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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Terror Alert to be Lowered

Aired February 27, 2003 - 10:28   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We want to get back now to our breaking news, and that concerns the lowering of the terror alert.
For that, let's go to Jeanne Meserve in Washington -- Jeanne.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Daryn, we're expecting a paper statement to be issued very shortly by the administration announcing that the threat level is going down from orange back to yellow. No press conference expected, just a statement from the administration.

One senior administration official telling CNN's John King that they are scaling back because there is a consensus that while there are still worrisome signs, they are not as loud and detailed as what we were hearing when the threat level was taken back up to orange.

Sources were telling me there are a couple factors here. One was time. You may recall when the threat level was raised there was particular concern about the potential for attack during or immediately after the Hajj, the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. That time is now past.

In addition, some of the information that led to a heightening of the threat level has now been discredited. And my source tells me there are other things about that information which made them feel that the threat now is not -- has lessened. My source refusing to go into details about what that information is.

But once again, the threat level going down. The administration has indicated for some days that it hoped it would be able to take it down, in part because this has been such a tremendous strain on states and localities to beef of security and bear the costs of that, and so this will be seen as something of relief to those localities who have been griping about the fact they've not been compensating for any of the additional security measures they've been forced to take as result increase in this threat level.

Once again, a paper statement expected shortly making the formal announcement of this decrease in the threat level.

Back to you, Daryn.

KAGAN: And, Jeanne, even though that will be of some comfort to people, to go from orange to yellow, still means people must be on their guard and look for things that are suspicious, and the government still needs public to participate in trying to keep everyone safe. MESERVE: That's right. We'll still be at an elevated threat alert status. All along the administration has said keep your eyes open. The threat level, you'll remember, went up on February 7th, so it's been a stretch of about 20 days. They do want people to continue to remain vigilant and continue to prepare.

You'll remember just this past week they unveiled ready.gov. It's a new campaign to try and get people to get ready for the possibility of a terrorist attack to have the things in their house to respond in case there is one. All of that stuff that the government would like to see continue to see happen, even though, officially, the threat level being brought down.

KAGAN: Jeanne Meserve in Washington. Jeanne, thanks for the details on that.

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