Old Wives' Tales
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Toxin du jour
Claim: California governor Gray Davis announced that a credible threat existed about planned terrorist activity against major bridges in California.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2001]
The bridges identified by Davis as possible targets were the Golden Gate and Bay Bridge, both in San Francisco, the Vincent Thomas Bridge at the Port of Los Angeles, and the Coronado Bridge in San Diego.
The FBI, however, said in a statement that authorities had not yet corroborated the information but decided to issue a warning.
"Reportedly, unspecified groups are targeting suspension bridges on the West Coast," the FBI said in a statement. Six "incidents" were planned during rush hour between Friday,
FBI special agent Matt McLaughlin told CNN the information came to the FBI through another intelligence agency and that the FBI "is currently working vigorously to determine the credibility of the information."
The Justice Department took the rare step of releasing a statement from the FBI Counterterrorism Division sent via the National Threat Warning System. As summarized by CNN:
The FBI is in possession of uncorroborated information indicating the possibility of additional terrorist attacks against the United States, specifically the West Coast," the statement said.The FBI advisory concerned attacks on "West Coast bridges" and was sent to eight different states however; it did not specify either California or particular bridges within California as potential targets of attack, and
"Reportedly, unspecified groups are targeting suspension bridges on the West Coast. Six incidents are to take place during rush hour beginning Friday,
"No further information about the alleged attack is known at this time," the statement continued. "The FBI is attempting to verify the validity of this report. Recipients will be updated as events warrant."
Several days later, the FBI issued another message stating that the intelligence behind the bridge attack warning had not been credible:
The FBI concluded Tuesday that the raw intelligence behind last week's warning that terrorists might attack West Coast bridges was notBarbara "bridge mix" Mikkelson
The FBI received uncorroborated intelligence last week suggesting terrorists might strike suspension bridges on the West Coast between last Friday and Wednesday and issued a private warning to law enforcement in eight states. The warning also went to many companies in the region through the FBI's Infragard network that alerts industry to threats.
California Gov. Gray Davis then took the information public the next day, suggesting federal officials had "credible evidence" of a possible terror attack on four bridges in his state.
National Guard troops took up positions on the bridges, and transportation officials beefed up security from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco to the Holland Tunnel in New York.
But agents who looked further into the raw intelligence found no evidence to corroborate the threat, officials said. They issued an updated message to police nationwide on Tuesday.
"Recipients should be advised that FBI investigation has determined that the threat to suspension bridges is not deemed credible," the message said.
Last updated: 7 March 2008
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