A few hours ago, two F-16 fighter jets were scrambled to escort American Airlines Flight 34 — Los Angeles to New York — on its approach to JFK airport. Apparently three passengers had locked themselves in the bathroom and were reportedly still there when the plane landed safely about two hours ago. More recently, within the last hour, the NYPD closed off a two-block stretch of Court Street, in Brooklyn Heights, after a bomb scare. By 5:40 p.m., it had been checked out and the street was reopened, FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver tweeted, adding, “Just an abundance of caution on NYPDs behalf.” As for the American Airlines flight, law-enforcement officials told Reuters that it was not believed to be a terrorism threat.
All this gusto (or, perhaps, overreaction) is a consequence of security levels that have remained on high alert this 9/11 anniversary weekend, particularly in light of “credible but unconfirmed” intelligence of a car- or truck-bomb attack. Other trouble spots have included reports that police in New York and Washington, D.C., were searching for a series of stolen vans, two of which were taken from a World Trade Center site contractor. And yesterday afternoon, a Southwest Airlines flight headed to Baltimore was diverted to Nashville after “suspicious” behavior from one of the passengers, while parts of Washington, D.C.’s Dulles airport were evacuated after some suspicious boxes on a cargo pallet. While none of these scares turned up anything — and despite the added delays, inconvenience, and anxiety — “better safe than sorry” seems like a rather appropriate attitude for right now.