http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A41737-2003Mar17.html 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 seaports. -- 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. - ISN is currently hosted by Attrition.org To unsubscribe email majordomoat_private with 'unsubscribe isn' in the BODY of the mail.
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