No Minister

Kudos to New York City

Almost every large city in the USA that is controlled by the Democrat party is a disaster area in terms of economics, crime and just about every other factor you can think of.

So it’s nice to see one part of one of these cities that actually works.

The NYPD’s Counter Terrorism Unit.

It may come as a surprise to people that such a thing would exist down at a city level (or municipal level as the American’s would have it), but when you consider that some 50,000 people work for the NYPD you’re talking about a place as large as some small European nations, and certainly much larger than NZ.

The article is a fascinating look into the history of the unit, which of course was set up in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Why the city did not want to just rely on the Federal agencies like the FBI is a story in itself and the one problem I have with this article is that it does not explain.

But another article from January 2003 in the magazine New York, does, with the direct question, why not just rely on the Feds?:

When I ask Kelly this question, he looks at me long and hard. He is a man who knows his way around Washington. In addition to his time in the mid-nineties as undersecretary of the Treasury, he was head of the Customs Service. He also worked for Interpol and was a special State Department envoy in Haiti where he was sent to establish and train a police force.

“I knew we couldn’t rely on the federal government,” Kelly says finally. “I know it from my own experience. We’re doing all the things we’re doing because the federal government isn’t doing them. It’s not enough to say it’s their job if the job isn’t being done. Since 9/11, the federal government hasn’t taken any additional resources and put them here.”

Given the supposed focus on terrorism by the Federal government after 9/11 you would have thought it was a given that they’d be throwing resources into a city that had, as Kelly says, been attacked four times, twice successfully, and remains the most symbolic, substantive target for the terrorists.

That article was written when the unit was in its infancy. The first article, from the superb City Journal magazine, catches the status quo, and it’s impressive:

The New York Police Department has foiled some 51 terrorist plots against the city since 9/11, at least 16 of them serious—more than those aimed at all other American cities combined. “Looking back, it really worked,” said former police commissioner Ray Kelly, credited with having spearheaded what is widely regarded as the gold standard of urban counterterrorism programs.

To be fair to the Federal government the unit was not entirely home grown:

Much to the chagrin of some of the NYPD’s rank and file, Kelly’s top two counterterrorism deputies came from Washington. To lead the NYPD’s expanded Intelligence Division, he chose David Cohen, a former deputy director of the CIA’s operations wing who had helped create the agency’s Alec Station in 1996, which focused on Osama bin Laden before most Americans knew his name. Kelly also recruited Michael Sheehan, former State Department head of counterterrorism, to run the department’s new Counterterrorism Bureau.

They put a 1000 people into the unit, conducted a massive effort to computerise the rest of the NYPD, set up sections that gathered intelligence on every part of the city’s communities, conducted active work with businesses in the city, and even stationed agents in places as far afield as London (working with New Scotland Yard), Lyons at Interpol HQ, Hamburg, Tel Aviv, and Toronto. There are also two cops on assignment at FBI headquarters in Washington, and New York detectives have traveled abroad to conduct interrogations in Afghanistan and parts of the Middle East.

Cohen had quickly hired two dozen civilian intelligence analysts, most with master’s degrees and Ph.D.s from top universities. There were so many pedigreed analysts that Kelly began calling the division a “Council on Foreign Relations with guns.” Its mission, however, proved deadly serious, as it played a role in detecting and foiling plot after plot.

All this from a city police department. Not surprisingly there has been some friction with the FBI at times, but it seems to be working.

One thing that struck me was how many combat-experienced military people led this effort and the tough professionalism of them and the senior cops. It feels like quite a contrast to the group currently in the Pentagon and a number of very poor Police Commissioners around the US at the moment.

Read both articles.

Written by Tom Hunter

September 16, 2021 at 11:46 am

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