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No more quick trips across the border. No more leaving for the airport just a few minutes before a flight. No more entering Bills or Sabres games by just presenting a ticket.

It seems a small price to pay with thousands of people still missing and presumed dead in New York City and Washington, D.C., after the Sept. 11 suicide hijackings.

But life for average Americans has changed and likely will stay that way for years as the United States embarks on what promises to be a long war against terrorism.

If patience is a virtue, then Americans are about to become some of the most virtuous people on Earth.

"Hurry up and wait," the old military adage, soon will be the byword at Buffalo Bills games, on trips to the beach in Canada, on flights to visit relatives.

There will be less convenience.

Unless the Federal Aviation Administration changes its policy, the new 900-space covered parking garage at Buffalo Niagara International Airport will remain closed. It's within 300 feet of the airport terminal, the new security boundary.

There will be more scrutiny of everyone.

Security experts say Americans should get used to being videotaped in public gatherings and should expect more use of the facial recognition programs -- computer scanning of faces in the crowd -- used at last year's Super Bowl.

There will be more government snooping.

Federal officials say easily disposable cell phones thwart traditional court-ordered wiretaps. They want authority to listen in on any phone that a terrorist might use. And there will likely be more profiling of foreign nationals.

There will be fewer traditional school field trips to New York City and Washington, D.C.

Buffalo Public Schools administrators say they are discouraging field trips this year, for both budgetary and security reasons, but said they will review requests on a case-by-case basis.

And there is likely to be more tension.

Buffalo police made several arrests in cases of "bridge rage" last week, as motorists stuck in long lines at the Peace Bridge reacted violently.

The bridges

Truckers trying to enter the United States immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks waited in line for up to 10 hours, as Customs and immigration agents physically inspected far more trucks than usual.

The Whirlpool Bridge in Niagara Falls was closed so agents could redeploy to other bridges, and traffic on the remaining three local bridges to Canada dropped by more than half.

Bridge officials, who say that traffic was nearly back to normal last week and that delays were minimal, can't promise that things will ever return to where they were before.

"I don't think that anyone knows," said Stephen Mayer, operations manager for the Peace Bridge Authority.

"Certainly for the foreseeable future," he said, "it's going to be important to have picture identification or passports, and birth certificates for children."

Thomas E. Garlock, general manager of the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission, said two agents now handle each vehicle coming across the bridges: one to interview the driver, the other to inspect trunks.

"People shouldn't be put off from crossing the bridges, but they should anticipate a (trunk) inspection," he said.

Truck traffic dropped 58 percent coming into the United States the day after the attack, compared with the Wednesday before -- 1,994 to 839. The Canadian drop was even more, 63 percent, or 2,053 to 759.

But a week later, the number of trucks was down only about 10 percent each way.

At the Peace Bridge, auto traffic was down about 50 percent in both directions in the week following the attacks, Mayer reported. There were 43,582 fewer cars going into Canada and 42,326 fewer coming into the United States.

Rep. John J. LaFalce, D-Town of Tonawanda, said he's pressing for increased funding for the northern border crossings to upgrade technology that would speed both commercial and automobile traffic across the bridges.

He also said there is renewed interest in having the United States and Canada strengthen their outer borders, and work on immigration differences, so there could be virtually free passage between the two countries.

"I await the day when going between the United States and Canada will be as easy as crossing the border from New York into Pennsylvania," LaFalce said. "We each need to satisfy the other before this can be done."

Preparing for attacks

The farther communities are from the tragedies in lower Manhattan and the Pentagon, the less concerned they seem about day-to-day security.

Residents of Washington, D.C., and its near suburbs hear F-16s from Langley Air Force Base, Va., patrolling the skies day and night.

But go 10 miles south into Virginia, and no visible steps have been taken to protect vulnerable reservoirs of drinking water.

All office buildings in downtown Washington have distributed handbooks to tenants on procedures in case of attack.

Many building managements are barring entry to those without identification or security passes. Many commercial parking garages are denying access to those lacking monthly or tenants' permits.

In lower Manhattan, soldiers armed with machine guns, and armored personnel carriers guard the three checkpoints that workers must clear to get to their Wall Street jobs. Inside, security officers inspect every purse and briefcase taken into buildings, even by familiar faces.

How long any of these steps will continue is impossible to know.

But in Western New York, at even some of the most strategic facilities, such as the Niagara Power Project on the Niagara River in Lewiston, security is far less visible.

Visitor centers at the hydroelectric dams on the Niagara and St. Lawrence rivers have been reopened even though they lack metal detectors, said Jack Murphy, spokesman for the New York Power Authority. The power plants were closed briefly after the attacks.

The authority is taking steps, Murphy said, declining to describe them, to secure the agency's cross-state transmission lines.

On the federal level, other than agencies such as the FBI, investigative and regulatory forces, there is no coordinated official program to protect critical infrastructure against sabotage or terrorist attacks.

Instead, there is a loose network of nonprofit and regulatory agencies sharing advice about security with local facilities.

For example, the responsibility for protecting the Ginna nuclear power plant in Wayne County against assault falls to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Sue Gagner, a spokeswoman, said the NRC has sent a security alert to all nuclear power plants, "the details of which are classified."

A congressional source said the response to this alert at the Ginna plant was to post a sheriff's patrol car in front of it.

These half measures and lapses, which are nationwide, are what prompted President Bush on Thursday night to announce creation of the Office of Homeland Security, which he hopes Congress will agree to elevate to a Cabinet-level department.

"We are not immune from attack," he told a joint session of Congress. "Homeland security . . . efforts must be coordinated at the highest level."

Friday, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., strongly endorsed this program.

Air travel

The airline industry has received the most attention since the Sept. 11 attacks because its security was so obviously, and seemingly easily, breached.

And this is the area in which most Americans will see the most changes.

The changes are as quickly apparent at Buffalo Niagara International Airport as they are at other airports around the country:

Curbside check-in has ended. No longer will bags be checked outside the terminal and passengers cleared to go to the gate.

Only immediate pickup and drop-off of passengers will be allowed on terminal roads -- no parking or standing.

No parking will be allowed in the short-term parking garage or anywhere else within 300 feet of the terminal.

Only passengers with tickets will be allowed through security checkpoints.

Passengers need to arrive at the airport at least two hours before scheduled departures.

No knives, nail clippers, razors or similar implements will be allowed in carry-on luggage. Even plastic knives have been banned from terminal restaurants, leaving passengers to fumble with spoons or forks to, for example, butter their bagels.

Rep. Jack Quinn, R-Hamburg, wants to professionalize the airport passenger screening process by making it a federal responsibility. Under his bill, all workers who clear passengers for boarding would be FAA employees.

Right now, gate security personnel are employed by the dominant airline at each airport.

It is hoped that federal officials will allow the NFTA to use at least part, if not all, of the parking garage, said Douglas Hartmayer, public relations director for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority. About 140 of its spaces are outside the barrier.

"We are having constant communications with the FAA about how to maintain utmost security and still be able to use that (garage)," Hartmayer said.

He also said airport officials hope soon to move security checkpoints nearer the gates so the new concession areas can once again be open to those who come to drop off or pick up passengers.

Stadiums and sports

When the Bills host the Pittsburgh Steelers next Sunday, the first home game since the terrorist attacks, fans can expect some delays in getting into the stadium.

The team will announce new security procedures later this week after talks with NFL officials, said Scott Berchtold, vice president of communications for the Bills.

"We're advising people to get to the gates earlier," Berchtold said. "If we do make some changes as far as people entering the stands, that is going to take a little extra time."

Fans always seem to arrive in time for tailgate parties, Berchtold said, but they are traditionally late to the gates.

The Buffalo Sabres say they also will examine new security procedures before the National Hockey League regular season begins. NASCAR announced it was discussing installing metal detectors at racetracks. Some tracks already have banned coolers.

Immediately after the attacks, the U.S. Customs Service and all other federal agencies patrolling the border went to their highest level of alert, where they remain.

Every step involved in such alerts is classified, but among the stringent measures Customs employed was imposing exit checks on trucks at Niagara River bridges.

"Right after the attacks, they began flagging certain trucks and cars leaving the United States at the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge for a closer look," said Jim Phillips, head of the Can-Am Border Trade Alliance.

"They were using their normal profiles," said Phillips, who said U.S. agents weren't profiling on an ethnic or racial basis, a practice forbidden by Attorney General John D. Ashcroft. The profiling used, he said, dealt with documentation and behavior of those trying to leave the country.

Though Ashcroft warned against profiling, the political environment on that issue is changing.

Clinton, a sponsor of legislation barring racial profiling by police and security agencies, said life during wartime requires different priorities.

Asked recently whether she would accept profiling on airlines and at ports of entry, Clinton said: "I think we have to do whatever it takes. . . . We are in a war situation, and we're going to have to do things that people do in times of war."

Clinton said questions about how possible terrorists are identified are "going to have to be up to the law enforcement experts."

"But let's not go overboard and start pointing fingers at Arab-Americans," she said, "(or) at Muslim Americans who are just as devoted Americans as you or I are."

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., a member of the Judiciary Committee that will review President Bush's call for tighter domestic security laws, said, "Profiling American citizens is against the American way.

"Arab-Americans and Muslim Americans abhor the violence as much as I do," Schumer said. "I feel less strongly about it when it deals with foreign nationals."

Professor Lee Albert, a constitutional law expert at the University at Buffalo Law School, said he worried about a return to McCarthyism, the 1950s hunt for Communists in the United States when civil liberties were trampled.

"There is no question," he said, "that a society under attack will place more resources into security than privacy."

James Zogby, a leading Washington advocate of Arab interests, drew a line between Americans of Arab extraction and aliens.

"I have not taken on the issue of (profiling by) Immigration and Customs," said Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute. "I think that is a separate question that I am not ready to address now.

"(The hijackers) did what they did, and they created some problems that we're going to be paying a price for.

"I do not want to see Arab-Americans who live in America paying that price," he said. "But unfortunately our borders are going to become a different story. And it is going to be one of the difficulties we're going to be dealing with."

Washington Bureau Assistant David J. Hill contributed to this report.

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