[ISN] Terror Alert Status Raised to Orange

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Mon Mar 17 2003 - 20:07:42 PST

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    By John Mintz
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Tuesday, March 18, 2003
    The U.S. government tonight raised the terrorist threat alert level to
    orange, or "high risk," because of intelligence reports that al Qaeda
    terrorists are planning attacks in this country to retaliate against
    U.S. policy on Iraq, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge announced
    immediately after President Bush’s evening speech.
    Bush, who did not comment directly on the change in the threat level,
    warned Americans that Iraq or its supporters "might try to conduct
    terrorist attacks against us and our friends." He said federal and
    state officials were taking measures to keep Americans safe.
    Ridge said he has asked governors across the country to deploy their
    National Guard troops or "additional police forces" to add security to
    critical locations. He said federal officials were also bolstering
    security efforts in a campaign called "Operation Liberty Shield."  
    Among those actions are:
    -- Increased screening at border crossings and added security at major
    -- Detaining asylum applicants from nations where al Qaeda operates
       for the duration of their processing period.
    -- Increased surveillance of Iraqis in the United States.
    -- Providing more security officers at airports and increased efforts
       to check identification badges for airport personnel.
    -- Adding flight restrictions over some U.S. cities, including the
       District of Columbia and New York.
    Ridge said the new alert was prompted by "a large volume of reporting
    across a range of sources, some of which are highly reliable ...
    "There have been reports of suspicious activity in and around military
    facilities, ports, waterways, general infrastructure (bridges, dams,
    power generating facilities), and targets that are considered symbolic
    to U.S. power and influence. The discovery of ricin production in
    London raises the concern of the Intelligence Community that
    extremists are planning to follow through on longstanding threats of
    poison plots against U.S., British and Israeli interests-and possibly
    other targets in Europe."
    Before the new threat level was announced, top Bush administration
    officials conferred by telephone this evening. Those reported to be
    involved in the telephone deliberations included Ridge, Attorney
    General John Ashcroft, CIA Director George Tenet, FBI Director Robert
    S. Mueller III, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and White
    House Chief of Staff Andrew Card.
    Raising the level from yellow, or "elevated," to orange kicks in an
    array of stringent and expensive security procedures at federal
    facilities across the country. State and local governments, as well as
    private businesses, are not required to hike their security regimes,
    but many of them do anyway. Visitors to office buildings undergo
    tougher scrutiny, deliveries to chemical plants must be scheduled in
    advance, extra patrols are on duty in subways, and federal officers
    are out in force at U.S. border crossings.
    The government has raised the alert level to orange, the second
    highest of five levels, twice before in the approximately one year
    that the system has been in place. The first time came during the
    one-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, and that threat alarm
    remained in place for two weeks. The second time came on Feb. 7, in
    response to concern about new attacks, and it remained in effect until
    Feb. 27.
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