Despite NYC Terror Arrest, Case Shows Cameras’ Limitations


With 82 city-owned surveillance cameras and scores of private ones, New York’s Times Square may well be the world’s most scrutinized patch of real estate, says the Washington Post. When a bomb-laden Nissan Pathfinder rolled into the famed plaza Saturday evening, it was inevitable that multiple cameras would pick up the sport-utility vehicle as well as the fidgety middle-aged man who was seen standing near the car, stuffing a shirt into a satchel. Elected officials seized on the foiled attack, in which an arrest was made overnight, to press their case for hundreds of additional cameras for New York, one of several U.S. cities to champion video monitoring as a means of thwarting terrorists and reducing crime.

The attempted bombing also showed the limits of the technology. Critics, including civil liberties groups, noted that the cameras had neither prevented a potentially deadly terrorist attack nor led investigators immediately to a perpetrator. Officials acknowledged that the “person of interest” — a balding man whose video image was seen by millions over the weekend — may not have had anything to do with the attempted bombing. It was not clear whether last night’s arrested suspect was the man in the video.

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