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STATEMENT BY HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY MICHAEL CHERTOFF ON LOWERING THE NATIONAL THREAT LEVEL FOR THE MASS TRANSIT SECTOR

02-12-2005

Since raising the threat level for mass transit systems on July 7, the Department of Homeland Security has been working closely with our federal, state and local partners to develop and implement sustainable mass transit security measures tailored to the unique design of each region?s transit system. In light of these increased long-term measures, DHS is lowering the national threat level for the mass transit portion of the transportation sector from Code Orange, or ?high,? to Code Yellow, or ?elevated.?  

These changes will be effective at 8:00 p.m. local time on Friday, August 12, following local rush hours across the country, at the discretion of state and local authorities. Concurrently, the Coast Guard will lower the Maritime Security level for large passenger ferries from level two to level one, which corresponds with Code Yellow.

Although the overall national threat level is being lowered for mass transit systems, many transit systems, particularly the larger systems, will maintain a strengthened baseline level of preparedness beyond what existed before the London attacks, including a number of the security enhancements that were put into place for the July alert. Additionally, individual transit systems should vary these security measures at any given time in order to make it more difficult to predict the security regime at any given location.

The Department of Homeland Security will continue to closely coordinate with our federal, state, local and private sector partners and we will share any information developing from the London bombing investigation to continue to address potential vulnerabilities in the mass transit sector. At this time, there is no specific, credible intelligence information indicating that an attack in the United States is imminent. However, we are also aware that the London and Madrid bombings were conducted without warning. Therefore, we will continue to closely monitor and analyze threat information and share that information, together with guidance for protective measures, with state, local and private sector authorities as well as the general public as part of the sustained national effort to prevent terrorist attacks and protect our homeland.

While we are changing the threat level at this time, we continue to urge state and local officials, transportation authorities and the general public to remain alert. Public vigilance is very important, and we encourage all citizens to keep a watchful eye for items left unattended or suspicious behavior and report any incidents to local authorities immediately.

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