday Edition Talks To Sheriff Bill Gore

Aired 8/24/11 on KPBS Midday Edition.

If you see something, say something. That’s the message San Diego officials are urging to the public as the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 approaches.

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

CAVANAUGH: San Diego law enforcement leaders are gathered at this hour to announce a major new antiterrorism initiative. We're being urged to learn and watch for the eight signs of terrorism. The public service campaign is timed with the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Joining me to talk about the campaign is my guest, San Diego County sheriff Bill Gore. Welcome to the show.

GORE: Thanks Maureen. It's a pleasure to be here.

CAVANAUGH: Now, San Diego is a long way from New York and Washington. Is there really a serious threat of terrorism here?

GORE: I think it's important to point out that there's no specific intelligence that would indicate there are any specific targets in the United States. But I knowledge common sense detects as we approach the nine-year anniversary of 9/11, that we should all be alert and be aware of our surroundings, and this is kind of a national neighborhood watch program, if you will. We have mow specific indications that San Diego could be a target. But over the years, we know that we have a large military presence here, and that could be a plus or minus. So we're just trying to take all the appropriate precautions to alert people, to be aware of their surroundings, and report any suspicious activity.

CAVANAUGH: This public campaign urges citizens, as you said, watch for suspicious activity. What kinds of activity?

GORE: Well, if you see somebody that might be surveying a potential target, if you saw somebody at the airport taking photographs of planes landing and taking off, if you saw something in a public transportation bus depot, somebody taking photographs in their, or leaving suspicious packages also, which should always raise somebody's suspicion of a possible bomb being left behind. We had the recent case here of the gun storeowner in Texas who thought that one of the customers was suspicious in buying supplies, and it turned out to be that we probably with his help notifying law enforcement thwarted a potential terrorist attack.

CAVANAUGH: Is this how most terrorist plots are discovered, actually from citizens' tips?

GORE: Well, I think it's a combination of a lot of things. Some of it comes from foreign intelligence sources, from local investigations that are being done, and when I say local, in the United States. We're so much better, I think prepared than we were on 9/11. We're integrated local law enforcement, state law enforcement with our federal resources and actually have a mechanism in place to where that information from the citizen in Santee, for example, can get to a sheriff's deputy, get into our law enforcement coordination center, and then ultimately be looked at at the highest levels of government and through the joint terrorism task forces around the country. We weren't that prepared in 9/11. So we've come a long way. And it's -- we need the help of all the citizens in the country. And in San Diego County in particular.

CAVANAUGH: I'm speaking with San Diego County sheriff Bill Gore, and we're talking about the new public service campaign to get us all to be alert to the eight signs of terrorism. Sheriff gore, you know, the idea of citizens watching each other and watching their neighbors, and that sort of thing, it's -- it makes some people feel a little off put by that. How do you balance the need for security and enlisting the public's help with the idea of constitutional rights and avoiding racial profiling?

GORE: Sure. I think we do this in our neighborhoods all the time. Communities all over the United States have neighborhood watches. Of if something looks suspicious or out of place, don't be afraid to report it to local law enforcement. Let them be the final deciders, if you will, of whether there's a criminal activity. I think that's just being an involved citizen, protecting our communities, our state, our country. It doesn't mean that somebody's going to be arrested or anything else. It just means that this was suspicious activity, I'm reporting it to law enforcement, and it might tie into something that happened in another part of the county or the state that when looked at by itself wouldn't be that suspicious. But when you tie it in with something else that's already in the hands of the intelligence community, mean something. And that's why we need all these sources of information coming into our law enforcement coordination center so they can be appropriately evaluated.

CAVANAUGH: Right. You use the word credible. How does somebody know if their suspicions are credible? Is that a determination they should make or is that something that law enforcement should make?

GORE: No, I think if it seemed suspicious to them, they should report it. Let law enforcement do the investigation to follow up on the suspicious activity and determine if it's credible. That's not something that the untrained civilian should be responsible for. That's a rule of law enforcement in the intelligence community.

CAVANAUGH: In the county's eight signs of terrorism video that they're releasing to the public, and I guess want everybody to see, I notice that there's a swarthy looking man who's featured prom innocently as one of the actors portraying terrorists. Is that a good imagine to use if you're trying to avoid racial profiling.

GORE: It's interesting, there are complaints that the department of home land security was being too politically correct, and they were showing Caucasian people rather than people of color. So I think they tried to make it representative. And I think it's dangerous when we think of the threat coming from just one group or another group. I think we have to be alert for suspicious activity no matter what part of the community it comes from. We know that these people that are planning terrorist acts, they didn't used to use females, for example, in some of their attacks. And they knew that the intelligence community was aware of that. Or they didn't use children. And now, they're using children. Now they're using females. So I think we have to be careful not to just look at one segment of our population. And hopefully, that's what we're trying to avoid. We don't want to profile people. We want to look at suspicious activity, and let the experts evaluate the validity of it, and the credibility of it.

CAVANAUGH: Now, this campaign by San Diego County and really this region comes ten years after 9/11. Isn't this a little late?

GORE: No, I think the new awareness, we've been building up our capabilities in this, and developing our -- the system of cooperation between local state and federal law enforcement for the last ten years. And I think that's no accident that we have not had a terrorist attack in this country in the last ten years. I think that that system has become robust in the last ten years. What we're focusing here are the resources because we are coming on the tenth anniversary. And I think it's not unreasonable to think that some of these groups, terrorist groups would want to do something on the anniversary of the horrendous attack on this country of 9/11. So that's the reason to kind of heighten people's awareness again.

CAVANAUGH: Sheriff gore, I remember that after Osama Bin Laden was killed, there was this feeling that the age of fear of terrorist attacks might be over. And now with this issuance, and with the sort of heightened awareness as this anniversary approaches were we wrong in thinking that after the death of Bin Laden in.

GORE: I think absolutely. I don't think anybody in law enforcement or the intelligence community thought just because Bin Laden was killed are the threats against this country were over. There's more groups, more terrorist groups out there than just al Qaeda, and obviously there's been successors to Bin Laden named since his death. So no. I think it would be very my even of us to think we killed one person and there was no more threat of terrorist attacks against this country. I think we have to be vigilant. This is unfortunately a reality of the world we live in now. It's not just the United States , as we see, it's all over the world.

CAVANAUGH: In addition to announcing this campaign, as we get closer to the anniversary, the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, are we going to see anything around the community? Is security going to be tightened at the airport? Any other thing? Maybe security at the border tightened?

GORE: You know, I don't have any specific information on that, whether or not it is -- you know, there's obviously a 9/11, there's a Chargers game, opening day at Chargers season. And there's going to be a law enforcement event at the stadium in recognition of the anniversary. I think there will probably be some heightened security. But hopefully it will not deter from the very solemn memory of that ten-year anniversary.

CAVANAUGH: If someone does see something suspicious, what precisely should they do?

GORE: Well, if they think there's an imminent threat, if they see somebody and they've got a suspicious package and they leave it in a public place, I would call 911. You have to use your judgment here. Not everything is a police emergency. If you see some suspicious activity, maybe there's been a car around a particular, what you might consider a target, a possible target, maybe some power facility around a dam at the airport, call local law enforcement. Call the nonemergency number if you can. We have the mechanisms in place now to where that information reported to local law enforcement were will be fed into the law enforcement coordination center, and then ultimately to the joint terrorism task forces where if can be properly analyzed and evaluated.

CAVANAUGH: Is there any concern, sheriff, that the volume of tips might be overwhelming?

GORE: No. That's what we're set up for. And that's why we're having this campaign. It's not just a San Diego campaign. This is a nationwide campaign from the department of home land security, from the FBI, and from local law enforcement. So that's what we've worked very hard in the last ten years to establish this working relationship, and we need the peoples and the community's help to make this country saver.

CAVANAUGH: And what are people going to see in connection with this campaign as the weeks go by?

GORE: There's going to be some public service announcements that are going to be aired hopefully on the radio and on TV to remind people and kind of educate them on what some of these signs might be, what to do if they see some of these preincident indicators as we call them. To report them to local law enforcement. Again, if they see something that appears to be an imminent threat, call 911.

CAVANAUGH: Well, I want to let everyone know that you can view the new eight signs of terrorism video that's been released by San Diego County on our website as well on KPBS.org. I've been speaking with San Diego County sheriff Bill Gore, and I want to thank you so much.

GORE: Thank you Maureen.

Comments

Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | August 24, 2011 at 5:30 p.m. ― 3 years, 1 month ago

Thank you, KPBS, for doing your part in our culture of fear.

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PARANOID STYLE. IN AMERICAN POLITICS. This essay is a revised II1d expanded version of the Herllert. Spencer Lectttte, delivered at Oxford in November 1963. ...

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