A journalist with remarkable access explains how the New York City Police Department has set the standard for preventing terrorist attacks.
Though he’s also written several spy novels (The Sleeper, 2004, etc.), Dickey’s day job is as Paris bureau chief and Middle East regional editor for Newsweek. Reporting around the world for three decades, he has developed excellent sources that enabled him to see up close the NYPD’s counterterrorism operations, many instituted since 9/11. The book is a valentine to NYC police commissioner Raymond Kelly and intelligence chief David Cohen, who cooperated with the author. Yet Dickey is not mindlessly upbeat; he shows that the police force has numerous problems, though primarily outside the counterterrorism realm. Furthermore, the author is sometimes extremely critical of the CIA and the FBI. Those agencies, he demonstrates, frequently fail to cooperate with the NYPD or each other and are filled with shortsighted, often downright incompetent agents. As a quasi-insider, the author learned many things that contravened conventional wisdom, and he shares those with readers. While politicians and frightened constituents demonize illegal immigrants, for example, law-enforcement officials know that most undocumented entrants into the United States help keep urban areas safe: They work hard and try to avoid trouble, and after they settle in, their non-English language skills and ties to their nations of origin can become assets for municipal police. The narrative’s overarching subject is the propriety of limits placed on a law-enforcement agency when the dangers of another 9/11 are real, but overly aggressive behavior might impinge on civil liberties. “How far would they go to protect the lives of millions of people all around them whose homes and jobs…were part of the number one terrorist target in the world?” Dickey asks. “How far would they not go to protect them? Maybe Kelly and his team could be trusted to walk that line in a reasonable way most of the time. Maybe.”
Well-reported examination of cutting-edge police work.