Lingle bumps alert status to yellow

Acknowledging the global rise in terrorist threats expected as the U.S. moves resolutely toward an attack on Iraq, Gov. Linda Lingle today announced that the state’s security alert status will be raised from blue to yellow at 3 p.m. — the hour the clock runs out on Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

The decision follows yesterday’s move by the Department of Homeland Security to raise the federal homeland security alert status to “orange” and implement “Operation Liberty Shield.”

The last time the national homeland security alert status was raised in early February, Lingle — in consultation with her advisors — decided against raising the state’s level. While reports later surfaced that Pearl Harbor was a terrorist target, state and federal officials concluded the reports were not credible.

“Although there is still no credible or direct threat to the State of Hawai`i, we are aware of increased terrorist activity worldwide due to the initiation of conflict with Iraq,” Lingle said today in a news release. “It would be prudent for the citizens of Hawai`i to be at this elevated level of awareness.”

Hawai`i adjutant general Maj. General Robert Lee echoed Lingle’s assurance that there is no known specific threat to Hawaii.

“With increased threats worldwide, raising Hawai`i’s advisory status is a prudent step to take,” Lee said.

Under the state’s Homeland Security Advisory System, the yellow condition indicates an elevated risk of a terrorist attack, and means there will be increased surveillance of critical locations, coordination of emergency plans, assessment and refinement of protective measures, and implementation of contingency and emergency response plans.

Details on these measures will be implemented are not being released for security reasons, according to the release.

“The heightened security level means our homeland security team will implement numerous precautionary measures to increase our state’s readiness to prevent terrorist attacks, which will ultimately protect our residents and visitors,” Lingle said.

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