Not surprised because the mint was always considered a terrorist target.
"It's news to us - the first I heard of it was on television," Bill Beckham, president of Local 1023 of the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents 700 mint workers, said yesterday. The news report first aired on NBC on Wednesday night.
Philadelphia mint officials referred reporters' calls to U.S. Mint headquarters in Washington, where spokesman Michael White said he would not comment on mint security or threats against the facility.
Spokesmen for the Justice Department and Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge said they were skeptical about the mint's being on an al-Qaeda target list.
The same reaction came in a statement from U.S. Attorney Patrick L. Meehan, Rosanne Russo, the Philadelphia FBI office's second-in-command, and Sylvester M. Johnson, the city's interim police commissioner.
In a separate interview, Johnson said: "If we got any information about that, we would immediately let our citizens know. At this point, we have no information at all."
White said that mint security had been increased since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks - public tours here and in Denver were halted - and that mint officials work closely with the FBI.
NBC News reported that U.S. officials had confirmed the discovery in Afghanistan of documents indicating al-Qaeda terrorists planned attacks on the mint, Seattle's landmark Space Needle, Los Angeles International Airport, and Grand Coulee Dam in Washington state.
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