When activists are terrorists

This week the Wall Street Journal published Judith Miller’s superb column “When activists are terrorists.” In the column Miller reports on the threats to public order during the 2004 Republican convention that the New York City Police Department sought to discover and defuse. Miller’s column is an incredible piece of work.
For full effect, Miller’s column must be juxtaposed with the coverage afforded the same story by Jim Dwyer in the New York Times. Dwyer’s 2,500-word March 27 story “City police spied broadly before GOP convention” is the predicate for Miller’s column (the Times has run several follow-up stories by Dwyer as well). Dwyer’s March 27 story is restricted to TimesSelect members, but Dwyer’s metro column “Somehow, plea for peace is a worry” (published yesterday) provides a flavor of his contribution to public enlightenment.
For those of us in the Twin Cities, Miller’s column gives a preview of coming attractions when the Republican convention arrives in town. The “activists” are undoubtedly headed our way and, as Miller notes, we seem to be a bit underprepared to deal with them:

Some law enforcement officials in the Twin Cities fear there may be many arrests during the 2008 Republican convention there. But Tim Lynaugh, a police officer assigned to convention planning, said his department hopes there will be almost none. But with fewer than 600 police officers (New York has 37,000 in uniform), they will probably need outside assistance to assure public safety.
While the NYPD’s advice was helpful when officers from both departments met in January to discuss preparations, police in the Twin Cities would probably not emulate New York’s surveillance program prior to its own convention, even if it had the manpower to do so. “If what we’ve read about their program is true,” Mr. Lynaugh said, “That is just not how we operate.”

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