Inside Opinion

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Tag: Times Square


With safeguards, let those terror suspects talk

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Somebody in the White House should have winced Sunday when Attorney General Eric Holder raised the possibility of more Miranda-less questioning of terror suspects.

“We’re now dealing with international terrorism,” he said about the attempted Times Square bombing, describing it as a “new threat.” The “now” and “new” suggest that that the bomber’s apparent Taliban connection was a big surprise that has suddenly required the Obama administration to rethink how it handles suspects.

Let’s hope Holder and others in the administration weren’t caught that flat-footed. There’s nothing remotely new about international terrorism; the World Trade Center was first bombed in 1993, and the likes of al-Qaida have been targeting the United States ever since.

The supposed novelty of an international attack has at least given the Obama administration a pretext for re-examining its overly rigid practice of reading Miranda rights almost immediately to suspected terrorists arrested on American soil.

This conventional police approach is clearly a reaction to abuses of the Bush era. It’s also an overreaction.
Delaying a Miranda warning or questioning someone as an enemy combatant, by themselves, are not the same as torture or extraordinary rendition. Extended questioning without a warning can be done within the law. There’s also room to legally expand the practice, as Holder seemed to be conceding.
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There was no boom

Despite our comfort with many common ingredients used in improvised explosive devices, it is still a difficult process to use a primary explosive to set off a secondary explosive (and so on to a potential tertiary explosive) in what experts call a train.


“53” beats “24”

New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly ought to give American counter-terrorism more credit.

By way of praising the quick arrest of suspected Times Square bomber, Kelly noted that investigators tracked Faisal Shahzad down in 53 hours and 20 minutes and compared that to the way Jack Bauer of television’s “24” rolls up terror plots a lot faster. “But in the real world, 53 hours is a – is a pretty good number.”

Except the bad guys score more often in “24.” Bauer’s counter-terrorism unit has failed to prevent the release of deadly virus in a Los Angeles hotel, the

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With enemies like these, who needs friends?

So Faisal Shahzad – who tried to blow up Times Square with non-exploding fertilizer, firecrackers, gasoline and propane tanks he couldn’t ignite – says he got his training in explosives at a terror camp in Waziristan.

I hope all of al-Qaida operatives are learning their bomb skills at the same camp.


Small-timers: The new face of terrorism?

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Terrorism and competence don’t always coincide, thank goodness.

Whoever was behind it, the attempted car bombing in New York’s Times Square last weekend was clearly an act of terror. A deadly explosion in the middle of Manhattan would have created considerable anxiety in the nation’s leading city. The FBI is now investigating the possible involvement of international terrorism.

Fortunately, it was the work of a first-class bungler. The black SUV parked amid the crowds of Times Square held three patio grill-sized tanks of propane, two jugs of gasoline, firecrackers and 100 pounds of fertilizer.
This was more Three Stooges than Hollywood thriller. The fertilizer was not the kind that blows up. The propane might have been serious business, but the perpetrator bungled the detonation.
And firecrackers?

It’s somewhat reminiscent of the attempted Christmas bombing of a Detroit-bound jet, in which the would-be terrorist tried to set off an explosive hidden in his pants and wound up only setting his legs on fire.
And that was reminiscent of “shoe-bomber” Richard Reid’s failed attempt in 2001 to trigger explosives in his boots after he’d apparently deactivated them with his sweaty feet. Any explosion on an aircraft could easily kill everyone on board, but you’ve first got to get the bomb to go off.

It increasingly looks as if meticulously planned and flawlessly executed monstrosities like the 9/11 and London subway bombings will be rare in the war against terror. The United States is more likely to see lots of small-time attacks carried out by “lone wolves” and tiny groups with minimal connections to international organizations.
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