Reliable sources* are constantly sending us emails, calling us on the telephone (yes, we have those), passing us notes in anonymous envelopes through the crack at the bottom of our hotel room door and, let’s not forget, letting us know the low-down via carrier pigeons with encrypted notes strapped to their legs in small containers. That’s how we heard that the federal US government truly believe that the food trucks that roam the NYC have “terrorist implications”. It’s true – the FDNY has a Power Point presentation about it here.
So… are the food trucks of NY really out to kill you and everyone you love?
See… that wasn’t so hard to figure out, was it? But that’s not the point the DHS is trying to make, you say? They don’t think that every food truck operator in the city is a terrorist… maybe just a few. Well… let’s look at these “terrorist implications” for a moment – surely there have been incidents or arrests made, intelligence from sources deep within the terrorist networks around the world, saying this is the next step in their nefarious plans to create terror and mayhem?
What? You didn’t know? It’s true, though – there have been no terrorist incidents involving food trucks – either the traditional “roach coach” or the slightly more expensive “gourmet” food trucks. Nothing. None. But there’s surely some basis in intelligence reports that would indicate that such incidents are coming, are being planned, or at least, have been suggested at an informal terrorist brainstorming session?
Uhm… no. No such thing. In fact, it’s very likely that terrorists haven’t even thought about using those trucks before the DHS tipped them off to the access and surveillance opportunities that they present.
Anyway. That’s a lot of negativity. Let’s see what kind of effort the DHS has put into analyzing the risk that the food vendors present – surely they’ve thought about this pretty seriously, right? Some smart guy or gal – or more likely, a whole herd of them – have sat down around a table, chewed pencils and tossed ideas, scratched heads and stormed brains in order to come up with likely scenarios and risk assessments?
Take a look at that slide on the right, and you’ll see the extent of the DHS’s work on this. Let’s see… why do the food trucks present a danger? Well… they’re close to… uh… the sidewalks. Right. Good. Put that in there.
Also, they’re… uh… close to crowds? Yes! On the sidewalks! Good, put that in the power point thingy too.
As you can see, there are some things in this FDNY power point that make sense. There’s the large stores of propane in the trucks, of course… those could blow up. But do they? Both yes and no – if you hit it hard enough with another car, for example, it can blow up. It happens. Does it present a significantly bigger danger to anyone than the normal traffic and its accidents?
Take a look at the “case studies” in the presentation, and you can see that for yourself. Mind you – this has nothing to do with the terrorist implications at all – this is just the normal dangers involved in hauling propane around.
In closing, we’ll see what the excellent people at TechDirt have to say about the whole thing:
This Powerpoint is another example of good, old-fashioned fear mongering, utilizing public servants to spread the message.
At no point does this presentation offer anything resembling preemptive action or deterrents. All it does is paint a picture of food trucks as potential threats before concluding with, of all things, common sense safety tips aimed at dealing with food truck fires. The final slide paints the picture in the clearest terms, letting the viewer know exactly whose agenda is being pushed:
Prepared by Lt. Timothy Carroll
FDNY Center for Terrorism and Disaster Preparedness
Also, this is excellent, and sums this nonsense up pretty well: