Monday, March 5, 2012

Defending the Inquisition

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly

There are false equivalencies, and then there are feckless equivalencies. A newspaper columnist has just compared N.Y. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to  Rush Limbaugh slander victim Sandra Fluke.  Mike Lupica of the Daily News has had it with the abuse being heaped on Kelly for having the guts to trash civil rights in the name of public safety. If you think the War Against Women is bad, says Lupica, then the War Against Ray Kelly is just plain horrid. So much so that Islamophobic anti-civil libertarians are fighting back with a rally today at Police HQ to support continued police surveillance of Muslims of every age, gender, residence -- anywhere and everywhere and forevermore.

The livid Lupica sputters that Kelly is being attacked out of pure "turf war" spite by the American Civil Liberties Union, the New York Times  and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who've all taken umbrage at his spying spree. Lupica was so mad that he made a typo which unintentionally speaks the truth:
They do this as Kelly continues to do everything he can — and within the law, despite the coverage — to keep the city safe at the most dangerous period in his history. The Times even asserts that the kind of surveillance employed by Kelly and the NYPD produces no “obvious payoff for public safety.”
Even as legal experts are weighing in and speculating that the police spying program is most likely illegal, and Attorney General Eric Holder is "taking a look" at the practice after being intensely pressured to do so, Kelly is fighting back. He could not have picked a more telling venue to defend himself in a speech over the weekend: the Cipriani Club on Wall Street. The Cipriani's balcony was the infamous site of champagne-sipping one percenters hurling insults at OWS protesters last fall. Of course, the NYPD conducts part of its surveillance from the Goldman Sachs office building, so it's no surprise he picked the financial district to give his little talk. Kelly surmises that while most Muslims are law-abiding citizens, you have to keep an eye on them. They're prone to being radicalized:
We know that while the vast majority of Muslim student associations and their members are law-abiding.we have seen too many cases in which such groups were exploited..... The notion that the Police Department should close our eyes to what takes place outside the five boroughs is folly, and it defies the lessons of history. If terrorists aren’t limited by borders and boundaries, we can’t be either.
Kelly conveniently failed to mention that most, if not all, of the "exploited" groups and individuals are actually entrapped by the police and/or FBI and arrested to much fanfare after they are convinced by informants and undercover agents to aspire to blow things up. Law enforcement m.o. is to find marginally intelligent or mentally disturbed people who can be easily used as tools in the phony War on Terror. None of those charged was ever really capable of or even close to carrying out an attack. They got caught on tape saying they hated America, or admired Al Qaeda, or maybe wanted to blow stuff up. That was enough to charge, even convict, them.

In his column today, Lupica gives us two feeble examples of how the NYPD surveillance program has made us safer:
 Let Kelly continue to use NYPD surveillance of conversations inside an Islamic bookstore in Bay Ridge, one attached to a mosque, that helps New York cops keep a Herald Square subway station from being blown sky high.
The names you want to know about on that one, guys who certainly were a threat to public safety, were Shahawar Matin Siraj and James Elshafay, eventually arrested and tried and convicted in federal court. Siraj, who worked in that bookstore, ended up getting 30 years. And there is the “spying” that last year resulted in the arrests of Ahmed Ferhani and Mohammed Mamdouh and a plan from radical Islam to bomb a Manhattan synagogue. 
Lupica doesn't tell you that Siraj was set up by an informant and was strung along with bribes from the police -- or that Elshafay was a schizophrenic who was convinced to plead guilty and testify against Siraj. You can read all the details here. The other two alleged terrorists whom Lupica cites were initially investigated by the FBI, who dropped the case for lack of credible evidence. The NYPD got the sloppy seconds, and the charges were eventually reduced. The duo, in effect, pled guilty to "wanting to" blow up a synagogue.
Lupica chooses to ignore the facts, and instead warns the public to "get off Kelly's back, and get out of his way":
At a time when you look around at what passes for political leaders in a presidential election year from both parties, watch them blow with the wind, you have actual leadership from Kelly, who stands his ground and tells the truth about the city in which he works and the world in which he lives.
You don’t go to war against Ray Kelly on something as important as this; you stand with him. Sometimes you wonder if Kelly’s loudest critics, the ones from politics or the newspapers or the protesters in the street Saturday yelling about him, have forgotten what year it is.
I think Mr. Lupica has forgotten what century it is. He seems to have wandered into a time machine and traveled back to the Spanish Inquisition, or the Salem Witch Trials, or even as recently as the 1950s and Joe McCarthy's Red Scare. Man's inhumanity to man knows no expiration date, though, and Lupica is exactly correct: 2012 is turning out to be a very unforgettable medieval year.


Denis Neville said...

“Public Enemy Number One”

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” - Franklin Roosevelt

Yet we capitulated to fear-mongering and racist sentiments and interned Japanese-Americans for the duration of WWII. History repeats itself as we watch the deplorable treatment of Muslim Americans. Just as Japanese Americans were seen as foreign and presumptively disloyal during WWII, Muslim Americans are similarly seen as imminently threatening and disloyal, as potential "terrorists.”

While we have not put Muslim Americans in internment camps, Abdul Malik Mujahid wrote, “In a Virtual Internment Camp: Muslim Americans since 9/11,” in 2003!


“While protecting our homeland from acts of violence should be a top priority for policymakers, we must remember that no entire community can be held responsible for the acts of a few people. A “presumption of guilt” should never be applied collectively. We must aggressively investigate criminal behavior, watch for patterns that point to emerging threats, and stay constantly vigilant as citizens, but we must also not divide or target Americans simply on the basis of their faith or ancestry.” - Rep. Michael M. Honda (D-Calif.), who as a child spent several wartime years living in an internment camp

Anne Lavoie said...

Government is going beyond entrapment. They search for and find ignorant dummies who are angry with our government, then carefully cultivate and groom them for their role. They create them from scratch, leading them by the hand, spoonfeeding them everything they need to know and how to do it, including providing all the supplies and equipment, to become their 'terrorist'. It's outrageous.

On a related matter, for anyone who doesn't yet get the full scope of governments' (federal, state, and local) activities, including the 72 Fusion Centers out there, has a good article titled 'Drones in Texas and Tanks in Tampa: Inside the Out-Of-Control Weaponized Homeland Security State'

Fred Drumlevitch said...

Rather than repeat what I said in a comment to the recent NYT editorial on the subject of the extensive illegal NYPD surveillance of Muslim Americans, here's the link:

What I didn't say there, (for lack of characters remaining as I neared the NYT commenter limits --- and also not wishing to be censored by them for indecorous suggestions), is that a large proportion of Americans would probably put up with a proctologic exam as precondition for airline travel, were it presented as a necessity to "keep us safe". The apparently-fragile American psyche seems to have no limits with regard to what it will permit in the name of an idealized "safety". We already know that airline passengers are willing to be either irradiated or groped to supposedly insure it; and to most Americans, the interception of their emails and telephone conversations without traditional court warrants is quite acceptable. Now we learn that the Apple iOS and Google Android platforms permit one's entire photo library to be copied by apps on mobile devices and uploaded to parts unknown. I'd like to think that a popular backlash is brewing, but it may be that the average American is, on the one hand, so fearful of terrorism, and, on the other, so trained by social networking sites such as Facebook to voluntarily and continuously relinquish privacy, that he is not willing to defend fundamental Constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms such as prohibitions against unjustified search and seizure. It seems obvious that if the average American places no strong value on his own previously-traditional rights, he is unlikely to defend such rights for others.

It didn't surprise me that Police Commissioner Ray Kelly chose the Cipriani Club on Wall Street as a location from which he would defend his illegal surveillance activities. The security state is the gift that just keeps on giving --- to the 1%, and to their lackeys in government. It distracts the populace from what should be its true concerns, serves as a corporate profit center, increases political support for fear-mongering politicians, and allows the plutocracy to identify and suppress popular democratic memes and action.

John in Lafayette said...


Thanks for the link.

Reminds me of the following:

RIOT, n. A popular entertainment given to the military by innocent bystanders.
-Ambrose Bierce

Denis Neville said...

“Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.” - Benjamin Franklin

Nick Turse @, “With Occupy protesters gearing up for a spring resurgence, Salisbury spells out just what activists will be up against -- think unmanned drones, tanks, and super-sophisticated surveillance systems from New York City to Scottsbluff, Nebraska -- in the months ahead.”

Tomgram: Stephan Salisbury, Weaponizing the Body Politic/How to Fund an American Police State - Real Money for an Imaginary War:

“The chances of an American dying in a terrorist incident in a given year are 1 in 3.5 million. To reduce that risk, to make something minuscule even more minuscule, what has the nation spent? What has it cost us? Instead of rebuilding a ravaged American city in a timely fashion or making Americans more secure in their “underwater” homes and their disappearing jobs, we have created militarized police forces, visible evidence of police-state-style funding.”

Nick Turse, “What Happened When I Tried to Get Some Answers About the Creepy NYPD Watchtower Monitoring OWS”

“There’s a metal monster that goes by the name Sky Watch looming over Liberty Square, but don’t ask questions about it or else.”

Valerie said...

I really admire these Occupy Protesters who are willing to keep speaking out knowing their every move is being photographed and noted. Their idealism - that what is right and just will prevail - is admirable.

Ray Kelly reminds me of Dick Cheney - evil through and through and his policies of scape-goating Muslims as a group - well it is so Hitleresque isn't it. This is what happens when history is not emphasised in high school curriculums. Citizens can’t see how it is repeating itself.