U. S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
Office of the Press Secretary
February 27, 2003
JOINT STATEMENT OF ATTORNEY
GENERAL JOHN ASHCROFT
AND SECRETARY OF HOMELAND
SECURITY TOM RIDGE
- Based on a review of intelligence and an assessment of
threats by the intelligence community, the Attorney General
in consultation with the Homeland Security Council has made
the decision to return the threat level to an elevated risk
of terrorist attack, or "yellow" level.
The decision to raise the threat level on February 7 was
based on specific intelligence, corroborated by multiple
intelligence sources, received and analyzed by the full
intelligence community at the time. Today's decision to
lower the threat level was based on a careful review of
how this specific intelligence has evolved and progressed
over the past three weeks, as well as counter-terrorism
actions we have taken to address specific aspects of the
threat situation. Among the factors we considered
was the passing of the time period in or around the end
of the Hajj, a Muslim religious period ending mid-February
The lowering of the threat level is not a signal to government,
law enforcement or citizens that the danger of a terrorist
attack is passed. Returning to the elevated level
of risk is only an indication that some of the extra protective
measures enacted by government and the private sector may
be reduced at this time.
emphasize that the United
States and its interests
are still at a significant risk of terrorist attack.
Detained al Qaeda operatives have informed U.S.
intelligence and law enforcement officials that al Qaeda
will wait until it believes Americans are less vigilant
and less prepared before it will strike again. For
this reason, and for the safety and security of our nation,
Americans must continue to be defiant and alert. We
must always be prepared to respond to a significant risk
of terrorist attacks.
The American people serve as our strongest defense against
terrorism. We ask all citizens to be aware of any
suspicious activity and to report it to local authorities
or the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The nation's Homeland Security Advisory System provides
a national framework to inform and facilitate the decisions
of federal, state and local government as well as private
individuals at home and at work. The system indicates
protective measures commensurate with the current threat
level to be taken to reduce the nation's vulnerability to
At the elevated risk level, significant security measures
will remain in place at all federal agencies. Examples
of these include:
A focus on critical facilities and vulnerabilities, with
security and surveillance tailored to meet specific intelligence
reports and security needs.
Continued increased surveillance.
Random inspections of passenger vehicles entering parking
lots and restricted parking as necessary.
Continued coordination of emergency plans with state and
federal jurisdictions and private sector partners.
One hundred percent identification check of personnel entering
Screening procedures remain in place for incoming office
mail and other deliverables.
thank all federal, state and local government and law enforcement
officials, representatives of the private sector, and individual
citizens for your patience and resolve. Know that
your efforts are making a difference. And know, as
well, that through our collective efforts, we send a signal
to those who would do us harm that America
stands alert, united, and prepared.