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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Terror Alert to Be Raised

Aired May 20, 2003 - 14:33   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: We just quickly want to go to the White House and White House Correspondent John King getting news in now with regard to the terror alert. We were in elevated condition, yellow, as you know.
I understand we have some new information, though -- John, what can you tell us?

JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, CNN has learned that about an hour from now, the Bush administration will announce that because of new intelligence suggesting the possibility of terrorist attacks here in the United States, this country, for the fourth time since the color-coded system was adopted will go back to orange, orange level of threat alert. This will be, again, the fourth time that we have gone. Now we will go from elevated, yellow, back to orange which is a high risk of a terrorist attack.

This decision made here at the White House after a special meeting of the president's Homeland Security Council because of new intelligence information, again. Intelligence information, we are told, is not specific about any potential targets or the timing or even the methods of any attack, but the amount of the so-called "chatter" has increased to the point that when it is combined with the fact that we have seen these terrorist attacks overseas and there is more threat of attacks overseas as well.

The president making the decision a short time ago here at the White House to go back up to orange in the threat level here in the United States.

I am told by senior administration officials that key members of Congress are being notified of this decision right now. Word also goes out quickly to federal, state, and local law enforcement officials, mayors and the like, those responsible on the front lines in the war on domestic terrorism. A formal announcement from the administration. I am told it's about an hour away. Again, that decision made here at the White House just a short time ago.

PHILLIPS: All right, John. Now tell us how that changes life as we know it from elevated to high condition?

KING: Well, one of the things it does, Kyra, is that it strains the budgets of cities and states across this country because they are now asked to increase security, especially in the wake of what we have seen overseas, the administration is concerned that terrorists, if they target sites here in the United States, they will not go after -- quote-unquote -- "hard targets," like places like the White House. There are tourists outside the White House gate as I am talking to you, but soft targets like restaurants, like any major places where you can get a number of civilians. That is the concern.

So you will see in places like New York City and San Francisco and elsewhere, local police being more vigilant in public places, perhaps around places like baseball stadiums, public squares where people tend to gather at lunchtime. They will act based on whatever little slivers of intelligence they have about these threats. Again, we are told the intelligence at this moment is quite vague, but there is enough of it that the administration has decided it better act on the safe side and increase security across the country, going back again to orange in that color code system the administration uses.

PHILLIPS: All right. Within one hour moving from elevated condition to high condition. Our John King, live at the White House. Thank you. We'll continue to follow the terror alert and how it affects all of us.

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