Former New York police commissioner Ray Kelly—sometimes mentioned as a potential opponent to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s reelection campaign next year—praised law enforcement authorities who caught the New York and New Jersey bombing suspect Monday, but offered a sharp critique of the mayor.
Shortly after New Jersey cops arrested Afghan-born 28-year-old Ahmad Khan Rahami after a morning shootout and foot chase in Linden, New Jersey, Kelly also indicated that the de Blasio administration is too politically correct and overly sensitive to media criticism, prompting city officials to discard law enforcement tools that could help prevent future terrorist attacks.
“It was dumb, quite frankly,” Kelly said of de Blasio’s just-retired police commissioner Bill Bratton’s decision in April 2014 to disband the five-officer Demographics Unit that Kelly created in 2003 to study the social habits and locations of New York’s myriad ethnic and religious groups, especially Muslims in the post-9/11 world.
The unit, which at its height boasted 15 plainclothes detectives who frequented mosques, book stores, and restaurants in an intelligence-gathering operation, was vehemently protested as spying and religious profiling by Muslim advocacy organizations—a view supported by a Pulitzer Prize-winning series by the Associated Press in 2011.
“They were doomed to success,” Kelly said sarcastically about the AP’s reporting, which he and then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg protested at the time as unfair and wrongheaded.
“They ended it,” Kelly said of de Blasio and Bratton. “They negotiated the front-page story in The Times above the fold. It was all PR.”
He added: “They wouldn’t be doing that today.”
De Blasio’s press spokesman didn’t respond by deadline to Kelly’s criticisms on those and other subjects.
Kelly said the Demographics Unit, later renamed the Zone Assessment Unit, was designed to create a “granular” picture of New York City’s residents—who they were, what neighborhoods they lived in, how they spent their time.
“It was sort of the information that was already in the U.S. Census—but just deeper,” he said.
As for how such information could have been useful, Kelly gave the example of the Chechen Boston Marathon bombers, who as they fled law enforcement authorities hijacked a BMW and ordered the driver to take them to New York. The Demographics Unit’s intelligence—that ethnic Chechens tended to live in certain neighborhoods in Brooklyn and New Jersey—could have helped locate the criminals had they made it to their destination, Kelly said.
A physically fit 75-year-old and former Marine who saw combat in Vietnam, Kelly indicated he is unlikely to run for mayor next year.
“I’m not seriously considering it,” said Kelly, who is vice chairman of the K2 Intelligence investigative firm, a contributor to ABC News, and a distinguished visiting fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
In an interview at the Yale Club, after Kelly was the keynote speaker at a counterterrorism conference organized by the Tel Aviv-based Shurat Hadin Israel Law Center, he also criticized the de Blasio administration for removing from the NYPD’s website—as part of a lawsuit settlement with Muslim groups—a groundbreaking study of homegrown Islamic radicalism that he commissioned in 2007.
“You can still get it on Amazon for 15 bucks,” Kelly said about the 92-page report, titled “Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat.” (Actually the current Amazon price is $19.99.)
Click here to read more.
SOURCE: The Daily Beast