Perhaps six months late, the NYT figured out (with no sense of irony about that delay) that if Ray Kelly can spy on Muslims with impunity–as he appears to have done–he can do it to anyone.
It is a distressing fact of life that mistreatment of Muslims does not draw nearly the protest that it should. But not just Muslims are threatened by this seemingly excessive warrantless surveillance and record-keeping. Today Muslims are the target. In the past it was protesters against the Vietnam War, civil rights activists, socialists. Tomorrow it will be another vulnerable group whose lawful behavior is blended into criminal activity.
The editorial focuses on one of the many areas that should have offered a reasonable middle ground months ago: if it’s true nothing is wrong with this spying, than the NYPD should provide more information about what leads the cops were actually following.
Mr. Bloomberg has reacted in the worst possible way — with disdain — to those raising legitimate questions about the surveillance program. Asking about its legality, and about whether alienating innocent Muslims is a smart or decent strategy, does not translate into being soft on terrorism, or failing to appreciate that it is a dangerous world.
The mayor insists that the actions reported by The A.P. were “legal,” “appropriate” and “constitutional.” He also says the police were only “following leads.” But he has yet to explain what sort of leads, why they justify police surveillance of so many Muslims, or whether the type of surveillance depicted in the news reports continues.
If only the NYT knew of a newspaper that employed some good reporters who could do some reporting on such questions. I wonder where they might find that?
Perhaps most curious, though, is the NYT’s focus on Bloomberg, not Kelly, even while they admit that this program is Kelly’s baby.
It’s all a very curious focus from the NYT.
But it’s a good start.