California Gov. Gray Davis warned
on Friday that there was "credible evidence" that terrorists were
plotting a rush-hour attack in the next several days on one or more of the
state's most prominent bridges, including the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges.
Federal officials later played down the warning, saying it was "uncorroborated"
and less credible than the information that led to the nationwide terror alert
issued on Monday by Attorney General John Ashcroft.
"We've received from several
different sources threats that the law enforcement community in general believes
are credible that between Nov. 2 and Nov. 7 at rush hour, there will be an
effort to blow up one of those bridges," Gov. Davis said at a news conference,
adding that already tight security was "being tightened even more"
around the state.The responsibility for safeguarding the state's four
major bridges - including the Vincent Thomas Bridge and the Port of Los
Angeles and the Coronado Bridge in San Diego - will largely fall to police
cruisers posted at each end, watching traffic as they have been for the last
several weeks. But Davis said he has authorized the National Guard to assign
more troops, as many as it deemed necessary, to help with security.
The California Highway Patrol has assured
that traffic will continue to flow on the bridges. CHP has ruled out checkpoints
being erected or searches. Tourists and pedestrians will be allowed to stroll
across the Golden Gate Bridge without restriction.
On Wednesday, the FBI issued an alert
to law enforcement agencies in seven Western states - Arizona, California,
Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah and Washington - warning of a possible attack
on suspension bridges. Neither Washington nor Oregon issued warnings for their
prominent bridges. But, in Seattle, the police chief said there were already
inspections at all bridges in the area involving SWAT teams, harbor patrol
and regular officers. Beginning Friday, officers would be stationed on all
the bridges. In Oregon, Gov. John Kitzhaber said there was no credible information
that the state was a target of threats, and that authorities were assessing
security at the bridges.
--Keith Goble, staff writer