"Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN
Fareed speaks with New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly about the lessons from the attack in Boston this week, and how New York law enforcement is working to protect the city.
Congressman Peter King says that what we need, what this Boston marathon attack proves is we need a more aggressive and explicit targeting, or targeting investigation of America's Muslim communities. Would you agree with that?
Well, I certainly wouldn't single out a community, but what we do is follow leads wherever those leads take us. As I said, we've been targeted 16 times, a combination of good work on the part of the federal government, NYPD, and sheer luck we haven't been attacked. But we will follow leads wherever those leads take us, irrespective of the community that we're talking about.
But the vast majority of those attacks did come from people who would have been Muslim radicals, Islamic radicals?
That's correct, yes.
And as a result of that, presumably, the NYPD had a program of listening in on mosques, infiltrating communities. And last August, in court testimony, however, your department asserted or acknowledged that, in six years of spying on Muslim neighborhoods, eavesdropping on conversations and cataloging mosques, it did not generate a single lead…
That’s incorrect information. Basically, and I know this is somewhat detailed, but we have a stipulation, the Handschu agreement, that's been in place since 1984, which limits our ability to investigate political entities.
In 2002 we petitioned the court to change that so we could do a more effective job in investigating terrorism. And in fact the court did that. And it said, particularly, we could do three things. We could go to any public meeting that the public is invited to. We can go to any website the public has access to. And we can do reports and analysis that will enable us to have context as to what's going on in a particular area, particular neighborhood. And that's precisely what was done with our reports.
So this is the most diverse city in the world, which, by the way, we have the most diverse police department in the world, too. It's something that I'm very proud of. But it's a complex environment, 8.4 million people. We wanted to know more about the neighborhoods that we were policing. And that's the report that we did.
The so-called Demographics Unit – since changed the name, Area Survey Unit – but that's what you're reporting about. And it was never put in place to generate leads. It was put in place for us to have contextual information about what's going on in the city. So…people will say that, well, you have these people, you know, it's not generating leads. Believe me, we generate leads in a lot of other ways, but not from that particular unit.
How important is it to have the cooperation of the Muslim community? Because one thing I'm struck by, in so many of these cases, it is citizen activism, or citizens who report things. So the Times Square bomber, the police was a block away, but it was a local vendor who tips you off. In this case, it appears that Jeff Bauman, this guy who got his legs blown off, immediately said "I want to tell you something, I saw this guy dropping a bag off." So is it really important that there be a cooperative relationship between a police department or federal law authorities and these communities that you're looking at?
Sure. And I think we have a very strong working relationship with, certainly, the Muslim community. I have a group that I meet with on a regular basis of opinion-formers in the Muslim community. We have back-and-forth, give-and-take. I go to many community meetings. We have very strong working relationships in the communities throughout the city. This is a complex environment, a complex city. And I would say our commanders, our community officers are – and I've been in the police department a long time – our relationships are better now, in my judgment, than they have ever been.
You'll always have some tension, some friction. It's the nature of police work that you're going to have some give- and-take. But we have strong working relationships. And, you know, we are proud of that, and we work to foster that.
Final thought: You have alienated young men, radicalized young men. Is the easy accessibility of guns and other instruments of destruction something that worries you?
Yes, absolutely. You know, we're concerned. We sent a team to Mumbai and we got very granular information very quickly. And that's what we do with officers that we have assigned throughout the world, go to the scenes of terrorist events, bring back information to help us better protect the city.
But if you look at the events in Mumbai, they were done with very, very simple weapons. And clearly, we know, in this country, the proliferation of weapons. We have about 300 million guns that are abroad in our country. So, yes, it's a concern. If you look at the bombs that were used in Boston, very simple to make…So the proliferation of weapons, handguns, rifles and certainly bomb-making and bomb-making materials, made out of ordinary even household items is very much a concern for us.