Counterterrorism officials look to postpone elections
From staff and wire reports
WASHINGTON — Counterterrorism officials are looking into the possibility of postponing the November presidential election if there is a terrorist attack at election time, Newsweek reported Sunday.
Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge warned last week that Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network may attack within the USA to try to disrupt the election.
The magazine cited unnamed sources who said the Department of Homeland Security asked the Justice Department for advice last week.
Newsweek said DeForest Soaries, chairman of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, wants Ridge to ask Congress to pass legislation giving the government power to cancel or reschedule a federal election. Soaries said New York suspended primary elections on the day of the Sept. 11 attacks, but the federal government does not appear to have that authority.
The disclosure comes only a few days after U.S. authorities said they believe that al-Qaeda is planning a "large-scale" attack in the USA aimed at disrupting the presidential campaign and November elections.
Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said Thursday that the party conventions were among the possible targets of such an attack, although he said there had been no particular threat to either convention. Democrats meet in Boston later this month; the Republican convention begins in late August in New York City.
Ridge said the intelligence was gathered from "credible" sources, but he acknowledged that it did not yield any specific information about a possible attack.
U.S. officials have been particularly concerned about an attack during the presidential campaign since the Madrid railway bombings in March. The bombings, which killed nearly 200 people, occurred on the eve of national elections. Spain's ruling party was ousted.
Contributing: The Associated Press.