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akamai
21st December 03, 05:59 PM
U.S. raises terrorism threat level

Sunday, December 21, 2003 Posted: 4:48 PM EST (2148 GMT)



WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Department of Homeland Security raised the U.S. terror threat level from elevated to high Sunday, warning of possible terrorist strikes more devastating than the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said the move was the result of a "substantial increase" in the volume of intelligence pointing to "near-term attacks that could either rival or exceed what we experienced on September 11."

Ridge urged the public to be patient with stricter security measures "in the coming days and weeks" and to proceed with holiday plans despite the threat.

"America is a country that will not be bent by terror," he said.

A senior administration official familiar with the decision said the volume of threats was "significantly higher" and was coming from known sources but that there was "nothing site-specific."

Top officials discussed the matter among themselves and with President Bush for several days. The intelligence "reached the level at which we felt this is [the] right decision, to ramp up in time for [the] holidays," the senior administration official said.

The move raised the warning level from yellow, or elevated, to orange, or high, on the Homeland Security Department's color-coded system. Yellow is midlevel on the five-color system, and orange is the second-highest threat, lower only than red, or severe.

The system was put into place after the September 11 attacks, launched by Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network.

"Recent reporting reiterates -- and this is a constant stream of reporting -- that al Qaeda continues to consider using aircraft as a weapon," Ridge said at a Washington news conference.

"And they are constantly evaluating procedures, both in the United States and elsewhere, to find gaps in our security posture that could be exploited."

Ridge said the steps taken under an orange alert could help deter possible attacks.

"We have enhanced security at our nation's airports and around other transportation systems and infrastructure," he said.

"We will redeploy agents and other resources at our borders to meet the current threat. There will be more Coast Guard air and sea patrols off our shores, in our ports and escorting ships."

On Friday, a statement attributed to bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, claimed al Qaeda was "chasing America and its allies everywhere, even in their own home."

A CIA analysis determined the statement, broadcast on the Arabic-language news network Al-Jazeera, was "most likely" authentic.

Under an orange alert, the Department of Homeland Security urges increasing security at public events and restricting access to facilities that could be targeted. FBI field offices nationwide will operate their command posts around the clock.

Ridge said federal authorities have urged state and local governments to step up security, and executives in the private sector will be asked to take specific steps to protect resources "critical to our country."

Ridge urged Americans to use "common sense" and report suspicious packages, vehicles or activities to law enforcement, and to review emergency plans.

The United States last raised the domestic terrorism threat level to orange May 20, after suicide bombings in Saudi Arabia and Morocco blamed on al Qaeda. That alert lasted 10 days before the threat level was returned to yellow.

A state official involved in homeland security who was briefed by federal authorities told CNN that the United States had received the "highest volume" of credible threats since the attacks on New York and Washington.

The official cautioned, however, that every time the threat level has been raised in the past, federal officials have made such a "highest volume" claim.

Sen. Evan Bayh, an Indiana Democrat and member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Sunday that Americans overseas are at greatest risk.

"But al Qaeda would like nothing better than to carry out an attack here on the American homeland to prove that they're still relevant, raise their morale and convince their financiers they're still worth supporting," Bayh said on CNN's "Late Edition."

"No one wants to raise the threat level and alarm people needlessly, particularly at the holidays," Bayh said. "On the other hand, if you start getting in information, you have the public responsibility to let people know, to be more vigilant and to take reasonable precautions."

The State Department said Wednesday it had authorized nonessential diplomats and families of U.S. officials to leave Saudi Arabia because of security concerns, and urged Americans to defer travel to the kingdom.

"My guess is that our government is taking this very seriously, both in Saudi Arabia and here," Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on "Late Edition."

CNN's Jeanne Meserve, John King, Kathleen Koch and Kevin Bohn contributed to this report.

FingerorMoon?
21st December 03, 07:15 PM
I hardly think me considering a US holiday requires raising the terrorist threat level.

McDojo Artist
21st December 03, 08:44 PM
Well I think so

Boogers
22nd December 03, 08:14 AM
What chance have the Democrats got now at the next election?

What a crock the whole bloody fiasco is!! Why don't they do something about the high rate of child porn being sold across the nation?

Ahhh... what a pile of crap!!!!!

Phoenix
22nd December 03, 09:00 AM
Anyone else here think this is bullshit?

Osiris
22nd December 03, 09:08 AM
*raises hand*

Osiris
22nd December 03, 09:09 AM
Easy way to maintain power. They convince us we're doomed and wecredit them with our survival so far.

snuffles
22nd December 03, 02:51 PM
should i buy my whole family gas masks now?

Mr_Mantis
22nd December 03, 02:55 PM
Originally posted by Boogers
What a crock the whole bloody fiasco is!! Why don't they do something about the high rate of child porn being sold across the nation?

Ahhh... what a pile of crap!!!!!

What are you talking about?

The feds are cracking down on child porn. Operation candyman was a bust because of the faulty affidavit, but people are getting sent to prison left and right for possession of child porn.

MiloNYC
22nd December 03, 03:21 PM
Local child porn crackdowns are a very small part of the problem. These days most KP is produced offshore and as long as the US does not take it to the countries who are the largest producers (Japan for one believe it or not) it will be unable to make a real impact. The internet is not local. I've been in the adult internet business for seven years and one of the most disturbing things is the mainstreaming of borderline teen content. Post Britney Spears it's become very much acceptable to pitch a "look but not touch" image that just is a stepping stone to true KP. It's no enough to go after the downloaders, we also need to look at the media and social factors that feed these trends.

Mr_Mantis
22nd December 03, 03:28 PM
Milo, you are right. The production of child porn is mainly done overseas. I have defended some kiddie porn possessors (never creators). I know how they get busted and what happens to them.

It's sick, but what are ya gonna do? World is full of crazy people.