CNN BREAKING NEWS
Threat Level Returns to Elevated
Aired February 27, 2003 - 11:01 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Up first on CNN, breaking news. The terror alert level is changing yet again. Homeland Security Correspondent Jeanne Meserve is in Washington, and she has details on this breaking story.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Daryn. Administration officials say the terror alert status is coming down. A formal announcement in the form of a paper statement expected any time from the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department.
The threat level was raised 20 days ago on February 7 amidst an uptick in intelligence chatter and concerns that there could be a strike during or immediately after the Hajj, the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. That time period has now passed, and that is one reason administration officials cite for bringing the threat level down.
They also note that some of the intelligence which created concern has now been discredited. And other pieces of intelligence I am told, are -- quote -- "no longer in play," as relates to a heightened terror alert.
The ratcheting down of the threat level has been expected for a week or so. DHS secretary Tom Ridge has indicated he wanted to bring it down because of the stress and strain the increased security was putting on state and local budgets, as well as the private sector. Now there is apparently consensus in the administration that this is the time to do so.
The threat level yellow may not last for long, however. Officials in government and individuals in the emergency response community have every expectation that if and when hostilities with Iraq commence, the threat level will have to be raised again, because Iraqi agents and sympathizers to the Iraqi cause may seek to strike back against the U.S. -- Daryn.
KAGAN: So don't relax just yet. Jeanne Meserve in Washington. Thank you.
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