NYPD Confidential - An Inside Look at the New York Police Department
Home Page
All Columns
Contact Leonard Levitt
Search this site
Printable versionSend to a friendEmail Leonard Levitt

Mueller and Kelly: Can This Be Love?

May 1, 2006

Except perhaps for the head of the FBI’s New York office Mark Mershon, nobody loves Police Commissioner Ray Kelly more than FBI Director Robert Mueller.

Or so it might appear.

Mueller was in New York last week, giving the Jim Fox memorial lecture, named for the former head of the FBI’s New York office who in 1993 stood shoulder to shoulder with Kelly on national television following the first World Trade Center attack.

In his lecture, Mueller seemed unable to stop himself from fawning over Kelly while explaining how important it was in fighting terrorism for law enforcement agencies to cooperate with each other.

Before Mueller spoke, someone had suggested that this reporter ask “how he feels about the NYPD’s Intelligence Division conducting most of its investigation into the Herald Square subway terrorist plot without informing the Joint Terrorist Task Force, contrary to the well-established protocol and contrary to the Presidential Directive making the FBI the lead agency in the U.S. terrorism investigations.”

Instead, the Herald Square subway case was made by the Intelligence Division through a paid informant. Federal sources say the JTTF, the task force composed of NYPD cops and FBI agents, was notified just weeks before the suspects’ arrests.

A second question was to what degree the NYPD shares its intelligence with the FBI. Or as that certain someone put it, “The 140 cops on the JTTF had direct access to federal intelligence while NOT ONE agent had access to the PD’s intelligence.”

Mueller refused to answer the first question, citing the Herald Square suspects’ federal trial, currently underway in Brooklyn’s Eastern District. The questioning ended before the second could be asked.

As the above suggests, there is a disconnect between what top law enforcement officials tell the public and what occurs on the ground.

Despite the FBI’s recent attempts at conciliation with the NYPD, it appears that Kelly and his Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence David Cohen -- the former CIA official whom Kelly hired when he returned as commissioner in 2002 -- are resisting.

On Saturday the Post reported that a retired FBI terrorism export, Daniel Coleman, had recently joined the Intelligence Division but quit after Cohen bad-mouthed the bureau.

Since 2003, this column has reported on the conflicts and rivalries between the FBI and Kelly/Cohen. On at least three occasions, INTEL detectives have conducted out- of-state terrorist-related investigations without informing local authorities, the JTTF or the FBI.

That fall, Intel detectives staged a telephone sting of scuba diving shops on the New Jersey shore to test their vulnerability to terrorists’ bribes. When local authorities learned of the operation from the diving shop owners, they ordered the NYPD detectives out of New Jersey.

In an advisory described as “law enforcement sensitive,” New Jersey’s Counter-Terrorism Director Sidney J. Caspersen wrote, “On Wed. Oct. 15, 2003, it was brought to the attention of the Office of Counter-Terrorism that calls .. regarding suspicious inquiries at four dive shops were part of a test the NYPD’s Intelligence Division was conducting. OCT was not aware that the tests were being conducted and has since informed the NYPD Intelligence Division to cease and desist all such activity in the state of New Jersey.”

Around the same time, two NYPD detectives also appeared in Carlisle, Pa., after explosives were reported stolen there. The detectives – who identified themselves as from the NYPD’s Bureau of Counter-Terrorism but working for Cohen -- appeared at the crime scene during the investigation, which was conducted by the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Pennsylvania’s North Middletown township police department. According to Jeff Rudolph, the North Middleton township police chief, the detectives were told the investigation was being handled by himself and the FBI’s Harrisburg’s senior agent Rick Etzler “and that if we needed their help we will give them a call.”

In Feb. 2004, two Intel detectives turned up in Boston, infiltrating a church meeting of protesters, known as the Black Tea Society, in preparation for the summer’s Republican National Convention in New York. The Mass. State police, which had been monitoring the meeting, in preparation for that summer’s Democratic National Convention in Boston, followed the Intel detectives, unaware of who they were. On the Mass Pike, they stopped the detectives for speeding, and nearly arrested them.

In perhaps his best publicized terrorism operation, Kelly has also stationed Intel detectives overseas, in places like London and Tel Aviv, competing for intelligence with FBI agents stationed there.

In the summer of 2004, in a glaring example of discord at the highest levels of law enforcement, Pat D’Amuro, then head of the FBI’s New York office and reportedly a protégé of Mueller’s, became so fed up with Kelly that he publicly criticized him. The proximate cause was Kelly’s news conference taking credit for the arrest in London of a radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamsa Al-Masri, by singling out NYPD detective, George Corey.

In a memo released to the media, D’Amuro pointed out that it was cops and agents from the JTTF who had apprehended him.

But that was then and this is now.

When D’Amuro retired last year and went to work for Rudy Giuliani – who in 1994 had dismissed Kelly as police commissioner and appointed Bill Bratton to succeed him -- Mueller apparently had a change of heart.

When Mershon succeeded D’Amuro last May, his first order of business was to make nice to Kelly.

The test came last October during the subway bombing threat when the city ramped up security. While the Department of Homeland Security waffled, Mershon attended a news conference with Kelly, supporting the move.

When Mershon returned to his office, he explained in an interview last January, his phone was ringing. It was Mueller, thanking him “for the manner in which you handled yourself,” Mershon said.

As he was driving home, his phone rang again. Again, it was Mueller. This time, Mueller told Mershon he had just called Kelly “to thank him for working together.”

Mershon said Mueller had even come to accept Kelly’s stationing Intel detectives overseas in competition with the FBI.

“Ray Kelly views this as the signature accomplishment of his administration,” Mershon said in January. “Those detectives are doing something we are not…I would love to be able to say the FBI can do that. But we are not staffed to do that. That is not our mission.”

Meanwhile, the Times reported Sunday that last month, Casperson – the former New Jersey counter-terrorism head who had ordered Intelligence Division detectives out of the state during the scuba diving venture — had joined the NYPD as an Assistant Commissioner of Intelligence under Cohen. Go figure that one.

There remains an unanswered question. It is the Homeland Security Presidential Directive/HSPD-5, issued in February, 2003. This was the Presidential directive referred to in this reporter’s question to Mueller about the Herald Square subway terrorist plot and the NYPD’s failure to notify the FBI about its investigation until just before the suspects’ arrests.

The directive states: “The attorney general has lead responsibility for [federal] criminal investigations of terrorist acts or threats by individuals or groups inside the United States.” That means the FBI.

Livoti Redux. While in prison Franics X.Livoti earned an MBA from a university in Edinburgh, Scotland.

As for his not listing the Baez case in his resume, he told the Associated Press: "I made a decision not to include it not because I was trying to hide anything or was ashamed but because I didn't want to appear to be capitalizing on it."

« Back to top

Copyright © 2006 Leonard Levitt