Monday, May 03, 2010

Two different threads about failed attack in New York City

I watched the CBS Evening News tonight as New York's mayor -- Michael Bloomberg -- told Katie Couric that the evidence at this point suggests one person behind the failed attack in Times Square.

A plausible argument, except...

...that the White House is suggesting the evidence in fact suggests a coordinated attack that one person could not have attempted alone.

So, who to believe?

This "one-man band" or "coordinated effort" cannot be chalked up to mis-communication between New York and Washington. We'll soon learn whether this was an isolated case involving a potentially deranged individual (Mayor Bloomberg's suggestion) or a more complex attack in which multiple attackers attempted to kill innocent people.

It is plausible that Mayor Bloomberg is creating a scenario that carries the least amount of risk of his city losing business and tourist dollars (especially with the popular summer travel season rapidly approaching). That argument gains credibility as the public learns that the bomb failed to go off because it was poorly constructed.

On the other hand, federal officials reportedly are growing increasingly interested in a naturalized citizen from Pakistan who visited his native land a few months ago. This rationale allows for the international, more complex thread to gain credibility.

Investigators announced today that the SUV loaded with crude bomb equipment was purchased in an all-cash deal last month, when it was bought on Craigslist. An important factoid, but in and of itself it provides no evidence of who might have planned the attack.

Moreover, and it might be a coincidence, a Pakistani was convicted in an Indian court today for his role in the deadly 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

The investigation into the Times Square incident is moving forward, and as you might expect it is moving quickly. It wouldn't surprise me if a photo and/or detailed description of a "person of interest" or "suspect" is released within the next 24 hours. But that alone also will not end the "one-man band" or "coordinated effort" taking place.

I see no war of words involving New York and Washington. Yet.

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