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Homeland Security

American Forces Press Service

Threat Level Returned to Yellow

Special to the American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 27, 2003 -- Government officials today have decided to return the threat level of terrorist attack to an "elevated" risk, or "yellow."

Attorney General John Ashcroft and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge released the decision in a joint statement today. The threat level was raised to "high" -- "orange" -- on Feb. 7.

"The lowering of the threat level is not a signal to government, law enforcement or citizens that the danger of a terrorist attack is passed," the men said in the statement. "Returning to the elevated level of risk is only an indication that some of the extra protective measures enacted by government and the private sector may be reduced at this time."

The men emphasized that the United States and its interests are still at significant risk of terrorist attack. "Detained al Qaeda operatives have informed U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials that al Qaeda will wait until it believes Americans are less vigilant and less prepared before it will strike again," the statement says. "For this reason, and for the safety and security of our nation, Americans must continue to be defiant and alert."

The men said the decision to lower the threat level was based on a careful review of specific intelligence and counterterrorism actions taken to address specific aspects of the threat situation.

The nation's Homeland Security Advisory System provides a national framework to inform and facilitate the decisions of federal, state and local government as well as private individuals at home and at work.

At the yellow risk level, significant security measures will remain in place at all federal agencies. Examples of these include:

  • A focus on critical facilities and vulnerabilities, with security and surveillance tailored to meet specific intelligence reports and security needs.

  • Continued increased surveillance.

  • Random inspections of passenger vehicles entering parking lots and restricted parking as necessary.

  • Continued coordination of emergency plans with state and federal jurisdictions and private-sector partners.

  • A 100 percent identification check of personnel entering facilities.

  • Screening procedures remain in place for incoming office mail and other deliverables.

The men said the American people are the country's strongest defense against terrorism. "We ask all citizens to be aware of any suspicious activity and to report it to local authorities or the Federal Bureau of Investigation," they said.


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