One Police Plaza

New York City’s Terror Rivalry

September 11, 2006

Terrorism seems to be a cottage industry in New York City. How else to account for two rival terrorism conferences on the same day?

Let’s begin with last Thursday’s anti-terrorism conference at the Roosevelt hotel on the fifth anniversary of 9/11.That event was sponsored by the Manhattan Institute, the right-wing-leaning group of intellectuals, whose policies appear on the editorial pages of the New York Post.

Hundreds of law enforcement folk from all over the country attended as well as academics, foreign consular officials and the national media.

Included were former NYPD First Deputy John Timoney, now police chief of Miami; former NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, now police chief of Los Angeles; and John Miller, Assistant Director and chief spokesman of the FBI, who worked for Bratton in New York and Los Angeles.

The themes of the conference were as follows: cooperation between law enforcement agencies; the importance of information sharing; and the federal government’s new-found recognition of local law enforcement’s pre-eminence in combating home-grown terrorism.

Dean Esserman, police chief of Providence, R.I., said he had made it a point to meet with Providence’s Imams.

Bratton cited cooperation with the feds following the arrest of armed robbery suspects in Torrance, CA that led to the discovery of a terrorist cell whose members were planning to shoot up synagogues on the Jewish High Holy Days.

Bratton also praised New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly for having “created perhaps the least friendly environment for terrorists in the country” and cited Kelly’s revamped Intelligence Division for the arrest of a potential subway bomber.

There was just one problem.

In New York City, the Ground Zero of terrorism targets, Kelly wasn’t present.

Nor was any top-level NYPD official.

Nor did any NYPD member appear on either of the conference’s panels.

Equally puzzling was that the NYPD had originally co-sponsored the event but had pulled out for reasons no one from the Manhattan Institute cared to publicly discuss.

”I think you can figure out why,” one official said enigmatically.

Instead, Kelly held a rival conference at One Police Plaza on the same day that began at the same hour.

R.P. Eddy, the Manhattan Institute’s host and senior fellow for counter-terrorism, declined to offer a reason for Kelly’s withdrawl and suggested Your Humble Servant contact the NYPD. “Why don’t you ask them?” he said.

So through the dutiful Sgt. Joe Gallagher of the department’s public information office, we posed the question for Kelly’s aide de camp, Deputy Commissioner for Public Information Paul Browne.

He did not respond.

French Connection. Commissioner Kelly, recently awarded the French Legion of Honor award, holds a singular Gallic distinction. He resembles both Napoleon Bonaparte and Charles De Gaulle.

His resemblance to Napoleon is too obvious to bother with here. Of De Gaulle, let’s just say that, while brilliant, courageous, and charismatic, his World War II British and United States allies found him impossible to work with.

And, like Kelly, never forgot a slight.

Kelly never forgave former mayor Rudy Giuliani for dismissing him when he became mayor. Perhaps that explains Kelly’s recent criticism of Giuliani to author Wayne Barrett for Giuliani’s supposed lack of preparedness for 9/11, criticism from which that Mayor Michael Bloomberg disassociated himself.

He never forgave Bratton for succeeding him as police commissioner. Perhaps that explains his pulling out of the above terrorism conference after discovering that he and Bratton might appear on the same panel.

Meanwhile in reporting on Kelly’s Legion of Honor award, the Daily News said that he “spent nearly five years in France as vice president for the America of the international police agency Interpol.”

Since those five years spent in France are not apparent from Kelly’s resume, we asked Browne through Gallagher’s colleague, the equally dutiful Sgt Kevin Hayes, just what years those were.

Again, no response.

A Clean Slate. Recently retired Hartford Police Chief Pat Harnett, who was formerly Deputy Commissioner Garry McCarthy’s commanding officer in the Bronx, had this to say about McCarthy following his appointment to head the Newark police department: “Garry eats, sleeps and dreams policing. He’s headed three different precincts. He’s worked in Internal Affairs. In the 33rd precinct, which he took over after the corruption scandal in the nearby 30th precinct, he mobilized the community. He took over the 70the precinct in Brooklyn after the Abner Louima sodomy. He’s a leader. He’s always excelled.”

As to his misadventure a year and a half ago with the Palisades Parkway police, resulting in his being disarmed, handcuffed and arrested after protesting a parking ticket to his daughter – [and which he apparently convinced Newark’s mayor Corey Booker was due to an out-of-control Palisades Parkway cop] – here’s hoping Garry never gets into a similar situation in Newark. As they say, the slate is clean.

No Song for Joe. The actor who plays former First Deputy Joe Dunne in ABC’s controversial mini-series on 9/11, which has been criticized for mixing fact with fiction, was quoted as saying he did an improvised scene in which Dunne, for reasons that no one can apparently fathom, starts singing “New York, New York.”

Asked his views on the mini-series, all Dunne would say is: “I don’t sing.”