- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 9, 2005

New York subways will stay on high alert until ongoing interrogations of suspects in Iraq and a U.S. investigation determine the extent of the threat, the city’s top policeman said yesterday.

At least three suspects in Iraq who are thought to be involved in the plot are being questioned, and an “active investigation” is under way to determine whether a fourth suspect is in the U.S., city police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said yesterday.

“There are a few different aspects to this threat, but hopefully we’ll have more specific or more credible information, I should say, in the near term that will enable us to make a determination as to how much longer we keep this heightened level of security in place,” Commissioner Kelly told “Fox News Sunday.”

City officials say they are relying on FBI intelligence rather than information from the Homeland Security Department, where officials are downplaying the threat.

Asked by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer whether there is a disconnect between the two agencies, Commissioner Kelly said, “I wouldn’t call it a disconnect, but, you know, intelligence is an art. It’s not a science.

“People can interpret things differently. You have multiple intelligence agencies. They all ultimately report to the director of national intelligence but, you know, it never comes in neat packages. So you have to make judgments on what you have and it’s not easy to do. … We’re going to err, if we do err, on the side of caution,” Commissioner Kelly said.

Homeland Security Department spokesman Russ Knocke said that “the intelligence community has uncovered nothing to substantiate the threat information and, in fact, has learned much to discredit the threat.”

But he said that New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg “has a responsibility to do what he deems appropriate for New York. … We respect the mayor’s judgment.”

Mr. Bloomberg said thousands of police officers are searching passengers and bags based on FBI intelligence.

“A lot of our information comes from the FBI, and what you see in Washington is different intelligence agencies looking at either different information or evaluating it differently,” Mr. Bloomberg said.

The memo issued last week by both agencies warns that terrorists might be in New York to detonate explosives hidden in briefcases and baby carriages on or before yesterday’s date.

“This threat was very, very specific. It had specific time, specific object and modality. So, you know, we had to do what we did,” Commissioner Kelly said.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle downplayed differences and praised New York’s actions.

“I think certainly the mayor responded appropriately and took the kind of precautions he thought needed to be taken in New York City. And those kinds of things are typically done at the local level,” Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, told CNN.

Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, agreed: “I applaud [the mayor] for doing that. People in Washington may have disagreed, but I think caution is important in this war on terrorism.”

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