Monday, May 3, 2010

Times Square Not-a-Bombing Story, Day 3

The failed car bomb in Times Square has generated more reporting and commentary based on less actual news than any other incident I can think of.

The New York Times was all over the story today, with five sidebars about bombs and security precautions to eke out its insubstantial main story. The WaPo was almost as overheated.

Even the Taliban inserted itself into the media buzz, and made a less than credible claim of responsibility for the would-be attack. Considering how inept the attacker was, the Taliban is really slumming to take credit for that one.

We learned that the stolen SUV had been loaded with three tanks of propane (with their valves safely closed), two jugs of gasoline, and about 30 large firecrackers. I have to say I'm not too impressed by that list. That could describe an SUV being driven by one of my relatives on his way to a cookout at the beach, but only if you added some rifle and pistol ammunition, because we usually like a little celebratory gunfire.

Speaking of guns, the SUV also contained a metal gun locker. Only, instead of guns, it was filled with about 100 pounds of fertilizer. Plain fertilizer, the kind you might put on your lawn. It had not been mixed with fuel oil into an explosive preparation, so it was harmless. Once again, I'm not feeling very threatened.

The only new news today was a 20-second video showing a purported 'person of interest.' The video is remarkably inconclusive, and both Mayor Bloomberg and Police Chief Kelly immediately hedged as to its significance.

The Mayor said on the Today Show: “the person on the tape may not become a suspect” ... “There are millions of people that come through Times Square” ... “This person happened to be in a position which a camera got a good shot of him, and maybe he had something to do with it, but there’s a very good chance that he did not. We’re exploring a lot of leads.”

Police Chief Kelly told the NYT: “We just felt that person warranted an interview” ... “It could be perfectly innocent.”

Both the news media and the legions of government spokesmen would be well advised to take a deep breath, relax, and wait until there is something new to report.


As an aside, the mention of celebratory gunfire at family cookouts made me think of the excellent song Choctaw Bingo by James McMurtry. The lyrics include this hair-raising shopping list for a family reunion:

Bought a SKS rifle and a couple a full cases of that steel core ammo
With the berdan primers from some East bloc nation that no longer needs 'em
And a Desert Eagle that's one great big ol' pistol
I mean .50 caliber made by badass Hebrews
And some surplus tracers for that old BAR of Slayton's
Soon as it gets dark we're gonna have us a time

The song's worth a listen. It's a much better way to spend a few minutes than enduring another rehash of fluff and hysteria about the Times Square not-a-bombing.

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