On Tuesday, GOP presidential hopeful Ted Cruz responded to the deadly terror attacks in Brussels by saying that "we need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized." This suggestion calls back to a surveillance method used by the NYPD as an anti-terror tactic after 9/11. That tactic failed, hard.
In November, New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said of the department tasked with spying on Muslims, “Not one single piece of actionable intelligence ever came out of that unit in its years of existence."
Yesterday, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Bratton responded to Cruz directly. The police commissioner did not hold back. “We don’t need a president that doesn’t respect the values that form the foundation of this country,” Bratton said, adding, "I have over 900 very dedicated officers in this department, many of whom do double duty, and they serve as active duty members of the U.S. Military in combat, something the senator has never seen." Cruz has not served in the military.
Bratton continued, “So before he starts denigrating any population, he should take a close look at who he’s denigrating." Bratton concluded, “the senator basically is really out of line with his comments."
The commissioner doubled down on the comments today on CBS This Morning, saying Cruz, "doesn't know what the hell he's talking about," adding, "ironically, when he's running around here we probably have a few Muslim officers guiding him."
Later on the same program, Cruz responded to Bratton, saying "it's not surprising that the Democratic political henchmen are coming after me, and thats' on the instruction of Mayor De Blasio." Cruz added, "It would be striking if his position is that we shouldn't patrol Muslim neighborhoods and patrol every neighborhood."
Cruz then explained a theory that de Blasio shut down the ineffective program because he, like most elected Democrats, is beholden to the niceties of our politically correct culture:
Mayor de Blasio came in and decided that political correctness mattered more than keeping people safe, he disbanded the program.
… and compared Muslim communities to those struggling with gang violence:
Let me give an example. If you're concerned with gang violence. Gang violence is a real problem in a lot of places across the country. What does law enforcement do with proactive policing? You go into the neighborhoods where gang violence is a problem and you work proactively to get the gang members off the street.
When CBS hosts pushed Cruz to respond to the fact that the NYPD Muslim surveillance program was ineffective, he said: "It is true that the de Blasio political henchmen say that. And it's also true that the NYPD said that it provided valuable intelligence."
In the words of the current head the NYPD, sounds like Cruz doesn't know what he's talking about.
Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.