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Americans urged to carry on despite terror alert

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The security alert issued Monday was a "reiteration" of the alert issued to law enforcement agencies October 11, Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge said Tuesday, and it should be taken seriously but should not stop people from living normal lives.

"America has to continue to be America," he said. "All we're saying with a general alert is to continue to live your lives, continue to be American, but be alert, be on guard."

Attorney General John Ashcroft announced Monday that intelligence sources had gathered "credible" information that more terror attacks could be launched on the United States in the next few days. White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said Tuesday the information gathered came from "multiple sources" but lacked "specificity."

"If there was more, we would be providing it," Fleischer said. "That is how to prevent terrorism."

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"America understands and hopefully appreciates," Ridge said, "when there is that kind of information, we share it no matter how incomplete it may be."

On October 11, the FBI issued an alert warning of possible terrorist attacks on American soil or against U.S. international interests. No such attack took place, but Ridge said "we'll never know" if the alert may have "thwarted or frustrated an attack."

The former Pennsylvania governor said that "the environment has changed since September 11, and it is now "very important ... for America to remain on the highest possible alert."

"Some people have questioned, 'well, you put us on a general alert a couple of weeks ago and nothing happened,'" Ridge said. "This war on terrorism is going to continue for an indefinite period of time, and from time to time we may issue the same general alert again."

The alert is intended to put the public and the nation's 18,000 local and state law enforcement agencies on notice of potential trouble.

On October 11, Justice Department spokeswoman Mindy Tucker said similar alerts had been issued to local law enforcement agencies "five or six" times since September 11.

Fleischer noted that for Americans living abroad, "this type of threat is nothing new."

"The fact of the matter is that Americans abroad, our diplomatic community, ... have been living with this threat for a number of years," he said.

Fleischer also said it is intended that President Bush's attendance at Tuesday's World Series game in New York's Yankee Stadium will send a message to the American people.

"The president is going to the game ... to help keep the country doing what it typically does at this time of year, which is watch the World Series," he said. "It helps to keep the fabric of our country strong."


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