Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Terror Returns to Center Stage

The bombing attempt in Times Square over the weekend brought back into focus the potential for terrorist attacks in this country. The fact things didn’t work out exactly as the terrorists planned is certainly a blessing. There will be plenty of discussion of the what might have beens in this case. Undoubtedly Republicans will come up with some way of blaming the Obama administration for this and insisting it is soft on terrorism. No doubt one of the lines will be the chief suspect being read his Miranda rights:

Under questioning by federal agents, Shahzad implicated himself and “has provided useful information to authorities,” Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. told reporters Tuesday afternoon. He said Shahzad was initially questioned under a public safety exception to the Miranda rule and was cooperative. He said Shahzad was later read his Miranda rights and “continued talking.”

There will be the familiar line that terrorists don’t deserve any rights. The Obama administration doesn’t realize we are war here.

But instead of dwelling on that let’s look at what worked. A street vendor noticed smoke coming out of a vehicle. In dialed 911 and reported this. Within minutes a police officer was on the scene (I believe one of the mounted units). He called in the bomb squad. A perimeter is set up around the car. The bomb squad shows up. A robot takes a look in the car. The perimeter is expanded. Many blocks of Times Square are blocked off. People are evacuated out of hotels in the area.

Sometime around 3 in the morning people are allowed back into their hotels. By the Sunday morning Times Square is back to normal.

New York police and federal authorities track down information on the suspect from clues in the car. Late Monday night the bomber is arrested while trying to leave the country on a plane. In Pakistan at least two suspects were arrested in relation to the attempted bombing.

In other words, things work the way they were supposed to.

Ordinary people did there part to bring to authorities attention a potential problem. The authorities acted on that and secured the area. Moving people to a safe distant. They disarmed the bomb. They then pursued with all deliberate speed clues to the identity or indemnities of the perpetrators of this attempted terrorist attack. And in the end made an arrest. It showed what can be when faced with an imminent threat and how to pursue those perpetrating that threat.

We should all be very proud of what’s happened over the last 48 hours.

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