1648.0 Threat of Terrorism: Weighing Public Safety in Seattle
In December 1999, only weeks after protests at the annual meeting of the World Trade Organization sparked violent protests which rocked the city, Seattle public safety officials face a new threat. An Algerian man has been arrested trying to cross the US border from Canada-in a car whose trunk is filled with enough explosions, says the FBI, to topple a multi-story building. What's more, the arrested man, Ahmed Ressam, had held a reservation at a motel just blocks from Seattle's most famous landmark, the Space Needle, in the Seattle Center, at which thousands of city residents and tourists are scheduled to celebrate the first New Year's Eve of the 21st century. This case examines the decision-making process of Seattle officials as they consider whether the possibility of terrorism should lead them to cancel the elaborate public celebrations scheduled to coincide with the dawn of the new millenium.The case describes tensions that arise among officials from various levels of government-particularly local police and the FBI-as all struggle to make what could be a life-or-death decision in an atmosphere of incomplete information, social and economic pressure, and fear.