This blog addresses the chief complaint: 'Why aren't they doing more...'

By Sebastian Smith
– May 8,2010

NEW YORK — New York officials say they could stop attacks like the
attempted Times Square car bomb by expanding a controversial
surveillance system so sensitive that it will pick up even suspicious

New York is already a heavily policed city, with 35,000
officers and a counter terrorism bureau -- the first of its kind in the
country -- partnering the FBI.

But Saturday's failed terrorist
bomb in the Times Square tourist hot spot has provided the authorities
with a new argument for expanding a sometimes controversial security
blanket of cameras, sensors and analytical software.

The system
"will greatly enhance our ability and the ability of the police to
detect suspicious activity in real time, and disrupt possible attacks,"
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday.

The high-tech system, modeled
on the "ring of steel" in London's financial district, is already in
service in lower Manhattan, where Wall Street and the World Trade Center
reconstruction site are located.

Headquartered at 55 Broadway,
the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative goes far beyond the traditional
hodgepodge of police cameras, such as the 82 devices installed around
Times Square.

Instead, an integrated system maintains an
unblinking eye, not just watching, but constantly collecting license
plate numbers and video of pedestrians and drivers, as well as detecting
explosives and other weapons.

An important component of the
program is coordination between the police network and private
businesses' cameras, something that has not been established in Times
Square, causing detectives significant extra work.

Also, a
separate, but similar program called Operation Sentinel plans to log
every vehicle entering Manhattan island by scanning their license plates
and checking for radiation.

Last October, Bloomberg announced
plans to expand the lower Manhattan system into Midtown, including the
Times Square area.

On Sunday, New York police chief Raymond Kelly
reiterated the plan and used the occasion to press for more federal
funding from Washington.

Kelly also gave details about the system,
explaining how the aim is for "analytic software" allowing experts to
make sense of raw information in real time.

For example, alarms
would trigger when cameras noticed an unattended bag or a car circling a
block too many times to be considered normal, Kelly said.

is a whole new area for us," he told Fox News. "We're very enthusiastic
about it."

Bloomberg said the city has budgeted "more than 110
million dollars to expanding the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative and
incorporating it with the Midtown Manhattan Security Initiative."

large-scale, yet simultaneously detailed intelligence gathering clearly
pays in some terrorism investigations.

Officials point out that
acquiring the ingredients for a bomb or weapons exposes plotters to
precisely the kind of surveillance New York is promoting.

noted on Fox News that Afghan immigrant Najibullah Zazi found it "very
difficult to get explosives" for his plan to bomb the New York subway
system. A major piece of evidence against him was security camera
footage of a shopping trip for chemicals in Colorado.

although the Times Square bomber tried to disguise the car, it was still
quickly traced, providing detectives with an important lead.

while law enforcement officials tout a brave new world of security,
rights groups fear a "big brother" presence violating fundamental

The New York Civil Liberties Union has sued the
Department of Homeland Security in an attempt to extract more
information about the Manhattan security system and to know how the
information will be used, shared and stored.

The irony is that the
lowest tech responses can sometimes best the most sophisticated gizmo.

misfiring of a device hidden in the underpants of a Nigerian passenger
and the quick reaction by others on the US-bound flight prevented
potential tragedy in a December 25 attempted airliner attack.

in Times Square, a vigilant street vendor and nearby beat cop -- not a
computer -- raised the alert on the suspicious vehicle.

about the street vendor. Think about the passengers on the flight on
Christmas Day," said Republican congressman Pete Hoekstra.

"All of
these people perhaps were the difference between a major disaster and
actually what happened: a failed terrorist attack."

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Top Opinion

  • keeper 2010/05/10 15:22:26
    Why not? In works in London, but look at how many more union jobs it will create!!!!

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  • shadow 2010/05/13 00:00:26
    This is kind of like closing the gate AFTER the horse has escaped... but, I suppose it will deter some of the future attacks. Most likely they will not be in areas where there are cameras.... ya think?
  • whitewulf--the unruly mobster 2010/05/11 18:58:22
  • Revolutionary Girl 2010/05/11 18:45:03 (edited)
    Revolutionary Girl
    Here's a thought - why don't they just take some steps backwards and keep the bloody terrorists from entering our country and taking up residence - period!

    All these officials need to stop "acting" after the fact when there's a disaster, by pretending they're doing their job. Why not go back to the beginning and implement laws and regulations where needed pertaining to people who are in our country, laying low just enough, until they know it's time for their plot to unfold. These people should be watched all along!

    As far as I'm concern, if they are in our country and wanting to destroy us, they have no rights!
  • jscusmc69 2010/05/10 15:58:31
    Only a matter of time before ONE of these POOR MISGUIDED FOOLS sets of something that will WIPE out part of NY City for a long time--a DIRTY bomb is NOT hard to make and the components are just laying around and easy for these terrorists to obtain. CAMERAS are good BUT only so good!
  • keeper 2010/05/10 15:22:26
    Why not? In works in London, but look at how many more union jobs it will create!!!!
  • JT For Political Reform 2010/05/10 12:11:21
    JT For Political Reform
    You wouldn't need camera's if you closed and monitored the borders. This is just another big brother ploy to watch you.
  • ALLEYCAT 2010/05/10 12:00:46
    If you are opposed to this kind of Big Brother-ism, which I think most freedom loving Americans are. I have to admitt that there is really nothing we can do to stop it. Once government announces that they have plans for installing systems like this. It is not just plans they have. By the time you hear the word plans you know that the system in question is near complete, or its already operational.
  • TananaTrish 2010/05/10 09:07:36
    Problem, half ass bomber.... Reaction.... fear..... Solution...install more cameras to infringe on your Constitutional right to privacy. This is all a ploy and its working folks, wake up.

    There are laws already in existence to provide security for the American people and their not being implemented. Ask yourself why your always called upon to give up another freedom in order to gain protection or to fix a government screw up?
  • snell/G... TananaT... 2010/05/10 09:38:41 (edited)
    snell/GOD & COUNTRY-zero cliques
    ....hmm, could you be speaking of this?
  • TananaT... snell/G... 2010/05/10 10:09:58
  • Theresa 2010/05/10 06:17:40
    They already have extensive cameras. You have to be alert to what is going on! Situational awareness is sorely lacking!
  • Pegasis 2010/05/10 04:55:38
    Cameras are well and good, for perhaps helping to find a suspect after the fact. But it seems to me that the public is doing the best job of providing security. So far.
  • Ken "Don't tread on me!" 2010/05/10 04:41:58
    Ken "Don't tread on me!"
    "The New York Civil Liberties Union has sued. . ." This shouldn't surprise anyone, these idiots suing when no one has an expectation of privacy when they are in a public place! It sometimes make you wonder which side the ACLU is on when their law suits seem to be designed to do nothing but prevent effective protection of the public against terrorists and criminals.
  • texasred 2010/05/10 03:02:36 (edited)
    Yeah? BS! If a terrorist wants to attack and knows what he/she is doing... no camera, real time or not, is going to stop it. So this big brother crap is just that. And Bloomberg is an a-hole.
  • snell/G... texasred 2010/05/10 03:29:34
    snell/GOD & COUNTRY-zero cliques
    Oh, Okay.....Thanks for the comment Big Red!
  • texasred snell/G... 2010/05/10 03:56:55
    Did I surprise you with that? Sometimes I surprise myself.
  • snell/G... texasred 2010/05/11 17:24:36

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2008/06/05 01:09:23

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