A Terrorist’s Guide to New York City
The left would like show jihadists how the cops prevent attacks.
The New York City Council is the distilled political essence of modern progressivism, which means it can be dangerous to public health and safety. This summer tourists can see more New Yorkers relieving their bladders in public thanks to the council’s reduction in penalties for crimes against public order, and now the council wants to expose the city’s antiterror secrets.
A new bill would require the New York Police Department to disclose and describe all “surveillance technology,” which it defines as “equipment, software, or system capable of, or used or designed for, collecting, retaining, processing, or sharing audio, video, location, thermal, biometric, or similar information.” The cops would have to post this information online annually and respond to public comments.
The effort is backed by such anti-antiterror stalwarts as the New York Civil Liberties Union and the Brennan Center. Manhattan Democrat Daniel Garodnick, a co-sponsor, says the measure would enhance public trust by giving citizens more knowledge about policing techniques.
We’ll see how long that trust lasts if the bill makes it easier for terrorists to thwart or evade the NYPD’s antiterror methods. That’s the legitimate worry of police who rely on technology and surveillance to prevent mass murder. A jihadist bombed Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood as recently as September and the department maintains on average three or four active terrorist investigations at any one time. John Miller, the NYPD’s counterterror chief, says police have foiled at least 25 major terror attacks since 9/11.
New York’s cops are as respectful of privacy as any in the country, and they need a court order to conduct searches or track a cellphone. They also comply with the court-ordered Handschu guidelines that impose additional due-process burdens.
An NYPD internal committee reviews these cases along with an external, civilian representative, who is currently former federal Judge Stephen Robinson. As if this weren’t enough, in 2014 the city council established an inspector general for the NYPD. The miracle is that the cops have been able to keep America safe despite all of this bureaucratic oversight and political second-guessing.
New York remains a pre-eminent terror target because of its size and importance as a symbol of American culture and commerce. The recent attacks in Britain show the jihadist threat to open societies hasn’t abated, and democracies need tools to defend themselves without offering terrorists a road map to thwart them.