By Melissa Bower, Fort Leavenworth LampMarch 19, 2009
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (March 19, 2009) - New York was a target for terrorists long before Sept. 11, 2001, but its counter-terrorism bureau is dedicated to changing that perspective.
Richard Kaminski, director of intelligence analysis for the Counter Terrorism Division within the New York City Police Department, spoke March 12 at Grant Auditorium as part of a new lecture series at the Combined Arms Center.
Kaminski spent 30 years with the government intelligence community and served as the National Security Agency's representative to the Federal Bureau of Investigation Headquarters. He spent two years as the National Counterterrorism Center's representative to New York. Kaminski has a master's in Arabic studies.
Kaminski pointed to 11 terrorist attacks in New York between 1990 and 2007, including the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.
NYPD participates in the Joint Terrorism Task Force - a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other federal and Department of Defense branches - with 125 NYPD detectives serving in the JTTF. All police officers are taught terrorism awareness, beginning at the academy level.
Kaminski said the NYPD conducts several field operations to counter terrorism. One of the most visible is the critical response vehicle surge, or CRV. During this operation, dozens of police cars line the streets of New York. Kaminski said CRVs have become controversial because of the additional traffic when 70 or 80 cars show up to the same location.
NYPD also uses Hercules deployments, which is another strong show of force by the police officers at high profile locations. They conduct ground, harbor and aviation Hercules deployments and traffic checkpoints.
NYPD gets involved with new construction at the planning level to make security recommendations to companies. Although Kaminski said they couldn't enforce ideas through city code, they can suggest to builders the best possible way to protect structures and the people inside.
NYPD Shield allows counter-terrorism law enforcement to communicate with local security guards, retail businesses and other interested parties through a Web site. Kaminski said the site, www.nypdshield.org, is updated regularly and also used by the private sector to provide information to the police.
Local law enforcement officials said they appreciated the knowledge shared by Kaminski, including Pat Kitchens, chief of police for the city of Leavenworth, and Kansas Highway Patrol Officer Maj. Anthony Prideaux.
When Kaminski was asked to speculate about the possibility of sending Guantanamo detainees to Fort Leavenworth, he suggested terrorists might look at surrounding areas as a "soft" target, such as universities or civilian populations.
Kitchens said the city of Leavenworth had already considered the concern about foreign detainees on post. The police conducted an assessment to determine its readiness, he said, and he agreed with Kaminski's thoughts about terrorists perceiving Leavenworth as a soft target.
"My first concern is we don't have the current capability to do intelligence gathering related to terrorism," he said.
The Leavenworth police are working alongside the Provost Marshal Office to formulate a plan on how to combat terrorism.
Prideaux said the Kansas Highway Patrol receives assistance from the Department of Homeland Security to plan counter-terrorism efforts. They are also part of the JTTF. The highway patrol has added trained bomb technicians and is training for biochemical hazards.
"You're never prepared enough," he said, "but we're flexible."
Kaminski, giving another insight into terrorist thinking, said that some are second or third generation Americans. Children of Islamic immigrants to the U.S. can take wealth and democratic opportunities for granted, he said, and have a romanticized view of life in their home countries.
"Because they forget why their families left the countries they left, usually because they were in poverty over there. They came over here to get a better life," he said.