Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano weighed in on the NSA intelligence leaks on Friday, telling NY1 that fears over government surveillance were overblown.
“I think people have gotten the idea that there’s an Orwellian state out there that somehow we’re operating in. That’s far from the case,” she told Errol Louis during an appearance on Road to City Hall.
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.
As President Barack Obama’s opponents pile on in the aftermath of multiple recent controversies–notably his reaction to the Benghazi attacks, revelations that the Internal Revenue Service focused on conservative-aligned nonprofits and the Justice Department’s unprecedented snooping on press communications–one local congressman wants it to be known that he is also not pleased.
To wit, Republican Rep. Michael Grimm, who represents Staten Island and southern Brooklyn, released a lengthy statement this afternoon blasting Mr. Obama for “bringing Chicago-style politics to the White House.” This style of underhanded rule, Mr. Grimm said, has resulted in a presidency that is “the most secretive, deceptive, and divisive we’ve seen in modern times.”
Earlier today, Mayor Michael Bloomberg repeatedly refused to comment on accusations that his media organization, Bloomberg News, improperly accessed information about subscribers of the firm’s financial data service.
“No, I can’t say anything. I have an agreement with the Conflicts of Interest Board. You’ll have to talk to the company,” Mr. Bloomberg replied when first asked about the controversy at a press conference in Brooklyn, insisting that city rules prohibit him from weighing in.
Congressman Pete King, the head of the House’s Homeland Security Committee, has been generating some media buzz recently with his forceful rejection of a Democratic amendment which would restricting federal funding from police forces declared to be discriminatory by the Attorney General. While the amendment wouldn’t directly impact the NYPD, the subtext of the legislation was clearly intended to send a message regarding the Muslim-surveillance controversy unearthed by The Associated Press earlier this year. And on a recent CNN discussion, Mr. King pushed back hard when The New Yorker‘s Ryan Liza tried to give credit to The AP’s report.
“First off, there is no profiling, that’s the absolute nonsense that people like you and others are propagating,” Mr. King stated flatly when the topic was broached.
“I’m not propagating anything I’m just telling you that there’s been some very legitimate questions raised about what the NYPD is doing!” Mr. Lizza shouted back.
hudson river blues
New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly went on Inside City Hall last night to discuss, among other things, his department’s controversial surveillance of Muslim businesses and communities unearthed by The Associated Press.
“We’re sort of under attack,” Mr. Kelly said, arguing the AP fostered a narrative that his department has done something illegal. “The AP has done over 30 stories. It’s pretty tough to go up against a wire service that has a certain template that it’s sticking to.”
Mayor Michael Bloomberg doesn’t see eye to eye with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on how much information New Jersey is getting from the New York City Police Department.
Yesterday, Governor Christie indicated his state was receiving very little information. “9/11 was not prevented because law enforcement agencies weren’t talking to each other, they were being selfish, they were being provincial, they were being paranoid, they were being arrogant,” he warned. “I do not want to return to those days.”
Asked if he would run for mayor or run for re-election after the arrest of his campaign treasurer yesterday, a “shaken” John Liu told reporters “I’m going to sort out what exactly happened and figure out how to move forward.”
Jia Hua, John Liu’s campaign treasurer, likely has the option to “trade up” to federal prosecutors, according to noted defense lawyer Benjamin Brafman. “If you are the campaign treasurer, and you can give them the candidate, you can get a lot of mileage in an effort to cooperate with the government.”
Andrew Cuomo took a bold swipe at both Eliot Spitzer and David Paterson in his speech at the Citizen’s Budget Commission. “Relatively, we have made progress in Albany. It has been 14 months since the governor of the state was indicted or admitted committing major felonies,” he said.
eye in the sky
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.
Congressman Pete King, hosting John Gambling’s radio show this morning, interviewed New York Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly about the recent criticism the NYPD has received over its extensive surveillance of Muslim businesses and mosques. Both the interviewer and interviewee blasted the media for calling the NYPD’s actions “spying.”
“I just wish the media would show some responsibility and use the words ‘surveillance’ or ‘police investigation’ rather than ‘spying.’ To use that term, to be accusing you of ‘spying,’ is, to me, really offensive,” Mr. King said, asking Mr. Kelly what he thought of the issue.
“It’s a pejorative term, it sells well,” Mr. Kelly responded. “They forget we’ve the subject of 14 plots since 9/11 … We’ve been lucky. We just have been lucky.”