In New York City, a would-be car bomb was discovered in Times Square by police. Two alert street vendors spotted a suspicious vehicle, who notified the police -- who discovered a Nissan Pathfinder SUV stuffed with three propane tanks, two full five-gallon cans of gasoline, fireworks, alarm clocks, other electronic devices, a box resembling a gun locker, and a few other things. It appears the bomber or bombers tried to set it off, but the device fizzled -- there was a slight explosion inside, but the actual "warhead" didn't go off.
The Obama administration is scrambling for an appropriate response. They can't refer to it in the context of an "overseas contingency operation," as it was in the heart of the Big Apple. It didn't go off, so "man-caused disaster" doesn't apply, either. Expect a brand-new euphemism to use in place of "terrorism" by the end of the day.
Another constraining element is that they have to take into account the political motives of the would-be bombers. If they can find a way to tie the bomb to conservatives, even in the most tentative and tangential way, then they'll loudly tout it as an attempt at domestic terrorism and blame it on Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and the Tea Party movement. If it's someone with ties to the left, then it'll be strictly a crime and treated accordingly. If it leads to some Muslims, then they'll do linguistic backflips to avoid using "the T-Word" and we can expect days of platitudes of how Islam is a religion of peace.
And if William Ayers fails to have a good alibi, then all bets are off.
My first hunches -- based on the exceptionally slender facts available so far -- are that it was the work of Islamic radicals. A potentially big bomb, in an area that gets a lot of civilian traffic, in the heart of what used to be New York's most decadent area -- it's got quite a few hallmarks of Muslim terrorism.
My fallback theory is liberal/anarchist nutjobs, like I believe were behind the New Orleans beatdown. The evidence implicating them is a bit sketchier -- the vehicle was a foreign-made SUV, and it failed to go off. The radical left hates SUVs, and are notoriously incompetent at these kinds of stunts. I'd be more inclined to suspect them, though, if 1) it was a Toyota SUV, and B) it had been set on Wall Street.
No, the more I think about it, the more I'm leaning towards Muslim terrorists. They, too, have a strong record of incompetence (notice how there are almost no native-made weapons used in Muslim countries; they rely almost exclusively on Western weaponry and technology). Witness the shoe bomber. Witness the underwear bomber. Witness the failed London car bombs in London and Glasgow over the last year or so.
All in all, it appears we dodged a bullet yet again. And once again, it wasn't our government officials that saved us, but a combination of alert private citizens and inept would-be terrorists.
WInston Churchill apparently once noted that "God watches out for little children, fools, drunks and the United States of America." Looks like Sir Winston's wisdom has been affirmed yet again.
Update: Apparently, the bomb was set fairly close to the headquarters of MTV Networks, the owners of Comedy Central. And Comedy Central recently won the wrath of radical Muslims...