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DOJ and New York Police Department Fight Over Wiretapping:
The New York Times reports:
  An effort by the New York Police Department to get broader latitude to eavesdrop on terrorism suspects has run into sharp resistance from the Justice Department in a bitter struggle that has left the police commissioner and the attorney general accusing each other of putting the public at risk.
  The Police Department, with the largest municipal counterterrorism operation in the country, wants the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to loosen their approach to the federal law that governs electronic surveillance. But federal officials have refused to relax the standards, and have said requests submitted by the department could actually jeopardize surveillance efforts by casting doubt on their legality.
fortyninerdweet (mail):
Historically, patterned after JEH's own personality quirks, the feds have always taken the position whatever "lesser" agencies learn on their own concerning criminal activity is to be shared equally, across the board, but whatever the government learns themselves is their's and their's alone.

The problem is further exacerbated because the feds are less than half as clever as they think themselves to be and end up wasting far too much criminal "ore" as they work the mines of the justice system - so to speak. But it is ever thus.
11.20.2008 2:24am
Oren:
The mandate for the NYPD ought never to have been expanded to play any role in antiterrorism. It never made any sense to me, either practically or abstractly.
11.20.2008 10:07am
cboldt (mail):
-- The mandate for the NYPD ought never to have been expanded to play any role in antiterrorism. --
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It's not just NYPD. See Multi-State Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange, and the general approach to detecting and deterring terrorism:

The [2007 Homeland Security] bill, which still must be approved once again by the full House and Senate, makes a major change in the way state homeland security grants are distributed. It cut the guaranteed minimum grant each state would get to about $1.9 million this year from $3.8 million, .That allows Homeland Security officials to distribute more discretionary grants to states where the threat and consequences of a terror strike are deemed greatest.


I think the NYPD has a legitimate complaint. They should be able to use the same surveillance authority that any other government agency has.
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I don't quite understand how a non-court entity is blocking NYPD requests for surveillance.
11.20.2008 10:31am
fortyninerdweet (mail):
I agree with Oren in principle. The problem, though, is what then do locals "do" with terrorist-tilted intelligence they develop? Our experience as a nation since at least 1941 has been feds rarely accept the bonafides of info provided by "lesser" authorities. Again, it is a mindset thing. It wasn't invented here so it has much less value.

Thus over time reams and reams of "stuff" is forever shunted aside and cops seeing this happen look for other avenues for doing their jobs. "To Serve and To Protect" takes on special meaning when it involves outside threats, doesn't it?
11.20.2008 12:59pm
zippypinhead:
What I glean from the article is that (a) the NYPD Intelligence Division conducts anti-terrorist ops entirely independent of (and not very well-coordinated with) the normal Joint Terrorism Task Force channels, even though the NY-area JTTF has some 150 NYPD officers detailed to it; and (b) in its independent operations, the NYPD ID is chafing at having to meet the same DOJ review standards for FISA warrant applications that the FBI, JTTF, and every other counter-terror operation must meet. I see no accusations that the NYPD ID is being handled differently than other agencies in the FISA application review process.

Sorry, but I have no sympathy if the NYPD Intel Div. wants special treatment amounting to a lower review hurdle for its warrant applications, that nobody else gets. If they want to get their stuff before the FISA court, they're have to expect the same level of review, and to be held to the same standards, as everyone else. And if the DOJ review process is unreasonably strict in general, I'm sure the FBI and all the other counter-terror LE parties would have been making a huge (and inevitably public) stink about the situation already.
11.20.2008 2:25pm
Oren:
fortyninerdweet, it's not a matter of "lesser", it's a matter of proper scope. Local police operate under authority of the various States, who are charged with establishing domestic order. Antiterrorism is foreign matter, properly under the scope of the Federal government.

This would be more convincing if the Feds got out of the domestic-law enforcement arena, but that's another topic.
11.20.2008 3:38pm
Oren:

I agree with Oren in principle. The problem, though, is what then do locals "do" with terrorist-tilted intelligence they develop

Where the heck are they getting this information to begin with? They ought to do their jobs enforcing State law and keep their heads to themselves.

If they give the FBI a hot tip they gleaned by happenstance and the Feds ignore it, the Feds ought to be disciplined sharply. The answer is not to create duplicitous layers of law enforcement.
11.20.2008 4:07pm
cboldt (mail):
-- The answer is not to create duplicitous layers of law enforcement. --
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I think you mean duplicative (or overlapping), but duplicitous gave me a chuckle.
11.20.2008 5:48pm
whit:

Where the heck are they getting this information to begin with? They ought to do their jobs enforcing State law and keep their heads to themselves.



this shows a very ivory tower understanding (not surprising) of how intelligence gathering works.

a street cop, who actually is on the street level - every day, talking to people, observing patterns, and having a keen eye - certainly has opportunity to get this type of information, assuming it's happening in his area.

the smallest cues, any good cop knows, often lead to the biggest cases. the entire french connection case (not terrorism, but a hy00ge international drug op) iirc germinated from some smart street cop observing somebody throwing around way more money than he should have been in a bar.

i have a problem with local law enforcement (NYPD included) exceeding their jurisdiction (just as i have a problem with the feds intruding on stuff like local mj clinics, etc.), but the idea that local PD's whether specifically tasked with it or not, are not going to be privy to picking up this kind of info... is simply insane.

local PD's fwiw, have significantly ramped up their anti-terrorism training for local PD's.

when and if a terrorist incident comes up (inchoate or not), it's quite likely it's a beat cop or savvy detective who's going to become aware of it, not yer local Fan Belt Inspector.
11.20.2008 6:05pm
Eric Jablow (mail):
This article by Judith Miller in the Sumer 2007 City Journal, On the Front Line in the War on Terrorism, may illuminate the controversy.
11.20.2008 8:07pm
fortyninerdweet (mail):
Thanks, Eric, for the link. I'll read it soon. Whit's comments re: police activities are perceptive. He and I see much the same things, but please don't assume I'm a local police apologist.

Oren, I think the big disconnect is feds generally take longer and look at the bigger picture, while locals are simply trying to keep something bad from happening now, in their own baliwick. They have different goals, thus conflicting results. Imo.

I'm sure you're not saying locals should ignore incidental intelligence garnered regarding potential criminal (or terrorist) activities in other jurisdictions. Obviously the best solution would be for locals to turn the info over to the "proper" entity. But what is one's duty as a sworn officer if one knows from experience the entity will, in 99 out of 100 cases, not act in time? And thus innocents might die? I hold the feds have brought this situation on themselves. But of course it might just be me.

I'd much rather see a solution along the lines you've suggested. But imo to do so requires a revolutionary change in fed LE culture. Do you think the new AG might have the expertise to do this?
11.20.2008 9:17pm
Oren:

I think you mean duplicative (or overlapping), but duplicitous gave me a chuckle.

Whoops. Mea culpa.


a street cop, who actually is on the street level - every day, talking to people, observing patterns, and having a keen eye - certainly has opportunity to get this type of information, assuming it's happening in his area.
And the odds that, in the course of these activities, he learns a single quantum of useful information about bona fide terrorism is basically zero. Mafia, drug, prostitution rings, I can see happening, but not actual international terrorism (which was the topic, I thought).



local PD's fwiw, have significantly ramped up their anti-terrorism training for local PD's.

when and if a terrorist incident comes up (inchoate or not), it's quite likely it's a beat cop or savvy detective who's going to become aware of it, not yer local Fan Belt Inspector.

Yes, they should be trained to detect basic plots-in-action and emergency response. Proactive intelligence gathering is just different in kind and doesn't follow.




I'm sure you're not saying locals should ignore incidental intelligence garnered regarding potential criminal (or terrorist) activities in other jurisdictions. Obviously the best solution would be for locals to turn the info over to the "proper" entity. But what is one's duty as a sworn officer if one knows from experience the entity will, in 99 out of 100 cases, not act in time? And thus innocents might die? I hold the feds have brought this situation on themselves. But of course it might just be me.

I cannot imagine the Feds ignoring credible evidence of an imminent attack. More likely, the local cop hears some bullshit, add a little bravado and you have the workings of a pretty good internal monologue.

Of course, it goes without saying that if the Feds are incompetent, the solution is to fix them, not to duplicate their function in yet another incompetent agency. One good antiterror group is worth more than all the local pds put together (not because the local pd are no good, but because the problem is global in scope).

Oh, and whit, given that my state just legalized herb, I would be very keen to see the FBI and DEA leave us to our own devices. Alas, somehow I don't imagine we'll be toking on the streets of Boston anytime soon. . .
11.21.2008 12:12am
whit:

Oh, and whit, given that my state just legalized herb, I would be very keen to see the FBI and DEA leave us to our own devices. Alas, somehow I don't imagine we'll be toking on the streets of Boston anytime soon. . .



for the record, i think pot is hella lame.

but i think it's WAY lamer that the feds keep violating the principles of federalism and go after MJ clinics, etc.

about the only policy difference between obama and mccain, where i agreed with obama was in his promise to stop the feds from raiding MJ clinics.

fwiw, what state just legalized herb?
11.21.2008 12:16am
whit:
oh, ... boston = MA

duh
11.21.2008 12:17am
Oren:
Yeah, it remains to be seen whether the governor's council or legislature will try to gut the initiative, which is pretty strong in its literal terms.
11.21.2008 10:45am
Hrm:

And the odds that, in the course of these activities, he learns a single quantum of useful information about bona fide terrorism is basically zero. Mafia, drug, prostitution rings, I can see happening, but not actual international terrorism (which was the topic, I thought).


That doesn't make a lot of sense though. If you are an international terrorist (I assume you are saying international to differentiate from domestic terrorist ala McVeigh) and you are operating in the US, you still have to live somewhere. If you happen to move into a neighborhood with observant local cops, there's a likelyhood they can catch your mistakes. For instance, living above your observed means. Sure, they may initially peg you as being involved with drugs, but at that point you've popped up on their radar.

The IRA is a great example. Boston cops uncovered IRA bag drops on multiple occasions back when the IRA was mining Boston and it's surrounds for cash to operate. And we weren't even really worried about the IRA per se, the cops just found some people they initially thought were members of organized crime (and some actually had real ties) that turned out to be something more. So that beats your odds, and it's already happened :)

Let's remember that most of the terrorists out there aren't the typical spy movie villain. It's likely that they make a lot of mistakes. I can't see why an observant cop who knows his neighborhood wouldn't catch some of this. And if we're now training cops to ensure when they see these anomalies that they report them up the line, there seems a likelyhood that we may again catch something if it happens.
11.22.2008 11:54am