WASHINGTON (AP) -- Combat jets will patrol the skies over New York, Washington and other U.S. cities Thursday as part of the government's beefed-up security for Fourth of July celebrations.
While White House spokesman Ari Fleischer reiterated Wednesday 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 medium- and large-sized 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.
Round-the-clock military patrols were instituted over Washington and New York as last-ditch defensive measures in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11. But they were ended in April, in favor of occasional fly-overs with fighters put on short-notice alert on air bases in other parts of the country.
Under the command of Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, the White House coordination center has already established lines of communication to be in instant contact with officials at each of nearly 2,100 July Fourth celebrations.
Two senior U.S. officials, speaking 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.
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