Ray Kelly lays down the law

Fordham Law School in The Daily News, March 06, 2012

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A police department has the right — no, the duty — to gather intelligence on threats before they metastasize into deadly plots.

Especially in the city that is the nation’s top terrorist target, where fanatics murdered almost 3,000 in a flash
a decade ago.

This basic truth eludes critics who have been stoked by Associated Press reports that have been written with the fervor of the American Civil Liberties Union. They’ve had a field day piling epithets upon the NYPD’s legal, sensible, necessary and effective counterterrorism tactics.

The smears have have come fast and furious. The department is “spying,” without cause or warrants. It is “racially profiling.” By following leads beyond the borders of the five boroughs and online, it is breaking protocol, rules and laws.

Commissioner Ray Kelly delivered a powerful rebuttal to the destructive fictions Saturday in an address to Fordham Law School alumni. You can read his speech in full at NYDailyNews.com or on the Police Department’s website.

Kelly made it crystal-clear: “Since 1985, the Police Department has been subject to a set of rules known as the Handschu guidelines, which were developed to protect people engaged in political protest . . . we imposed on ourselves the strictest interpretation of political activity. One could easily argue that when we investigate terrorism, we are dealing with criminal, not political, activity. We go above and beyond by treating every terrorism investigation as subject to Handschu. . . . no other police department . . . is bound by these rules.”

He stated: “Anyone who intimates that it is unlawful for the Police Department to search online, visit public places or map neighborhoods has not read, misunderstood or intentionally obfuscated the meaning of the Handschu guidelines.”

And he said: “A broad base of knowledge is critically important to our ability to investigate terrorism. It was precisely our failure to understand the context in 1993 (after the first World Trade Center attack) that left us vulnerable in 2001.”

And what of the so-called infiltration of Muslim student associations and mosques, which has triggered complaints from powerful people who should know better in Trenton and New Haven?

Kelly: “We know that while the vast majority of Muslim student associations and their members are law-abiding, we have seen too many cases in which such groups were exploited. . . . Undercover investigations begin with leads, and we go where the leads take us.”

Kelly added it all up to a slam-dunk conclusion:

“Since 9/11, New York City has been targeted by terrorists in 14 different plots . . . none of these plots have succeeded. In fact, while the city saw terrorist attacks in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, no attack has taken place in the last 10 years.”

The enemy tried, and, to this point, has been stopped by the NYPD fighting within the rules.