Saturday, December 31, 2005

Security Tight for New Year's Eve

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- With New Year's Eve on the way, security efforts across the United States have been "ramped up in an unprecedented way" through the end of the week, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said Tuesday.
The U.S. government will keep the terror threat alert level at orange -- the second-highest on the five-tiered, color-coded scale -- for the rest of the week as officials remain concerned about airline security, Ridge said.
On Monday, the Department of Homeland Security announced it was ordering non-U.S. air carriers to place armed government officers on some flights to, from and over the country.
Some major cities such as New York; Washington; Chicago, Illinois; and Las Vegas, Nevada, plan to close parts or all of their airspace on New Year's Eve, when huge crowds traditionally gather to celebrate in public.
Ridge said people who go to New York's Times Square on New Year's Eve will be safe. "I don't think there's a city that has done more and sustained a higher level of security and protection than New York City," he said.
The Department of Homeland Security is working with New York officials and providing additional assistance at their request, he added.
(Full story)
The department asked foreign air carriers to place marshals aboard some flights because "there's a continuous stream of threat reporting that we've seen now for two years that al Qaeda continues to look at commercial aviation, passenger traffic, as either a target or as a weapon," Ridge said, adding that the information comes from credible sources.
Airliners that fail to place marshals on board the flights may be refused government permission to land or fly over the United States.
Some reports have suggested that al Qaeda pilots may have infiltrated staffs of non-U.S. air carriers.
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