Sunday, October 27, 2013

"You don't have no freedom ..."

Bill de Blasio, the prohibitive favorite to be elected mayor of New York City next week, has promised to end this sort of thing. A court has ruled this kind of policing is unconstitutional. Let's hope that means there's a change coming.

In addition, de Blasio has promised New York Muslims that widespread, dragnet infiltration of their business and places of worship by the NYPD will stop when he is in office. He's pretty explicit:

“The efforts of surveillance have to be based on specifically specific information, and obviously you need to go through a careful vetting process,” de Blasio said during a rally at Columbus Park in Downtown Brooklyn.

Based on internal NYPD reports and interviews with officials involved in the programs, the NYPD has conducted wholesale surveillance of entire Muslim neighborhoods, chronicling daily life including where people eat, pray and get their hair cut, according to a series of reports by The Associated Press. Police also reportedly infiltrated dozens of mosques and Muslim student groups.

In addition, the NYPD secretly labeled entire mosques as terrorism organizations, a designation that allows police to use informants to record sermons and spy on imams, often without specific evidence of criminal wrongdoing, according to the AP.

A de Blasio administration in New York will be something of a test whether a smart, civil liberties-oriented, executive can rein in one facet of our country's pervasive spook and surveillance infrastructure.

Many of us hoped Barack Obama could perform this feat at the national level, but the growth of the NSA/secret ops arena on his watch is a disappointment. Let's see what de Blasio does in our largest city.

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