A scene from "The Third Jihad," a film seen by...

A scene from "The Third Jihad," a film seen by New York City Police Department members during breaks in counter-terrorism training from October to December 2010. Use of the film, which contends Muslims are bent on establishing an Islamic regime worldwide, has drawn criticism from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Credit: AP

The original sin was the decision by someone in the New York Police Department to show a film that smears the Muslim community -- complete with an Islamic flag flying over the White House. But the NYPD made it worse by taking a year to admit grudgingly the full scope of the film's use.

The widely criticized film, "The Third Jihad," comes from Clarion Fund, which distributed an earlier Islamophobic documentary, "Obsession," during the 2008 presidential campaign.

When the story broke last January, the NYPD said just a handful of officers saw it, and that its segment on Commissioner Ray Kelly came from an old interview.

Eventually, the persistence of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law got the police department to release documents that demonstrated that it had shown the film to at least 1,500 officers. The NYPD also admitted that Kelly had cooperated with the film by sitting for a long interview.

Now Kelly says that the film is objectionable, and he regrets agreeing to participate. His boss, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said the department used "terrible judgment" in showing it. All in all, this whole affair has been a badly botched case of delayed truth.

Fighting terrorism is a legitimate goal for both the national government and local police agencies. But this display of insensitivity and dishonesty by New York's Finest has not exactly helped to make anyone safer.

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