Friday, August 29, 2014



Aptly named Pub in Woodside, Queens.



(Friday August 29, 2014, Woodside, Queens, NYC)  Within a short walking distance of the subway stop that brings you from Manhattan to this historically Irish neighborhood, there are dozens of bars, taverns, pubs and eateries.  While the Irish remain the predominant residents of this small neighborhood there are signs of other more recent arrivals that’ve set up a variety of shops and services.  Still, for most of us of a certain age familiar with Woodside, the name itself evokes memories of long nights of drinking until sunrise following a 4 to 12 tour of duty.  There are a handful of these bars that have historically been known as “Cop bars”; establishments frequented by Cops for generations.  It is in an atmosphere such as one elbow in a long wooden bar where a few Cops had gathered for the night.  Partially concealed in shadow and creating their own cloaking plumes of cigarette smoke (Bloomberg be damned), the men spoke quietly but passionately about the current events and high profile episodes that have left them disillusioned, frustrated, and angry.  Cops haven’t the luxury of bringing such feelings to work; they become masters of “compartilization”

On this one particular night earlier this week, the small cluster of Cops who’d gathered at their traditional corner of the bar represented a good cross section of the NYPD.  There were several 30 year plus Detectives, a Patrol Lieutenant, and a solid handful of street cops with time on the Job ranging from 7 to 22 years;  two where Black, one Puerto Rican, and one who had moved with his family from Lebanon to Astoria, Queens when he was an infant.  On this warm night there was none of the usual “Cop talk”; none of the usual pissing and moaning about bosses, jobs they’d rolled on earlier, pay or pensions.  The entire conversation was of the “bunker mentality” that seems to be spreading through NYPD like a slowly mutating virus that is contagious.  Cops by their very nature are an extremely close-knit fraternity, tight lipped, somewhat paranoid, suspicious cynics.  Their experiences contribute to the acquisition of such traits; traits that have real practical advantages out on the streets in the Line of Duty (LOD). 

Yet for every one of those traits there is a parallel characteristic that is also acquired on the Job.  Since day after day, night after night, Cops deal with people at their absolute worst, not just the criminals but, innocent by-standers and reluctant witnesses, crying children hiding under beds or in closets to escape the fury that was raging in the next room, the desperate and downtrodden who comprise the “unseen” New York.  Each of those sorts of interactions leaves a mark on the soul of a Cop since the overwhelming majority of them are fine and decent people, “Stand up guys” – hard working men and women who often spend their tour of duty as arbiters, expeditors, curb-side negotiators settling beefs between people of all sorts without the use of any more force than the power of their words and their ability to connect to those they serve.

Arguably it is more difficult by orders of magnitude to be a Cop today than it has ever been in the long history of our City.  On January 1, 1898 the City we know today came forth by the official consolidation of Brooklyn, The Bronx, Manhattan, Queens and Richmond (Staten Island).  That same day marked the formation of the unified NYPD; the consolidation of the 18 existing local police entities into a singular Department.  The last 116 years have been eventful as our City arose to occupy the unrivaled title of The Greatest City in the World.  No other city even comes close.  New York City has often been the front-runner and bellwether in areas ranging from banking, commerce, finance, fashion, entertainment, shipping, innovation and has set the standards in a wide array of policies and procedures widely emulated by cities the world over.

The NYPD is also regarded as the most elite municipal, “large city” Police Department in the world and it has been that way for many, many years.  Tactics and practices born within the NYPD over the years have been adopted by most major cities by now even if they have been tailored on a local level to more readily fit the demographics and population density of those other locations.  New York City, even more than Washington, DC, is the preeminent international City in America for numerous reasons.   Yes, we have the right to be a little cocky in our talk and walk; after all, we do live in the center of the universe in many ways.


Since the August 9th shooting death of Michael Brown, an 18 year old unarmed black teen by a white Ferguson, Missouri Police Officer, Darren Wilson, there has been much heated debate about accountability.  The predominantly black population of Ferguson has marched, demonstrated, and protested, both peacefully and chaotically in the weeks after that tragic event.  Michael Brown was finally laid to rest last week and Officer Wilson remains essentially in hiding at an undisclosed location.  Peace or even any reasonable facsimile thereof for Officer Wilson will be a long time coming.  Yes, Mr. Brown is dead yet most of the fundamental questions regarding their fateful encounter on that Ferguson street have yet to be answered or made public.

The hue and cry from the black community in Ferguson and other places, from the pulpits of black churches and from the dripping venom spouted by all the usual black “activists” demanding accountability can be distilled down to one basic notion; they have already decided the outcome of the case, have found Officer Wilson guilty and will not rest until that young Officer is tried as a murderer.  Facts be damned; the court of public sentiment has spoken and will continue to speak until their “demands” are met.   The legal process cannot move quickly enough for these people. 

In reality the legal process is notorious slow; it is a long grind rather than a quick sprint.  In this case a Grand Jury that meets just once a week will hear all  the evidence the Prosecutor’s Office has accumulated, processed, and analyzed and it is their task – and their task alone – to decide what, if any charges are leveled on Officer Wilson.  Despite the popular belief, the Grand Jury empaneled to hear the evidence in this case is demographically representative of the community.  Most people who are called to serve on such panels take their civic duty very seriously.  The Grand Jury   component of our judicial system is tried and true and, although it is secretive, in the overwhelming majority of the cases such panels hear, they arrive at fair conclusions.  The concern in this case is that if the Grand Jury does NOT find any criminal negligence, homicidal intentions, or professional misconduct on the part of Officer Wilson, the Ferguson streets will once again erupt in civil disorder if not riotous reactions. 


We will give credit where credit is due.  In the weeks since August 9th there have been some very logical, thoughtful, and reasonable expressions in the media about Ferguson.  Yes, the race-baiting, rabble-rousing, opportunists have occupied center stage for much of the time but in responsible newspapers and media outlets across the country there has been much objective, unbiased opinions stated as well as no small measure of unbiased analysis.  However, in too many instances the “debate” has been less than nuanced with all extenuating circumstances obscured by numbers and statistics.  While this data may satisfy academics and “experts” it does little to portray the reality on the streets of many cities and communities from coast to coast.  Statistics, after all are, as malleable as Play Dough and add little to the civil discourse that needs to be transpiring between the Law Enforcement Community (LEC) and the populaces they serve. The numbers game is a red herring.  What matters, what really counts, are attitudes on both sides of the gapping divide between the Police and the public.   Once both sides dig in their respective heels, adopt “us against them” mentalities, and rush to judgment prior to the facts there can be no honest debate, no reasoned levelled playing field for both sides to meet and discuss, as adults, the endemic plagues that define much of our society and most of the LEC’s interactions in the communities they patrol. 

There is a moral high ground upon which people of good will from both sides can interact towards a common objective.  Such a process is doomed to fail well before it even is given the breathing room to begin when attitudes and raw emotion still define the divide. 


As the night wore on and bled into the small hours of the next day there was much exchanged among those who’d gathered that night.  Numerous pints of Guiness, dozens of shots of Jameson’s, rounds of high-balls and cocktails of every variety were consumed yet the discussion was of such intensity as to keep each participant focused and sober.  That does not happen very often.  As Shamus the bartender kept the glasses full and ashtrays empty (yes, we still smoke in this noble saloon) no solutions emerged despite earnest efforts to identify one. 

By the time the group walked down 61st Street in search of a diner breakfast and coffee – lots of coffee – they were no closer to answers then they’d been after the first round of drinks had been served.  If anything, there was an uncharacteristic reticence about them; not the usual ribald wife and girlfriend jokes, none of the typical banter that flows so easily between Cops like so much hot air blasted into a subway station as the train approaches.  It could be said there was a sadness among them; a sullenness, actually.  Men (and, of course, women) who go to work every day never absolutely positive they will go home again think in a certain way. That way is not to be discussed here; it is merely mentioned as a fact of life. That risk is real but seldom acknowledged.  It silently accompanies every Cop to work each day and sits like a greasy film on long since painted walls in Precinct locker rooms from the Bronx to the ass end of Brooklyn.  Balls and genetic bravado conceal a great deal.

The sun rose as a small, well defined pink dot over the Atlantic and spread pale but vibrant hues on the few clouds that happened to find their way to that morning.  After the big, greasy sloppy breakfast was eaten, there were handshakes and hugs all around.  Backs were slapped, shoulders gripped and shaken, and all parted content in having gone through the venting process.  Some would make role call that afternoon; others had a day or two off and would return to Orange, Nassau or Rockland County for much needed sleep and family time.  A scarce few without wives and children would return to their rent controlled apartments, perhaps have a beer before bedtime and sleep the pure sleep of men with rigorous consciences, solid principles and very clear identities.

None would dream of the realities of the world, their world.  Sleep was far too precious to forfeit on the questions of the day.  

 Copyright The Brooding Cynyx 2014 © All Rights Reserved

Sunday, August 24, 2014



Hand written note from alleged ISIL operative

in Chicago





(Sunday August 24, 2014, NY,NY )  Earlier today retired Four Star General and former Director of the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) told CNN that in his estimation a terrorist attack on our homeland by the extremist group ISIL that now occupies a large swath of land over Syria and Iraq “will come sooner rather than later.”  He continued, "Isis is a very powerful local organization and probably a reasonably powerful regional terrorist organization but it's one that has global ambitions and it has the tools." Considering even the most conservative estimates regarding how many members of ISIL come from Western countries and have “Western passports that allow them to travel back to their home country be it England or the United States”, there may be upwards of 300 such members who are receiving the training and experience to export the ISIL brand of terrorism to their country of origin.  That fact and that fact alone should be sufficient motivation to reassess all domestic security measures in our air and sea ports as well as in areas known to have “target rich environments”, such as New York City.  Several recent events have illustrated areas of vulnerability in NYC that clearly need to be addressed quickly.

As was the state of effectiveness and efficiency prior to September 11, 2001, we cannot rely on the federal and military intelligence apparatus to be up to their assigned tasks.  They have burnt us once before and, as former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly had vowed in 2002, “that will never be the case again.”  While Bill Bratton has since replaced Kelly, some inside the secretive world of the NYPD Intelligence and Counter Terrorism Divisions, have expressed no small amount of concern over the recent security breaches at the George Washington and Brooklyn Bridges as well as at the Freedom Tower. 


From the Russian aggression in Crimea, to the increasingly violent quagmire in Afghanistan and the rapid rise of the most savage terrorist entity in modern times, ISIL, it is the disturbing fact that each of these events caught our CIA and virtually all of the other 20 or so other “intelligence” units throughout the military, Homeland Security and National Security Agency apparatus once again flatfooted and asleep at the wheel.  At this time of escalating threats to our national interests abroad as well as repeated direct messages from ISIL vowing to bring death and destruction to our shores, it has become all too obvious that the pre- 9/11/01 mentality has become endemic among those responsible for our intelligence gathering and analysis.  Crisis after crisis seems to have erupted out of a geopolitical vacuum or from the ascendency of a “new” faction of Islamic extremists, jihadists, or some off shoot mutant fundamentalist radicals that have flourished in Syria and Iraq since the withdrawal of United States troops in 2011.  Blame Obama, blame Bush, blame whoever you’d like but this is really not the time for the blame game and second guessing.  However the powder kegs around the world were initially ignited; by whatever volatile winds of extremist nihilism, xenophobia, religious and ethnic hatred are fanning the raging flames across boarders in the Middle East and the South Asia subcontinent, we find ourselves exactly where we are. Now the monumental task of what to do – of weighing the efficacy of what we can and cannot do – against the heavier danger of doing nothing, is the driving force.  Now that the United States has been forced from the torpor of “letting the chips fall where they may” policies after our puppet regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq have spit in our faces year and after year. This Administration will have their hands forced to some additional action beyond bombing strikes, sending in “Military Advisors” (can anyone say Vietnam in 1964) ostensibly to “train up” an inept and disloyal Iraqi   military and security force just as has been the failures in similar efforts in Afghanistan. 


By their very nature terrorists aim is to foment terror and fear in their enemies.  Terror is the tactic, instilling fear the objective.  We have learned so much about terror and asymmetrical warfare since the days after September 11, 2001 yet our government, the Administration with all the many and varied tools at their disposal from aggressive diplomacy, sanctions and military intervention still has the awkward gait of a drunk stumbling from bar to bar on a binge.  This Administration has lurched from hotspot to localized flare ups, from drawing red lines and lines in the sand only to stand motionlessly ambivalent as those ultimatums were trampled for the entire world to see. 

After three years of brutal civil war in Syria, that shows no indications of ending anytime soon, President Obama was presented with several opportunities to make good on his threats.  In each case, except for providing some “overseers” when President Assad’s chemical weapons caches were destroyed, America has done nothing, made no effort to assist those who should be our natural allies, the rebels fighting the Assad regime.  No, we are not and cannot be the world’s police force and arms dealer however, there are circumstances to at least demonstrate to our enemies and the wider world that our word still means something and that we are always at the ready to back them up.  Ultimatums ignored without reciprocal action leave America looking weak and, if there is one trait we most certainly do not possess, that is “weakness”.  Our Military is the best fighting force ever assembled, equipped, trained, and mobile than any other in history.

Now, after over 13 years of continuous warfare in our roaming battle to eradicate and dismantle terrorist sects where ever we locate them, we face an adversary who have mastered the tactic of terror and savagely shown the world exactly what they are capable of and are now directly engaging the United States in an evil propaganda campaign that has finally caught the attention of President Obama and his Administration.


In the years since al Qaeda launched their wickedly planned and methodically executed attack on America of 9/11/01, it has been determined that there were likely no more than 30 members of Osama bin Laden’s most trusted inner circle, including the 19 hijackers, who had a role in the planning, plotting and financing of that operation or had any prior knowledge about the bigger picture.  As is the case with most successful “underground” terrorist groups, the watchword for the brand of tradecraft they practice is one of compartmentalization.  By rigorous adherence to this principal, no one person in the groups or terrorist cell knows anyone outside their small cell and they certainly have little or no “actionable intelligence” or simple information regarding the chain of command, operational structure, and ultimately, the plot they are expected to carry out.  al Qaeda became masters of communicating via couriers who were just links in a chain unaware of any other links besides perhaps the links they were positioned between in a long serpentine chain that spanned from the Middle East to the rugged Afghanistan – Pakistan border region. We witnessed what this committed cadre of a few dozen well financed zealots where able to accomplish.

The unbridled savagery the world is witnessing today at the hands of a group that has come to be known as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) was spawned in Syria, has rampaged their way through northern Iraq, seizing cities, towns, villages while practicing some of the most widespread, unchecked barbarism the world has seen in modern history.  There has never been an organization quite like ISIL.  One significant difference between ISIL and their one-time supporters, al Qaeda, is that they constitute an army, and a very well equipped, organized army at that. Several months ago al Qaeda officially severed their ties with ISIL stating that they were too brutal for their tastes and that says quite a bit about ISIL’s tactics, ideology, and objectives. They are determined to create a modern day “Caliphate” in the Middle East. They also control some of the most valuable of Iraq’s oil and natural gas infrastructure and by most accounts, they are reaping approximately $1 million a day from the sales of those precious resources.

While al Qaeda was rapidly scattered after our Military routed the ruling Taliban in Afghanistan by December 2001, ISIL is by their own definition a nation-state.  They are not living in warrens of caves nor are they hiding their actions and intentions from the world; quite the contrary.  They are using social media to spread their message and to evoke the level of fear throughout the Middle East and the Western world that even at their heyday, al Qaeda was unable to.  ISIL has conducted atrocities including genocide against minority Christians sects in the north of Iraq, have raped, pillaged, mass executed and buried alive those unfortunate enough to be in their forward march towards Baghdad and into central Iraq.  The gruesome videotaped execution of American journalist, James Foley, who had been missing since Thanksgiving 2012, was broadcast to the world along with a very direct message to President Obama and Americans at large.  


ISIL is composed of Sunni Muslims, the denomination that had long been oppressed and often violently suppressed by the Shi’ite Muslim dominated regime of Saddam Hussein.  But ISIL is more than a Sunni insurgency having risen to the de facto “government” in the vast areas under their iron-fisted rule from Syria to Iraq.  In their assessment, the traditional border between those two countries no longer exists; they view it as an embryonic Caliphate with their ambitions growing day by day.  In a cruel twist of fate, virtually all of their military hardware and technology is American made and had been provided to the regime that followed the fall of Hussein.  The Iraqi “army” if one can even call it that despite our having spent well over $750 million to “equip and train” them, abandoned their posts leaving behind all their equipment as ISIL pushed towards them. 

The majority of those who ISIL has killed have been other Muslims.  Some Middle East experts have noted that they (ISIL) are only “Sunni in name”; that their barbaric savagery can in no way be justified in the Koran; not even in its most extreme interpretations.


Like every other terrorist from Iraq to Yemen, from Somali to Afghanistan possessed of whatever radical extremist affiliation or ideology, ISIL is determined to draw us into a direct fight with them in the territory they control as well as perpetrate acts of terrorism here in the United States.  General Hayden’s comments from this morning were particularly alarming given the amount of knowledge and information he brings to the table as a commentator. After the beheading of the American journalist James Foley late last week, someone in some way associated with ISIL Tweeted two photographs of buildings in Chicago. One of the tweets showed a hand written note in Arabic that was a warning to America that they are “already here.”  We have also seen video clips of purported high ranking ISIL operatives claiming their desire “To fight our troops, the same troops we humiliated before in Iraq” and to “Raise the flag if ISIL on top of the White House.”  These might appear of their face as ludicrous attempts to evoke fear among us but, we cannot forget that several times between 1997 and 2000 Osama bin Laden “declared war” on the United States adding that he “will not differentiate between soldiers and civilians.”  The intelligence community, except for one man in the CIA, Michael Scheuer, who had served as the Chief of the Bin Laden Issue Station (aka "Alec Station"), from 1996 to 1999, the Osama bin Laden tracking unit at the Counterterrorist Center, paid attention. For all the ensuing talk after 9/11/01 about “connecting the dots”, sharing information freely among agencies, and the endemic failures that had run rampant throughout the federal government, is becoming alarmingly evident that some lessons may not have been learned as well as they should have been.

Let’s hope we don’t have to once again find out the hard way.   

Copyright The Brooding Cynyx 2014 © All Rights Reserved