NYPD Spent Years Spying On Muslims, Generated Exactly Zero Leads

from the security-theater dept

We just wrote about yet another (in a long line) of manufactured terrorist plots, in which the FBI creates its own terrorist plot to arrest anyone who can be coaxed into going along for the ride, even if they had no interest or ability to push the plot forward on their own. In that case, it was even more ridiculous, because they couldn't even find anyone willing to go along with the plot -- and the main "suspect" actually alerted the FBI to the informant who was trying to coax him into taking part in a plot (which didn't stop him from being arrested, even if the case was eventually dropped).

Of course, the FBI is not alone in its incredibly ham-fisted anti-terrorism efforts in which the focus seems to be much more about someone's religious leanings, rather than any actual interest in creating terror. The NY Police Department got plenty of attention for deciding to build their own local versions of the FBI and CIA to try to catch terrorists. That link describes the NYPD as a sort of new "elite" intelligence agency, hiring people out of other intelligence agencies and then placing agents around the globe to try to beat the FBI and CIA at their own game.

Back at home, apparently this included following on the FBI's tactic of assuming that "brown skin = terrorist." As such, they've spent the past few years spying on "Muslim neighbrhoods" throughout New York (with help from the CIA), sending undercover agents and informants into Muslim groups and organizations:
The Demographics Unit is at the heart of a police spying program, built with help from the CIA, which assembled databases on where Muslims lived, shopped, worked and prayed. Police infiltrated Muslim student groups, put informants in mosques, monitored sermons and catalogued every Muslim in New York who adopted new, Americanized surnames.

Police hoped the Demographics Unit would serve as an early warning system for terrorism. And if police ever got a tip about, say, an Afghan terrorist in the city, they'd know where he was likely to rent a room, buy groceries and watch sports.
How useful has it been? Apparently not at all. Not a single lead has come out of the program. Not one.

I know this is a crazy thought, but perhaps violating the privacy of tons of people just because of the color of their skin or their religion, isn't the best (or even "a") way to stop terrorists.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    SujaOfJauhnral (profile), Aug 21st, 2012 @ 12:41pm

    violating the privacy of tons of people just because of the color of their skin or their religion, isn't the best (or even "a") way to stop terrorists.

    But it is "a" way to become a terrorist.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    Josef Anvil (profile), Aug 21st, 2012 @ 12:43pm

    Duh!

    I've said it over and over. The largest terrorist organization which directly targets the United States is the KKK. The NYPD is looking in the wrong place for terrorists.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    Ima Fish (profile), Aug 21st, 2012 @ 12:45pm

    "I know this is a crazy thought..."

    But if we stop fighting terrorism, the terrorist will win! Won't somebody think of the children! And some other third thing!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    gorehound (profile), Aug 21st, 2012 @ 12:47pm

    Re: Duh!

    White Power/Hate Groups are a big problem.But an even bigger problem is this story and all it implies.
    Violating people just because of their Religion and/or the Color of their skin is disgusting.
    Who is next in line ? Jews,Pagans, Buddhists ? Maybe anyone who came from Canada ?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    blaktron (profile), Aug 21st, 2012 @ 12:50pm

    Re: Re: Duh!

    Canadians are a lot more likely to attack the US than Muslims are. They have an iron-hard code of ethics that forbids violence under any circumstances.

    We have hockey.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 21st, 2012 @ 12:51pm

    Re:

    And some other third thing!

    This seems to be trending towards "Motherfucking Eagles".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 21st, 2012 @ 12:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: Duh!

    I'm convinced Disney bought Canada a while back and is planning a strike against the US. The bombs will have beloved characters painted on them so no one will try to stop it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    icon
    Ima Fish (profile), Aug 21st, 2012 @ 12:57pm

    Re: Re:

    Oh, I thought of one. If we're weak on terrorism, the child pornographers will win!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    silverscarcat (profile), Aug 21st, 2012 @ 12:57pm

    Re:

    "But if we stop fighting terrorism, the terrorist will win!"

    You know, the next time someone says that, I'm going to point out "they already did".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    Zakida Paul (profile), Aug 21st, 2012 @ 1:17pm

    One thing the US authorities to well

    I turn peaceful, violent people into blood thirsty terrorists through blanket surveillance and victimisation.

    Will they learn from this? Bollocks they will.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Aug 21st, 2012 @ 1:20pm

    Duh

    How useful has it been? Apparently not at all. Not a single lead has come out of the program. Not one.

    The NYPD has completely suppressed terrorism. I say that's a tremendous success.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 21st, 2012 @ 1:27pm

    "I've said it over and over. The largest terrorist organization which directly targets the United States is the KKK. The NYPD is looking in the wrong place for terrorists."

    But white people don't commit terrorist attacks! They just commit mass shootings in very populated areas (like movie theaters, or college campuses, or grocery stores a local politician is meeting some voters at)! Or kill people simply because they disagree with them on politics (like the guy who shot that abortion doctor, or the guy who shot the guard at the Family Research Council)!

    Ok, killing people over political disagreements is 'technically' domestic terrorism, using fear and violence to accomplish your political goals just like Bin Laden did... but domestic terrorism isn't terrorism, because the media never calls it that! The media says we only have to worry about terrorism from foreigners, or people who are!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 21st, 2012 @ 1:27pm

    Well it's such a failure that they may just scrap the program... not holding my breath though.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 21st, 2012 @ 1:28pm

    Opps, hit post too soon. Met to say "Or people who are close enough to foreign" at the end (to reply 14).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 21st, 2012 @ 1:57pm

    at least those Muslims shouldn't feel singled out now. all US citizens are spied on, not just in New York, so everyone are being treated the same!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    icon
    velox (profile), Aug 21st, 2012 @ 1:59pm

    Re:

    Governmental bureaucracies such as the NYPD derive their funding through the whims of politicians. These bueaucracies know it is essential to be doing what politicians consider to be *important* to ensure their department's wants and needs are covered in the budget for the next fiscal year.
    So long as politi-critters want to seen as 'fighting terrorists to keep the public safe', then then law enforcement will be 'actively fighting terror' - regardless of whether there is any evidence on the street that such programs are necessary or even helpful.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    SAG, Aug 21st, 2012 @ 2:59pm

    Re:

    Killing people for a political reason is at the core of what terrorism means. Anything else is simply murder...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 21st, 2012 @ 3:29pm

    What about all the white terrorists ... Columbine, the Colorado shooters, all the serial killers, etc...

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120723/00374519790/uk-wont-extradite-terrorists-if-you- build-site-that-helps-people-watch-tv.shtml#c619

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120729/193741 19870/hollywood-made-him-do-it-two-more-theories-aurora-shooter.shtml#c329

    Why doesn't the feds spend more time investigating them, they seem to be much more likely engage in terrorist activities even without the FBI's encouragement.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 21st, 2012 @ 3:51pm

    Re:

    Because they're not trying to stop terrorism, they're trying to look like they're trying to stop terrorism.
    Of course, they're not doing a good job of that either, otherwise we would've even be having this conversation...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    icon
    Keii (profile), Aug 21st, 2012 @ 3:56pm

    One of these days we're going to manufacture a threat that we can't stop.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 21st, 2012 @ 4:33pm

    Re:

    Columbine, the Colorado shooters, all the serial killers


    Not all mass-murderers are terrorists. Terrorism is a tactic that is used in an attempt to cause political change. If you're just shooting/bombing/whatever people because you're crazy or angry, you're not a terrorist. Just a dangerous lunatic.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Faceless Minion, Aug 21st, 2012 @ 4:36pm

    Re: Duh!

    Screw the KKK; the largest terrorist organization that directly targets US Citizens is our own bloody government at this point.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 21st, 2012 @ 5:04pm

    Re: Re:

    I'm not sure I agree with that statement because the killing isn't the point, the key goal is to create fear in the targeted population so that it stops the hated activity (performing abortions, being brown, voting democrat). Threats of non-lethal violence, acts under colour of authority, and even the threat to be added to a 'watch list' which receives greater scrutiny for membership in a group or acts can be terrorism. Killing people for terrorist reasons just happens to be more visible than the other acts and one that many people don't justify as being acceptable the way they do other terrorist acts.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    Danny (profile), Aug 21st, 2012 @ 6:09pm

    I have a dream

    Someday, if you will allow me to dream, we will have a black president or a black attorney general and this pointless race profiling will stop.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 21st, 2012 @ 9:29pm

    Re: Re:

    The two are not mutually exclusive.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    icon
    Liz (profile), Aug 22nd, 2012 @ 1:00am

    Re: Duh

    Oh, thank goodness! Now they can focus on the Super Big Gulps from 7-11!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    F!, Aug 22nd, 2012 @ 1:14am

    "The Convert"

    This American Life covered this exact story a couple of weeks ago. Very interesting, if somewhat unsettling, story:
    http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/471/the-convert

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    F!, Aug 22nd, 2012 @ 1:28am

    Re: "The Convert"

    Hah! I see this was already covered in an earlier article - oops! Guess that's what I get for reading through the articles in reverse order of publication... ;)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2012 @ 1:56am

    Re: Re: Re:

    the key goal is to create fear in the targeted population

    Exactly. It's not called TERRORism for nothing. Deaths aren't the end goal. Inducing fear of death/harm is.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2012 @ 2:45am

    Re: "The Convert"

    Two different stories bub. One takes place in California, the other in New York

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2012 @ 2:46am

    Re: "The Convert"

    Two different stories bub. One takes place in California, the other in New York

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    relghuar, Aug 22nd, 2012 @ 2:55am

    ...isn't the best (or even "a") way to stop terrorists.

    But it certainly IS an excellent reason to say "I'm doing something to stop terrorists!" ;-) because everyone insists that "something has to be done"....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Aug 22nd, 2012 @ 3:06am

    The threat is way smaller than the mainstream media paints. Can we scrap the TSA and start fresh now that we found out this obvious truth, please?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    icon
    btrussell (profile), Aug 22nd, 2012 @ 3:20am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Duh!

    When did China buy Disney?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2012 @ 3:47am

    Re: Re: Re:

    But in the above cited cases they are.

    Also, I love how short-sighted everyone is, yes, white people with guns in clubs were viewed as potential terrorists and investigated by the feds for quite some time after the Oklahoma City Bombing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Michael, Aug 22nd, 2012 @ 5:46am

    I see the government's war on freedom and privacy is alive and well.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    icon
    weneedhelp (profile), Aug 30th, 2012 @ 12:15pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Oh yeah that Tim guy, who acted alone, and got bombs placed in the Federal building, all by himself.

    You government has no problems finding terrorists, all they have to do is look in the mirror:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKsQKc2eP-8

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This