‘Danger to New York has not increased’
NEW YORK: New York’s police commissioner said that while the city is on heightened alert following a recent terror warning, he does not believe there is significantly greater danger than at any point since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
“I think the threat is fairly constant,” Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said in an interview broadcast Sunday. “I don’t think it necessarily goes up and down or diminishes very much.”
Still, Kelly said the government has a responsibility to inform citizens when it receives new intelligence about possible terror attacks, even if repeated warnings test the public’s attentiveness.
“I think people can get rather blase and accept it as business as usual if you have too many of these warnings,” he said on WNBC-TV’s “News Forum.” But, he said, “I think the government sees itself with an obligation, when it has information, to put it out in the public domain. In fact, they get criticized if it’s not done.”
Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said last week that new intelligence showed possible terror attacks being planned against several buildings in New York, Washington and Newark, New Jersey. Officials have since acknowledged that the information came largely from a Pakistani computer engineer captured last month and that most of the information was amassed in 2000 and 2001. No timetable for potential attacks has ever been specified.
Some critics of the Bush administration, including former Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean, said the warning was timed to deflect attention from the Democratic National Convention in Boston. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and members of the Bush administration denied those claims.
“What happened (last week) was, very specific information was uncovered just literally three days before Secretary Ridge came out with that announcement,” Kelly said. “It was unlike any other information that we’ve seen because of its precision and its detail.”