For those of you that don’t know, I take the Long Island Rail Road into Manhattan every morning to work. I always get in the first car at my station. When I take the subways, I go from Penn Station to Times Square to Grand Central Station, where I get off to go to the Chrysler Building where I work.
So, reading that a Qaeda group wanted to attack the LIRR during this holiday season hit close to home:
The FBI’s source reportedly told agents of an al Qaeda-connected group’s desire to place bombs or suicide bombers inside the first and last Long Island Rail Road commuter cars and detonate them as the train entered Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan, also used by the Washington-New York-Boston Amtrak system and the New York City subway.
It’s the particulars that are chilling. That and the scare headlines – which were quickly eclipsed by the massive terrorist attack in Mumbai. But it’s not as if I am going to let such a threat change my life, my routine. The article also included a number of caveats – including a suggestion that the FBI wasn’t sure this had moved past the planning stage.
But it seems to me that making this potential means of attack public is quite a positive service, and suggests that maybe the national security infrastructure of the United States finally has figured out the lesson it had failed to learn after September 11:
The federal government cannot be everywhere. The best defense of our way of life, of our institutions, of our government, of our people is the American people themselves – properly informed.
By letting us know, the government is treating us as adults rather than children – and betting that a few million people paying extra attention is worth something.