Friday, February 24, 2012

NYPD spying operation...What exactly is all the ruckus about?

Is the United States fighting a global war on terror or not?

If the United States is fighting a GWOT (aka Overseas Contingency Operations for you Obama liberals out there), and we most definitely are, do covert monitoring operations reside so far outside of the realm of acceptability as an appropriate course of defensive action?

A better way to ask the question might be whether this NYPD surveillance of mosques and schools by one of the critical law enforcement entities tasked with protecting New York City, home to Ground Zero, is a wrong tactic?

The answer, while crystal clear to many, might differ depending on where it is you live geographically as well as on the political charts, conditions that are by no means mutually exclusive.

If you are living in the enclave of Malibu, California you may have one point of view. On the other hand if you and your family ever take New York City buses, subways, bridges, tunnels or if you're simply planning on visiting Times Square during your vacation to The Big Apple, your point of view might be completely different.

The ACLU-style argument

To address the ACLU-type argument that would proclaim any such operation wrong and that would demand that the NYPD immediately cease and desist, let me first say unequivocally that all Muslims are not terrorists and that the actual number that may be is most likely so small as to be statistically insignificant!

Additionally an NYPD statement made quite clear that any operation would operate within the strict boundaries of the law.

That said I watched the World Trade Center hit by passenger jetliners and then crumble in surreal fashion, knew people who perished there, know people who are still getting sick and are dying from having worked on "The Pile", remain acutely aware of the attacks that have been thwarted due to luck while fully understanding the many more that have been stopped thanks to law enforcement.

Therefore, if the NYPD violated any of the above mentioned boundaries in some way while in the pursuit of saving innocent lives both then and into the future, such overstepping would be okay with me as well.

However, any such overstepping that potentially violates some legal boundary would in my opinion need to conform with certain prescribed limits and would need to have acknowledged approval from the top along with clear accountability for the ultimate decision maker. This will insure, in the best way possible, the avoidance of improprieties or misconduct from occurring!

From an NYPD spokesman on Thursday:

“...There's been a suggestion that what we are doing doesn't comport with legal requirements, and that's not the case,” Browne said.

“Everything we're doing is done constitutionally.”

Amid a new furor over the surveillance of mosques and schools in Newark, lawyers from the NYPD and the city met with reporters to explain the complex guidelines under which they conduct investigations related to political activity and terrorism.

“There is no constitutional prohibition against a police department collecting information,” said Peter Farrell, senior counsel of the city’s Law Department.

“What's unconstitutional is if they then use that information to chill someone’s First Amendments rights or to impose harm on them.”

Browne said that because of the Handschu agreement, a 1985 consent decree that restricts how the NYPD can monitor political groups, “in fact, we meet higher requirements here in New York...” (Source)

Is there still a question of whether in NYC post-9/11 this type of surveillance is appropriate?

The fact is that an analysis of the great number of prior terrorist acts committed or attempted shows that the perpetrators tended to belong to one given belief system.

That being the case, and while still operating under the auspices that New York City represents the major front in the global war on terror, would it not be an egregious error bordering on law enforcement malpractice for the NYPD to ignore this fact due to political correctness and an attempt to avoid the possibility for public outcry and protest to occur?

Consider this statement from New York Congressman Peter King back in January 2011:

HOST: Congressman, how widespread do you think this radical jihad sentiment is in US mosques? How many mosques do you think are infected?

KING: The only real testimony we have on it is from Sheikh Kabbani who was a Muslim leader during the Clinton Administration, he testified back in 1999 and 2000 before the State Department that he thought over 80 percent of the mosques in this country are controlled by radical Imams. Certainly from what I've seen and dealings I've had, that number seems accurate. (Source)

So while non-invasive and unobtrusive operatives inside and outside of mosques and schools is certainly not the ideal thing to have to do, if given similar circumstances that dictated they be placed in Jewish or Catholic Houses of Worship, I would have no problem with it.

Let me ask the question that was asked at TPC back in February 2010 that concerned a case of racial profiling in Philadelphia: Does the good of the one outweigh the good of the many? - Mr. Spock

To sadly sum up the issue and the problem, there are some points in history where dangerous times unfortunately call for drastic, and sometimes uncomfortable, measures!

The U.S. is not alone!

From Germany: "The Dangerous Success of Radical Young Clerics" - Der Spiegel (H/T Theo Spark)

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