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On the radio, a question about terrorism & AY

A segment Thursday on The Brian Lehrer Show focused on a New York City Police Department report on homegrown terrorists. The guest host was New York Daily News columnist Errol Louis, a noted Atlantic Yards supporter.

Sure, the show wasn't focused on Atlantic Yards, but there are concerns about terrorism at the planned project. AY critics have questioned how much preparation there has been to protect against terrorism; indeed, the Empire State Development Corporation, in its response to the AY environmental lawsuit, has acknowledged that a review has been conducted, but has been unwilling to make details available.

"New York City has been repeatedly cased by terrorist operatives," said Richard Falkenrath, NYPD deputy commissioner for counter terrorism, explaining that that the police regularly aim to "harden" potential targets to protect against terrorism.

The AY connection

During the listener call-in segment of the show, at about 33:30, Brooklynite Alan Rosner, co-author of a July 2005 white paper on terrorism and AY, was on the line, identified as "Alan from Brooklyn."

Rosner: Right now, there's a large Middle Eastern community along Atlantic Avenue near Flatbush. Back in 1997, two Palestinians came within hours of bombing the Atlantic Avenue station. Now, with the Atlantic Yards development project, that would be the densest area in all of the United States, with these terrorist targets. Do you think this going to have an impact as the police focus more and more on this area?

Louis seemed eager to skip past the specifics.

Louis: Thank you for the call. I do think there's going to be--I think if you heard the whole interview, you could sort of sense me trying to pull out of the deputy commissioner... what exactly the NYPD is going to do with this report. Unfortunately, I think it's going to be one of these questions where we have to leave it as, 'we'll see.' The report is not going to be dropped on the desk of every precinct and used as an operational guideline, that it's just a piece of research to try to help people understand all of this. If everyone does their job the right way, the public will stay alert, the press will stay skeptical, the police will try to keep us safe as well as remain mindful of civil liberties concerns. And we're going to have to leave it there for right now.

Let's acknowledge that the subject of the show was a report about a population, not a close look at potential targets, and that Louis was running out of time. But you didn't get a sense that Louis, who described himself at one point as "someone who has to follow the news for a living," wants to focus on the AY angle.


  1. This is a really dumb post, Norm. If "Alan from Brooklyn" wanted to plug his report, he should have just told the screener instead of trying to play cute; I'd have taken the call.

    As it is, he got through with less than a minute in the segment, long after the NYPD counter-terrorism chief had left the studio and -- you conveniently neglect to mention -- I was about 10 minutes into an interview a rep from the American Arab Anti-Discrimination League who is based in DC and probably knows nothing at all about Atlantic Yards.

    Another chapter in the saga of bad-faith moves and missed chances by the anti-development brigade.

  2. Errol Louis has a point. Rosner should've told the screener. But given the history of terrorism in Brooklyn--the relevant book is called Jihad in Brooklyn: The NYPD Raid That Stopped America's First Suicide Bombers--Rosner's question was legitimate.

    This was the only opportunity for callers to this segment of the show; Louis didn't take calls while the NYPD representative was on.

    It's interesting that Louis is responding to this but not my challenge to a debate. See:

  3. Answered weeks ago. See

  4. Answered three weeks later than the posting on Brownstoner he was responding to.

    "I had written little or nothing about Atlantic Yards before the Goldstein-Oder November 2005 smear job," Louis writes in that comment.

    It's unfortunate that Louis can't even fact-check himself. More on that to come.


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