Investigation into Times Square scare moves forward

INVESTIGATION INTO TIMES SQUARE SCARE MOVES FORWARD…. If there’s one thing you’ll find in Times Square and midtown Manhattan, it’s a whole lot of cameras.

Law enforcement officials offered a more detailed description of the makeup of the failed car bomb found in Times Square on Saturday night, and said they were reviewing surveillance footage that showed a white man who appeared to be in his 40s walking away from the area as he looked over his shoulder and removed a layer of clothing. […]

Investigators were reviewing surveillance footage that showed an unidentified man walking away from West 45th Street, where the Nissan Pathfinder had been parked. The police said the man was a “person of interest.” The man was seen in Shubert Alley, which runs between 44th and 45th Streets, looking furtively over his shoulder and removing a dark shirt, revealing a red one underneath, officials said. The man then stuffed the dark shirt into a bag, officials said.

Just so we’re clear, if the 40-something white guy was responsible for the attempted car-bombing, it still counts as attempted terrorism. At least, I think it still counts; the media hasn’t yet told me what Rudy Giuliani and the Cheneys think.

One interesting tidbit that came to light yesterday was a 55-inch-tall metal gun locker that was also in the truck, along with the gasoline, propane, firecrackers, and simple alarm clocks. The locker included eight bags nonexplosive grade of fertilizer.

The gun locker, which weighed about 75 pounds empty and upward of 200 pounds with the eight bags of fertilizer in it, could provide important clues because it was likely to be more easily traced than many of the other items found in the S.U.V.

The weight of the locker and the material inside raised questions as to whether it might have required more than one person to load it into the vehicle.

The investigation appears to be continuing apace, aided by the fact that authorities have already been able to identify the owner of the Pathfinder. Apparently, the truck’s vehicle identification number had been stripped from the dashboard, but the person who removed it neglected to also removed the VIN from other parts of the vehicle.

As you may have heard, a commander in the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the failed car bombing, but as of this morning, no one seems to believe him. Both federal and local officials said there was no evidence to support the Taliban’s claim, and as the NYT noted, the group “has a reputation for making far-fetched attempts to take credit for attacks.”

Besides, as Jon Chait explained, “Rushing to take credit for a bungled attack is fairly pathetic.”