No Change in U.S. Alert Status Because of Bin Laden Death, Homeland Security Says

May 02--REPORTING FROM WASHINGTON -- Although security has been stepped up at airports and other transit hubs around the country, the nation's alert status will remain the same because the government has no information about a specific threat to the United States, the Department of Homeland Security said Monday.

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FOR THE RECORD

An earlier version of this post incorrectly referred to the National Terrorism Advisory System as the National Terrorism Alert System.

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The death of Osama bin Laden presents the first real test of the department's new alert system, which was designed to restore the public's confidence in government-issued alerts.

Alerts will be sent out only when the government has what the agency calls "specific or credible" information to relay to the public.

"We remain at a heightened state of vigilance, but the Department of Homeland Security does not intend to issue an NTAS alert at this time," said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano in a statement Monday, referring to the National Terrorism Advisory System unveiled on April 20 to replace the old color-coded alert system.

"No current alerts," read the website for the new Homeland Security alert system early Monday.

Airports across the country were on heightened alert Monday. Patrols by Homeland Security officers and local police at and around airports were increased. Additional Transportation Security Administration agents were called into many airports to increase staffing at security lines.

Officials are concerned about possible attacks against mass transit, including metro systems and trains. So far, officials say there is no information about specific plots.

Counter-terrorism efforts "do not fixate on one individual," said Napolitano, who added that Bin Laden's death changed little about how the Department of Homeland Security approached the threat of violent extremism.

Department officials scrapped the five-color system, created in the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, because the alerts typically said little about the supposed threat or what authorities were doing to lower the danger.

brian.bennett@latimes.com

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