Editorial: What could they learn?

GRANT SHIMMIN
Last updated 05:00 22/03/2014

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OPINION: It's one of the more brazen pieces of deception to hit the headlines in recent times, and not surprisingly it has some people pretty hot under the collar.

But is their unhappiness aimed at the right target? I'm not sure.

You've probably heard about the case. A 16-year-old American boy managed to bypass security and get himself to the top of New York's not yet completed One World Trade Centre, getting all the way up to the 104th floor, before being arrested as he tried to exit the building.

Plainly, it's not a situation that's likely to please a lot of people.

For one thing, there's the sensitivity of the site. Of course, America's tallest building has been built where the twin towers that were destroyed in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks once stood.

Understandably, nothing symbolises for Americans the myriad dangers, known and unknown, to their security and way of life like the thought of the twin towers burning and collapsing, with huge loss of life.

So the thought that a building whose construction was not only an act of remembrance, but one of defiance of its enemies, could be breached by someone as unsophisticated as a local teenager, who apparently squeezed through a 30cm gap in a fence to gain access to the construction site, will be embarrassing and concerning.

In my view, though, the response is also a mite concerning.

Associated Press reported that the teen was arrested and charged with misdemeanour criminal trespass, according to Joe Pentangelo, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the site.

He then allegedly entered the tower by climbing scaffolding.

How he got all the way to the top is not clear, but it's notable that a guard on the 104th floor, who the youngster managed to elude, has since been fired. Fair enough.

What concerns me about the charges laid against the teen is this. In all likelihood, the new building, and the other components making up the new World Trade Centre complex, will be among the most difficult buildings in America to access. Wouldn't it be prudent for the authorities to offer him his freedom, with a warning, in return for a detailed account of what he did to get into the building and all the way to the top floor. They may be reluctant to accept the suggestion, but it could just reveal some security blind spots.

Better to find about them now, than in a situation when the building is genuinely threatened.

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- The Timaru Herald

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