Kelly takes ‘60 Minutes’ inside the NYPD counterterrorism operation, but not too far
Last night, 60 Minutes went inside the NYPD's counterterrorism operation, shadowing Commissioner Ray Kelly in his new joint operations center and riding along in the heavily fortified back seat of his mobile command unit. The program went for a behind-the-scenes look at Kelly's efforts to keep the city safe, pegged to the strategic challenges of hosting the U.N. General Assembly.
There was no mention of the more controversial aspects of the NYPD's counterterrorism strategy, like the reported infiltration of Muslim communities by "mosque crawlers," or the cataloguing of Moroccan restaurants in Queens, which were both detailed at length in recent stories from the Associated Press. Nor was there any mention of how Kelly's burgeoning operation—which, he re-divulged last night, includes the capacity to take down an airplane—can breed tension between his department and its ostensible partners in the F.B.I. and C.I.A.
Earlier this month, I wrote about Kelly's personal ability to remain above public criticism, and to extricate the department from controversial situations on the strength, in part, of his own popularity. While I focused primarily on his highly successful efforts to engage elected officials, it's worth noting that Kelly is also extremely capable in his dealings with the press, promoting positive narratives and engaging quickly to minimize negative ones.
It is to the great benefit of the department, from a P.R. perspective, that Kelly is its public face. He comes across at once as no-nonsense and personable in profiles like this. He speaks matter-of-factly about the department's capabilities to shoot down a plane, then, when asked his message to would-be terrorists, he quotes Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca.
The department has also been aggressive in protecting Kelly's image as the city's protector. They have accessed the phone records of officers in an attempt to stamp out leaks, and they've marginalized opponents in the press who they viewed as hostile.