This past Saturday evening at 6:28 p.m., a white male in his 40s drove a 1993 Nissan Pathfinder into Times Square, parked, departed the vehicle, and slipped down a nearby alley. Within minutes a t-shirt street vendor alerted authorities about smoke emanating from the vehicle and, after pedestrians had been cleared from the area, a bomb squad discovered that the SUV was packed with what was intended to be lethal incendiary materials.

The device inside the SUV has since been described by investigators as “at the bottom of the food chain when it comes to explosives.” The large amounts of fertilizer surrounding the gas and propane tanks in the car was good for growing plants but bad for explosions; it was not the ammonium nitrate grade that can explode. Still if the propane and gas had ignited, the SUV would have exploded in half, spraying shrapnel with enough force to kill innocent pedestrians enjoying a warm summer evening in a busy Times Square.

On Sunday, the Pakistani Taliban posted a YouTube video created on April 30th claiming responsibility for the attack. But New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, “So far, there is no evidence that any of this has anything to do with one of the recognized terrorist organizations,” and New York police Commissioner Ray Kelly noted that the same group had falsely taken credit for previous attacks on U.S. soil.

Whether Saturday’s failed attack turns out to be connected to Islamic radicalism or is the work of a lone wolf, there have now been 31 foiled terrorist attacks in the United States since 9/11, eleven in New York City alone. Yesterday’s plot was foiled by sheer luck and quick-thinking civilians. But luck is not an adequate strategy for protecting a nation. Continuing to stop acts of terrorism requires vigilance in finding and stopping people from doing this before they launch their attack. Effective intelligence collection, information-sharing and counter-terrorism operations are the best tools we have, making investigative authorities such as those granted under the PATRIOT Act so very important.

Unfortunately this Congress and this President have repeatedly prioritized politics over security. Instead of providing stability and confidence in the intelligence community by seeking long-term renewal of key investigatory authorities authorized under the USA Patriot Act, President Obama has settled for a six-month extension tacked on to the Defense appropriations bill. Such a move is unfortunate given that the PATRIOT Act provides just the type of investigative tools the United States needs for the foreseeable future. If our political leaders are serious about preventing terrorist attacks in the United States, they need to stop the delaying and renew the crime-stopping, lifesaving provisions of the act.

Quick Hits:

  • A May Day rally for workers and illegal immigrant rights turned violent Saturday in Santa Cruz, California.
  • The New York Times confirms: General Motors’ claim that they have paid back taxpayers is false.
  • According to Rasmussen Reports, 69% of Americans are not willing to have their taxes raised to deal with deficits that are projected to rise to historic levels over the next decade.
  • Also according to Rasmussen Reports, 66% of likely voters believe cutting taxes is a better way to create new jobs than increasing government spending.
  • Thanks to exploding government spending, more tech firms are setting up offices in the Washington area to get federal business.