NYPD wants tech to disrupt wireless communications
Published: Thursday January 8, 2009

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In a Thursday testimony before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly revealed that his department is seeking technology that can disrupt cell phone and other wireless communications in the event of a crisis.

Kelly also said that in such events as a mass casualty attack on American soil, the media can pose a threat by revealing key police tactics, which could be relayed to said attackers.

Later in his testimony, Kelly revealed that the New York harbor is vulnerable to attack. He also emphasized his wish to see wiretap warrant requests to the FISA court expedited.

This movement by the department comes on the heels of the "relative simplicity of this attack" in Mumbai, where "10 people with basic weapons" managed to wreak bloody havoc in the city for three days, Kelly said.

"Public-private interactions are crucial and must be developed before an incident occurs," Charles Allen, intelligence chief at the Department of Homeland Security, told the Senate committee. "Target knowledge was paramount to the effectiveness of the attack" in Mumbai.

Allen emphasized that shopping malls should have evacuation plans.

A deceptively-simple tool, the cell phone, was also put to deadly effect by the Mumbai attackers, Kelly reminded.

Transcripts of intercepted telephone calls showed that the militants used the mobile devices to keep up to date on law enforcement's advances and to receive encouragement for their bloody rampage.

"When lives are at stake, law enforcement needs to find ways to disrupt cell phones and other communications in a pinpointed way against terrorists who are using them," he suggested.

"I think what we take away from this is a very sober thought that soft targets can create, for political effect, exactly what extremists want," Allen added.

He recalled alleged links between Lashkar-e-Taiba and Al-Qaeda, warning that "informal linkages go back between Al-Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Taiba, and that should give us something to worry about as well."

With wire reports.