New York officials scaled back security in the city's subways yesterday after federal and local law enforcement authorities discounted the report of a terrorist threat to the city's underground transportation system.Any New Yorkers who are reading, I'd be very interested in knowing how visible the police presence was, and whether the city felt any different, if people were behaving any differently. I can't imagine they were.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said that the extraordinary measures put in place on Thursday - police officers on every train, major shows of force at transportation centers - would be relaxed, but that the city would continue many of the enhanced measures it has taken to protect the subways since the bombings in London in July.
"There was no there there," one senior United States counterterrorism official said of the possible threat that surfaced publicly late last week.
From the outset, some federal officials, including those with the Department of Homeland Security, questioned just how real a plot against the subway system had been, and while some supported the city's measures, at least one official said he was astonished by how the city had reacted.
But Mr. Bloomberg and other city officials were adamant yesterday that they had made the right decision, to go public with the report and heighten security. New York officials described the threat last week as alarming for its specificity and timing, noting that information on the possible plot was strong enough to prompt a military operation that swept up three Iraqi men thought to be involved.
City officials also reiterated yesterday that they would much rather risk frightening and inconveniencing New Yorkers than be caught unprepared for an attack.
And if anyone can explain how extra police on a subway car can prevent a terrorist attack, I'd love to hear that, too.
Somewhat closer to home, I notice the Canadian media is giving a lot of attention to the recent catastrophic earthquake in Pakistan. In New York City, international events like this always have a local angle, because there are New Yorkers who have family in every part of the world. In Canada, that applies to the whole country, or at least every major population centres. It's good. People here seem more aware of the world outside their borders.
And much closer to home, we take my mom to the airport later this morning. We had a terrific visit! I'm glad I'll see her again in about a month. She's spending the winter in Florida this year, and I'll see her a couple of times before she goes. Don't worry, she'll be hanging around with other Jewish ladies from New York, so no one should feel too threatened.