The advisory was sent out to all local police agencies and was based on uncorroborated reports from detained al-Qaida and Taliban fighters held at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay.
“Law enforcement agencies are encouraged to make contact with appropriate Jewish community representatives and officials and trucking and fuel delivery facilities that operate fuel tanker trucks or commercial fueling stations and emphasize the need to report suspicious activities or persons,” the warning read.
Since September 11, the government has had to make delicate decisions regarding when to alert the public to uncorroborated threats. President Bush said today “Well, any time we get any kind of threat that we think is serious, we’ll put it out, and people need to respond accordingly.”
No specific time or location for such an attack was given by the detainees, an unnamed official told the Associated Press. This advisory, rather, was based on intelligence as unspecified and as unconfirmed as the intelligence that prompted the FBI to issue similar alerts, concerning shopping malls, scuba divers, and banks in recent weeks.
Bush officials said the alert was not meant to cause people to change their routines. “This is just an effort to let everyone know that we’ve picked up this information. We’re not telling them to change their routine. We’re not telling people not to go to synagogues, not to go to schools,” an unidentified Bush administration official told Reuters.
The warning was sent Friday across the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System, an electronic system that allows the FBI to send alerts or messages to police agencies in all 50 states simultaneously. The FBI’s 56 field offices across the country were also advised of the warning.
The nation’s overall alert status did not change from code yellow, the third-highest stage of alert, where it has remained for several months.
At the White House today, leaders of several major unions offered to help with homeland security. Teamsters head James Hoffa said truckers would watch for anything suspicious and the head of the Seafarers Union made a similar offer to keep watch at sea, and in U.S. ports.