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Carlyle Residents on Front Line of Terrorist Trials

The terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center one year ago affected Alexandrians in many different ways. Residents at Carlyle Towers are just beginning to feel the impact.

There are three towers in the complex, linked by garages and common areas. The 20-story buildings contain 549 luxury units in which approximately 1,000 people live. The units are valued at between $210,000 for a small, one-bedroom and $750,000 for the largest units. Glass-enclosed or open terraces give residents a view of the federal courthouse, the Eisenhower Valley to the Beltway, the Masonic Temple and now, the site for the new media staging area, guard towers and sometimes sharpshooters.

“On days when there are hearings at the courthouse involving Moussaoui or Lindh, there are sharpshooters on the roof of the courthouse, on the roof of the townhouses that mask our garages from the street and even on our roof,” said Bill Harvey, who lives on the 18th floor of one of the towers. “When I walk out on my balcony on one of those days, I feel like a criminal.”

His neighbor, Kathryn Kraemer, agreed. “There is a lot of security,” she said. “We’ve been told that we need to carry our ID cards that show we are residents here and maybe other types of identification. We still aren’t sure if the marshals are going to check people who are walking or just those in vehicles. There is still a lot of uncertainty.”

THE TRIAL OF Zacarias Moussaoui and the sentencing of John Walker Lindh will be held in the federal courthouse, which is within 75 feet of Carlyle Towers. Marshals have recently erected four guard towers from which barriers can be released, blocking access on Jamison and Elizabeth lanes. “I don’t like living in Fortress America,” said Barbara Currie, another Carlyle Towers resident. “This is a wonderful country, and we should not have to live in an armed camp. Our intelligence community is very capable, and we should trust them to do their jobs and protect us. I would rather not have this kind of security.”

Pat Rudd, president of the Carlyle-Eisenhower Civic Association, would like to see the condominiums included inside the security perimeter. “As far as I can tell, we are the security perimeter,” she said. “If there is an explosion at the courthouse or on Elizabeth or Jamison, there will be casualties here at Carlyle Towers. I would like to see the marshals doing more than just checking identification. I think they need to check vehicles for bombs. IDs can be bought, after all.”

Bill Casamo, another Carlyle resident, has his own perspective about the security issues. “I’m not sure we really know how all of this is going to impact our daily lives yet,” he said. “Having all of the media here is an issue. I don’t believe that we need all of these trailers, though. There are better ways to deal with the media. As for the security, I intend to go about my business as usual – taking my daily walks, going grocery shopping and doing the things I always do. I refuse to let this affect me.”

All five of the Carlyle residents interviewed plan to stand in the long lines and try to see some portion of the trial.

“I was in the courtroom for the Lindberg kidnapping trial,” Casamo said. “At the time, that was one of the biggest trials ever. This is going to be another of the biggest trials ever, and I want to see it. There aren’t many people who can say that they attended both.”