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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Homeland Security Secretary Elevates Alert Level

Aired August 1, 2004 - 13:59   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much for joining us. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. We're standing by to hear from Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge. He's over at the Department of Homeland Security. You're looking at a live picture of the Department of Homeland Security news conference area. Reporters were summoned earlier. He's about to make some sort of an announcement on terror threat levels here in the United States. This amidst indications, intelligence information that there could be a terror plot against financial institutions in New York City, perhaps even here in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C. Tom Ridge walking to the podium right now. Let's listen.
TOM RIDGE, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

President Bush has told you and I have reiterated the promise that when we have specific credible information, that we will share it. This afternoon we do have new and unusually specific information about where al Qaeda would like to attack.

And, as a result, today the United States government is raising the threat level to code orange for the financial services sector in New York City, northern New Jersey, and Washington, D.C.

Since September 11, 2001, leaders of our commercial financial institutions have demonstrated exceptional leadership in improving its security. However, in light of new intelligence information, we have made the decision to raise the threat level for this sector in these communities to bring protective resources to an even higher level.

This will allow us to increase protection in and around those buildings that require it, and also raise awareness for employees, and residents, and customers, and visitors. We know, and we know from experience, that increased physical protection and added vigilance from citizens can thwart a terrorist attack, and that is our goal.

Now, this is the first time we have chosen to use the homeland security advisory system in such a targeted way. Compared to previous threat reporting, these intelligence reports have provided a level of detail that is very specific.

The quality of this intelligence, based on multiple reporting streams in multiple locations, is rarely seen, and it is alarming in both the amount and specificity of the information. Now, while we are providing you with this immediate information, we will also continue to update you as the situation unfolds. As of now, this is what we know: Reports indicate that al Qaeda is targeting several specific buildings, including the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in the District of Columbia, Prudential Financial in northern New Jersey and Citigroup buildings and the New York Stock Exchange in New York.

Let me assure you -- let me reassure you, actions to further strengthen security around these buildings are already under way. Additionally, we're concerned about targets beyond these and are working to get more information about them.

Now, senior leadership across the Department of Homeland Security, in coordination with the White House, the CIA, the FBI, and other federal agencies, have been in constant contact with the governors, the mayors and the homeland security advisers of the affected locations I've just named.

We've talked with executive leadership of the companies that own these businesses and operate these buildings, the people who know these facilities best. We have told them at this time there is no information that indicates a specific time for these attacks beyond the period leading up to our national elections.

Though, of course, just because we know where but not precisely when, that does not mean that we cannot take preemptive action. Just the opposite. When collection activities provide specific information, we can tailor security measures to the particular vulnerabilities of those potential targets.

Now, understandably, security measures at each facility will not be uniform in nature, given the scope and the scale of building architecture, access to and from roads, and other variables. And certainly we will not broadcast our security intentions to our enemies.

But you may expect to see special buffer zones to secure the perimeter of the buildings from unauthorized cars and trucks, restrictions to affect underground parking, security personnel using identification badges and digital photos to keep track of people entering and exiting buildings, increased law enforcement presence, even more robust screening of vehicles and packages and deliveries.

These and other security measures, both seen and unseen, create added layers of protection to an already vigorous security effort around this country.

So let me be clear. While we have raised the threat level for the financial services sector in the affected communities, the rest of the nation remains at an elevated or code yellow risk of terrorist attack. Rest assured, rest assured that the most talented security professionals and law enforcement professionals around this country are working hard every single day to protect all regions of this country and all sectors of our economy.

Over the course of the last year and since the horrific day of 9/11, more permanent protections are in place than ever before. I suspect that many of you have seen them. They have become part of our daily life: additional airport security, including screenings and air marshals and hardened cockpit doors.

You've seen more visible law enforcement officers on trains, and subways and other transportation systems. You've seen increased inspections at our nation's ports or at our border crossings. And this summer, given the volume of symbolic events and large gatherings, we have ramped up protective measures more than ever before and we paint a partial picture.

Thousands of radiological pagers have been given to law enforcement around the country and more are on the way. At work are more hazmat technicians, undercover agents, and emergency response teams, and more K-9 units capable of detecting explosives and weapons of mass destruction, advanced air-monitoring technologies that can check for biological pathogens are operating in key locations. Well, along with smart security professionals, these technologies help bring the national Democratic Convention to a safe conclusion.

State-of-the-art equipment like this is now being installed to protect the Republican National Convention in New York later this year.

This equipment and added personnel will bolster security measures already being put in place at Madison Square Garden and throughout the transportation systems in New York City.

These added security measures mean that from curb to the cockpit, at our ports of entries and borders in between, in our public places, in cyberspace, on air and land and sea, we are better protected than we ever have been before.

We bring you this information today, and again we'll continue to update you if new specific information becomes available, because with this kind of information comes action. There is much we can do to remain vigilant, to be on watch, to be aware of unusual patterns or vehicles, and to report suspicious activities.

And so this afternoon I ask our citizens for their watchful eyes as we continue to monitor this situation. I certainly realize that this is sobering news, not just about the intent of our enemies, but of their specific plans and a glimpse into their methods.

But we must understand that the kind of information available to us today is the result of the president's leadership in the war against terror, the reports that have led to this alert are the result of offensive intelligence and military operations overseas, as well as strong partnerships with our allies around the world, such as Pakistan.

Such operations and partnerships give us insight into the enemy, so we can better target our defensive measures here and away from home. The terrorists should know in this country this kind of information, while startling, is not stifling. It will not weaken the American spirit. It will not dampen our resolve, for our resolve is indivisible and unyielding, which is a weapon infinitely stronger than the plots and the plans of those who wish to do us harm.

al Qaeda wants to intimidate us and prevent us from enjoying our lives and exercising our freedoms. And yet liberty, liberty has no greater protection than the collective will of the American people. So, together, let us take inspiration from this strength and use it to our utmost to keep our great nation safe and free.

Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, would you say it's fair to say that what has been uncovered here is a specific plot?

I think it's fair to say that we have more specific information about potential targets that I think you can conclude may be the subject of a particular plot.

Again, what is extraordinary about these particular sites is the considerable detail or quality of information regarding those sites. So, again, we have no specific information that says an attack is imminent, but given the specificity and quality of information around these sites, obviously one would conclude, if you were considering the potential attack, these might be among the targets.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) how the apprehension of the one with the South African passport in Texas factored into this? Was she a catalyst in the threat reporting you're talking about?

Well, first of all, that investigation is still ongoing. The FBI is doing a great job of following it, but to date, based on what we know in that investigation, there's no connection between that individual who was apprehended at the border to the information and the targeting that I've discussed with you this afternoon.

Yes?

QUESTION: Mr. Defense Secretary, does the intelligence indicate basically physical threats against these institutions or electronic attack to screw up or fuzz-bust, whatever you want to say, electronics commerce among the financial sector?

I think when we look at the infrastructure protection, there are three concerns we would have, the physical destruction the cyberinvolvement, or perhaps those inside might cause damage or destruction.

The analytical piece that's associated with this would suggest that based on what we have gleaned so far, the preferred method of attack or what's being suggested in the reporting is car and truck bombs -- the physical destruction or attempted fill destruction of these facilities.

Yes?

QUESTION: Do any of the these security measures pour tend a disruption inadvertent of the financial markets or any (UNINTELLIGIBLE) prevention of destruction? Will they be transparent to traders and those involved in the markets?

I think, I'm not quite sure I understand the question, but let me try to answer it this way. These are significant institutions that relate to our leadership role in the international economy, but to a certain extent, it's really not the destruction of a single building will not undermine the greatest and strongest economy in the world.

So to a certain extent, they're almost iconic. They're visible targets perhaps known around the rest of the world.

But the fact of the matter is, as I said before, the financial services industry since 9/11 has built in systems of protection, and protection of the systems that help regulate and help control the equity markets, the flow of currency in and around the entire world.

Yes?

QUESTION: Can you talk a little bit more about the nature of the intelligence? You said specific, credible, and multiple sources. Is it coming from interrogations, the Internet, interceptions?

I will just -- I will tell you that -- just to stay consistent with what I said before, multiple locations, multiple sources, and you can read into that, because of -- again, I think it's very important to point out that most of those sources are related to the extraordinary offensive effort we have taken overseas.

Playing strong offense overseas, in many different ways, the military, the CIA, the partnerships, our global partners, gives us a capability to prepare better defense back home.

Yes?

QUESTION: Were the recent arrests in Pakistan a key contributing factor to the information flow that you're getting now?

Well, we will not comment on the specific sources, but let me just go back again and say the coalition that we have built, and the alliances we have built, have been instrumental and very much a part of our intelligence-gathering operation.

Yes?

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, what are you advising the people who work at these businesses to do? Tomorrow is a workday. Should they go to work? Should they stay away?

We have talked to the security professionals at those buildings and the leadership, and I think the employees most appropriately would get guidance from their employer.

I would like to think, as sobering and as difficult as this news is, and the king of anxiety that it would generate, that the folks that work at those particular sites or stroll through the neighborhood, through those streets, would have the resolve and maybe a little bit of defiance to say, "Well, we know what you know. And we're going to go about leading our lives. We're not going to let threats or this kind of information turning into fortress America. We're going to keep on being America."

Yes?

QUESTION: Secretary Ridge, related to the targets in New York City, do you have any information that would connect this plot to the pre-election threats you talked about, or more specifically, the upcoming Republican Convention in New York City?

The consistent reporting stream -- and I think it was back on July 8th when we had a press conference here where we talked about several sources that generally had discussed the possibility of attacking us to try to undermine our democratic process. And I think one could reasonably infer that this could be part of that effort.

But I don't think you necessarily should put a time frame around when these targets, if they were ultimately the subject of an attack, would be attacked. I mean, given the specificity of the information, you've got to appreciate that and consider that in light of the broader general threat to try to disrupt the democratic process.

But I don't think you can conclude that it's framed in that fashion. And I think I'll let on background some of the intelligence folks explain it in greater detail.

QUESTION: Do you have any reason to think that other financial centers like Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles are at higher risk now than they were?

At this juncture, the answer is no. But I also have to reiterate the fact that there are multiple sources. And we're doing everything we can to analyze the information. And if we would have the same kind and quality of information as I've told over 200 people in a conference call that I had just before we came here -- a lot of the homeland security advisers and those from around the country -- we would share it with them in the same fashion.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, I thought that New York was already on an orange alert level. So are they now, the financial institutions, going to red, the highest?

I think you're right in saying that historically New York maintains, sustains a general higher level of alert and vigilance than most cities. I think if you asked Commissioner Kelly and Mayor Bloomberg, they would say we have the highest level of vigilance, and the highest level of awareness and the highest level of security.

On top of that, they'll be working particularly with the companies that own these specific locations, reviewing the vulnerabilities, taking a look at what additional protective measures they should put or could put in place, given the reporting.

So I don't think they're necessarily going to take...

(CROSSTALK) You would have to ask Commissioner Kelly. I don't think he's necessarily going to take the city up. The level of security in New York City is not only higher -- they call their level now orange.

But remember, for the past couple of months, an administration- wide effort has taken place. And a lot of those initiatives are in addition to what New York puts in place permanently.

On top of that, you can put a third layer, which is the layer of security we have brought into play because of the Republican Convention, the same level of security, more people are more technology associated with the convention, so you have a higher baseline for New York, initiatives we have undertaken with them during the past several months. And on top of that, independent of the first two, even more security, people and technology, because the convention will be there.

So New York City is a very high level of security right now.

QUESTION: This is a new approach for homeland security to sort of target particular cities and sectors and say this is the areas we're raising to orange, not the entire country. Is this sort of a surgical approach you plan to do in the future, considering the financial cost to the rest of the country?

We have announced a change in the threat level about half a dozen times, and I think we've tried to explain to the public that, one we know it raises the level of anxiety. We also know that it imposes a certain cost on communities, because much of the response is labor- intensive. We also said all along if we had the opportunity based on specific and credible information, we could apply it surgically.

And here we have, according to the reporting we have available now, a fairly confined area and a fairly specific -- not exclusively, but a fairly specific sector of the economy. I mean, these weren't the only targets, but again fairly specific sector of the economy. So I think it demonstrates if nothing else the flexibility and appropriate application and focus of resources where we need it most and we need it. And that's now.

STAFF: You have time for one more question, Mr. Secretary.

QUESTION: I'm sorry, sir, so we're talking about a specific geographical area, and not -- when you say "financial services sector," you mean a specific geographical area of New York, correct?

No, we're taking a look at northern New Jersey, New York City, and Washington, D.C. You can see what the institutions represent from the list I gave you, both domestic and international major institutions.

There are other -- I think it's reasonable to infer from that that for the time being, targets of economic opportunity, or iconic economic targets, are at the heart of their interest.

And therefore, until we get more information, because we're still rolling out more information, still getting more information, still analyzing more information, we just thought confined area, financial sector, seems to be the primary focus.

Let's raise it to orange, review vulnerabilities and asses protective measures, even at other financial institutions that may not be on the list, just as a precautionary measure. It seems to indicate a clear intent, and until we can conclude otherwise, we think it's best to move in that direction.

Thank you very much.

BLITZER: The Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge announcing that certain financial service areas in New York City, in northern New Jersey and here in Washington, D.C. will go on a higher state of alert, from yellow or elevated, to red, excuse me, to orange, which is high.

He specifically mentioned two buildings here in Washington, D.C., the headquarters of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank; both of those buildings not far -- actually a block or two only away from the White House. The Prudential Financial buildings in northern New Jersey, that would be in Newark, New Jersey, just across the river from New York City, and the Citicorp -- Citigroup buildings and the New York Stock Exchange facilities in New York City.

He says this is required as a result of what he called "new and unusually specific information where al Qaeda would like to target attacks against the United States."

Let's bring in our White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux. She's following all of this together with the rest of us. Suzanne, what are they saying at the White House?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, for those who don't know Washington, D.C., really both of those buildings, the IMF building, as well as the World Bank, are just a couple of blocks away from the White House.

Now, we've been told by a White House spokeswoman that the president was notified of what they're calling very new information, over the last 36, 48 hours, that he was briefed when he was on the road the last couple of days about these warnings from his homeland security secretary, that there were principal meetings involved yesterday and today. We're also told that the president was presented with this recommendation from Secretary Ridge to raise the terror alert level, that he signed off on it earlier this morning.

Now, as you know, the political context of all of this, already playing out on your show. We heard Democratic hopeful Howard Dean saying that this is an administration that has a history of manipulating and playing politics with the terror alert level. We also heard from Marc Racicot, who is head of the Republican National Committee, saying that he thought that kind of suggestion was corrosive.

But this is an administration, is a president that is willing to take that political risk. The president has said that on a number of occasions, saying that he'll go ahead and take the backlash. They expect to hear those kinds of comments and criticism, but they believe it's worth it to get it all out there.

Should also let you know, as well, Wolf, this is a political backdrop. The big picture here is that there's increasing pressure for this administration to prove that it's doing everything in its power to prevent another terrorist attack. That includes responding to the 9/11 Commission's recommendations to overhaul, to reform intelligence. We have been told from administration sources that the president could act on that, could make some announcements as early as tomorrow, on what recommendations he will sign off on, particularly those that he can impose by executive order -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Suzanne, the Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge saying it is alarming, this new information that the U.S. government has received presumably in the last few days, in both the amount and specificity of the information, the specific details, taking it to a different level, as opposed to the more ambiguous so-called chatter, which has been documented in the past. This has been going on for the past two or three days. Are you getting any information from your sources over there in the White House or perhaps elsewhere in Washington that this is information that came from the recent high- level arrest of an al Qaeda operative in Pakistan?

MALVEAUX: Well, so far, Wolf, we're not getting those level of details. We'll get back to you if we do have that kind of information. We don't know whether or not the president is actually going to come out and give further details about it. We expect that Secretary Ridge essentially wrapped up what he is going to say. That should come from or could come from intelligence sources. We do know that there were a number of al Qaeda, high-level al Qaeda who had been apprehended, they have been questioned. This could come from a number of sources, multiple sources, they are saying, but the important thing here is they believe that it was worth actually elevating the terror alert, that this was something that it was specific enough, that it was credible enough that they would go ahead and make this announcement now.

BLITZER: And the secretary of homeland security, Secretary Tom Ridge specifically did mention in his statement, in his prepared statement, expressed thanks to the government of Pakistan for coordination, for help in this U.S.-led war on terror. Suzanne, we'll be getting back to you shortly.

Let's go to New York now. There are financial institutions in New York, specific ones, that have received the warnings. The Citicorp -- Citigroup buildings in New York City as well as the New York Stock Exchange across the river in northern New Jersey, Prudential Financial buildings as well. CNN's Ali Velshi is reporting for us, covering this story from New York. What else do you know, Ali?

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we know, Wolf, is it's hard to determine what the -- what it means to raise the threat level from orange in New York to orange for financial institutions. As we were talking earlier and you saw the pictures of what it looks like outside the New York Stock Exchange, you've not been able to drive a car in front of the New York Stock Exchange since 2001. The Hercules units, which are the units that you -- not the ones you're looking at on the screen right now, but the heavily armed elite forces, which are part of Operation Atlas, New York's antiterrorism force, have been parked outside of the New York Stock Exchange for a long time. They are fully armed all the time.

So the New York Stock Exchange, and that's what you're looking at right now, that is a Hercules unit police officer that you're looking at, both hands on the gun at all times, investigating vehicles.

This has become a mainstay of financial buildings in New York. Citigroup building downtown is, again, one of the most heavily guarded buildings in the city.

The other issue, northern New Jersey. Jersey City by some accounts is the second largest financial city in America, it's the surrogate capital, and particularly after September 11, and for other reasons, a number of companies moved their headquarters to northern New Jersey.

So the fact that that's recognized as a potential target is very, very telling.

The idea that al Qaeda might be targeting, as Tom Ridge said, physical destruction of these facilities, Wolf, this is a city that's been on edge since September 11, 2001, even though New Yorkers have learned to handle it and relax from time to time. This kind of edge is going to creep its way into the capital markets, and in the end, that's where so much of the confidence in whether we can continue in the face of attacks is actually borne out.

So tomorrow morning, when we see how investors react to this, that some of the largest names in corporate America are in one way or another under threat, that is going to be -- that is going to tell you whether al Qaeda has actually struck at the heart of everyday investors and regular people. These are not places that Americans want to hear are at risk.

BLITZER: So Tom Ridge just said, the intelligence reports that the U.S. government have now received provided, in his words, a level of detail that is very specific, resulting in the specific naming of various buildings. When he talks about the Citigroup buildings in New York City, there's headquarters there in Manhattan, but there are a lot of other Citigroup buildings around New York City, aren't there, Ali?

VELSHI: This is one of the largest banks in the world. So when you say Citigroup buildings, that's in fact the case. It's not one of these things that if someone were to target the main building, that would be the only time that it would strike fear into Americans. Citigroup has got a lot of facilities and locations, a few very large buildings on both sides of Manhattan, on the rivers, across the East River in Long Island City, in Queens, and in New Jersey, so that's a big target. Citigroup, Prudential, these are very, very large companies.

It all makes sense. When you see the buildings that have been targeted, including the IMF and the World Bank in Washington, it's intuitive that it continues to be an attack on the heart of capitalism in America. The New York Stock Exchange, I mean, Wolf, you have seen it, you can't imagine a more secure place. That police and federal authorities would be concerned about it means that this must be -- at least they must be taking it very seriously.

BLITZER: All right. Ali Velshi, we're going to get back to you in New York City. We're going to continue our special coverage. For those viewers who may just be tuning in, I want to play a brief excerpt of what the secretary of homeland security just announced a few moments ago. Let's listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RIDGE: Reports indicate that al Qaeda is targeting several specific buildings, including the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in the District of Columbia, Prudential Financial in northern New Jersey and Citigroup buildings and the New York Stock Exchange in New York.

Let me assure you -- let me reassure you, actions to further strengthen security around these buildings are already under way.

Additionally, we're concerned about targets beyond these and are working to get more information about them. Now, senior leadership across the Department of Homeland Security, in coordination with the White House, the CIA, FBI and other federal agencies have been in constant contact with the governors, mayors and homeland security advisers at the affected locations I just named.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Let's get some analysis, further analysis of what all this means. We'll bring in Mike Brooks, our law enforcement correspondent. He's monitoring these developments. There seems to be obviously a capitalist notion, when you take a look at the IMF, the World Bank here in Washington, you're familiar with those buildings, as all of us who live here are, the Prudential Financial buildings in northern New Jersey, the Citigroup buildings and the New York Stock Exchange in New York City, what do you maybe of this important development, Mike?

MIKE BROOKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, these are all large icons in the financial services sector here in the country. We've seen demonstrations at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in the past. It has been an icon around the world for years, as you know. And just a few blocks and the White House. I'm sure we're going to see the complexion of the traffic and traffic patterns around 1903 Pennsylvania Ave. change dramatically tomorrow morning when people come to work as well as today.

Again, just it will really put a toll on the Metropolitan Police. Since they've been at a modified orange left since 9/11. We know New York has been at an orange level of their own since 9/11, so we're going to see a lot of changes in traffic and additional security, Wolf, especially since they're talking about the physical buildings. They're not talking about the computer systems, they're talking about the actual physical buildings, so employees, customers coming in and out of these buildings and for the near future are going to be troubled, and also more scrutiny placed on bags, people coming and going, cars parking in the garages there, a lot of changes are going to be involved in this. Wolf?

BLITZER: When you take a look, though, at the security around those buildings, at least the New York Stock Exchange as we heard from Ali Velshi, here and around the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, security is pretty tight already. What does it mean to go to that next level specifically?

BROOKS: You're going to see more uniformed police, you're going to see additional bomb dogs, you're going to see possibly traffic rerouted around these buildings. 19th Street is a main thoroughfare through Washington where the International Monetary Fund and World Bank are located right across the street from each other. You're probably going to see the streets blocked off now, Wolf. Because with the concern being a car or truck bomb, they want to make sure there's a lot of standoff from those buildings to make sure someone can't drive a truck or car bomb in front of these buildings. The New York Stock Exchange has been blocked off. And I'm going to be anxious to see if other financial icons, such as the American Stock Exchange, NASDAQ, if they also will be affected. Tomorrow should be a very, very interesting day in New York and also in Washington, DC.

BLITZER: Ad it was interested when we heard our own Jeanne Meserve ask the Secretary of Homeland Security if people who work in those buildings, and there are thousands of them who work in those buildings, should show up for work Tomorrow, he said they should consult with their own employers, their own security personnel, but he would hope that many of them would show up. What do you do? What advice do you give from janitorial help, secretaries to top executives. What advice do you give them about going to work Tomorrow?

BROOKS: Well, I think vigilance is going to be the keyword in these different financial institutions, in these different icons. When people do come to work, before they even go to work, they should try to contact their supervisor to find out if there are additional security measures in place. Make sure you have your badge, make sure you have your identification, don't leave your badge at home Tomorrow, because I guarantee you they will not let you into those buildings. Maybe try to contact a supervisor today before you come into work Tomorrow. Also find out if there is going to be any parking changes. There are parking lots associated with these different buildings, they may be screening cars closer than they usually do, or they may not allow parking at all in some of these places, but people should find out before they get there exactly what kinds of things to expect when we they do arrive at work Tomorrow.

BLITZER: Alright, some good practical advice from our own Mike Brooks. Mike, stand by. We'll be getting back to you as well. And just to update, the Department Of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge announcing at the top of this hour, a heightened level of security threat because of specific credible information that the US government has received involving the International Monetary Fund and World Bank buildings here in Washington DC, Prudential Financial buildings in northern New Jersey, and Citigroup buildings and the New York Stock Exchange in New York City.

Eleanor Holmes Norton is the congressional delegate from the District of Columbia. She's joining us here. Have you been briefed specifically, Delegate Norton, on what's going on?

DELEGATE ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON (D), WASHINGTON, D.C.: I did get a call from Undersecretary Asa Hutchinson, who alerted me as to the specific locations and the kind of information they had received, essentially what you've just heard from the secretary himself.

BLITZER: How alarmed should people be based on this (AUDIO GAP). Reaction would be, you know what? This is pretty serious.

NORTON: It's real important, particularly in this city and in the region, to understand that this city is probably always going to be alerted when any other part of the country is alerted first.

Secondly, I'm grateful -- I said this to Asa -- that we have applied a scaffold here, and talked specifically -- this is the first time they've done that -- and I have to tell you that both representing this city and on the Homeland Security Committee on which I sit, from both sides of aisle there's been this horrendous concern, that when these alerts go out, they go out to the deserts of America, to the deserted small towns of America, as well as to the obvious spots.

Now, they have some information here that they have tried to apply. When they said, you name IMF, you name a couple of buildings here, the fact is it's Washington, D.C., northern New Jersey and the financial district. Not even all of Manhattan. That's very important.

This might be a kind of practice, though, Wolf, because if you listen carefully, they were talking about targets, not a plot, and it's important to recognize that.

BLITZER: What's the difference?

NORTON: That somebody, maybe through torture in Pakistan, has at least let loose with the information these are the kinds of places they're interested in, not that this is going to happen at a date or time even remotely certain.

BLITZER: When you say "torture in Pakistan," are you referring to this most recent Tanzanian al Qaeda operative who is accused of plotting and actually implementing the East African embassy bombings in 1998, who was captured only the other day?

NORTON: Yes. When you say you've gotten the information from Pakistan, I don't think that those are fellows that sit down and do interrogation.

BLITZER: You're going to say specifically -- at least Tom Ridge didn't say specifically they got the information from Pakistan, although he thanked Pakistan for helping the U.S.

NORTON: That was the only country whose name he called. And you know, if you're doing the kind of interrogation for which they are well-known, you're going to get something. Maybe it's disinformation, maybe it's real information, but if I got something from Pakistan, considering how close we've been to Pakistan on terrorism, I would pay attention to it.

BLITZER: So you, after what you've been told by Asa Hutchinson, the undersecretary for Homeland Security, what we all heard now from the Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, you think that the country should take all of this very, very seriously, that it's not as some critics, skeptics might suggest politics being played up?

NORTON: Wolf, the reason people think of it, some people, lots of people think of it as politics is in the lead-up to the 2000 elections, when we were getting ready to go into Iraq, there was this rush, and the only thing lots of folks could see we were rushing to do was to do it -- was to time it in keeping with those elections, and this took a lot of credibility away from the administration. How do they time these things? And conspiracy theories are all over the place.

My concern, I must tell you is this -- my concern is that these folks are targeting private institutions. I've got a bill, people on both sides of the bill have bills, that would have us indeed deal with the absence, the wholesale absence, or at least pockmark security in private institutions, not just financial institutions, malls, private settings in our country.

And by the way, the IMF, World Bank would be considered in that regard.

For example, my bill would say at least give some guidance, have the homeland security secretary give some guidance to security guards as to what you're supposed to do. So I'm not sure that these private institutions, maybe these financial institutions, but generally that these private institutions are ready for what al Qaeda may be preparing for them.

BLITZER: Delegate Holmes Norton, I want you to stand by.

I want to go back to the White House. Our correspondent there Suzanne Malveaux standing by. Suzanne, earlier today we heard Joe Lieberman, the Democratic Senator from Connecticut dismiss this notion that politics is being played out. Let's listen briefly to what he said here on CNN's LATE EDITION.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: I don't think anybody who has any fairness or is in his right mind would think that the President or Secretary of Homeland Security would raise an alert level and scare people for political reasons. That's outrageous.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: But there are, as you well know, Suzanne, plenty of Democrats, including Howard Dean who are suggesting there is a certainly amount of politics played on this issue by the president.

MALVEAUX: Well, Wolf, the administration says the basis of this perception problem and what many Democrats are saying, some publicly as Howard Dean was, is that essentially it's the timing of these announcements here, they don't think perhaps they're making up these threats, but it's rather curious that you would have these announcements that are made after the Democrats hold their big convention, after Kerry gets a little bit of a bounce. They believe that in some ways they can use these terror alerts to perhaps raise the fear of Americans, engaged in fear-mongering and perhaps to diminish Kerry and the Democrats and when at a time that it's convenient. The administration saying that that's just not so, that they are willing to take the risk and political backlash here, because they realize it's not a popular move. It costs a lot of money, not only political capital but physical capital, as well, to actually raise the terror alert, and they realize this is something that is going to cost them in the end. They say they're willing to take the chance.

BLITZER: Alright. Suzanne Malveaux at the White House, we'll be getting back to you, Suzanne, thanks very much. Joining us now on the phone is Jim Walsh. He's at Cambridge, Massachusetts where he teaches at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. You've heard all of these developments. Jim, give us your perspective.

JIM WALSH, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: Let me give you two big points here, Wolf. The first is that this is really an unprecedented alert. And if you follow the words that Governor Ridge used, he said this was based on intelligence rarely seen, it was very specific, and it was alarming, sobering, and startling. I don't think I can remember any press conference given by the governor or given by the attorney general in which this specific a set the targets was discussed, so I think we're really in new territory here.

And as someone who has been a critic in the past of these various press conferences and vague warnings that I think have done more harm than good, I think credit needs to be given when it's due. In this case I think they have done a good job of being very specific in narrowing where the concerns are. It's not in South Dakota, it's not in Iowa, it's in specific places in New York and Washington. My only criticism if I had one, it's that the Governor didn't reach out and tell the families of the folks who are going to be working in the buildings, didn't give them anything to go on, didn't really offer any reassurance. And I would like to see them be a little more proactive in telling people, OK, given this threat, what should we do next.

BLITZER: Jim, would this kind of statement that the homeland security secretary released automatically almost have a preemptive nature to it? Because if you're plotting an attack against one of these financial institutions, no doubt you're watching television, you're hearing what's going on. Would this in effect, you'd have to say to yourself, "You know what? It just got more dangerous, I'm going to stop this plot and look for something else?"

WALSH: Wolf I think you're absolutely right. I think a lot of what drives the timing and targeting in al Qaeda's plots, and I think it's fair to say this is al Qaeda is operational success, the likelihood you will be successful. And by coming out and having identified the targets and beefing up the security at those institutions, I think it does reduce the risk that the attacks will take place. Now, you know there's a trade-off there. Well, you can say, well, having announced it, it, we won't be able to foil it, they'll just shift to a different set of targets, but I think on balance, proven public policy tells us that we should go ahead and announce that information, anything we can do to disrupt them, make them retrain, make them rethink what they are going to do is worthwhile. So I think that's the right call in this particular instance.

BLITZER: Alright. I want you to stand by, Jim. We just got a statement in from Citigroup, the Citigroup security and investigative services, specifically with some information for their employees, among other things, they say this. They say the Citigroup security investigative services, as part of its ongoing efforts to protect our employees has increased the level of security, security measures employed at our New York City buildings.

It goes on to say, that they're making every effort to ensure the safety at all times and particularly in light of recent reports, possible threats in the upcoming Republican National Convention in New York of all of its employees. They also say that in the coming days and weeks, quote, "you can expect to see additional security measures being implemented," that statement coming in from the Citigroup security and investigative services, part of Citigroup, one of the financial institutions that has been specifically mentioned by the Secretary of Homeland Security. Ali Velshi, our reporter in New York is following all of these developments. Ali, you mentioned earlier that Citigroup doesn't just have one building...

VELSHI: It's got a lot.

BLITZER: There are a lot of buildings involving this bank and financial service throughout Manhattan.

VELSHI: And you can imagine that the group responsible for this e-mail is now sitting there trying to match the specificity of Tom Ridge's own comments, because that's kind of vague, and that's a problem. Jim Walsh just spoke to that issue, that what do you till the people that have to go to work? You can tell the security divisions, you can tell the division managers about this stuff, but this is going to affect the very people, and we are now talking about tens and hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers between these various institutions and, of course, in Washington also, who now have to make a decision to how they conduct themselves. And again no timeline.

So we're not clear on what that means. But Tom Ridge said right at the beginning that it does allow us to increase protection, it allows us to raise awareness. And I was speaking earlier to a former FBI agent who was in Nairobi at the time of the bombing of the embassy there, and he said that one of the things that happened in the moments before the bombing was this dispute that took place between a marines and a truck driver which alerted some people, at least, to the fact there was a problem.

Because I was sort of pressing him on the issue, that what do you do in New York? We're talking looking for strange behavior and people loitering. I mean, for heaven's sake, it's New York City, how would you identify unusual behavior in such a busy and active place? And he said, look, if you can get people to have their senses heightened that much more, they will know when something is even more out of the ordinary than it typically is, so maybe that's the idea of raising awareness, but as Jim Walsh says and the former FBI agent I spoke to said the same thing, part of the issue is if you concentrate all this awareness on all these targets, you may have foiled them, but you may have distracted your attention toward these targets and maybe the targets are in fact something else entirely. So this is a tough science to get one's hands on, and I think New Yorkers who have to go to work tomorrow morning and people in Washington who have to go to work tomorrow morning are going to have this on the front of their mind, what do I do differently and what do I look for?

BLITZER: Well, that's a good question and we're going to pursue that question. We're going to take a quick break. Much more coming up. I'll ask the District of Columbia Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton what advice she has for those people in Washington, DC, who work at the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank, both of which are only a couple blocks away from the White House. What should they do tomorrow? Should they go to work as usual or take the day off? We'll take a quick break. Much more coverage of this breaking news when we come back.

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BLITZER: Welcome back to our continuing coverage. We're following a breaking story. The federal government here in Washington, DC, the Department of Homeland Security announcing just a short while ago that there will be a heightened level of security at various financial institution centers in New York City, northern New Jersey and here in Washington, DC, including the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank in the Nation's Capital, the Prudential Financial buildings in Newark, New Jersey, elsewhere in Northern, New Jersey, as well as the Citigroup buildings in New York and the New York Stock Exchange in New York City. The announcement coming from Tom Ridge, the Secretary of Homeland Security only a short while ago. Here, among other things, is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RIDGE: Now, this is the first time we have chosen to use the homeland security advisory system in such a targeted way. Compared the previous threat reporting, these intelligence reports have provided a level of detail that is very specific. The quality of this intelligence based on multiple reporting streams in multiple locations, is rarely seen, and it is alarming in both the amount and specificity of the information.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Once again, joining us, the congressional delegate from the District of Columbia here in Washington, Eleanor Holmes Norton. What do you tell your constituents who live in the District of Columbia about showing up for work tomorrow morning at the IMF or the World Bank building. And there are at least hundreds, if not thousands of people who work in those two complexes.

NORTON: Wolf, you notice that the Citibank did not say to its employees, stay home. And you've heard nothing from the federal government, which has buildings laced all around that location, to say federal employees should stay at home. And I would say to my constituents, do not stay at home.

What Citibank did say was that all kinds of precautions are being taken. We know you have to have all kinds of perhaps extra identification to get in, but if every time an orange alert -- this is not a red alert, which is the most severe. Every time even an orange alert goes up, you shut down the economy of a city, we are in bad shape. As it is, this is a tourist town.

BLITZER: But should there be -- they call when there's snow in Washington, liberal leave policy, if you will. People are anxious, they have high anxiety, they're nervous. Would it be appropriate to let them take the day off?

NORTON: I suppose if they're nervous, but I don't think this should be compared to liberal leave. Because the major point, if you -- and we've learned this on the Homeland Security Committee, the major point of these alerts is their deterrent effect. They make us more cautious to be sure, but they do have the effect of saying to the enemy, hey, everybody's looking for you now.

BLITZER: So in other words, this could have a preemptive effect and thwart this kind of attack if in fact it's in the works.

NORTON: Precisely. And that's the main point of what I think is happening here. Remember what I said earlier, these are targets, not a specific plot of any kind. We should bear that in mind. This is orange, not red, and we shouldn't act as if it's red and stay at home.

BLITZER: I may be reading too much into what the secretary said, but reading between the lines, I suspect that the information they received was information that talked about a coordinated, multi-target attack, including these targets in Washington, northern New Jersey and New York, because that would be a trademark of al Qaeda. On 9/11, they didn't go after one target, they went after multiple targets. In fact, their initial plan, as we learned from the 9/11 Commission, was much -- was even more robust than what actually turned out to be the case.

NORTON: And notice that he was asked a question during the press conference, and even he said we should go about our business. So even Homeland Security secretary is not willing to say, hey, look, time out, day off, liberal leave. He is saying you've got to be more vigilant, but let's keep going. And really, that's my message to my own constituents.

BLITZER: When he noted this is the first time they have chosen to target a higher level of alert to a certain sector or to a certain region. In the past, they have refused to do that. In fact, Tom Ridge has said to me in the past they didn't want to do that, because then you sort of advertise to the terrorists, this is where there's a high level of counterterrorism, a high level of alert. You may want to go to some other part of the country, and you're sort of advertising that. That's why they didn't do it in the past.

NORTON: Well, that's one of the reasons. The other reasons is they have heard from all over the country what they do to our economy when they give a blanket alert, and say that every part of the country is as much at risk as we in the District or people in New York are. We can't afford to keep doing that risk, if we're going to keep on keeping on, and if this is a war in perpetuity.

BLITZER: This -- and you're not among those Democrats who at this point are ready to say this is all politics, Bush may be in trouble of getting reelected, this kind of concern may rally public support around the commander in chief. You're not one of those Democrats skeptical about the motive behind this?

NORTON: Despite the loss of credibility of this president when it comes to these alerts, when it comes to the way in which the war was carried out, frankly the fact that for the first time they are focusing on specific targets does encourage me to believe that they have heard us, and they have understood that if they look like they're playing politics, a lot of folks are going to call out their name.

BLITZER: All right. We're going to have much more coverage of this breaking story, Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton. I'll ask you to stand by as well. Much more coverage coming up. We'll take a quick break. More when we come back.

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BLITZER: Welcome back to our continuing coverage. We're breaking away from our regular programming because of important news announced exactly one hour ago by the Department of Homeland Security here in the nation's capital, in Washington, D.C. Secretary Tom Ridge making an announcement that certain financial services sectors, in New York, northern New Jersey, and here, in Washington, D.C., are going to go on a higher level of alert, from yellow to orange, from elevated to high -- excuse me, to high, that is. And among the potential targets, specifically mentioned, the IMF, the International Monetary Fund building in Washington, the World Bank building in Washington, the Prudential Financial buildings in northern New Jersey, including Newark. Citigroup buildings in New York City, as well as the New York Stock Exchange. He made the announcement at a hastily arranged news conference just one hour ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RIDGE: in light of new intelligence information, we have made the decision to raise the threat level for this sector in these communities to bring protective resources to an even higher level.

This will allow us to increase protection in and around those buildings that require it, and also raise awareness for employees, and residents, and customers, and visitors. We know, and we know from experience, that increased physical protection and added vigilance from citizens can thwart a terrorist attack, and that is our goal.

Now, this is the first time we have chosen to use the homeland security advisory system in such a targeted way. Compared to previous threat reporting, these intelligence reports have provided a level of detail that is very specific.

The quality of this intelligence, based on multiple reporting streams in multiple locations, is rarely seen, and it is alarming in both the amount and specificity of the information. Now, while we are providing you with this immediate information, we will also continue to update you as the situation unfolds.

As of now, this is what we know: Reports indicate that al Qaeda is targeting several specific buildings, including the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in the District of Columbia, Prudential Financial in northern New Jersey and Citigroup buildings and the New York Stock Exchange in New York.

Let me assure you -- let me reassure you, actions to further strengthen security around these buildings are already under way. Additionally, we're concerned about targets beyond these and are working to get more information about them.

Now, senior leadership across the Department of Homeland Security, in coordination with the White House, the CIA, the FBI, and other federal agencies, have been in constant contact with the governors, the mayors and the homeland security advisers of the affected locations I've just named.

We've talked with executive leadership of the companies that own these businesses and operate these buildings, the people who know these facilities best. We have told them at this time there is no information that indicates a specific time for these attacks beyond the period leading up to our national elections.

Though, of course, just because we know where but not precisely when, that does not mean that we cannot take preemptive action. Just the opposite. When collection activities provide specific information, we can tailor security measures to the particular vulnerabilities of those potential targets.

Now, understandably, security measures at each facility will not be uniform in nature, given the scope and the scale of building architecture, access to and from roads, and other variables. And certainly we will not broadcast our security intentions to our enemies. But you may expect to see special buffer zones to secure the perimeter of the buildings from unauthorized cars and trucks, restrictions to affect underground parking, security personnel using identification badges and digital photos to keep track of people entering and exiting buildings, increased law enforcement presence, even more robust screening of vehicles and packages and deliveries.

These and other security measures, both seen and unseen, create added layers of protection to an already vigorous security effort around this country.

So let me be clear. While we have raised the threat level for the financial services sector in the affected communities, the rest of the nation remains at an elevated or code yellow risk of terrorist attack. Rest assured, rest assured that the most talented security professionals and law enforcement professionals around this country are working hard every single day to protect all regions of this country and all sectors of our economy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Tom Ridge announcing only an hour ago here in Washington, D.C., that certain financial services sectors in New York, northern New Jersey and in Washington, D.C., are going on a higher state of alert from yellow to orange, because of what he called "new and unusually specific information where al Qaeda would like to attack the United States."

CNN's Candy Crowley is on the campaign trail. She's covering John Kerry's campaign. She's joining us on the phone now from Bowling Green, en route to Bowling Green, Ohio. Any reaction yet from the Kerry campaign, Candy?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: There is not, Wolf. And we don't expect any, at least for the moment. They've said, look, no comment. This is obviously, here we are on, obviously, a very political purpose, bus trip, post-convention. This is all politics, all the time. And to get in to any kind of conversation about the raising of the threat alert is -- does not really behoove the Kerry campaign at this point.

You'll recall that there have been several other news conferences along the way, where security issues have been brought up. The idea that there would be some sort of terrorist attack before the election. And the Kerry campaign chose to stay out of it.

BLITZER: This specific information that Secretary Ridge, Candy, was talking about seemed to suggest that this is not related to what he earlier announced last month that there could be some sort of terrorist plot in or around the conventions or leading up to the U.S. election November 2, to disrupt, as he called it, the American democratic system. This looks like new information, specific information, not connected with that earlier information. Is that the impression you got as well?

CROWLEY: It's the impression I'm getting listening to you all, obviously, here. What we do know is that from time to time, the Bush administration has offered security briefings to the Kerry campaign. He did receive one not that many weeks ago, which obviously would not have included this. It's unclear whether or not one has been offered at this point. But whether this is a different from the one before or not, the basic feel in this campaign is this is not something that belongs on the political campaign trail, though, you know, wonder aloud whether it's a real threat or what it says about our intelligence or what it says about our security. It's not something in the immediate moment that the Kerry campaign feels that they want to get into.

BLITZER: All right. That's probably smart on their part, Candy. Thanks very much. We'll be checking back with you. If you get some more information from the Kerry/Edwards campaign, you of course will let us know. In this highly charged political environment, though, here in the United States, politics of course never far from the minds of a lot of people.

CNN's Ali Velshi has been covering this in New York for us. Ali, I anticipate that the mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, the police chief, Ray Kelly, others are getting ready to speak to reporters as well?

VELSHI: Yeah, actually, as you know, Wolf, we've been on the story all morning. And earlier, there was a scheduled press conference with Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the zoo in the Bronx. And as we were covering the story, we were sort of debating whether we should go there and how we get there and how this all fits into the story. And of course, as it developed, Mayor Bloomberg and Ray Kelly decided they're doing this thing at City Hall within the hour.

And I think it's an interesting point, because this is typically, you know, I spend most of my time in financial news, and this is typically not a working day here, but if you walk out into our newsroom, it's now full, a number of people have come in, and we're making phone calls obviously and speaking with a number of the people affected by Tom Ridge's statement, workers, CEOs, public relations departments of the major corporations that were named.

I got to tell you, one always wants to know when it stops being serious and when you stop trying to impart the seriousness of the matter, and then start talking about how we're strong and it doesn't bring us down. The point is the World Trade Center came down, and it didn't stop business in America. The World Trade Center came down, and although there were unusual circumstances surrounding that time, which brought a number of New Yorkers and certainly America and the world together, the reality is al Qaeda's continued attempts to strike at the heart of capitalist America has been met before with determination and resistance.

And I must remind you, in the days after September 11, there were no greater tough talkers than the men and women of New York and the men and women of the financial district.

So while we have to worry at some points about how they're going to feel tomorrow morning in terms of their safety going into work and the precautions they're going to want to take, I'm now thinking back to those days. I bet you they're going to do it in big numbers just to make the point, Wolf.

BLITZER: Just to make the point that the terrorists have not won, even though if they disrupt the financial sector of the U.S. economy, even by these threats, some would argue they've already won on that score. We did report a statement that was released by Citigroup, the security investigative services of Citigroup, saying that they have increased their level of security at their various New York City buildings. They also expect to see additional security measures being implemented in the days to come.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Certainly, that would reassure the employees, although there was no mention in this statement, at least I didn't see any reference, Ali, to suggesting go ahead, come to work, business as usual, or maybe -- maybe not. They avoided anything along those lines.

VELSHI: It was very down the middle of the road. Delegate Holmes Norton pointed that out, that they didn't say don't come to work, but they didn't quite say come to work either. And I think really everybody's working that out right now, how serious is this threat, because there's no timeline on it. It's very hard to know. OK, maybe I don't come to work tomorrow, but what about two weeks from now when nothing further has developed with this, if nothing further has developed?

And that is kind of what happened after September 11. Right? We've gone through these threats and then they sort of have gone to the back of our mind, and we've gone back to our normal working routine. And then we go back and do it again.

So it's kind of interesting. However, one of the people I think you are going to speak to very shortly is with an organization that actually takes these very specific matters and assigns them to companies, and says this is in fact how you deal with making your building safer with respect to deliveries, with respect to service providers and contractors in your building. So at least what Secretary Ridge has done is given New Yorkers and New York companies and building security and management ways to at least do something or feel like they're doing something over the course of the next few days.

BLITZER: That person is Steve Pomerantz (ph), the former FBI agent. And we'll be talking with him later this hour as well.

Let's get to Howard Safer right now, the former New York City police commissioner, who's joining us. Give us your perspective, Commissioner, on what's going on.

HOWARD SAFER, FORMER NYC POLICE COMMISSIONER: Well, Wolf, it's very encouraging that we finally got some specificity where Homeland Security is not putting out a nationwide, unspecific threat alert, which is encouraging that we're getting some real good intelligence. As far as the targets are concerned, when I was police commissioner, we put in place the security plan for New York Stock Exchange, by closing streets, by using bomb dogs, searching trucks. And the Stock Exchange I think has excellent security. I'm not sure about some of the other facilities, but I know that everybody is ramping up.

My concern is, we've now publicly announced that we know about this plot. Yet there are literally hundreds of skyscrapers in New York which have not taken any precautions. And the use of a truck bomb or a car bomb makes them incredibly vulnerable.

BLITZER: What do you want New York City Police, law enforcement, the federal counterterrorism task force to do?

SAFER: Well, I think they're doing almost everything that can be done. I think what has to happen is that the private sector has to recognize that their buildings, every building where there are lots of people and commerce needs to be hardened.

BLITZER: In other words, what you're saying, there should be more of an investment by the private sector in terms of their own security and not simply rely on New York Police, law enforcement, federal, state, local law enforcement?

SAFER: Well, realistically, police can't be everywhere, and Israel is a good example. You never hear about a major building or a government facility being attacked in Israel. You do hear about soft targets, because it's very hard to protect soft targets. But they've hardened all of their major buildings and all of their government facilities, because they recognize that terrorists want to succeed, and if a building is hardened, they're not going to attack it. I mean, just think about, there are buildings in the city with 600 and 700 apartments in them that virtually have no security.

BLITZER: That's a frightening thought. When you hear about security at the New York Stock Exchange, we heard Ali Velshi, our correspondent, if any of us have been there, you know security around the New York Stock Exchange is about as tight as it could be. Do you see any opportunity to ramp it up even more? I think you can use -- I think you could use some more technology. There is technology that's being developed. You know, right now, we really need a small-scale explosive detector, because right now the best thing that we have to find explosives are dogs and there aren't enough of them.

BLITZER: The former New York police commissioner, Howard Safer, thanks very much for joining us. Good advice from you, as usual.

Much more coverage coming up. We're following this breaking story. A ratcheting up of the security threat level involving certain targeted financial services sectors in New York, northern New Jersey and here in Washington, D.C. We'll take a quick break, we'll continue our special coverage when we come back.

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JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: ... doing reconnaissance of guard activity to figure out what sorts of schedules they worked, whether they were armed or not, reconnaissance about building materials that were used and what sort of explosives might be used effectively against them.

Also, information about parking garages, when vehicles were let in, what kinds of vehicles were let in, the sort of incline there was into parking garages, the proximity to parking facilities to offices within the buildings.

All of this leading analysts to the conclusion that what al Qaeda might be looking at is the use of some sort of vehicle bomb to wreak damage on some of those sites that we have discussed.

Officials say they are continuing to work this information at this point in time. They do expect there will be additional information, perhaps concerning additional sites, in the hours and days to come. They also say, although there is nothing specific in this intelligence about timing, some of this intelligence, they believe, some of this reconnaissance was done before 9/11, has continued since then, probably right up until the current day, and they believe because of other threat information that they've been accumulating over the previous months, that the timetable they're looking at falls between now and the November election.

A lot of questions today, of course, about what people should do who work at these buildings. Officials here would not answer that question. They said they've been in discussions with people -- with corporate security people and others, human resources officials at some of those businesses that are involved here. They're leaving it up to the businesses to decide whether or not people should report to work. But in the meantime, of course, protective measures are being put in place, things like increasing security presence, increasing buffer zones, checking IDs more carefully, perhaps screening packages and mail a little bit more carefully than they have before. Wolf, that's some of the latest information. Back to you.

BLITZER: Jeanne, as you know, one of the hallmarks of al Qaeda is to go after multiple targets at the same time, a simultaneous attack. For example, against the World Trade Center and Washington, D.C., or the twin embassy bombings in East Africa. Is it the impression that you're getting, because it seems to be my impression, and I could be wrong, that these attacks against these specific targets, reportedly the IMF, World Bank in Washington, the Prudential Financial buildings in northern New Jersey, the Citigroup buildings in New York and the New York Stock Exchange, is it one simultaneous attack that they're worried about, or are these just random, isolated potential targets?

MESERVE: Wolf, that matter was not addressed at all today by either Secretary Ridge or the senior intelligence officials to whom we spoke, so I have absolutely no insight into whether they are expecting something simultaneously or not, though as you mentioned, that has been an ongoing concern.

BLITZER: And when they came around to the decision to go public with this information, did anyone suggest, well, if you do that, that, in and of itself, could preempt, could thwart the attack, because no doubt terrorists are watching television as well.

MESERVE: Absolutely. That is certainly one of the consideration they always take into account here, that if they push this information out, not only do people take additional steps, not only is the public more vigilant, but the terrorists know that they're on to what they might be planning, and therefore might abandon their plans. Now, whether or not they've done that they certainly don't know, but that certainly goes into the calculus of going public with this information today.

BLITZER: So that is certainly one of the positive things that could happen. On the other side, you raise the anxiety, you get a lot of people nervous and a lot of people worried who may not necessarily want to show up for work, which is the downside. If you do disrupt the financial sector to a certain degree, in effect the terrorists have already won.

MESERVE: But Wolf, what they've done here is something they've never done before. In the five times previous when they've raised the threat level, they've raised it all across the nation. Here, they have not even done it uniformly across the two cities involved, New York City and Washington. They've tried to narrow this down to the financial sector, for that very reason, they want to cause as little disruption as they possibly can to people's daily lives.

BLITZER: The secretary of homeland security went out of his way to praise Pakistan in his opening statement. He said this, and I'll just read it: "The reports that have led to this alert are the result of offensive intelligence and military operations overseas, as well as strong partnerships with our allies around the world, such as Pakistan." Now, as many of our viewers know, only in the past few days, Pakistan did arrest a high level al Qaeda operative, a Tanzanian, who they say was directly involved in the East Africa embassy bombings in 1998. Is it your information, or do we know that this current threat level upgrading has come from the arrest of this Tanzanian?

MESERVE: Trust me, Wolf, we asked that question both of Secretary Ridge and the senior intelligence officials who briefed us. They would not answer that question. We do not know if that arrest is associated with this, but the timing certainly might indicate that. As you mentioned, this arrest came within the last couple of days. This information we're talking about, we're told, came to light in the last 24 to 36 hours. But absolutely no confirmation from here that that is where this information came from.

BLITZER: Very sensitive information indeed. Jeanne Meserve, doing an excellent job reporting the story for us not only now, but all day. Jeanne, thanks very much. We'll get back to you over at the Department of Homeland Security.

We're going to take a quick break. Much more coverage of this, including other top stories we're following, not only in the United States, but around the world. A deadly day of violence in Iraq today as well. Churches attacked. Christian churches attacked in Baghdad and Mosul in Iraq. We'll take a quick break. More of our special coverage when we come back.

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BLITZER: We want to go right to the White House now. Suzanne Malveaux standing by, where they're closely monitoring these late- breaking developments, a heightened state of alert for financial sector services in New York, northern New Jersey and here in the nation's capital in Washington, D.C. What are you picking up, Suzanne?

MALVEAUX: Wolf, this is something that developed over the last 72 hours. We're being told by a White House spokeswoman that essentially, the president, while he was on the road campaigning over the last three days or so, was being briefed by his homeland security team. He was being told that there was very new information regarding these potential threats. It was not until today, this morning, that the president received that recommendation from Ridge and his team, Secretary Ridge, Homeland Security and his team, essentially saying they believed that that terror alert needed to be raised, at least for those financial institutions, specifically in Washington, the IMF building as well as the World Bank, just a couple of blocks away from the White House. We're told that the president signed off on that, and that this is something, as you know, Wolf, just within the last couple of hours, has developed into a political story.

We've heard from presidential hopeful Howard Dean, saying he believed that the timing of this, the announcement of this threat level, perhaps playing politics with people's fears, with their emotions. We also heard from Marc Racicot of the Republican National Committee coming out saying those type of suggestions are corrosive.

But, Wolf, this is an administration, this is a president that is very much aware of the risks when it comes to raising the terror alert. They believe that it is worth the risk, that they are going to have some sort of backlash, but they believe they're doing the right thing -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Suzanne, I want our viewers to hear precisely what Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor, former Democratic presidential candidate said on CNN's "LATE EDITION" just as we were first getting word that the Department of Homeland Security was going to elevate threat level for certain areas. Listen to what he told me.

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HOWARD DEAN, FORMER VERMONT GOVERNOR: I am concerned that every time something happens that's not good for President Bush, he plays this trump card, which is terrorism. His whole campaign is based on the notion that I can keep you safe, therefore, in times of difficulty for America, stick with me. And then out comes Tom Ridge. It's just impossible to know how much of this is real and how much of this is politics, and I suspect there's some of both in it. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: As you well know, Suzanne, in this highly charged political environment in which the country is operating right now, politics not far away from the minds of anyone. But is the White House concerned that these levels, these accusations potentially playing with politics around the fear of terrorism could hurt the president?

MALVEAUX: Well, the bottom line is the White House believes that either people are going to believe the president or not. And he's going to stand on his word, and there's very little they can do to influence what people believe in terms of whether or not he's telling the truth here.

They say that these are credible threats, that they're going to put the information out. As you should know, Wolf, these are the type of things that cost a lot of money, financially, as well as political capital. They're very much aware of that, that there's a risk involved.

Should also let you know as well that really the political backdrop of this as well is calls for this administration to prove that it's doing everything it can to prevent another terrorist attack. And with that, of course, comes the calls for the president and the administration to respond as quickly as possible at the 9/11 Commission's recommendations. We've been told from administration sources that the White House is moving on that very quickly. They could, as early as tomorrow, announce that they are going to move on some of those 9/11 recommendations, perhaps through executive order. Just another sign, Wolf, of the kind of political climate that we see revolving around national security.

BLITZER: Suzanne Malveaux is at the White House. Suzanne, thanks very much.

The White House only two or three blocks away from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank complex in Washington, D.C. A very, very close walk from the White House.

Let's go back to New York. Ali Velshi, our correspondent there. Ali, in the past, when we've heard of terror plots against financial sectors, almost always it involved what we would call cyber terrorism, trying to disrupt the nation's economic infrastructure if you will, by going after the computers. In this particular case, we heard from the Department of Homeland Security, what they're really concerned about would be a car or truck bomb, an actual, physical attack against the nation's financial sector, which is a very different kind of threat.

VELSHI: And one that we've dealt with in fact, most people don't remember this. Obviously, they're thinking about it now. But back in 1993, the first World Trade Center bombing did, in fact, use a vehicle with explosives.

Now, at the time, the investigation was done by somebody who then went on to head Kroll, and Kroll Emergency Services is one of the world's leading risk consultancies. We're joined now, Wolf, by Bill Vorlicek. He is a vice president at Kroll Emergency Services. He is joining me in New York. Bill, thank you for being with us.

BILL VORLICEK, VP, KROLL EMERGENCY SERVICES: Thank you for having me.

VELSHI: I'm referring, of course, to Mike Cherkasky, who was the supervisor of the joint terrorist task force after 1993. I want to ask you about vehicles laden with explosives and how companies might confront that. But a year after the September 11 attacks, in fact -- sorry, two years after that, on September 10, 2003, Michael Cherkasky made the following comment. He said -- and this is about a year ago now -- he said: "Corporations have been unwilling to make the investment in security. Overall, there has been a return to complacency and a failure to recognize the seriousness of the terrorist threat to Western society." Do you share that view?

VORLICEK: Well, what had happened was right after 9/11, everybody jumped, you know, they were trying to get ready. And what does get ready mean? That was the difficulty. They waited for the government to give some very, very pointed information, and then they developed the Homeland Security advisory system, and that was just very, very general in nature.

What you're seeing now is specificity, and that's what the private sector was looking for. Of course, the problem and -- security costs money. And security affects the bottom line, and there are no metrics to be able to say, I feel safe. How do you measure that? So what we're seeing today is the partnership between the government, the private sector, trying to say how can we improve our security? And what's interesting here is this is very, very focused. And it's focused now on specific locations and now what people are doing are looking at the people portion of it.

VELSHI: Bill, tell me now very specifically. We've heard Secretary Ridge talk about the possibility of cars or trucks with bombs in them. Perhaps a suicide attempt. What does a building do about that? What are the things that we learned from 1993? What are the things we've learned because of the heightened sensitivity to security since September 11, 2001? What do you do now?

VORLICEK: The first thing they do is they watch people. They look for suspicious behavior. What is different than normal? That's what the local security person in that building knows, what's normal.

For explosives, what they tried to do if you look down on Wall Street, they have created a standoff distance. What we've got going for us in New York is the inability to find a place to park. The traffic is on our side. So it's very difficult to get close to a building. It's very difficult to park in front of a building.

What the other things that the buildings are doing is they're limiting the number of access. Instead of coming in through three doors, they come in through one door. They are checking people's identification, checking people's baggage, looking at what they have.

It's capitalizing on what we know is going on every single day, what is normal.

VELSHI: Bill, thank you for joining us. Bill Vorlicek is the vice president of Kroll Emergency Services joining me here in New York. Wolf, back to you in D.C.

BLITZER: What is it?

VELSHI: We're going to go back to Wolf in a second. I want to ask you one more question, Bill. You know, we've got this note from Citigroup saying you'll be getting more information from us to employees, you'll be getting more information from us in the next few days. New York Stock Exchange not issuing a comment, we've just heard. What do these targeted companies tell their employees, to come to work tomorrow or not?

VORLICEK: What they do is they have plans. They've put together plans that they've had. They've tested them. A lot of the buildings are in the process of practicing their plans. They're saying to them, OK, we're going from this state of awareness to the next level. That was the biggest complaint the companies had. They can't be at a constant state of alert, because what happens is people get complacent, people get tired. You know, you're always calling wolf.

So this way, they're now going to say, we're going to orange. That means instead of going through the side door, you now are going to come through the front door. Instead of trying to get there at two minutes to 9:00, you need to get there at 8:30, because we are going to need to check to make sure that you are who you are. So it's plans and procedures that they've already put in place and they are exercising them.

VELSHI: Bill Vorlicek, thanks again for joining us. Bill Vorlicek of Kroll Emergency Services. Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: It's -- I take it, Ali, it's going to be a lively day on Wall Street tomorrow. You cover that beat for CNNfn -- CNN Financial News. Give us a little anticipation what you would expect to see tomorrow.

VELSHI: We're going to see a lot of activity tomorrow, Wolf. We're going to be going down to Wall Street and talking to people first thing in the morning. We're going to get some impression about what people are thinking. Obviously, everybody on Wall Street will have heard about this. We're going to talk to them. We're going to get in and try to talk to some of these companies which have been affected by this, and certainly get a sense of the flavor and where it's going. But I'll tell you one thing we're going to notice, Wolf, the minute we walk down there tomorrow morning, is the security. There are probably going to be a lot of buildings you are not going to be able to get close to tomorrow.

BLITZER: All right. We'll see how that impacts the markets, obviously, as well. A story that will be developing throughout the day tomorrow.

We'll take a quick break. Much more of our special coverage on what's going on in New York, northern New Jersey and Washington, D.C., heightened security level because of incredibly good, the federal government says, information. Stay with us.

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BLITZER: Welcome back to our special coverage. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. For those of you who may just be tuning in, a heightened level of security surrounding financial sectors in New York City, northern New Jersey, as well as Washington, D.C., including the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank in the nation's capital, Prudential Financial buildings in Newark, New Jersey and elsewhere in northern New Jersey and Citigroup buildings in New York City, as well as the New York Stock Exchange.

CNN's Sean Callebs is here in Washington. You have been checking in with people over at the World Bank, the IMF here in Washington. Sean, tell our viewers what you've learned.

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, clearly, the IMF, World Bank among the targets mentioned by Secretary Ridge a short while ago. When Ridge talked about the possibility of car bombs or truck bombs, of course that location, there you see it, 1818 8th Street, not terribly far from the White House. And the IMF, World Bank also in the past have been targeted by protesters for World Bank and IMF policies around the globe. So they are not unused to protesters, but certainly an international terrorist threat like this getting their concern.

We have a statement from Damien Sean Milberton (ph). He is the World Bank media manager, and he says, and I quote here, "World Bank security personnel received a full briefing from U.S. authorities earlier today in regard to the existence of an increased threat alert affecting the World Bank and other international financial institutions in Washington, D.C." He goes on to say, "the FBI, Secret Service and Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police are increasing their support to the bank as it enhances its security measures in response to the threat alert. There have been no specific threats against the World Bank, and we will be open for business tomorrow morning."

Also, Wolf, you remember Secretary Ridge also said that the al Qaeda terrorist organization is certainly trying to test the resolve of the United States. Ridge says that he hopes that employees at these institutions will go to work tomorrow. We can tell you that the word coming from World Bank, they expect their employees will show up for work tomorrow. They say, however, visitors and employees will expect new security measures that will be in effect tomorrow -- Wolf.

BLITZER: As you know, Sean, there are a lot of other buildings around the IMF and World Bank, buildings including federal buildings as well as private office buildings in that area. Are you getting information from District of Columbia authorities that they're taking special precautions in the entire neighboring -- in the entire neighborhood?

CALLEBS: That's a great point. We know that the World Bank -- it's a fabulous looking building, right off the street. So theoretically, it could be the kind of building that could be targeted with a somewhat greater ease than perhaps some of the other buildings in the area. There you see the glass structure there, right on the corner. And D.C. Police are working closely with the federal authorities, and they've also briefed the security officials at the World Bank. Certainly, this is something that they're all working hand in hand trying to do what they can.

Also, remember, that Secretary Ridge said that the security measures going into effect at not only the World Bank and IMF but all the financial institutions that apparently are being targeted will not be uniform, because these are buildings of different kind of structure, different kind of architecture, they're in different areas. So certainly you're not going to see some kind of uniform police agency ring or anything of that nature around those buildings. But without question, employees and visitors going to those institutions tomorrow will see a great deal of security.

BLITZER: As well they should. Sean Callebs reporting for us. Those of our viewers who have been to Washington, D.C. and know this area, Pennsylvania Avenue, a block or two or three from the White House, a heavily concentrated area. In fact, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund complex is there. Those buildings approaching George Washington University here in Washington, D.C. A very, very popular part of the city, only a few blocks away from Georgetown as well.

Let's bring in Ken Robinson, CNN military intelligence analyst. You've been studying what's going on. These security threats, what do you make of these developments today?

KEN ROBINSON, CNN ANALYST: Well, Wolf, one of the most important things is whether there's an actual threat, or whether it's a perceived threat. It costs the same. The efforts that are now have to be made by commercial business organizations and the federal, state and local police is going to impact over time, it's going to impact surveillance assets, it's going to impact the queuing that's going to occur with people just trying to go about their normal business. So from a terrorist standpoint, the threat, whether it be real or perceived, is effective.

BLITZER: You know the business about military interrogation, prisoners. As many of our viewers know, only in the past few days, Pakistan arrested a ring of suspected al Qaeda operatives, including the Tanzanian born Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani and 13 of his cohorts. They also found a computer and several disks.

Now, we heard from the secretary of homeland security, the information, the specific, credible information around this particular threat has been received only in the past few days, and we also heard him thank Pakistan for all of their cooperation, although he didn't say that this specific threat information came from the arrest of this Tanzanian and these other al Qaeda suspects.

But if I'm adding up two and two, it sounds like that could be the case. ROBINSON: Right. The first thing that came to my mind was Ghailani's arrest, because they what they do is they try to exploit the computers, the cell phones, the pocket litter, the friends, relatives and acquaintances. When they have 10 or 11 people, that then enables them to find out all the places where those 10 or 11 people communicated, and then from that they go and do raids in other locations. And they typically will make arrests and not announce the arrests, so that they can then exploit for a four-, five-day period whatever they have been able to find to get actionable intelligence to do something else.

Don't forget last week, a woman in McKalan (ph), Texas, was arrested, after she'd crossed a river from Mexico into the United States and was found with $6,000 in gold, and was on her way to New York.

BLITZER: Although Ridge flatly said that arrest was not connected to this specific warning, to these financial sectors, structures here in Washington, D.C. Do you think, though, based on past experience, the information that they would get in the immediate days after an arrest like this, assuming this might be the source of this information, is that all that reliable?

ROBINSON: Well, it's not a matter of reliable. It's a matter of it's all they have, and they have got to treat every nugget of information as if it may be the next thing that leads to a link that enables them to exploit and capture a big fish. Remember, that's how Saddam was captured. Saddam was captured through link analysis of arrests and interrogations which then narrowed down the geographic area, and then finally led them to the fat man, which led them to the hole where he was hiding.

BLITZER: And one of the things that Jeanne Meserve, our homeland security correspondent was reporting earlier, earlier a U.S. government officials as saying the information surrounding all of this intelligence was chilling in the sense that they have specific information about casing these various buildings, monitoring how security works over there, the parking lots, the various entry points, all of which suggests that this could be a plot in the works for who knows, weeks, months, maybe even years.

ROBINSON: Most likely years. Remember, when we exploded the terror on tape series with Nic Robertson, we had journals which were found in Afghanistan from terrorist training camps. And in those were specific laid out casings of locations, of individuals, when they eat their breakfast, when they travel to and from, high officials in foreign governments. They're very specific, they're very thorough. And when you look at their training manuals, it mirror images many of the same types of training manuals that are used in the West to conduct surveillance and surveillance detection.

BLITZER: If you're giving advice, and you're a security expert, to these various buildings and the employers, the people who work there, what do you tell them about showing up for work tomorrow?

ROBINSON: I think they should show up to work. But I don't believe that we should be driven by color codes. I think we should be driven by vigilance, because it's complacency that gets you in trouble in terms of your security. Because what they're going to look for is they're going to look for the soft target that's vulnerable and easy to go after. They're not going to go after a hard target. And there are symbolic targets. And we can't treat al Qaeda like it's the boogeyman and stop living. But there has to be vigilance.

BLITZER: Ken Robinson, thanks very much.

I want to go back to CNN's Sean Callebs. You're getting some more information on what's going on here in Washington, Sean?

CALLEBS: Yeah, we talked about it just a moment ago, the fact that basically a lot of this area is very -- a lot of buildings very close together. Even though the targets are the IMF and the World Bank, as announced by Secretary Ridge, this is something that has really concerned the entire city, and not the least of which lawmakers.

We have some information gathered by our congressional correspondent, Ed Henry. Capitol Police are right now holding -- or will be very shortly, within about 10, 15 minutes, a rare emergency Sunday meeting, in an effort to coordinate plans to protect the U.S. Capitol, members of Congress in the wake of Homeland Security Secretary Ridge's recent announcement about raising the threat level to financial institutions.

Capitol Police have already ordered 12-hour shifts for their officers and have increased outside patrol in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. And while specific threat concern is focused at the financial centers, again, they point out that this is an area that is not terribly far from the White House, not terribly far from the U.S. Capitol. We saw that graphic just a short while ago. To quote one sergeant, "it's a small city." So the threat to one part is a threat to the entire city.

Meanwhile, Senate Governmental Affairs Chairman Susan Collins was briefed today, as well, by secretary -- by Homeland Security's Asa Hutchinson about Ridge's announcement. And she went on to say, "I commend the secretary for sharing the unprecedented amount of information with state and local law enforcement agencies about this extremely serious threat."

That coming from a release by her office. And usually, Wolf, I think we should point out to our viewers, Congress is on a five- to six-week leave at this time, but because of the importance of the 9/11 hearings, the information that came out from the 10-member bipartisan commission, they are holding hearings. The House is scheduled to begin its hearings on August 3. Of course, the Senate began its hearings on just this past Friday. So there are indeed members of Congress up and working on Capitol Hill -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, CNN's Sean Callebs, thanks very much. I want to alert our viewers, we're standing by for a news conference in New York City. The mayor, Michael Bloomberg, the police commissioner, Ray Kelly, they will be speaking to the news media. You're looking at this live picture from City Hall in New York. We will go there live. We expect that to happen right around the top of the hour, in the next few minutes.

We'll take a quick break. More of our special coverage when we come back.

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BLITZER: Want to alert our viewers, we are standing by for that news conference in New York City. The mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, the police commissioner, Ray Kelly. They will be speaking to reporters shortly. CNN will have live coverage.

Let's bring back the District of Columbia's Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton. Give us your bottom line perspective right now. The IMF in Washington, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, between the local and federal law enforcement, is the District of Columbia prepared, God forbid, for some sort of terror attack?

NORTON: Wolf, these are the two buildings that have been most heavily targeted now for years.

BLITZER: The IMF and the World Bank.

NORTON: The IMF and the World Bank. It's where all those demonstrations were held, that's where our police have -- are practiced in intelligence and physical guarding of the facilities, in dealing with traffic around it. So if there had to be two targets, these are the targets that we're best prepared to defend. And if we're prepared to defend them, it means we're prepared to defend the targets around them, including dealing with what could be a terrible traffic jam tomorrow.

BLITZER: Now, these are brand new buildings, the IMF, the World Bank. These structures have gone up only in recent years. So presumably, they do have some built-in security precautions that went in with these buildings.

NORTON: And that's the good news. That these are not old buildings that had to be retrofitted. These are buildings that went up with terrorism in mind.

BLITZER: The whole threat to federal buildings, the White House, Capitol Hill, the Pentagon, we're very familiar with that. A lot of people aren't familiar with the threats that simply go along with living in the District of Columbia.

NORTON: We're overprepared in a real sense in the public sector. We're underprepared in private sector buildings. Not like the IMF, not like the financial sector, but like the ordinary office buildings. I mentioned earlier that there has been no guidance to how to deal with even training of security guards.

BLITZER: A lot of work left to be gone. Eleanor Holmes Norton, she's been kind enough to spend some time with us here in our special coverage. Thanks very much, Delegate Holmes Norton.

BLITZER: I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. We're going to continue our special coverage. Coming up at the top of the hour, standing by for the news conference, the mayor of New York City, the police commissioner. They will be speaking to reporters. CNN will have live coverage. CNN's Fredricka Whitfield will pick up our anchoring at the top of the hour. Until then, thanks very much for joining us. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

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