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December 22, 2005
The Gray Lady -- Captain Obvious

First the New York Times "discovers" that the NSA intercepts communications as a key part of its national charter, stirring up a hornet's nest only to find out that intercepting international communications is legal. Next, the editors "discover" that the FBI conducts counterterrorism investigations to combat domestic ecoterrorism involving political-action groups that might channel funds to the lunatics that commit bombings and arsons around the nation. Again, the Times doesn't find any illegal activity, but just breathlessly reports that the government conducts surveillance on people to find the criminals.

Now the Gray Lady keeps drilling down into the epidemic of law-enforcement competency by discovering that New York's finest goes undercover at protests to ensure that the demonstrations remain peaceful and do not front for domestic or foreign terrorist groups:

Undercover New York City police officers have conducted covert surveillance in the last 16 months of people protesting the Iraq war, bicycle riders taking part in mass rallies and even mourners at a street vigil for a cyclist killed in an accident, a series of videotapes show.

In glimpses and in glaring detail, the videotape images reveal the robust presence of disguised officers or others working with them at seven public gatherings since August 2004.

The officers hoist protest signs. They hold flowers with mourners. They ride in bicycle events. At the vigil for the cyclist, an officer in biking gear wore a button that said, "I am a shameless agitator." She also carried a camera and videotaped the roughly 15 people present.

Beyond collecting information, some of the undercover officers or their associates are seen on the tape having influence on events. At a demonstration last year during the Republican National Convention, the sham arrest of a man secretly working with the police led to a bruising confrontation between officers in riot gear and bystanders.

The latter incident involved a sham arrest and a bruising confrontation, but what the article describes later doesn't give any indication that one naturally followed from the other. The police apparently arrested their agent in order to get him out of the protest without blowing his cover, and the people protesting with him took it upon themselves to prevent the arrest -- a rather stupid thing to do.

This series of articles show just how much that leftists want to return to a 9/10 world, where the evils of society comprise the government agents that want to protect the US from terrorists instead of the terrorists themselves. New Yorkers, at least those at the Times, appear to have forgotten why a huge gaping hole exists in Lower Manhattan. They either forgot or stopped caring about "connecting the dots", a phrase that they used to castigate these same security forces for not divining the intent of Mohammed Atta and al-Qaeda prior to 9/11 -- but now resolutely oppose and expose the very methodology which would allow them to see the 'dots' in the first place.

The Times and its readers have not seen such a fatuous and self-defeating crusade by the Paper of Record since its obsession with Augusta's Masters Tournament. What will come next -- an exposé on garbage collectors that come onto your property to steal your waste? Metal detectors on public property conducting warrantless searches for handguns and other weapons? The possibilities on this series by Bill Keller's crew have no limits but the overactive imagination.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 22, 2005 6:17 AM

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