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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Terror Threat Level Lowered to Yellow

Aired May 30, 2003 - 20:07   ET

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

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: The national terror alert level has had a change of colors. Orange is out, yellow is in. But as CNN's Jeanne Meserve reports, one reason for the change may be green.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ten days after it went up, the threat alert level came down. The Memorial Day weekend, considered a period of heightened vulnerability, is over, and U.S. intelligence is picking up fewer indicators and warnings.

However, the danger of terrorist attacks is never eliminated. And sources say there is continuing concern about suicide bombings or vehicle bombings, like those seen earlier this month in Saudi Arabia and Morocco.

A consideration in lowering the threat level, cost. For some local and state governments and private industry, threat level orange means green, as in money.

GOV. GEORGE PATAKI (R), NEW YORK: Well, there's no question that being at this heightened level of alert has cost New York State hundreds of millions of dollars.

MESERVE: Neighboring New Jersey says maintaining threat level orange costs $125,000 a day. And the city of Baltimore estimates its costs at $300,000 a week.

But some say after four periods of orange alert, they are learning to target their security and spend less money.

CHIEF WILLIAM BRATTON, LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT: We had a -- less of a response at the airport, for example. We really did not do a lot of overtime assignments in the city, that we were able to cover things with our general patrol.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MESERVE: The Department of Homeland Security has started disbursing money to states and localities to help defray the costs of being at orange. That appears to have lowered the volume of complaints.

But there is another factor. Some officials say they just did less this time, that this orange alert was nowhere near as intense as the one during the war with Iraq, Daryn. KAGAN: Jeanne Meserve in Washington, thank you for that.

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