On criticisms that the NYPD’s Demographics Unit was violating the rights of Muslims, Silber counters: “Plainclothes officers of the Demographics Unit were deployed for this mission. They went into neighborhoods that had heavy concentrations of populations from the ‘countries of interest’ and walked around, purchased a cup of tea or coffee, had lunch and observed the individuals in the public establishments they entered. This is an important point: Only public locations were visited. Doing so was perfectly within the purview of the NYPD.”
Let’s understand this clearly. Critics of the program, apparently including the Pulitzer committee, object to police being in public places, observing public situations. Where are they supposed to be? In some kind of game show silent tank? Unable to deal with crime or acts of war until they have already occurred? This is madness. It’s not a game show; it doesn’t have to be fair.
On criticisms that the NYPD had no real results to show for its program: “the Demographics Unit was critical in identifying the Islamic Books and Tapes bookstore in Brooklyn as a venue for radicalization. Information the unit collected about the store provided a predicate for an investigation that thwarted a 2004 plot against the Herald Square subway station. The unit also played a role in forming the initiation of an investigation that led to the 2008 identification ofAbdel Hameed Shehadeh, a New Yorker who was arrested and is currently facing federal charges for allegedly lying about his plans to travel to Afghanistan in order to kill U.S. servicemen.”