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Lowering Transit Terror Hit Odds

Rail and bus systems in the United States are "at risk" of terror attacks like the ones that took such massive tolls in London and Madrid, one expert warns. But he says passengers have the power to decrease the chances that terrorists could succeed.

Jeff Beatty, founder of TotalSecurity.US, says U.S. transit systems need to keep their guard up. "Unfortunately," he says, "whether it's (a) suicide (attack) or not …we are at risk."

Beatty

The Early Show co-anchor Julie Chen it's the "mass" in mass transit that poses the biggest security threat: "You have to look at the easy access. People don't get screened. They get onto the system in tens of thousands every day in every city. They carry briefcases, they carry backpacks as part of their normal equipment as they go off to work or school. All of that makes it easy for the terrorists to operate in that environment."

So what are officials doing to minimize the risk?

"There's been a lot of emphasis initially on aviation security," Beatty notes. "But recently, more and more funding has been put into surface transportation, into transit, highway watch, programs like that.

"The Federal Transit Administration has not been idle (all) these years. With the funding they have available, they've been reaching out to the top 50 transit systems in the country, providing antiterrorism technical assistance, and threat and vulnerability assistance. They've tried to focus the limited funding that they've had on the highest priorities within those systems.

"In addition, people have run summits like we ran last year where we brought about 100 of America's transit security leaders together. They got an opportunity to see what it was like in Madrid. We actually ran a live fire exercise. We also ran an exercise where, due to an alert passenger, law enforcement was able to intervene in time to defeat the attack."

But Beatty says transit security begins "at home" with a method he dubs "you show me, I'll show you."

"People have to say," he suggests, 'If someone were coming and knocking on my door and they looked suspicious and they were wearing big bulky outer garments and had a bag, would I be letting them into my house?'

"When you're in the transit system, that's your temporary house. Some of the things that citizens can do is not cause concern around people around them. Leave your jackets open. Make sure people can see there's nothing you're trying to conceal. Even be willing to open up your packages and let people around you see that you're not carrying any threat material. In the old days, knights approached people and held their right hand up to show they didn't have a weapon. Something in that direction is where we need to go."