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Golden Gate Bridge threat alert reduced

Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge  

SAN FRANCISCO, California (CNN) -- A terror alert for the Golden Gate Bridge was downgraded Monday as state officials discounted a threat against the historic span.

Security had intensified over the weekend after authorities received a tip that a terrorist was planning to commandeer a U.S. military plane and crash it into the bridge.

The state's Office of Homeland Security received the anonymous tip Friday and immediately alerted the FBI. The tip said the plane would strike the bridge Sunday.

By late Friday, federal officials had determined that the threat was not credible, but state officials went on a "super-heightened" state of alert anyway and bolstered patrols of the bridge.

"It's important for us to maintain security here at the Golden Gate Bridge, even if a threat is determined not to be credible," said Mary Currie, a spokeswoman for the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District, which operates the bridge.

"It was date-specific. It was bridge-specific. So we wanted to add additional security and additional patrols."

Security at the bridge remains at heightened alert because it is seen as a likely possible target in the post-September 11 environment.

California officials put San Francisco's famous Golden Gate Bridge on alert over the weekend. (August 12)

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Currie said there had been more than a half-dozen threats against the famous suspension bridge since September 11.

"For us, they're all serious," Currie said. "Every single threat is considered to us to be the utmost importance."

She said the weekend alert involved additional patrols with the California Highway Patrol, the U.S. Coast Guard, the National Guard and the bridge staff.

Currie said her agency also coordinated with the FBI and the Federal Aviation Administration because the threat had to do with an airplane.

The "alert" status of the bridge is managed by a coalition of state and federal agencies, including the governor's office, the FBI and the California Highway Patrol.

California Gov. Gray Davis previously has released information on threats in his state even when other agencies have not done so.

"I have an obligation to share with the people of this state information that may well be credible to affect their lives," Davis told CNN's Larry King in November 2001. "More importantly, I want them to know that we have gone the extra mile to protect them."

At that time, the Golden Gate Bridge and Bay Bridge in the San Francisco area, the Vincent Thomas Bridge at the Port of Los Angeles and the Coronado Bridge in San Diego were the subjects of an FBI warning about terrorist threats in the West.

In July, authorities in Spain reportedly recovered a videotape of various U.S. landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, in scenes possibly taken by al Qaeda terrorists. The footage was said to include views of the bridge's suspension anchors.

Other sites on the tape included Disneyland in California, the Sears Tower in Chicago, Illinois, and the Statue of Liberty in New York.




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