The FBI, FAA and a large number of other Federal agencies in the United States have been mobilized to investigate and prevent additional terrorist attacks, especially against or by use of the airlines and or airports. However, attention is also being given to other likely targets which exist mostly in or around our major cities and the President has organized a new agency, the National Homeland Security Agency (NHSA) which will coordinate over 40 national agencies and local governmental units for defense of the homeland.

On a national scale, there are other potential targets such as the power grid and power plants, especially nuclear power plants, but including the transmission stations and lines connecting the power grid. Also of concern are our major dams, bridges, tunnels and subway systems. Then, there are tens of thousands of miles of exposed railroad lines, bridges and tunnels and natural gas pipelines.

But, while the specter of additional terrorist attacks is real, there may be a shift to easier targets of lesser national importance in rural America and even small towns. The purpose of these attacks would be to demoralize the American people in the heartland of America and create fear and disruption.

The advantage to the terrorists for such tactics would be the ease of conducting such attacks with little possibility of detection and no need for the terrorists to sacrifice their own lives conducting the attacks, which would mean they could sustain the attacks for a longer period of time moving from one rural area to another.

Rural attacks could be such low grade attacks as bombing the municipal water towers or pumping stations, telephone facilities, local power plant or substation facilities, etc. Community Center events could also be a terrorist target. If an oil refinery or chemical or electronics plant existed in the community, that could be a target of interest for sabotage by such terrorists.

In some areas, forest fires might be deliberately set, but if so, they could be the purpose of creating a diversion for some other attack. In larger cities we will need greater security; for example for football stadiums where larger crowds gather, greater security concerns should exist.

Local Sheriff’s Departments in these areas should do their own planning and implement such measures as may seem prudent to them for their areas, working in harmony with NHSA on the one hand and any such civilian and municipal enterprises that might be targets such as refineries or gas plants on the other hand.

Local taxing units should be responsive to additional funds that might be needed by such Sheriff Departments. Chemical and biological toxin experts should be sent to brief Sheriff Departments and hospitals around the country to educate them on dangers, symptoms and treatments for the known or possible agents which might be employed by these terrorists.

Clearly, by far the most sinister potential attacks in Rural America could be the use of biological or chemical toxins on such populations. The introduction of such toxins into the water supply via injection or into rivers and lakes are other areas of vulnerability. Perhaps the most easily executed delivery system available to terrorists for chemical or bio-toxins, besides rivers and lakes, would be low level airborne delivery over towns by commandeered crop dusting aircraft.

There are hundreds of such small crop dusting operations found around the numerous small agricultural towns and around some larger cities as well. Local Sheriff personnel should inspect such operations in cooperation with the FBI or the NHSA, instruct the pilots and owners of the possible danger and work out security measures.

Planning and preparations for these bio/chemical threats need to be considered by the local Sheriff and Health Departments. There are testing units available that will detect these hazards which should be procured and used in such localities as a matter of routine.

Air National Guard Units should begin flying surveillance with look down radar designed to detect movements of small and/or low flying aircraft which should be worked in conjunction with a special FAA unit. All private aircraft would be required to file flight plans with the FAA and all crop dusting aircraft would file plans showing the fields to be sprayed. Any such aircraft diverting from their plans would be subject to interception by armed National Guard or Police helicopters, especially if they were diverting over a city or lake.

Finally, the citizenry should be advised by local TV of such preparations and should be asked for assistance, if needed. Local volunteer groups, perhaps similar to the Civil Defense units of the Cold War and World War II eras, could be organized. Local Sheriff Departments should pay attention to known Arab businessmen in their areas regardless of anti profiling laws, for we are engaged in a serious and deadly war in our homeland.

Our enemies are mostly Arab Islamic Extremists and under the President’s new executive order of freezing terrorist assets, local Sheriffs should assist in the tracking of suspects banking and financing operations reporting suspicious information to the FBI. Nevertheless, such persons should also be protected by the Sheriff from mob or overt police harassment as long as they appear to be good citizens.

All of these local measures and perhaps others not mentioned should be involved in and linked with the new National Homeland Security Agency in order to augment Homeland security in rural America and the key to the local coordination of these efforts should be the Local Sheriff.

Vance Beaudreau, VC of Communications beaudre@tca.net

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