NY Mayor Hits Times Square Celebration Critics
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Dec 31, 10:08 AM (ET)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg accused the head of a House of Representatives panel on terrorism of lacking courage on Wednesday for shunning the traditional Times Square New Year's eve celebration because of security worries.

Bloomberg, appearing on morning television programs Friday, equated showing up for the street party with defying terrorists.

Extra precautions, including ones he declined to discuss, were being taken to keep revelers safe, he said.

Rep. Christopher Shays, a Connecticut Republican on the House Select Committee on Homeland Security and chairman of a terrorism subcommittee, said in a television interview on Tuesday that he would not go to Times Square "for anything."

"I wouldn't go into places when you're packed and where if there was panic, a lot of injuries would take place," Shays said on Connecticut's WVIT-TV.

Bloomberg has lined up a former U.S. Army prisoner of war in Iraq, retired Specialist Shoshana Johnson, to help ring in the new year with the dropping of a brightly lighted glass ball on a tower overlooking Times Square at the stroke of midnight.

"Maybe the congressman should talk to her a little bit about courage," Bloomberg said on CBS' "The Early Show." Johnson was shot in both ankles during her capture. "You're going to see a million people here who have the courage to come," the mayor added.

This year the skies above New Year's Eve revelers in New York and some other major U.S. cities will be off-limits to certain aircraft and patrolled by warplanes as part of increased vigilance for terror attacks.

Nine days after raising America's terror alert to its second highest level due to heightened fear of attack, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said on Tuesday, the same day Shays made his comments, that temporary flight restrictions would be in place over Las Vegas, New York City, Washington and Chicago.



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