According to a very thorough and convincing profile in Newsweek, New York police commissioner Ray Kelly is America’s best ever terror-fighter, and he personally stops a new 9/11 from happening literally every day. He manages to constantly stop terror plots from destroying the city even though annoying “civil libertarians” and the worthless FBI are constantly getting in his way. It is, clearly, a very fair and unbiased take on the commish, that happens to be written by a guy who has known Kelly for years. And published in a magazine edited by Tina Brown, who has met the commissioner once or twice.
“Kelly’s most critical mission,” according to author Christopher Dickey, “has been to thwart all terrorist threats against the city, and he’s aimed to do that, in some cases, even before a plot is entirely clear to the plotters themselves.” That is some remarkable police work, right? Thwarting plots before they have been plotted!
Plus! “The record, however, is hard to argue with: at least 14 full-blown terrorist attacks have been prevented or failed on Kelly’s watch.” That is hard to argue with, because it is not followed by evidence supporting that claim!
Have critics of “the pugnacious police commissioner, who looks bulldog-tough even in bespoke suits” simply forgotten about 9/11? It seems likely!
Paradoxically, because the approach is so effective, it makes people feel much safer and spurs the belief that aggressive policing is no longer necessary. Like the tattered American flags once draped from windows or flying from car antennas, memories of the horror that settled on New York after 9/11 have faded. Just before the anniversary of the atrocity last year, the Associated Press launched a lengthy series of stories that took a critical look at Kelly’s policing, detailing the surveillance and undercover work in Muslim communities, the cozy relationship with the CIA, and the troubled NYPD–FBI relations. The series won a Pulitzer Prize—and NYPD supporters have been rebutting its details ever since. What Kelly resents in particular is the implication, never proven in print, that he’d gone beyond the very carefully lawyered legal constraints on police activities. And, as he sees it: “These questions would not surface—and did not surface—in 2002.”
There is also a long portion of the article that is very transparently about letting the NYPD push back against a New York Times story that reported on how the NYPD impeded a major anti-terror sting conducted by the FBI and then some stuff about the Etan Patz murder, a case Ray Kelly personally solved himself by waiting for a guy to call in a tip that his brother-in-law had confessed many years ago.
Words you won’t find in the piece: “Mosque,” as in “mosque-crawlers,” the term for informants tasked with monitoring sermons and other religious activities of perfectly law-abiding Muslim New Yorkers as part of a massive surveillance and intelligence-gathering project. “Newark,” where the NYPD regularly conducts legally questionable surveillance and intelligence operations against random Muslim residents and citizens. “Occupy,” the protests and demonstrations that the NYPD has regularly responded to with excessive force, including the arrests of numerous journalists — arrests that Kelly recently blatantly and unambiguously lied about. “Republican National Convention,” where Kelly introduced many of the anti-free speech policing methods that he’d later use against the Occupy movement. “Sean Bell.” “Michael Mineo.” “Michael Marino.” “Adrian Schoolcraft.” “Marijuana arrests.” “Quotas.” “Ticket-fixing.” “Gun-running.” “Evidence planting.” “The Third Jihad.”
But according to Tina Brown, Kelly has “a pugilist’s mug and a lion’s heart” so I guess none of that other stuff, with the constant abuses of power and the complete lack of any sort of accountability, is important enough to mention.
Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @pareeneMore Alex Pareene.