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Homeland Security Launches Operation Liberty Shield

March 18, 2003

Homeland Security Launches Operation Liberty Shield
In an announcement following President Bush’s address to the nation last night, Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge raised the national alert level from yellow, "elevated," to orange, "high," indicating a high risk of terrorism against American targets. As a result, the U.S. Government is launching a national plan called Operation Liberty Shield to enhance security nationwide. "Orange" is the second-highest level in the five-tiered, color-coded threat alert system established by Homeland Security.

According to reports, Ridge is calling on U.S. governors to deploy National Guard and extra state police to protect bridges and other public areas. Temporary flight restrictions have also been placed over popular tourist destinations such as New York, Washington, D.C., and other unnamed U.S. cities. Additional travel-related plans outlined under Operation Liberty Shield include:

  • Increased security at major U.S. ports and waterways, including more Coast Guard patrols, escorts of passenger ships and additional sea marshals.
  • Greater surveillance and monitoring of borders. Increased screenings of vehicles and cargo, and more interviews of people crossing borders.
  • More law enforcement personnel and patrols at airports. Airlines have been told to review the validity of all IDs for personnel with access to secure areas.
  • Railroad companies asked to increase security at major facilities and rail hubs.

    Due to the increased alert level, the Transportation Security Administration also announced new security measures Monday night. TSA is ordering airports to conduct random inspections of vehicles, increase canine patrols, and increase overall law enforcement at U.S. airports. The agency will also be placing signage throughout airports asking travelers to be aware of the increased alert level and report any suspicious behavior.

    NTA is closely monitoring the situation and will keep you informed of events as information becomes available. Visit the Crisis Planning Information section of NTA Online to learn more.

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