Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Ridge defends basing terror alert on old information

Hmm... I guess it's just a "coincidence" that the terror alert has been raised after Kerry had a successful convention and was all over the news...
WASHINGTON -- Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said Tuesday the government concluded ``it was essential'' to publicize detailed surveillance documents and raise the terror alert, even though the intelligence information dated from as far back as 2000 and 2001.

Speaking at a news conference in New York, Ridge said that because of the heightened security steps, ``We have made it much more difficult for the terrorists to achieve their broad objectives.''

Yet investigators said they are still trying to determine whether the individuals who amassed the information, principally on financial institutions in New York, Newark and Washington, are still in the country or plotting, or whether the plot was old.

A senior Justice Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said federal government investigators are operating under the assumption that the plot was ongoing.

But a senior U.S. law enforcement official said officials were still trying to determine if that was the case or whether the plot had already expired. The law enforcement official, also speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation continues, said the surveillance information seized in Pakistan consisted of information about possible targets, but not the full outline of any plot.

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