Americans should ring in the new year without undue worry about a terrorist attack, the White House homeland security adviser said Thursday.
"People ought to come, have a good time, they ought to feel confident," Frances Fragos Townsend said in a nationally broadcast television interview.
Townsend said that while the Bush administration takes every threat seriously, it has heard of no plot or plan that should cause alarm as the nation celebrates New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.
"We hear statements all the time" from the al-Qaida terrorist network, among others, she said on ABC's "Good Morning America." But Townsend added that "rarely are they attached to actions."
Asked specifically if people should be concerned about threats by Saddam Hussein loyalists in Iraq to attack U.S. interests, Townsend said Saddam had "the kind of legal due process that many of his victims were denied."
"We don't see any specific uptick in threats," she added. Asked about his letter urging supporters to take a conciliatory stance, Townsend said. "I think it's hard to tell how it plays. At this point in the process, it's hard to take anything he says very seriously."
Townsend said that she and other administration officials have been coordinating closely with local law enforcement agencies in preparation for the New Year's celebrations, noting she had spent a day with New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, reports AP.
"They laid out what their security plan is. New York is a model of how a large city, an urban government, approaches this," she said.
"Everybody (in law enforcement) works on New Years' Eve. People ought to come, have a good time, ought to feel confident. ... We feel real confident of the steps police departments are taking."
Townsend said that federal officials "don't see a particular threat geared toward" observations of the New Year's holiday.
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