Big Story Transcript: Safe at Home?

This is a partial transcript of The Big Story With John Gibson, Dec. 22, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.


TOM RIDGE, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Al Qaeda's (search) continued desire to carry out attacks against our homeland are perhaps greater now than at any point since September 11.


JUDGE NAPOLITANO, GUEST HOST: We are now into day two of the country being on high alert. And so far, it seems as business as usual for most of us. Joining me now is the commissioner of the New York City police department, Commissioner Ray Kelly (search). Commissioner, that is today's big question. What is the government doing to keep us safe?

RAY KELLY, COMMISSIONER, NEW YORK CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT: Well, here in New York, we're doing a lot, Judge. We've been on higher alert since September 11. Now have with the latest increase in the threat level, we've increased our uniform presence at sensitive locations. We've increased our plain clothes officer presence at locations that we're concerned about. We have heavily armed teams of officers that go to locations on an unannounced basis. We clearly have locations such as the stock exchange in lower Manhattan that have had a significant police presence for a while. We've done some adjustments. You'll see more police officers on the streets here in New York in those locations.

JUDGE NAPOLITANO: But, basically, here in New York, we have had this orange level, this high level of preparedness, for the past two years.

KELLY: We have. And we haven't been attacked.

JUDGE NAPOLITANO: And we've been very successful. All right. Secretary Ridge indicated and some of the commentators have indicated that if they do something again, their weapon of choice may be an airplane. But let's put that aside far a moment. How safe are we at our ports, at our train stations, at our reservoirs, other areas where they could attack and cause tremendous damage?

KELLY: These are all areas of concern, no question about it, because our world has changed as a result of September 11. We've done some things at the locations that you mentioned. We probably can do more. There is no question about that. But we've come a long way since September 11. No question about it.

JUDGE NAPOLITANO: Does the continual raising of the level, does that actually help? Does that is scare them away? Or does it challenge them?

KELLY: Well, it is difficult to say. But so far, as you said, we haven't been attacked. We think it does act as a deterrent, but it is difficult to prove that. It is an expensive proposition for a local government to marshal these resources and certainly it is expensive here in New York City. But quite frankly, we have no other choice. We've been attacked here twice. We've been targeted five times in the last decade. We have to actually spend a lot of money to put additional resources out there and that's what we're doing.

JUDGE NAPOLITANO: What are the gaps in our security?

KELLY: [LAUGHTER] I'm not going to tell you, but I think there are some areas that concern us. And we're working with our federal partners to do an effective job as possible.

JUDGE NAPOLITANO: A word of advice to New Yorkers listening to you now. Christmas is coming in two days and the secretary of homeland security scared us a bit yesterday. What should we do?

KELLY: Go about your business. Let the professionals worry about it. Mayor Bloomberg said that yesterday when you raised the threat level it really is for security personnel. We want the citizens of New York City and other cities to go about their business and enjoy the holiday.

JUDGE NAPOLITANO: Commissioner Ray Kelly, New York City police department, thank you very much. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

KELLY: Thank you. Good to be with you.


Copy: Content and Programming Copyright 2003 Fox News Network, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2003 eMediaMillWorks, Inc. (f/k/a Federal Document Clearing House, Inc.), which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon Fox News Network, Inc.'s and eMediaMillWorks, Inc.'s copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.