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Kelly top secret on FBI meeting

July 21, 2003

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly held a secret meeting with FBI Director Robert Mueller 11 days ago, a meeting so secret Kelly won't even acknowledge it.

FBI officials say Kelly requested the July 10 meeting, which followed a published report in which the commissioner criticized the Federal Bureau of Investigation for not sharing information on terrorism.

The report quoted an anonymous source who said the FBI "couldn't pick out a Yemeni from a Palestinian."

An FBI official said the bureau "assumed the source was someone high in the NYPD."

Asked whether Kelly and Mueller discussed the report during their meeting, FBI spokesman Joe Valiquette said, "The director was aware of the article."

A law enforcement official who asked for anonymity said Kelly sought the meeting because he thought the FBI was withholding information from him.

"It became apparent the information had been made available to his staff but was not told to him," the source said. "They have bent over backwards for him. They have let the NYPD play an inordinately large role in the Joint Terrorism Task Force. Instead of appreciation, the FBI gets a slap in the face."

Kelly's current difficulties with the bureau seem light years away from the collegiality he enjoyed with Jim Fox, who headed the FBI's New York office.

After the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, Kelly, who also served as police commissioner at the time, and Fox made multiple joint appearances on television. The image of the two men standing together helped calm a shaken nation.

But that was then and this is now.

During the past decade, Kelly went to Haiti to help train that nation's police force, worked in Washington as an undersecretary of the Treasury and was head of the Customs Service under President Bill Clinton.

An FBI official told Newsday that while in Washington Kelly had angered many in the bureau, including then-Director Louis Freeh, by lobbying for Freeh's job. The straight-laced Freeh had a contentious relationship with the hedonistic Clinton.

Since the Sept. 11 terror attacks, the FBI has been increasingly criticized for not sharing information not only with other law enforcement agencies but among its own bureaucrats. During the anthrax scare in 2001, former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani asserted that the FBI had not shared relevant information with city officials.

The flash-point of current tensions between the bureau and the NYPD focuses on Kelly's establishment of an international intelligence service.

With the appointment of former CIA official David Cohen as deputy commissioner of Intelligence, the NYPD is now competing with the FBI and the CIA in obtaining information on terrorism.

Kelly has begun stationing NYPD detectives around the world, including in Toronto; London; Lyons, France; Hamburg, Germany and Tel Aviv. There are plans to send detectives to Singapore and Indonesia, although Kelly declined to comment on whether such plans are on hold.

Unlike the FBI and CIA, whose operatives are assigned to embassies, the NYPD apparently has separate offices in those cities. Kelly has refused to say publicly where those offices are or how the detectives can be contacted.

In addition, NYPD detectives on the Joint Terrorism Task Force have been interrogating al-Qaida prisoners in Afghanistan and at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"They are doing this through the good offices of the FBI," Valiquette said. "An FBI agent and an NYPD detective question the captured prisoners together."

Because basing detectives overseas is not part of the charter of the NYPD, the money is provided by the Police Foundation, a nonprofit agency supported largely by Wall Street contributions, whose budget since Sept. 11 has tripled to more than $6 million.

Some say there is precedent for sending detectives overseas. At the turn of the century, Det. Joseph Petrosino of the "Italian Squad" traveled to Italy to investigate organized crime. He was assassinated there. His efforts, while heroic, did little to prevent the spread of organized crime.

No forgiveness. Deputy Commissioner for Community Affairs Frederick Patrick - charged by the Feds with using $112,000 from a Correction Department foundation to pay for inmates' collect and personal phone calls - will not return to the NYPD after his 30-day suspension.

As a manager, Patrick has no civil service protection, Kelly said, adding that he had not known Patrick before his NYPD appointment and that the former deputy correction commissioner had been recommended to him.

He declined to say who did the recommending.

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© 2003 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.