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'WAR' LIKENED TO FIGHT AGAINST DRUG CARTEL

America's new war on terrorism, a widespread, nontraditional military conflict aimed at individuals and organizations, can only be compared to its attempt to stop the drug cartel, said Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds during town hall meetings Saturday.

"It's more like a war on drugs, as we pursued drug dealers within different nations where they were operating versus nations themselves," said Reynolds, R-Clarence.

He called the meetings, which attracted about 20 constituents to the Harlem Road Community Center in Snyder, to answer questions and address concerns about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He also met constituents in Chili and Batavia.

Reynolds visited ground zero, the site of the World Trade Center's two towers, Friday with President Bush. He said he was "touched by the commitment of rescue teams working round the clock to seek survivors."

The congressman raised concern about the economic fallout, especially to New York State.

"Thirty (million) to 40 million square feet of business and office space in New York's financial district is gone," he said, adding that "the entire City of Buffalo has only 7.5 million square feet of such space."

He said the devastation will affect upstate as well, because the loss of state tax revenue and business levies coupled with the tremendous cost of clearing the debris and rebuilding will be staggering.

"So it's important," said Reynolds, that "New York City get up and running again, not only for patriotism but for business."

He defended the federal bailout of the airlines, pointing to possible "loss of our airline infrastructure." He suggested that the federal government should help upgrade a security system that experiences a 400 percent annual turnover in personnel and is hobbled by a low level of training.

"We need a national security standard, plus air marshals on at least some flights, and cockpit security," he said.

Constituents -- many wearing shirts with American flags and ribbons -- peppered the second-term congressman with questions.

One resident said it took too long to secure the airspace over New York City after the first hijacked plane strucked the North Tower.

"I know there was confusion, because this had never happened before," the resident said. "But it shouldn't have taken 97 minutes."

Another person said the nation has to revamp its intelligence network to get the upper hand on terrorism.

Reynold noted that during the 1980s, the nation's intelligence organizations absorbed substantial funding cutbacks.

News Genesee Correspondent Bill Brown contributed to this report.

e-mail: esapong@buffnews.com

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