Think We’re Safe? That’s a Real Gas
By Jimmy Breslin
They stood in the sun in quiet insanity. There were 27 cops guarding an empty lot on Madison Street yesterday, about a block from Police Headquarters. Sunlight on asphalt. Two sergeants were out directing traffic. A captain stood between slabs of concrete, ready to throw back a tank attack.
The lot was lined with concrete barriers with “NYPD” in blue. An unofficial, yet probably accurate estimate on the low side of the cost of this deployment to city taxpayers is $5,200. I don’t know if any were on overtime, which would raise my total. I do know that bin Laden is winning this match.
They stood guard over the asphalt as one or two Chinese-American women came along with shopping carts.
At Police Headquarters they locked the place down. Nobody could get in or out and anybody on the floors inside was not allowed to leave. This made it hard on the couple of thousand cops who spend their days watching to see if the commissioner is in or out of the building.
At a press conference, Bloomberg said New Yorkers love to see people in uniform.
The streets around headquarters were a truck park for cops from everywhere. Standing at one overly large Homeland Security van, a woman reporter was putting on special hazmat pants as her photographer stood by. Cops in groups walked by and went into the headquarters. They had just turned much of downtown into Eastern Europe. For no reason except to help all these groups, FBI, Secret Service, Army Intelligence, Naval Intelligence, ATF, CIA continue to raid the national treasury with cries for more money for more fakes and frauds wearing badges.
I still want to know why they didn’t know the World Trade Center was going to be attacked.
Listening to Tom Ridge stumble through a few sentences, I wondered how he ever got where he is. And why I have to be in New York if he has anything to do with us.
Later, there were no police at Riverside Drive and 75th Street, where one of the two 26-inch natural gas pipelines comes into the city. The pipe here at 75th Street comes under a river that is 120 feet deep. It pumps over a million cubic feet of natural gas a day into the city. This pipeline, and one up at 175th Street, provide all the natural gas to New York.
At 75th Street yesterday, behind an empty park bench, were two posts that always held the sign that had been there for years and which stated: “Warning. Do Not Anchor or Dredge, Gas Pipelines Crossing, Continental Gas Pipeline Corp.”
As an act of homeland security, the sign has been taken down. This meant that nobody would know anymore that the pipeline was right under their feet.
The sign at the 175th Street site also has been removed. This is bureaucratic voodoo: You take something everybody knows and say it is a secret.
Every couple of blocks, and in Central Park, there are small green posts, amidst shrubbery, with yellow lettering saying, “NG Pipeline,” and down another side, “Natural Gas.” These are high pressure regulators that control gas flow and combined casing vents that control any escaping gas lingering between the pipeline and its protective casing pipe.
The line that starts at 175th Street had similar regulators.
There does not seem to be any way to keep these vents safe from vandals with a hammer, without imagining terrorists.
You have to try to protect New York’s gas as it comes by pipe deep under a summer calm, sparkling Hudson River that is empty of traffic at night. You also have to try to defend all these small regulator valves that pop out of the ground across Manhattan and on to Queens.
Yesterday, that seemed hopeless. As no police were near any of this, you assume the people in charge don’t know anything about this. If they happen to, it doesn’t make them ambitious. You aim your big rifles at nothing and stand in helmets and sunglasses in emptiness. No cameras like such a scene of idleness.
I went up to the pipeline at the direction of John L. Young, 68, an architect who collects e-mail complaints from old intelligence agency people. He now has stringers in Britain and Germany and hundreds sending him supposedly classified documents and 50,000 and more visiting his site each day. People came from everywhere to film bridges and tunnels of New York for Young’s site. He feels we have imaginary security.
He is a tall, courteous man from Odessa, Texas, who graduated from Columbia in 1968 and developed a substantial architectural business. In 1996, intelligence technology that was always a military secret became available to private businesses and they of course used it to throttle legitimate people. “As an architect, I’m supposed to report to the public anything wrong,” he says. “Architects don’t do it so much. We once had 12 architects die in a fire in their building. No doors opened out. They never said anything about that.”
His site has brought federal agents to the door and official phone calls asking him to leave something out.
“Anything the government doesn’t want known, we print,” he says. And yesterday, while the mayor and police and this poor Ridge had a preposterous show of nothing, Young printed his natural gas pipeline facts. We’ll see him again, soon.
—Newsday, August 26, 2004