Sheriff sees improved FBI communications |

Sheriff sees improved FBI communications

Avi Salzman

— When Routt County Sheriff John Warner came to work Thursday, there were 12 e-mail messages in his in-box from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

Warner took the responses, the first he has received since Sept. 11, as a sign that federal officials had heard pleas from him and other protectors of public safety to give them a better sense of where and when attacks could happen.

The FBI released specific information Thursday pinpointing the suspension bridges on the West Coast as possible terrorist targets.

FBI special agent Ann Atanasio said from her office in Denver the FBI had not released more specific information before now because the agency had not had any credible information that pinpointed any specific regions or structures before Thursday.

The FBI claimed Thursday to have received uncorroborated information outlining a potential threat to suspension bridges on the West Coast beginning at rush hour today and lasting through Wednesday. Six “incidents” could take place between today and Wednesday, according to a message forwarded by the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System, which sends out information to thousands of law enforcement agencies in the U.S.

The e-mail message, titled “Special Bulletin Number 30,” made no further mention of what specifically the attacks could entail or where the information came from.

The new information released by the FBI came one day after Senators Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer, both Democrats from New York, urged Congress to consider a bill that could allow the FBI to release more information to local and state police agencies. Warner said the previous messages from U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI sources sent this Monday and on Oct. 11 about threats were too vague for him to know how to take specific action.

“If you don’t have the information when they make these alerts, you don’t know how to react,” Warner said. “I feel more comfortable this morning that we got their attention and they’re giving us more information.”

Warner said he has not received information targeting Colorado or Routt County, but that his officers were still on alert and guarding sites the county deems high-risk. He said any further threats against Routt County or Colorado would result in even higher levels of surveillance. Warner has said potential targets include Yampa Valley Regional Airport and the power plant in Hayden.

Steamboat Pilot & Today staff reporter Doug Crowl contributed to this story.

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