Olympic security officials say they place no credibility on an Internet news report that cites a "top U.S. Intelligence official" as saying Salt Lake City has been the target of "meticulous" surveillance by Osama bin Laden spies.

The article, which appeared Friday on www.salon.com, cites the official as saying bin Laden operatives had been running surveillance in Salt Lake City "as far back as the millennium . . . and very, very meticulously."

Officials from the Utah Olympic Public Safety Command have long said there have been no known terrorist threats to the Games. Today, they maintained that is still the case.

"We place no credibility on the story, and recent meetings with intelligence officials gave us no indication of any credible threat against the Games," UOPSC spokeswoman Tammy Palmer said, declining to specify who those officials were.

According to the intelligence official quoted in the article, Salt Lake's utilities, water supplies, electrical grids and key landmarks were identified and analyzed by the terrorists with the aid of sophisticated computer programs used by engineers and architects.

Salon.com is one of the top two or three Web-only magazines in the United States, according to Brian Brooks, chairman of the editorial department and a professor at the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

"Most of their articles have been pretty well-sourced," Brooks said. "I would take it as seriously as if a major newspaper printed something like that. They've got a decent enough reputation. I can't imagine they would print something like that if they didn't have the source. That doesn't mean the source is right."

In May 2000, Salt Lake established an Olympic Joint Terrorism Task Force to prevent attacks on the state or the Games. The task force, led by the FBI, is a conglomerate of more than 40 full- and part-time local, state and federal law enforcement officers representing dozens of agencies.

But similar task forces were also in place in Atlanta prior to the bombing at Centennial Park during the 1996 Summer Games and New York City prior to a pair of commercial jets striking the World Trade Center.

"We don't have any information regarding the claims made in the Salon.com article, and there is no indication currently that there is a threat aimed at the Olympics or Salt Lake City," FBI special agent Craig Phillippe said.

Several post-Sept. 11 warnings from the FBI of possible threats to the United States prompted officials in Utah to increase security patrols of critical infrastructure sites. Utah was also one of the first states to establish a Homeland Security Task Force designed to protect the state's critical infrastructure sites from attack.

"We're not aware of any credible threats to sites," Salt Lake Police Sgt. Fred Louis said. "Not to say that there are not threats, but as far as our Olympic planning has gone, we have plans in place to deter and prevent any attack."

According to the Salon.com story, the intelligence official said some bin Laden operatives recently arrested were found with "completed diagrams" of "routes into places," including Salt Lake City.

Last week, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld warned that the intelligence gathered from al-Qaida surveillance programs hinted that the United States could face attacks even deadlier than the Sept. 11 strikes on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.


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