Brooklyn BookBeat: Book investigates NYPD’s Secret Spying Unit
From Touchstone Books
After the 9/11 attacks, most Americans were prepared to tolerate a more powerful, secretive government that kept a close watch on its citizens. However, as evidenced by the debate raging around the National Security Agency’s collection of vast amounts of telephone and Internet data, heightened security measures exact a price on civil liberties—and may not even be keeping the country safe.
“Enemies Within: Inside the NYPD’s Secret Spying Unit and bin Laden’s Final Plot Against America” (Sept. 3, 2013; Touchstone Books), by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman, follows the pursuit of Najibullah Zazi, a case which has been frequently cited by media, lawmakers, and administration officials as proof that government surveillance programs work and, through an investigation of the NYPD Intelligence Division’s controversial security tactics, raises tough questions about the effectiveness of measures taken to protect the United States from both real and imagined threats—particularly in its largest city.
Apuzzo and Goldman will discuss and sign copies of “Enemies Within” in Brooklyn on Sept. 3 (at BookCourt in Cobble Hill) and Sept. 4 (at BookMark Shoppe in Bay Ridge).
Six months after 9/11, New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly initiated a sweeping counter-terrorism plan to be implemented by NYPD Intel across the city’s five boroughs. A vast network of plainclothes officers and informants—known as “rakers” and “mosque crawlers”—was dispatched into Muslim neighborhoods to “gauge sentiment.” From recording sermons and eavesdropping on conversations at mosques to joining cricket leagues, infiltrating student groups, and chatting across halal deli counters, the NYPD would for years build files on huge numbers of innocent citizens, hoping to spot and thwart homegrown terrorists.
Yet, when it mattered most, these programs failed. Based on hundreds of previously unpublished secret NYPD internal memos and exclusive interviews with intelligence sources, “Enemies Within” follows the harrowing hours in 2009, as FBI agents and NYPD detectives on the city’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, officers from NYPD Intel, and law enforcement across the country track suspected terrorist Najibullah Zazi—the single greatest threat to U.S. domestic security since 9/11—as he makes his way from Denver to New York City, determined to launch an attack.
After years of spying, the NYPD knew where New York’s Muslims were—but they still didn’t know where the terrorists were. The NYPD’s many secret files offered no early warning about Zazi or his two would-be accomplices, though the NYPD had spied on their neighborhood restaurants, their mosque, and even the travel agency where Zazi and his coconspirators bought tickets to Pakistan, where he agreed to join al-Qaida. This stunning failure led to a breathtaking race to avert another devastating terrorist attack on U.S. soil.
“Enemies Within” asks “How safe are we? What do we sacrifice to feel safe? Who pays the ultimate price?”—providing an inside look at the complex and often contradictory state of counter-terrorism in America.
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The Sept. 3 event will begin at 7 p.m. BookCourt is located at 163 Court Street in Cobble Hill.
The Sept. 4 event will begin at 7 p.m. BookMark Shoppe is located at 8415 3rd Avenue in Bay Ridge.
Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman are investigative reporters for the Associated Press in Washington, D.C. They shared the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting for a series on the New York Police Department’s clandestine spying programs targeting American Muslims. Together, Apuzzo and Goldman have uncovered the location of an overseas CIA prison in Romania, revealed widespread cheating on FBI exams, and showed how the CIA’s haphazard disciplinary system resulted in promotions for officers who kidnapped and killed the wrong people. They have shared the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting, a George Polk Award, the Paul Tobenkin Memorial Award, and the Edgar A. Poe Award from the White House Correspondents’ Association.