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May 20, 2010

Main Street's May Day Times Square Wake-up Call: Did America listen this time?

Counterterrorism expert and D.C. lawyer Eric O'Neill, The Georgetown Group, on what the Times Square bombing attempt means.

We Yanks get the big hint? We note that this week's Newsweek and cover article about the May 1 Times Square bombing attempt hit the stands with a date of May 17. That's a long time. Did the first news of the Times Square misfire or fall flat with much of the establishment media and most Americans?

Just starting to sink in, maybe?

True, no one was hurt. Mainly because the bomber--Faisal Shahzad, a Westernized Pakistani--is a very young 30 and a world-class screw-up. Your average troubled, normally mild, and lackluster young American male who can't chew gum and do loyalty oaths at the same time. Moreover, the press may have unevenly or half-heartedly covered it simply because we have all been consumed with so much happening at once: the residuals of health policy wars, the Goldman Sachs hearings, mid-recession finger pointing, the BP spill off our southern shores.

Maybe Islamic terrorism is decentralized, domestic, and in your backyard? But Shahzad is also a U.S. citizen--and very unlikely to have been under the command-and-control protocols of any branch or level of mainstream Al Qaeda. He's obtained degrees in and lived in the U.S. Father and husband. Devout. And before things went bad for him personally, he even had a house in what would pass for Connecticut suburbs. There are certainly others like him we haven't met yet.

What does that mean for day to day life in America? Do we see malls, parking lots, and subway stops differently in the last three weeks? Probably not--but maybe we should. Are we suddenly in "mass denial" about what was precisely everyone's fears after 9-11?

A new kind of "homegrown" threat? In a short but compelling interview with Reuters last week, Eric O'Neill, both general counsel and chairman of D.C.-based The Georgetown Group, and often still in the news for his role (and subject of the movie "Breach") in taking down spy and FBI agent Robert Phillip Hanssen in February of 2001, came closer than anyone to both defining the problem and what's needed.

Listen to the above segment and O'Neill's comments, which begin at about 1:25.

Posted by JD Hull at May 20, 2010 11:59 PM


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