On Sunday night 60 Minutes profiled the New York Police Department’s efforts on homeland security and counterterrorism since 9/11, outlining the forward-leaning steps that they’ve taken to protect the city from the terrorist threat. One part of the story outlines the city’s intelligence collection and foreign liaison activities, and notes in response to a certain self-generated piece of information:
“But things like that, wouldn’t that be information that eventually the FBI, the CIA, would have shared with you?” [Ed] Bradley asked [NYPD Commisioner Ray] Kelly.
“The key word is ‘eventually,'” Kelly replied, laughing. “So we can’t wait.”
“I mean, there’s an implied criticism here that New York needs this information and needs it in a hurry â€” and we can’t wait for you to get it to us,” Bradley asked the commissioner.
“That’s our position,” Kelly replied. “We need the information. We’re a city, the only U.S. City, of course, that’s been attacked, twice successfully, by terrorists.”
Asked if the creation of the counter-terror until was in any way a reaction to frustration with the federal government, Kelly says, “We can’t rely solely on other agencies to protect us here. So there’s nothing like self help, and that’s what we’re doing.”
The segment owes a lot to a great article published in The New Yorker last summer, which chronicled the NYPD’s counterterror activities in great detail. I’m glad that 60 Minutes ran this piece, because it provides an excellent example of what people can accomplish in the areas of homeland security and counterterrorism when they stop worrying about political niceties and bureaucratic wrangles, and focus on their core mission of protecting the country.