REMARKS FOR SECRETARY TOM RIDGE THREAT LEVEL PRESS CONFERENCE
by Secretary Tom Ridge on Lowering National Threat Level
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 9, 2004
Three weeks ago, the United States Government raised the national
level from an "Elevated" to
a "High" risk of terrorist attack -- or as it's more
commonly known -- from Code Yellow to Code Orange.
Today, based on a careful review of the available intelligence,
we have lowered the threat level to Yellow. We are still concerned
about the continued threats, but the threat conditions that we've
been following have diminished. With the passing of the holidays
and many large gatherings that occurred during this time, we have
made the decision to come down to Yellow.
When we went to Code Orange on December 21, we asked the nation's
governors, mayors, homeland security professionals, international
partners and the public to undertake actions that required speed
and reach. I'm pleased to report that the level of response and
resolve to that call to action was exceptional and virtually unprecedented.
Most of you saw the scope of protective measures that were undertaken.
You saw an increased police presence at shopping malls, train stations
and power plants. You saw planes sitting on tarmacs. Perhaps you
stood through longer lines. On behalf of the President and myself,
I want to thank everyone who offered their efforts and patience
during this time.
I know that we are all thankful that nothing happened. The holidays
have passed; the potential danger that large gatherings present
during the holidays has passed. They passed safely and without
incident. We believe this is a testament to the incredible level
of awareness, information sharing and communication that stretched
across the country and the world. We know from experience that
the increased security and vigilance that accompany a raise in
the threat level does make a difference in deterring and disrupting
a terrorist attack.
Let me emphasize that, although we have returned to Yellow, we
have not let our guard down. Yellow still means that we're at an
elevated level of risk. And we will maintain particular vigilance
around some critical resources and locales. And so, the force of
homeland security continues to move forward.
Just in the last three weeks, we took important steps to increase
this nation's level of protection. For example, we issued aviation
emergency amendments to enhance security relating to passenger
and commercial aircraft flying to, from and over the United States,
and provided air cover to several of our nation's cities. We deployed
state-of-the-art sensor detection equipment that can readily scan
for radiological devices and bioagents. We launched US-VISIT, a
program that uses biometrics to expedite the processing of foreign
travelers and stop known or suspected terrorists at our borders.
As I mentioned, some of these security steps also led to planes
sitting on runways for extended periods of time. Most of you will
agree that we always want to put safety first. But we also want
to minimize inconvenience. I assure you that we will continue to
look for ways to do so.
Everything we do is designed to keep planes flying, bring loved
ones closer, enable sports fans to gather, help businesses stay
open -- in other words, to keep this country moving. And to terrorists
who think America would ever do otherwise, this country again has
proven you wrong. Your goal is to sow fear. But you will not succeed
in the United States of America.
We are a free people. We are united, resilient and resolved. We
will continue to go forward with our lives -- blessed by our freedoms
and comforted in the knowledge that, across this country and around
the world, skilled and dedicated people are at work to keep us