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)

Egyptian Cafe, Egyptian Version, report dated July 7, 2006

Yet none of this is contextualized with the larger neighborhood, a discussion of the known terrorist sympathies that might exist there.

Without that context, you don’t get knowledge.

And, finally, like a freshman comp paper trying to fluff the content to reach some page length, this report includes totally irrelevant information.

Why should a report on Egyptians include a review of MI’s Arabic population when–as the report notes–few of MI’s Arabs are Egyptian (though the data from which the officer worked at least now states that, “Since 1990, significant increases appear in the number of Michiganders who are of Jordanian and Egyptian descent.”

Man, if Ray Kelly is sending his spooks to my state, I’m gonna send the Spartans out after him.


14 replies
  1. jerryy says:

    “Man, if Ray Kelly is sending his spooks to my state, I’m gonna send the Spartans out after him.”

    Send him sketches and outlines from The Brain’s (of Pinky and The Brain) various plots to take over the world. That should fill up their time and keep them out of your state, not to mention let you enjoy the usual hilarity that is supposed to ensue.

  2. eCAHNomics says:

    Richard Clarke was one of my heroes who was teetering on the brink of falling off the pedestal from the start. I appreciated that he kept encouraging W to follow up on terrorism before 9/11, I thought Against All Enemies was a decent book, I appreciated that he was the only one to apologize to the families of the fallen at the 9/11 hearings. But I started getting a twitchy feeling about him exactly then. It was just on the right side of too showy, his attire was too natty.

    The coup de gras was when I attended a book signing of his novel. Judy Miller was in the audience, and I had learned on the radio that morning that they were BFF.

    You are known by the company you keep. BTW, Scorpion’s Gate is a crappy book.

  3. eCAHNomics says:

    Not surprised that the whole spook biz is make-work. Most of the spook biz is, no matter who does it, including CIA. Fatal flaw is that spook biz is secret so there is no chance of oversight.

    The other part of CIA biz is failed covert ops.

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    @eCAHNomics: The list of those is long; just the ones advocating Cuba Libre! [sic] reads like someone read Jonathan Swift without his irony hat on.

  5. PeasantParty says:

    What is it? There has to be a word for it. That emotional/psychological thing that happens to people when they get a badge or authority over others must have a name. Barney Fife syndrome? Deputy Dog Disease?

  6. CTuttle says:

    “Not because it doesn’t want a nuke – I think it does – but because the price that it’s going to have to pay” in terms of isolation would be too high, said Levin, whose committee has an oversight role for the US Defense Department.

    Are you sh*tting me…?

  7. pdaly says:

    The first link in this post to the Judy Miller/Richard Clarke op-ed at online.wsj.com is behind the firewall already. Just as well. Emptywheel saved us the time from reading it.

    What is the Miller and Clarke connection, however?
    Pre-Libby and pre-Iraq I could understand. But if I were Clarke I’d keep my name off any Miller bylines.

  8. rugger9 says:

    @CTuttle: #7
    The word “blockade” is considered an act of war. It is interestingly a reason Lincoln himself almost created the CSA’s recognition in the early Civil War. A sovereign nation closes its ports, it doesn’t “blockade” its own ports. Other acts of war include the unlawful possession of an embassy, which Iran still possesses. Those are on the national level, and aren’t close to exhaustive. On the tactical level it would include things like “painting” someone with a fire control radar with its distinctive signature, because the next thing along could very well be a missile at Mach 2+.

    I would also agree with the head scratching over Clarke’s relationship with JudyJudyJudy. I don’t see what he gains by it, and since Katy Perry’s available, why go for the ground chuck?

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