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On Responsible Sourcing for DNC Hack Stories

For some reason Lawfare thinks it is interesting that the two Democratic members of the Gang of Four — who have apparently not figured out there’s a difference between the hack (allegedly done by Russia) and the dissemination (done by Wikileaks, which has different motivations) are calling for information on the DNC hack to be released.

The recent hack into the servers of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the subsequent release via WikiLeaks of a cache of 20,000 internal e-mails, demonstrated yet again the vulnerability of our institutions to cyber intrusion and exploitation.  In its timing, content, and manner of release, the email dissemination was clearly intended to undermine the Democratic Party and the presidential campaign of Secretary Hillary Clinton, and disrupt the Democratic Party’s convention in Philadelphia.

[snip]

Specifically, we ask that the Administration consider declassifying and releasing, subject to redactions to protect sources and methods, any Intelligence Community assessments regarding the incident, including any that might illuminate potential Russian motivations for what would be an unprecedented interference in a U.S. Presidential race, and why President Putin could potentially feel compelled to authorize such an operation, given the high likelihood of eventual attribution.

For some equally bizarre reason, WaPo thinks Devin Nunes’ claim — in the same breath as he claims Donald Trump’s repeated calls on Russia to release Hillary’s email were sarcastic — that there is “no evidence, absolutely no evidence” that Russia hacked the DNC to influence the election is credible.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told The Washington Post in an interview Wednesday that speculation about Russian attempts to sway the presidential election is unfounded.

“There is no evidence, absolutely no evidence, that the Russians are trying to influence the U.S. election,” Nunes said, repeatedly swatting away the suggestion made by some Democrats that the Russians may be using their intelligence and hacking capabilities to boost Donald Trump’s chances.

“There is evidence that the Russians are actively trying to hack into the United States — but it’s not only the Russians doing that. The Russians and the Chinese have been all over our networks for many years.”

These are two obvious (because they’re on the record) examples of partisans using their access to classified information to try to boost or refute a narrative that the Hillary Clinton campaign has explicitly adopted: focusing on the alleged Russian source of the hack rather on the content of the things the hack shows.

Kudos to Richard Burr, who is facing a surprisingly tough reelection campaign, for being the one Gang of Four member not to get involved in the partisan bullshit on this.

There are plenty of people with no known interest in either seeing a Trump or a Clinton presidency that have some measure of expertise on this issue (this is the rare moment, for example, when I’m welcoming the fact that FBI agents are sieves for inappropriate leaks). So no outlet should be posting something that obviously primarily serves the narrative one or the other candidate wants to adopt on the DNC hack without a giant sign saying “look at what partisans have been instructed to say by the campaign.” That’s all the more true for positions, like the Gang of Four, that we’d prefer to be as little politicized as possible. Please don’t encourage those people to use their positions to serve a partisan narrative, I beg of you!

For the same reason I’m peeved that Harry Reid suggested the Intelligence Community give Trump fake intelligence briefings. Haven’t we learned our lesson about politicizing intelligence?

More generally, I think journalists should be especially careful at this point to make it clear whether their anonymous sources have a partisan dog in this fight, because zero of those people should be considered to be unbiased when they make claims about the DNC hack.

A very special case of that comes in stories like this, where Neocon ideologue Eliot Cohen, identified as Bush appointee, is quoted attacking Trump for suggesting Russia should leak anymore emails.

But now Republican-aligned foreign policy experts are also weighing in along similar lines.

“It’s appalling,” Dr. Eliot A. Cohen, who was counselor of the State Department during the second term of George W. Bush’s presidency, said to me today. “Calling on a foreign government to go after your opponent in an American election?”

Cohen recently organized an open letter from a range of GOP national security leaders that denounced Trump in harsh terms, arguing that Trump’s “own statements” indicate that “he would use the authority of his office to act in ways that make America less safe, and which would diminish our standing in the world.” The letter said: “As committed and loyal Republicans, we are unable to support a Party ticket with Mr. Trump at its head. We commit ourselves to working energetically to prevent the election of someone so utterly unfitted to the office.”

But this latest from Trump, by pushing the envelope once again, raises the question of whether other prominent Republicans are ever going to join in.

For instance, to my knowledge, top national security advisers to George W. Bush, such as Stephen Hadley and Condoleezza Rice (who was also secretary of state), have yet to comment on anything we’ve heard thus far from Trump. Also, there could theoretically come a point where figures like former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and possibly even Dubya and George H.W. Bush feel compelled to weigh in.

Meanwhile, senior Republican elected officials who have backed Trump continue to refrain from taking on his comments forcefully or directly. Some Republicans actually defended Trump’s comments today. Paul Ryan’s spokesman issued a statement saying this: “Russia is a global menace led by a devious thug. Putin should stay out of this election.”

I feel differently about Trump’s asinine comment than I do about attribution of the attack. I’m all in favor of Hillary’s campaign attacking Trump for it, and frankly Cohen is a far more credible person to do so than Jake Sullivan and Leon Panetta, who also launched such attacks yesterday, because as far as I know Cohen has not mishandled classified information like the other two have.

But I would prefer if, rather than IDing Cohen as one of the Republicans who signed a letter opposing Trump, Greg Sargent had IDed him as someone who has also spoken affirmatively for Hillary.

On foreign policy, Hillary Clinton is far better: She believes in the old consensus and will take tough lines on China and, increasingly, Russia. She does not hesitate to make the case for human rights as a key part of our foreign policy. True, under pressure from her own left wing, she has backtracked on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a set of trade deals that supports American interests by creating a counterbalance to China and American values by protecting workers’ rights. But she might edge back toward supporting it, once in.

Admittedly, this was at a time when Cohen and others still hoped some Mike Bloomberg like savior would offer them a third choice; that was before Bloomberg gave a very prominent speech endorsing Hillary last night.

Here’s the thing. The Neocons (led by Robert Kagan, who’s wife got named as a target of Russian aggression in the Feinstein-Schiff letter) are functioning as surrogates for Hillary just like top Democrats are. They are, just like Democrats are, now scrambling to turn their endorsements into both policy and personnel wins. Therefore we should no more trust the independence of a pro-Hillary Neocon — even if he did work for George Bush — than we would trust the many Democrats who have used their power to help Hillary win this election. Progressives should be very wary about the promises Hillary has made to get the growing number of Neocons (and people like Bloomberg) to so aggressively endorse her. Because those endorsements will come with payback, just like union or superdelegate endorsements do.

In any case, it’s hard enough to tease out attribution for two separate hacks and the subsequent publication of the hacked data by Wikileaks. Relying on obviously self-interested people as sources only further obscures the process.

Update: The Grammar Police actually nagged me to fix “whose/who’s” error in the Kagan sentence. Fun!

Jeb Bush’s Service on Bloomberg Foundation Disappears into the Memory Hole [Updated: and Reappears!]

Update, 8/10: Time has a transcript, which was updated at 12:46 ET today, that includes the Bloomberg exchange. The exchange is also included in the broadcast available here now. Thanks to irootsorg for alerting me it is now available.

Ginalou made a remarkable discovery this morning. In the transcripts from last night’s debate that have been released thus far, the exchange where Megyn Kelly asks Jeb Bush about his service on the Bloomberg Foundation at a time when it supported Planned Parenthood (here’s an earlier report on it) has been scrubbed. The exchange should appear where it says “(COMMERCIAL BREAK)” here.

Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 10.02.07 AM

Someone caught it in the YouTube above (though Fox will surely do a take-down of that). Fox appears only to be releasing selected clips of the debate, and this exchange is not included.

Here’s my transcription for posterity:

Kelly: Governor Bush, let’s start with you. Many Republicans have been outraged recently by a series of videos on Planned Parenthood. You now say that you support ending federal funding for this organization. However, until late 2014, right before you started your campaign, you sat on the board of a Bloomberg charity that quite publicly gave tens of millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood, while you were a Director. How could you not know about these well-publicized donations [a few boos] and if you did know, how could you help a charity so openly committed to abortion rights?

Bush: I joined the Bloomberg foundation because of Mike Bloomberg’s shared commitment for meaningful education reform. That’s why I was on it. We never had a debate about the budget. It was presented and we approved it. Not item by item. Here’s my record. As governor of the state of Florida, I defunded Planned Parenthood. [applause] I created a culture of life in our state. We were the only state to appropriate money for crisis pregnancy centers. We expanded dramatically the number of adoptions out of our foster care system. We created — we did parental notification laws. We ended partial birth abortion. We did all of this. And we were the first state to do a “choose life” license plate. Now 29 states have done it and tens of millions of dollars have gone to create  a culture where more people, more babies are adopted.

Kelly: But did you know?

Bush: [pause] No. I didn’t know. But it doesn’t matter. I was working on this board because of the education. My record is clear. My record as a pro-life governor is not in dispute. I am completely pro-life and I believe that we should have a culture of life, it’s informed by my faith from beginning to end. [big applause] And I did this not just as it related to unborn babies, I did it at the end-of-life issues as well. This is something that goes way beyond politics. And I hope one day that we get to the point where we respect life, in its fullest form, across the board. [applause]

Mike Bloomberg’s Fondness for Spying Extends to the Banksters

In the wake of the Boston bombing, Mayor Bloomberg had some fairly alarming things to say about privacy.

“The people who are worried about privacy have a legitimate worry,” Mr. Bloomberg said during a press conference in Midtown. “But we live in a complex world where you’re going to have to have a level of security greater than you did back in the olden days, if you will. And our laws and our interpretation of the Constitution, I think, have to change.”

But apparently he — or at least his company — even has a cavalier approach to the privacy of those in his own class.

Goldman Sachs recently discovered that Bloomberg reporters were monitoring Goldman activity on their $20,000 a year Bloomberg terminals.

The ability to snoop on Bloomberg terminal users came to light recently when Goldman officials learned that at least one reporter at the news service had access to a wide array of information about customer usage, sources said.

In one instance, a Bloomberg reporter asked a Goldman executive if a partner at the bank had recently left the firm — noting casually that he hadn’t logged into his Bloomberg terminal in some time, sources added.

Goldman later learned that Bloomberg staffers could determine not only which of its employees had logged into Bloomberg’s proprietary terminals but how many times they had used particular functions, insiders said.

The matter raised serious concerns for the firm about how secure information exchanged through the terminals within the firm actually was — and if the privacy of their business strategy had been compromised.

“You can basically see how many times someone has looked up news stories or if they used their messaging functions,” said one Goldman insider.

[snip]

“Limited customer relationship data has long been available to our journalists, and has never included clients’ security-level data, position data, trading data or messages,” said Bloomberg spokesman Ty Trippet.

“In light of [Goldman’s] concern as well as a general heightened sensitivity to data access, we decided to disable journalist access to this customer relationship information for all clients,” he noted.

Now, normally I’d be laughing my ass off at MOTUs spying on MOTUs. Particularly the thought of MOTUs paying $20,000 a year for the privilege of being spied on.

But I am worried about what this will do for Bloomberg’s business model. Bloomberg News happens to do a lot of (freely-accessible) journalism, subsidized by MOTUs paying for these terminals. If MOTUs get squeamish, it might cut back on actual journalism.

For the moment, at least, it does confirm that MOTU reticence about surveillance has more to do with their belief that their most guarded activities aren’t watched than with a real disinterest in spying.

Update: See this Quartz article for a description of everything Bloomberg employees could snoop on.

Matty Moroun’s Bridge to Nowhere

There was a lot of chatter last night about how unsuccessful millionaires and billionaires have been at buying political seats for themselves, with Linda McMahon now having spent $100M to lose two elections in Connecticut. The exception–Mike Bloomberg in NYC–in a sense proves the rule, since he did it as an Independent.

But there’s another example of that rule which might be just as interesting going forward.

In MI, we had 6 statewide referenda this year: 3 pertaining to labor, 1 on renewable energy, 1 on taxes, and 1 effort by a local businessman, Matty Moroun, to cement his business monopoly in the state constitution.

Moroun owns the Ambassador Bridge, currently the only bridge from Detroit to Canada (there is a tunnel–which can’t carry commercial traffic–out of Detroit and another bridge crossing about 30 miles Northeast that is convenient from areas north of Detroit, like Southfield). Moroun’s bridge, which is the busiest trade border crossing in North America, is a big bottleneck (it’s not unusual for even cars to wait 45 minutes, and trucks often have longer waits). And it makes him rich.

Governor Snyder worked with Canada to craft another bridge plan that was publicly funded–largely by Canada. Seeing his cash cow threatened, Moroun used the referendum process to try to protect his monopoly. He paid signature gatherers and then spent $33 million on ads to pass an initiative that would require a referendum before building any publicly supported international bridge.

This proposal would:

  • Require the approval of a majority of voters at a statewide election and in each municipality where “new international bridges or tunnels for motor vehicles” are to be located before the State of Michigan may expend state funds or resources for acquiring land, designing, soliciting bids for, constructing, financing, or promoting new international bridges or tunnels.
  • Create a definition of “new international bridges or tunnels for motor vehicles” that means, “any bridge or tunnel which is not open to the public and serving traffic as of January 1, 2012.”

Moroun’s TV ads have been on for 6 months, and utterly dominated the campaign season (indeed, utterly dominated TV advertising generally). The bridge ads have been a running joke here in MI, though earlier polls showed it fairly close.

It failed, however, along with every other initiative (the closest one was the referendum affirming Snyder’s new Emergency Manager law).  Voters rejected it by a 60-40 margin.

There will be a lot of discussion about the super-rich trying to buy our political process. It has very rarely worked for individuals–not for Linda McMahon, not for Meg Whitman, not for Dick DeVos (though of course the Kochs have been better at buying politics, if not seats). But it’s not just political seats these very rich are trying to buy: Matt Moroun also treated out democratic process like his own personal investment game.

Thus far that effort failed. Let’s hope it stays that way.

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. Read more

Time to Start Profiling All the Dunkin’ Donuts

With the exception of the time CBS borrowed my post on the Iranian Jewish butchers profiled by the NYPD, the NY news outlets cheering the NYPD apparently haven’t actually looked closely at what the AP was reporting. The NY Post, the NYDN, they seem to blindly accept whatever Ray Kelly or Mike Bloomberg claim about the program, without checking.

Yesterday, the NYDN actually did some reporting. And they discovered that almost none of the businesses reported to be owned by Syrian Muslims actually were.

NYPD anti-terror detectives compiled lists of businesses, stores and mosques linked to Muslim New Yorkers with Syrian, Albanian and Egyptian roots.

But they didn’t do a very thorough job.

The owners of most of the establishments listed in the “Syrian Locations of Concern Report” told The Daily News Friday they are neither Syrian nor Muslim.

Though rather curiously, that didn’t stop the NYDN from doing an op-ed today claiming such files had nothing alarming–as if there’s nothing alarming about NYPD files riddled with errors.

Nevertheless, the sudden outbreak of reporting did have one interesting result: a new spin from NYPD spokesperson Paul Browne on what these reports were supposed to capture: not Muslim-owned businesses, but Muslim-frequented businesses.

Told of the discrepanies in the reports, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said the listed establishments were “frequented by” Syrian, Albanian and Egyptian Muslims.

Now, as I noted in my post showing how narrowly the NYPD had missed the hawala Faisal Shahzad used to fund his attack on Times Square, they actually missed some of the key locations: things like the Lowes where hawala operator Mohammad Younis worked or, perhaps even more problematic, the 7-11 where Younis had worked earlier with other recent Muslim immigrants, not long after he arrived in this country, which seems to have been where he met his friends.

The entire NYPD demographic set reads as if white people never frequent Muslim businesses (except for the Bianky Cafe on Coney Island Avenue, which “is patronized predominantly by young Caucasians”) and Muslims never frequent the same kind of generic American chains the 9/11 hijackers used when planning their attack.

The sole exception seems to prove the rule: the Suffolk set profiles the Dunkin’ Donuts in Seldon, describing a hopping business of people it judged were Bangladeshis coming over after Friday prayer. The Newark set profiles the Dunkin’ Donuts on South Orange, which is operated “by persons of Bangladeshi descent” but doesn’t appear to be in a particularly Bangladeshi neighborhood.

According to the NYPD (and we know they’re never wrong), in addition to a whole slew of Muslim cafes and halal butchers, Muslims also patronize Dunkin’ Donuts.

Just like most everyone else in the Northeast.

So why aren’t the Dunkin’ Donuts franchised by non-Bangladeshis listed? Why aren’t corporate-owned 7-11s in Muslim areas profiled?

Why has the NYPD decided it’s a smart idea to waste time and money profiling just businesses they believe (correctly or not) to be Muslim-owned that are frequented by Muslims (and occasionally, “young caucasians,” while ignoring the more generic American chains that tend to hire recent immigrants and would tend to attract people trying to avoid drawing attention to themselves?

Of course if the NYPD started rebranding American chains like Dunkin’ Donuts as terrorist hideouts, I would imagine the entire profiling program would end rather quickly.

NYT Finally Weighs in on CIA-on-the-Hudson

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.

NYPD’s Fearmongers Are Arguing It’s More Useful to Spy on 2nd Graders than Disrupt Real Plots

Chuck Schumer, the NYDN, and the NYPost keep up their attacks on the AP’s exposure of the NYPD’s spying program. Increasingly, NYPD’s fearmongers are getting cornered on the question of efficacy.

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.

[snip]

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.

Perspective matters.

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. Read more

“Terror” by Scare Quote

Ten invented or scare quotes. That’s what the NY Post employs in an effort to discredit the AP’s latest report on the CIA-on-the-Hudson, this time describing surveillance of Muslim college students extending across the Northeast:

“civil rights”

“gotcha”

“workplace violence”

“workplace violence”

“civil rights”

“racist”

“racist”

“students”

“oppressed minority”

“suspect pool”

The concepts of civil rights, racism, oppressed minorities, and suspect pools are bracketed, presumably marking them as facetious or illegitimate concepts.

The Pentagon, currently seeking the death penalty for Nidal Hasan’s attack on Fort Hood, is accused of treating the attack as “workplace violence.”

The 9/11 hijackers, who did in fact enroll in flight schools to learn how to turn passenger jets into missiles, are accused of just posing as “students,” presumably in an effort to suggest that young adult Muslims studying at colleges ranging from Yale to Laguardia Community College who were surveilled by the NYPD must also be posing too.

And it’s not just by using quotation marks that the Post invents its own reality.

It suggests the NYPD has stopped “countless” terrorist attacks, when the number of total attacks in the last decade was fewer than 20, and the two most important–Faisal Shahzad and Najibullah Zazi–the NYPD missed.

Closely watching wannabe jihadis not only at home but across the country and around the world, the NYPD has foiled countless terror operations,

It supports the claim that the targets of surveillance here are wannabe jihadis by suggesting that Mike Bloomberg and Ray Kelly are simply not telling the public the evidence justifying their profiling of innocent Muslims.

The AP story also breathlessly notes that “the latest documents mention no wrongdoing by any students,” even though “Kelly and Mayor Bloomberg repeatedly have said that the police only follow legitimate leads about suspected criminal activity.”

Was the AP born yesterday?

There’s always a gap between what public officials say to the “gotcha” media and what they actually must do — especially when it comes to terrorism. If officials could candidly talk about the daily reports they get about possible lethal jihadist activity, the country would be in a state of permanent panic.

Never mind that the AP has published at least two documents showing reports sent directly to Kelly reviewing surveillance that admits no underlying leads. The Post is willing to assert, presumably having seen less raw data than the AP, that there must be more terrorism there, terrorism worthy of permanent panic if only we knew.

Read more

NYDN: Census Now Mapping Your Back Hallways

A bunch of leaders in NYC’s Muslim community have declined Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s invitation to an interfaith breakfast because of the racial profiling done by the NYPD’s intelligence division.

The move is interesting for the press it has generated–which in turn, has also (presumably, as designed) focused new attention on the racial profiling itself

It’s interesting, too, for the obnoxious editorial written in response from the NYDN. Along with lecturing these Muslim leaders about what invitations they should accept, the NYDN claims that the NYPD had done no more than map out census data.

The plain and salutary fact is that the NYPD’s counterterrorism unit has done no more than use census data to develop a portrait of Muslim New York and then follow leads, some sent the city’s way from abroad via the CIA, when they demanded investigation.

Many a plot has been disrupted by this type of perfectly proper nonintrusive vigiliance.

I find the claim that this all came from census data alarming, given that the NYPD has actually cased out a bunch of Middle Eastern restaurants in the city, including details such as what back passages the restaurants have, as in these details about the Eastern Nights Cafe.

The restaurant consists of two stores next to each other, connected to each other from the back of the store. The restaurant also has a back yard. The restaurant has access to the basement; the access door is located on the far right of the store.

Note, too, that while NYDN might be speaking generally about the “many a plot” that has been disrupted by mapping the back hallways of NY restaurants, this surveillance has not only disrupted primarily aspirational plots, but it damaged the FBI investigation into the real plot Najibullah Zazi had planned, because one of the NYPD’s own informants tipped the Zazis off to the investigation.

And the invitation declination is interesting, finally, for the way the Muslim leaders framed this issue–as part of a larger choice on the part of the NYPD to neglect law enforcement while it engages in civil rights abuses not just of Muslims, but of people of color and Occupy Wall Street protestors.

Mayor Bloomberg, the extent of these civil rights violations is astonishing, yet instead of calling for accountability and the rule of law, you have thus far defended the NYPD’s misconduct. We, on the other hand, believe that such measures threaten the rights of all Americans, and deepen mistrust between our communities and law enforcement. We are not alone in our belief. Many New Yorkers continue to express a variety of concerns centered on a lack of law enforcement accountability in our city, from stop and frisk procedures in African American and Spanish-speaking communities, to the tactics used in the evacuation of Zuccotti Park.

That’s really what the NYPD surveillance is about: prioritizing the profiling of an entire community (even while periodically and repeatedly stopping and frisking totally innocent people of color), rather than investigating and solving actual crimes.