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Cops And Bombers

It's now becoming even more clear how exceptional a job law enforcement did in apprehending the alleged Times Square Bomber. In barely 53 hours, they identified him, located him, and arrested him before he could flee the country -- albeit at the last minute, just as he was about to board a plane out of the country.

This has led some to crow about how the Democrats' favored "law enforcement" model of fighting terrorism won this one, and how the Republicans' "military" model didn't.

But that overlooks a few key items. Items that tell more of the story.

There were quite a few things that law enforcement officials did not do:

  • They did not pick up on Faisal Shahzad's radical Islamism.
  • They did not notice he spent several months in terrorist training camps in Pakistan.
  • They did not notice him buying the vehicle he used in the would-be bombing.
  • They did not notice him buying the bomb-making materials.
  • They did not notice him building the bomb.
  • They did not notice him delivering the bomb to Times Square.
  • They did not notice him leaving the scene.
  • They did not notice the bomb before it almost went off.
  • They did not notice him making his flight reservation without a credit card.
  • They did not notice him buying his one-way ticket in cash.

What caught Shahzad was his identification, his being added to the no-fly list, and an enterprising agent checking the flight manifest of the Air Emirates flight he was on and spotting his name.

Law enforcement, it cannot be stressed enough, is a reactive force. It is intended to solve crimes, to capture criminals, to enforce the law. It is not a proactive force, seeking out criminals before they can put together their plans and carry out their crimes.

That's what the military and intelligence agencies are for.

Law enforcement didn't catch Shahzad during each of those preparatory steps before the would-be bombing because not one of them was illegal. (Well, excluding the bomb-assembly and illegal parking, and the bomb components were individually legal; it is only the assembling that constitutes a crime.) So there was no overt crime for police to react to and investigate.

The police did a phenomenal job in this case, and deserve all the praise they've been given so far and more. But what few seem willing to say is that should never have been necessary.

Shahzad could have been identified as a potential terrorist well before. This success by law enforcement was only possible because others failed.

Both groups are needed. The only reason we can chalk up last Saturday's attack as a success, like the Christmas underwear bomber attack, is strictly the incompetence of the attackers. In brief (so to speak), we were lucky. We've been lucky many, many times.

We can't always count on being that lucky. We need to be lucky every single time; they only need to be lucky once.

Like they were lucky on September 11 nine years ago.


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Comments (33)

When the opposing team gets... (Below threshold)
Meiji_man:

When the opposing team gets a shot on goal, and it misses the net. You Don't get to call it a save by the goalie.

"There were quite a few thi... (Below threshold)
914:

"There were quite a few things that law enforcement officials did not do:

•They did not pick up on Faisal Shahzad's radical Islamism.

•They did not notice he spent several months in terrorist training camps in Pakistan.


•They did not notice him buying the vehicle he used in the would-be bombing.


•They did not notice him buying the bomb-making materials.


•They did not notice him building the bomb.


•They did not notice him delivering the bomb to Times Square.


•They did not notice him leaving the scene.


•They did not notice the bomb before it almost went off.


•They did not notice him making his flight reservation without a credit card.


•They did not notice him buying his one-way ticket in cash."


In short they did not profile the religion of peace's disciple but rather got lucky.

Shahzad could have... (Below threshold)
Kenny:
Shahzad could have been identified as a potential terrorist well before. This success by law enforcement was only possible because others failed.

It is interesting that some news accounts mention that he was known to some of the terror tracking groups, some references go back for years.

I don't think all the facts have been released yet.

This guy went back and fort... (Below threshold)
OLDPUPPYMAX:

This guy went back and forth to Pakistan, 13 times!! And no one seemed to notice. Moreover, it was an airline employee who told the police where he was. Cops/FBI had LOST TRACK OF HIM after apparently tailing him for the better part of the day! And the bomb did not go off because this genius did not set it for the proper time...AM vs. PM!! So LE was far more LUCKY than brilliant in its efforts. But NATURALLY, none of this stops Hussein from claiming credit!!!

How many years ago? The at... (Below threshold)

How many years ago? The attacks on 9/11 took place NINE years ago this coming September.

Jay Tea:I reject y... (Below threshold)
James H:

Jay Tea:

I reject your conclusion that we were merely lucky. I think we were prepared. We caught the car bomb because New Yorkers knew something was amiss and reported it. The shoe bomber and the underwear bomber were both foiled because average Americans took action.

This isn't luck. This is individual Americans taking responsibilty for their own safety and for the safety of those around them.

So right on the luck part, ... (Below threshold)

So right on the luck part, J.

"Luck is when preparation meets opportunity." And only the CIA and the military have the capability to create that luck on any consistent basis.

They did not notice him ... (Below threshold)
wolfwalker:

They did not notice him buying his one-way ticket in cash.

This one shocked me. Paying for a trans-oceanic flight with cash is not a red flag? Every mystery or spy-story writer knows that paying with cash is a classic technique for evading surveillance. It's practically a cliche. But real law-enforcement agencies don't watch for it?

What's really humorous is i... (Below threshold)
G.:

What's really humorous is if they succeed they will send the Democrats and Obama tail spinning towards defeat. Which will cause a rise in the right and an attack on Islamic goals. What's not humorous is the cost and toll of them succeeding. We have so far, one hit (Ft. Hood) and 2 attempts. If they succeed again, Obama and the Democrats are toast. NO I'm not saying I want them to, I'm saying the asshat can't protect us because he doesn't have a clue, because political correctness rules the left.

It's practically a... (Below threshold)
James H:
It's practically a cliche. But real law-enforcement agencies don't watch for it?

Clearly, they don't read TVTropes.org.

There were quite a few t... (Below threshold)

There were quite a few things that law enforcement officials did not do...

Basically what I'm hearing here is: "The system worked."

New York City's luck cannot... (Below threshold)
TexBob:

New York City's luck cannot last forever.

Some day, there will be a less incompetent muslim terrorist who will succeed in setting off a car bomb or some other weapon of mass destruction.

NYC and America have been VERY LUCKY lately that these muslim terrorist are absolute imbeciles from trying to light their shoes or underwear on fire to not know what type of fertilizer is volatile.

Some day, a dirt bag will get it right. Don't think that NYC officials or the Feds have done anything to prevent these from happening, only luck and stupid terrorists have prevented massive casualties.

What will Barry do then? Probably golf more.

First, I think its good to ... (Below threshold)
jim x:

First, I think its good to point out that another actual Muslim was the first man to spot the car and report it.

Second, its worth noticing that even if the plane had taken off, that's at least a good 8 hours to call Dubai and have cops waiting when the plane lands. It was dramatic, but it wasn't the last chance to get Faisal by any means.

Finally, for most of those points you mention - it is worth noticing that the military and intelligence agencies didn't get Faisal for those either. If they're supposed to be proactive where law enforcement can't be - then here they utterly failed.

And these points in particular:

"They did not pick up on Faisal Shahzad's radical Islamism."

They should read minds?

"They did not notice him buying the bomb-making materials."

The fact that it was non-explosive fertilizer helped. Also, that fireworks are legal in PA.

And this I actually dispute:
"They did not notice him buying his one-way ticket in cash."

This is actually supposed to be a red flag. Anyone paying in cash for a ticket causes the counterperson to notify authorities - which in this case is exactly what the counterpeson did.

And texbob, to say this:</p... (Below threshold)
jim x:

And texbob, to say this:

Don't think that NYC officials or the Feds have done anything to prevent these from happening, only luck and stupid terrorists have prevented massive casualties.

...you honestly have no idea what you're talking about. Go read up on some of the plots that have already been busted up.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,335500,00.html

[...] just as he w... (Below threshold)
Anon Y. Mous:
[...] just as he was about to board a plane out of the country.

Actually, he was on the plane, and the skyramp had already been retracted. Great that they got him, but he should have never been able to get through airport security. Also, even after they pulled him off the plane, they then started to let the flight go. Someone's common sense pills finally kicked in, and they called the flight back a second time to check the plane to find out if maybe this admitted bomber might have done something to sabotage the plane, or if he was accompanied by any accomplices.

The police did fine. The in... (Below threshold)
Geoffrey Britain:

The police did fine. The intelligence agencies pro-active measures were pathetic. That said, fair is fair and some of your cited failures are hardly that..

# They did not notice him buying the vehicle he used in the would-be bombing.
He bought it off craig's list with $1300 in cash. How were the feds supposed to 'catch' that?

# They did not notice him buying the bomb-making materials.
The feds are supposed to monitor 2 five-gallon propane tanks and cheap alarm clocks? Plus, the fertilizer was the wrong type, thus nothing to flag an alert.

# They did not notice him building the bomb.
Big brother? How were they supposed to watch him building the bomb, are you serious?

# They did not notice him delivering the bomb to Times Square.
That took seconds in a crowded, chaotic environment. You're suggesting an inordinately high level of surveillance and a mobile team ready to swoop in at the slightest inkling of suspicion. There are thousands of tourists in Times Square every day who arguably do something that looks 'suspicious', at least to the paranoid mind that security dictates.

# They did not notice him leaving the scene.
What were they supposed to notice? That he parked and got out of the car?

# They did not notice the bomb before it almost went off.
It was inside an SUV, you're suggesting a cop at every corner and searching every car that enters Times Square. Besides Times Square there are thousands of vulnerable sites. We are the most target rich environment on earth. The only way to guard it all is with permanent martial law and the abrogation of the Constitution. No thanks.

The fact of the matter is that car bombs can't be defended against without security measures in place like they have at the Capitol building.

James, the reports I heard ... (Below threshold)

James, the reports I heard said the first vendor to notice the SUV heard a pop and saw smoke inside -- to me, indications that the bomb had just tried to go off and failed. That doesn't diminish the heroism of those first reporters, but reaffirms what I said -- we weren't good, we were lucky.

I'll admit I haven't checked for the latest details -- have events overtaken my understanding?

J.

"I think we were prepared. ... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

"I think we were prepared. We caught the car bomb because New Yorkers knew something was amiss and reported it. The shoe bomber and the underwear bomber were both foiled because average Americans took action."

Excuse me? Prepared?

The Times Square 'initiator' went off, the rest was a dud. No one 'STOPPED' it. The shoe bomber was ATTEMPTING to light his bomb. So was the diaper bomber. Again, both were duds.

Prepared?

I think not. Unless you call "Prepared" being the ability to scrap the human remains from the asphalt had those bombs gone off.

Hold it a minute, from all... (Below threshold)
jainphx:

Hold it a minute, from all reports agents from DHS were trailing him. The followed him to his house with the intension of arresting him there to avoid the chance of a armed conflict on the street. Now I have to ask, how the heck did he get away. Maybe he had a tunnel under the house that he escaped through./ Next he made it to the airport bought his ticket with cash and made it through security even though his name was on the no-fly list.

Does anyone else smell a rat here. How does skilled and trained agents lose a man at his house, how do they then not put out an apb that would have prevented him from the whole airport bull. Please tell me again how the system worked, because if it worked then all the above was intentional.

jainphx - one theory I've f... (Below threshold)

jainphx - one theory I've found interesting, is that they were just letting him THINK he was free - while following him to any accomplices.

This could explain how he could get on the plane when he was both on the no-fly list, and paid in cash. They would have been waiting to see who he might call overseas right before the plane took off. And if they were still tapping him on his cellphone, which it seems they were, they should still have been able to track him quite easily too.

But honestly, while comforting, I find this theory a bit of a stretch. I think it's more likely they would have grabbed him and taken him off the street ASAP rather than let him ditch the phone and disappear. Or even get killed in a traffic accident, and lose all that good intel.

jim x ...you honestly ha... (Below threshold)
TexBob:

jim x ...you honestly have no idea what you're talking about. Go read up on some of the plots that have already been busted up.

What did they do to stop this guy, the shoe bomber, the underwear bomber??? That's what I'm talking about. They may have stopped events we don't know about, but did nothing on these guys and there are many folks alive today due to luck.

Of course I don't know what I'm talking about. neither do the families of the dead soldiers at Fort Hood.

one theory I've... (Below threshold)
one theory I've found interesting, is that they were just letting him THINK he was free

All the federales say
"We could've had him any day.
We only let him slip away
Out of kindness, I suppose..."

Richard Ried, Was ... (Below threshold)
hcddbz:

Richard Ried,
Was in prison in the UK, was know to attend a Radical Mosque went to terrorist training camp. Is singled out on the first day attempt to board for extra screening which caused him to wear his shoes for an extra 24 hours which was why it did not ignite. The airline gave him a new ticket to fly. That dumb luck and that was under Bush.
Furthermore we lucked out a second time because Shoe bomber was part of a two man team and the other terrorist chicken out.

You notice all the events that were prevented happen before 2007?

We need to realize enemy will not stop. We need to be proactive.
In fact we need to be more proactive now than ever before.
When we let the world know that we would not nuke them if they did committed an act to kill millions, we green lighted operations against our population centers.

Actually, he was on the ... (Below threshold)

Actually, he was on the plane, and the skyramp had already been retracted.

Sounded even worse than that - I flipped by FoxNews this morning and they were playing the audio between the pilots and the tower, the plane was taxi-ing (how do you write that, anyway?) for takeoff and was told to make a hard left as soon as possible and go back - the hosts said they were actually cleared and next in line for takeoff. I mean, yeah, if they'd been 10 minutes later they would have just told the plane to turn around and come back, it's not like if it had taken off it'd be all over, but just to show how close it was...

Texbob, you said: Don't ... (Below threshold)

Texbob, you said: Don't think that NYC officials or the Feds have done anything to prevent these from happening, only luck and stupid terrorists have prevented massive casualties.

I posted a link that listed many plots which have been stopped by hard police and intelligence work. Which shows that they have actually done *quite a bit* to prevent things from happening. To a degree that's quite a bit more than dumb luck.

I said you don't know what you're talking about, because you don't. That link has the information you apparently aren't aware of. If you'd like to know what you're talking about, go read it.

That's fine jim x, but if y... (Below threshold)
TexBob:

That's fine jim x, but if you read my post, you would see that it's not about those event. It's about the specific events that were NOT stopped.

Only luck saved those people, so quit changing the subject

I'll admit I haven... (Below threshold)
James H:
I'll admit I haven't checked for the latest details -- have events overtaken my understanding?

No, and I stand corrected. But I continue to maintain that individuals remain our best defense against terrorism.

Agreed, James. But "Best" d... (Below threshold)

Agreed, James. But "Best" does not mean "only." When it comes down to individuals, it means that there have been a lot of failures upstream of them. And this case is no exception -- it now appears that this dirtbag had been on the watch lists for over a decade.

And as much as it pains me to denigrate the courage and correctness of the individuals in this case, it appears that they had little actual influence on the situation. The main thing they did was get the investigation going a bit sooner -- before a cop spotted the parked SUV and wrote a ticket or something.

That no one was injured this time was just plain luck. Or, as I am finding more and more germane, "God watches out for little children, fools, drunks and the United States of America."

J.

Texbob, I'm not changing th... (Below threshold)
jim x:

Texbob, I'm not changing the subject.

Your post said, and I quote, "Don't think that NYC officials or the Feds have done anything to prevent these from happening..."

I am disputing this by showing that the NYC and the Feds have done **quite a bit**.

There were quite a few t... (Below threshold)
john:

There were quite a few things that law enforcement officials did not do:

And the military did? I'm not sure what you're point is.

There's no doubt that law enforcement failed to stop this guy. Though it's debatable whether it was a law enforcement "failure", or just a reality that in a free society even those bent on mischief can fly under the radar of authorities. But you have not demonstrated that there was a role for the military to play here, nor that they would have played that role more effectively than law enforcement and intelligence agencies did.

Law enforcement, it cannot be stressed enough, is a reactive force. It is intended to solve crimes, to capture criminals, to enforce the law. It is not a proactive force, seeking out criminals before they can put together their plans and carry out their crimes.

This makes no sense. Do you think the FBI and police sit around waiting for their phones to ring? The myriad law enforcement and intelligence agents going undercover, setting up sting operations, monitoring suspicious purchases, setting up wiretaps and search warrants, etc. would strenuously disagree with you. See jim x's link for a short list of "proactive" action that you are inexplicably overlooking.

In #6, James H "rejects" Ja... (Below threshold)

In #6, James H "rejects" Jay Tea's conclusion that America was lucky again. James H feels (Libs, please note, feeling is not "thinking") "we" were "prepared." "We" caught the car bomb because New Yorkers knew something was amiss and reported it. The shoe bomber and the underwear bomber were both foiled because average Americans took action.

Rubbish. All three of the examples you use succeeded. Only their devices -- like the agencies charged with and obscenely-expensively funded for the purpose of preempting their activities -- failed.

Meanwhile "we" - in the shape and form of the various layers of the most expensively corrupted and grossly inefficient local, state and feral gummints Man has ever experienced - have confiscated and squandered and continue to confiscate and squander Trillions of Dollars on the "employment" of millions of the mobbed-up parasites (with - God bless them - a few exceptions) it prefers we call "bureaucrats." None of whom could operate and/or serve an intelligence service worthy of the name.

"We," in the shape and form of our beloved fraternal republic - our nation - are in very deep doo doo and, unless we very quickly shape up, are very likely doomed! As is the very Judeo-Christian/Western/Human Civilization we have for more than two-hundred years vanguarded -- and guarded. And which without us is Greece on the way to being Rhodesia/zimbabwe. (AKA California on the way to being Detroit!)

.... (Below threshold)

.

Jay Tea: "God watches out f... (Below threshold)

Jay Tea: "God watches out for little children, fools, drunks and the United States of America."

Yep, thank God, He does. Or most certainly has, to date.

But it should also be noted that Almighty God has impeccable manners and does not go where He is not invited. And such places, it seems to me, already include all of the decidedly post-Christian Euro-peons' Neo-Soviet, most of the Western World, Canada, Australia and New Zealand included -- and begins to include huge swathes of our own Zion -- and His: my America!

God save and bless us all?

Thank You, Dear Lord - Amen!




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