March 28, 2007

Our Secret Police

Although it's been known for a long time, The New York Times reported again (thank you Jim Dwyer) that the NY Police Dept. engaged in domestic and international spying. If this surprises you, you're probably one of the many Americans who are unconcerned, trusting the authorities to recognize that you never do anything illegal, and so have no reason to be concerned.

But maybe you don't realize that protesting the Republican Party is illegal. At least, that's what the NYPD thought during the 2004 Republican convention. After illegally spying on protest groups, they arrested people before their demonstrations took place. Therefore, protesters' only crime was their intention to demonstrate, to voice their ideological beliefs, to utilize their freedom of speech.

The scary part of this is the timing. This local abuse of power has a backdrop of massive disregard for the law at the federal level. Looked at systemically, it's clear that law and justice in America are nothing more than political weapons.

To legally spy on US citizens, cops need "probable cause" to believe criminal activity is occurring. Otherwise they violate the Constitution (search and seizure).

But just as the White House uses the Department of Justice and the FBI to harass enemies of the Republican Party, the NYPD harassed groups doing legal protest.

Also similar to the White House disdain for the truth, the NYPD argued successfully to a judge that police files should remain secret, even after leaked documents proved that the NYPD violated the law by spying on groups that were not suspected of anything illegal.

The point is this: These people cannot be trusted. Laws do not restrain them. They enforce the laws, and they wish to do so selectively, as a secret police apparatus of the ruling executive.

1 comment:

serial# said...

the Times reported that the reason the mayor's office wanted to keep the police spying records sealed is to limit the City's exposure to liabilities from parties that will eventually sue.