Transcript: Ridge Raises Threat Level
Select Financial Services Buildings in D.C., N.Y., Newark, N.J. Now at Terror Alert Level Orange
FDCH E-Media Inc.
Sunday, August 1, 2004; 3:39 PM
Following is the full transcript of Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge's news conference in which he announced raising the terror threat level to orange for select financial services buildings in Washington, New York and Neward, N.J.:
RIDGE: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.
President Bush has told you and I have reiterated the promise that when we have specific credible information, that we will share it. This afternoon we do have new and unusually specific information about where Al Qaida would like to attack.
And, as a result, today the United States government is raising the threat level to code orange for the financial services sector in New York City, northern New Jersey, and Washington, D.C.
Since September 11, 2001, leaders of our commercial financial institutions have demonstrated exceptional leadership in improving its security. However, in light of new intelligence information, we have made the decision to raise the threat level for this sector in these communities to bring protective resources to an even higher level.
This will allow us to increase protection in and around those buildings that require it, and also raise awareness for employees, and residents, and customers, and visitors. We know, and we know from experience, that increased physical protection and added vigilance from citizens can thwart a terrorist attack, and that is our goal.
Now, this is the first time we have chosen to use the homeland security advisory system in such a targeted way. Compared to previous threat reporting, these intelligence reports have provided a level of detail that is very specific.
The quality of this intelligence, based on multiple reporting streams in multiple locations, is rarely seen, and it is alarming in both the amount and specificity of the information. Now, while we are providing you with this immediate information, we will also continue to update you as the situation unfolds.
RIDGE: As of now, this is what we know: Reports indicate that Al Qaida is targeting several specific buildings, including the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in the District of Columbia, Prudential Financial in northern New Jersey and Citigroup buildings and the New York Stock Exchange in New York.
Let me assure you -- let me reassure you, actions to further strengthen security around these buildings are already under way. Additionally, we're concerned about targets beyond these and are working to get more information about them.
Now, senior leadership across the Department of Homeland Security, in coordination with the White House, the CIA, the FBI, and other federal agencies, have been in constant contact with the governors, the mayors and the homeland security advisers of the affected locations I've just named.
We've talked with executive leadership of the companies that own these businesses and operate these buildings, the people who know these facilities best. We have told them at this time there is no information that indicates a specific time for these attacks beyond the period leading up to our national elections.
Though, of course, just because we know where but not precisely when, that does not mean that we cannot take preemptive action. Just the opposite. When collection activities provide specific information, we can tailor security measures to the particular vulnerabilities of those potential targets.
Now, understandably, security measures at each facility will not be uniform in nature, given the scope and the scale of building architecture, access to and from roads, and other variables. And certainly we will not broadcast our security intentions to our enemies.
RIDGE: But you may expect to see special buffer zones to secure the perimeter of the buildings from unauthorized cars and trucks, restrictions to affect underground parking, security personnel using identification badges and digital photos to keep track of people entering and exiting buildings, increased law enforcement presence, even more robust screening of vehicles and packages and deliveries.
These and other security measures, both seen and unseen, create added layers of protection to an already vigorous security effort around this country.
© 2004 FDCH E-Media