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Peeled Eyes as America Celebrates Its Freedom

July 04, 2002|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Combat jets will patrol the skies over New York, Washington and other U.S. cities today as part of the government's beefed-up security for Fourth of July celebrations.

Two senior U.S. officials, speaking Wednesday on condition of anonymity, said U.S. intelligence is picking up more talk about an attack on or about July 4, but there is still nothing specific or corroborated.

Until recently, U.S. intelligence had been doubtful about the prospects for an attack, saying most of the information pointed to other dates, the official said.

The official stressed that the increased intelligence could easily be a result of more media attention or natural speculation.

While White House spokesman Ari Fleischer reiterated that federal officials know of no specific terrorist threat, he announced that a special coordination center will roughly double its staffing in order to monitor more than 2,000 Independence Day events "that can become something of a target for people who want to do us harm."

Combat air patrols "will be flying over several American cities and randomly throughout the nation," Fleischer said.

"As you're hearing from many people in law enforcement, they're saying, 'Leave the worrying to us.' They will be out there. They will be vigilant," he said.

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