The breach of security by miscreants at the Brooklyn Bridge, who swapped out American flags with bleached white versions, is a severe embarrassment to on-site NYPD security unit. And it certainly does not fare well for newly appointed NYPD Commissioner William Bratton. To add to the humiliation, this stunt was pulled off just several hundred feet from One Police Plaza! This was quite a 21st century Thirty-Seconds Over Tokyo which could be more aptly renamed “Thirteen Minutes Over the Brooklyn Bridge”, the amount of time it took to swap flags on both towers, right under the noses of a powerful security apparatus, with minor material yet powerfully symbolic damage.
Symbolically, the bleached American flags represent America’s perceived faded global power and influence. A more disturbing situation would be if they turned the American flags upside down which signals distress. Or even worse, they could have replaced the American flags with flags from militant organizations that preach hatred and vow destruction of America, its values and way of life.
This symbolic desecration was no whimsical, spur-of-the-moment effort, rather, it was a well-organized, well-planned operation, carried out by a crew who performed surveillance months in advance. A fearless crew, physically fit, who used stealth, and unusual swiftness and precision to undertake this mission under cover of darkness. With such overwhelming security in place one could only believe that this could have been pulled off by the Mission Impossible team.
On the other hand, there’s another apparently bizarre and yet plausible explanation as to how those intruders could breach the Brooklyn Bridge security defense. This could have easily been a deliberate security breach performed by security contractors hired by government agencies to test the security integrity of critical sites. These are conducted more frequently than you can imagine but never this high profile. If the intruders are never caught and the act remains a “mystery” then it’s highly likely the breach was a test.
Pushing the conspiratorial envelope even further, this operation could be in reaction to never-to-be released to the public elevated threats to the Brooklyn Bridge which served as message that enhanced security is in place to thwart such efforts.
This is a huge wake-up call; in fact, these intruders did us a favor by exposing security flaws. Could it be that current security procedures are nothing more than “do not disturb” signs? More reactive than proactive? The downside is that this outrageous act may embolden foreign and homegrown hostile groups to reconsider assaults elsewhere, that is, to create chaos and mayhem, if indeed security measures aren’t as robust as advertised.
Albert Goldson is an Architectural & Engineering Contract Manager specializing in transportation mega-projects, energy, security and urban planning. An internationalist, he is a long-time Williamsburg resident.
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