- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 20, 2003

Bush administration officials met yesterday to plan for New York City's security needs, and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge appeared on all major morning shows to calm a nervous nation on the brink of war.
Mr. Ridge said the United States has received no specific threat but added that during the past few weeks there has been "a volume of terrorist threats from quite a few sources."
"We've also detained some additional individuals who have helped corroborate some of these threats," he said on NBC's Today Show.
"Now there's nothing specific to the U.S., but they talk again and again about targeting U.S. interests, both within the U.S. and around the world," Mr. Ridge said.
The decision to raise the security alert level from Code Yellow (elevated) to Orange (high) Monday night was based on information from within the intelligence community and direct threats from Osama bin Laden that his terrorists would retaliate against an attack on Iraq.
New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg met with Mr. Ridge and President Bush at the White House to brief the officials on the city's security preparations and to ask for additional funding.
"There is a two-front war here one is on the streets of our cities and one is overseas. I'm responsible to help with one of them, and we're going to do that," Mr. Bloomberg said.
Mr. Ridge said afterwards that the president would request additional funding from Congress for first responders in New York and other states but said no figures were set.
"We had a good conversation about some of the unique needs, financial needs of the city of New York. We understand the primacy that the terrorists place on densely populated area. We know they go after economic targets. And the city of New York obviously remains a part of this national infrastructure that is a target," Mr. Ridge said.
Sen. Ted Stevens, Alaska Republican and chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said Tuesday that funding for first responders will not be ignored by Congress.
The home-front effort dubbed Operation Liberty Shield is a national plan that combines efforts among local, state and federal agencies to protect Americans and infrastructure from a terrorist attack and puts first responders in place in the event of a strike.
With the elevated threat risk, security has been increased at airports, borders and ports, and flight restrictions are in place over Washington and New York City.
Mr. Ridge asked governors to deploy the National Guard, but some states say they don't have the funding or that the additional security is not needed.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, said "we feel comfortable that the security measures in place are appropriate."
In Arkansas, Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee said the state authorities would rely on police and private security. "Their troop strength is already diluted dramatically with federal call-ups," he said.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said calling out the National Guard is an option, but not a requirement for states when the threat level reaches Code Orange.
"I don't view that as a problem. I view that as the way the system is set up to give governors flexibility in decision-making. There are some states where they may not think that they are terrorist targets and that they don't have to make such decisions to employ the Guard; other states may see it differently. That's part of the flexibility based on threat assessment that is provided," Mr. Fleischer said.

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