NYPD

NYPD’s Spying Program: Not a Single Lead

All the spying on Muslims the NYPD has been doing for the last decade plus?

It has not led to a single investigation.

That’s what the head of NYPD’s intelligence program, Thomas Galati, said in a deposition in June on whether the Department was violating the Handschu Guidelines.

Q If they make an assessment of what’s being brought in, warrants, some action, does that indicate that an investigation has commenced?

MR. FARRELL: Objection.

A Related to Demographics, I can tell you that information that have come in has not commenced an investigation.

And the one investigation that Galati says might have derived from Demographics Unit information–which has been referred to elsewhere as a case that came from this spying–is that of James Elshafay and Shahawar Matin Siraj, where the NYPD paid lots of money to an informant to coax two troubled young men into declaring the intent to attack a subway station.

Q You’re saying that based on what has occurred during your tenor, correct?

A Yes.

Q Do you know whether that was also the case before you took over the Intelligence Division?

A I think that prior to me, there had been indication that there was one place that was visited later, that later on became subject of an investigation. However, I have not been able to determine that. That case involved a prosecution, but I have not been able to definitively say that it was because of Demographics.

That it. That’s what has come out of all the money and time invested in mapping out the Muslim hangouts in NYC.

The AP article describes other details Galati admitted to (better not speak Urdu in the city) and I’ll have a few more things to say later today. But we now have confirmation from the guy heading the program: all this spying has not identified a single terrorist.

Tony Bologna, John Pike, and Stop and Frisk: A Bad Couple of Days for Abusive Cops

In a move that might make cops think twice before they go nuts on kettled protestors, NYC has decided not to defend Anthony Bologna, the officer filmed spraying defenseless protestors with pepper spray in NY.

New York City has distanced itself from a high-ranking police official accused of firing pepper spray at Occupy Wall Street protesters, taking the unusual step of declining to defend him in a civil lawsuit over the incident.

The decision means Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna also could be personally liable for financial damages that may arise out of the suit, said lawyers familiar with similar civil-rights claims.

Because Bologna accepted the findings of an internal investigation finding him in violation of department guidelines, it appears, the city has space to say pepper-spraying docile protestors is not his job.

In even better news, John Pike–the UC Davis cop filmed spraying peaceful protestors with pepper spray–got fired, in spite of an internal review finding he acted reasonably.

The police chief at the University of California, Davis overruled an internal affairs panel’s recommendation and fired a lieutenant who soaked demonstrators with pepper spray — an incident that sparked protests after it was recorded and posted online, according to documents obtained by a McClatchy-Tribune newspaper.

The Sacramento Bee (http://sacb.ee/MABZrq ) reports that investigators concluded Lt. John Pike acted reasonably during the Nov. 18 campus protest and should face demotion or suspension at worst.

But police Chief Matthew Carmichael rejected those findings and wrote Pike on April 27 that he planned to fire him. Pike, 39, was fired Tuesday, according to the Bee.

“The needs of the department do not justify your continued employment,” Carmichael wrote in a letter to Pike, according to the documents, which included the internal affairs investigation report.

I’m curious about the delay between the time Carmichael decided to fire Pike and the time it was official, Tuesday. Hopefully, that time was spent insulating the university against suit.

Finally, there are preliminary reports that the number of stop and frisks in NYC have dropped significantly as the sheer scale of the abusive practice has become clear.

Officers conducted about 134,000 stop-and-frisks between April 1 and June 30, down from more than 200,000 during the first three months of the year.

That’s still too many. But sunshine and embarrassment seems to be making progress there, too.

Update: In related news, the 2004 RNC protestors suing for false arrest and other abuses just won class action status.

Did NYPD Manufacture a Murder Tie to Occupy Wall Street because Its Terror Myth Is Dying?

Let’s start with this. NYPD got its ass handed to it yesterday.

Specifically, Justin Elliott provided the definitive debunking of Mike Bloomberg and Ray Kelly’s repeated claims that their multimillion dollar Muslim profiling program has done anything to thwart the 14–or rather 3–terrorist attacks on NY since 9/11.

That wasn’t the end of the ass-handing, though. After Elliott’s piece, NYPD’s spokesperson Paul Browne started trolling Elliott’s comments, pretending the NYPD hadn’t repeatedly claimed to have stopped 14–or rather 3–terrorist attacks with their vast counterterrroism apparatus.

Elliott debunked that, too.

Mayor Mike, meanwhile, was backtracking–or perhaps forwardtracking–wildly, in another attempt to pretend the NYPD’s core terror myth wasn’t a carefully crafted myth.

And Ray Kelly? He hasn’t been seen to ask him about this ass-handing; maybe he was crying in a bar somewhere?

Meanwhile, last night, during the All Star Game, a new myth started.

Murder! DNA! Occupy Wall Street!

Starting with NBC, followed by a slew of other predominantly NY outlets, the press reported a flimsy story–sourced to law enforcement–claiming that DNA found on a chain left at an Occupy-related protest earlier this year matched DNA found at the site of a murder of a Pretty White Woman. Continue reading

NYPD’s Counterterrorism Strengths: Bigfooting, Entrapping, and Overselling

Justin Elliott takes the debunking I did here one step further: a claim by claim debunking of the NYPD’s claims to have thwarted 14 attacks against the city. He helpfully groups his debunkery into three groups:

Real attacks the NYPD had no role in or even undermined but for which they claim credit.

  • Faisal Shahzad
  • Najibullah Zazi
  • Liquids Plot

Those marginally credible plots involving government informants.

  • Newburgh Four
  • Herald Square
  • JFK Airport

Those plots deemed not credible by (usually anonymous) experts or never developed.

  • Jose Pimental
  • Ahmed Ferhani and Mohamed Mamdouh
  • Iyman Faris
  • PATH Train
  • Subway Cyanide
  • NYSE/Citi
  • Uzair Paracha
  • Bryant Neal Vinas/LIRR

That’s it. The “threats” the NYPD is using to justify profiling the city’s (and suburbs’) Muslims were either missed by the NYPD, created in large by them, or never really developed.

I’d add just two things. First, as I have noted, for two of three actual attacks here, the NYPD actually got close but missed (or even hindered) the developing plots. These near misses suggest the NYPD may well have picked a few worthwhile investigation targets, but its actions are failing to reveal any real, rather than manufactured, threat.

There’s one more thing Elliot’s piece made me realize. Several of these–including Uzair Paracha, Iyman Faris, and the NYSE/Citi plot–can be traced back to KSM. As Elliott notes–and I’ve noted before–some of his evidence against Paracha, at least, was collected during his worst period of torture. Not only does that suggest I should add “exploiting torture-induced testimony” to my title.

But it makes me wonder whether one of the problems with trying KSM in NY, for Ray Kelly, was the possibility that KSM would expose the fraud at the heart of Kelly’s counterterrorism scam.

NYPD Stopped 351,739 People Last Year for “Furtive Movements”

There’s been a good deal of reporting on this report the NYCLU released last week, but the report itself must be read to fully understand the gravity of the stop-and-frisk abuse in NYC.

Consider this chart, for example, showing that Mike Bloomberg has had even more success inflating stop-and-frisk numbers than he ever had inflating the stock market.

Then there’s the stat that shows more young black men were stopped last year (168,126 stops of young black men) than reside in the city over all (158,406 total)–statistically, at least, every single young black man has been stopped.

Finally, though, there’s the list of reasons cops gave for having stopped someone in the first place–with “furtive movements” accounting for over half the stops, and “clothes commonly used in a crime” (does this mean hoodies?) cited in 31,555. Continue reading

John Brennan Praises the Object of His Own Intimate Knowledge

John Brennan, the guy whose role in torture and illegal wiretapping the Obama Administration continues to protect by looking relentlessly forward, also once admitted to having intimate knowledge of the NYPD’s spy program.

President Barack Obama’s homeland security adviser, John Brennan, who was the deputy executive director the CIA when the NYPD intelligence programs began, said he was intimately familiar with the CIA-NYPD partnership. He said that agency knew what the rules were and did not cross any lines.

Curiously, Brennan picked the day after Najibullah Zazi testified to praise the NYPD for its role in identifying terrorists (and proclaim, again, that he and the CIA and the NYPD hadn’t done anything illegal).

John Brennan said Friday at an NYPD event that the federal government can’t identify terrorists and stop attacks without help from local agencies.

He said the NYPD’s work has been responsible for keeping the city safe and that the department has done nothing illegal.

It doesn’t inspire great confidence that Brennan seems so unaware that the NYPD pointedly did not find Zazi and his accomplices, in spite of the fact that the NYPD believed Zazi’s imam was cooperating fully with the NYPD.

Is it possible that Obama’s top Homeland Security Advisor doesn’t even know that the NYPD’s spy program failed to find the most serious Islamic threats to NYC in recent years?

Judy Miller, Barabara Starr, and an Influx of Intelligence

I’m going to disappoint Jim by not dedicating a full post to Judy Miller’s graceless rant about the AP’s Pulitzer win, in which she whines that the AP hasn’t taken Ray Kelly’s insistence that his NYPD’s spying is legal seriously enough. I already had to fisk Miller’s credulous regurgitation of Ray Kelly’s defense of the NYPD here and then remind her that journalists should be in the business of sorting out false claims from true ones here. Given her past failures to write credibly on the AP’s NYPD series, I trust no one will make the mistake of doing anything but dismissing everything she has to say about the AP series.

But since I’ve already started a post about mouthpieces for those in power, maybe I should take a look at what Miller’s close kin, Barbara Starr, had to say about expanded drone strikes in Yemen.

The lead in Greg Miller’s story on this emphasized how little intelligence we would have on the expanded drone strikes.

The CIA is seeking authority to expand its covert drone campaign in Yemen by launching strikes against terrorism suspects even when it does not know the identities of those who could be killed, U.S. officials said.

Securing permission to use these “signature strikes” would allow the agency to hit targets based solely on intelligence indicating patterns of suspicious behavior, such as imagery showing militants gathering at known al-Qaeda compounds or unloading explosives.

Compare that with the headline and lead in Barbara Starr’s version.

Intel influx leads to increased U.S. strikes in Yemen

The increased pace of counterterrorism strikes in Yemen by U.S. drones and aircraft is a result of what U.S. military and intelligence officials describe as improved intelligence about the leadership of the al Qaeda movement in that country.

Continue reading

Whitewater Rafting? New Orleans Film Festivals? What Boondoggles Will NYPD’s Cops Go on Next?

Remember that NYPD officer who scammed a whitewater rafting trip by claiming he needed to count how many times a day some college students prayed while on vacation? He wasn’t the only one scamming such vacations. As the AP reports in its latest installment on the CIA-on-the-Hudson, in precisely the same period, another NYPD officer was scamming a trip to New Orleans to document the collaboration of anti-globalization, racial profiling, labor, and immigration activists.

If possible, the tie between the NOLA meeting and NYC was even more remote than that between whitewater rafting Muslim students and the city. The mentions of NYC in the report include the addresses of local chapters of groups represented at the meeting. And it uses a game of connections–ultimately tied to demonstrations against the Sean Bell killing by NYPD cops or to May Day celebrations (both, of course, completely protected speech)–to tie those groups back to NYC.

Activists from the Jena Coalition and Critical Resistance were in attendance and presented several documentaries based on the alleged racial profiling and the alleged injustices that people of color faced across the country by their respective police departments. The New York Chapter of the Critical Resistance is located at 976 Longwood Ave Bronx, NY.

Critical Resistance was formerly located on Atlantic Ave near Clinton Ave (confines of the 77 Pct) and at the time was being lead by Ashanti Alston (former Black Panther and Animal Rights Activist). The group hosted events prior to the 2004 Republican National Convention and was raided by the NYPD for selling alcohol to minors.

Members from the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement NYC Chapter along with Critical Resistance and members of the Sean Bell family will attend the outcome
of the Sean Bell case as well as a demonstration scheduled for Friday April 25, 2008. The demonstration will be held at the Queens DA’s office located at 125-01 Queens Boulevard to await the judge’s verdict.

And, as it turns out, the cop reporting his boondoggle trip to NOLA actually misrepresented what he was spying on.

In April 2008, an undercover NYPD officer traveled to New Orleans to attend the People’s Summit, a gathering of liberal groups organized around their shared opposition to U.S. economic policy and the effect of trade agreements between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

When the undercover effort was summarized for supervisors, it identified groups opposed to U.S. immigration policy, labor laws and racial profiling. Two activists – Jordan Flaherty, a journalist, and Marisa Franco, a labor organizer for housekeepers and nannies – were mentioned by name in one of the police intelligence reports obtained by the AP.

[snip]

[Flaherty] said the event described by police actually was a film festival in New Orleans that same week, suggesting that the undercover officer’s duties were more widespread than described in the report.

Flaherty said he recalls introducing a film about Palestinians but spoke only briefly and does not understand why that landed him a reference in police files.

And that’s it. That’s all it took the NYPD to be conned into paying a cop’s trip to NOLA for a film festival attended by a bunch of people supporting perfectly legal political issues.

After paying for whitewater rafting and film festival trips, I wonder what kind of swank vacations the NYPD has paid for since?

The NYPD’s Surveillance of Muslims and Occupy Wall Street Converges

I started my morning reading with this AP Q&A on the significance of their series on the NYPD’s spying on Muslims. There are several things missing: why does the NYPD profile only businesses they believe to be owned by Muslims, and not the American chains at which recent immigrants also congregate? Why doesn’t the Q&A discuss how the NYPD-on-the-Hudson got close to, but missed the two most significant plots of recent years; what does that say about the efficacy of all this spying? And why doesn’t the Q&A discuss the many informants the NYPD has deployed?

That said, the AP does get to the core reason why the NYPD’s program abuses the First Amendment:

Bloomberg and his aides have not addressed, however, why police kept intelligence files on innocuous mosque sermons and plans for peaceful protests. They’ve not explained why police noted which restaurants served “devout” Muslims, why police maintained lists of Muslims who changed their names or why innocent people attending Friday prayer services were photographed and videotaped.

Those activities, many Muslims said, make them feel like they’re under scrutiny just because of their religion.

After reading that Q&A, I then read this NYT article, talking about how the NYPD’s intelligence division–the CIA-on-the-Hudson again–has preemptively arrested some Occupy Wall Street protestors before they engaged in protest.

On Nov. 17, Kira Moyer-Sims was near the Manhattan Bridge, buying coffee while three friends waited nearby in a car. More than a dozen blocks away, protesters gathered for an Occupy Wall Street “day of action,” which organizers had described as an attempt to block the streets around the New York Stock Exchange.

Then, Ms. Moyer-Sims said, about 30 police officers surrounded her and the people in the car.

All four were arrested, said Vik Pawar, a lawyer for Ms. Moyer-Sims and two of the others, and taken to a police facility in the East Village. He said officers strip-searched them and ignored their requests for a lawyer.

These are the same tactics–or worse–as used when the NYPD targeted Muslims planning a peaceful protest of cartoons deemed blasphemous. But most troubling is the last anecdote the NYT reports (which the NYT might have known to contextualize if they had been reporting on the NYPD spying on Muslims). In one case, they NYPD and the FBI are targeting an Occupy activist who, as someone who appears to have changed his name from his birth name, would have been targeted closely under the NYPD program. And they appear to be insinuating a tie with Islamic terrorism.

Mark Adams, a 32-year-old engineer from Virginia, said he was arrested in November at an Occupy Wall Street protest in Midtown and was questioned by a police detective and an agent from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who asked about his involvement with Occupy Wall Street, requested his e-mail address and inquired whether he had ever been to Yemen or met anyone connected to Al Qaeda.

Mr. Adams, a naturalized United States citizen who was born in Pakistan, said he was arrested during another protest in January and questioned by intelligence division detectives. In that instance, he said, the detectives asked him about specific names and addresses, asked about his work history, education and family, and questioned him about a trip he had made to Ireland.

Mr. Adams said he was disturbed that anyone would consider him a threat because of his ethnicity or political views. “It’s scary,” he said. [my emphasis]

As the AP reported last October, the NYPD conducts extensive checks and keeps records on those within the city who change their names from Arabic or Muslim-sounding names to something Americanized.

The NYPD monitors everyone in the city who changes his or her name, according to internal police documents and interviews. For those whose names sound Arabic or might be from Muslim countries, police run comprehensive background checks that include reviewing travel records, criminal histories, business licenses and immigration documents. Continue reading

NYPD Makes Work But Not Knowledge

When I read the Judy Miller/Richard Clarke op-ed defending Ray Kelly (this is Judy’s second go-around defending Kelly, btw), I realized something about the NYPD CIA-on-the-Hudson program. They write,

Yet NYPD efforts to engage with and selectively surveil at-risk populations are not only legal but essential. In 2002, Mr. Kelly decided that a “broad base of knowledge” about who lives in the New York area was crucial to preventing terrorism. “It was precisely our failure to understand the context in 1993″—after the first World Trade Center bombing—”that left us vulnerable in 2001,” he said. So police tried to determine “how individuals seeking to do harm might communicate or conceal themselves. Where might they go to find resources or evade the law?” Such “geographically-based knowledge” saved “precious time in stopping fast-moving plots,” he said last weekend. [my emphasis]

Ray Kelly and his defenders claim that the process of mapping out all the Muslim communities in the NYC area produces “knowledge.”

But after reading the two latest sets of documents released by the AP: mapping the Syrian and Egyptian communities, it became clear that this is less about knowledge and more about make work. The Egyptian packet, in particular, reads more like the kind of crappy composition papers you see from college freshmen learning how to write and think critically–complete with significant portions just cut and pasted from online sites (in this case, the NYC and CIA sites). How much “knowledge” did an officer gain by copying the NYPD’s own website to include this information in a report on Egyptians in the 68th precinct? (Note, the NYPD appears to have taken this tour guide information down in 2006 after this particular report was completed.)

The 68th Precinct provides police service to the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and Fort Hamilton. These middle-class neighborhoods are culturally and ethnically diverse. Over recent years there has been a significant influx of people of Middle-Eastern and Asian descent into the area. One and two family homes dominate the landscape; however, there are also many four and six story apartment houses throughout the precinct. Residents and visitors enjoy the recreational amenities afforded by the area’s seven major parks, two theaters, golf course and spectacular waterfront along “The Narrows” between Brooklyn and Staten Island. Independent merchants, as well as some chain stores, provide for ample retail shopping and other services along Third, Fifth, Eleventh and Thirteenth Avenues as well Fort Hamilton Parkway and 86th Street. Over one hundred restaurants, bars and nightclubs provide for a vibrant nightlife. Fort Hamilton is the only active duty military installation in New York City.

Does repeating the NYPD’s own assessment that The Narrows is a spectacular waterfront really help find terrorists?

Then there’s the sheer repetition of it, which becomes apparent if you compare the Moroccan mapping report to the Egyptian and Syrian one. Between them the reports many of the same sites, including at least the following.

  • Nassem meat market
  • Egyptian coffee shop
  • Eastern Nights Cafe
  • Bay Ridge International Cafe
  • Egyptian Cafe
  • Ramalla Coffee Shop
  • Tutankhamun

Of what value is it for the NYPD has paid officers to go twice in the same year to the same businesses to do these completely new profiles?

Egyptian Cafe, Moroccan Version, undated (other reports in same packet dated December 19, 2006 and April 13, 2007)

Continue reading

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emptywheel @DanaHoule Hey now, even those who escaped the Empire in 1916 still use Cellotape!
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