Retiring NY Police Chief Kelly Takes One Last Swing At The FBI — And His Critics — On His Way Out The Door
from the buh-bye dept
New York City Police Chief Ray Kelly is nearly nothing but history, but that hasn’t stopped him from doing his best to secure his legacy before calling it a career. (And exiting with $1.5 million worth of personal bodyguards paid for by the
city city’s residents…)
In an interview with the New York Times, Kelly defended the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program, first stating that he was “polling well” and following that up with the usual defense that crime numbers had declined over the past decade. Of course, neither he nor his interviewer bothered to point out his tenure coincided with a period of steep decline in violent crime nationwide nor did they mention the fact that Judge Scheindlin, in her decision finding the program unconstitutional, stated basically that the ends don’t justify the means. Crime numbers would probably drop further if the NYPD performed warrantless house-to-house searches, but that still wouldn’t make it justifiable.
But Kelly went further than shrugging off criticism of the city’s most notorious law enforcement program, targeting the FBI for its apparent inability to prevent domestic terrorist attacks.
The interview turns to 2002 and those post-attack days when Mr. Kelly returned to the commissioner’s office. One of Mr. Kelly’s professors at Harvard, Graham Allison, studied nuclear terror and released prospective blast maps for New York City.
Mr. Kelly did not need to see blast maps. He lived in Battery Park City, within sight of ground zero.
He smiled grimly. “It was gloom and doom,” he said. “Our prime lesson is that we couldn’t rely on the feds alone.” […]
For his part, Mr. Kelly could not resist another jab at the F.B.I. and its failure to tell the Boston Police Department everything suspicious that it knew about one of the men who later bombed the Boston Marathon.
“We want information right away,” he says. “I think in retrospect the mayor in Boston and the police commissioner in Boston feel the same way based on what they knew or didn’t know relative to the Boston Marathon bombing.”
In a way, he’s right. The failure of government agencies to share information on suspected terrorists failed to prevent the 9/11 attacks as well as contributed to the Boston bombers eluding detection until it was too late. (But our NSA provided “valuable” intel suggesting the Boston bombing was an isolated attack.)
But more troubling is the underlying assertion that the NYPD can do a better job on its own. Under Ray Kelly, the NYPD became known for its pervasive surveillance of Muslims and their places of worship. Thousands of reports were generated and hundreds of informants were deployed to infiltrate these communities. This is the NYPD’s other shame — widespread rights violations and little to nothing to chalk up in the “results” column.
Kelly employed a former CIA official to run this program who leveraged the post-9/11 attack climate of fear to convince a judge to strip civil liberties protections granted by a previous court decision (the “Handschu Agreement“). Using this weakened “agreement,” the NYPD began placing Muslims under surveillance while they engaged in First Amendment-protected activity. The means used to acquire intel were so questionable, the CIA itself was unable to use anything the NYPD provided because the methods deployed violated several of the CIA’s own rules. If the CIA find “evidence” collected by a local law enforcement agency unusable, there’s obviously some serious flaws in the methods deployed to gather intelligence.
Kelly may have been frustrated by the lack of interagency sharing, but his decision to make the NYPD a law unto itself was the wrong response. And again, there’s no indication that this widespread surveillance and infiltration prevented terrorist attacks. Kelly seems to feel the lack of terrorist attacks speaks for itself — and justifies the ongoing civil liberties violations performed by his department.