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Another Terror Scare in Times Square

By May 7, 2010

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A member of the bomb squad investigates the scene of a suspicious package in a evacuated Times Square May 7, 2010 in New York City. Police evacuated Times Square after a small green cooler and a bag were found unattended at 46th Street and Broadway. After an investigation they were declared safe.

This is terrorism in America.

For the second time in less than a week, several blocks of Times Square in New York City were shut down due to a terror scare Friday afternoon. Police ordered the brief evacuation so they could investigate a suspicious-looking cooler.

Police initially x-rayed the cooler, but brought in a suited bomb squad member after its results were inconclusive. The small, green cooler turned out to contain nothing more than water bottles.

The evacuation was followed by another one in another section of New York City, in which police were investigating a suspicious-looking truck.

The heightened state of awareness in New York City reflects the high anxiety of its workers and residents less than a week after a naturalized citizen of Pakistani origin drove a Nissan Pathfinder into Times Square and attempted to detonate what police later discovered to be a poorly-constructed, but potentially lethal car bomb.

An image of terror suspect Faisal Shahzad is seen on a tv screen as US Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Deputy Director of the FBI John S. Pistole and New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly hold a briefing regarding the investigation into the Times Square attempted bombing, in Washington, DC, on May 4, 2010.

In the year and a half since President Barack Obama asked his administration not to use the term "War on Terror," there have been at least 10 confirmed acts of violence or attempted acts of violence directly related to Islamic fundamentalism.

Although only a few of them have been successful, it is the sheer number of attempts that is truly frightening for the American people, and this constant state of fear is the goal of terrorism, whether foreign or domestic.

Politically, it makes sense for the president to steer away from using any terror-related terminology, but the trouble with this logic is that politics and reality seldom match. The truth is that terrorism and terrorist acts are very real. While attempts by the president to brush aside the notion that America is at war against violent extremism may be noble, they are also highly misguided and in direct opposition to what intelligent Americans are seeing on the news or witnessing first-hand.

At some point, the president is going to have to acknowledge the existence of this battle publicly and quit pretending that it doesn't exist. If he doesn't, he risks losing the small modicum of credibility he has left.

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Top Photo © Mario Tama/Getty Images
Bottom Photo © Jewel Samad

Comments

May 8, 2010 at 7:01 am
(1) RealTime53 says:

Hi Justin –

In 1991, during GW1, I spent six weeks in Britain. During that time, the Provos were mortaring Number 10 Downing Street, bombing Paddington Station, and literally shutting down the entire island for days at a time. Incidents like the Times Square scare were as common as grass. Everywhere. “Four Irishmen were seen in a car.” “An unknown package was left at the Civic Center in Swansea.” “The bomb squad was called out at Luton for …..”

During that time, I cannot recall a single person ever using the phrase “War on Terror”. What does it mean?

“In the year and a half since President Barack Obama asked his administration not to use the term “War on Terror,” there have been at least 10 confirmed acts of violence or attempted acts of violence directly related to Islamic fundamentalism.”

Would any of those ten acts not have occurred if Obama had just uttered the phrase “War on Terror”?

We’ve spent billions on a “War on Drugs”. Since that term was first uttered, by another American President, I’d have to say that drugs have won. Our single biggest victory in the war on drugs has been the legalization of medical marijuana. I suspect that we are on the verge of declaring victory and leaving.

There was Bill O’Reilly’s “War on Christmas”. He found all manner of arcane and odd bits of news to make his point. He is still fighting that war, and others, to this day. He makes money from his wars.

How about ‘terror’? To this day, Russia and the US have been engaged in a nuclear “Balance of Terror”. Are we at war with the Balance of Terror? During WW2, the Nazi Vengeance rockets, the V1 and V2, were called ‘terror weapons’. In a painful analogous action, we send Maverick missiles from Reaper drones into Pakistani villages. There is no question that we kill civilians. I’m sure that we terrorize Pakistani civilians and al Quada chieftains. Does the “War on Terror’ include the terror that we, ourselves, cause?

Terror is a technique. And the ‘War on Terror’ is, by definition, a war that we can never be won. You may as well declare war on the Missionary Position. Or the Energizer Bunny.

So what does it mean when the Fox News analyst asks, after a breathless pause,”You do know that we are in War on Terror?” Could it mean that the military should interrogate Faisal Shahzad? Possibly using techniques abandoned as ineffective and counter productive by the Bush Administration? Could it mean that Constitutional rights are not as important as the safety of a single American?

What does the phrase “War on Terror” mean? I’m just asking.

May 8, 2010 at 11:54 am
(2) czero says:

I have an idea. Since you neocons are so adamant about fighting a “War on things that scare people..aka Terrorism” why not form a paramilitary group and call it “TeaWater” and then go out and fight your worldwide war on “things that scare people” to your heart’s content.

May 8, 2010 at 5:58 pm
(3) Buzzcrud says:

It turned out to be nothing, you reactionary fool.

May 10, 2010 at 10:12 am
(4) camper says:

“War on Terror” seems like a pretty apt term to those of us who understand that we are fighting terrorists. War was defined as an armed conflict the last time I checked. Or perhaps it would be better to ignore all the terrorist attacks? That was certainly anything but a successful tactic. What exactly is it that you would have us do? Your answer should reflect a concern for the safety of your own loved ones, even if you know no one in NYC, an awareness that you know your street could be next, just anything that shows you understand the risks of ignoring the parked, smoking SUVs.

May 25, 2010 at 2:36 pm
(5) RealTime53 says:

camper –

““War on Terror” seems like a pretty apt term to those of us who understand that we are fighting terrorists.”

Of course we are fighting terrorists. We also fight drug dealers. Street gangs. Obesity. Childhood diabetes. Erectile dysfunction.

However, I am at a loss to understand your contention that just by not saying the catch phrase “War on Terror” that I am in favor of ignoring terrorists. Any more than I understand Justin’s contention that not using that same catch phrase means that Obama is not serious about terrorism.

If we are at war, how will you ever know that you’re winning, let alone won? When terror is banished from the face of the Earth? These words must have meaning and power beyond my ken.

Or my barbie.

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