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Thread: The NYPD's Fight Against Terrorism

  1. #31
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    Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY


    August 5, 2004

    The Terror Alerts

    Our lives have changed so much since Sept. 11, 2001. We know that we may never again be free of the threat of terrorism. It's been a tough adjustment for everyone, and the burden on President Bush is especially heavy. Given the unprecedented circumstances and the costs of making a mistake, it's easy to understand why the administration has had so much trouble managing the way it informs the public about potential danger. But after 17 months in which alerts blinked from yellow to orange and back a half-dozen times, the White House should be past its learning curve. It isn't. The events of this week showed starkly that the system is not working.

    The administration was obviously right to warn the country that Al Qaeda had apparently studied financial institutions in three cities with the idea of a possible attack. But the delivery of the message was confusing. The color-coded threat chart doesn't serve the purpose for which it was invented, and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge is hopeless as a public spokesman on this issue. The Bush administration needs to come up with a method of communication that informs the public in a calm, clear way. Perhaps most important, people need to be made totally confident that this critical matter is not being tangled up in the presidential campaign.

    The alert system has always rested on a precarious balance. Local officials must have up-to-date information about possible danger. Private citizens need to know, too, so they can make informed choices and be on the lookout for trouble. But it is possible to go overboard. Ratcheting up the warning level creates huge costs for city and state governments. And if Americans are warned too often, and too shrilly, they will become inured to terror alerts.

    In the past, Mr. Ridge and others have talked ominously about intelligence that they have routinely described as the most alarming since 9/11, without providing details. This week they were specific: the five financial institutions were in danger of being bombed in the "near term." The terror alert was raised to orange for those sites in New York, Washington and New Jersey. But things quickly lapsed into confusion. For three days, officials at news conferences and background briefings said their concerns were based on new information, then old information, then back to new information. Many people were scared out of their wits on Monday, cynical on Tuesday and befuddled by yesterday.

    Mr. Bush should junk the color bars, which are now of use mostly to late-night comedians. Ordinary people have no way of calibrating their lives to the color ladder. It does them no good to be told to be scared, more scared or really scared, especially when they are also being told to act as if nothing's wrong. Unless the government is prepared to tell people to stay home from work, there's no reason to keep lighting the terror lamps. What we need is information that we can use, not another shot of adrenaline.

    We would have been happy last weekend if a senior official more adept than Mr. Ridge had called a news conference to say what the government knew and what defensive measures had been taken. Instead, he spoke in apocalyptic terms, then produced an "intelligence official" who offered more detail and more alarming words, anonymously. Later that day, and on the next day and the day after, other officials spoke off the record, providing additional information that made the situation seem much more complicated.

    There's a practical aspect to the terror alerts that the administration must address to demonstrate its own commitment. The higher alert levels require local governments to take enormously expensive actions, for which Washington is not paying its share. The Homeland Security Department has made it clear that New York City is the spot that comes up most frequently in terrorism-related intelligence, yet money continues to be doled out in a manner that has much more to do with elections than genuine danger. It's shocking that Washington has not followed through on its own information by underwriting the protections cities need to stay safe.

    Finally, there is the matter of politics. The Bush administration expressed outrage at the suggestion that there could be any politics behind any of its warnings, but the president has some history to overcome on this issue. There is nothing more important for Mr. Bush to do every day until Nov. 2 than to make it clear that he would never hype a terror alert to help his re-election chances. It is a challenge complicated by the fact that he is running on his record against terrorism and is using images of 9/11 and the threat of more attacks to promote his candidacy. The president's credibility on national security issues was gravely wounded by the way he misled Americans, intentionally or not, about the reasons for invading Iraq - including the suggestion that the war was part of the campaign against Al Qaeda.

    Some of the past terror alerts have seemed aimless and happened when the Bush administration would have benefited from a change in the political conversation. On Sunday, when the administration had grim and specific information to convey, Mr. Ridge did a real disservice to himself, his president and the public by giving what amounted to a campaign pitch for "the president's leadership in the war against terror.''

    It's hard to write that off as an offhand comment. If Mr. Ridge is to continue in this role, he must stay out of the election; using him as a campaign surrogate would be disastrous for public confidence. The administration should also stop dropping dark hints about Al Qaeda's having election-related motives to attack, as if a vote against the current president were appeasement.

    Americans are stone-cold serious when it comes to potential terror attacks - there is no need to worry about making them pay attention. We have learned since Sept. 11, 2001, to value every day in which nothing terrible happens as a gift and an opportunity. The Bush administration has been given the same blessing. Every morning the president and his deputies are challenged not only to renew their war against potential terrorists, but also to earn the confidence of the people they aim to protect.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  2. #32
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    Security Muddle

    Thursday, August 5, 2004; Page A18

    ON SUNDAY the secretary of homeland security, Tom Ridge, announced that his department had "new and unusually specific information about where al Qaeda would like to attack," coming from sources that provided intelligence of a quality "rarely seen." He provided the public with a list of five likely targets, including the World Bank and International Monetary Fund buildings in Washington. Security measures around those buildings were duly increased.

    On Monday law enforcement officials were telling the media -- mostly off the record -- that the intelligence showed the existence not of an ongoing plot but rather of an old al Qaeda surveillance operation dating several years. Some said it did not warrant a raised security alert and closed streets.

    On Tuesday the White House restated its case, pointing journalists toward additional sources of intelligence that hadn't been revealed on Sunday. According to Mr. Ridge, "The detail, the sophistication, the thoroughness of this information, if you had access to it, you'd say we did the right thing."

    The trouble is, we don't have access to that information, and therein lies the difficulty for the public, the police and the intelligence officers who are trying to reveal as much of what they know as they can, and trying to prevent another cataclysmic terrorist attack at the same time. By its very nature, intelligence is vague: If it were not, the FBI presumably would have foiled the plot and arrested the plotters. But the vagueness of intelligence puts a special burden on those who seek to convey it to the public and the police.

    Much of this confusion could have been avoided if, for example, Mr. Ridge and the intelligence officials who provided the original background briefings had been clearer about the significance, age and multiple sources of the new material: both "old" surveillance information that al Qaeda gathered before Sept. 11, 2001, as well as separate, powerful evidence of ongoing operations, which could not be presented in the same detail. Part of the problem is also Mr. Ridge's inability to resist boosterism in his public pronouncements, whether through references to the president's "leadership" or to his own department's achievements. At least one part of the difficulty DHS faces in telling the public about terrorist threats, however, is not of Mr. Ridge's making: the credibility gap that this administration suffers because of past intelligence failures.

    Nevertheless, it is worth noting that the intelligence officials who have described this information are apolitical professionals who believe they have made significant gains in their understanding of al Qaeda's methods in the past few days. They are not well served by a homeland security bureaucracy that continues to struggle to find a believable and useful way to communicate with the public, nor by an administration that has misinterpreted intelligence. But their efforts to protect the nation from a genuine threat should not be minimized.

    © 2004 The Washington Post Company

  3. #33


    August 14, 2004

    Police Tactic Against Terror: Let's Network


    Detective Goldberg, left, visits John Morici, manager of a Stop & Stor in Brooklyn, in a mundane but crucial part of an antiterror program.

    In January, their mission was to speak before a mosquito sprayers' convention in Harrisburg, Pa. In April, the detectives attended a meeting of self-storage business owners in Atlanta. This summer, they were in Naples, Fla., mingling with propane gas vendors at their trade association's annual conference.

    These are, admittedly, not the sort of assignments that investigators envision when they join the New York Police Department. But such missions, however mundane, have become as much a part of police counterterrorism efforts as the posting of detectives in places like Tel Aviv and Singapore, the planning for a bioterror attack or the identification of Arab speakers on the force.

    Involving more grunt work than glamour, the city's counterterrorism effort has largely been built atop a nuts-and-bolts program of cultivating contacts with the businesses that might become unwitting parts of the next terror plot. Detectives visit scuba shops and hardware stores. They talk to parking garage attendants and plastic surgeons, hotel managers and tool rental companies, bulk fuel dealers and trade schools.

    Police officials acknowledge that the program, which grew out of an effort two years ago to contact businesses that sold explosives, is something of a needle-in-a-haystack approach to stopping an attack or tracking down terrorist cells that may be plotting one. But in the post-9/11 world, in light of the failure of government agencies to act on a range of clues in the weeks and months before the attacks, they argue that no effort to develop this kind of early-warning system is wasted.

    Called Operation Nexus, the program has focused on particular types of businesses based on intelligence that the department has culled from sources like an Al Qaeda manual for terrorist operatives and debriefings of some of the group's leaders and foot soldiers, said David Cohen, the deputy commissioner for intelligence.

    Those debriefings and other evidence have suggested, among other things, that Al Qaeda has at least considered, if not plotted, using scuba divers to blow up bridges, riding in tourist helicopters for surveillance, turning trucks and limousines into rolling bombs and using special torches to cut the cables of the Brooklyn Bridge.

    And Mr. Cohen noted that Qaeda members are trained to avoid the police.

    "The next Mohamed Atta is far more likely to intersect with someone in the private sector than a law enforcement officer," he said, referring to the leader of the Sept. 11 plot.

    Mr. Cohen, a former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency, who oversees the program, said it is based on personal contact with people and repeated visits to various businesses. "If you take the time to talk to people, it leaves an imprint," he said.

    The effort is focused largely in and around New York City, where six or so detectives have made close to 20,000 visits, returning to some businesses time and again to leave their business cards and the department's terrorism hot line number. The detectives are encouraged to spend time with the businesses, leaving an outline of what they describe as possibly suspicious activity tailored for each type of business: more than 60 altogether, said Lt. Christopher S. Higgins, whom police officials credit with developing the program from concept to reality.

    At an agricultural or mosquito-spraying business, which the authorities fear could be used to spread a biological agent like anthrax, the detectives cite possible warning signs like the loss, theft or attempted theft of equipment or machine components. They tell business owners to call if they encounter evasive customers who inquire about equipment but seem to lack previous experience in the industry.

    Businesses that offer used emergency vehicles for sale are told to watch for requests to buy fire or police vehicles with radios or other equipment intact. Army-Navy and uniform stores are warned to watch for people who say they are in the military or civil service but who make statements suggesting their stories are false.

    "We're going to have eyeball-to-eyeball contact with that individual who may be approached by someone who wants to do harm to our city," Mr. Cohen said, noting that the business owners themselves can best spot an anomaly.

    Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, who instituted the program, said it quickly expanded from its initial focus on explosives and marinas, at a time when there was heightened concern about terrorists using boats in attacks, to a wide range of other businesses. They include chemical and insecticide companies, livery car businesses, truck and van rentals, travel agencies and self-storage businesses, where the authorities fear terrorists could store explosives or radioactive materials for a dirty bomb.

    "We're looking for anything that with a little thought could be used by a terrorist," Mr. Kelly said.

    Glenn Martin, a vice president of Helicopter Applications Inc., an agricultural spraying company in Pennsylvania, said that in a presentation to the Northeast Agricultural Aviation Association in Harrisburg this year, two Nexus detectives provided companies that do mosquito-spraying and crop-dusting with some insight into what they should look for. "It just drove the point home, basically," he said in a telephone interview. "We have to be more vigilant."

    Other jurisdictions, including the Metropolitan Police in London, have studied New York's program and are trying to use it as a model in some fashion, Lieutenant Higgins said. The New York State Office of Public Security recently put in place a mirror image of the city's program across the state.

    In at least one instance, though, the New York City detectives have raised the hackles of law enforcement authorities elsewhere. Last year, to test the program's effectiveness, detectives called scuba shops in New Jersey without identifying themselves and made several suspicious requests, seeking to pay cash for diving lessons and to avoid the required paperwork.

    The store owners called the New Jersey authorities, who were unaware of the New York detectives' actions and were annoyed that they had not been notified, an official said.

    Over all, the program has won high marks. Many current and former counterterrorism analysts say an aggressive approach, devised to provide an early warning that operatives or their supporters are already at work in this country, is critical to any antiterrorism effort.

    "In today's day and age, where the ramifications of terrorism are so great, you've got to prevent,'' said Larry Mefford, who oversaw the F.B.I.'s counterterrorism and counterintelligence programs until he retired last year. "You can't wait for the attack, especially when you're talking about the future and the possible use of weapons of mass destruction.

    "If you don't have a system like this, you're saying by default, 'They'll never get through our defenses,' and we obviously know from our past experience that that's not realistic."

    As high as the stakes are, the work itself can be grindingly dull, visiting business after business and trying to remain energized. "This is the part of the business that is unrelenting and unglamorous," Mr. Cohen said.

    Lieutenant Higgins said he usually fields three teams of two detectives each day, and they are expected to visit more than a dozen sites a day. Each visit is recorded in an extensive database that tracks the contacts, listing the detective assigned, the type of business, hours of operation, those who were spoken to, and whether they have any security equipment, like video cameras, that can capture images of people who come in.

    Mr. Cohen said the program is a crucial part of the city's shield even if it is hard to quantify its effectiveness. For one thing, it is hard to know whether an attack has been prevented, officials noted. For another, callers to the terrorism hot line do not generally identify whether their call was prompted by a Nexus visit.

    "The risk is the farther we get from 9/11, complacency sets in, and we simply won't let that happen," Mr. Cohen said. "So we start out the day knowing that we are the bull's-eye. So how many have we stopped, we don't know. We do know a couple of things: We know we've been attacked; we know they have said very clearly they want to come back; we know we are high on the target list."

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  4. #34


    November 21, 2004

    City and F.B.I. Reach Agreement on Bioterror Investigations


    The New York Police Department, the F.B.I. and the city's health department have agreed for the first time on a set of rules that will govern investigations of suspected biological attacks in the city, detailing the roles the agencies will play as well as how confidential medical information is to be shared.

    The "protocol," a six-page document that officials regard as something of a remarkable cooperation agreement, resulted in part from lessons learned in New York during the 2001 anthrax letter attacks, which killed five people in Florida and the Northeast and infected more than a dozen others in the months after the Sept. 11 strikes.

    The anthrax investigations, and several subsequent inquiries into suspected germ attacks, were strained by tension between health and law enforcement officials over turf and procedures.

    The accord, which was worked out in confidential, sometimes contentious meetings over the last two years, states that while law enforcement officials have the lead in investigating any terrorist crime, such investigations must be conducted jointly with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene since physicians are likely to be the first to identify a victim of a germ attack.

    To aid that effort, the protocol agreement details some novel compromises among agencies that sometimes have competing interests.

    For instance, law enforcement officials, in the course of a bioterrorism investigation, will have access to the once typically confidential medical information of those who might have become infected. But the police and F.B.I. must keep such information confidential. And to encourage sick people to seek medical help, law enforcement agencies have agreed essentially to overlook a sick person's immigration problems or minor criminal activities.

    The agreement also lays out some minor but still meaningful tactics. For example, law enforcement officials involved in interviews of patients will, by design, not wear uniforms, to avoid intimidating possible victims. And while patients will be interviewed jointly by teams of medical and law enforcement officials, physicians will be authorized to ask police and federal agents to leave the room.

    "This is a groundbreaking agreement in uncharted waters," said Michael A. Sheehan, the Police Department's deputy commissioner for counterterrorism. "Both law enforcement and the public health community have made some tough compromises on what they consider sacred ground. But New Yorkers will be safer and healthier for it."

    With the agreement, which was signed a month ago by Thomas R. Frieden, the health commissioner; Raymond W. Kelly, the police commissioner; and Pasquale J. D'Amuro, the assistant director of the F.B.I.'s New York office, New York becomes the first city in the nation to have adopted such a formalized protocol.

    Richard A. Falkenrath, President Bush's former deputy homeland security adviser, said that he knew of no comparable agreement at the federal level and that New York was ahead of other cities in trying to systematically sort through the roles of public health and law enforcement officials in a potential bioterrorist attack.

    "This is in the public interest to do," Mr. Falkenrath said.

    A copy of the internal protocol was provided to The New York Times. It provides for joint training of law enforcement and public health officials that is scheduled to start in January.

    The agreement has not solved all outstanding issues. For instance, it does not state when and how quickly public health officials must notify the F.B.I. and police if they come across someone who may be infected with a dangerous germ. Officials said that law enforcement and public health officials were still discussing which germs should require immediate notification and joint investigations as part of a separate agreement, a so-called "annex" to the broader agreement.

    According to a draft of the annex, the city's health department is to provide immediate notification of the detection of illnesses that could involve nine pathogens, including germs that cause anthrax, plague, and such virally induced, highly infectious diseases as smallpox and Ebola. But the Police Department is trying to broaden that list to include germs that also cause Q fever and tularemia, which though naturally occurring, have also been studied by several countries for use as potential germ weapons.

    In areas of disagreement concerning the specifics of how the joint efforts will work, law enforcement and health personnel may rely on what one official called the document's "creative ambiguity."

    "A lot of this has to do with trust that has developed between the people who have worked together on bioterrorism investigations," said Dr. Dani Margot-Zavasky, a physician with the Police Department who helped draft the accord.

    Phil T. Pulaski, assistant chief of the Police Department's counterterrorism bureau, said the accord reflected an effort to institutionalize that trust, along with the techniques and procedures that have developed over time. The accord was hedged and filled with qualifiers because of what he called the "knucklehead factor" - the "one-in-one-hundred chance that someone will try to wave this document around to assert authority in a spirit that was not intended."

    The effort to draft such rules actually predate the 9/11 and anthrax letter attacks of 2001, some officials said. William A. Zinnikas, the weapons of mass destruction coordinator for the F.B.I.'s New York office, said he and Marcelle Layton, his counterpart from the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, began discussing the need for such guidelines in 1999.

    "It was derived from a common acknowledgment of the problems we would all face if an incident of bioterrorism were to develop in New York City," Mr. Zinnikas said.

    But the effort did not move at a "lightning pace" until after the 9/11 and anthrax attacks, Mr. Pulaski said. "Before that, there was just no immediacy."

    The communication gaps, turf disputes between departments, fear of sharing information, and other complications highlighted by the anthrax letter attacks, a crime that remains unsolved, were reinforced by other, less well publicized bioterrorism scares, officials said.

    Law enforcement and public health officials referred specifically to an investigation in the summer of 2003 of a suspected case of brucellosis, also known as undulant fever, a disease that can be caused by a biological attack but that is usually acquired from consuming unpasteurized dairy products.

    Accounts of the tension vary, but officials said that after a Syrian man checked himself into a New York hospital and seemed to be suffering from an illness that could have been deliberately induced, the medical staff resisted turning over to the police potentially relevant information about him and his case. The police, according to two separate accounts of the case, reacted by pursuing the investigation very aggressively at the hospital.

    Encouraged by the health department, the medical staff at the hospital finally began cooperating more fully. Both the medical investigators and the police eventually concluded that the man had acquired brucellosis, which is not contagious person-to-person, naturally during a vacation back home.

    Some physicians continue resisting the growing trend in New York and at the federal level toward joint investigations by medical and law enforcement officials, and, in particular, the sharing of sensitive medical data that identify individuals by name.

    Victor Sidel, a past president of the American Public Health Association and the New York City Public Health Association, expressed concern that such information-sharing might dissuade sick people from seeking medical help and hence, encourage the chances that infectious agents might spread throughout the city.

    "I find the provision of such medical information inimical to human freedom and medical care," he said. Based on a reporter's description of the protocol, which has not been made public, he said he feared that the agreement negotiated between law enforcement and public health officials might jeopardize civil liberties and fail to provide the security it claims to bolster.

    "There must be a balance between human freedom and counterterrorism," he said. "And an agreement like this steps over the line."

    Public health and law enforcement officials disagreed, saying the accord contained many acknowledgments of the need to safeguard sensitive patient information and to underscore the fact that while physicians and police may have common goals, they continue to have separate cultures, rules, and requirements.

    "We are not an agent of the police," said Dr. Frieden, the health commissioner. He noted that under the agreement, medical records would continue to be controlled by public health officials. "Our documents do not become declassified," he said. "Unless there is a bioterrorist event, that information is essentially sealed from the public, permanently and forever."

    He said that "99.999 percent of the time," the health department carried out its mandate to protect public health without Police Department help. But in certain rare cases, he added, "I make the determination that police help would be valuable."

    "Many of us are queasy about sharing health data with anybody, because we take confidentially of health data very seriously," said Dr. Frieden, who oversees the nation's largest municipal public health department of some 6,000 people and an annual budget of $1.5 billion. "There has never been a breach of this confidentiality as far as I know."

    But after the Sept. 11 and anthrax attacks, "we all became much more aware of the circumstances in which the police and health departments must work together," he said.

    The document acknowledges what Dr. Zavasky and Assistant Chief Pulaski called the differing approaches and concerns of each community. The document notes that all parties to the accord recognized the "potential chilling effect" that the presence of law enforcement officers might have on patients being interviewed and on medical professionals. It states, "it is understood that joint investigations remain essentially a public health epidemiological investigational activity," and that the health department is "not an agent of law enforcement when conducting investigations."

    Nevertheless, securing access to sensitive patient data is sometimes critical, said Mr. Sheehan, the police counterterrorism deputy director, because it may help spot a bioterrorism attack more quickly and by limiting the spread of a deadly germ, save hundreds, and potentially thousands of lives.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  5. #35


    February 23, 2005

    New York's Hidden Team on the Trail of Terrorism


    The Police Department's counterterrorism office, on Coney Island, focuses partly on radical religious groups overseas that are considered possible feeder organizations for overtly terrorist groups.

    ast August, shortly before the Republican National Convention, New York police officials grew concerned about a Pakistani immigrant from Queens who had begun telling his friends that he was going to plant a bomb in the subway station in Herald Square.

    A group of Police Department analysts quickly built a profile of the immigrant, drawing on confidential informants, surveillance and links with other law enforcement agencies around the world. Although he did not have ties to known terrorists, the analysts discovered, he had moved from idle threats to making sketches of the station and talking about buying explosives. Within a few days, the immigrant and an accomplice were arrested on a conspiracy charge, and their case is pending.

    The analysts who helped build that case, as it happens, were not police officers. They were civilians, part of a group of eight hired over the past two years to educate the department about terrorist tactics and help search for threats in the city.

    They are far from typical police recruits: all of them arrived at the Police Department with advanced degrees, and several have done stints at Ivy League universities and the Council on Foreign Relations. One speaks fluent Arabic and has years of experience in the Middle East; another speaks Armenian, Romanian, German and Spanish and has a background in intelligence.

    Together, they represent a new facet of police work in New York: understanding the roots of terrorism.

    The analyst program, which several terrorism experts said was the first of its kind in the country, was conceived by Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly in late 2001 as one phase of a broad antiterrorist effort that has already transformed the department. On any given day, 1,000 department employees work directly on terrorism-related issues, including active investigations and biological-weapons drills. The department now has its own liaison officers working full time in Britain, France, Israel, Canada and Singapore, all of them filing daily reports on developments there.

    One challenge, though, has been figuring out what to do with that flood of information.

    "I knew in putting these things together that we needed professional analysts to synthesize the information coming in from a variety of sources," Mr. Kelly said recently. "So we reached out."

    The first civilian analysts were hired for the department's intelligence division in 2003. The division is housed in a two-story office that is discreetly hidden above a busy Manhattan shopping mall. (The department asked that the exact location be kept secret.) There are now five analysts based there, working alongside Arabic and Farsi linguists, dozens of police detectives and liaison officers from other city and state agencies.

    Most of their time is spent sorting through the vast sea of data that comes in every day from a variety of sources: confidential informants, interrogations, surveillance of criminal suspects and the department's telephone tip line, which receives as many as 150 calls a day.

    "Someone's taking pictures here, someone else is buying canisters there; we have to put it together and figure out what it means," said Laura J. Mendelson, an analyst who has worked in the intelligence division for two years.

    Ms. Mendelson is the only analyst who has clearance to see classified federal government documents. Her colleagues' access to the government's most important information is limited for now, but they are expected to receive clearance soon, said David Cohen, the Police Department's deputy commissioner for intelligence, who worked for 35 years at the Central Intelligence Agency.

    Ms. Mendelson has worked in the Middle East and North Africa and speaks fluent Arabic, an advantage in ferreting out information from the city's Arab immigrants.

    Another analyst worked previously at the Council on Foreign Relations, and a third was hired after he impressed Mr. Cohen with a presentation at Columbia University on terrorist financing.

    Three of the analysts work in the counterterrorism division, based on Coney Island. Their work is more academic, focusing not only on terrorist attacks but also on radical religious groups, mostly based in the Middle East and South Asia, that are widely considered feeders for terrorist organizations.

    "The thought is that a lot of these groups are steppingstones to more radical groups," said Madeleine Gruen, one of the counterterrorism analysts, who earned a master's degree studying with one of the world's foremost experts on Al Qaeda, Rohan Gunaratna.

    Even the analysts' reports, though, are far more pragmatic than anything a university would produce. They include reviews of major terrorist attacks throughout the world, and all of them end with sections titled "Implications for New York" and "Best Practices."

    The analysts earn $55,000 to $75,000 a year, depending on their experience, said Mr. Cohen, the deputy intelligence commissioner.

    The department plans to hire more analysts soon and to build a career ladder for them, with a pay scale similar to the one offered in the State Department, said Michael A. Sheehan, the deputy commissioner for counterterrorism.

    All of them could earn far more working for private security companies, as some of them did before coming to the Police Department. But several analysts said working for the city has been much more rewarding.

    "Our mandate is to contribute to the fight on the front lines," Ms. Gruen said. "It's not just about finding out the motives and ideology of the guy who puts a bomb in a garbage can; it's about finding out what kind of bomb he used."

    Terrorism experts say the New York analysts are as good as those being hired by the federal government.

    "Fighting terrorism is largely about information, and the N.Y.P.D. has been out front in making sure they harness that information," said Bruce Hoffman, an authority on terrorism and the director of the Rand Corporation's Washington office. "The civilian analysts have been essential to that."

    In some ways, Mr. Hoffman said, the New York department is ahead of the federal government.

    After terrorists struck at a Madrid train station last March 11, New York had four of its officers at the scene that evening, long before the F.B.I. team arrived.

    F.B.I. officials resented that, and sometimes believe that New York is too eager to do everything on its own, said two former federal officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

    New York police officials say they do not always get what they need from the federal government and cannot afford to wait. The day after the Madrid attack, for instance, police officers back in New York were already conducting modified antiterrorism drills based on the information gleaned by the department's officers in Spain.

    The civilian analysts helped out in that effort, assessing the reports from Madrid and then writing a report on that attack's lessons for New York.

    Ultimately, the goal is to spread the analysts' expertise to as many police officers as possible, Mr. Kelly said. To that end, the department opened a counterterrorism library at the Coney Island office. It is still small, and it has not yet been made available to officers outside the counterterrorism division.

    On a recent morning, several of the division's own officers were sitting in a screening room at the library, watching a documentary about terrorist attacks in Israel and Iraq. In the next room, a detective was staring at blueprints for a building on the Upper East Side, working on a traffic plan that would provide better protection from car bombs. On the tables, books lay scattered: "Jihad," "America's Achilles' Heel," "A Historical Encyclopedia of the Arab-Israeli Conflict."

    One of the division's commanders, Capt. Joseph Cordes, stood nearby taking it all in.

    "In August of 2001 I was a cop in a detective bureau doing narcotics," he said, "and what I knew about international affairs came from Time magazine. Now all of us have to get schooled up real quick on international terror."

    Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

  6. #36
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    Feb 2003
    New York City

    Default 'Ring of Steel' for Lower Manhattan

    Wall Street Journal

    'Ring of Steel' for New York?

    To Protect Lower Manhattan, Police Study London's Effort: Cameras, Controlling Access

    AS NEW YORK law enforcement agencies and businesses consider how to improve security as part of the plan to rebuild lower Manhattan, they are looking to London for ideas on guarding against potential terrorist attacks and fighting crime.

    The hallmark of London's strategy is what officials call "the ring of steel." The phrase refers to closed-circuit cameras and narrow roads that encircle the City of London, the neighborhood that houses London's financial district as well as such historic sights as St. Paul's Cathedral. The narrow roads create just a few entry points to the area that police can block off, if necessary, while cameras scan for wanted vehicles and monitor traffic and people entering and exiting the area. The neighborhood also has its own police force.

    The New York City Police Department is considering erecting a similar "ring of steel" around lower Manhattan. Paul Browne, NYPD's deputy commissioner of public information, says that while it is "still too early in the process" to comment on specifics, police officials are most interested in the elements of the "ring of steel" model that involve using more closed-circuit TVs and introducing controlled entrances and exits into the area.

    "In creating the plan for the World Trade Center site, we are looking at best practices around the globe as we seek to create a new state-of-the-art security model," James Kallstrom, counterterrorism adviser to New York Gov. George Pataki and designer of the new World Trade Center site's security plans, said in a statement last week. Mr. Kallstrom declined to comment beyond the statement.

    The NYPD declined to say which lower-Manhattan streets, if any, may be narrowed. It is unlikely New York City officials will allow a separate police force to cover lower Manhattan, an area defined by police and the Downtown Alliance, a nonprofit group comprising companies and business owners, as south of Chambers Street and between the Hudson and East rivers. While recent discussions have focused on lower Manhattan, a law enforcement official close to the situation said the NYPD's plans may extend to midtown Manhattan as well.

    New York officials have been looking at London systems since last summer, after suicide bombers attacked London's subway system and a bus on July 7. Cameras captured time-stamped photos of the bombers as they entered the subway, and others who attempted a similar crime a few weeks later, and helped identify the suspects. A team of New York police officers visited London for five days in September and were given access to the City of London's security and investigative procedures and talked to officers, according to James Hart, the City of London's police commissioner.

    Similarities between lower Manhattan and the City of London are likely to help authorities with their planning. Both neighborhoods are about a square mile in area. Some 300,000 commuters travel through each area daily. Both are global financial hubs, with banks and stock exchanges that remain targets for terror attacks.

    In both cities, the subways are major funnels bringing people into the neighborhoods and vulnerability points. Closed-circuit cameras monitor the London Tube, as the subway is called. In New York, the subway system went further than the rest of the country -- though still not as far as London's -- when it unveiled a $212 million project with Lockheed Martin Corp. in October 2004 to install 1,000 closed-circuit cameras with 3,000 sensors. The project, which isn't expected to be completed until 2008, includes command centers that will monitor the cameras in real time. The subway has 1,000 cameras already.

    The New York police have 3,100 closed-circuit cameras in 12 housing projects and additional cameras in select parts of the city, including lower Manhattan. New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has said that the city should install additional cameras. Police say the cameras have slashed crime rates by double digits in the housing projects. Mr. Kelly declined to comment for this article.

    London implemented the ring of steel in 1993, after Irish Republican Army bombings struck the city and other areas in the early 1990s. Many of the measures in London largely go unnoticed. The City has 16 entry and 12 exit points where the roads were narrowed and marked with iron posts painted a decorative red, white and black. The posts also deter truck bombs. Recent upgrades include extending the security zone to the north and west, and adding cameras, Mr. Hart says.

    At each entry point, a camera screens license plates and feeds the data to a computerized system that can flag stolen or wanted vehicles. If a wanted car is spotted, a control room at police headquarters can be alerted within four seconds. Last year the system read 37 million plates and identified 91,000 positive matches for wanted vehicles. Nearly 550 arrests were made as a result. In London, "you're always on CCTV somewhere," says City of London police constable Phil Rudrum.

    A network of closed-circuit cameras are mounted on the sides of buildings or on poles. The images are streamed live to police headquarters in the City and are monitored around the clock.

    Civil liberty concerns have been raised but following IRA bombings in the 1990s, many Brits haven't raised civil-liberties objections to the cameras.

    "The trade-off is that the prevention and disruption of terrorist activity is certainly worth the risk," says Mr. Hart, adding that the force has pledged that the monitoring system won't be used to prosecute minor crimes such as littering.

    Such measures, though, will face privacy concerns in New York. To bolster its objection to the potential for the government to use photos invasively, the New York Civil Liberties Union last summer sent 10 college students to count surveillance cameras in the city.

    They found the number of cameras in lower Manhattan had increased to 1,300 from 446 in 1998. These are mostly private surveillance cameras owned and operated by building owners and shops. The group says it plans to recommend to the New York City Council and state legislature limits to how the city uses CCTV photos.

    "The NYPD has to develop policies that protect individual privacy and that do not turn us into a surveillance society where people have to worry that every move is being captured on camera," says Donna Lieberman, executive director of the liberties group.

    The NYPD's Mr. Browne disputes the notion that surveillance data would be misused. "Our interest in cameras is for crime suppression," he says.

    The City of London's police force is separate from the rest of London, which is serviced by the Metropolitan Police Service, also known as Scotland Yard. The United Kingdom government is weighing whether to merge the two, a move the City of London and businesses oppose.

    Many investment banks in the City of London appreciate the presence of a special police force. One cold gray afternoon this week, for example, Mr. Rudrum, the constable, walked his beat, checking in with security officers at each building where he stops. His stroll takes him past a pub and then Merrill Lynch & Co., where he also visits with security.

    Security experts from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. have also been involved in the discussions.

    Just weeks after the London bombings, Mr. Hart met in Manhattan with security experts from the investment firm, which is building a 2.1 million-square-foot headquarters near the site of the World Trade Center.

    "We regularly report possible terrorist and criminal activity to the police and receive a first-class response," Goldman Sachs Managing Director Paul Deighton wrote in a letter of support for the City of London force. "Normally a police officer will be at our offices within two minutes of our making a telephone call."

  7. #37
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003


    I read the first few paragraphs, and the thing that comes to my mind first is that, although this may provide security against terrorist attacks, it makes NYC sound more like a military base or prison than a city.

    Scares me a bit....

  8. #38


    May 6, 2006
    City to Lose Man Who Led Terror Fight

    Michael A. Sheehan, the Police Department's senior counterterrorism official who for three years has been a principal force behind the city's programs to prevent and respond to a possible attack, will leave his post later this month, police officials and Mr. Sheehan said yesterday.

    A retired Army Special Forces colonel who served two stints in the White House as a member of the National Security Council, Mr. Sheehan, 51, will be a distinguished fellow at New York University's Center on Law and Security and teach at the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he graduated in 1977.

    He said he also planned to write a book about the challenges facing America's counterterrorism efforts — and how the many misconceptions about the threat diminish the country's ability to address it effectively. At the same time, he said, he will work in the financial services industry as a security consultant.

    In addition to his military career, Mr. Sheehan was the top counterterrorism official at the State Department and helped oversee peacekeeping efforts with the United Nations. Citing his 33 years in government, he said yesterday that he wanted to continue to serve, but in a different way.

    "It's time for me to go to a different level," Mr. Sheehan said, "and for the first time in my life, I'm going to be able to write and speak and enter the public policy discussion and hopefully bring a little added value to that discussion in an nonpartisan way."

    Mr. Sheehan, an intensely energetic man whose slim frame belies a forceful personality, had a military career that included stints as a counterinsurgency adviser in El Salvador and a Special Forces commander in Panama.

    At the Police Department, as the deputy commissioner for counterterrorism, he oversees about 220 officers and investigators. Their responsibilities include protecting the city's infrastructure — from roadways and the financial system to the water supply. He helped develop and put in place a training program to deal with chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons.

    Among those investigators are about 110 detectives assigned to the F.B.I.-N.Y.P.D. Joint Terrorist Task Force. He said one of his main accomplishments was working to help change the culture there from one focused on law enforcement to one directed toward intelligence gathering.

    It was also Mr. Sheehan, whose strong objections to the plans for the Freedom Tower, rooted in his deep concerns about security at the planned building, forced its redesign. He was a driving force behind the department's program to search bags in the city's subways, which began in July 2005. "As he did the nation, Mike Sheehan served the N.Y.P.D. beyond measure," Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said in a statement yesterday. "No one worked harder or with more professionalism or expertise. He helped transform the Police Department so it could combat terrorism and better protect New York."

    Mr. Sheehan's departure leaves open a major position in the department, which has made preventing terrorism and preparing for another possible attack perhaps its highest priority.

    Bruce Hoffman, a counterterrorism expert at the Rand Corporation, called Mr. Sheehan's time at the Police Department "one of immense stewardship." He said Mr. Sheehan's broad experience would make it hard to replace him.

    "There are few people in the country, let alone the world, that really have his knowledge and understanding of terrorism as a phenomenon and from the diversity of perspective he brought to bear on it," he said. "So it's a big pair of shoes to fill."

    One official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because Mr. Sheehan's replacement has not yet been selected, said the leading candidate among several under consideration was Andrew C. McCarthy, a former assistant United States attorney in Manhattan who led the prosecution of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, who was found guilty in 1995 of conspiring to blow up New York landmarks. Mr. McCarthy also took part in other terrorism investigations in New York after the Sept. 11 attacks.

    Mr. McCarthy, now a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, would not comment except to say, "It's always an honor to hear your name bandied about in a situation like this."

    Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

  9. #39
    Forum Veteran
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    New York City



    Attack-proof power line to be installed under NY

    Mon May 21, 2007 1:10PM EDT

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Consolidated Edison, Inc and American Superconductor Corporation have agreed to put a superconducting power line under midtown New York that should lead to a sturdier power grid able to withstand extreme weather and attacks.

    The move is part of an effort by Con Ed to upgrade the power grid in New York. A power outage in Queens, New York last summer, and the August 2003 blackout that hit parts of the U.S. Northeast, Canada and the Midwest, have raised concerns about power delivery in New York's financial district, seen as vital to the nation's economy.

    The Department of Homeland Security will fund up to $25 million for the nearly $40 million superconductor cable, it calls "Project Hydra," after the mythical Greek monster that grew back multiple heads when one was severed.

    The cable will link two substations in Manhattan. The department said the project could lead to further deployment of the technology which also suppresses power surges.

    "We have asked AMSC and Consolidated Edison to demonstrate superconductor solutions in New York City that will serve to keep our centers of commerce on line under all conditions - including grid events related to severe weather, accidents or terrorist attacks," Jay Cohen, the Department of Homeland Security's undersecretary for technology, said in a statement on Monday.

    High temperature superconducting cables made with ceramic materials can carry 10 times more power than traditional cables, but are costly and face technological challenges.

    Superconducting cable must be cooled with liquid nitrogen to -382 degrees Fahrenheit (-230 Celsius). At that point, conductivity resistance falls, allowing the cables to carry the extra power.

    The New York project will be carried out in two stages with deployment of the cable by 2010, a spokesman for American Superconductor said.

  10. #40


    Rail Security Drill Involves 150 Amtrak Stations

    Hiroko Masuike for The New York Times
    Officers from the Amtrak Police Department, Transportation Security Administration, Homeland Security and New York Police Department during the morning rush hour in the Amtrak area of New York Penn Station on Tuesday.

    Published: September 23, 2008

    Amtrak and the Transportation Security Administration deployed officers from about 100 local police departments to 150 train stations in 13 states and the District of Columbia during the morning rush on Tuesday in a drill to familiarize law enforcement personnel with the rail system and to practice working together. An Amtrak spokesman said some travelers were asked for identification and some were told to open their bags for inspection.

    In many cases, the exercise meant mostly that more police officers were present in Amtrak and commuter rail stations, although some commuters may not have noticed. In some stations, police dogs were present.

    Officials said the drill, along the Northeast corridor from Virginia to Vermont, was not in response to any threat, but was meant to demonstrate how the authorities could respond to one, or to an actual attack. Participating agencies included police departments from small jurisdictions, like Kingston, R.I., and Old Saybrook, Conn., Linden and Metuchen, N.J., Lower Merion, Pa., and Harpers Ferry, W.Va., as well as from big cities, including Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington.

    Around 7:30 a.m. in Baltimore’s Pennsylvania Station, no security checks were evident. Passengers boarded commuter trains to Washington without showing tickets or any identification, as usual.

    At Union Station in Washington, a few blocks from the Capitol, there was a noticeable increase in the security presence. Transportation Security Administration officers who said they were ordinarily assigned to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport across the Potomac River stood near a busy Starbucks, watching the throng of passengers who had just arrived on an Acela from New York. "It’s national rail security day," one officer said cheerily, as if it were a new holiday. He said he was not authorized to give his name to the press.

    But the security arrangements were low-key. An Amtrak police officer surprised passengers in a waiting area by quietly asking them to show her their tickets. Several passengers arriving on a southbound train said they had noticed nothing unusual at either end of their journeys.

    A spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration, Christopher White, said some of the law enforcement personnel were in plain clothes, and some of the deployments were a few minutes in one station, a few minutes on a train and a few minutes in another station.

    Participants drilled on a variety of tasks, he said, including looking for bombs near the periphery of train stations, where crowds might flee after an explosion within the station. Attacks on mass transit in Madrid and London were bombs exploded more or less simultaneously, not sequentially, but, Mr. White said, "We need to prepare for scenarios we haven’t seen in the past.”

    “Having the local police get involved intimately with Amtrak and T.S.A. is a great force multiplier,” he said.

    At Amtrak’s security office, Edward S. Phillips, the deputy for operations, said that 121 law enforcement agencies had promised to participate but that it was possible that some did not. “If you’ve got four duty cops in your town and there’s a fire, then you’ve got to go to that and you don’t show up,” he said.

    But he said that as a result of this drill, “Now our electronic rolodex is quite robust. If we were to receive information of a credible threat, we could mount something like this within 12 hours, maybe even faster.”

    Future drills, he said, would include undercover agents playing the role of terrorists, acting in ways that should arouse the suspicion of the police.

    The Amtrak police chief, John O’Connor, said in a statement that “without question, this operation provided the longest wall of security ever mobilized along the East Coast."

    Darnell Donahue, who was boarding a train to Boston at Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan on Tuesday morning, said he did not notice the additional security “until I came to get in line and saw that there was a big line to get on the train.”

    “It doesn’t necessarily make me feel any safer,” he said, “but it doesn’t hinder my feeling one way or the other about taking the train.” He added that the effort was good for the “peace of mind” of tourists or visitors as much as anything.

    But at the American Civil Liberties Union, Barry Steinhardt, director of the group’s technology and liberty program, said sending police officers to ask for identification “may be interfering with the right to travel, which is constitutionally protected.”

    “What do you do if someone refuses to present identification?” he said. “Prevent them from getting on a train?”

    He added, “You have to ask yourself if this isn’t just security theater.” A would-be bomb planter who saw the police stopping travelers could simply walk to a different station or a different entrance to the same station, he said. “The train system is just too wide open for this to be effective.”

    Among the participating agencies was the Transportation Security Administration’s Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response teams, whose name is abbreviated as VIPR and pronounced viper. Amtrak said they were deployed “at undisclosed locations to enhance security activities through the use of specialized detection technologies that identify anomalies considered suspicious.”

    Amtrak and the Transportation Security Administration have previously conducted drills at single stations, in which they have run passengers through portals that detect explosives. At times, Amtrak has put police officers on trains coming in and out of Pennsylvania Station in New York to check passengers’ identities and, on occasion, inspect their luggage.

    The security administration has also conducted security checks at ferries and bus stations.

    Emily S. Rueb and Scott Shane contributed reporting.

    Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

  11. #41

  12. #42


    The day after - Memorial open to the public

    More mobile police units have sprung up. This one on South End Ave will guard a bus off-loading area for Fargo People.

    Mini barrier blocks near the memorial exit. A good chance to be interviewed here as you leave the memorial. Don't know how long that will last, though.

    I Feel sorry for the 90 West folks.

    Would you fellas turn around and say, Cheese. Oh, and arrest that woman for wearing those shoes.

    Very nice trees.

    Police everywhere.

    A storefront disguised entrance to a top-secret vast underground Anti Terrorism Command Center.

  13. #43
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003


    A storefront disguised entrance to a top-secret vast underground Anti Terrorism Command Center.
    Come on, I take you to back!

    You like what you see, I promise!!!

  14. #44


    I liked the announcement the other week about shooting down airplanes.....

  15. #45
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    Boneheaded and probably worse ...

    Police Commish Ray Kelly Admits Involvement
    With Anti-Muslim Film, Says He Regrets It

    New York Magazine
    By Brett Smiley
    January 25, 2012

    After copping a flimsy excuse denying his involvement with the explosive anti-Muslim film The Third Jihad that the NYPD used for training purposes, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has admitted through a top aide that he cooperated with the filmmakers and agreed to be interviewed for it in 2007, and was interviewed. He added that it was a mistake. Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne also changed his story after the film's producer contacted the Times with details of Kelly's interview. It's now undisputed that the interview took place at police headquarters in March 2007.


    NYPD Training Included a Scary Anti-Muslim Propaganda Film

    New York Magazine
    By Joe Coscarelli
    January 24, 2012

    One year ago, the Village Voice reported that NYPD training included "a spectacularly offensive smear of American Muslims" in the form of "a full-length color feature, with more explosions than a Transformers sequel and more blood-splattered victims than an HBO World War II series." The department's spokesman Paul Browne brushed it off at the time as some "wacky movie" that was shown only "a couple of times when officers were filling out paperwork before the actual coursework began." That isn't really true! As the New York Times reports today, the film, titled The Third Jihad, was seen by at least 1,489 officers.

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