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The announcement to end all announcements

By Mark Vorzimmer
web posted October 21, 2002

Worldwide Caution Public Announcement to End All Worldwide Caution Public Announcements
October 21, 2002

This Worldwide Caution Public Announcement supersedes all previously issued Worldwide Caution Public Announcements, regardless of date issued. This Worldwide Caution Public Announcement is also issued as a standing Worldwide Caution Public Announcement and will take the place of all future Worldwide Caution Public Announcements, owing to the fact that the world has changed (see special 9/11 tribute editions of People, Newsweek and Mother Jones). In light of the recent terrorism attributed to Usama bin Laden and other reports of threats to American interests, this Worldwide Caution is being issued to alert Americans to the need to remain extra-super-vigilant and to remind them of the continuing threat of terrorist actions that may target civilian or public officials. It cannot be determined when this Worldwide Caution should expire, or if in fact American interests are already in a heightened state of vigilance stemming from previously issued Worldwide Caution Public Announcements; hence this newly issued Standing Announcement to end future announcements. This Standing Worldwide Caution Public Announcement will be reissued from time to time as conditions warrant, change, or stay the same.

The U.S. Government continues to receive credible indications that extremist groups and individuals are planning additional terrorist actions against U.S. interests. Such actions may include, but are not limited to, smoking cigarettes in public places, blurring the line between church and state, operating heavy equipment after taking medication, and threatening endangered species and the environment. Because security and security awareness have been elevated amongst all U.S. interests at home and abroad, terrorists may target U.S. interests in locations that we can now no longer anticipate. We remind American citizens, as a result of this newly equalized condition of awareness, to remain extra-super-vigilant with regard to their personal security and to exercise extreme caution, until such conditions should change or one sector or segment begins to lessen their security or awareness.

Terrorist groups do not distinguish between official and civilian targets. Attacks on places of worship and schools, and the murders of private American citizens, demonstrate that as security is increased at official U.S. facilities, terrorism has been displaced to softer targets. These may include facilities where Americans are generally known to congregate or visit, such as clubs, restaurants, places of worship, schools or outdoor recreation events. However, since terrorist groups do not distinguish between official and civilian targets (see earlier statement), Americans should increase their security awareness wherever they are, go, stay or are located. Wherever Americans are, they should consider avoiding or passing through very quickly, or switch to other locations where Americans generally do not go, stay or congregate. American citizens may be targeted for kidnapping, torture, or torture and then assassination, or variations of all three. There have been no reported cases of assassination and then torture, or assassination, torture and then kidnapping, but some reports of Americans being targeted with large commercial aircraft flown into places of their employment.

U.S. Government facilities worldwide remain at a heightened state of alert, since it is not clear when it would be appropriate to downgrade or lessened such a heightened state, from such a high state. These facilities may temporarily suspend public services or permanently close as a result of terrorist attacks, warnings or general fear of such attacks or warnings. U.S. Embassies and Consulates will make every effort to provide emergency services to American citizens, or when closing, alert American citizens of such closures through U.S. broadcasting interests such as CNN (which may or may not continue to broadcast because of their identification as a U.S. interest, and consequent subjection to terrorist attacks). Regardless, Americans are urged to monitor news broadcasts and maintain contact with the nearest American Embassy or Consulate, if open and/or broadcasting.

Since this Worldwide Caution Public Announcement was meant to end all future such announcements, we will no longer be updating our Consular Information Program documents, available on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov. In addition to information on the Internet, U.S. travelers can hear valuable recorded announcements like this one by calling the Department of State in Washington, D.C. at 202-647-5225 from their touch-tone telephone, or receive information by automated telefax by dialing 202-647-3000 from their fax machine. ESR

Mark Vorzimmer is an occasional contributor to Enter Stage Right.

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