Driving down the West Side Highway heading back to Brooklyn on a sunny Saturday morning, I’m suddenly flagged down by one of dozens of policemen, and pulled over. I know what this is about. Earlier, NPR had broadcast that New York City was reacting to an “unspecified threat” of a dirty-bomb attack on the city, and were looking for a truck laden with radioactive material mentioned on the Internet.
My Subaru hardly fit the description, but being a law-abiding fellow, I was happy to oblige. The officers examined my license, registration — and insurance! They made me open the trunk, at which point I looked behind me and saw a vehicle also with a lone driver also being checked. Were we being profiled? Well, he was African American. But, we both had beards!
Still, I didn’t mind being stopped at a checkpoint on the West Side Highway, a little Ramallah moment in the middle of New York. What irked me, though, was the news that the “threat” that had necessitated this security clampdown emanated not from any serious intelligence quarter, but from Debka, an Israeli pseudo “intelligence” site that the Israeli security establishment will be the first to tell you should never be taken seriously. The site had reported that its monitors had picked up “chatter” on Islamist web sites to the effect that attacks would be carried out “by means of trucks loaded with radio-active material against America’s biggest city and financial nerve center.”