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Ridge Lowers Terrorist Threat Level to Yellow

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 16, 2003 – Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge has lowered the nationwide threat level to "yellow" from "orange."

Ridge said in a written statement that he made the decision after assessing all applicable intelligence and following consultations with the Homeland Security Council.

A yellow level is still listed as a "high" threat. Orange is "elevated." Ridge raised the level on March 17, when President Bush issued the ultimatum to Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Hostilities started against Iraq on March 19.

"While we continue to be at risk to the threat of terrorism at an elevated level, extensive protective measures remain in place throughout our nation," Ridge's statement says.

"We must be vigilant and alert to the possibility that al Qaeda and those sympathetic to their cause, as well as former Iraqi-regime state agents and affiliated organizations, may attempt to conduct attacks against the U.S. or our interests abroad," he wrote.

Ridge thanked the many civilian leaders and first responders nationwide for their support and cooperation since March 17. "They have protected our freedom at home in this time of war while their brave counterparts in our armed forces are fighting for this same cause thousands of miles away in Operation Iraqi Freedom," he said in the statement.

"The signal we have sent our enemies over the past few weeks has been clear: We will continue to resolutely defend our nation and its freedom."

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