More In Defense of Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and The NYPD In Gathering Intelligence on Islamic Terrorists

March 12, 2012 12:45 pm 1 comment

John O. Brennan, left, assistant to the president for Homeland Security and Counter-terrorism, met with NYPD Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, center, and Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence David Cohen at police headquarters in Sep. 2009.

On March 4th, The New York Times editorialized on the subject of the surveillance by the NYPD of the Muslim community, seeking to acquire intelligence and the efforts of Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Mayor Michael Bloomberg to keep New York City safe from another catastrophic attack as was 9/11.  Kelly defended the actions of his department before a Fordham Law School audience on March 3rd, with the Daily News of March 4th describing the event:  “Even as more than 100 protesters demonstrated outside his speech, Kelly did not back down, declaring that the surveillance program was not just legal, but a vital part of the successful takedowns of more than a dozen terror plots since Sept. 11, 2001.”

The Times editorial of March 4th objected to the gathering of the intelligence, stating, “In particular, the A.P. reports revealed widespread police spying and the creation of police records containing information on Muslim people, mosques and campus groups, as well as luncheonettes, dollar stores and other legitimate businesses owned and frequented by Muslims, with no apparent reason to think anything wrong was going on.  In mid-February, The A.P. disclosed that police officers systematically monitored the Web sites and blogs of Muslim student groups at N.Y.U., Columbia, Yale, Rutgers and a dozen other colleges.  Documents show that an undercover agent accompanied 18 Muslim students from City College on a whitewater rafting trip in 2008.  Dossier entries noted vital national security information — like the number of times they prayed.  Last week, the A.P. reported that plainclothes officers from the department’s euphemistically named Demographic Unit fanned out across Newark in 2007, snapping pictures of mosques and Muslim-owned businesses, listening to conversations, and gathering information about the makeup of mosque worshipers for an eerie 60-page internal police report stamped ‘NYPD Secret.’  Similar reports were prepared on other Muslim neighborhoods.”

The Times refers to the gathering of that material as “constitutionally suspect surveillance of Muslims in New York, New Jersey, Long Island and beyond.  Unearthed police records noticeably lack any apparent link to suspected criminal activity or any obvious payoff for public safety.”

Commissioner Kelly, unlike the Times in any of its editorials, referred in his appearance at Fordham Law School to the federal court decision of Judge Charles S. Haight, known as the Handschu agreement which set forth what the NYPD could do in gathering intelligence.  Kelly stated at the Fordham Law School event, “Since 1985, the Police Department has been subject to a set of rules known as the Handschu Guidelines, which were developed to protect people engaged in political protest.  After 9/11, we were concerned that elements of the guidelines could interfere with our ability to investigate terrorism.  In 2002, we proposed to a federal court that the law be modified, and the court agreed.  Before I go into details let me say that we imposed on ourselves the strictest interpretation of political activity.  One could easily argue that when we investigate terrorism, we are dealing with criminal, not political, activity.  We go above and beyond by treating every terrorism investigation as subject to Handschu.  Let me also say that no other police department in the country is bound by these rules, which restrict police powers granted under the constitution.  The guidelines begin with the statement of a general principle, which I’ll quote. ‘In its effort to anticipate or prevent unlawful activity, including terrorist acts, the NYPD must, at times, initiate investigations in advance of unlawful conduct.’  For some, the very act of gathering intelligence seems illegitimate when applied to the crime of terrorism.  In fact, the Police Department uses many of the same methods to find and stop terrorists that we use to arrest drug dealers, human traffickers, and gang leaders.  We develop detailed information about the nature of the crime and the people involved.  We form partnerships with other government agencies, find sources, and make use of undercover officers.  This is what Handschu says about the broadest form of intelligence gathering: ‘The NYPD is authorized to visit any place and attend any event that is open to the public’ and ‘to conduct online search activity and to access online sites and forums on the same terms… as members of the public.’  The department is further authorized to, ‘prepare general reports and assessments… for purposes of strategic or operational planning.’  Anyone who intimates that it is unlawful for the Police Department to search online, visit public places, or map neighborhoods has either not read, misunderstood, or intentionally obfuscated the meaning of the Handschu Guidelines…The Police Department will not apologize for our lawful efforts to protect New York, and we will not change our methods to satisfy those who would impugn them without understanding them.”

Exactly what the Handschu agreement allowed is what the Times and the various critics of the NYPD object to.  Indeed, the Handschu agreement is subject to modification by Judge Haight, and he has expanded what the NYPD is allowed to do.  Those who believe the tactics of the NYPD violate the laws or constitutions of the U.S. and the state of New York should apply to Judge Haight to narrow the parameters of the Handschu agreement and show why the NYPD should be curbed in its gathering of intelligence.  I certainly hope their application would be denied.

On March 9th, The Times published another editorial criticizing those who defended the tactics of the NYPD, stating “Mr. Bloomberg said the city’s safety was not ‘a political football to play with.’  Mr. Kelly accused critics of using ‘the media to spread misinformation.’  And former Mayor Ed Koch said an editorial on this page raising questions about the program ‘endangers the lives of eight million residents of New York City.’” We are defending the Handschu agreement.  If the Times, NYCLU and others objecting to the agreement believe their criticisms to be valid, they should bring a proceeding before Judge Haight to modify the Handschu agreement.

When terrorism in the late 1960s and 1970s was overwhelmingly dominated by the Irish Republican Army and the NYPD was undoubtedly surveilling the places where intelligence might be available – the Irish bars on the West Side of Manhattan and in Queens, I don’t recall objections to the activities of the NYPD at the time by The Times.  The people living in New York City are entitled to protection from terrorists whoever they are.  Today, they are overwhelmingly, indeed nearly exclusively, Islamic terrorists seeking to destroy Western civilization.  Simply put, they hate us and are willing to die to defeat us, bring us to our knees and kill us.  This is not hyperbole.  These terrorist attacks are happening throughout the Western world, as has occurred most dramatically in New York City, London and Madrid, where, in the latter two cities, innocent train commuters were blown up, injured and killed.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Blogs Book Reviews The Origins of Palestinian Refugee Relief Efforts (REVIEW)

    The Origins of Palestinian Refugee Relief Efforts (REVIEW)

    Romirowsky and Joffe’s book Religion, Politics and the Origins of Palestine Refugee Relief is an important volume for those interested in truly understanding the origins of the Palestinian refugee issue. Utilizing a treasure trove of newly released documents, the authors link UNRWA’s (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine) origins to the Quakers/American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). For those readers who thought they knew most of the Middle East story, Romirowsky and Joffe’s version provides another twist. The authors meticulously [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports Israeli Soccer Team Faces Prospect of International Ban

    Israeli Soccer Team Faces Prospect of International Ban

    The Israel National soccer team could be facing a World Cup ban, and other soccer sanctions, unless it alleviates travel restrictions and increases field access for Palestinian players and coaches. The head of the Palestinian Football Association is pushing for international soccer’s governing body, the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA), to issue a ban on Israel competing internationally, claiming Israel’s restrictive travel for Palestinians is equivalent to a form of oppression. “It’s not only the athletes,” Jibril Rajoub explains. [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Book Reviews Jewish Author of ‘Eat to Live’ Dishes on Health Care, Nutrition, Disease Prevention

    Jewish Author of ‘Eat to Live’ Dishes on Health Care, Nutrition, Disease Prevention

    JNS.org – While the national debate on “Obamacare” rages on past the recent March 31 sign-up deadline, bestselling Jewish author Dr. Joel Fuhrman says the “current disease care model of what we call ‘health care’ cannot possibly be sustained.” “There is simply not enough money available to support a system in which the lion’s share of expenditures is devoted to acute care, with virtually nothing being spent on preventive medicine, i.e. health care,” Fuhrman says in an interview. “To make [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity ‘Tears of Color’ Art Exhibit Shows Struggles of Israelis With Eating Disorders

    ‘Tears of Color’ Art Exhibit Shows Struggles of Israelis With Eating Disorders

    JNS.org – “This is how I want to be—without fear. Independent. I want to be like a bird. I want to spread my wings.” So reads part of the description beneath one of the 30 paintings on display until the end of May at the ZOA House in Tel Aviv. The collection represents the first-ever art exhibit of its kind: an exhibit created entirely by Israelis in treatment for eating disorders. Dubbed “Tears of Color,” based on one of the [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Book Reviews Overprotective or Loving? Daughters Reflect on Jewish Mothers in New Anthology

    Overprotective or Loving? Daughters Reflect on Jewish Mothers in New Anthology

    JNS.org – Rachel Ament noticed that she and her friends often shared humorous anecdotes that were typically variations on a theme: overprotective, worrying Jewish moms who smothered them with love. That included Ament’s own mother. “My mom is probably every Jewish stereotype scrunched into one,” the Washington, DC, resident tells JNS.org. “At the root of all these stereotypical, worrying, overprotective moms, is love.” A social media writer for Capital One, as well as a freelance writer, Ament decided about three years [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary ‎Kosher Lust: Love is Not the Answer (REVIEW)

    ‎Kosher Lust: Love is Not the Answer (REVIEW)

    Kosher Lust, by Shmuley Boteach (Gefen Publishing House, 2014). You really do want to find something positive to say about Shmuley Boteach. He is a phenomenon; very bright, an articulate bundle of energy and self-promotion. Anyone who has the chutzpah to describe himself as “America’s Rabbi” deserves ten out of ten for effort. I believe that along with most Chabad alumni, official and unofficial, he does a lot of good and is a sort of national treasure. In this world [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Theater Hollywood’s Revisiting of Passover’s Exodus Story a Part of Throwback ‘Year of the Bible’

    Hollywood’s Revisiting of Passover’s Exodus Story a Part of Throwback ‘Year of the Bible’

    JNS.org – In a throwback to the golden age of cinema, Hollywood has declared 2014 the “Year of the Bible.” From Ridley Scott’s Exodus starring Christian Bale as Moses, to Russell Crowe playing Noah, Hollywood is gambling on new innovations in technology and star power to revisit some of the most popular stories ever told. “It’s definitely a throwback to the 1950s and early ’60s,” Dr. Stephen J. Whitfield, an American Studies professor at Brandeis University, told JNS.org. Starting with The [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada ‘Jewish Giant’ Headlines New York Jewish Museum Exhibit

    ‘Jewish Giant’ Headlines New York Jewish Museum Exhibit

    Eddie Carmel, dubbed “The Jewish Giant” by American photographer Diane Arbus, is the centerpiece of a new exhibit opening April 11 at The Jewish Museum in New York. Arbus met Carmel, who was billed “The World’s Tallest Man,” at Hubert’s Dime Museum and Flea Circus in 1959 but waited until 1970 to photograph him at his parents’ home in the Bronx, according to the museum. The son of immigrants from Tel Aviv, Carmel posed for Arbus with his head bowed to [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.