By MSNBC analyst & former FBI profiler
updated 8/6/2005 8:11:24 AM ET 2005-08-06T12:11:24
COMMENTARY

The BBC revealed that NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly did not have the permission of the London Metropolitan Police (the Met) to talk about sensitive information to hundreds of people, and in reality the world, concerning the construction of the bombs used in the London attacks.  At a briefing in New York City this week, Kelly described, in detail, how the bombs deployed by suicide bombers — ones that killed 52 and wounded hundreds — were easily constructed from common household items.  He also provided information concerning the need to keep such devices in a stable condition. 

British law enforcement officials were angered by Kelly’s unauthorized disclosure of their investigation on the 7/7 London bombing and the 7/21 attempted bombing of trains and double decker-buses.  This information had been closely guarded by the investigators to prevent copy cats and to help identify other suicide bomber cells now believed to be operating in London.

The NYPD has attempted to create its own mini-FBI by sending detectives around the world to liaise with international law enforcement agencies, usually duplicating the relationships already in place between FBI Legal Attaches (FBI Agents assigned to U.S. embassies) assigned to over 50 international cities and their law enforcement counterparts. 

Although the FBI and most major U.S. police departments would likely have had access to the same information concerning the components used to make the bombs, the Bureau and these other agencies apparently chose not to call public conferences to release this highly sensitive information. This is just one more indication that the NYPD is more than prepared to go around the FBI and any other law enforcement agency to meet its own needs and desires, even if such could harm an international terrorism investigation that is ongoing at this time, one that currently sees the deployment thousands of British Police throughout London and the U.K. in their valiant attempt to prevent yet another 7/7 type of attack.

Even though private and corporate security officials were given this information via seminar at NYPD Headquarters, that's not the problem.  But it is problematic when the inadvertent and unapproved release of this information could both compromise the British investigation and  provide an obvious cook book recipe to any wannabe-bomber who desires to test, build and deploy similar devices.

For the commissioner to suggest the description and makeup of the bombs was as easy to get over the Internet as a meatloaf recipe is not a reason to confirm it to the world.  Bomb construction guidelines might be readily available and correct in cyper-space, but advertising that fact could produce the same results as the 7/7 attack.

The NYPD and the people of New York City do not want to see a repeat of 9/11.  In fact, no one but the terrorists do.  The issue here is that the commissioner appears to see New York as an island and not as a partner in the global war on terrorism, one in which many major cities and many people have suffered at the hands of terrorists. 

To take it upon himself to share the results of the Met’s investigation, information provided in confidence to the NYPD, is just wrong by any standard.  After the commissioner’s presentation this week, it's hard to believe that any terrorist support group will continue to maintain evidence of their possible participation in the building of such explosives.  Kelly’s statements most likely tipped them off on how authorities search for these materials.

It would have been far better and potentially less costly to the London investigation for Kelly to have simply said the devices were not made from high order military explosives, but from easier-to-obtain items that are common in many homes and stores.  Period. 

The British Police would now be well within their right to stop sharing information with the NYPD, knowing now that anything they might tell a NYPD detective could be quickly shared by Kelly before a conference of hundreds and, ultimately, the world. The release of this information without the consent of the Met was wrong, and Kelly should have known better.  I doubt that he would want Scotland Yard providing seminars on critical and sensitive NYPD investigations, especially when New York faces the same immediate and hourly threat as London, its police department and its citizens.

Clint Van Zandt is an MSNBC analyst. He is the founder and president of Van Zandt Associates Inc. Van Zandt and his associates also developed LiveSecure.org, a Website dedicated "to develop, evaluate, and disseminate information to help prepare and inform individuals concerning personal and family security issues." During his 25-year career in the FBI, Van Zandt was a supervisor in the FBI's internationally renowned Behavioral Science Unit at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. He was also the FBI's Chief Hostage Negotiator and was the leader of the analytical team tasked with identifying the "Unabomber."

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