NEW YORK -- Chalk another one up for secrecy at the New York City Police Department. The NYPD has rejected a HuffPost request to give the public a look at open-source counterterrorism reports the department regularly shares with thousands of private security honchos.
The department denied HuffPost's public records request for open-source assessments produced by the NYPD Counterterrorism Bureau's Terrorism Threat Analysis Group on the grounds that they could "reveal non-routine techniques and procedures."
Open-source intelligence relies on newspapers, census data and other documents that are generally available to the public. The Huffington Post asked for all such reports produced to date in 2014. HuffPost is appealing the decision.
The NYPD distributes its open-source assessments via its Shield program, which partners with private security directors for two-way information sharing on terrorism.
The NYPD's position is surprising in light of how it responded in 2012 to the release of one such report pertaining to an Occupy Wall Street protest. Former department spokesman Paul Browne told the New York Observer at the time that the report was "hardly 'leaked,'" and downplayed the suggestion that open-source assessments contained anything the department needed to keep secret.
"This is a summary of stuff the press has reported on all week and that has been disseminated on OWS related sites," Browne said. "It was sent on our website used by thousands of security directors for universities, hospitals, corporations, and other employers who are welcome to share it with anyone they want, and who do."
Notable reports from previous years are widely available online. One security firm hosts the bureau's report on the Boston Marathon bombing on its website. The Jewish Community Relations Council of New York has posted another such report on the Newtown elementary school shooting on its website.