As war with Iraq appears imminent, the Homeland Security Department has raised the national terror alert and announced a series of security measures called "Operation Liberty Shield."
Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge told reporters in Washington Tuesday there will be extra security at U.S. borders, ports, airports and railways. He said governors have been asked to deploy the National Guard and other security officers at key sites.
Ridge said security will increase at petroleum, chemical and nuclear facilities. He said steps are also being taken to protect financial networks.
There will be more inspections of imported foods, and state and local health departments are being asked to report any unusual illnesses.
People seeking asylum from Iraq and more than 30 other countries will be held for background checks. Ridge said the U.S. wants to make sure their claims are legit.
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Operation Liberty Shield Increased security at major U.S. ports and waterways, including more Coast Guard patrols, escorts of passenger ships and additional sea marshals. Greater surveillance and monitoring of borders. Increased screenings of vehicles and cargo, and more interviews of people crossing borders. People from nations where al-Qaida and other terrorist groups operate or have sympathizers who have applied for asylum will be detained until U.S. authorities determine the validity of their claims. More law enforcement personnel and patrols at airports. Airlines have been told to review the validity of all IDs for personnel with access to secure areas. Temporary flight restrictions put in place over Washington, D.C., New York City and certain other unidentified U.S. cities. Governors asked to provide additional police or National Guard troops at selected bridges. Railroad companies asked to increase security at major facilities and rail hubs. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is requiring all licensed users of radioactive material to take additional security measures. Increased security at chemical facilities, nuclear power plants and key electric grids. Monitoring of Internet for signs of cyber-terrorism, hacking and "state-sponsored information warfare." State and local health departments, hospitals and medical care providers urged to report any unusual diseases or disease patterns. Enhanced inspection of imported food.
Source: The Associated Press contributed to this report.