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US defends terror alert -

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US defends terror alert

Reporter: Norman Hermant

TONY JONES: In the US, the White House is on the defensive over the latest terror advisory alert.

There's growing criticism of Sunday's decision to boost the threat level for the financial sector
after the government confirmed it acted on Al Qaeda documents that were three years old.

Still, the Department of Homeland Security insists it was the right move.

Meanwhile, Britain says a series of terror arrests in that country are not connected to the latest
alert in America.

Norman Hermant reports.

NORMAN HERMANT: When the Statue of Liberty re-opened for the first time since the World Trade
Centre attacks, along with all the pomp, there was plenty of this - security, seemingly everywhere
since the terror alert level was raised on the weekend.

But with revelations that almost all of the Al Qaeda documents that prompted the new alert are at
least three years old, more and more critics say Howard Dean got it right a few days ago.

HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DEMOCRAT PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am concerned that every time something
happens that's not good for President Bush, he plays this trump card, which is terrorism.

His whole campaign is based on the notion that, "I can keep you safe. Therefore in times of
difficulty for America, stick with me." And then out comes Tom Ridge.

NORMAN HERMANT: But the man who ordered blanket security for Wall Street and other possible
financial targets says the criticism is way off base.

TOM RIDGE, US HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We don't do politics in the Department of Homeland

The detail, the sophistication, the thoroughness of this information, if you had access to it,
you'd say we did the right thing.

NORMAN HERMANT: Britain is trying to distance a series of sweeps in that country from the latest US

In raids which included pulling suspects out of cars in traffic, 13 people were arrested in
Blackburn, Luton, Hertfordshire and London, all accused of planning acts of terrorism.

The arrests come as three British citizens held at Guantanamo Bay released a report alleging abuse

All three were returned to the UK in March after more than two years in US custody.

Among the charges - that they were kept in cages infested with rats and in a cell smeared with

GARETH PEIRCE, LAWYER FOR RELEASED DETAINEES: There wasn't a single method that wasn't used to
break their will, to make them confess to something they were not guilty of, and all three did.

NORMAN HERMANT: Abuse charges were also on the agenda in the US, where the court martial of Private
Lindy England, now seven months pregnant, is under way.

She is notorious for these images that show her smiling with Iraqi prisoners.

She has told investigators the pictures were taken for fun.

Her lawyers have said, like other soldiers charged, she was just following orders.

Norman Hermant, Lateline.

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