The Associated Press’s Adam Goldman continues his jihad against the New York Police Department’s Intelligence Division. Following up on a previous, long article that alleged wrongdoing by the NYPD without providing much evidence of it, Goldman has a second story that essentially restates the alarmist premise of the first installment. Here is what Goldman has to say this time:
The Demographics Unit, a team of 16 officers speaking at least five languages, is the only squad of its kind known to be operating in the country.
Using census information and government databases, the NYPD mapped ethnic neighborhoods in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Rakers [i.e. undercover officers] then visited local businesses, chatting up store owners to determine their ethnicity and gauge their sentiment, the documents show. They played cricket and eavesdropped in the city’s ethnic cafes and clubs.
When the CIA would launch drone attacks in Pakistan, the NYPD would dispatch rakers to Pakistani neighborhoods to listen for angry rhetoric and anti-American comments, current and former officials involved in the program said.
The rakers were looking for indicators of terrorism and criminal activity, the documents show, but they also kept their eyes peeled for other common neighborhood sites such as religious schools and community centers.
The focus was on a list of 28 countries that, along with “American Black Muslim,” were considered “ancestries of interest.” Nearly all were Muslim countries.
To an average reader this sounds like precisely what the NYPD should be doing. The fact that the NYPD has created a larger cadre of foreign linguists than the FBI–and that it is utilizing those linguists to monitor possible terrorist activity before it explodes in our streets–is very much to its credit.
What, exactly, is the outrage here? That the NYPD is focusing its efforts on immigrants from primarily Muslim countries? Should the Intelligence Division be allocating its scarce resources to monitor Lutheran churches because an al-Qaeda bomber might be hiding among migrants from Minnesota? Or should it be monitoring immigrants from Somalia, Pakistan, and other countries that are hotbeds of anti-Western terrorism? The question answers itself–to anyone except a reporter in a quest for a Pulitzer. If the NYPD were trying to stop abortion-clinic bombings, it might well be advised to infiltrate fundamentalist churches; but if it’s worried about Islamist terrorism–as it should be–then it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that it should look in Muslim communities.
Based on the evidence presented so far, Goldman will have to try harder if he is to justify the outraged tone of his reports. I doubt many readers will share the hyperbolic reaction of Rep. Yvette Clarke, a Brooklyn Democrat who is so desperate for attention that she absurdly compares the NYPD’s innocuous monitoring activities to the detention of Japanese-Americans in World War II. Where exactly are the New York Gulags where Muslims are being locked up?
My reaction on reading about the NYPD’s activities was to wonder why more law enforcement agencies aren’t doing the same thing. If they did, we would all be safer.