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FBI Warns of 'Skyfall' Attack
By Declan McCullagh

2:35 p.m. Oct. 11, 2001 PDT
WASHINGTON -- In a brief but dramatic statement, the FBI warned Thursday that Americans should expect additional terrorist attacks.

A two-sentence press release on FBI.gov said there "may be additional terrorist attacks within the United States and against U.S. interests overseas over the next several days."

The content was disturbing enough, but even stranger was the Web address of the press release: http://www.fbi.gov/pressrel/pressrel01/skyfall.htm. The link was pulled about a half an hour after it was put up.

See also:
Bush Bounty: $5 Mil Per Terrorist
Snoop Bill Heads to Final Vote
Cyberwar Foundering on Feuds?
Patriot Bill Moves Along
Conflict 2001: Fresh Perspectives
America v. Terrorism: All the Facts
Lycos' America Rebuilds Resource Page

Just what did the FBI mean by inserting the word "skyfall" into a description of a press release? Was it a reference to the 1970s-era disaster novel entitled Skyfall, or a hint that the bureau was remembering the children's tale in which Chicken Little warned of calamity -- but was not believed?

A harried FBI spokeswoman who had been deluged with calls about "skyfall" said the answer was none of the above -- and the press release soon would be renamed.

"The person who typed it just named it that.... The person named it and wasn't really thinking," the FBI spokeswoman said.

Most of the FBI's press releases have dates -- such as http://www.fbi.gov/pressrel/pressrel01/100401.htm -- in their Web addresses.

A few have more descriptive words, like "tankenbo" for a statement on the 1998 Tanzania-Kenya bombings. Some appear to be typos, such as "garmish" for a conference in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

The "skyfall" press release was the FBI's fifth since the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Related Wired Links:

Bush Bounty: $5 Mil Per Terrorist
Oct. 11, 2001

Snoop Bill Heads to Final Vote
Oct. 10, 2001

Cyberwar Foundering on Feuds?
Oct. 9, 2001

Mitnick Warns Other 'Scapegoats'
Oct. 8, 2001

Thought Police Peek Into Brains
Oct. 5, 2001

Patriot Bill Moves Along
Oct. 4, 2001

Eavesdrop Now, Reassess Later?
Oct. 1, 2001

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