Friday, May 7, 2010

Another Bomb Scare in New York City

I'd have mentioned this earlier, but I've been - distracted - today.
"Another day, another scare in a cautious New York"
The Associated Press (May 7, 2010)

"Police cleared the streets around Times Square on Friday and called in the bomb squad to dismantle what turned out to be a cooler full of water bottles. Earlier in the day, police were called in to check a suspicious package that turned out to be someone's lunch.

"Since a Pakistani-American tried unsuccessfully to set off a car bomb in the heart of the city last weekend, false-alarm calls are up dramatically, nerves are jangled, and media and law enforcement are rushing to the scenes to make sure the reports aren't something bigger.

"More than 600 calls came in since Saturday's attempted car bombing of a busy street near Times Square — about 30 percent higher than normal, police said...."

"...On Friday, cable news channels went live with images of the false alarm on Times Square, focusing in on the light green cooler as police officials hauled it away from the area. Police don't know who left the cooler behind. The streets opened within an hour, and workers weren't told to evacuate.

" 'It was exciting, but it seemed a little silly, after all - a cooler that somebody left there,' said psychiatrist Thor Bergersen, of Newton, Mass., who watched the drama from the eighth floor of the Marriott Marquis hotel.

"But Times Square vendor Walter 'Candyman' Wells said the constant scares aroused more suspicion.

" 'I think they're testing us, whoever is doing this,' Wells said Friday, sitting on a stool near his table of T-shirts. 'They're playing chess with us right now, but they ain't gonna win. 'Cause we're the Bobby Fischers.'..."
Walter 'Candyman' Wells, by the way, isn't Duane Jackson, who reported the (real) car bomb.

With 20-20 hindsight, New York City authorities could have saved themselves a lot of trouble. But, with due respect to the eighth floor psychiatrist, I think Mr. Wells has a point.

I doubt that all of those 600 or so false alarms were terrorists probing NYC's defenses. But we'd better come to terms with the idea that Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and others aren't all uneducated nitwits. (July 8, 2007) A smart terrorist would want to know what effect a failed bombing has on New York City's response to threat, real or imagined. And yes: I think there are smart terrorists. I don't agree with their goals, and think their philosophies are not acceptable: but I don't think they're stupid. Crazy, maybe. But not stupid.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.