Red Alert would end some personal freedoms
Published by the Gannett State Bureau 3/15/03
By TOM BALDWIN
GANNETT STATE BUREAU
TRENTON -- If the nation escalates to "red alert," which is the highest in the color-coded readiness against terror, you will be assumed by authorities to be the enemy if you so much as venture outside your home, the state's anti-terror czar says.
"This state is on top of it," said Sid Caspersen, New Jersey's director of the office of counter-terrorism.
Caspersen, a former FBI agent, was briefing reporters, alongside Gov. James E. McGreevey, Thursday, when for the first time he disclosed the realities of how a red alert would shut the state down.
A red alert would also tear away virtually all personal freedoms to move about and associate.
"Red means all non-critical functions cease," Caspersen said. "Non-critical would be almost all businesses, except health-related."
A red alert means there is a severe risk of terrorist attack, according to federal guidelines from the Department of Homeland Security.
"The state will restrict transportation and access to critical locations," says the state's new brochure on dealing with terrorism.
"You must adhere to the restrictions announced by authorities and prepare to evacuate, if instructed. Stay alert for emergency messages."
Caspersen went further than the brochure. "The government agencies would run at a very low threshold," he said.
"The state police and the emergency management people would take control over the highways.
"You literally are staying home, is what happens, unless you are required to be out. No different than if you had a state of emergency with a snowstorm."
"The reason being is, what we're saying is, 'Everybody sit down!'
"If you are left standing, you are probably a terrorist. And if you are not law enforcement or emergency response; That's how we're going to catch you.
"You're not going to have a seat to go to.
"That is the basic premise of it."