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Bridges on West Coast threatened with terrorist attacks
Governor Gray Davis of California announced on Nov. 1 that state officials had received a “credible threat” of attacks on major bridges on the Western Coast of the United States.
The bridges, reported CNN.com, could have been made the target of terrorist attacks during rush hour between the dates of Nov. 2 and Nov. 7. Davis told the press that security was tightened on the bridges, which involved the use of the National Guard and the Coast Guard.
The threats involved the Golden Gate Bridge and Bay Bridge in San Francisco, the Vincent Thomas Bridge at the Port of Los Angeles, and the Coronado Bridge in San Diego. In addition to Califonia, the warning from the FBI was issued to six other states in the western United States- Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.
According to MSNBC.com, Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge and the FBI had not encouraged Governor Davis to make warning public, but the decision was left to each governor as to whether or not they wanted inform the public of the threats.
” We have a responsibility to keep everybody informed, even when the level of information may not be as specific as any of us would like,” FBI director Robert Mueller told reporters.
“This is not the first time that we have had the occasion to call a governor or pass information onto a governor. It has happened on numerous occasions since Sept. 11,” explained Mueller.
Federal officials told NBC News on Nov. 1 that the threat of attacks on the bridges came from a foreign source.
Davis realized his responsibility to warn the public of the possible attacks. In an interview with Larry King, he said that one has to “error on the side of caution.” “You have to do everything you can to protect people.”
The New York Times reported that major precautions were also taken in Seattle, Washington where all the bridges in the area were inspected by Swat teams, harbor patrol, and regular officers.
In states such as Oregon and Colorado officials did not take as many precautions.
“We’ve been on the same high alert since Sept. 11,” Colorado State Trooper Dan Elder told the Times. “We’ve got our eyes open, and that’s about it until we get something more specific.”
At press time, none of the West Coast bridges had been attacked. The bridges would be continued to be monitored through the end of the time specified in the threat, and even possibly for some time after.
“It’s an hour-to-hour, day-to-day basis that we’re working here, there hasn’t been any directed cutoff point,” California Highway Patrol Sgt. Cathy Moore told CNN.
Moore told CNN that there had not been a considerable decrease in traffic on any of the bridges. However, the CHP stayed on alert for any suspicious vehicles, only stopping them if they had probable cause.