BREAKING NEWS -- Terror Alert Level To Be Raised To HIGH


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David
August 1, 2004, 01:10 PM
Just reported on CNN, that Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge will raise the terror alert level to HIGH for the Washington DC area.

I sometimes wonder if these terror alert levels have to do more with politics rather than a real threat?

:confused: :eek: :confused:

What do you think?

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griz
August 1, 2004, 01:22 PM
I haven't heard about this latest one.
But when we are told their is credible unspecified information of a threat, it is just before a bad media release, and the threat level stays where it was, well yes, I think polotics is rearing its ugly head.

David
August 1, 2004, 01:26 PM
Tom Ridge will hold a news conference today (Sunday August 1) at 2PM Eastern Time -- we should find out more at that time.

:eek: :uhoh: :eek:

Sindawe
August 1, 2004, 01:36 PM
This may be related to the car bombings of Christian churches in Baghdad and Mosul, as well as the reports coming out of media mouths of 'imminet attacks' on buisnesses and the like in New York City. Such media mouths are also talking in grave tones of the 14:00 Eastern press conferance by Tom Ridge.

David
August 1, 2004, 01:52 PM
UPDATE from Bloomberg.com:

Washington to Go on `Orange' Terror Alert, CNN Says (Update1)
Aug. 1 (Bloomberg) -- The Department of Homeland Security will announce today that it is putting Washington on a higher terrorism risk status, or ``orange'' alert, joining New York, according to CNN.

The agency has announced a 2 p.m. Washington time press conference with Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, and it wouldn't confirm the CNN report.

Senator Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut Democrat, said on CNN that such a change would be a way to say to terrorists, ``You're not going to surprise us like you did on Sept. 11.''

The New York Police Department said earlier today that it has received intelligence reports that al-Qaeda, the terrorist group that attacked the World Trade Center, ``continues to target commercial and financial institutions, as well as international organizations.''
******
:uhoh: :eek: :uhoh:

rick_reno
August 1, 2004, 01:56 PM
Politics? They wouldn't do that - would they?

http://www.cnn.com/2004/TECH/space/07/30/campaign.fear.reut/index.html

Study: Fear shapes voters' views
Responses to candidates differ after thinking about tragedy

Friday, July 30, 2004 Posted: 12:27 PM EDT (1627 GMT)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- President George W. Bush may be tapping into solid human psychology when he invokes the September 11 attacks while campaigning for the next election, U.S. researchers said on Thursday.

Talking about death can raise people's need for psychological security, the researchers report in studies to be published in the December issue of the journal Psychological Science and the September issue of the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

"There are people all over who are claiming every time Bush is in trouble he generates fear by declaring an imminent threat," said Sheldon Solomon of Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, who worked on the study.

"We are saying this is psychologically useful," said Solomon.

Jeff Greenberg, a professor of psychology at the University of Arizona in Tucson, said generating fear was a common tactic.

"A lot of leaders gain their appeal by helping people feel they are heroic, particularly in a fight against evil," Greenberg said in a telephone interview from Hawaii, where he presented the findings to a meeting of the American Psychological Association.

"Sometimes that may be the right thing to do. But it is a psychological approach, particularly when death is close to peoples' consciousness."

For their first study, Solomon, Greenberg and colleagues asked students to think about either their own death or a neutral topic.

They then read the campaign statements of three hypothetical candidates for governor, each with a different leadership style. One was charismatic, said Solomon.

"That was a person who declared our country to be great and the people in it to be special," Solomon, who worked on the study, said in a telephone interview.

The others were task-oriented -- focusing on the job to be done -- or relationship-oriented -- with a "let's get it done together" style, Solomon said.
Fearing doom, choosing charisma

The students who thought about death were much more likely to choose the charismatic leader, they found. Only four out of about 100 chose that imaginary leader when thinking about exams, but 30 did after thinking about death.

Greenberg, Solomon and colleagues then decided to test the idea further and set up four separate studies at different universities.

"In one we asked half the people to think about the September 11 attacks, or to think about watching TV," Solomon said. "What we found was staggering."

When asked to think about television, the 100 or so volunteers did not approve of Bush or his policies in Iraq. But when asked to think about Sept. 11 first and then asked about their attitudes to Bush, another 100 volunteers had very different reactions.

"They had a very strong approval of President Bush and his policy in Iraq," Solomon said.

Solomon, a social psychologist who specializes in terrorism, said it was very rare for a person's opinions to differ so strongly depending on the situation.

Another study focused directly on Bush and his Democratic challenger, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry.

The volunteers were aged from 18 into their 50s and described themselves as ranging from liberal to deeply conservative. No matter what a person's political conviction, thinking about death made them tend to favor Bush, Solomon said. Otherwise, they preferred Kerry.

"I think this should concern anybody," Solomon said. "If I was speaking lightly, I would say that people in their, quote, right minds, unquote, don't care much for President Bush and his policies in Iraq."

He wants voters to be aware of psychological pressures and how they are used.

"If people are aware that thinking about death makes them act differently, then they don't act differently," Solomon said. Solomon says he personally opposes Bush but describes himself as a political independent who could vote Republican.

Harry Tuttle
August 1, 2004, 02:58 PM
gee, i better get my photo ID badge ready for tomorrow to show Mz. Wachenhut at the parking garage. Never mind that she knows me and my car. When they elevate the threat level, my garage requires photo ID. If my ID is still in my laptop case in my trunk, i have to retrieve it. My photo drivers licence won't do. Its gotta be my company ID badge. Maybe i will photoshop Osama's pix onto a fake today. At the distance they verify the badge, i'm sure i will be fine.

2+2=5

Nathaniel Firethorn
August 1, 2004, 03:00 PM
http://abcnews.go.com/wire/US/ap20040801_723.html
Specifically, the government named these buildings as potential targets:

The Citicorp building and the New York Stock Exchange in New York City.

The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank buildings in Washington.

The Prudential building in Newark [NJ].Anyone else notice a pattern here? :rolleyes:

- pdmoderator

El Tejon
August 1, 2004, 03:18 PM
Why do it now when the attacks are 2 months away?:confused:

Hack
August 1, 2004, 03:32 PM
to get the bounce down

45Cal
August 1, 2004, 03:50 PM
Politics you say?

Ok.
Let's say nothing and then get blamed and investigated
by the other party for not saying anything about it.
Both JK and MM would tend to agree with that policy!

Ransom
August 1, 2004, 03:51 PM
I dont know, I doubt its politics. However, when Ridge came out and basicly said absolutly nothing the day after Kerry announced his running mate...that just seemed way to fishy to be a coincidence.

rock jock
August 1, 2004, 04:04 PM
Nothing like a terror alert to unite the whiners and the tinfoil beanie crowd.

threefeathers
August 1, 2004, 04:04 PM
Sorry you guys, as a retired CID agent who just got off a successful assignment with the FBI I have to say that I really disagree with your sarcasm. I think one of the reasons that the U S is relatively easy to hit is the amount of sarcasm and disbelief in our officials that has plauged our country since Vietnam. The various news medias, left and right, have contributed greatly on this.

I can't tell about my last assignment because it involves organized crime but I can say that it involved multiple agencies whth people from every mainstream political belief and they worked closely together to protect the public.

I don't think for a minute that this is politically motivated. Look at most of you, the political benefit is non existant and probably determental.

I carry a Sig for a real reason.

Not only do I expect the U S to be hit, but I expect it to be relatively coordinated, New York is a target, but may be a cutout, a diversion. Personally I expect San Diego, San Francisco, and Phoenix to be hit.

The Naval Yard and MCRD in San Diego, San Francisco is too easy from cells in Berkley, and Phoenix has a Hughes, Intel, and Motorola easy to get to off I-10 and a known terror cell in Tucson. (At least 10,000 Arab students attended the U of A, 65-to present)

Hack
August 1, 2004, 04:17 PM
Threefeathers,

Us getting hit again is pretty much what I expect to happen sooner or later.
Cynical? Ok, please explain to me how it helps to make and keep it easy to enter this country illegally?
Then maybe I can better understand Dubya.

threefeathers
August 1, 2004, 04:31 PM
I live in Arizona exactly 3 miles from the border. My assistant wrestling coach is a border patrol agent, his group has been expanded by 500% in the past 2 years. Ft. Huachuca is now flying RPVs along the border looking for illegals. They are using it for training so there are many more than have been reported. When I cam back from Rocky Point three weeks ago it toon 2 hours to get across the border, every one is checked. The border is long and one of the problems are the liberal dems and greens who are backing an open border. Until 911 the libs were supporting open border activists. Bill Clinton made no effort to strenghten the border. Bush has done much. Understand that as a VN vet I am considering supporting Kerry only because this is the last chance to get one of us as President. But I will balance this by supporting Randy Graff for Congress.

DesertEagle613
August 1, 2004, 04:34 PM
I believe what Threefeathers means is: as long as large segments of the public do not take terror alerts seriously, the terrorists willl have a very easy time of it.

Of course, taking them seriously is only the first step. People don't want to think about it, but civilians are the last line of defense against terror attacks, as Israel has shown. (Would-be terrorists are captured or killed by civillians there on a regular basis.) Here, most people just want to bury their heads in the sand. The government may be at condition orange, but most of the country is at condition white. People need to be more active about noticing danger signs.

And yes, I know that it is tempting for a government official to try to whip up a fervor over this, but realistically such manipulation is counterproductive (as this thread shows), and Tom Ridge has bigger fish to fry.

Sadly, I suspect that the message will only sink in once terror attacks come several times a month. I'm only surprised that it's taken the terrorists this long, and hints I get from my uncle the cop suggest that several attacks have already been intercepted.

mrapathy2000
August 1, 2004, 04:43 PM
the bounce was down before the announcement. was 4 then 3 after this announcement who knows.

rock jock
August 1, 2004, 05:04 PM
Personally I expect San Diego, San Francisco, and Phoenix to be hit. oh please let it be san francisco

threefeathers
August 1, 2004, 05:09 PM
I'm surprised that San Fran hasn't been hit, but it would probably expose the rabid anti American sentiments in Berkley. I agree though, if a bomb were to go off in Berkley would I really care.

Bainx
August 1, 2004, 05:18 PM
A big, fat 'SO WHAT?'

If I have a nickle for every time this guy has 'cried-wolf', I would be retired

Gotta admit, you had me going. I thought we were going to conditon 'red'

Beyond it is only condition 'tin-foil-hat'

Bainxoveritandout

WonderNine
August 1, 2004, 05:32 PM
Well of course more attacks are coming. They've been conditioning us on the television and in the news everyday for years. The government admits that they're coming. It's just sickening. And so when the next terrorist attack comes they will claim they need more money and need to take more liberties away to "win their fight".

The globalists are gonna need another terrorist attack to get us behind invading North Korea and Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria, ect.. Bush needs another terrorist attack to beat Kerry at the polls and implement Patriot Act 2 among other things.

Warbow
August 1, 2004, 05:40 PM
Not to derail the topic, but...

threefeathers wrote:

Understand that as a VN vet I am considering supporting Kerry only because this is the last chance to get one of us as President.

I'm not getting it... ???

MountainPeak
August 1, 2004, 05:40 PM
I work at a nuclear facility. Last week it was reported that the increased "chatter" included two states, one of them mine. I don't see how the reminder hurts, and frankly I appreciate them.

Hack
August 1, 2004, 05:47 PM
.

DorGunR
August 1, 2004, 06:02 PM
Quote:
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Understand that as a VN vet I am considering supporting Kerry only because this is the last chance to get one of us as President. But I will balance this by supporting Randy Graff for Congress.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Well as a Vietnam vet I guess our votes will cancel each other. I"ll be voting for Bush...........There is no way I can vote for someone whose picture hangs in the Vietnam (commie) hall of hero's. Jokn Kerry is a liar and traitor much worse than Jane fonda. BTW I spent three years in Nam, 1st tour was with the 25th Inf. Div. at Cu Chi.

US Army 1950-1972

45Cal
August 1, 2004, 06:04 PM
threefeathers,

You should ask the vets who have actually served with him
in Nam' if they too would lend support for such a novel idea.
http://www.swiftvets.com/

Waitone
August 1, 2004, 06:12 PM
Yep, a lot of confusion could be avoided if Ridge simply would explain what the color code means to Joe and Martha Sixpack. I have yet to hear a logic presentation as to what it means for the tax payers. I have also heard it means quite a bit to government agencies.

We are going to get hit. Very quietly some really wierd stuff is going on around the country that is not in the media.

--The lady the caught in McAllen Texas is not just a female AQ goon. She is believed to be the highest rankng female in the organization.

--3 middle eastern types were picked up in Florida headed for NY.

--A small seaport in Florida was closed due to a ship with a suspicious container. News blackout.

--3 weeks ago the Park Service and FBI and other organizations closed the Great Smokey Mountain National Park. Media blackout. Local claim to have heard gunfire in large volumes.

--About the same time truck shipments out of the McAllen area headed inland were suspended by the FBI. The fear is AQ etc is trying to land armed combat teams as a unit.

--Lots of unacknowledged rumors about discovered explosives in the NY metro area.

AQ wants a spectacular hit on NY while the spinelessrepublicans have their convention. Fact. P*ssing and moaning about wagging the dog and politicas and 1984 and all that bilge will do nothing to eliminate one bald-faced fact. AQ is coming after us and appears to be throwing the kitchen sink. Grow up children. You may feel smug about expressing doubts about the motives, but I question your grasp on reality.

It is my personal belief Bush would be well advise to publish our nuclear target list in advance of the convention. NY goes away? So does <2 from column A and 3 from column B.> Nuclear deterrence is not an outmoded concept.

Something is going on out there. Thankfully adults are running the show.

Hack
August 1, 2004, 06:20 PM
threefeathers,

take another look at kerry saluting.
that's the best 'anybody else' endorsement i can imagine.

Hack
August 1, 2004, 06:33 PM
.

grislyatoms
August 1, 2004, 06:47 PM
Rather interesting too that a computer glitch grounded coast to coast American Airlines flights this morning. FWIW.

El Tejon
August 1, 2004, 07:04 PM
Wait, hearing the same rumblings last week, but I believe Occam's razor cuts through a lot of this.

Sure, small fire teams in white vans armed with hand grenades and RPG7s and PKMs would shut the country down and send the soccermommies clinging to their "protectors", but does The Base really have the infrastructure to pull that off??? Seems to me, they would save their "ammo" for a big haymaker, a soft target, a la Madrid.

Why hit during the convention? Would not waiting until October heighten the impact?

Yes, adults may be running the show, but that's for now. [shudder] Wait, until January [shudder].

ReadyontheRight
August 1, 2004, 07:12 PM
I sometimes wonder if these terror alert levels have to do more with politics rather than a real threat?

Yeah -- and I support RKBA because it's good right wing politics, not because of any real threats.:rolleyes:

Hack
August 1, 2004, 07:22 PM
.

ReadyontheRight
August 1, 2004, 07:23 PM
Understand that as a VN vet I am considering supporting Kerry only because this is the last chance to get one of us as President.

I think your generation will be active in politics for quite a while.

mrapathy2000
August 1, 2004, 07:39 PM
wonder if this is where we get boned with AWB 2.0

Sergeant Bob
August 1, 2004, 08:20 PM
Perhaps the recent embassy bombings might have something to do with the heightened security status?

DUBAI, July 30 (Reuters) - An Islamic group claimed responsibility for suicide bombings at the U.S. and Israeli embassies in Uzbekistan which killed two people, according to a statement posted on an Islamist Web site on Friday.

Rueters (http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L30656496.htm)

R.H. Lee
August 1, 2004, 08:43 PM
In my neck 'of the woods middleastern types would stand out like a black cat in the snow. Plus, other than a nuclear power plant, there's nothin' here worth blowing up. I am halfway between LA & SF, however, so it would be the mass panicked exodus from either place that might be problematic. :scrutiny:

Malone LaVeigh
August 1, 2004, 08:48 PM
Yes, adults may be running the show, but that's for now. And the tooth fairy will give you real money for an old tooth!

MountainPeak
August 1, 2004, 08:50 PM
Duck, Riley.

MountainPeak
August 1, 2004, 08:57 PM
Malone, an alleged, gun owning, 2nd Amendment supporter, supporting Kerry, shouldn't bring up "tooth fairies". It's silly. ADDED, or one that supports the best chance 3rd party . "NADER FOR GUNS"!:D

Warbow
August 1, 2004, 09:37 PM
Not that I'm doubting you, but how do you know about all of these incidents if the media isn't reporting them?

Justin
August 1, 2004, 10:21 PM
"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins."
-- H.L. Mencken, 1923

R.H. Lee
August 1, 2004, 10:23 PM
Right, Justin. It's just a political ploy. There is no terrorist threat. 9/11 never happened. :rolleyes:

Nathaniel Firethorn
August 1, 2004, 10:39 PM
If AQ really wants to pull another Spain, they'll hit us in Afghanistan or Iraq, not the US. (And they'd go for major loss of life, not just another roadside bomb.)

- pdmoderator

Coronach
August 1, 2004, 10:50 PM
Ahem.

Knock it off with the racial slurs.

Mike

threefeathers
August 1, 2004, 10:56 PM
This is a hot topic and if we are so divided think of the rest of the country. I did look at the Kerry sites given by you all and am thinking about changing my mind.

I do think that cynicism in a democracy is often healthy but during battle can be devastating. We have been a cynical nation since VN. Actually, Kerry had something to do with it when he accused others of atrocities.

Waitone
August 1, 2004, 11:13 PM
Media does self-censure itself for a host of reasons.

Media can be intimidated into shutting up because their broadcast licenses are controlled by the federales.

Media will ignore stories because it assumes the story does not qualify as news.

There are all kinds of reasons why stories don't make it into the news.

Did you hear of the explosion of an ammonium nitrate plant in Toulouse France just before 911? Made only minor news over here. More than a thousand civilians were killed making it one the larger industrial accidents in recent memory. Not reported was the destruction of electronics equipment for a radius of 2 miles. Any recent attempt to find details is greeted with significantly downplayed information. Shift to a Discovery Channel show on how to protect against terror bombing. Toward the end of the show they showed a screen on a computer detailing pressure curves generated by various terror blasts. Kobar towers, WTC I, OKC and several others. Right in the middle of the array of curves was a curve marked "Toulous."

Seems to me in retrospect Europe was hit with a major terror hit just before 911 and the event was vacuumed from the public record yet bits and pieces remained sufficent to conclude something happened at variance with the official story.

Know and talk to the right people and apply generous amounts of salts and you can draw your own conclusions apart from the official memory hole.

SteelyDan
August 2, 2004, 12:18 AM
This isn't that complicated. There's a decent chance that something bad, and possibly quite bad, will happen in the next three months. If it does happen, it probably will not directly involve 95+% of us. There's probably nothing that you and I can do to prevent it. So take some sensible precautions like stocking up on food and water and other stuff, and get on with your life. Depending on where you live, and your level of worry, you may choose to step-up the preparations. If you don't know how to prepare, check out any of the websites you can easily find by doing a search. Feel free to PM me if you want some suggestions.

Beyond that, it's business as usual. Take some precautions, make some preparations, and then enjoy your life. It's that simple. There's really nothing else we can do or need to do. I've made my preparations, and now I'm going to live my normal life. Otherwise, the bad guys win without even doing anything.

threefeathers
August 2, 2004, 01:02 AM
I just looked at the French site on the Toulouse explosion. There were 22 actually killed and 2,000+ injured. The blast was heard 100 Kilometers away. It could have been terrorism quite easily but was not as devestating as WTC. (One has to wonder what the final count would have been if the second building would have evacuated immediately)

Malone LaVeigh
August 2, 2004, 02:34 AM
Malone, an alleged, gun owning, 2nd Amendment supporter, supporting Kerry You are so clueless I won't bother.

rick_reno
August 3, 2004, 09:48 AM
http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=1802&u=/washpost/20040803/ts_washpost/a35466_2004aug2&printer=1

Pre-9/11 Acts Led To Alerts

1 hour, 37 minutes ago

By Dan Eggen and Dana Priest, Washington Post Staff Writers


Most of the al Qaeda surveillance of five financial institutions that led to a new terrorism alert Sunday was conducted before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and authorities are not sure whether the casing of the buildings has continued, numerous intelligence and law enforcement officials said yesterday.

More than half a dozen government officials interviewed yesterday, who declined to be identified because classified information is involved, said that most, if not all, of the information about the buildings seized by authorities in a raid in Pakistan last week was about three years old, and possibly older.
"There is nothing right now that we're hearing that is new," said one senior law enforcement official who was briefed on the alert. "Why did we go to this level? . . . I still don't know that."

One piece of information on one building, which intelligence officials would not name, appears to have been updated in a computer file as late as January 2004, according to a senior intelligence official. But officials could not say yesterday whether that piece of data was the result of active surveillance by al Qaeda or came instead from information about the buildings that is publicly available.

Many administration officials stressed yesterday that even three-year-old intelligence, when coupled with other information about al Qaeda's plans to attack the United States, justified the massive security response in the three cities. Police and other security teams have been assigned to provide extra protection for the surveilled buildings, identified as the International Monetary Fund (news - web sites) and World Bank (news - web sites) headquarters in Washington; the New York Stock Exchange (news - web sites) and Citigroup Center in New York; and the Prudential Financial building in Newark.

Intelligence officials said that the remarkably detailed information about the surveillance -- which included logs of pedestrian traffic and notes on the types of explosives that might work best against each target -- was evaluated in light of general intelligence reports received this summer indicating that al Qaeda hopes to strike a U.S. target before the November presidential elections.

Several officials also said that much of the information compiled by terrorist operatives about the buildings in Washington, New York and Newark was obtained through the Internet or other "open sources" available to the general public, including some floor plans.

The characterization of the age of the intelligence yesterday cast a new light on Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge's announcement Sunday that the terrorism threat alert for the financial services sectors in the three cities had been raised. Ridge and other officials stressed Sunday the urgency of acting on the newly obtained information, but yesterday a range of officials made clear how dated much of the intelligence was.

One senior intelligence official said the information is still being evaluated.

A number of other buildings were mentioned in the seized computer files, but only in vague references, so officials decided not to issue alerts about them, an intelligence official said. They included the Bank of America building in San Francisco; the Nasdaq and American Stock Exchange buildings in New York, as well as two other sites in that city; and an undisclosed building in Washington and another in New Jersey.

"We chose not to release it because we decided they weren't anywhere near the same level of danger as the others," the official said.

President Bush (news - web sites) and Vice President Cheney said in separate appearances yesterday that the new alert underscores the continuing threat posed by al Qaeda. At a news conference announcing his proposed intelligence reforms, Bush said the alert shows "there's an enemy which hates what we stand for."

"It's serious business," Bush said. "I mean, we wouldn't be, you know, contacting authorities at the local level unless something was real."

Employees at announced targets in New York and New Jersey arrived at work yesterday with a mix of defiance and jitters. Some said they wanted to send a message that terrorists could not deter them from living their lives as usual. Others were visibly shaken by the presence of heavily armed police officers and new barricades.

At the New York Stock Exchange, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg rang the opening bell. Exchange chief executive John A. Thain and Sen. Charles E. Schumer (news, bio, voting record) (D-N.Y.) greeted arriving workers. "I wouldn't be surprised if attendance weren't higher today," Schumer said. "We are winning the war of nerves."

Much of the information about the targeted buildings is contained on a laptop computer and computer disks recovered during recent raids in Pakistan. A senior intelligence official said the cache also includes about 500 photographs, diagrams and drawings, some of them digital.

Two senior intelligence officials who briefed reporters on Sunday said the material showed al Qaeda operatives had cased the buildings both before and after the Sept. 11 attacks.

"I think the indications are that this has been a very longstanding effort on the part of al Qaeda," one official said Sunday, "that it dates from before 9/11, it continued after 9/11 and based on what it is that we are concerned about, we know about in terms of al Qaeda's plans and intentions that it probably continues even today."

Speaking about the five buildings, one official said, "I believe that since 9/11 they have been able to acquire additional information on these targets here in the United States, yes, I do."

Numerous officials said yesterday, however, that most of the information was compiled prior to the Sept. 11 attacks and that there are serious doubts about the age of other, undated files. One senior counterterrorism official said many of the documents include dates prior to Sept. 11, 2001, but there are no dates after that.

"Most of the information is very dated but you clearly have targets with enough specificity, and that pushed it over the edge," the counterterrorism official said. "You've got the Republican convention coming up, the Olympics, the elections. . . . I think there was a feeling that we should err on the side of caution even if it's not clear that anything is new."

One federal law enforcement source said his understanding from reviewing the reports was that the material predated Sept. 11 and included photos that can be obtained from brochures and some actual snapshots. There also were some interior diagrams that appear to be publicly available.

Other officials also stressed that, however long ago al Qaeda operatives compiled the surveillance details, the information was new to U.S. intelligence agencies and was almost unprecedented in the depth of its details. "All this stuff was fresh to us," one official said.

At the CIA (news - web sites)'s daily 5 p.m. counterterrorism meeting Thursday, the first information about the detailed al Qaeda surveillance of the five financial buildings was discussed among senior CIA, FBI (news - web sites) and military officials. They decided to launch a number of worldwide operations, including the deployment of increased law enforcement around the five buildings.

A senior intelligence official said translations of the computer documents and other intelligence started arriving on Friday. "We worked on it late, and through that night," he said. "We had very specific, credible information, and when we laid it in on the threat environment we're in," officials decided they had to announce it.

"It's not known whether the plot was active and ongoing," the official added. "It could have been planned for tomorrow, or it could have been scrapped. Maybe there were other iterations of it. In this environment, this was seen as pertinent information to get out to the public. There was discussion over the weekend, should we wait until Monday?"

Initially, top administration officials had decided to wait until yesterday to announce the alert, but more intelligence information was coming in -- both new translations of the documents, and analysis of other sources' statements -- that deepened their concern about the information, and persuaded them to move ahead swiftly. "There was a serious sense of urgency to get it out," the senior intelligence official said.

On Saturday, officials from the CIA, the FBI, the Homeland Security and Justice departments, the White House, and other agencies agreed with Ridge to recommend that the financial sectors in New York, Washington and North Jersey be placed on orange, or "high," alert. Ridge made the recommendation to Bush on Sunday morning, and Bush signed off on it at 10 a.m.

In a signal of how seriously the administration took the information, officials briefed senior media executives, including network anchors, before a Sunday news conference and briefing for reporters.

In New York yesterday, traffic backed up at tunnels and bridges into the city, Hercules and Atlas police teams toting rifles and machine guns checked vehicles, police helicopters crisscrossed the skies, and employees throughout the financial district stood in long security queues, showing their corporate identifications and bags to guards.

Around the NYSE in Lower Manhattan, rows of concrete and metal barricades were in place and side streets were blocked off.

In Newark, officials set up concrete barriers and police teams around the 24-story Prudential building, where about 1,000 employees work. "I'm a little nervous," analyst Tracy Swistak, 27, told the Associated Press. "But I'm confident Prudential's doing everything they can to ensure our safety."

Staff writers John Mintz, Allan Lengel and Spencer S. Hsu in Washington and Michael Powell, Michelle Garcia and Ben White in New York contributed to this report.

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