The Bomb in Times Square

By Terry Turchie

The American government has committed hundreds of billions of dollars over the past decade to prevent acts of terror and identify and catch terrorists. Most of that has been used to acquire an impressive array of technical gizmos that sit mostly unused in locations all over the country.

Ironically, just a fraction of the counterterrorism budget has been used to educate Americans about the importance of independent, individual vigilance.

Talk about bang for the buck!

New York City’s vigilance campaign “IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING” can be directly credited with preventing the carnage that might have come if two street vendors had not noticed the smoke coming from the bomber’s car in Times Square and reported their suspicions immediately to the police. The swift actions by NYPD officers and the follow-up investigation by the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force have led to other arrests before they could further the attack plan.

In the final paragraph of our 2007 book, Hunting the American Terrorist, we proposed what we consider the best formula for preventing future terrorist acts against America and tracking down terrorists before they can attack us again:


A year later, in our second book, Homeland Insecurity, we discussed the stress on government institutions caused by the 9/11 attacks and emphasized that the only long term remedy was adhering to the pre-eminent rule of law as an effective and enduring strategy.

The events that have unfolded over the past week are proof that vigilant citizens and professional law enforcement offer the best hope of stopping terrorism, whether it’s origins are foreign, domestic, or the deeply dangerous combination of both we predicted in 2008.

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