Living With Terror

'00 To '09

December 27, 2009

In the days, months and years after terrorist-driven planes hit the twin towers, fallout rained down on America the way chalky debris dusted Manhattan that September morning.

Life would never be the same, we were told. And in some ways it wasn't.

We learned to decipher the candy-colored terror alert chart. Lime meant safe. Cherry, big trouble. Signs over the Beltway reminded us to look at one another with suspicion. We scrutinized our mail for anything powdery and white.

BWI Airport not only scrambled to tighten security like every airport in the country, national leaders tagged it to be a safety leader. So Maryland travelers weren't just taking their shoes off, standing in screening lines and relying on sample-size shampoo, they were helping to test-drive the latest measures in precaution.

The region took center stage in disturbing ways, too, as investigators searching for the person who loaded letters with deadly anthrax swarmed over Fort Detrick in Frederick. They implicated - then absolved - one scientist, Steven Hatfill, before turning to another who killed himself before being charged.

And when the world winced at photos of naked Iraqi prisoners forced into humiliating positions, it was officers from a Western Maryland military police company who would be charged in the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison.

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