GUAM ON HIGH TERRORISM ALERT

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HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Mar. 19) - Residents can expect tighter security at government facilities and public places, according to local Office of Homeland Security officials.

The island's terrorism threat level was raised yesterday to orange, the second-highest category of risk, hours after President Bush issued an ultimatum to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Bush, in a televised address, told the Iraqi president he and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours or face military action.

The president warned Americans that war could lead to retaliatory strikes by terrorists on U.S. interests at home and abroad, and ordered increased security at airports and along major U.S. waterways.

Gov. Felix Camacho, in a press release, said he wanted to assure island residents the local government is "taking all necessary steps to ensure your safety."

Prior to Bush's address, Lt. Gov. Kaleo Moylan participated in a conference call with other governors and U.S. Office of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. Moylan said the issue of possible terrorist attacks was discussed.

"They said that with the impending threat of war there will be retaliation on a small and large scale and that we need to take precautionary measures to protect our assets -- power, water (and) our ports of entry," Moylan said.

Frank Blas Jr., the local Homeland Security adviser, met with agency directors and business owners in separate discussions yesterday on steps that need to be taken, such as the use of security badges and restricted parking.

Moylan said the Office of Civil Defense emergency center has been partially activated, and the rise to orange security level means an automatic increase in personnel, which will cost the cash-strapped local government more money.

Blas said Camacho gave Homeland Security the authority to transfer government personnel -- such as police officers, customs agents, port and airport police -- to help protect the island. GovGuam will also be working with the military to secure the island.

Both Navy spokeswoman Lt. Thurraya Kent and Andersen Air Force Base spokeswoman Lt. Kim Melchor said they could not provide specifics about their base security measures, but said their missions remain the same and that security is a priority at each facility and for the island.

Moylan said Ridge is working to get federal security funding for states and territories. Blas said the National Guard has been kept abreast of the situation but has yet to be activated.

Sen. Rory Respicio, chairman of the Legislature's federal affairs and military committee, said he will hold an oversight hearing Thursday morning to review the progress of the island's security measures.

March 19, 2003

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com

 

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