Screening at airports, federal buildings boosted after Paris attacks

Homeland Security increases security measures, says it's not in response to information about specific threat

Security is being ramped up at federal buildings and airports across the U.S. in response to last week’s attacks in Paris, the nation’s top homeland security official said Monday.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson called the measures precautionary, saying they weren’t in response to “specific, credible intelligence of an attack,” but cited the mass shootings in Paris that killed 17 people, as well as attacks in recent months in Australia and Canada, as showing the need for “increased vigilance.”

The new measures are also being taken, Johnson said, because of “the recent public calls by terrorist organizations for attacks on Western objectives, including aircraft, military personnel and government installations and civilian personnel.”

U.S. airport security screeners increased the number of random searches of passengers and carry-on luggage last week, Johnson said. In recent months, as intelligence officials warned about thousands of militants in Iraq and Syria potentially holding Western and European passports, the U.S. insisted that some foreign airports, mostly in the Middle East, increase screening of passengers boarding jetliners heading to the United States.

Johnson also directed the Transportation Security Administration to immediately conduct a short-term review to determine whether more security measures are necessary at airports in the U.S. and overseas.

The agency's Federal Protective Service will also expand its presence at the more than 9,500 federal buildings it guards nationwide. Exact steps being taken will vary depending on the location, Johnson said.

The U.S. government also boosted security at federal buildings after the October shooting at the Canadian Parliament building in Ottawa that killed one soldier. Johnson again cited that shooting in Monday’s announcement, as well as last month’s hostage situation at a chocolate shop and cafe in Sydney, Australia.

Twitter: @ByBrianBennett

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