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Ridge Forms New Terrorism Task Force

WASHINGTON (AP) - With an eye on a large number of symbolic gatherings, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge is forming a new government task force to better coordinate public and private security - and hopefully prevent the next terrorist attack. DW comment: I'll bet Homeland Security cause's the next terror attack!
By KATHERINE PFLEGER SHRADER

Beginning with the dedication of the new World War II Memorial in Washington over the Memorial Day weekend, Ridge said high-profile public events this year may be attractive targets for al-Qaida and like-minded terrorist groups.

"We are rich with opportunities this year for terrorists to shake our will," Ridge said in a telephone interview Sunday. "The message is that Homeland Security doesn't wait to raise the threat level in order to make us safer and more secure."

"We are going to increase our vigilance," he said later.

With the new task force, Homeland Security officials will be joined by representatives from eight Cabinet-level agencies in an effort to improve coordination as the government works to secure critical infrastructure and increase the nation's readiness.

Ridge was to announce the move officially in a speech Monday at a National Association of Broadcasters meeting in Las Vegas.

Ridge said officials don't have specific intelligence about possible attacks. But based on analysis, the government is paying attention to potential targets.

These include next month's war memorial dedication, the June meeting in Georgia of the Group of Eight industrialized nations, large gatherings nationwide for Fourth of July celebrations, the July Democratic convention in Boston, the August Republican convention in New York and the August Olympics in Athens.

Jose Maria Aznar, outgoing prime minister of Spain and a strong U.S. ally in the war in Iraq, has warned President Bush that terrorists may try to affect the U.S. elections in November, as they did in Spain with the March 11 Madrid train bombings. Nearly 200 died, and Aznar's ruling Popular Party lost to a rival calling for the pullout of Spanish troops from Iraq.

National security adviser Condoleezza Rice said Sunday the United States is bracing for possible attacks before the elections.

Ridge, however, said the elections are not the factor in forming the "working group," which still lacks an official-sounding name. "Depending on how the terrorists interpret Spain's response - whether it did or did not impact - is almost immaterial to this effort," he said. "Again, we know we are the No. 1 target."

Even though the nation spends most of its time at yellow alert - the middle of a five-point terror warning spectrum - Ridge said security is still stronger than it was a year ago and will continue to improve.

Extensive plans are already in the works to protect the party conventions and the G-8 meeting, which have been classified as National Security Special Events. With the designation - a concept that evolved from the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta - comes heightened security coordinated by Homeland Security's Secret Service agency.

To improve security operations for these and other high-profile events, Ridge said his department is leaning on its authority from two of Bush's homeland-security directives to create the task force, which will also work with industry, governors and police and other first responders. The group, for instance, will coordinate with states to implement the infrastructure strategies they have submitted to his department.

"Chemical facilities have been on everybody's mind," Ridge said, noting that Homeland Security is already working with states and companies to protect more than 300 identified chemical sites.

"There will be a lot more activity in the months ahead," he said.


Source: http://apnews.myway.com/article/20040419/D821QS4G0.html
Next Reichstag 19.Apr.2004 13:41

Mark

I for one will not be shocked if a big terrorist event happens just before the election. The Neo-Cons, using the Bush Clan as front men, stole the last election.
So if we see some more action, we'll be seeing the Reichstag tactic.

Bah, humvee 19.Apr.2004 18:36

Curious George

There so much pork-barrelling going on here you can HEAR the squeals. Our country enjoyed hundreds of years of NOT being attacked by terrorists on our own soil. There haven't been any attacks since 9/11. To say that the reason there haven't been any more attacks is that Homeland Security is on the job is ridiculous. It's underfunded, unorganized, and its administrators are overpaid for promoting duct tape, setting up a lame website, and flying around the country to tell localities that they have to pull themselves up by their bootstraps because there's no federal money to implement the lofty plans.

Can anyone confirm that Tom Ridge is a Claymation character? No . . . wait . . . they have more animation.

Ridge has a mullet? 21.Apr.2004 14:09

photo

the Photoshop job above makes it look like he has one ;-)