Washington — The Bush administration left the terror threat level unchanged Saturday, despite warning state and local officials that a videotape message from Osama bin Laden may portend a new terrorist attack.
"We don't have to go to (code level) orange to take action in response either to these tapes or just general action to improve security around the country," Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge told reporters.
Ridge urged Americans to go ahead with plans to vote in Tuesday's elections without undue concern.
His words and appearance both seemed designed to convey a lack of alarm. The nation's top anti-terrorism official made his remarks in casual clothes standing outside his office, rather than at a formal news conference of the type he and other administration officials have conveyed word of increased danger in the past.
Ridge's agency and the FBI issued a memo late Friday to local and state officials, hours after a new videotape of bin Laden surfaced.
"We remain concerned about al-Qaida's interest in attacking the American homeland, and we cannot discount the possibility that the video may be intended to promote violence or serve as a signal for an attack," it said.