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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Pataki Holds News Conference

Aired May 20, 2003 - 16:25   ET

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

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: This is the governor of New York state, George Pataki, talking to reporters on this afternoon. The federal government has raised the terror threat level to high. Governor Pataki.
GOV. GEORGE PATAKI (R), NEW YORK: ... we know that New York is a symbol of America, that we've been targeted in the past, and that we have to be extra diligent every day, and, in particular, when there are these heightened alerts and heightened concerns. Accordingly, today, we've begun implementing our night shield program, which, as most of you know is something we develop for months, and implemented at the beginning of the Iraqi war, the last time the country went and the state went to orange alert. That will include a significant heightened visible presence that people will see in the forms of additional police, additional troopers, additional National Guard at everything from critical infrastructure across the state to major transportation centers in the metropolitan regions.

I have talked with Mayor Bloomberg, and Jim Talstrom (ph) has talked with Commissioner Kelly. And we are confident that as the city upgrades its security efforts, along with the state, that we will act in cohesion and coordination and we will be providing significant additional support. We have also used our anti-terrorism secure communications network to advise law enforcement across the state of the concerns, and also to notify everything from the health care system to the corporate community of the need to take additional security steps. We are, I believe, as prepared and proactive as any state in America. But that still means the people have to be vigilant and have to be aware that the entire country is now at this heightened level of concern about possible terrorist attacks.

I would encourage New Yorkers, prudently and respectfully, to, if they have suspicions, to utilize our 24-hour hotline services. The state has its 1-866-SAFE-NYS. 1-866-SAFE-NYS. And the city has its 24-hour hotline, 1-888-NYC-SAFE. I want to, just at this moment pause to thank the National Guard troops who have been through so much now for over a year and a half. This afternoon, I was at Albany airport when some of our Air Guard members who had been activated came back from the Middle East. They had been activated on September 11. They had been activated for "Operation Noble Eagle." They had been activated for the Afghan war. And they were activated for the Iraqi war and were just coming home.

These are citizen soldiers. These are not people who have as their primary profession being a member of our military. And today we have over 3,000 of them still activated in service here in the state for our security or under federal control around the globe for national security. When you see a National Guard soldier, thank them, because they are making an enormous sacrifice. They are away from their families. They are away from their jobs, and they are putting protection of the people of New York ahead of their own personal interests.

And on this day when we commemorate the brave police officers who died in public service protecting the people of this state last year, we have to give special thanks to those who put on the uniform today to protect us from threats. As I said, we are New Yorkers. We've been through this before. This is the fourth time the nation has gone to orange alert. This is the -- the city has been at orange alert since September 11. We will continue to work with all local law enforcement, with the city, with federal officials, private and public sectors, to make sure everything that can be done to secure the safety of the people of New York is done.

And I do want to say that this is fleet week and this is Memorial Day weekend. And people should go about their lives. People should thank those who come into the city for fleet week. People should plan to have respectful celebrations on this Memorial Day weekend. But be vigilant and be alert. And as I said, if you have legitimate concerns, use either the city or the state hotline that are operational 24 hours a day.

WOODRUFF: Pataki on this afternoon, when the federal government raising the terror threat level to high, orange. Governor Pataki telling New Yorkers, if you see or know of anything suspicious, call the hotline either in the city or in the state. Certainly a warning, a guide that applies to all Americans to be vigilant.

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