The increased security, aimed at preventing a terrorist attack during the gatherings, will include a resumption of air combat patrols over the nation’s capital and other major cities.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said that while the U.S. did not have any specific threat information, police and other authorities needed to closely monitor any large gathering of Americans.
“As a precaution, the law enforcement community, the federal government, are joining together to take precautions around the country to help protect citizens against any generalized threat,” Fleischer said.
The State Department issued a warning for Americans abroad to be cautious during the July Fourth period.
“The U.S. Government continues to receive credible indications that extremist individuals are planning additional terrorist actions against U.S. interests. Such actions may be imminent and include suicide operations,” the State Department warning issued July First reads. “We have no further information on specific targets, timing or method of attack. We remind American citizens to remain vigilant with regard to their personal security and to exercise caution.”
The FBI on Wednesday advised law enforcement agencies of the international warning and of possible heightened communications between possible terrorist operatives abroad. The latest advisory encouraged police departments to “be vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the FBI.”
Despite the increased security efforts in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere, Fleischer said the president believed Americans should still feel comfortable attending events throughout the country.
“The president of the United States will encourage people to gather, to celebrate, to enjoy America’s independence,” Fleischer said. “The law enforcement of the United States will take care of the worrying.”
In Washington, where some 500,000 are expected to attend a concert and fireworks display on the National Mall, police are finishing assembly of 24 screening stations to check all people entering Thursday’s event. Capital-area police agencies plan to deploy some 2,000 uniformed officers and to utilize a high-tech system of cameras to monitor the crowd for potential problems.
Other major celebrations are also intensifying their efforts in an attempt to prevent a potential attack.