- WASHINGTON -- National landmarks
such as the Washington Monument, Ellis Island and the Gateway Arch in St.
Louis could be shut down.
- Planes could be grounded, trains could stop running,
and bridges and tunnels could be closed. U.S. borders might be sealed off,
and roadblocks might be set up on interstates and other major highways.
- The United States is prepared to go into lockdown mode
if the government should raise the nation's terror alert to Code Red, the
highest threat level for terrorism. Code Red means there is a severe risk
of terrorist attack, or that an attack is imminent or may already be under
- "It essentially means you stop doing everything
except protecting yourself," said Dave McIntyre, deputy director of
the Anser Institute for Homeland Security, a nonprofit research group in
- Homeland security officials have put Americans on notice
to brace for the possibility of terrorist attacks while the country is
at war with Iraq. The threat level was raised to orange, the second highest,
just two days before the war began March 19.
- "There are no plans, nor have their been any discussions,
about elevating the threat level to Code Red," said Gordon Johndroe,
spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security.
- To trigger such an alert, U.S. intelligence would have
to be "very specific, credible, corroborated [and] provide us with
information such as time, date, location" of a possible attack, Johndroe
- Still, federal, state and local officials across the
country are going over emergency plans to be prepared in the event that
the terror level should be raised to red.
- Homeland security officials have been vague about what
protective measures might be taken under Code Red.
- But Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge has said such
measures might be similar to those put in place Sept. 11, 2001, which means
planes could be grounded, borders closed, government buildings shut down
and road and rail traffic curtailed.
- The specific response would depend on the nature of the
- It's doubtful that the entire country would be placed
under a Code Red alert, McIntyre said. A more realistic scenario is that
a red alert would result from a specific threat to a particular region
- If, for example, there were a terrorist threat against
the trucking industry in the Southeast, truck traffic might be temporarily
halted in that region but be allowed to continue elsewhere, McIntyre said.
- Code Red wouldn't mean automatic closure of the Washington
Monument and other national landmarks. But superintendents at national
parks have been advised that shutting down the facilities is an option
at their discretion, said David Barna, a spokesman for the National Park
- Security was tightened at eight high-profile landmarks,
including the Washington Monument, the Liberty Bell pavilion and the Statue
of Liberty, after Sept. 11 because they are symbols of democracy and are
thus potential terrorist targets, Barna said.
- Visitors at those landmarks now face airport-security
type measures, such as metal detectors, bag searches and checks for explosive
devices. Patrols also have been stepped up since the terror alert was raised
- But Barna said the landmarks would remain open if possible
because they are places of solace that should be available to the public
in times of war.
- A Code Red alert also serves as an advisory to state
and local officials, who then must decide whether to put in place protective
measures. Emergency plans will vary with each community, but might include
calling up the National Guard, closing government buildings and shutting
down key roads and bridges.
- Some schools have plans to lock down their facilities
during Code Red and already have begun advising parents not to rush to
pick up their children.
- Residents would be advised to stay away from gathering
places, such as sporting events, and listen to the radio or television
for instructions. They should be prepared to leave if necessary, but should
remain in their homes or offices until they are instructed to leave, McIntyre
- "The worst thing you can do is to flee without reason,"
which could create gridlock on the streets and keep emergency vehicles
from getting through, he said.
- Emergency measures taken under Code Red would be expensive
and aren't intended to remain in effect for extended periods, McIntyre