Monday, September 26, 2016

If You See Something...

" the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air..." are great lyrics to our nation's national anthem. But bombs exploding on city streets are not lyrical, or funny. But writing about them can be.

We were away in Maine when I turned on the television Sunday morning, September 18 after breakfast and heard of the bomb that went off in the Flatiron District in New York City the prior evening. Home turf. Was just on that block the prior Tuesday.

Never mind all the word parsing over what it was, I truly get a kick out of the emphasis that it was described as "intentional." This of course means Con Edison didn't cause it with a gas leak. So basically, we're left with bomb. Not good.

Then there were reports of unexploded "devices" being found nearby. Then a report of a bomb at a road race in Seaside Park, New Jersey prior to the one that went off in NYC. Then unexploded devices in a train station in Elizabeth that eventually blew up the robot that was trying to defuse it. Hey man, it really was a bomb.

All this overloaded the abilities of any weekend broadcast reporting to put a simple timeline forward and describe what has happened. By Monday morning there was a photo of the suspect, Ahmad Khan Rahami, hitting the computers and mobile devices of anyone who had the Emergency Alert App, that is usually sending messages about bad weather and missing children.

I was frustrated by not having a clear picture of the sequence of events. So I broke my rule of maintaining a home newspaper moratorium while away, and caved in and bought Tuesday's Wall Street Journal. And glad I did.

Maybe a picture is worth a thousand words, but a thousand words or less, from good newspaper reporting, is better than anything.

Thus, I was treated to the story line of the unexploded bomb that was found four blocks blocks from the one that did go off on 23rd Street. It didn't go off probably because the now identified two fellows who spotted the lump on the street probably loosened a wire when they emptied the duffel bag and placed the device on the street.

These weren't bomb disposal people. They were two guys who became interested in seeing something, then, taking something. The duffel bag. As anyone who lives in a large enough city knows by now, the post 9/11 urging is: "If you see something, say something."

These two fellows followed a new post-9/11 personal urging of" "If you see something, take something." And they did.

There are clear video surveillance images of the two gentleman. They are wanted as witnesses, not as suspects. That I know, they haven't yet come forward. This is understandable. After learning that they in effect disarmed a bomb in the want of a duffel bag, they have probably sought refuge amongst an abbey of monks. After changing their underwear.

Then we have the unexploded pipe bombs that were found in an Elizabeth, NJ train station on Sunday evening. Here, someone saw something, and said something. But apparently until two men noticed an unattended fetching knapsack that apparently was just the one they needed.  They walked away with the knapsack, contents and all, coining a new safety slogan in the process: "If you see something, steal something."  It's almost like that Abbie Hoffman book of decades ago titled: 'Steal This Book.' But as they walked away with the knapsack of their dreams they opened it, saw wires, and called the police.

Apparently their handling of the knapsack didn't disarm the bomb. A robotic device sent in to neutralize it was blown up trying. Hey man, it really was a bomb. Not known if the two gentleman are seeking admission to a religious order.

But the best part is yet to come. The bomber is apprehended on Monday morning at 11 A.M. when two officers subdue Ahmad Khan Rahami with bullets as he attempts to get some more zzzzzs in the doorway of a bar in Elizabeth, NJ. It is understandable that he night be tired at this point, and also understandable that he might think it is not a good idea to go home, where the Feds have already crashed the place.

Apparently, two men, one of whom believed the fellow sleeping in the doorway resembled the picture in the alert that has been broadcast everywhere, try to wake the guy up. He curses at them and goes back to sleep. We have a cat that will do that. They really do sleep 18 hours a day.

The two guys who have now identified Admad and been cursed at have called the police, who are met with gunfire from Admad who is just trying, for God's sake (or whomever) to get back to sleep. Ahmad shoots at the officers, but only manages to mostly hit passing cars, likely because he's terribly sleep deprived at the point. The officers apparently are not sleep deprived, because only one suffers a slight wound from broken glass, while the other's vest stopped a shot that Mr. Rahami managed to aim more accurately. Ahmad gets shot several times, surviving to be cuffed and taken to the hospital, where he remains.

Is there any moral to all this? Yes, of course. If you see something, take something, or steal something, say something to someone. Even the police.

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