The leader of one of the most secretive government agencies in the country feels that the NSA should have been more transparent about spying on Americans. “I don’t think it ever should have been made secret," NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly told reporters. "I think the American public can accept the fact if you tell them that every time you pick up the phone, it's going to be recorded and it goes to the government."
This is the leader of the department who denied the existence of the program that systematically spied (spies) on the Muslim community in New York and several other mid-Atlantic states, and oversees the least-transparent agency in the city (tied with NYCHA). Billions in funding is funneled into the NYPD's antiterrorism operations, and many of those activities will likely never be subjected to public scrutiny.
Kelly, who gave the comments at the dedication of two new harbor patrol boats, went on to praise the NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden:
Secondly, I think if you listen to Snowden, he indicates that there’s some sort of malfeasance, people . . . sitting around and watching the data. So I think the question is: What sort of oversight is there inside the NSA to prevent that abuse, if it’s taking place? He tried to give the impression, it seems to me, that these system administrators had carte blanche to do what they wanted to do. I think it’s a problem if that’s in fact what’s happening.
The NYPD has not been as kind to whistleblowers in his own department. Officer Adrian Schoolcraft's apartment was raided and he was involuntarily committed after he released tapes to the Village Voice that suggested a rigorous quota system within the department (oh, and top NYPD officials have claimed they never heard of those tapes). Others were harassed, transferred, or given undesirable shifts, their lives made miserable by their superiors.
Kelly's comments are also a blatant retaliation for a brief the Department of Justice filed last week that supported the idea of an independent federal monitor for the NYPD, a direct threat to Kelly's unchecked power. “Everything that Ray Kelly does has a purpose,” Queens Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. told the Post. This includes how he ties his neckties.
Today the NYCLU, along with the Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility project at CUNY School of Law, filed a lawsuit against the NYPD, claiming that the arbitrary gathering of intelligence on the Muslim community is unconstitutional.
“When a police department turns law-abiding people into suspects because they go to a mosque and not a church or a synagogue, it violates our Constitution’s guarantees of equality and religious freedom,” Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU National Security Project said in a release. “No one questions that the NYPD has a job to do, but spying on innocent New Yorkers because of their religion is a wrong and ineffective way to do it. We are asking the court to end the NYPD’s unconstitutional religious discrimination.”