The AP has filed another piece looking at the NYPD's tactics spying on Muslim communities (Muslims who change their names, Muslim college kids), which are questionable from a civil rights perspective. Noting how Rep. Peter King has asked people to stop "smearing" the NYPD, by saying, "To date, under Commissioner Ray Kelly’s leadership, at least 14 attacks by Islamic terrorists have been prevented by the NYPD." But the AP would like to disagree!
The AP points out that the NYPD missed the subway bomb plot from Najibullah Zazi and Adis Medunjanin, who were eventually caught by federal intelligence.
The list cited by King includes plans that may never have existed as well as plots the NYPD had little or no hand in disrupting. According to a review of public documents, materials obtained by the AP and interviews with dozens of city and federal officials, the most controversial NYPD spying programs produced mixed results. The officials interviewed spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk publicly.
There indeed have been successes, such as the 2004 plot uncovered by the NYPD to bomb the Herald Square subway station in Manhattan.
And there have been failures, like Zazi and Medunjanin, who were exactly the kind of people police intended to spot when they developed the spying programs.
And there were other efforts that compiled data on innocent people but produced no meaningful results at all.
Kelly has spent hundreds of millions of dollars transforming the department into one of the nation's most aggressive domestic intelligence agencies. In a city that still hurts from 9/11 and still sees a hole in the ground near where the World Trade Center stood, people have had little interest in questioning whether that effort has been effective. City lawmakers, for instance, learned about many of the department's secretive programs from the AP.
For New Yorkers, the result is that fear of another terrorist attack is used to justify spying on entire neighborhoods. And the absence of another attack is held up as evidence that it works.
And even though there are doubts about the program, the AP reports, "Nobody wants to be the one to abandon a program, only to witness a successful attack that it might have prevented. At the federal level, intelligence programs are reviewed by Congress, inspectors general and other watchdogs. The NYPD faces no such scrutiny from the City Council or city auditors. Federal officials, too, have been reluctant to question the effectiveness of the NYPD, despite spending more than $1.6 billion in federal money on the department since 9/11."
So the FBI will have to shut up.