Now that the target of the 9/11 terrorists is ready to reopen in it's "Freedom Tower" incarnation, it's chillingly disappointing how we've seen several much too easy security breaches occur at the brand spanking new target, I mean, skyscraper.
Somehow, some goofy teenager entered the building and made his way up, unstopped by anything at all. Lucky he was just a lost youth on his way to the rest of his life as a misfit. No harm, no foul, one might say.
Now we find out that several parachutists made it up to the top of the tower, last September (!!!), and in the dark of night, successfully leaped from the building and video taped the entire escapade. Again, no obstacle prevented their access to what one may have thought to be one of the more secure buildings in NYC. It's certainly billed that way.
In the post 9/11 era, this country has been asked to give up many civil liberties for the sake of "security", and we've willingly done so, falling all over ourselves in the process. Freedom and patriotism, long standing American ideals have been subverted in this cause. The scope of NSA spying on U.S. citizens is still barely understood.
Even a quasi-police state can't prevent thrill seekers from trespassing in sensitive and terrorist targeted areas, nor can we even find a lost jumbo jet using the latest in sophisticated surveillance systems. But individuals can be continuously profiled, and denied constitutionally protected rights and freedoms.
Isn't it clear, by now, that the spooks are looking in the wrong places?
What about Times Square? Already a target of the inept car bomber from just a few years ago, Times Square, the crossroads of the world, would be quite the feather in the cap of some hellbent martyrdom seeking zealot. But Times Square is such an obvious, well policed and closely surveilled area, you might think it a poor target.
There is a way for it to be done, however. I bring this up not to encourage any murderous actions, but to bring to light, if the police are not already on this, a very dangerous situation in Times Square. His picture is above. It's the one and only, friend to all, Elmo.
The last several years have brought many cartoon characters, like Elmo, to Times Square, to pose for pictures with tourists and children, in exchange for tips. These people have already caused problems with aggressive and inappropriate behavior, and many New Yorkers look upon these people with well earned disdain.
The people doing this work are unlicensed and unregulated. Who really knows who they are? They are completely disguised, and walk about Times Square, a previous and obvious terrorist target, with complete freedom from scrutiny. You can't walk into a bank with a mask on, but scores of these anonymous and unknown individuals mill about Times Square in complete disguise, with impunity.
What if, someone with visions of 72 virgins floating around in the haze of his twisted mind, were to utilize an Elmo costume over a suicide vest of explosives, and wander into Times Square in the middle of a crowded day and set off his one way ticket to eternity? How might this nightmare scenario be stopped?
It's time to pass a law that fully regulates, and allows for licensing and backround checks of these costumed cartoon characters in Times Square. They need to be issued photo ID and be required to produce a copy of their license and ID at any time, when requested by the police. Yes, it's another thing for the cops on the Times Square beat to do, but rather than posing for photos with tourists themselves, this will help to make Times Square more secure, and perhaps put an end to the generally obnoxious behavior these Elmos and other anonymous costumed characters often engage in.