SIGNS POINT TO A ‘ONE-OFF’ IN NYC…. As federal officials this morning join state and local authorities in searching for the driver who left a crude car bomb in midtown Manhattan last night, Mark Hosenball reports on what officials initially feared.

When federal and local law enforcement authorities first learned that a car bomb had been discovered at New York’s Times Square, one of their most urgent concerns was that there were bombs placed elsewhere and that the attempted attack in New York was part of an elaborate 9/11-style series of assaults.

As a result of discussions between domestic and foreign counter-terrorism agencies, two Federal officials told [Newsweek], one of the first steps the Department of Homeland Security took in the wake of the reported bombing attempt was to send out bulletins — more than one, according to one of the officials — alerting local law enforcement agencies around the country about the failed Times Square attack, and alerting them to be particularly alert in case it was only one of a series of similar simultaneous assaults which were going to take place across the country.

At least for now, those initial fears have eased. ABC’s Jake Tapper had this report earlier:

Homeland Security Janet Napolitano told me that right now there is no evidence that car bomb found in New York’s Times Square last night is “anything other than a one-off.” During my “This Week” interview with Napolitano, she said state and local law enforcement officials are being alerted “to be on their toes.” Napolitano said the explosive device “doesn’t look like it is a very sophisticated one, quite frankly.”

Based on very little, Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), the ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, raised the specter this morning of the attempted car bombing being related to a recent episode of “South Park” on Comedy Central, but an NYPD official said that there was “no information to suggest” a connection.

As for the city this morning, streets and hotels that were closed last night have since reopened. The truck used in the incident, and the materials found within it, have been brought to a forensic facility to be scoured for “fingerprints and other DNA evidence, such as skin cells, saliva, blood or hair follicles.”

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.