Monday, March 26, 2007

NYC Doesn't Want NYPD Spying Files Opened

Yesterday I wrote about the NYPD secretly spying on citizens in the US and abroad. The city really wants to keep its DD5 reports secret:

Lawyers for the city, responding to a request to unseal records of police surveillance leading up to the 2004 Republican convention in New York, say that the documents should remain secret because the news media will “fixate upon and sensationalize them,” hurting the city’s ability to defend itself in lawsuits over mass arrests.

In papers filed in federal court last week, the city’s lawyers also say that the documents could be “misinterpreted” because they were not intended for the public.

“The documents were not written for consumption by the general public,” wrote Peter Farrell, senior counsel in the city’s Law Department. “The documents contain information filtered and distilled for analysis by intelligence officers accustomed to reading intelligence information.”

So, they're invoking the age old business ruse of putting information on a "need to know basis"? That's sick and not the way government should work.

You can bet that if this information was really useful in stopping serious crimes prior to and during the 2004 RNC, the city would be broadcasting it from the rooftops. The bulk of the information wasn't useful though:

Those records showed that some of the surveillance was conducted on groups that planned to disrupt the convention, but the bulk of it was on groups and people who expressed no apparent intention to break the law.

In at least some cases, the reports were shared with other law enforcement agencies.

If the information really was useful, let it out, let it explain just how it justifies this:
Moreover, Mr. Smith wrote, the intelligence showed the city was justified in applying intensive scrutiny to the 1,806 people arrested during the convention, including fingerprinting more than a thousand people who faced charges no more serious than traffic tickets. Some were detained as long as two days for minor offenses.