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March 26, 2007

New York City asks court not to unseal RNC spy files

New York City is asking a court not to unseal police files pertaining to police infiltration of non-violent groups before the RNC because the public might want to know what's in them:

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. [NYT]

That's right, the city is arguing that the public shouldn't have access to these records because the media will report what's in them, and that will make people angry. And if it became widely known that the NYPD violates people's civil rights, the police might lose more civil rights lawsuits! 

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Comments

According to the logic of the Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R) administration:

If civil liberties violations by the city are so bad as to be actionable, then keep people in the dark. We should only know about civil liberties violations minor enough that they aren't actionable.

By the way, it's common in criminal cases for a defense attorney to ask for information to be kept secret to avoid prejudicing the jury.

But I haven't personally seen that argument used before regarding a civil case.

In a criminal case, a prejudiced jury could theoretically mean an innocent man gets executed, and the judge has to balance that against the public's right to know.

In a civil case, if the plaintiffs win, then money is awarded.

Man, that lawyer must have huge balls. Giant truck balls. To make that argument and keep a straight face.

what's the world coming to when you can't trust the nypd?

OT

What I want to know is, what accounts for the failure of the mainstream media to cover the purge scandal for so long, and so many other scandals? Do you think somebody just set up newspaper editors to cheat on their wives, and threatened to tell if the editors wouldn’t play ball when they come back some day and ask for something?

It wouldn’t be that hard to do, when you think about it. People wouldn’t talk about it.

i am surprised by that decision.

One might think that the integrity expected within the election process and the need to be open & honest about public safety issues in general would have been enough to compel authorities to completely open up the files.

could this be the smoking gun proof of a vast right wing conspiracy?

I see. So the desire to know automatically negates any right to know. It all makes perfect sense.

What I want to know is, what accounts for the failure of the mainstream media to cover the purge scandal for so long, and so many other scandals?

If I had to guess I'd say Sean Bell. They were grooming Kelly to take Bloomberg's place but that's a moot point after Sean Bell. Kelly is toast. So there's no need to hang out to this dirt anymore. It's better just to get it out there now.

Well, you gotta admire that lawyer for his honest reasoning...NOT! But he's right; it probably will become harder for the police to illegally spy on people if these documents are unsealed. And when you make it harder for the police to their job illegally, you make it harder for the police state to do its job illegally. This means you must side with the terrorists.

That's what the city's lawyer should have argued, i.e., to unseal these documents is to give a victory to the terrorists. He should have made this announcement at Ground Zero, using a bullhorn, with a couple of firemen hoisting a flag behind him.

Freedom of information is a deadly weapon in the hands of the enemies of freedom.

John Lucid, it's not illegal for police to spy on dissenters in a police state. That's what makes it a police state.

Bloomberg '08 - A kindler, gentler autocrat!

parse:

I was being a little tongue-in-cheeky. I thought it was fairly obvious, especially when I took my argument to the point of absurdity.

Go back to bed, America. Your government has figured out how it all transpired. Go back to bed, America. Your government is in control again. Here. Here's American Gladiators. Watch this, shut up. Go back to bed, America. Here is American Gladiators. Here is 56 channels of it! Watch these pituitary retards bang their fucking skulls together and congratulate you on living in the land of freedom. Here you go, America! You are free to do what we tell you! You are free to do what we tell you!

and you, bill hicks, you are free to be one cooky motherfucker. (and american gladiators is teh old)

I think there is a good argument to be made against a general release of the information that might have been gathered. If the government didn't have the right to do the spying in the first place, then the victims of that spying should not be further victimized by having the illegally obtained information made public. However, those victims should have access to that information for their own legal purposes.

This does bring up a possible conflict between injured parties. If Smith and Jones are spied upon in unentanglable ways, and Smith wants the info for a lawsuit, but Jones doesn't want the info released to anyone, whose rights win out?

Njorl -

At least your argument seems more legally plausible than the NYPD's argument, but I know that if I was one of the targets of surveillance, I fully support the release of the results of that spying. It seems reasonable to assume that many of the spying victims would have this attitude because most of them were perfectly innocent and their actions, above-board.

I remember being really angry at all the bullshit disruptions before & during the RNC, the assumption of guilt, the non-NYC-like security mobilization, the arbitrary mass arrests and the illegal treatment of the incarcerated. But nothing made my blood boil like the spying by these J.-Edgar-Hoover-babies playing James Bond. Imagine that, people are pissed off that they were spied upon. Go figure!

General Jaruzelski celebrates his vindication!

Come on, they're the NYPD. Did anyone seriously expect better of them? Same NYPD that pumped an unarmed West African peddlar (Amadou Diallo) with 41 rounds, arrested hundreds of people who protested the brutality surrounding Diallo's killing, and got off scot free from the whole deal.

And behind them, as always, the city of NY.

Thugs will be thugs, fascists fascists etc. etc.

It's not just a few bad apples in the NYPD. Sean Bell, Diallo, and countless other racially charged incidents ranging from indignity to full-on atrocity attest to that fact.

However, I also believe that the NYPD represents a fundamental improvement over most big city police departments. I was reading an academic comparison between the NYPD and the LAPD a couple weeks ago. The NYPD was one of the first big city police departments to take cues from other modern public bureaucracies and take public feedback seriously. As a result, they defused some of the racist groupthink rot that crippled more closed-off us-vs-them departments like the LAPD.

It's not just a few good apples trying to redeem the whole NY barrel, either. There are genuinely positive and responsive strains within NYPD culture.

Maybe it's because our men and women in blue have been attending so many Billionaires For Bush rallies and listening to so much Johnny Cash... Couldn't hurt, right?

I'm thinking they don't want the records unsealed because it's going to be a massive embarrassment when people see what city resources have been squandered on.

NYC "Culture" notwithstanding, Who in their right mind would set foot in that Orwellian police state if they didn't have to? Go visit Ashgabat if you like that shit, it's more picturesque.

There's the Supreme Court precedent from 2000. Bush was allowed to have the vote counting stopped for the stated reason that if it continued it would hurt him because he'd lose the count. So in that light it's perfectly appropriate for NYC to stop the release of info that would prove its guilt.

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