WASHINGTON (AP) - The Bush administration is considering lowering the federal terrorism alert level, government officials said Friday.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said a review of intelligence regarding terrorist threats is under way to determine if the level should be reduced from orange to yellow.
Orange indicates a high risk of terrorist attack, while yellow is elevated. It's the middle level on a five-color scale. The lowest two levels, green and blue, and the highest, red, have not been used since the system was adopted in March 2002.
The alert level was raised on May 20 after terrorists believed linked to al-Qaida struck in Saudi Arabia and Morocco. Seventy-five people were killed, including eight Americans.
Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said it was feared the incidents could mark the beginning of a wave of worldwide attacks that could include U.S. targets.
With the alert, government authorities and businesses stepped up security, particularly at large gatherings over the Memorial Day weekend. Lowering the alert level would allow authorities to scale back some security measures, a move favored by many local governments struggling with budget shortfalls.
The terror alert has been at orange four times since the system was put in place. No domestic attacks have occurred during any of the alerts, which Homeland Security officials believe serve to deter would-be terrorists from striking.
Previous alerts lasted roughly a month.
U.S. officials suspect al-Qaida's top leaders coordinated the Morocco and Saudi Arabia attacks to demonstrate al-Qaida still is viable.
Many of those leaders are believed to be in Iran, although Osama bin Laden is thought to be in the remote border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Their activities, along with information gleaned from prisoner interrogations and intercepted communications, played a key role in raising the alert, U.S. counterterrorism officials said.
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