NYPD’s “mini-CIA” head slams FBI counterterror work

Reports have blamed the NYPD surveillance apparatus for missing a 2009 terror plot; David Cohen blames the feds

Topics: Matt Apuzzo, adam goldman, David Cohen, mini-CIA, intelligence, Najibullah Zazi, Counterterrorism, Terrorism, New York, NYPD, FBI, ,

NYPD's "mini-CIA" head slams FBI counterterror work (Credit: AP)

In their newly released book detailing the history of a covert “mini-CIA” within the NYPD, Pulitzer Prize-winning AP reporters Matt Apuzzo and Goldman show how the vast police surveillance apparatus in New York failed to catch the plan of Afghan-American al-Qaida operative Najibullah Zazi to bomb the New York subway system, who was eventually thwarted by federal authorities.

“He was right under the NYPD’s nose and they missed him,” Goldman told me for an interview about his book, “Enemies Within” (published here earlier this week.)

But now, the head of the NYPD’s covert intelligence division (largely made public by Apuzzo and Goldman’s work) is pushing back. “They [the FBI] fucking let explosives into New York City,” Cohen told the Daily Beast, decrying the federal efforts to track and stop Zazi.

But, as HuffPo’s Matt Sledge highlights, and “Enemies Within” reports, it was the New York Port Authority police, not the FBI, that let Zazi’s car enter the city.

To repeat what Apuzzo told me, the NYPD Intel unit that specifically engaged in preemptive policing with scant regard for First and Fourth Amendment protections, failed to do the very thing it proposed to do: Fish out threats like Zazi:

At every turn, these [NYPD] programs were built specifically to catch someone like Zazi, an al-Qaida trained bomber who was coming up out of New York City to bomb the subways. At every turn, these programs failed. At every single turn, they had infiltrated his mosque, they had turned his imam into an informant, they had infiltrated his student co-conspirator group. They were in the travel agency, they had done surveillance of the travel agency where they’d bought the tickets to go to Pakistan. They were in the YMCA around the corner from his house. There was no shortage of surveillance

Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Burger King Japan

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.

    Elite Daily/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    McDonald's Black Burger: Because the laws of competition say that once Burger King introduces a black cheeseburger, it's only a matter of time before McDonald's follows suit. You still don't have to eat it.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Arby's Meat Mountain: The viral off-menu product containing eight different types of meat that, on second read, was probably engineered by Arby's all along. Horrific, regardless.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.

    Michele Parente/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Boston Pizza's Pizza Cake: The people's choice winner of a Canadian pizza chain's contest whose real aim, we'd imagine, is to prove that there's no such thing as "too far." Currently in development.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    7-Eleven's Doritos Loaded: "For something decadent and artificial by design," wrote one impassioned reviewer, "it only tasted of the latter."

  • Recent Slide Shows


Loading Comments...