You know that scene in every mediocre spy movie where the surveillance team finally busts the bad guys only to find out the bad guys were really a surveillance team for another agency? Yeah, that just happened:
He saw something. He said something. And he inadvertently uncovered a secret spying operation that the New York Police Department was running outside its jurisdiction.
In June 2009, a building superintendent at an apartment complex near the Rutgers University campus opened the door to unit 1076 to conduct an inspection. Tenants had been notified of the inspection weeks ago and the notice was still stuck to the door.
He turned his key, walked in and immediately knew something was wrong. A colleague called 911.
The caller, Salil Sheth, and his colleagues had stumbled upon one of the NYPD’s biggest secrets: a safe house, a place where undercover officers working well outside the department’s jurisdiction could lie low and coordinate surveillance.
Basically, while Mayor Bloomberg has been talking about inclusiveness and tolerance, his NYPD has been going outside New York to monitor Muslim businesses, religious organizations and people. Not people necessarily suspicious or connected with terrorist activity, mind you. Chris Christie, among others, has been critical since the NYPD doesn’t technically, you know, have authority outside their own city. And they are not, technically, supposed to be a covert anti-terrorism agency.
At the same time, Homeland Security has been telling all of us to look for Islamists under our beds (and sometimes in them). Anything suspicious is supposed to be reported. The logic is that a million false calls and inconveniences are justified if it results in Homeland Security ignoring warning from the fathers of men with bombs in their underwear.
I’m sure various security experts will emerge from the woodwork to tell us how this proves the system is working. But we should feel relieved, really. The threat level must be pretty low if the security agencies are being reduced to catching each other.