Finding Fault Over Subway False Alarm
October 12th, 2005
Editorial writers in four of the city’s metropolitan newspapers all defend Michael Bloomberg today against critics of his response to the false alarm of a subway attack last week.
“Let’s face it: The threat was real enough for the military to launch an operation in Iraq, to arrest three suspects and conduct interrogations and polygraph tests,” writes
the New York Post. “Did Mayor Bloomberg overreact? Maybe.” But New Yorkers will give him “the benefit of the doubt.”
Both the Post and the
New York Sun criticize Democratic mayoral candidate Fernando Ferrer and his supporters for “questioning Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Kelly’s decision last week to increase security” and for implying that it was politics that determined the timing of the subway alert, shortly before the Harlem debate the mayor was skipping.
Michael Goodwin of the Daily News , while pointing to “flaws” in the performance of Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, finds fault in the handling of this incident somewhere else — the Bush Administration, “which passed on the threat to New York” but then undermined Bloomberg by “saying the report was of ‘doubtful credibility.’.. The next day, Bush actually claimed this was the way the system was supposed to work. ‘Our job is to gather intelligence and pass it on to local authorities. And they make the judgments necessary to respond’There you have it – the gazillions we spend on security only pay for bureaucrats to push paper. Whatever happens after that, it’s not their problem. This is nuts.”
The Times has similar criticisms.
“What bothers us is that this alert showed that the antiterrorism operations for this huge and vital city are hardly the seamless affair we were promised after 9/11,” the Times writes. “The Homeland Security Department was scoffing about the alert – on background, of course – minutes after it was announced. It’s been pretty clear that the department was enjoying the behind-the-scenes chance to make a local police force that prides itself on its expertise and independence look amateurish. Meanwhile, a number of big cities have chafed at what some officials claim is a failure of the Homeland Security Department to share information speedily, and some make it clear that they believe the top urban police departments could do a better job of coordinating intelligence on their own. This territorial politics and press spin is not how things should be four years after the 9/11 attacks.”
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