Bush administration officials from the president on down sought to reassure Americans Friday that they are doing everything possible to prevent another terrorist attack.
President Bush went to FBI headquarters in Washington to outline the administration's plans for a new Terrorist Threat Integration Center that will pool the intelligence resources of both the FBI and the CIA
"It will help us do everything we can to say clearly to the American people, we are working overtime to protect you. We are doing everything in our power to make sure the homeland is secure," he said.
It has been a week now since the government raised the terror threat level to orange, indicating a high risk of a terrorist attack. Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge told reporters that U-S officials have not received any additional information about a threat at this time that would cause them to either raise or lower the level of risk. "But I would like to remind everyone again that the information we have to work with, more often than not, is very vague. It does not tell us when, where or how the terrorists might try to harm us again," he said.
Secretary Ridge also urged people not to panic over the terror alert. He said it is a good idea for people to stock up on emergency supplies like food and water. But Secretary Ridge says it is premature for people to begin sealing up rooms in anticipation of a possible chemical or biological terrorist attack:
"God forbid, there may come a time when the local authorities, national authorities or someone will tell you that you have got to use them [emergency supplies]. But for the time being, we just don't want folks sealing up their doors, or sealing up their windows," he said.
Other public officials around the country were urging Americans to go on with their lives, in spite of the heightened alert status. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg says New Yorkers, who bore the brunt of the 2001 terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center towers, are taking the latest warnings in stride. And, he had this invitation for tourists on N-B-C's Today program:
"You should come here. You should take your kids to school. You should go to the museums, you should go to the theater, go to the restaurants and enjoy yourself and don't let the terrorists beat us because of a few reports in the newspapers," he said.
Back in Washington, opposition Democrats in Congress continued to urge the president to provide more money for local communities to implement their homeland security plans.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi says the money is needed for so-called "first responders", police, fire and medical personnel, who would be the first to come to the public's aid in the event of a terrorist attack:
"With the administration preparing for war in Iraq, and America on high alert, this is an extremely dangerous time in our country's history. It is indefensible that the administration has not made funding for our first responders (police, fire and emergency medical personnel) the top priority," she said.
Friday's effort by the administration to calm the public's fears of terrorism come in the wake of opinion polls suggesting that there is more apprehension about terrorism now than at any point since the September 11 terrorist attacks.