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There's a big NY Times story about the NYPD's preparation before the 2004 Republican National Convention: The police started spying on protesters a year before the actual convention.

For at least a year before the 2004 Republican National Convention, teams of undercover New York City police officers traveled to cities across the country, Canada and Europe to conduct covert observations of people who planned to protest at the convention, according to police records and interviews.

From Albuquerque to Montreal, San Francisco to Miami, undercover New York police officers attended meetings of political groups, posing as sympathizers or fellow activists, the records show.

And not only did the NYPD identify possible rabble rousers, the police also "chronicled the views and plans of people who had no apparent intention of breaking the law" - from church groups to death penalty critics - even city officials!

That the NYPD was spying for such a long isn't surprising - heck, they probably started work as soon as NYC was chosen as the convention city. But it's always incredible to hear who they were targeting, like Josh Kinberg who developed the Bikes Against Bush (and was arrested during the convention when demonstrating it for MSNBC) and Billionaires for Bush. The NYCLU told the Times, "The police have no authority to spy on lawful political activity, and this wide-ranging N.Y.P.D. program was wrong and illegal," and expects people to be shocked with the extent of the NYPD's covert surveillance when more information is disclosed.

Check out the NYCLU's report on the "Rights and Wrong at the RNC" (PDF) and how the NYPD videotapes you. And last month, a judge found that the police's videotaping procedures violated the Handschu vs. Special Services Division decision.