WASHINGTON (AP) -- Two weeks after putting the nation on high alert, President Bush and his advisers are discussing whether to lower the nationwide terror alert back to code yellow because of disruptions in the al-Qaida terrorist network, government officials say.
Bush raised the alert to orange -- the second-highest level -- after U.S. intelligence warned of a "high risk" of a terrorist attack in connection with the Sept. 11 anniversary two weeks ago.
Officials stressed that Americans should remain alert; even at code yellow, the nation faces a significant risk of attack.
The change could come as early as Tuesday after Bush meets with senior administration officials who are reviewing new intelligence, weighing the potential for attack on U.S. targets and preparing a recommendation for the president, said two officials familiar with the deliberations. They spoke on condition of anonymity.
In the days leading up to the anniversary, U.S. intelligence agencies warned the White House that terrorists operating in several South Asian countries and linked to al-Qaida hoped to explode car bombs or launch other attacks on U.S. facilities abroad.
While there was no direct evidence of a plot against the United States, U.S. intelligence noted a similar pattern before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and urged Bush to raise the alert level.
Bush may soon return the level to yellow because of "some disruptions in plots and operations" of terrorists, one of the officials said. Several developments on the terrorism front -- some public, others confidential -- could prompt Bush to lower the alert level, the officials said.
The advances include:
--The Sept. 11 arrest in Pakistan of Ramzi Binalshibh, one of the suspected planners of the suicide hijackings a year earlier.
--The arrest of six suspected members of a New York terrorism cell.
--The detention of a Sudanese pilot being held in North Carolina while investigators determine whether he was plotting to fly a plane into a U.S. target.
In addition, the Sept. 11 anniversary passed without incident, the officials noted.
Homeland security director Tom Ridge, FBI Director Robert Mueller, CIA Director George Tenet and Attorney General John Ashcroft advised Bush on Sept. 10 to raise the alert level based in part on intelligence from a high-level al-Qaida operative in custody, Omar al-Farouq.
Those same officials, who meet daily with Bush, are close to seeking a return to yellow.
Any new intelligence that raises alarms could force Bush's advisers to table talks about reducing the threat level, the officials said.
The warning level can be upgraded for the entire country or for specific regions or economic sectors -- such as the nuclear industry.
Ridge put the nation on yellow alert when he imposed the system in March.
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