tv Open Phones with Matt Apuzzo CSPAN October 27, 2013 7:15pm-7:36pm EDT
city of the rockies because of that. ♪ ♪ >> spend next weekend exploring montana state capitol is booktv and american history tv look at the history and literary life of helena on c-span2 and c-span3. next on booktv from the 13th annual national book festival on the national mall in washington d.c. and interview and viewer phonecalls with pulitzer prize winning investigative reporter matt apuzzo who discusses his looks up five inside the nypd's secret spying unit and bin laden's final plot against america. this is about 20 minutes.
>> "africana" what is the nypd intel unit? >> the intelligence division is like nothing else that exists in american policing. after 9/11 ray kelly the police commissioner and the nypd decided he couldn't rely on the federal government to keep the city safe anymore and he needed his own intelligence division. he did something that has never been done. he recruited a guy by the name of david colon to run the intelligence division. david cullen was the former deputy director of operations for the nypd. basic leg he was the tops by and it was like something out of a movie. out of retirement -- recruited out of retirement to start something new at the nypd. why are we taking somebody from the cia who is trained to subvert laws and operate where the constitution doesn't apply and putting him in the new york state --
city police department. to radical moment in american policing where they say we are not going to focus on solving crimes for making cases. we are just going to be here to gather intelligence and be a mini-cia on the hudson kind of thing. it gets this incrediblincredibl e decision that we never really understood the significance of for many years. but they did is they took a look at all the 9/11 hijackers portfolios their files and they looked for commonalities and they looked for things that would say cheese have we noticed this along the way? maybe we could've could have done something. they created a team of plainclothes detectives south asian and arab descent and sent them out into the neighborhoods into muslim neighborhoods to basically eavesdrop and write down what they heard. where were the egyptians coffee shops or wear what a moroccan
get a haircut or people of palestinian descent where did they watch soccer? they created this gigantic ethnic map of the city and that was really the foundation of what has been a 10 year extremely secret program that the nypd has been running. >> has this 10 year program been successful? >> our book looks at the most significant terror plot that al qaeda unleashed on new york city since 9/11. this is a plot that one of bin laden's top deputies hatched and set in motion and it was a plot to bomb the new york city subways in 2009. what we found in with the book shows in the form of a thriller really is this the plot is unfolding the nypd has a million opportunities -- the secret program 7 million opportunities to catch saucy and his friends and at every term the programs fail.
>> who is nazibullah zazi? >> he is the central antagonists of this vote. zazi is this kid an afghan american who came here as a child was a westernized kid. he was supporting the invasion of afghanistan after 9/11 let a lot of kids who fall out of the system dropped out of high school and became disenchanted and a little bit angry and then turned to the internet and became radicalized by futures like anwar al-awlaki. he became convinced that like the russians before us that we in the united states have become occupiers and invaders in afghanistan and he and two friends decided they were going to go and fight with the taliban. we are going to fight with the taliban and so what did they do? they bought plane tickets to pakistan and figured if we can get across the border may be we
can hook up with the taliban. one of his co-conspirators -- these guys have delusions of grandeur. we will be general so they make it to the frontier of northwest pakistan and they just sort of stumble their way around looking for the taliban. but who finds them but al qaeda and they are passed through this network of secret little operations in pakistan and our book shows how these guys stumble into the clutches of al qaeda and end up getting trained for a suicide mission by one of osama bin laden's top deputies. they are trained and they are activated. there taught to make an extremely devastating bomb and returned to the united states. they build the bomb and water book shows is it's a 48-hour race inside race inside the city in 2009 stop and prevent it. >> was the nypd and by the way we will put the numbers on the
screen. if you want to talk to matt apuzzo who is an investigative reporter and the co-author of this book. 5853891 for those of you in the mountain pacific timezones. matt apuzzo was the nypd the intel or the fbi aware of najibullah zazi prior to his leaving for afghanistan? >> no. the intelligence division of the mip d. had these huge programs designed to catch somebody like saucy so they infiltrated his mosque. they turned his informant into a cooperator. they had infiltrated one of his co-conspirator student groups. they build files on all the restaurants in his neighborhoods. they had been to the ymca down the street from where he lived. all of these programs were intended to catch somebody like this before they became a terrorist.
and they failed at every turn but meanwhile there's this machine generating huge amounts of information on innocent people. two people were talking a coffee shop about what they thought of president bush's state of the union address and that goes into the police file. people at a barbershop are dressed in traditional devout islam attire and it goes into the police file. where people watch soccer and where people watch cricket. you end up with this huge amount of data that they did not catch him. what we show is that there is a process in place that did work and hopefully we leave americans with a sense of you know of hope that a lot of what failed on 9/11 did work to catch zazi in the end because obviously we know the subways don't blow up but it's a real chase and you know we were lucky because we got to talk to a lot of the cia and fbi and nypd guys who were
on the ground working round-the-clock to make this case. >> so there was a lot of coordination and cooperation between those three agencies? >> right. this all begins and frankly the only reason the subways don't blow up is that zazi is trying to perfect the bomb recipe the second component of this bomb and e-mails one of his contacts in pakistan that basically an al qaeda e-mail address a yahoo! account and as it happened 18 months earlier the british governments have taken down a terror cell in the u.k.. they had found that yahoo! address and they passed it to the nsa which went up and started looking at the e-mail address and as soon as the e-mail came in from the united states to that address, dmsa pass it to the cia who pass it to the nypd and officials in colorado where zazi was living
in that happened in rapid succession. that really is the good take away for cooperation post-9/11 that real good cooperation does work and frankly you know the traditional police tactics that worked for america and worked for the fbi for so many decades that kind of come under scrutiny and maybe people think don't work to fight terrorism things like reading people their miranda rights are questioning them over long periods of time, watching and waiting,, could those kinds of things that are traditional police methods. in the end those work and we didn't need secret reasons and we didn't need waterboarding and we didn't need guantánamo bay and it worked in the end. collaboration conflict coordination and smart policing work to keep america safe. >> how were you able to get access to a lot of these records? >> adam goldman my co-author and i reported for the associated press and for about 18 months
from 2011 to mid-2013, early 2013 we were reporting on the nypd for the associate press and pyramid reporting we met dozens of people in the nypd who were willing to share their stories and provide the documents that spelled out in great detail how this intelligence division has ronin size and grown in intrusiveness and almost into missing in terms of what they're going to collect on american citizens in secret with no review. so we had help from a lot of people in law enforcement enforcement and adam and i cover counterterrorism and national security for the ap so a lot of the people who helped craft the zazi case were people who we knew professionally because we covered the zazi case in real-time. >> the first call for matt apuzzo comes from melissa in colchester vermont. hi alyssa. >> caller: hey how are you. >> host: good, go ahead.
>> caller: what was the background in college that got you into investigative writing? i find it so unusual. >> i only caught something so unusual. >> host: she wanted to know your background. >> guest: i'm what happens if you are a student and you get d's and chemistry. i'm not a career path that anyone should attempt to follow. i went to a wonderful liberal arts school in maine called kolbe college. i was a biology major. i did not go to medical school. i worked at the local paper in water filled the morning sentinel and just learned basic reporting there. i went to a small newspaper in massachusetts for a few years and worked my way up to the ap so it was on-the-job learning. i did not go to school for this one. >> host: is david cowen still
involved and is this program -- over 13 years? >> the former cia deputy director is still on the job at the nypd. through the years dave has actually helped gotten the cia to send hymn duty cia officers to new york to help him build these programs. the architect of what has been known as the demographics unit. this is the unit that eavesdrops in neighborhoods. that architect was an active duty cia officer named larry sanchez and again another unprecedented move in american law enforcement. the cia is not supposed to be directing collection side of the united states but you know the lines got alert after 9/11 and that's what happened. after we started reporting on this in 2011 then cia director david petraeus decided it didn't look good to have the cia guy active duty sitting inside a municipal police department.
so now that the cia and the nypd want to collaborate they have to go through official channels and it can be the sort of murky area. >> host: elizabeth ferrari posts on our twitter feed comes to what you think about the case against bruce ivins which is reported on extensively is what she says so first of all who is bruce ivins? >> guest: bruce ivins is the scientist who was about to be charged in the 2011 anthrax killings but took his own life beforehand. you know i think the fbi and the justice department feel they had their man and certainly a lot of the reason they feel like they had their man was because there is no better explanation. certainly the evidence against him is circumstantial but there's a lot of circumstantial evidence against him. i do think the best argument that they don't have the right
man is that for many years they thought they had the right man before a guy named steven hatfield who ended up being completely innocent and had steven hatfield taken his own life the fbi would have said we are done here and walked away. unfortunately for everybody ivins took his own life and he obviously had problems and in that case never went to trial. i think it would have been good for everybody had that case gone to trial and we would have been able to see the evidence against him closure. there will be people who are never going to believe that ivins was the anthrax killer. >> host: the next call for matt apuzzo co-author of "enemies within" comes from john in managua wisconsin. joe you are on booktv. >> caller: good afternoon. i was wondering to what extent the public records laws either new york state public records laws or -- [inaudible] >> guest: no role whatsoever because the nypd basically
ignores the open records requests on a regular basis. new york public advocate scored and my pds terrible for responding to public record requests. you can't get a police report as a reporter. you can get a mugshot or 911 call. they have a pressroom at the nypd called the shack and they all have phones on the desk. if the nypd wants to feed you information they pick up the phone and they'll bring. they summarize the reports for you those that they decide are newsworthy. there's this incredible media machine that they run their witch mix it extremely hard to question what you are getting because you can get public records. the nypd created out of thin air something called nypd secret. it's stamped and it looks like a classified. says secret on it but that basically has the force of law but somebody writing no girls allowed on their tree house.
they just made it up. we are spies and we need a a thing this has nypd secret. it doesn't mean anything but they won't give you the documents. there is no law saying you can do that but they just did it. >> host: matt apuzzo how were you able to get away with releasing 911 calls? >> guest: nobody questions them i guess. it takes money. it takes time to fight back and the nypd is smart. most journalists in new york city their job is to cover the day today and it disincentivized his people to make waives when you rely on the nypd officially for almost everything you do everyday. >> host: brannen in new york city, good afternoon. >> caller: you just mentioned miami and i was wondering how was this funded? >> guest: it's a great question.
the nypd the intelligence division budget is 30 to $40 million a year so we are talking about three or 400 le in dollars. most of that comes from the city council which has never held a hearing into what the intelligence division does and until we start reporting we had no idea about the files they were building on people. the surveillance programs. some of the money comes from the white house through this obscure anti-drug grants and that helps pay for the cars and computers. some of the money comes from the justice department and the department of homeland security. they say we have no ability to question whether these programs are effective or whether they work and how they operate. >> you matt apuzzo you begin our conversation talking about some of the infiltration into wikileaks. are those still going on and is there any sense of paranoia
among some of the mosques in new york city? >> guest: they are still going on. one of the most creative things nypd did was they would send informants into mosques. if you are investigating somebody inside the mosque and you send in an informant to keep tabs on them you can only keep in your file what that person you are investigating says but when it in my pd did was they created this investigatory class called the tears and agency. what if we believe that of group of people are plotting terrorism we can investigate the message rue. it's a way to investigate a terrorist cell. they took that label and applied it to a dozen mosques. now anybody who shows up at that mosque can be a subject of the investigation. they can set up license plate readers outside of the mosque and collect license plates of everyone who shows up. they have recording devices that can record sermons.
anybody who goes there is fair game and these investigations stretching out for years and years. there has never been in terrorism enterprise made against the mosque but it's a great way to keep your intelligence pipeline coming in. and yes they still continue. >> host: have any other cities developed an intel unit based on this? >> guest: the i.t. of intelligence-based policing is sorted in the vanguard right now. this idea of we wanted to deploy their assets based on what intelligence is telling us that the truth is no one has done it the way the nypd has done it because the nypd is twice the size of the fbi. there's no police department country that has the manpower 35,000 people to create this kind of unit and they have the political will to do it. larry sanchez this guy from the cia testified before congress and was asked how the nypd does counterterrorism.
one of the things he said was -- he said this to congress. we believe you can no longer look at activities that would traditionally be protected at the first and fourth amendment. we can no longer look at them as just being protected by the fourth amendment. we have to look at them through the lens of three cursors to terrorism and that is the way we have interpreted it. no one stopped to say wait a minute the nypd is reinterpreting the constitution? congress should say thank you. it really is a fundamental shift in american policing that new yorkers have given them for political cover. ray kelly remains very popular and there mechanisms remained popular. >> we have been talking to matt apuzzo pulitzer prize reporter and here's his book cowritten with adam goldman "enemies within" inside the nypd's secret spying unit and bin laden's final plot against america.