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Ridge to urge faster planning against terror

Spokesman: Analysis, not threat, driving security push

From Jeanne Meserve
CNN Washington Bureau

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge

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Acts of terror
Tom Ridge
Department of Homeland Security

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge is expected to call Monday for an acceleration of plans to prepare for a terrorist attack because of several forthcoming high-profile events that could give terrorists a chance to strike.

Ridge is scheduled to speak to the opening session of the Radio and Television News Directors Association in Las Vegas, Nevada, at 10 a.m. (1 p.m. ET).

A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security said Ridge's call would be issued to national, state and local authorities with an eye toward these events:

  • Dedication of the World War II Memorial on the Washington Mall, May 29.
  • Group of Eight economic summit on Sea Island, Georgia, June 8-10.
  • Independence Day, July 4.
  • Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts, July 26-29.
  • Republican National Convention in New York, August 30-September 2.
  • Labor Day weekend, September 4-6.
  • Each of these events will have a site-specific security plan, but an interagency group that includes Homeland Security, the FBI, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Energy and the Department of Justice is being formed to address the larger picture, including the time between events.

    The national preparedness plan and critical infrastructure will get particular attention at the federal level, but Ridge will issue a "call to action" for state and local agencies to complete their response plans as well, the spokesman said.

    The official said the preparedness push is not in response to threat information, but to analysis.

    He did not mention any plans to raise the color-coded threat level, which is set at yellow, or elevated. (Homeland Security Advisory Systemexternal link)

    The nation has been at yellow alert since early January, when the threat risk was lowered from orange, or high, where it was set during the heavy December and New Year travel period. The alert lasted 20 days, from December 21-January 9. (Full story)

    The highest level is red, or severe. It has not been employed since the color-code system was introduced in March 2002.

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