How New York City fights terror now
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At a conference called "Rethinking the Future Since September 11th" at Pace University, located a few blocks from ground zero, Mr. Hamilton argued that security needs to include more than physical protection and integrate such things as foreign policy, community outreach, and economic and educational opportunity. Others agree, and are concerned that some current US policies will in the long term make the nation less secure. Such policies include the extrajudicial detention of enemy combatants and the widespread use of wiretapping without prior court approval.Skip to next paragraph
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Analysts point to two ways in which they believe they undermine security: first, by deeply polarizing the country during a time of war, when it should be unified, and second, by alienating the international community and discouraging international cooperation.
"To the extent that we're seen as setting precedents ... that do not give full commitment to a system of law, to the protection of human and civil rights, to the Geneva Conventions, I think that will come back to haunt us over time," says David Gergen, director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
Mr. Bush this week defended his administration's handling of the war on terror as both legal and necessary. He also publicly acknowledged that the administration used secret prisons overseas to detain some high-value terrorist suspects.
"The procedures were tough, and they were safe and lawful and necessary," he said to a gathering in the White House last week.
Some experts question that contention. The same day the president made his speech, the Pentagon forbade the use of at least eight of the interrogation tactics Bush defended. The Supreme Court has ruled the Bush administration's handling of enemy combatants at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, violates the Geneva Conventions and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. A federal district court has also ruled that the warrantless wiretapping program is unconstitutional, a finding that the Bush administration is appealing.
Still, Dr. Jenkins of RAND says that even if the use of extreme measures would bring a quick end to the war on terror, "then we'd have an interesting moral discussion."
He and other experts believe the fight against terrorism could last a generation or more. "Putting aside considerations of morality and legality, for reasons of strategy we shouldn't [use such extreme measures]," he says. "Preserving our values is what gives us the moral strength that is going to enable us to defeat our enemy in the war of ideas, as well as on the battlefield. It's those values that are going to maintain the popular support [here and abroad]."
New York City is also struggling to find the right balance between civil rights and security. Civil libertarians have complained that the NYPD policy of randomly searching bags in the subways violates individual rights, and they sued the city. Last August, a federal appeals court unanimously upheld the constitutionality of the bag searches, saying they were an effective antiterrorist tool. At the time, Kelly called it a "victory for common sense."
New York City has the most extensive urban counterterrorism operation in the world, terrorism experts say. Here are three routine examples of how the New York Police Department works to deter attacks on the city.
• A police helicopter hovers above the Hudson River, and a high-tech surveillance camera on board zooms in on a man with equipment working on the Brooklyn Bridge. The NYPD officer enlarges the photo to identify the logo on the man's shirt and calls it in. The goal: to confirm that the bridge worker is indeed an authorized repairman – not a terrorist planting a bomb.
• A sergeant conducting a radiological sweep on the subway in Queens picks up elevated levels, just before the start of the US Open. An alert goes out. The area is cordoned off and checked. The cause turns out to be a patient returning from a radiological medical treatment, not a jihadist carrying a weapon of mass destruction.
• Before the Queen Mary 2 cruises into New York Harbor, she's met by a police boat. Several police officers board and join the captain on the bridge. The goal: to ensure no one commandeers the world's grandest luxury liner as she docks.