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Bratton: NYPD Muslim Monitoring Program Never Accomplished Anything

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Concerns and security questions persisted in New York City Thursday, in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris last week.

As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, Bratton addressed the topic on Thursday, and angrily defended his decision to end the NYPD's controversial Muslim monitoring program.

Bratton said he has other ways to get critical information about terror cells and potential plots.

"Not one single piece of actionable intelligence ever came out of that unit in its years of existence," Bratton said.

Kramer had asked why Mayor Bill de Blasio had killed the controversial program to monitor mosques and Muslim businesses in the metropolitan area. The question got Bratton's blood boiling.

"I'm tired. This keeps coming up over and over again in the tabloids. Let's get real about the issue," Bratton said. "It's urban legend. It's urban myth."

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks this past Friday, and with the public jittery about letting Syrian refugees into the country, Bratton said flatly at a public symposium that he – not Mayor de Blasio – killed the program – and for good reason.

Bratton said the Muslim monitoring program did not accomplish anything, and he said it certainly does not need to be reestablished now.

"We have the most robust counterterrorism entity in the United States," Bratton said.

Kramer asked Bratton, "I wonder if you could tell us what the NYPD is doing to get intelligence on other people who may already be here, who may want to plot against the city."

"We have a 1,000-person counterterrorism intelligence entity that a significant part of their responsibilities are seeking to identify threats -- social media, use of informants, development of relationships," Bratton said. "There's no shortage of ability to get intelligence."

And on the question of the Syrian refugees, he said New York City – with a population that is 25 percent immigrant – has to let the refugees in. But he said it will be very difficult for the FBI to vet them, because there is a lack of verifiable documentation and the FBI is stretched too thin.

"The FBI is an organization that is currently stretched to the limit just trying to deal with the terrorists – let alone trying to deal with an expanding pressure on them to guarantee the people that they're charged with screening are, in fact, not terrorists," Bratton said.

Bratton also pointed out that he has a highly-trained counterterrorism unit – trained not only to identify terror plots, but to go on the offensive to fight terrorists with tech-heavy weapons.

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for former police Commissioner Ray Kelly took issue with Bratton's comments about the Muslim surveillance unit. She pointed out that in his book, Kelly said the purpose of the unit was not to develop leads, but to know where certain groups of people lived.

"So Bratton saying there were no leads is like saying Derek Jeter never scored a touchdown," the spokeswoman said.

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