New terror warnings old hat to cops Email this story Printer friendly format Special Section NYC gets ready for GOP party time Are you concerned? Are you concerned about a possible terroris

09 2004

New terror warnings old hat to cops Email this story Printer friendly format Special Section NYC gets ready for GOP party time Are you concerned? Are you concerned about a possible terroris

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Police Commissioner Ray Kelly says the new terror threat warnings from Washington are old news to the NYPD.

Kelly was unfazed by Homeland Security Chief Tom Ridge's announcement yesterday that al-Qaida might attack the Republican National Convention at Madison Square Garden, saying the city has received no new intelligence and won't change its alert status.

"There is no specific information of a pending terrorist attack on the RNC or New York City," he said yesterday during a quickly called news conference at One Police Plaza.

Ridge's announcement put Kelly in the familiar, if uncomfortable, position of having to react to an unpredictable national homeland security apparatus while preparing for terrorism in a city that has been attacked twice in a decade.

Earlier in the day, Ridge said the Bush administration was beefing up security nationwide based on credible reports that militant Islamists might stage a pre-election terror attack similar to the bombing of a Madrid commuter train in March.

The NYPD has no plans to raise the city's terror alert level ”€ which has been at orange, the second-highest-level, since Sept. 11, 2001 ”€ unless it receives more ominous intelligence, Kelly said.

Asked whether Ridge's statements were too vague to be helpful, Kelly said, "Some people may claim that it confuses them or that their attention drifts, but I think it's important periodically to make people continue to focus on the threat."

Ridge's staff contacted Kelly late Wednesday to inform the city that he'd be updating the nation on security plans around the convention and the elections. Mayor Michael Bloomberg was attending a business conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, when Ridge made his announcement.

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the Long Island Rail Road and the subways, said it would not raise its alert level either. The agency has already taken steps to improve security, including creating a K-9 bomb unit.

Although yesterday's warning contained no new specific targets, Kelly said he was satisfied his department was being given high-quality, real-time information from national intelligence agencies.

Members of the Sept. 11 commission cited the lack of timely communication between the CIA, FBI and NYPD as a key homeland security flaw.

"We believe we're getting what's out there," he said. "In terms of sharing the information with New York City, it's certainly coming our way."

Staff writer Joshua Robin contributed to this story.

Senators warned on terror threats
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The chiefs of the CIA and FBI told senators Thursday that the current terror threat against the United States is at its highest level since the attacks of September 11, 2001, according to senators and congressional staff who were present at the closed-door meeting.

According to one Democratic source, the briefers warned that the threat of attack is more acute than at any time since al Qaeda operatives struck the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon outside Washington with hijacked airliners. A fourth commandeered plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania.

The source spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity because the briefing with CIA Director George Tenet and FBI Director Robert Mueller was classified.

Separately, a Democratic senator told CNN, "It is the most worrisome situation since 9/11."

A Republican, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said he didn't hear a specific reference to 9/11, but said that was the clear impression left by the briefers.

"That was the gist of it," he said.

The briefing was one of several this week given to lawmakers about terrorist threats. (Full story)

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