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Maryland officials get FBI briefing before 9/11 anniversary

ANNAPOLIS — Gov. Martin O’Malley’s administration received a briefing Tuesday from the FBI as the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks approaches, and the governor said Maryland has been working for a decade to improve security.

Richard McFeely, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Baltimore division, spoke to the governor and cabinet members during a briefing that was closed to the news media. Before McFeely’s presentation, O’Malley told reporters Maryland has been working over the past decade to become better prepared in all aspects of protecting the public from either terrorist attacks or extreme weather conditions, like Hurricane Irene.

The governor, who noted there are no known specific threats, mentioned a better network of closed circuit security cameras throughout the state and better coordination between state, local and federal officials for sharing information.

“All of those capacities, along with many others, are the things that will be in full use and full operation as we approach this 9/11 anniversary date, and it would be irresponsible for any government at any level inside the United States 10 years after 9/11 not to be hypervigilant as we approach this date,” O’Malley said before the closed-door briefing with McFeely.

O’Malley pointed out that Maryland now has facilities that did not exist before the attacks specifically designed to root out terrorism plots. He mentioned the state’s “fusion center,” which has local, state and federal authorities working side by side 24 hours a day, as an example. O’Malley also noted that the state’s biosurveillance system did not exist before the 2001 attacks. The system is designed to track unusual symptoms that could be consistent with a biological or chemical attack.

The governor also underscored the importance of citizen awareness of unusual activity and willingness to report it to authorities.

Richard Muth, director of the Maryland Emergency Management Agency, said MEMA will be working at an enhanced level through 9/11 and into the middle of next week.