Perhaps six months late, the NYT figured out (with no sense of irony about that delay) that if Ray Kelly can spy on Muslims with impunity–as he appears to have done–he can do it to anyone.
It is a distressing fact of life that mistreatment of Muslims does not draw nearly the protest that it should. But not just Muslims are threatened by this seemingly excessive warrantless surveillance and record-keeping. Today Muslims are the target. In the past it was protesters against the Vietnam War, civil rights activists, socialists. Tomorrow it will be another vulnerable group whose lawful behavior is blended into criminal activity.
The editorial focuses on one of the many areas that should have offered a reasonable middle ground months ago: if it’s true nothing is wrong with this spying, than the NYPD should provide more information about what leads the cops were actually following.
Mr. Bloomberg has reacted in the worst possible way — with disdain — to those raising legitimate questions about the surveillance program. Asking about its legality, and about whether alienating innocent Muslims is a smart or decent strategy, does not translate into being soft on terrorism, or failing to appreciate that it is a dangerous world.
The mayor insists that the actions reported by The A.P. were “legal,” “appropriate” and “constitutional.” He also says the police were only “following leads.” But he has yet to explain what sort of leads, why they justify police surveillance of so many Muslims, or whether the type of surveillance depicted in the news reports continues.
If only the NYT knew of a newspaper that employed some good reporters who could do some reporting on such questions. I wonder where they might find that?
Perhaps most curious, though, is the NYT’s focus on Bloomberg, not Kelly, even while they admit that this program is Kelly’s baby.
It’s all a very curious focus from the NYT.
But it’s a good start.
“He’s Ray Kelly, so what’re you gonna do? I mean, he’s all-knowing, all-seeing,” Christie said.
“And I don’t know all the details yet, but my concern is, you know, why can’t you be, you know, communicating with the people here in New Jersey, with law enforcement here in New Jersey. Are we somehow not trustworthy?” said Christie.
“This is New York Police Department. I know they think their jurisdiction is the world. Their jurisdiction is New York City. So if they’re going to leave their jurisdiction and go to investigate a case in another jurisdiction, it could be dangerous,” Christie said. “This is the way law enforcement people get hurt or killed, is when they’re not cooperating with each other, not communicating with each other.”
“I’m not saying they don’t belong in New Jersey, but tell us! Share it with the appropriate law enforcement agency,” Christie said. “My concern is this kind of obsession that the NYPD seems to have that they’re the masters of the universe.”
Then there’s the spectacle of King defending Ray Kelly as if the latter is a shrinking violet, with neither access to the press nor taste for a fight himself.
Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said Gov. Chris Christie crossed a line when he mocked Police Commissioner Ray Kelly as “all-knowing, all-seeing” and said the NYPD’s intelligence operation in Newark may have been “born out of arrogance.”
“I just found it a real disappointment the way he was conducting himself, the way he was taking cheap shots at Ray Kelly,” King said.
Sure, aside from Booker, who seems genuinely concerned either with his actual constituents or appearing that way, this is a giant pissing contest between men defending their turf.
Part of me wonders why most of these men have reacted so strongly. Christie, after all, must have close ties to Newark’s FBI officers from his time as US Attorney. That seems to be what this dig is about:
“His main objection seems to be that he wasn’t … brought in. But the fact is that he wasn’t governor. He was U.S. attorney. And I’m not aware of any major terror plots that he ever uncovered while he was U.S. attorney in New Jersey.”
(King forgets, of course, that the NYPD didn’t find any of the major terrorist attacks since 9/11–street vendors and the FBI did.)
Part of me wonders whether Kelly, channeling J. Edgar Hoover as he increasingly seems to be doing, has some dirt on King and Schumer to make cow them like this.
But the real sick part of my personality can’t help but visualize this ending in a giant wrestling match pitting King and Schumer against Christie and Booker. In fact, I’m even thinking of taking bets.
Sorry about the abundance of brain bleach posts this morning folks–it must be the weather.
Schumer, rarely a courageous man, made full use of the passive when he tried to claim everyone knew the spying program makes NY safer.
There is nothing wrong with the NYPD collecting and assessing publicly available information from New York, New Jersey, the other 48 states or around the world in the effort to prevent another terror attack like 9/11. In fact, it is widely understood that the NYPD’s actions have kept us safer. Looking at public information and following leads is perfectly acceptable as long as any one group, in its entirety, is not targeted based only on its religious or ethnic affiliation. [my emphasis]
Nevermind that the NYPD uses techniques–like informants and permanent cameras–that aren’t exactly available to the public. Nevermind that Schumer’s backing himself into a corner with his new caveat that profiling is okay so long as not the entire ethnic group is profiled (though arguably, they are).
Schumer proves unable to say, in the affirmative, that he knows this makes NY safer. And he ought to consider that question seriously.
More offensive is the NYPost’s insinuation that the AP is just in this for a Pulitzer.
Columbia is also where they keep the Pulitzers in the off-season; American journalism’s most treasured self-affirmation program is more or less run from the university’s J-school. Since the awards are soon to be presented, and since the AP’s lust for one is almost comically transparent, its show-the-flag campus visit is wholly unsurprising.
Strip away the emotive rhetoric and what’s left is a series of stories over several weeks that show pretty clearly that the NYPD works very hard to keep the city safe — operating an aggressive and imaginative program, but staying well within both the law and the bounds of post-9/11 propriety from beginning to end.
At least twice in the decade before the NYPD program began, Islamist sleeper agents attacked New York City. The first time, six people died; the second, thousands.
Since then, the department has disrupted a number of Islamist-initiated plots; there is no way of telling how many more were never undertaken because the city is so aggressively anti-terrorist. And there have been no terror-related fatalities since 9/11.
That could change tomorrow — presumably the AP’s Pulitzer prospects would tail off sharply if it did — but that would prove only that there are no guarantees in counterterrorism.
Here, the NYPost is just flat out wrong–or should be.
If there were a terrorist attack tomorrow, the inevitable commission would finally give the NYPD spying program the scrutiny it needs, scrutiny which the AP has tried to offer. And that commission will discover that the NYPD has spent its time spying on girls’ and grade schools, hunting out Muslims at Jewish businesses, scamming whitewater rafting trips off of taxpayers.
Sure, such efforts have led to hyped busts of folks it took 31 months for the NYPD to coach how to drill holes into a pipe. Such busts only discredit Mayor Bloomberg, Ray Kelly, and ultimately everyone defending this program.
What those efforts didn’t find were the real terrorist attacks. They didn’t find Najibullah Zazi and they didn’t find Faisal Shahzad–even though both were right under their nose. Continue reading
At the Daily Press Briefing today, Jay Carney was asked whether the White House approves of the NYPD spying on New York and New Jersey’s Muslim communities.
He responded by claiming that the Office of National Drug Control Policy–the Drug Czar!–has no authority over the money.
The Office of National Drug Control Policy is a policy office that has no authority–no authority to and does not conduct, direct, manage, or supervise any law enforcement operations. The funding is provided to the H-I-D-T-A, HIDTA program, of New York and New Jersey, which then provides it to law enforcement agencies to assist in the procurement of resources like computers and other items.
This is not an Administration program or a White House program. This is a program of the NY Police Department.
Now, there’s reason to believe the response was bullshit. As the Drug Czar org chart above shows–and Deputy Drug Czar Benjamin Tucker’s biography makes clear–HIDTA is solidly in the chain of command in the Drug Czar’s office.
In his position, Mr. Tucker oversees ONDCP’s High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program , Drug-Free Communities (DFC), National Youth-Anti-Drug Media Campaign, and Counter-Drug Technology Assessment Center (CTAC).
With 40 years of experience in the fields of law enforcement and criminal justice, Mr. Tucker is a recognized expert in community policing.
Furthermore, the Director of HIDTA, Dr. Ellen Scrivner, has her office in the Executive Office of the President.
Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske “coordinates all aspects of Federal drug control programs” and one of those programs is HIDTA, which apparently funds spying on Muslims. And the Drug Czar’s Policy Coordination Circular–which was updated on August 3, 2011–requires that the Drug Czar review any chances to “drug policy.”
Pursuant to 21 U.S.C. §1704(b), agencies are required, except under exigent circumstances, to notify ONCDP of any proposed change in policies relating to their activities under the National Drug Control Program prior to implementation of such change.
The Director of ONCDP reviews such proposed changes and certifies in writing whetehr such change is consistent with the National Drug Control Strategy.
In other words, Obama’s Deputy Drug Czar oversees this program, its Director works in EOP, and any changes on anything pertaining to drug policy must be approved by the Drug Czar.
That kind of micro-management inside the White House is the whole point of having a Czar rather than a congressionally-supervised agency head.
In the city in which the NYT news page insists on calling torture “harsh” or “enhanced interrogation” when America does it, I’m not surprised that NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly objects to news outlets calling his spying spying.
“I just wish the media would show some responsibility and use the words ‘surveillance’ or ‘police investigation’ rather than ‘spying.’ To use that term, to be accusing you of ‘spying,’ is, to me, really offensive,” Mr. [Peter] King said, asking Mr. Kelly what he thought of the issue.
“It’s a pejorative term, it sells well,” Mr. Kelly responded. “They forget we’ve the subject of 14 plots since 9/11 … We’ve been lucky. We just have been lucky.”
Mr. King also discussed the political implications of the debate. He said the “spying” rhetoric “puts a cloud over what you’re trying to do. That’s why I worry about the campaign and whoever the next mayor happens to be, if it’s against the back drop of ‘spying’ charges.”
I can see why Peter King worries about the political implications of spying. He heartily approved of the NYPD spying on 28 businesses in his own district. He even applauded the NYPD spying on kosher businesses–after having mocked such an idea as ridiculous–after CBS stole my reporting on the topic and confronted him with the fact that NYPD was, indeed, spying on Iranian Jews as well as Muslims.
So King, who faces voters in November, celebrates NYPD’s baseless spying on his constituents and, even when confronted with the stupidity of the NYPD’s spying choices, ultimately supports them unquestioningly. But he’s beginning to worry about the political implications of such brainless boosterism.
And Kelly just thinks (unsurprisingly given the treatment he’s usually accorded) the press should supinely heed his demand that they use euphemisms to dress up his spying program (while not objecting to the accuracy of the term, I might add).
While we’re discussing supine treatment, what is the word Kelly would prefer we use to describe the decision to have a booster like Peter King, guest hosting a radio show, invite Ray Kelly in to attack his critics and defend the department’s spying?
I always seem to get this particular euphemism wrong.
In its latest update on NYC’s spying on Muslims, the AP reports the program is partially funded by the White House Drug Czar in grants associated with the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program.
Some of that money — it’s unclear exactly how much because the program has little oversight — has paid for the cars that plainclothes NYPD officers used to conduct surveillance on Muslim neighborhoods. It also paid for computers that store even innocuous information about Muslim college students, mosque sermons and social events.
When NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly was filled in on these efforts, his briefings were prepared on HIDTA computers.
What the article notes but doesn’t emphasize–but which is the entire point of White House czar positions–is that there is little oversight over how these funds get used. Congress did not get to see a breakout of how the NYPD uses its “war on drugs” funds.
Congress, which approves the money for the program, is not provided with a detailed breakdown of activities. None of the NYPD’s clandestine programs is cited in the New York-New Jersey region’s annual reports to Congress between 2006 and 2010.
The problem with programs run by White House czars is that White Houses of both parties routinely argue that Congress has no legitimate oversight over them.
The White House, typically, refuses to comment.
The White House last week declined to comment on its grant payments.
And, as the AP has pointed out repeatedly in its reporting on this program, no one in New York City is exercising oversight either.
It’s unclear how much HIDTA money has been used to pay for the intelligence division, in part because NYPD intelligence operations receive scant oversight in New York.
The main point of the AP article is that the White House owns this ineffective, abusive spying, just as much as Ray Kelly.
But just as importantly, the use of Drug Czar funds for a program that is every bit as counterproductive and wasteful and stupid as the war on drugs symbolizes just how far those running this program have shielded it from any oversight.
The NYDN and NYPost continue their uncritical defense of the NYPD’s spying on residents of other cities. In response to continued outrage that NYPD’s officers profiled Newark’s and Paterson’s Muslim community, the New York fearmonger papers’ response is basically a taunt that New Jersey should be grateful the NYPD has invaded their state because New Jersey can’t prevent terrorism on its own.
What is the matter with New Jersey politicians that they are raising a stink because the NYPD keeps an eye out for terrorists on their turf?
Have Gov. Chris Christie and Newark Mayor Corey Booker forgotten that 746 residents of the Garden State were killed in the terrorist attacks of 9/11?
Have they forgotten that ringleader Mohammed Atta met with co-conspirators in Newark?
Have they forgotten that the van used in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing was rented in Jersey City?
(The NYDN, which claims to have read the profile reports on things like girls’ schools, seems to have missed that none of the profiling reports we’ve seen from the NYPD have targeted any of the kinds of NJ establishments the terrorists have used in the past.)
But as a MI resident, what I’m really amused by is the NYPD boosters’ claim that Newark is “overmatched” and “incapable.”
So why wouldn’tthe NYPD bring its unmatched skills to bear in Newark, whose overmatched police department is simply incapable of monitoring threats as they develop far out of sight?
I can remember only one police department in recent years which has been “overmatched.” And that’s the NYPD, when faced with the prospect of hosting a terrorist trial in Manhattan.
When DOJ first announced plans to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other 9/11 plotters in New York, Ray Kelly started making the same kind of complaints about not being consulted as New Jersey’s politicians are making now.
NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said the Justice Department did not consult the city officials before deciding to send Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others to New York City for trial.
“There was no consultation, no consultation with the police department. That decision was made. We were informed,” Kelly said Tuesday.
When asked if the NYPD should have been asked about security and other considerations in advance of sending the accused terrorist to the scene of the attack, Kelly said,” The fact is we weren’t asked. And we will make the best of a situation. We weren’t.”
At first Kelly said the NYPD would be up to the task. But then he started rolling out a plan to effectively militarize lower Manhattan and demanded first $90 million then $200 million to pay for his war zone. Ultimately, the DOJ gave up the plan for a civilian trial.
Because Ray Kelly wasn’t up to the task of hosting a terrorist trial, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has had at least two years added to his life.
Congressman Peter King applauds that the NYPD is spying on–among others–some of his own Long Island constituents, including 28 businesses in Oyster Bay. He rather snidely quips that you wouldn’t look for radical Muslims at a kosher deli.
Ray Kelly and the NYPD should get a medal for what they are doing. They are–This is good police work. If you are going after radical Muslims you don’t go to Ben’s Kosher Deli.
There’s just one problem with that–a big one.
Among the businesses the NYPD profiled are at least five kosher butchers, delis, or restaurants not far from King’s home in Long Island (as well as several other stores, including food stores, run by Great Neck, NY’s Iranian Jewish population).
So Peter King suggests it would be stupid for the NYPD to look for radical Muslims at kosher delis. But he’s still celebrating the NYPD for having done just that.
(h/t George Zornick)
What you won’t find anywhere on the NYT homepage, though, is the story of how the NYPD monitored local response to Dutch cartoons of the prophet Mohammed, culled from informants at mosques across the metro area and summarized in a report for Ray Kelly. It’s a similar story–the Muslim reaction to perceived blasphemy–but it’s local. The NYT’s own city. Yet the NYT doesn’t consider it news.
Nor will you find a report on the NYPD’s press conference yesterday, an effort to insist all this surveillance of First Amendment speech is perfectly legal. Both the NYPost and the NYDN reported on that. (Admittedly, the WSJ is silent on the story today, though they have reported on it before.)
Has the NYT moved to FL for the winter? Because every newspaper in the NY area seems to think this is news.
I’ve noted before the contortions the NYT went through to downplay (or even dismiss) this spy program in a profile of Ray Kelly. That almost felt like petulance over being beat–except for a few stories from Michael Powell–on a big story in its own backyard.
But the NYT’s silence on the story is beginning to get creepy.
On April 10, 2010, Mohammad Younis, of Centereach, NY, met with Faisal Shahzad at the Ronkonkoma train station and gave him $7,000 in cash. That money went to buy fertilizer, propane, and gasoline that Shahzad used to build a bomb he tried to set off in Times Square three weeks later–the last real Islamic terrorist attack launched on New York City.
I was particularly interested to see the NYPD’s intelligence profile of Suffolk County released by the AP this morning. As I noted last year, the NYPD’s extensive intelligence programs failed to identify the two most significant attacks on NY in recent history: those attempted by Najibullah Zazi and Shahzad.
With Zazi, that failure was epic; the NYPD used his imam as an informant, and actually tipped Zazi off to the investigation.
But Shahzad’s attack would have been harder to find. He plotted the attack from Connecticut–outside the city, though well within the range of the NYPD’s intelligence efforts. The one lead squarely within the NYPD’s profiling activities, though, would have been the hawala Shahzad used–Younis’ hawala–to get money from Pakistan.
It turns out the NYPD’s profiling efforts got within 3 miles of Younis’ house. They profiled his house of worship, the Islamic Association of Long Island. They profiled about 10 businesses in his community–though they focused on the halal restaurants, not the 7-11 where Younis used to work or the Lowes where he worked at the time he met with Shahzad. They also profiled a mosque and an auto repair shop in Ronkonkoma, the town where Shahzad met with Younis.
They never found Younis or his hawala activities, which he did not operate for profit.
Mind you, even if they had profiled the 7-11 or the Lowes, they still wouldn’t have found anything. Younis himself had no knowledge of Shahzad’s plot (Younis plead guilty to one count of unlicensed money remitting and was sentenced to three years of probation in December).
Which all goes to show that even profiling the precise neighborhoods through which terrorist money flows will not–did not–serve to discover or prevent attacks.