The New York City police are planning a controversial new tracking program to screen and follow every vehicle entering lower Manhattan.
The plan known as 'Operation Sentinel' would utilize high tech surveillance cameras to scan drivers' license plates.
It would also install removable road blocks and radiological sensors throughout a 50-mile radius.
Seven vehicle crossings into the city, the Brooklyn-Battery, Holland, Lincoln and Queens-Midtown Tunnels, and the George Washington, Henry Hudson and Triborough Bridges, would be equipped with such devices.
Cameras would also photograph every car entering the World Trade Center site via five checkpoints manned by police officers.
"We can't deny the reality that we've had two attacks at that location, two successful terrorist attacks," Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said. "It will be, if it's not hardened, a very attractive terrorist target."
"So we certainly want to work with the community, we want to make it an open site, but it has to be safe," he said. "And we believe it will be the safest business community in the world."
Civil liberties groups have expressed privacy concerns about the project.
"This is a dragnet system that's going to result in millions of people ending up in the police department database," said Chris Dunn of the New York Civil Liberties Union. "It just goes far beyond what the police department's legitimate concerns are about terrorism or illegal activity."
Steven Emerson, executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism in Washington, agrees with the plan.
"It is one tool of ensuring that if there is somebody on a terrorist watch list or someone driving erratically, or if a pattern develops that raises suspicions, it gives them an opportunity to investigate further and - if need be - track down the drivers or the passengers," Emerson explained.
"The bottom line is they can't frisk everybody coming into Manhattan; they cannot wand everyone, as they do at airports," he said. "This is a passive collection of data that is not as personally invasive as what they do at airports."
City officials say the program could be launched within the next two years. However, the final costs of the program have not been determined.
Source: CBN News, NY1 News, New York Times