Updated 07/10/2012 08:14 PM
Report: Claims Of 14 Terror Plots Thwarted By NYPD "Overstated"
A report is saying that the New York City Police Department is overstating claims that 14 terror plots against the city have been thwarted since the September 11th attacks. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.
To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg frequently cites the fact that the city has stopped 14 terror plots since September 11th.
It’s one of the mayor’s favorite statistics and one that’s been repeated so often, it’s largely become accepted fact. Until now.
Reporter Justin Elliott of the investigative news site ProPublica analyzed all 14 cases and said the mayor’s claim is overstated.
“Once you start looking into these cases and scratch beneath the surface, you see that there’s really less there than meets the eye,” he said.
His report found that many plots never got past the discussion phase. Others, like the case of the Newburgh Four, who planned to bomb Bronx synagogues, were primarily engineered by a government informant.
Only two plots were well-developed: Najibullah Zazi’s plan to bomb the subway system and the attempted Times Square car bomb, which failed primarily because of incompetence.
“The NYPD did not stop that attack," Elliott said. "It was widely seen as a law enforcement failure. So yes, that’s a real terrorist plot. But no, the NYPD did not thwart it.”
City officials took issue with the report.
“After a plot is thwarted, there’s always somebody who’ll say no, it couldn’t happen or he didn’t have the mental capacity to do it," said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. "Of course, if something happens, then it’s our fault. So you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.”
City officials also emphasized that there is no room for error when it comes to counter-terrorism. One mistake could equal catastrophe.
“Let’s assume it’s one they thwarted instead of 14," Bloomberg said. "We have to be right 100 percent of the time. The terrorists only have to be right once and you’re dead.”
It's a threat Elliott acknowledged is real, but one he said doesn't justify fudging the numbers.