Times Square Bombing, Pakistani Policy, and Surveillance

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

In light of Pakistani-born US citizen Faisal Shahzad's Monday arrest after the failed car bomb in Times Square, Slate's "War Stories" columnist Fred Kaplan discusses what we know about Pakistan's role in the attempt at terrorism, how we're re-thinking surveillance and public space, and other lessons from the incident.

Comments [16]


"seth" what kind of comment is that to a mature commenter with a valid point made clearly. Get the lead out, man.

May. 05 2010 12:12 PM
Seth from Upper West Side

Yes, Estelle, and belief in a monotheistic organized religion is a form of mental illness, too!

May. 05 2010 12:01 PM
Estelle from Austin

I think the reality we are ignoring is the role of mental illness. I do not dismiss the difficult religious and political issues at play here, but
actually committing an act of terrorism has a deeply self-destructive undercurrent.

If the Muslim community wants to exercise vigilance in preventing acts of extremism, it needs to pay attention to signs of depression/mental illness, and offer help to those who might need it.

I think the recent attacks on children in China were driven by mental illness too -- something acknowledged by numerous analysts. The only factor that causes us to label an act "terrorism" is the presence of an ostensibly political motivation. But I don't think that alone, without an unstable emotional state on top of it, is enough to commit such a self-destructive act.

May. 05 2010 11:15 AM
John from NYC

The video footage ,though not from a surveillance camera, helped the bicycle rider who was knocked down in midtown This was from the recent court case with NYPD and the falsified document decision. The bicyclist would've been charged otherwise. I hope this guest is invited back to the show soon.

May. 05 2010 11:09 AM
Soni from Brooklyn

Taking action is common sense:
1) This is your basic neighborhood watch for crime prevention that my generation grew up with. Remember the citizen's crime prevention campaign? And McGuff the detective dog.

2) But I don't like the chant: "If you see something say something." It's too associated with the Bush-era. And anything 'bush' is annoying.

Let's go retro and start saying "Take a bight out of Crime" and get McGruff posted on the subway!

May. 05 2010 10:57 AM
Paul from Orange, NJ

Regarding camera surveillance - it is absolutely true that no human eyes are on these cameras but people should be aware that face/body recognition software is being refined everyday. This allows computers to search in real-time or later through video images. This type of software has already been deployed in the UK and is of course dependent upon the system having a photo/image on file to compare against what ever the camera picks up. (I'm not certain that govt photo IDs are in searchable databases but I am certain that in an emergency these databases can be searched under the police powers).

May. 05 2010 10:51 AM
Dan from New York

It's a slippery slope. It's not a problem right now but as computers get more powerful & face recognition software improves we are in danger of losing our right to be human.We have to be brave enough to insure the freedom of our children's children.

May. 05 2010 10:49 AM
The Truth from Becky

You know what? Too damn bad this is a time of not fear per se, but being alert, I mean we now have to be aware of domestic terrorists on top of everything else.

Sorry Joe Blow on the street got caught up in the drama but I mean what is the alternative?

May. 05 2010 10:45 AM
Robert from NYC

It is nuts! I don't run around frightened. I'm aware sometime something can happen anytime anywhere but I can't live in a climate of fear. But unfortunately many do.

May. 05 2010 10:43 AM
Andy from Brooklyn

If we had a network of cameras it would be horrible: it would completely ruin _Law & Order_. Just compare the original series to the UK version, which takes place in London, where they have such surveillance.

May. 05 2010 10:42 AM
delmore from brooklyn

the dichotomy is not between privacy and safety; one's response to surveillance has everything to do with one's age. when you grow up sharing the details of your sex life and menstrual cycle and secret yearnings for all of the public to see and comment on in social media, being photographed in public means nothing.

May. 05 2010 10:40 AM
Jim B from Brooklyn

Is there a growing divide between property owners rights to photography and individuals rights to take pictures?

May. 05 2010 10:39 AM
a g from hudson co nj

funny how once there was a visual of the suspect,the default group of generalized presumption of guilt became hispanic in addition to arab/muslim.

May. 05 2010 10:37 AM
Nick in Inwood from NYC

It seems to me that understanding and resolving the issue of Pakistani ISI support and cultivation of Islamist terrorist factions can't be done without seeing it in the context of Pakistani-Indian-US relations.

The ISI won't give up its addiction to factions like the Taliban until it sees a scenario in which (after the US pulls out of Afghanistan) it can maintain a sense of security re: Afghanistan and India. This is the unfortunately complex reality that needs to be dealt with.

May. 05 2010 10:32 AM
a g from hudson co nj

why do we need a validation of religious text to validate or negate a point of view or act of extremism? as if any teaching of whatever background could be frozen in time. this idiotic,inane circular discussion is just a waste of potentially creative engagagement. the idea of a monolithic benign is as stupid as the presumption of absolute evil.

May. 05 2010 10:23 AM

(this segment is probably more appropriate for this comment)

What of the initial description of the suspect as "White?" Conservative bloggers are frantically rubbing in the faces of so called liberal media that their first instinct was to gleefully, hopefully imply that the "white" terror suspect was a middle aged white guy -- a tea partier.

And w regard to the "terror training" this lovely Pakistani American received -- he used his own cell phone, email account, computer and passport. His bomb didn't go off. Where did this fine product of US educational institutions and probably television train, exactly -- clown school?

May. 05 2010 10:07 AM

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