Bush about threat level:

Q Yes, Mr. President, with this increased threat level, can you say what your
level of concern is that Americans will be attacked again? And what is your
advice to Americans in this time?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, we are -- we take every threat seriously. The threats that
we have heard recently remind us of the pattern of threats we heard prior to
September the 11th. We have no specific threat to America, but we're taking
everything seriously, obviously. And so, therefore, we have gone to a different
level of concern, a different threat level, which means our government will be
providing extra security at key facilities, and that we'll be increasing

We'll do everything we can to protect the American people. And Americans need to
go about their lives. They just need to know that their government, at the
federal and state and local level, will be on an extra level of alert to protect

About HSAS:

CNN News story: U.S. at 'high alert' on eve of 9/11



Director Ridge, Attorney General Ashcroft Discuss Threat Level
Remarks by the Attorney General and Governor Ridge
The Justice Department

1:35 P.M. EDT

ATTORNEY GENERAL ASHCROFT: (In progress) I want to express my appreciation to
Governor Tom Ridge, who is the Advisor to the President for Homeland Security,
for being here; and to the Director of the FBI, Bob Mueller, for being here.

The United States government has concluded, based on analysis and specific
intelligence of possible attacks on U.S. interests overseas, to call government,
law enforcement, and citizens, both at home and overseas, to a heightened state
of alert.

After conferring with the Homeland Security Council, the recommendation has been
made to increase the national threat level, currently classified at Elevated
Risk, to High Risk. The President has accepted this recommendation.

 The U.S. intelligence community has received information, based on debriefings
of a senior al Qaeda operative, of possible terrorists attacks timed to coincide
with the anniversary of the September 11th attacks on the United States.
Information indicates that al Qaeda cells have been established in several South
Asian countries in order to conduct car-bomb and other attacks on U.S.
facilities. These cells have been accumulating explosives since approximately
January of 2002, this year, in preparation for these attacks.

The U.S. intelligence community has also received information that one or more
individuals in the Middle East are preparing for a suicide attack, or attacks,
against U.S. interests. At this time, we have no specific information as to
where these attacks might occur.

The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that the most likely attacks of al
Qaeda attacks -- the most likely targets of al Qaeda attacks are the
transportation and energy sectors, and facilities or gatherings that would be
recognized worldwide as symbols of American power or security. Examples of such
symbols are U.S. military facilities, U.S. embassies, and national monuments.

In addition, U.S. intelligence has concluded that lower-level al Qaeda
operatives may view the September 11th anniversary as a suitable time to lash
out in even small strikes, to demonstrate their worldwide presence and resolve.
Accordingly, widely dispersed, unsophisticated strikes are possible, as well.

The specificity of some of the information and analysis has contributed to the
decision to close four U.S. embassies in Southeast Asia, and to elevate our
security at all overseas diplomatic and military facilities. The increased
threat level is based on specific intelligence received and analyzed by the full
intelligence community. This information has been corroborated by multiple
intelligence sources.

Last year at this time, United States intelligence discerned similar patterns of
terrorist threat reporting overseas. In addition, other recent events parallel
terrorist activity that occurred in the weeks prior to last year's attacks.

I want to emphasize that the recommendation made today was not made to move to
the highest level of alert, an action that would have been triggered by specific
credible intelligence and analysis pointing toward an imminent attack on the
United States homeland. At this time, most intelligence focuses on possible
attacks on U.S. interests overseas.

As Attorney General, I have directed the Joint Terrorism Task Forces
nationwide -- there are joint terrorism task forces all across America in the
various FBI district offices -- I have directed that they coordinate their local
response with U.S. attorneys and local antiterrorism task forces. In addition, I
have directed that all relevant information be shared the with Joint Terrorism
Task Forces in order for federal officials to work effectively and cooperatively
with state and local officials.

As we have been forced to do in the past, today we once again call on the
American people to remain alert, but defiant in the face of this new threat. We
are not -- we are not recommending that events be cancelled, nor do we recommend
that individuals change domestic travel plans or that the federal work force not
report to duty. We are not making those recommendations. We ask that Americans,
both at home and abroad, mark the anniversary of last year's savage attacks with
a heightened awareness of their environment and the activities occurring around

This call, which Americans have heard before, is based on specific intelligence
that heightened awareness and readiness deters terrorism. Each of us has the
ability to increase the security that we need -- security for ourselves,
security for our families, and security for our communities. Today we call on
Americans to exercise this responsibility with special care and vigilance.

Now Governor Ridge will discuss actions which will, and can be taken in response
to this new information.

Governor Tom Ridge.

GOVERNOR RIDGE: Thank you, General.

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. As the Attorney General has announced, we
are now at high risk of a terrorist attack. We now are at Level Orange. This
heightened threat level has been, or is being communicated to local and state
law enforcement, federal agencies, members of Congress, governors, state
homeland security advisors, and representatives of the private sector.

The nation's Homeland Security Advisory System provides a national framework to
inform and facilitate decisions appropriate to different levels of government
and to private citizens, either in the workplace or at home. The system couples
the threat level with protective measures that will be taken to reduce our
country's vulnerabilities. Specific protective measures will be taken by all
federal agencies as a result of the decision to raise the threat level, to
reduce vulnerabilities. All federal agencies have provided to the Office of
Homeland Security the protective measures that they have been prepared to adapt
to the threat advisory system by the end of August.

And included among some of those that these agencies will consider taking in
response to the elevation of the threat will be additional security personnel at
federal facilities. At the very least, we want to ensure that security is more
visible, as a part of deterring terrorist activity. Given -- depending on the
department and the area they are attempting to secure, they may engage in
increased surveillance or counter-surveillance operations. They may make
adjustments as to the number of entry points into buildings, and if there are
strict security procedures associated with access, we're going to encourage
everyone to make sure that they enforce them to the very letter of the law, no

There may be some barriers erected to alter some of the traffic flow. There may
be more frequent inspections of people or cars entering federal facilities.
These are just some of the examples of the extra steps that ought or will be
taken by all federal agencies. And I might add that in talking with several
governors and homeland security advisors prior -- just within the past
half-hour, some states and organizations, in response to the threat advisory
system, had already prepared different protective measures that they would
embark upon if we were to raise the level of threat. And we are assimilating
that information and getting it out to the governors and homeland security
advisors and local law enforcement.

At the same time we are taking these actions at the federal level, governors,
mayors, state and local enforcement, as well as private sector managers of the
nation's critical infrastructure, will be taking action, as well. For individual
Americans, every citizen, we know this is a very sobering announcement. Just as
federal, state, and local officials are taking precautions, we certainly
recommend and think there are some common-sense measures that would enhance
their security, and just some common-sense precautionary things they should do,
as well.

I know we've called on them before, but the Attorney General, the FBI Director,
and I see on a fairly regular basis what happens with citizen involvement when
they are extra vigilant, extra careful, when they become very alert to
suspicious activity. We're going to call on them to maintain that high level of
awareness. As the Attorney General said, be alert, but be defiant. Let's make
sure that every individual citizen who sees something suspicious reports it, to
either the Joint Terrorism Task Force or the local law enforcement.

Parents may want to have a communication plan and talk to their children and
their family about the significance of September 11th, and about the possibility
that those who would do us harm may choose that date, or any time around the
commemorative period to do us harm again. We'd encourage employers and employees
to know their own emergency plans, to review them -- to talk to the governors
and the homeland security advisors, to put some of their facilities on alert, on
call. Again, there are a lot of very practical common-sense measures that we
will be encouraging, and basically giving some direction the states and locals
could take.

Now, beyond these very, very important steps, our advice to America as we engage
the local law enforcement, the state law enforcement, the private sector, as we
engage everyone who has critical responsibilities to reduce vulnerabilities and
protect our homeland, our advice to America is to continue with your plans. If
your travel is in your plans, attendance at a public event is in your plans, we
would like you to proceed, to do as you had planned to do, but be wary and be
mindful that because of the specific information that we have, very consistent
with the pattern of intelligence activity that was detected prior to 9/11, that
the recommendation was made to raise the level of alert.

I might add that I don't think America needs to be reminded that we are at war.
However, this announcement is a reminder that there are people around the world
who would do us harm. And our response is to continue to be America, but to be
alert, to be vigilant. We have persevered through this, we'll persevere now, and
ultimately we will prevail.

Thank you.

Q General, is there any intelligence to suggest that these -- any attacks are
planned domestically, or is the concern primarily overseas?

ATTORNEY GENERAL ASHCROFT: I would say that the most recent intelligence which
has prompted us to issue this change in our status has focused primarily
overseas. And, frankly, part of our interpretation, or part of the analysis of
that is that that's very similar to the circumstances that existed a year ago.

Q It seems like, with the timing of this announcement, was there new information
that you came into knowledge of, or is this based on just an analysis --
continuing analysis of information that's been out there for some time?

ATTORNEY GENERAL ASHCROFT: Well, in a way the answer is, yes, new information
has fed into an analytic structure or is this based on just an analysis,
continuing analysis of information that's been out there?

ATTORNEY GENERAL ASHCROFT: In a way, the answer is yes. New information has fed
into an analytic structure which has made us take very seriously both the new
information and the analysis, which leads us to this conclusion. So information
has become available very recently, which, together with the analysis of the
general circumstances and the situation, leads us to make this change.

Q General, how likely do you think that there -- given the significance of this
day -- that there will be a terrorist attempt, whether successful or not? Do you
expect that something will happen tomorrow?

ATTORNEY GENERAL ASHCROFT: Well, we really hope that by being alert and by
having elevated security, that we default the attempt of any terrorist
activities. The primary aspiration that we have is to prevent terrorist attacks.
And we believe that state and local law enforcement, federal authorities,
citizens of this nation working together are the best effort we can make for
prevention. So there is an anomaly here -- that if we are most successful with
this announcement, we will prevent the attacks which might otherwise exist. And
we think that would be a wonderful outcome.

Q Some of the information from senior al Qaeda operatives which you've operated
on in the past and put out alerts have proven to be -- nothing's happened. And
so the question has arisen whether or not these al Qaeda operatives have the
opportunity to sort of scare us or jerk our chain. And obviously, you have to
consider that in any case. Is there something different this time?

ATTORNEY GENERAL ASHCROFT: Well, we believe this to be credible information. And
the analysis that has been undertaken by the intelligence agencies leads us to
conclude that the steps we are taking are appropriate steps in the national

Q General Ashcroft, you said this was from a senior al Qaeda operative. Can you
discuss who that person is, and give us any indication of where they're being
held and what kind of information they've provided?


Q General Ashcroft, you said you don't want to cancel events, or -- people
should go about their daily lives. Did you at all consider looking at cancelling
events? And what made you decide not to do that? And how close did you come to
the decision on maybe cancelling some events?

ATTORNEY GENERAL ASHCROFT: Well, we believe that there is an elevated risk, and
we think the best way to help guard against that risk becoming a reality is to
share with the American people, and particularly the law enforcement community
of the United States and those who have responsibility for defending our
infrastructure, the information that's appropriate in that risk, to prevent
these activities.

I don't believe that the analysis or the information leads us -- has led us at
any time to consider the cancellation of events. If we believed that was
appropriate, we would not hesitate to do so.

Q General, how long do you expect this new elevated status to continue?

ATTORNEY GENERAL ASHCROFT: You know, if we had the ability to define the times
at which risks existed we would just define the time as zero and not have them.
That's just another way of saying the assessment of the risk will define the
duration of how much time we assign this level of risk, in terms of public

And we'll constantly be reassessing and pursuing the leads that come from the
kind of information we've received, with a view toward the evaluation of where
we are and whether -- at what level the risks exist. Obviously, we'd love to see
events transpire in such a way as to demonstrate a substantially reduced risk,
but we're not at that point yet.

Q You mentioned energy and transportation as two vulnerable sectors. Can you be
more specific, and why do you -- why those two sectors?

ATTORNEY GENERAL ASHCROFT: Well, we no historically that transportation has been
a dramatic way in which the terrorist community has sought to impose its will,
as opposed to the values expressed in the cultures of freedom. Whether you're
talking about the transportation -- public transportation of buses and car bombs
in the Middle East, or you're talking about the utilization of aircraft in the
United States, they're symbolic, they're high profile or those kinds of things.
And those things that relate to the success and survival of our culture are
things that are obvious targets.

I think if you care to supplement my answer there, I'd be happy to have you do
so. But that's what I could say in response to that question.

GOVERNOR RIDGE: I think, first of all, there had been a heightened sense of
awareness that I think that was occurring within the private sector, as well at
the state and local level, just because of the significance that this country
places on the public events tomorrow. And there had been several discussions
about the importance of the ceremonies tomorrow, as we remember, but also the
possibility -- although not based on any credible information. Human instincts
as they are, I think most Americans concluded even in their own mind that if you
were thinking like a terrorist, then perhaps coming back again over the same
date might be something you'd want to do.

Now, we don't believe that they do anything other than operate when they're
ready. No particular symbolism -- no particular urgency attached to a symbolic
date. But when you attach the symbolic date with the specific information that
has been corroborated, coupled with a similar pattern of activity almost a year
ago, you put those three things together, and you say, for the time being we've
asked to raise the level of emergency in this country.

We have continued to make improvements in the transportation community,
particularly with an eye toward aviation and for -- there will be certain things
that will be done we can't share with you publicly with regard to aviation, but
every air marshal available will be available and flying over the next several
days. It's just one of the responses that we're going to undertake as we elevate
the threat level.

Q General Ashcroft, you mentioned car bombs. Is that pretty much the worst-case
scenario, or is there concern, particularly on this day, of terrorist action
that might have far greater destruction?

ATTORNEY GENERAL ASHCROFT: Well, I think we are very concerned about a full
range of terrorist activities. One of the characteristics of the pre-9/11 period
from a year ago was that there was a lot of traffic, if you will, that related
to conventional terrorist activities, and yet, very shortly thereafter, or in
the virtual same time frame, dramatically new unheard-of activities were engaged
in. So we believe that we know from our intelligence activities that have been
well reported that the terrorist community has been very active in a wide
variety of terrorism potentials. And while car bombs are a very significant
part, car bombs, truck bombs, explosive devices, we also know that the terrorist
community has been interested, and al Qaeda in specific, and their associates
have been interested in a wide range of terrorist devises.

Q (inaudible.)

ATTORNEY GENERAL ASHCROFT: Well, I think they are well understood. I don't mean
to -- if I made any specification today, it would not be for purposes of
associating them with the elevated alert today. But we have seen that the
terrorist community has done research in biological -- evil biology, evil
chemistry, in the dispersion of radiological contaminants and the like, and
those have been the subject of previous endeavors. And, frankly, when we elevate
this alert, we want to remain cognizant of the fact that we're dealing with a
complex capacity, with an organization of international reach, and while we have
improved our capacity to defend immeasurably, and while we have impaired their
capacity in some measure, we also realize that they still have the capacity to

Q If your concern is mainly U.S. targets overseas, by waiting until the day
before the anniversary are you not cutting it kind of close in terms of the
preparation that Americans overseas or U.S. corporations or others overseas
could be doing for the planning?

ATTORNEY GENERAL ASHCROFT: Well, I think I want you all to be cognizant of what
prompted this change, and I hope that we've made it clear that this change is
based on an analysis of intelligence that -- some of which very recently became
available -- which prompted us to work rapidly to make this change. And we have
seen rather prompt response to this by our own State Department in its
activities regarding its embassies in various settings around the world. And
we'll do everything we can to give the American people, both at home and abroad,
a level of notice which will allow them to maximize their capacity to make the
adjustments that are appropriate and necessary.

Q When you say "recent," do you mean hours, do you mean days?

ATTORNEY GENERAL ASHCROFT: Yes. Thank you very much.

Q What? Which one?

ATTORNEY GENERAL ASHCROFT: In the last 24 hours we have had additional
information that's been very, very valuable to us, and significant.

Thank you.

END :00 P.M. EDT

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