Mayoral front-runner Christine Quinn refused to criticize President Obama over reports that the federal government has engaged in widespread monitoring of Americans’ Internet activity and telephone calls–arguing that surveillance is crucial to the city’s safety.
On his radio show last Saturday night, Democratic Assemblyman Dov Hikind took some time to castigate the harshest critics of the recently-revealed New York City Police Department surveillance program of Muslim mosques and businesses, and especially the New Jersey politicians calling for an investigation into the NYPD’s actions in their state.
“Recently, it all started with the Associated Press when they came out with a report, a study, of … what the police department is doing is too intrusive, they’re invading Muslim mosques and they’re doing this, they’re doing that, and they’re doing the other thing,” Mr. Hikind explained, mocking the critics’ claims. “As the days go on, more and more people, especially Democrats and people on the left, are criticizing, asking for investigations. A Senator from New Jersey, I think Menendez is his name, asked for the Justice Department to look into this. I mean, these people are nuts! Cory Booker, the Mayor of Newark, same thing.”
“They’re very, very upset. I think it is so ridiculous. I think these people are endangering all of us,” he added.
After a recently leaked New York Police Department document revealed extensive surveillance operations of mosques and Muslim-owned businesses in Newark, New Jersey, critics pounced. However, on John Gambling’s radio show this morning, Mayor Michael Bloomberg argued the attacks of September 11th proved the need to monitor the Garden State.
“You’ve got to remember, an awful lot of 9/11 hijackers stayed in New Jersey for an extended periods of time, training, planning their attacks,” he said. “Mohamed Atta, the ringleader of the attacks, often met with others in Newark to coordinate and plan the attacks, including selecting which flights to hijack. There’s a reason to take a look at Newark here.”
“The people of Newark New Jersey, the people of New Jersey, are protected as well,” he added. “The NYPD is trying to stop terrorism in the entire region. If we knew about at threat in Newark, we wouldn’t say, ‘Oh, that’s yours. You worry about it.’ Quite the contrary.”
On John Gambling’s radio show this morning, Mayor Michael Bloomberg took some time to defend the New York Police Department, which is under criticism for spying on Muslims throughout the Northeast, including sending an agent on a whitewater rafting trip while counting how many times a day some Muslim students prayed. Today, the Associated Press further reported the NYPD “targeted Muslim mosques with tactics normally reserved for criminal organizations.” Mr. Bloomberg didn’t have any problem with these actions, however.
“Our primary objective is to prevent things from happening,” Mr. Bloomberg explained. “We’ve got to do everything that the law permits us to do to prevent another terror attack, and we cannot forget that.”
“We’re going to continue to take all possible legal steps to keep this city safe. We’re going to follow all possible leads wherever they take us,” he repeated later in the interview.
It was recently revealed that the NYPD secretly monitored college students throughout the Northeast, something that received particularly strong criticism from the president of Yale University, Richard Levin, who wrote “the police surveillance based on religion, nationality, or peacefully expressed political opinions is antithetical to the values of Yale, the academic community, and the United States.” After Mayor Michael Bloomberg finished a press conference earlier this afternoon, he was nonplussed when asked about Mr. Levin’s remarks.
“I don’t know why keeping the country safe is antithetical to the values of Yale,” he responded. “Yale’s freedoms to do research, to teach, to give people a place to say what they want to say, is defended by the law enforcement throughout this country that works very hard to make sure that we are safe.”
“Of course we’re going to look at anything that’s publicly available in the public domain and we have an obligation to do so. It is to protect the very things that let Yale survive,” he added.