Heavily Armed Officers on New York City Subways

Why does anyone think this is a good idea?

In the first counterterrorism strategy of its kind in the nation, roving teams of New York City police officers armed with automatic rifles and accompanied by bomb-sniffing dogs will patrol the city's subway system daily, beginning next month, officials said on Friday.

Under a tactical plan called Operation Torch, the officers will board trains and patrol platforms, focusing on sites like Pennsylvania Station, Herald Square, Columbus Circle, Rockefeller Center and Times Square in Manhattan, and Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.

What does it accomplish besides intimidating innocent commuters?

Posted on February 7, 2008 at 6:06 AM • 148 Comments

Comments

AnonymousFebruary 7, 2008 6:34 AM

> What does it accomplish besides intimidating innocent commuters?

It will keep the morons in suspense!
Be scaird!!one!

Moon Base AlfaFebruary 7, 2008 6:46 AM

"What does it accomplish besides intimidating innocent commuters?"

Perhaps that's the point.

J.February 7, 2008 6:49 AM

It looks like it is inspired by the French "Vigipirate", which consists in having a cop and a bunch of heavily armed military grunts walking around train stations. Vigipirate started in the 90s and is still running.

As far as I know, besides quite a few beatings of people not white enough, it didn't accomplish anything positive. It did, however, scare a lot of people: wanting to intervene when someone is very obviously wrongfully arrested takes a new meaning when you're told to stay away by an soldier with a machine gun.

nrqFebruary 7, 2008 7:00 AM

Clever, I wonder why nobody had this idea earlier, since bomb sniffing dogs are known to be quite enduring and stay focused on their job for hours and hours.

Oh, wait...

merkelcellcancerFebruary 7, 2008 7:14 AM

Citizen assume the position, no one is innocent, we are checking your level of guilt.

t3knomanserFebruary 7, 2008 7:14 AM

NYC's been doing things like this for awhile. A few years ago I went there for work, and took some time to explore Manhattan. Outside of the Public Library, there was a half-dozen men with SMGs and body armor milling around chatting it up with a detective. I managed to button-hole the detective, and asked, "What's all this?"

In a prideful tone, he explained, "Oh, it's just a show of force. We set one of these up, every few days, someplace in the city."

TheDoctorFebruary 7, 2008 7:17 AM

Full automatic rifles have one use: kill as much persons as possible without much aming.

Man, will that be fun if they start shooting in rush hour !

GarethFebruary 7, 2008 7:17 AM

"What does it accomplish besides intimidating innocent commuters?"

That's the odd thing. I was passing through Heathrow a few days ago (where they've kindly started fingerprinting all people who need to transit internally!) and overheard a conversation on the next counter. The woman being fingerprinted seemed reassured by this new measure, and all the security in the place, such as x-raying shoes, armed patrols etc.

For some people, having this kind of "security" in place is a visible sign of how the terrororists can't get to them now, that they're safe because of the extra checks, whether they're effective or not and no matter what civil liberties they remove.

Incidentally, regarding the fingerprinting, I was told that it was OK, as no personal information was being stored. I'm reassured to know that my fingerprints aren't personal information. *sigh*

GavinFebruary 7, 2008 7:18 AM

They could make money out of this ! Advertise it as a dog walking service and the cops would give the dogs a good walking all over NY.

t3knomanserFebruary 7, 2008 7:21 AM

@gareth: you make me weep for mankind. Of course, I can't the times I've had this debate:
Person: Sure, the new security measures are a burden, but don't you want to be safe.
Me: I want to be safe, and these security measures won't achieve that. [Insert various bits of evidence about specific things that don't work and why they don't]
Person: Right, I get that. But it still makes us safer.

AndyFebruary 7, 2008 7:24 AM

Here in the UK we had armed police on the underground - it didn't work out so well...

Trichinosis USAFebruary 7, 2008 7:42 AM

They've had both military and police presence in Penn Station for quite some time now. Backpacks and bags have been subject to random search without probable cause on all public NYC transit since 7/22/05. This is just more ratcheting up of the police state.

Ed T.February 7, 2008 7:45 AM

"What does it accomplish besides intimidating innocent commuters?"

What else is there? Maybe they'll be used to take care of those horrid graffiti artists and photographers that are such a danger on the subway, though.

I was in East Berlin during the Soviet occupation, and I can attest to the fact that people with automatic weapons are very fear-inspring. But, only if there are periodic public demonstrations as to *why* they should be feared.

~EdT.

sooth_sayerFebruary 7, 2008 7:56 AM

With Guliani out off office for 8 years, I don't think the time is too far away when NY reverts to the filthy crime infested slum it had become under decades of democractic rule.

I fully support this move; sometimes the lord works in mysterious ways and this time He is ahead of the curve :-)

RobertFebruary 7, 2008 7:59 AM

It's been done in Penn Station for years. I've seen them in the subway before too. Seems like this is more about PR than anything else. Even seen an officer twirling their weapon before.

Will it help security? Likely not. I'm pretty sure a suicide bomber isn't scared of being shot. I'd rather see them train 500 undercover officers and have them roam and look for suspicious packages around the system.

ConservatardFebruary 7, 2008 8:02 AM

I have a better idea, let's arm police with bananas, and when terrorists are running into a crowd with a hand-remote activated pipe bomb the police will quickly eat the banana and THEN, throw the banana peel IN FRONT of the terrorist, thus thwarting him because the terrorist would slip up. Not only will this serve a purpose of stopping terrorist attacks, but cool front page photo shoots can be made of the police officers with one foot on the grounded terrorist, a fist on one waist, a chin held high, and a banana, the nutrious saviour of liberty, held aloft for the voting public to see.

apolinskyFebruary 7, 2008 8:17 AM

I walk to work every day on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn,right past the Atlantic Avenue station. In the last 12 months I've seen at least four times when about 8 - 10 heavily armed, flak jacketed police, generally with one german shepard. When I commented to one of the officers that they were rather intimidating, he replied "don't worry, we're the good guys." It certainly makes you wonder why the good guys need to scare everyone around them.

Patrick HenryFebruary 7, 2008 8:18 AM

"What does it accomplish besides intimidating innocent commuters?"

Well, for one thing, it greatly increases the chances of US citizens being shot with automatic rifles. What more could you ask for?

Jean-Marc LiotierFebruary 7, 2008 8:22 AM

In this case, it is France who has blazed the trail in the field of pointless waste of military resources. Our "Vigipirate" operation mentioned above by "J" has long deployed bunches of heavily bored troops in the Metro with webbing and an assault rifle with an empty clip or no clip. I don't recall them having hurt anyone, but I also don't recall them adding any significant value to match the cost of mobilizing parts of our overstretched force for what amounts to basic mall security. They just spend their days strolling in beautiful Paris chatting and gossiping while looking completely out of place in Central Europe camouflage among suited businesspeople. A least they are not carrying combat helmet and armor... Ooops I just gave someone at the ministry a good idea...

Morne ButorFebruary 7, 2008 8:24 AM

When you put together this article and the previous one, it becomes impossible not to imagine a bunch of terrorists walking freely in the subway, wearing the proper fatigues, with their arms fully loaded, and their bagpacks full of powerful explosives they can put anywhere they want. Who will notice them? Who will discuss the presence of these armed people, when you see many of them on any casual day. But this won't be a casual day...

AnonymousFebruary 7, 2008 8:25 AM

So what happens when the next attack is from a bunch of guys dressed in faux NYPD uniforms and radios, carrying easily obtained assault rifles, who just stroll onto the subway and open fire?

Can you imagine the resulting CF? Any armed members of the public will have to shoot at people who look like cops. Once the first team is dropped, other cops will rush in. Are they real or not? And from the cops perspective, are those people defending themselves terrorists? What a bloodbath it could be!

Anonymous CowardFebruary 7, 2008 8:28 AM

@Conservatard

Funny, however let me point out that policemen in general are lousy shots in stressful situations. Even with their primary weapon, the handgun. Switch that out with a high powered rifle, which is very difficult to shoot off-hand without considerable training AND make it the officer's secondary weapon (soldiers train primarily with rifles) and you have a much greater potential for them mowing down a bunch of people (how many people can a .223 round pass through in a crowd?) than actually killing the RUNNING terrorist in you hypothetical in such a way as to prevent him from detonating his explosives anyway. I'm assuming these officers are not SWAT or else the article would have been sure to mention it. More likely scenario is that an officer would be very hesitant to fire what he knows is a high powered weapon in a crowded terminal or train car because he is very aware of the collateral damage he would do. Whatever this is, it is not a serious security measure (i.e. preventative control) it is a mild deterrent and certainly a way of funnelling a lot of money to cops from the fed for training, equipment and overtime. Ladies and gents, I present to you... securitas theatricus.

Sincerely,

Coward

AnonymousFebruary 7, 2008 8:29 AM

Damn, beaten to the punch by Morne Butor. Of course, those who worship at the altar of the State will simply dismiss these things as "movie plots".

Trichinosis USAFebruary 7, 2008 8:31 AM

I think the stupidest recent display of police presence had to be Jones Beach, Long Island last July 4th. Guys all decked out in black SWAT team gear bravely protecting people in speedos and bikinis from... what? Sharks? Sharp items in the sand? Bullies who might kick sand in people's faces?

They had to be burning up in that crap, too. I mean, geez, black SWAT gear in the noonday July sun. None of them looked too happy, that was for sure.

Anonymous CowardFebruary 7, 2008 8:33 AM

Does any one know of the last time there was a shoot out with automatic weapons (involving police) in New York City (not Jersey ;) ? I'm from Miami where this sort of thing happens with some frequency and still don't think peace officers with assault rifles is a good idea.

Anonymous CowardFebruary 7, 2008 8:39 AM

Doesn't this sound like scenes from one of the Grand Theft Auto games? Next thing you know they'll be randomly dropping from helicopters around Manhattan.

LCFebruary 7, 2008 8:44 AM

It accomplishes many things, a show of force, it sends a message to hidden terror cells that they cant just freely use our own subway and transportation systems for their own purposes.

Besides, maybe they have received a piece of intelligence and they are acting on it. Which is a responsible thing to do. God knows that if it ever leaked that they had a piece of intelligence and they didnt take measures such as this, then the same people on this damn blog would be posting up on how incompetent and how illiterate the government is.

The world is becoming a more dangerous place due to our own (society's) technological advances, so why blame the repercussions and effects of that on our government? Perhaps the US is, as some other countries are, on the forefront of changing times.

Sometimes i feel as if people on this blog are on *their* side instead of ours.

You people are so ingrained with your stupid "orwellian 1984" rhetoric of the government one day taking over and this whole thing becoming a police state, that you can't see yourself being raped right in front of your own eyes.

Or maybe what it will take for some of you is for a stupid taliban f**K to blow himself up and kill your family. Then your going to be down at the precinct asking them to give you an AK-47.

Or perhaps you would be a lot safer if our government didn't care enough and just let them run free through our streets.

So all in all, it doesn't bother me one bit. Why should police officers with automatic rifles scare me? I have nothing to hide.

People always say "Where are they when you need them" and when people get them, then they complain too. Hypocrites.

I have never been bothered by a police officer, ever. Half jokingly : Maybe you should watch chris rock's comedic clip on what to do around police officers.

Some of you seem to need some common sense.

Get off your high and mighty pillars.

Your too blind to see two feet in front of your own faces.

CFebruary 7, 2008 8:49 AM

Deploying heavily-armed/ tactical units in subways puts them closer to possible target sites, and allows them to familiarize themselves with the environment in its natural state, i.e. chaotic.

Or would you rather have them not practice, or practice on empty buildings with no people, or stay sequestered in an office until needed?

Or are you really decrying the need for tactical units at all?

I don't have a problem with this. I don't have a problem with automatic weapons, or beating suspects -- most of these beatings are fully deserved, and yes, I'm glad they tased him, dude -- or any show of force. Better they get out and walk around than sit in a ready room watching DVDs for six hours.

-C

Rob J.February 7, 2008 8:50 AM

Given the propensity lately for NYC police to violently overreact and shoot innocent people dozens of times with just their normal handguns (several recent high publicity cases) whenever they feel threatened, this scares the daylights out of me. Also, in July 2004 a NYC police officer actually detonated a pipe bomb in the NYC subway - unlike the "Middle Eastern" suspects that get 20 to life for walking past a subway entrance with a cigarette lighter as plotting terrorists I don't remember any media circus trial or stiff sentence handed down to the officer. (See NYTimes link above).

Timm MurrayFebruary 7, 2008 9:02 AM

@LC: "It accomplishes many things, a show of force, it sends a message to hidden terror cells that they cant just freely use our own subway and transportation systems for their own purposes."

Funny. Bin Laden wanted to "send a message" to the US that everyone should convert to Islam. Somehow, nobody over here seems to be listening.

"Send a message" via force is useless for both sides.

AlphaPrimeFebruary 7, 2008 9:24 AM

After Pearl Harbor one of the Japanese admirals said, "I fear we have woken a sleeping giant.", and they had. Today, half a century later, the phrase would be, "I wonder what rights the citizens will lose now.".

In case you can't see, they are winning.

Carlo GrazianiFebruary 7, 2008 9:27 AM

Who thinks it's a good idea?

From the article:

"Financing for the program will be funneled to the Police Department and will come from a pool of up to $30 million taken from $153.2 million in new federal transit grants to the state."

Putting SWAT on the Subway is a response to the fact that the biggest new pool of Federal grants to States is for Anti-Terror activity. Any such activity will do, so long as it can be highlighted in annual reports and applications.

This is the same game that drives the Boston police to out-stupid the Keystone Kops. The reason the Boston cops evacuate the city and call in airstrikes every time someone leaves funny-looking trash in a bin is that they can then add an anti-terror action to their aggregate statistics, and that will help the city apply for anti-terror funds next year.

Remember the old saw about people whose only tool is a hammer regarding all problems as nails? Turns out that when most Federal funding for police is terror-related, most law-enforcement looks like anti-terror.

bearFebruary 7, 2008 9:33 AM

Wasn't there a movie 'Escape from NewYork City' ? Maybe this is the next step towards making a movie reality 8-)

AnonGuyFebruary 7, 2008 9:38 AM

Sorry to say, most of you claims of police racism coming into play and overall likeliness to shoot someone just aren't supported by facts:
http://blog.washingtonpost.com/rawfisher/2007/09/...

Unfortunately, police shooting statistics aren't really tracked on a national scale but do the posters to this blog truly believe that it is such a common occurrence? And that it is also common for them to shoot someone that they don't a) warn and b) feel physically threatened by? Come on, this is paranoia not based in facts but fear. The same kind of illogical fear that you claim the government exhibits by putting these armed officers in the subway.

YosiFebruary 7, 2008 9:49 AM

What is actually the problem? Police doing it's work and patrolling public transportation? Or may be the fact that "those officers will have heavy guns"? Well, in case you didn't pay attention - they are _police_ officers, they _supposed_ to have guns.
What a pointless post.

Carlo GrazianiFebruary 7, 2008 10:11 AM

Yes, Yosi, heavily and conspicuously-armed police is patrolling public transportation, and if this were a TV show they would fight exciting battles against evil terrorists, eventually foiling their dastardly plans.

However, the reality is that these guys are more likely to bust the occasional mugger -- albeit spectacularly -- than they are to ever even see a terrorist. A couple of beat cops in plain clothes could do that, at a fraction of the expense.

Festooning the subway with combat weaponry will, however, stand as a living demonstration of how terrified we are of the big, bad terrorists. And those resources that we spend on turning cops into Guns 'N Ammo photo shoot models will not be used to actually investigate any crime, whether terror-related or otherwise.

bearFebruary 7, 2008 10:12 AM

for me it would be the heavily armed. If there is a presence and everyone knows they are there or could be randomly there I think there would be a certain level of 'feeling happy and secure'. Do they really need the big guns?

a not terroristFebruary 7, 2008 10:14 AM

@LC
"it sends a message to hidden terror cells that they cant just freely use our own subway and transportation systems for their own purposes."
Yeah, right. Be aware you bloody terrorists!
You will be shot after you've blown yourself up!

"Or maybe what it will take for some of you is for a stupid taliban f**K to blow himself up and kill your family."
Let me guess. You don't know anybody called de Menezes?

>I have never been bothered by a police >officer, ever.
I wonder how much warning did Jean Charles de Menezes receive in London before being shot by the cops.

TSFebruary 7, 2008 10:17 AM

Do you people know what "automatic" means? Sheesh, the handguns regular cops carry are all "automatic". Just because it's called "automatic" doesn't mean it's capable of "full-auto" or what you might think of as machine-gun mode.

Tactical weapons have single shot / 3-round / full-auto modes. Unless these officers are being attacked by hordes of aliens, they're not going to switch to full-auto. From the some of you are talking you expect these guys to have zero training.

What I find amusing is that most of the guys I see at Grand Central are standing around talking to each other, some with their backs to the crowd. Compared to the soldiers I've seen in other countries who meticulously scrutinizes everyone who passes...

MFHFebruary 7, 2008 10:27 AM

LC... Sure, terrorist now can't use NYC subways for their own purposes... Now, in order to detonate themselves in the middle of Macy's they will have to take a cab.

OTOH, this will make killing people in the subway system much cheaper. All they need do now is yell "Allahu Ackbar!" and set off a few firecrackers, the police will do all the killing for them.

Of course either set of actions being taken is equally unlikely, but hey, don't let that stop you from soiling your panties at the thought of the big bad terrorists winning.

In the fight for your mind, they already have.

Heh, the choice of M4 carbines and MP5 sub guns is all wrong for the stated mission anyway, the M$, unless they happen to be using hollow points WILL over penetrate, not a bad thing in a military setting, especially in a target rich environment... but in a subway, most targets are civilians.... the MP5, like the M4 is also too bloody loud for the setting, if fired, anyone not shot will have permanent hearing damage.

For the setting sound suppressed weapons would make sense if they expect to use them at all.

duhFebruary 7, 2008 10:29 AM

>policemen in general are lousy shots in stressful situations. Even with their primary weapon, the handgun. Switch that out with a high powered rifle, which is very difficult to shoot off-hand without considerable training


It's quite a bit easier to be accurate with a rifle...

SedgequillFebruary 7, 2008 10:40 AM

I hope the system has infallible emergency lighting.

Public service announcements briefing the public on the best way to hit the deck (or to “assume the survival position��?) would be in order.

WellYouAskedForItFebruary 7, 2008 10:41 AM

Now terrorists don't have to bring real bombs or danger into the subway, just pretend to do so and the armed gestapo will open fire killing dozens of innocent bystanders, thereby achieving the objective. This is called creating a target.

Not to worry. I a few years, the subways will all be underwater anyway. Do you supposed they trained the troops how to swim?

THRFebruary 7, 2008 10:42 AM

In the first counterterrorism strategy of its kind in the nation, roving teams of New York City police officers armed with automatic rifles and accompanied by bomb-sniffing dogs will patrol the city's subway system daily, beginning next month, officials said on Friday.

Check out the pictures at http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/...

(Click on the pictures for larger view)

San Francisco Chronicle

On guard on the tracks
Armed with automatic weapons, high-profile SWAT teams patrol BART trains

Henry K. Lee, Chronicle Staff Writer

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Passengers did plenty of double-takes Friday morning as BART police Sgts. Eugene Wong and Kevin Franklin, carrying assault rifles and gas masks and clad in SWAT uniforms, made their way through the Balboa Park station in San Francisco.

"D-a-a-a-amn!" exclaimed Stephan Lee, 40, as the sergeants strode past him on the platform. "This isn't even the airport!"

Bernedette Bell, 40, had a similar reaction. At first, she thought that something was wrong. But Franklin reassured her, "Just high-profile patrol right now."

The transit agency has had a special weapons and tactics team -- commonly known as SWAT -- for many years, and regular BART officers have been on heightened alert since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

But for the first time, BART tactical officers, following the lead of transit agencies in cities such as Los Angeles, New York and Washington, began patrolling the system this week to deter potential terrorists as election day draws near. BART is the only transit agency in Northern California that is deploying SWAT officers on a routine basis.

Brandioch ConnerFebruary 7, 2008 10:44 AM

The first question (as always) is "What are they trying to accomplish".

There is NOTHING other than trying to impress the regular citizens that this will accomplish that would not be accomplished faster, more effectively and less expensively with the same cops in plain clothes with regular pistols.

The threat of terrorism is LESS than the threat from drug dealers on the streets.

If this tactic worked, we'd be using it against drug dealers.

This is a waste of money that does nothing but feed some fools' Rambo fantasies. Exactly what you do NOT want when dealing with real terrorists.

SteveJFebruary 7, 2008 10:52 AM

"What does it accomplish besides intimidating innocent commuters?"

Get people used to sniffer dogs everywhere (or "arbitrary search", as it is technically known), and they're less likely to object when you start using drug dogs as well as explosives dogs.

terry wristFebruary 7, 2008 10:59 AM

I think I have an answer to "What does it accomplish besides intimidating innocent commuters?"

It accomplishes intimidating politically active people like protestors and establishes paramilitary troops as police force, so they become usual. In case a need for opressing the population arises, the troops will be there.

Rionn Fears MalechemFebruary 7, 2008 11:05 AM

@AnonGuy: In NYC, the police shot a bridegroom in November 2006. 50 times. For colliding with a police van while trying to navigate a parking lot drunk.

@THC. I love the line 'Wong, a nine-year BART police veteran, turned serious when he saw a man, apparently late, trying to wedge open the doors to a train. "Don't hold open the door," Wong said sternly.' We need more subway etiquette enforcers with automatic weapons! Bring it on! "Move into the middle the car by the time I count to three, or I start shooting!"

xd0sFebruary 7, 2008 11:12 AM

@LC

ok, just wow, you seem to have missed a lot of points made here. You also seem to have bought into the false dichotomy of "with us or against us" with hardly a look back at your fading civil rights. I haven't done a full search, but I believe I have not seen anyone on this board post that they support Al Qaeda or terrorist tactics. Some however have welcomed our new wire cutting squid overlords, if that's what you are getting at :)

Regarding the discussion of the armed police etc, my first thought. "wow the Rules of Engagement for these guys must be either extremely tightly defined, or we have an accidental shooting waiting to happen." As has been pointed out, even in single shot mode, the power of some of these weapons will penetrate and cause secondary hits, some will miss the intended target (BTW through no fault of the firing officer) and shatter or deflect or simply strike innocent bystanders.

So the leaders of this plan have assessed that the intimidation and deterrant factor of armed guards is worth more than the risk of that shooting. The good news is the rarity of a terrorist event also makes the rarity of the shooting roughly the same, unless they are authorized to shoot for other events.

GLKFebruary 7, 2008 11:13 AM

LC Gave me an idea for a poster and/or T-shirt: Picture the outline of an AR-14 assault rifle parallel to the Empire State Building (both are equally as tall) on a red background encircled with the words..."You're too blind to see two feet in front of your own faces."

Nick LancasterFebruary 7, 2008 11:33 AM

@LC:

> Sometimes i feel as if people on this
> blog are on *their* side instead of
> ours.

What you are actually feeling is called 'fear.'

My father served during the Korean War, as did my father-in-law. An uncle was decorated for valor in World War II. And yet, you see fit to accuse me of being on the side of terrorists because I want people to start THINKING about security?

Security is about sensible decisions, not armed response.

> You people are so ingrained with your > stupid "orwellian 1984" rhetoric of the > government one day taking over and
> this whole thing becoming a police
> state, that you can't see yourself
> being raped right in front of your own > eyes.

Raped by whom? The hordes of terrorists lurking about New York subway platforms?

And if they're THERE, then hasn't the whole, 'we're fighting them there so we don't have to fight them here' line a bunch of hooey?

If militant Islam wants to take America, they've got to take all of it, and cross an ocean on either side to get here. Then they have to take every street in every neighborhood, from major cities to small towns. They have to destroy our government, render law enforcement ineffective, and essentially become the provider for necessary services.

Instead, and perhaps more deadly than 'Orwellian' fantasies, is this irrational fear that you'll suddenly wake up to the muezzin calling you to prayer, your wife and daughters will be in burkahs, and 225 years of American freedom will be replaced by Shari'a law overnight.

> Or maybe what it will take for some of > you is for a stupid taliban f**K to blow > himself up and kill your family. Then
> your going to be down at the precinct > asking them to give you an AK-47.

Threatening my family does not make your arguments any more sound in their reasoning.

It makes you just like the terrorists.

> Or perhaps you would be a lot safer if > our government didn't care enough
> and just let them run free through our > streets.

Where is this "THEM"? Who are "THEY"?
To date, the major arrests have been a bunch of clowns who couldn't figure out where to buy camouflage BDU's and had to be coached in a loyalty oath by an undercover FBI agent; a guy who wanted to trade stereo equipment for automatic weapons; and a bunch of wannabe jihadists who took their 'training video' to Circuit City for dubbing.

You're positing a threat of such magnitude that it requires officers to patrol with assault weapons, that there are no civil liberties to be respected, that anything is reasonable in the face of constant fear of an attack. That even having taken the fight to Afghanistan, Iraq, and casting a critical eye on Iran, Lebanon, Syria, and North Korea, that we still need to be fearful.

Vigilance is not the same as living in fear.

> So all in all, it doesn't bother me one
> bit. Why should police officers with
> automatic rifles scare me? I have
> nothing to hide.

On the other hand, you're afraid that someone else on the subway platform is a closet jihadist who has either snuck into this country (showing how ineffective our security/immigration policy is) or been here in hiding as a sleeper cell since before 9/11 (showing how ineffective our security/foreign policy is), and waiting to off a hundred people and convert America to an Islamic puppet state in a single stroke.

We won't be made safer by being afraid. The discourse here is about making informed decisions, not blindly thinking more guns = more safety.

AnonymousFebruary 7, 2008 11:44 AM

it would be even more effective if they fired warning shots from time to time....just in case

StephaneFebruary 7, 2008 11:44 AM

It looks like it is inspired by the French "Vigipirate" indeed..

In Vigipirate, the heavily armed (bullets are not in the weapon) used to be military without any civil police power and were escorted by a cop with proper civil police power (Officier de Police Judiciaire)

I spent one week patrolling an airport when I was doing my military duties.. interesting experience..

Joe BuckFebruary 7, 2008 11:56 AM

The bomb-sniffing dogs might be a good idea. But the automatic rifles are completely useless, unless they want to accidentally kill a lot of innocent civilians if there's ever an incident. What use is an automatic rifle if a dog finds a bomb? What are you going to do, shoot the bomb?

AnonymousFebruary 7, 2008 11:58 AM

"What does it accomplish besides intimidating innocent commuters?"

Who knows whether it's even supposed to accomplish anything beyond that.

shadowFebruary 7, 2008 12:00 PM

"linking security plans for the disparate rail systems in the metropolitan region was “key in securing additional funding from the Department of Homeland Security.��?"

The reasoning behind all of these security theater displays are quite obvious when you equip your bs filter and learn how to read between the lines.

The state/city/police department saw the ability to get funding from the DHS if they could come up with some perceived threats and projects to lower the risk associated with those perceived threats. The homeland defense movement is just a big money pit. Many people are jumping on the bandwagon and trying to profit from it as much as possible.

I see people on here arguing like children.

One side complaining about the impending police state, and the other about how the first side is paranoid and the government just wants to protect us and we shouldn't fear the reduction of our rights because they're the good guys.

Unfortunately things are much more complicated then that in real life.

I think we are moving towards a police state, but I don't think this is an orchestrated movement. This is a self organizing event driven from multiple sides for different reasons.

Some are motivated by greed, some by anger, some by fear, and so on.

Wake up and realize this is the truth and you might have a better chance at stopping the negative changes we are witnessing in our country.

not_that_georgeFebruary 7, 2008 12:01 PM

@lc: Your too blind to see two feet in front of your own faces.

Since you're the one who brought up _1984_, I assume the two feet you're referring to are from this quote:

“If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - for ever.��? — George Orwell, ‘1984’.

Ed T.February 7, 2008 12:11 PM

Here's a thought... when you see these folks, follow the advice from the people at DHS and call the authorities to report "a large group of heavily-armed men wearing what appear to be military-style clothing, acting suspiciously."

After all, this is the USofA, *not* the former Soviet Union (or some tin-pot dictatorship.)

~EdT.

RoxanneFebruary 7, 2008 12:11 PM

You mean that you're not reassured by the presence of an armed guy in a uniform?

Meanwhile, I know *just* how to dress if I actually am a terrorist....

BobSFebruary 7, 2008 12:29 PM

As someone who works in Manhattan, I think this does quite a bit. Having an armed and ready reactionary force patrolling the subways is not a bad idea.

It's amazing how many people (I'd wager most of them safely in some obscure non-metropolitan area) will mock this kind of thing, but what alternatives are there? If Bruce has all of the answers, why not offer your guidance to Ray Kelly?

jack c liptonFebruary 7, 2008 12:34 PM

I have to weigh in on the "Movie Plot Threat"-- these kinds of things make, over time, people with heavy weapons in uniform look, well, "normal", and it opens up an opportunity for someone who decides to do damage to "hide in plain sight".

Perhaps the cops should be in plain clothes and have good radios to scream for a response team. The idea is to ensure that "normalcy" does not include people with heavy weapons.

And that's just it.

Cloning trucks or replica uniforms are the same thing-- find a camouflage that makes you fade into the wood-work and qualify, to everyone else, as if you were "normal". The ability to carry heavy weapons into the subway system will make it EASIER for terrorists-- or other wackos bent on doing damage, which, to my eye, is far more likely-- to smuggle weapons into a "controlled area" and still look "normal".

Unless, of course, there is a way for the weapons to be detected automagically on entry to the system and someone can monitor to ensure that they're supposed to be there...

Maybe, instead of looking for weirdos, we need to look for the most normal and conformist people and turn _them_ in because they are successfully using the camouflage of normalcy?

ice weaselFebruary 7, 2008 12:42 PM

Speaking of infiltrations, nice conservatard comments sprinkled through this thread. I wonder if it's one person or if Mr. Schneier's blog has now attracted the attention of wingnut nation?

Either way, the idea that deploying conspicuously displayed automatic rifles in a subway station is a good defensive is laughable. If one could make an argument that these squads are necessary (such an argument I haven't seen here yet, not a good at least) they should be undercover and very small groups, teams of two and three at the most.

Anything more is theater at the taxpayer's expense.

BobSFebruary 7, 2008 12:42 PM

@Nick Lancaster

>Security is about sensible decisions, not armed response.

So, you don't propose having an Incident Response Process or anything to respond to electronic attacks? Thinking about security is not going to help you recover from the event that happens.

I'm just curious about the mindset of the people who are against this (other than just agreeing with Bruce) - what harm can happen (other than frightening commuters) from having these guys in the subway? Sure a bomber isn't going to care, but this can deter a shooter. I'd imagine the NYPD has a comprehensive security plan, that covers a variety of threats - is it possible that this could be there to mitigate specific threats, and not be a panacea?

Some of you guys need to start thinking logically and sensibly in general and stop being Bruce's yes-men.

Nomen PublicusFebruary 7, 2008 12:51 PM

For goodness sake people, you are currently running primaries for a general election and NOBODY is questioning the prospective candidates about this stuff!!

As for the rifles, are they using the same kind of bullets that air marshals use? If not, I can see the New York City police department spending a huge amount of time in court defending their actions after a fire fight with some dumb, drunk git armed to the eyelids.

AnonymousFebruary 7, 2008 12:56 PM

@LC: "It accomplishes many things, a show of force, it sends a message to hidden terror cells that they cant just freely use our own subway and transportation systems for their own purposes."

Response from the terrorist: "Well, damn. This means I have to trigger my bomb _before_ I shout out 'Allahu Akbar'."

RichFebruary 7, 2008 12:56 PM

@jack clipton

There are already a ton of undercover NYPD in the subway, I happen to be very good friends with a few of them and have seen more "plain clothes" arrests there than uniformed ones.

When I was in the USMC, we had something called "react" while on guard duty both on base and in combat. When there was a problem, say a small riot that a fireteam patrol encountered, they could call react and get another 10-12 men there with M-16s. React was typically deployed from a central location in order to be able to respond quickly to all assigned areas.

This looks very similar to that. There's only so much a couple of detectives can do with 9mm handguns. If there is a serious problem in the subway, I'd feel better knowing that the big guns were only a few minutes away as opposed to 30-45 minutes away.

Maybe the show of force is a little on the dog-and-pony side, but it's not go to hurt.

TBFebruary 7, 2008 1:00 PM

[D]oes anyone think this is a good idea?

Yeah, it's a great idea if you're one of the guys with a gun and a badge.

AnonymousFebruary 7, 2008 1:04 PM

@BobS:

"Sure a bomber isn't going to care, but this can deter a shooter."

Which ones? Most, if not all, public mass murderers have been fundamentally suicidal.

Carlo GrazianiFebruary 7, 2008 1:04 PM

OK, BobS, since you're a fan of logical thinking, try this one on for size. It's called a "cost-benefit analysis".

Each one of these patrol teams is doing equivalent police work to what a couple of plain-clothes beat cops could accomplish, except at a much higher cost in salaries, equipment, operations costs, to say nothing of risk.

At the same time, those resources are not being used to actually attempt to track down terrorists, let alone common-run murderers, drug dealers, kidnappers, etc. From what I hear, New York is not entirely clear of commonplace violent crime, so one could certainly imagine these sorts of resources being put to better use than this sort of dress-up paramilitary exhibition.

I can't say I blame Kelly, Bloomberg et al. too much, though. The fact of the matter is, the money to fund these theatrics would not be available from the Feds if they were to be allocated for mere police work. The NYPD's cost-benefit analysis makes some beancounting sense. It makes none as security, though.

BobSFebruary 7, 2008 1:14 PM

@Carlo Graziani

Learn risk analysis 101. What's the likelihood of a shooter x the impact of a shooting. If it's greater than the cost of the patrols, it's a justifiable expense.

In this day and age, those rhino teams need to be focused on terrorism 100% of the time, not tracking down a numbers ring in Queens. So, even if they were not visibly patrolling, they'd still wouldn't be working other crimes.

AnonymousFebruary 7, 2008 1:18 PM

@Rich

As a former Marine, what do you think about police (not even SWAT, necessarily) using M4s in enclosed areas where 99.999% of the people at any given time are friendlies without any sort of aural protection? Let alone protection from stray bullets, or bullets passing through alleged terrorists or foreign electricians.

AnonymousFebruary 7, 2008 1:26 PM

@Rich:

"Maybe the show of force is a little on the dog-and-pony side, but it's not go to hurt."

Ignorant pop-psych twaddle. Having a bunch of low-skill people wandering around with weapons has large, and destabilizing implications on the social fabric. Twenty years ago the Soviet empire was a case in point, and Americans and their sycophants were gleeful in pointing this out.

Now the trend is coming to Amerika, and the boot-lickers of the State are demanding more and more. Do you honestly think these people will save you? Do you really think they -- the government in general -- give a rat's ass about your personal survival?

If irony was a nutritious substance, America would be as healthy as a horse. Instead all the USA has is fear and the biggest military in town. Not good. Arguably very bad, as fear is an ominous social and institutional toxin. The antidote is not glorified soldiers patrolling the street.

"The social structure of any nation-state is ultimately determined by its security arrangements." Neal Stephenson wrote that in a novel (for heavens sake!), and it's something any real leader worthy of respect instinctively knows.

New YorkerFebruary 7, 2008 1:35 PM

> ... guys dressed in faux NYPD uniforms and radios, carrying easily obtained assault rifles,
>who just stroll onto the subway and open fire?
>
>Can you imagine the resulting CF?
>Any armed members of the public

This is NYC, there are no "armed members of the public" in New York, only politicians and celebrities are issued carry permits here.

Nick LancasterFebruary 7, 2008 1:35 PM

BobS:

I'm wondering how you get from my disapproving of police armed with assault weapons *patrolling* a subway platform to thinking that 'do nothing' is my chosen response to terrorism.

One of the goals of any good military offense is to hassle your opponent and prevent them from thinking rationally, I find it laughable that you're discounting rational thought as an effective solution.

Is there a threat? Most certainly. Are there hordes of secret terrorist cells waiting for the call to jihad? Highly doubtful - the time for such an attack would have been after 9/11, while we were still struggling to cope with the impact of that event.

Will having officers equipped with assault weapons stop anything? Also highly doubtful - we're looking at an enemy that routinely conducts attacks by stealth (improvised explosives) and more direct means (suicide bombers). Even a shooter armed with an Uzi could wreak substantial havoc in a matter of seconds, so armed patrols are already working on the likelihood that they'll be looking in the wrong direction and having to make tactical decisions among a panicked crowd.

The goal is to develop systems that protect the populace to the best extent possible even if the terrorists manage to place a shooter or bomber in a crowded area like a subway platform, not indulge in FPS (first-person shooter) fantasies of taking down the bad guy amid panicking commuters. Real life isn't Rainbow Six: Vegas.

AnonymousFebruary 7, 2008 1:50 PM

@New Yorker:

"This is NYC, there are no "armed members of the public" in New York, only politicians and celebrities are issued carry permits here."

Well then the solution to NYC's problems are simple: don't issue mental-cases or terrorists CCW's! ;-/

@Nick Lancaster

"Even a shooter armed with an Uzi could wreak substantial havoc in a matter of seconds,"

This must be patently obvious even to the least with-it members of these fire-teams, and from there all the way up the chain of command. In fact, if it is not obvious to these people, they are not fit for civic duty and should be dismissed for incompetence.

But that might make using up the budget even more difficult.

RichFebruary 7, 2008 1:54 PM

@Anonymous

About using an M4 in the subway -- I'd hope discretion is going to come into play. I've served in Somalia and I have one memory that sticks in my mind where I could have justifiably killed a Somali and I didn't overreact and did not fire. The guy was deaf and non-responsive to my command to show me his hands. He just stood there stone-faced with one hand behind his back (tucked into his belt). I know the NYPD has long been known to jump the gun, just a year ago they killed a guy the night before his wedding because as the undercover cops approached his car, he drove toward them in an attempt to flee. Hey, I would have probably done the same thing thinking i was being car-jacked.

What I do hope is that the cops use the appropriate force for the situation. I was just a grunt and I was trained in precision shooting in sensitive situations, and I'd hope the NYPD has similar training.

What I do know is these teams are 100% full-time reactionary. Normally, I'd see them at a stationary place like Yankee Stadium. For them to start patrolling is not a bad idea, despite what everyone is saying here.


Nick LancasterFebruary 7, 2008 2:18 PM

Rich:

One of the problems is that a battlefield in Somalia isn't the same as the New York subway. In addition to that, civilians have a built-in bias to their perceptions that is hard to combat.

Case in point, there was a Reuters photographer who was shot by American troops in Iraq. Cue appropriate outrage. I remember trying (and not having much success) to explain that the soldier saw a man with a bulky shoulder mounted object, and a second man holding a reload.

To everyone else, It Was Obvious that it was just a camerman and a sound guy holding a mic, and I couldn't get through the wall of perception - the soldier sees a threat because it's within his experience and training; we see a camera guy and an audio guy because that's OUR experience.

I don't know that there's any amount of training that prepares you for a firefight amid a crowd.

Carlo GrazianiFebruary 7, 2008 2:23 PM

@BobS:

"In this day and age, those rhino teams need to be focused on terrorism 100% of the time, not tracking down a numbers ring in Queens."

OK, if the terrorists have really scared you silly, I guess you might consider that a sensible allocation. You can take comfort in numbers --- most other Americans appear to be scared silly of terrorists too.

However, since you're also a "risk analysis" fan, it seems worth pointing out that riding the NYC subway and worrying about terrorism is a little like being a smoker who worries about contracting ebola.

suomynonaFebruary 7, 2008 2:24 PM

@ LC : "Your too blind to see two feet in front of your own faces."

My feet are not in front of my face. they are at the opposite end of my body. However, if your feet are in front of your face, then it means I was right:

Your head is up your own arse.

BobSFebruary 7, 2008 3:06 PM

@Carlo Graziani

It's not me saying that these guys are allocated to terrorism 100% of the time, it's a fact. It's their full-time job within the NYPD. They're called "Rhino Teams" and they're visible whenever there are large gatherings of people.

You obviously haven't been to Manhattan post-9-11, so you don't know the background, but if Bruce says it's bad security you're going to blindly agree and draw Ebola virus comparisons to try to rationalize your ignorance.

RichFebruary 7, 2008 3:18 PM

@ Nick

I agree, but I'd imagine the overwhelming adrenaline rush and associated confusion is comparable in both cases. I don't think anyone is arguing that we don't need an armed police force, just that the "show of force" isn't going to add to security.

I personally think that these guys are a necessary evil, post 9-11. In my opinion, it's better to have them on the move in the subway system instead of bullshitting in the middle of Times Square.

LeoFebruary 7, 2008 3:34 PM

"What does it accomplish besides intimidating innocent commuters?"

Not being a terrorist perhaps I don't understand how they think, but I've always thought this just created more, better targets. Get a handful of suicide bombers and send them into the subways. When the dog is close enough to alert on the explosives the bomb is set off. The bomber dies, the cops die and any civilians who happen to be nearby die. Do this four, five, six times and the civilians begin to become afraid of being around their own security forces. What better way to terrorize people than to make them afraid of both terrorists and their own security forces.

But I'm no terrorist so I probably just don't understand these things.

Domino RobFebruary 7, 2008 3:48 PM

Ask the genius, Bloomberg. This is how he sees the world. The civil gladiators get to carry the weapons, not the innocent people who need them. No. No. Letting the people defend themselves would be too dangerous (for the politicians). You see, if the people defended themselves, they would have to become more intelligent.

So, no weapons or defense for the people. You allow the authorities to defend you, on a roll of the dice that they will be there. Surely we couldn't have our fellow good citizens come to our aid. Oh no. The attorneys would go ape.

So. You New York idiots, let the authorities handle it. They do such a good job you know.

I guess this is the way according to the Talmud or something.

BluffFebruary 7, 2008 4:07 PM

What if, just hypothetically, the guns aren't loaded and it is just away to get money and give perception of protection. And the only guns they have are their hand guns that are holstered. No it doesn't change the fact undercover works better...

Just a thought..

Not saying it is or isn't..

AnonGuyFebruary 7, 2008 5:05 PM

@Rionn Fears Malechem

Thanks for helping prove my point; you can only show me a handful or two examples that police officers have shot innocent civilians. That is what I am saying; it isn't this horribly common occurrence that everyone appears to believe. It does happen unfortunately but it is rare.

Not to mention the fact that someone pointed out: "They already have guns". Pointing to one occurrence or just a few occurrences over the ENTIRE US over the last few years shows your irrational fear.

JilaraFebruary 7, 2008 5:56 PM

>So all in all, it doesn't bother me one bit. Why should police officers with >automatic rifles scare me? I have nothing to hide.

You had better hide when the high-powered bullets start flying. Those things kill people. In San Jose, we lost two police officers to "friendly fire" when they forgot about fellow officers in the crossfire beyond the suspect they were shooting at. And those were their fellow police officers.

And a subway train is basically a situation of shooting fish in a barrel. I do Civil War artillery, and it's a similar situation to what I describe to visitors as "bowling" with cannon balls, taking out a column. What high-powered ammo lacks in bulk, it makes up for in penetration.

ZaD MoFoFebruary 7, 2008 6:37 PM

Mr. Schneier, this list of comments is really long.
It is a sign!

It makes no sense that people are led to feel fear for so such a long time against an attempt to prevent a terrorist act, which we all know, unfortunately and inevitably, will happen under a new face.

It seems to me that it is everybody's job to insure our own protection.
But responding to the terror by the terror can only amplify the chances of a misfortunate accident.
Personally, I manifest my caution by involving me in a peaceful manner and by instructing my family, my friends, that if a conflict were to emerge, it is in an open and non agressive attitude that I will try to resolve it.

It seems that the mistakes are likely, even permissible, in these moments of great citisenship tension.

To defeat the terror there only one solution - to brave it.

LeoFebruary 7, 2008 6:45 PM

@AnonGuy

It's entirely rational to fear things that have happened, whether it's police shootings of innocent people or terrorism. It's only irrational when the fear is out of proportion to the danger. It is also irrational to ignore them just because they're rare. It's even more irrational to take actions that cause them, like creating situations that increase the distrust between the police and the citizens.

billswiftFebruary 7, 2008 6:48 PM

>>It's quite a bit easier to be accurate with a rifle...

Not if you haven't practiced enough with it, especially at close range and moving targets.


>>The good news is the rarity of a terrorist event also makes the rarity of the shooting roughly the same, unless they are authorized to shoot for other events.

Unless they just make a mistake?


>> If there is a serious problem in the subway, I'd feel better knowing that the big guns were only a few minutes away as opposed to 30-45 minutes away.

Then they should be centrally located, not patrolling (where they could be at the far side of the rail net from where they are wanted.

Michael SchaffnerFebruary 7, 2008 7:27 PM

The politician have figured out that making you "feel" safe is actually better (at least for them) then making you safe. Many so-called security measure don't really improve security. They are merely window-dressing to make us think the situation is more secure. This would seem to be one of those situations.

Michael SchaffnerFebruary 7, 2008 7:28 PM

The politician have figured out that making you "feel" safe is actually better (at least for them) then making you safe. Many so-called security measure don't really improve security. They are merely window-dressing to make us think the situation is more secure. This would seem to be one of those situations.

pfoggFebruary 7, 2008 8:00 PM

I can easily argue both sides: increasing police presence (especially on foot, not in vehicles) can be very effective in preventing overt criminal action. The theatrical effect is as important as the practical capabilities if one is trying to dissuade foolish or ignorant criminals. If the police aren't being confrontational, innocent commuters might not be intimidated, and might even find the presence reassuring.

Or: 'But more broadly, he said, linking security plans for the disparate rail systems in the metropolitan region was “key in securing additional funding from the Department of Homeland Security.��?' This sounds like a standard pork arrangement. DHS is has a lot of money to distribute, and making sure influential politicians get a chunk for their consituents will give those politicians reason to strongly support a large DHS budget. This blog had an article a while back about Dillingham, Alaska (pop. 2400) getting $202,000 for cameras. I assume a relevant politician had enough of an interest in camera sales or Dillingham to make $202,000 worthwhile...it's not as if they needed any cameras.

geekyoneFebruary 7, 2008 9:34 PM

Yeeeeeah. This is a real good idea because everyone knows that the best weapon to use in a crowded and confined area with concrete walls is an M-16. Honestly even if you totally dismiss the argument of whether or not this show of force is necessary tactically speaking assault rifles are the wrong weapon to be using in this environment. Assault rifles are battlefield weapons not crowded area suburban weapons. There is a good reason police have used pistols for years because when you are worried about combat in close quarters with innocent people they are simply better at avoiding collateral damage.

AndrewFebruary 7, 2008 10:00 PM

I am trying very, very hard to come up with reasons to justify this practice. Not much luck.

Pros:

1) immediate rapid-reaction capability to live incidents without having to lug gear into the subway stations or maintain armament lockers which could themselves be compromised

2) familiarize tactical teams with their intended operational environment

3) put players into "routine" play to act based on specific but closely held operational intelligence (i.e. a specific cell or threat)

4) rifles provide ranged and high-power rounds to put down suicide bombers, etc. from a safe distance . . . also can conceal a countersniper (much more highly trained at accurate rifle fire than your average SWAT team member)

Cons:

1) terrifies the public, increases fear level, "terrorists are winning"

2) intimidates members of the public from approaching police and advising of observations, suspicions, etc.

3) routinizes guys in black fatigues and gear carrying shoulder weapons

4) risk of negligent discharges in a high risk environment (yes! those of us who train know that NDs are notoriously common among peace officers)

5) small risk of some nut taking away a rifle (yes, kids, rifle disarms are possible) and killing people with it prior to being neutralized

6) in an arrest and control situation, too many rifles means someone out of commission hanging on to the spare rifles (you're not going to make some SWAT officer sling his MP-5 or M-4 and handcuff with a deadly weight over his shoulder, are you?)

7) gullible people believe that a police state is at hand and the fabric of democracy is further unraveling -- this already happened, the rifles are just a difficult to ignore proof

Nons:

1) not worried about police autofire, the SWAT people train and are disciplined enough to use single shots and short bursts only in response to a deadly threat; any round they intend to fire, I am not worried about

2) not capable of opposing "hidden" terror cell use of the subways, surveillance, etc. because everyone is too busy staring at them including the terrorists

I hope they are thoughtful enough to carry purple or pink balaclavas or some other hidden but quick means of distinguishing themselves from tangos who show up wearing basic black and carrying heavy.

Having the gear already in the stations could be accomplished much more easily and discreetly with arms lockers in non-public areas. Tac teams can do walkthroughs "without" their gear quite nicely. There are small concealable SMGs out there if they don't feel safe walking the subways (you know, like average New Yorkers).

I have to admit that this is security theater unless it's Federal money at work. Then we can call it "Good Training" until the money runs out, at which point it's back to real police work.

AnonymousFebruary 7, 2008 10:01 PM

@pfogg

"if one is trying to dissuade foolish or ignorant criminals."

This is just silly. You don't need to have cops walking around with assault rifles to achieve this goal.

a_lexFebruary 8, 2008 1:52 AM

@LC

"it sends a message to hidden terror cells ..."

So this is a part of a covert communication protocol? k00l!

@Rich

You did not explain your point about post-911 world. Please elaborate.

P.S.: I have a better idea for bloomberg - have military ppl on the rooftops of NY buildings, with proper tool to take down boeings....

BWFebruary 8, 2008 2:45 AM

I'll tell you what this accomplishes, it allows a man dressed as police officer to enter any NY train station with an assault rifle. I'll let your imagination fill in the following details.

AnonGuyFebruary 8, 2008 7:47 AM

@Leo

Umm, hello, the fear shown in these blog postings is vastly out of proportion to the danger.

And I don't think that providing guns to Police officers whom ALREADY have guns increases any danger.

As I said, irrational fear that many posters here rant about when talking about how it's stupid to fear a terrorist strike (specifically in an airplane) because it is so rare and unlikely.

cdmillerFebruary 8, 2008 11:01 AM

Police do not prevent crimes (they can't be everywhere at once). Police investigate after crimes occur and try to catch criminals later. No extra protection is provided to the city as a whole by this approach, whether they be National Guard, TORCH, undercover, or normal police patrols. Therefore, the authorities responsible are stupid, are trying to get folks conditioned to police state treatment, or both

RichFebruary 8, 2008 11:23 AM

@a_lex

> You did not explain your point about post-911 world. Please elaborate.

I think after 9-11 we need a better response levels, in all fire, ems, and police. The heavily armed cops have always been around after 9-11, that's what I think everyone here doesn't understand. If this was something new, I could see the outrage - but I think the majority of the anti-arguments here are from people who leave nowhere near Manhattan.

MFHFebruary 8, 2008 11:50 AM

@Geekyone... Look at the bright side, they are also carrying MP5's which at least are vaguely appropriate for the situation.

Though still of course totally inappropriate for enclosed spaces.

Though if Bruce ever does the whole movie-plot thread again, this Charlie Foxtrot has given me a starting point.

mitzipFebruary 8, 2008 1:20 PM

Besides this being yet another step in the incrementalized terror state, uh I mean... police state, uh I mean... security state, uh I mean... for our children's safety state, this also provides "terrorists" new ways to get fully armed into the subway.

In every picture I've seen so far of the "cops" patrolling the subways, everything they've had on from their tactical vests to their M4-type rifles I can personally, as a regular joe, purchase. That includes the "official" badges and ambiguous "POLICE" tag. The ones from the "San Francisco Chronicle" that THR posted were using civilian barrel lengths (min 16inches) which leads me to believe that the rest of their weapon might be civilian legal also, that is semi-automatic. Full auto weapons are very expensive.

Every single bit of those uniforms, from both articles, anyone can purchase fairly cheap. So now anyone can enter a subway fully armed to the teeth and not have anyone question them, at least until it's too late.

This is why I think instead of intimidating the citizens into submission, the citizens should be encouraged to defend themselves and carry their own arms if they wish. Like my papy always said, an armed society is a polite society. :-) Police are by definition a reactionary force, your first line of defense is yourself. If you rely on your government to protect you, you will not only end up dead, but not have any freedom while you're alive.

MarkFebruary 8, 2008 1:34 PM

@Nick Lancaster
Where is this "THEM"? Who are "THEY"?
To date, the major arrests have been a bunch of clowns who couldn't figure out where to buy camouflage BDU's and had to be coached in a loyalty oath by an undercover FBI agent; a guy who wanted to trade stereo equipment for automatic weapons; and a bunch of wannabe jihadists who took their 'training video' to Circuit City for dubbing.

You missed out those who appear to have got all their knowlage of explosions from watching movies...
With a big fuss being made about these morons in newspapers and TV news. At the same time far more competent non-Islamic terrorists appear to be played down in the same media. Even to the point of calling them something else.

In somewhere like the US when it comes to religious inspired terrorists Christian Anti-abortionists are likely to be a far more real (and deadly) threat. But I don't recall well armed paramilitary police being assigned to guard abortion clinics and/or the homes of people who work in them.

mitzipFebruary 8, 2008 1:57 PM

@Mark

Yes the government's negligence is even more unbelievable since all those "Christian" terrorist attacks we've had in the past 200 years!

Oh wait.....

/sarcasm

Give me a break! Quit trying to interject your unfounded prejudices into a security discussion.

HALFebruary 8, 2008 2:19 PM

They could just give everybody riding the subways guns. Who's going to hijack the subway knowing everybody on the subway is carrying a gun.

HALFebruary 8, 2008 2:19 PM

They could just give everybody riding the subways guns. Who's going to hijack the subway knowing everybody on the subway is carrying a gun?

paulFebruary 8, 2008 2:35 PM

As a former manhattan resident, I cannot but be a little concerned that St Patrick's day is coming up.

AnonymousFebruary 8, 2008 2:40 PM

@mitzip

This may be hard to believe, but there's been exactly 1 act of Islamic terrorism on US soil in the last 200 years.

Christian terrorism far outweighs that. Odd that you chose to say 200 years instead of, say, 10. Now that allows all sorts of events as argument, such as a long history of KKK activity.

But oh, nobody will call those perpetrators systematic murder and activity designed to make fellow citizens afraid for their life terrorism nowadays. The weren't Arab.

imarsmanFebruary 8, 2008 3:09 PM

I'm Canadian but each summer camp with relatives in Grand Haven, Michigan. For the past few years happy sunbathers and swimmers have been comforted as they cavort by fighter jets flying overhead at low altitude once or twice a day. I have my suspicions that a jet fighter travelling at several hundred miles per hour is not a good terrorism or anti-smuggling vehicle. Perhaps I'm wrong. Perhaps those jets were on their way to an airshow. I kind of doubt it though. Hundreds of billions of dollars of military and anti terrorism spending have to be rolled out once in a while. I grew up being told that the Soviet parades that included goose-stepping troops and huge missiles on trucks were examples of a society with a big problem. Most people at that time would have agreed with that, but now we're getting pretty used to the comforting sight of lethal military force. I don't knows exactly what we're on a way toward as a society, but I don't like it.

Brannosuke XFebruary 8, 2008 4:27 PM

Heres the thing I don't get. I understand that NYC is a very high profile target and that NNYPD are learning about securing their transit infrastructure from terrorists, but why in the hell would US homeland security and the Transit Commissoneer announce the make up of those teams and in addition give the times the ok to photograph the teams? dont they know terrorists pay attention to media both digital and print? unless they can secure the equipment and uniforms, they just gave terrorist a way to bypass crucial security. Dont' publize the unit who are doing their jobs to protect us and make their lives hard. Good thinking on paper but damn stupid in practice when you annonuce the make of teams and photograph their faces.

Brannosuke XFebruary 8, 2008 4:27 PM

Heres the thing I don't get. I understand that NYC is a very high profile target and that NNYPD are learning about securing their transit infrastructure from terrorists, but why in the hell would US homeland security and the Transit Commissoneer announce the make up of those teams and in addition give the times the ok to photograph the teams? dont they know terrorists pay attention to media both digital and print? unless they can secure the equipment and uniforms, they just gave terrorist a way to bypass crucial security. Dont' publize the unit who are doing their jobs to protect us and make their lives hard. Good thinking on paper but damn stupid in practice when you annonuce the make of teams and photograph their faces.

Brannosuke XFebruary 8, 2008 4:28 PM

Heres the thing I don't get. I understand that NYC is a very high profile target and that NNYPD are learning about securing their transit infrastructure from terrorists, but why in the hell would US homeland security and the Transit Commissoneer announce the make up of those teams and in addition give the times the ok to photograph the teams? dont they know terrorists pay attention to media both digital and print? unless they can secure the equipment and uniforms, they just gave terrorist a way to bypass crucial security. Dont' publize the unit who are doing their jobs to protect us and make their lives hard. Good thinking on paper but damn stupid in practice when you annonuce the make of teams and photograph their faces.

Brannosuke XFebruary 8, 2008 4:33 PM

Sorry bruce for the overlapping. I take full responsibility. Great site worthy of those who want to really secure themselves instead of a show of force.

PaulFebruary 9, 2008 1:41 AM

My first response was "I'm not vacationing in a city that does that to their public transport". My second was "I really feel sorry for the poor folks doing the patrolling".

So they're heavily armed, heavily armored and expected to run 12 hour shifts. If you've ever worn full body armor for any length of time (especially if you were doing patrolling in anything more than a half-assed way), you'll know that it doesn't take 12 hours to become exhausted both physically and mentally.

These guys and girls are going to be wandering around bored and half asleep by the end of their shifts and yet they're expected to protect people?

This stinks of more security theater and given they're going to have tired heavily armed folks wandering around it's injecting more danger to society, not protecting anyone from anything.

mitzipFebruary 9, 2008 9:33 AM

@ Anonymous regarding the KKK

The KKK are not Christian. (See http://tinyurl.com/35xnko and scroll down until you see "CHRISTIAN:") Good try on the use of false logic (guilt by association), but around here, we're a bit smarter than that. That's all I'm going to say about this, and I'm going to tell you the same thing I told Mark.

Give me a break! Quit trying to interject your unfounded prejudices into a security discussion.

AnonymousFebruary 12, 2008 7:27 AM

>So all in all, it doesn't bother me one bit. Why should police officers with
>automatic rifles scare me? I have nothing to hide.

But what if you are scared... and carrying a rucksack... and of Middle-Eastern appearance... oh, and perfectly innocent. The guy reaches into his rucksack for his iPod, but the police just see a nervous, sweating 'Arab' reaching for a box with wires.

Marcus BartonFebruary 13, 2008 9:55 AM

The odds of even one officer ever requiring a fully-automatic weapon on the NY subway are next to none; it is simply the wrong tool for the job. It decreases security for two reasons:
1. False positives, in the case of Jean-Charles Deminezez (apologies regarding spelling) on the London Underground (although this problem relates to all firearms)
2. If a terorist does ride the subway and gets a hold of one of these automatic rifles, which would otherwise be difficult to smuggle into the country and onto the subway, then s/he could easily kill and wound large numbers of people in a short space of time in a public place, which is the goal of all terrorist acts.
Don't bring a weapon to a fight unless it is the right tool for the job and you are willing to use it, because if your enemy takes it from you, they will believe you were willing to use it on them and will not hesitate to use it against you.

AnonymousFebruary 13, 2008 1:58 PM

This video of hundreds of people freezing in place in Grand Central Station made me wonder what would happen if TSA or one of the NYPD Rhino squads happened to be passing through at that moment? I'd love to be a fly on the wall for such an encounter, but only if I'm safely out of the line of fire!

John David GaltFebruary 23, 2008 2:18 PM

Terrorism simply doesn't happen often enough to be worth giving up rights to defend against. 2100 deaths in the last 10 years in a population of 300 million is
less than one chance in a million per year.

Meanwhile, thousands die every year by slipping and falling in bathtubs. So it would make more sense for the feds to institute SWAT raids on homes that don't have hand rails installed in the tub. Give me a break.

The purpose of terrorist attacks in general, and 9/11 in particular, is not to kill large numbers of Americans but to scare us into no longer being a free country. As long as these Gestapo tactics go on, the terrorists have won.

Every small town in America does not need its own SWAT team. And having that many only means they will be used in trivial cases where they have no business being -- thus endangering innocent lives. This is already a much greater threat, statistically, than terrorism.

casseyApril 30, 2008 12:38 PM

Sean Bell was killed and no one was held accountable. This sets up a precedent that could go very badly. very badly. when citizens can be killed by the police without any accountability, we are in big trouble.

TekwaskcicaApril 12, 2010 8:22 PM

I do not assume care to that this could invert of break in upon with the Slay president and all those who were on the plane.
I'm shocked!

LorencoripDecember 11, 2010 4:21 PM

Did you know that USA and Europe blocked Wikileaks? What do you think about it?
Hope for answer

xmDecember 11, 2010 7:37 PM

@Lorencorip:
Did you know that USA and Europe blocked Wikileaks?

I doubt Europe has blocked Wikileaks. And who or what is "Europe" anyway? Do you include Iceland and Norway in it or not?

Here in USA Wikileaks is still rather easily accessible: type Wikileaks in Google.com and the second displayed result contains the link to Wikileaks (in fact it even shows the permanent IP of one of their servers, 213.251.145.96).

AssangeLivePaxJanuary 10, 2011 12:33 AM

Did you downloaded Wikileaks docs? Give me link plz
Hih you hear me??
bye bye ;))

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