The news about the NYPD’s spying (with the CIA’s help) continues to grow. In this report, Len Levitt, a former police-beat reporter for Newsday, describes “a trove of pages of Intelligence Division documents” that he received. Levitt writes that “the NYPD’s spying operation has compiled information on 250 mosques, 12 Islamic schools, 31 Muslim Student Associations, 263 places it calls ‘ethnic hotspots,’ such as businesses and restaurants as well as 138 ‘persons of interest.’ ” My own workplace, Brooklyn College, is mentioned in the report.
The reporting on this story tends to portray the NYPD as a rogue organization and the FBI as its buttoned-up brother. But we shouldn’t forget that one of the last things Michael Mukasey did as attorney general was to create the category of “assessments” for the bureau. Prior to this, the FBI investigated people they suspected of wrongdoing. Under the new rules, no suspicion of criminal wrongdoing is needed to open an “assessment.” In two years, Eric Holder’s FBI opened 82,325 assessments of people and groups and continued only 3,315 investigations. (As the ACLU blog put it: “But all of the information about the 79,000 innocent people investigated during this two-year period can be retained by the FBI forever, despite the fact no one engaged in wrongdoing of any kind.”) The FBI is also relaxing its rules, enabling agents to recruit more informers. “Agents have asked for that power,” the New York Times reported back in June, “in part because they want the ability to use information found in a subject’s trash to put pressure on that person to assist the government in the investigation of others.”
The bad news is that, ten years after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the national security state is alive and well and continues to invade the privacy of American citizens. The good news is that soon everyone will be on either the FBI or NYPD payroll and the unemployment problem will be solved.
On a different note, the appalling events in Syria may provoke some people to consider military intervention, but the courageous Syrian people have rejected such assistance. Here are three useful links (two from the excellent Jadaliyya.com website). The first is by the Syrian Local Coordinating Committees regarding the uprisings in Syria and the need to reject foreign military intervention. The second is from the National Alliance for Syria (based in North America), which presents “32 Questions and Answers” about what’s happening there. The third is an essential interview with the esteemed Arab intellectual Fawwaz Traboulsi about the uprisings in Syria and the Arab world.