Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Mission Accomplished, New York Eases Subway Alert

The subway threat was nonexistent. But it sure gave Mike a good excuse for not being at the Harlem debate last week. Bloomberg is definitely studying the Bush Playbook.

New York officials scaled back security in the city's subways yesterday after federal and local law enforcement authorities discounted the report of a terrorist threat to the city's underground transportation system.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said that the extraordinary measures put in place on Thursday - police officers on every train, major shows of force at transportation centers - would be relaxed, but that the city would continue many of the enhanced measures it has taken to protect the subways since the bombings in London in July.

"There was no there there," one senior United States counterterrorism official said of the possible threat that surfaced publicly late last week.

From the outset, some federal officials, including those with the Department of Homeland Security, questioned just how real a plot against the subway system had been, and while some supported the city's measures, at least one official said he was astonished by how the city had reacted.


Law enforcement officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the information in the case is classified, said that an American investigation, conducted largely in Iraq, has yielded no evidence that a plot was in motion or being actively
contemplated. The outlines of the alleged plot, based on the word of an informant, were that Al Qaeda operatives in Iraq were coordinating with others, some perhaps already in New York, to hide bombs in baby strollers, packages and briefcases and blow them up in subways.

But the officials said that after taking the three men into custody last week in Iraq, they found no fake passports, no travel documents, no viable travel route from Iraq to New York, and no apparent contact or telephone calls from those in Iraq to people in New York. In addition, the officials said that two of the men detained in Iraq had been given polygraph tests that indicated they were not part of any plot.


Fernando Ferrer, Mr. Bloomberg's Democratic challenger in the race for mayor, issued a statement yesterday saying that the mayor should disclose what, and when, he knew about the threat, and precisely why he acted as he did. Edward Skyler, a spokesman for Mr. Bloomberg, said that during such an extensive investigation, "the mayor doesn't have the luxury of knowing whether the threat will ultimately be determined to be credible or not."


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