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Police Put on High Alert for US Independence Day Holiday - 2002-07-03

The White House is urging all Americans to join in the celebration of the Independence Day holiday, despite concerns that have led to a heightened security presence for the Fourth of July. President Bush will spend part of the holiday visiting a small town in the state of West Virginia.

This will be an Independence Day unlike any other. There will be fireworks in the skies over many towns and cities. There will also be combat air patrols.

Almost 10 months after the terrorist attacks on the United States, the American people are celebrating the nation's birthday, a holiday marked by large crowds and patriotic fervor.

White House Spokesman Ari Fleischer emphasizes it just makes sense to increase security on this most American of holidays.

"The government does not have any specific information about any threats of a specific nature," he said. "But what we do have is a generalized sense of awareness there are terrorists who desire to hit and to strike the United States particularly well attended, populated events."

Mr. Fleischer noted the government is taking the same sort of precautions taken during the Salt Lake City Olympics, only on a national scale. He said, "The law enforcement community, the FBI, the federal government are joining together to take precautions around the country to help protect American citizens from any kind of generalized threat that we may think has potential."

The continual combat air patrols over New York and Washington that were halted a few months ago are being resumed for the Fourth of July, and expanded to other areas. There will be a much higher police and FBI presence during the holiday. And at the White House, the Homeland Security Council will monitor events at about 2,000 events across the country.

The message from the Bush administration to the American people is clear: let law enforcement do the worrying and watching, while you enjoy the holiday. "We don't let the terrorists win by canceling America's holidays," said Mr. Boucher.

President Bush has personally urged Americans to take part in the celebration and will be joining the festivities in a small town in the state of West Virginia. Mr. Fleischer says his message is going to focus on the strengths that unite and bind the nation, particularly in a time of war.