Sec’y Ridge raised the terror alert level to orange today. (If it’s still that way, enjoy the Ernie and Ashcroft alerts on this page. If it’s not, enjoy whatever we are at right now.)
Ridge claims that there is the strongest “chatter” about attacks since 9/11. Apparently, the chatter is that Al Queda is wanting to use passenger aircraft again as missles against US targets before the end of the year.
There is some speculation that Al Queda agents are now pilots of flights to/from overseas and that may be how they could infiltrate US airspace again. I also heard that LA, NYC and DC are places are taking extraordinary defensive postures, presumably due to inside information given themir leaders.
Ridge has indicated he will leave the alert level at orange until at least the end of January.
I heard a story of an airline passenger at LaGuardia Airport who, after hearing that the alert level was raised, and that passenger planes were potential weapons, wanted a refund for his ticket. The airline told him that since the alert level wasn’t red, they couldn’t do that. He travelled anyway.
I still think it’s crappy, though, of the airline to not respect the fears of the public. I know they’ve got bottom lines to deal with, but the number of refunds would surely be small, and there is likely much PR to be gained from being the “nice guy”.
Given their statement about what they would do if the alert level were red, I wonder if part of the red level is the grounding of the passenger fleet.