NYPD’s Inflated Counter-terrorism Record – and its NJ Muslim Surveillance

Pulitzer Prize-winning ProPublica, the non-profit news source that produces investigative journalism in the public interest, is reporting that NYPD inflated its own counterterrorism record in the years since planes flew into the World Trade Center. Read ProPublica’s report.

What does that have to do with New Jersey? I’ll tell you.

Sometimes what isn’t true is repeated so often by people in authority that it takes on a power greater than the truth it subsumes. NYPD credited itself with thwarting 14 major terrorist plots since 9/11. That hyped claim, now unraveled by ProPublica, was then repeated – in Newsweek, by members of Congress, by Mayor Bloomberg, by Police Commissioner Ray Kelly himself – and commonly accepted as truth. And it never was truth. Was NYPD’s self-amplified reputation as the most important counter-terrorism operation in the country used to convince New Jersey law enforcement that it was cool to snoop on ordinary Muslims in this state? Did Chris Christie, then the chief federal law enforcement officer in New Jersey as U.S. Attorney, get that call and that pitch from a cocksure NYPD? His account of what he was advised of has differed to include both I was not informed and I do not recall. We’ll probably never know if this got Christie’s green-light. But if it did, it’s worth noting that NYPD’s puffed-up war against terror image so closely matched the puffed-up terror-fightin’ image the Bush White House cultivated. Young Christie was a satellite of that White House.

You have to wonder. We didn’t know any of this before Associated Press documented NYPD’s Muslim surveillance in a Pulitzer Prize-winning a 22-part series, and then ProPublica tracked NYPD’s self-amplified record on counter-terrorism. Both, beautiful jobs of investigative journalism.

What else don’t we know? The Bush White House and its war profiteers took advantage of our fears after 9/11 to redirect our fears – cherry-picking intel, Colin Powell’s UN briefing, Condoleezza and her mushroom cloud – to justify their war against Iraq. To do that, they had to convince the gullible that all Muslims were the same and we should fear them all. Here in Hunterdon, nearly every politician in this county clapped for a group that sang a cappella about killing towelheads, and only one walked out. Bush voodoo worked on people.

Who did the NYPD tell when they crossed the river to spy on Jersey people? If they told the chief federal law enforcement officer in New Jersey – now governor – given his loyalty to Bush’s chickenhawk handlers and their terror-fightin’ facade, would he have sputtered the insults about Ray Kelly and the NYPD that he does now? Or seen allies? He was Bush administration’s guy in Jersey. What if they did come to him – he says he can’t recall – what would Chris Christie, U.S. Attorney 2002-2008, have done. You know, if he did know they were coming to spy on Muslims here?  

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