And here's the rant:
My first thought was "Huh, that sounds illegal as hell." Of course, as it pans out, it isn't. Or more accurately, monitoring potentially criminal organizations isn't illegal. Apparently, to the NYPD this seems to include groups that have absolutely no criminal history or malevolent intentions. Still, might as well write it all down and mark it secret. You never know when those pacifists might suddenly turn violent, do you? (note: this is sarcasm)
This then forms a nice vicious circle, since the City's Law department used the intelligence to justify detaining people with files from this surveillance program for fingerprinting. Disgusting.
The other thing that really gets me about this (though I'm sure you understand that it doesn't provoke righteous anger in quite the same way) is the NYPD has no role in this kind of monitoring. We already have the FBI, NSA, CIA, and whatever other bogeymen are hiding under the aegis of Homeland Security. But no, apparently the NYPD isn't content with these organizations, and they feel they need to deploy detectives to gather intelligence of their own. Including overseas. Wasn't Homeland Security supposed to stop all this BS?
I really only think there are two conclusions here: 1. They were ignorant of it at the time. This seems unlikely (especially since at least one of the groups the NYPD was watching asked the FBI if they had a file, which must have tipped somebody off), but then again the administration's departments have a track record of displaying or talking about their massive incompetence, so I could be wrong. It's not a good sign, and a further bad sign that nobody has mentioned that the program has been stopped 2. They were aware of it at the time, and willing allowed the NYPD to gather intelligence. For organizations that have turf wars as an apparently integral part of their identity, this also seems unlikely, but I can think of three reasons. 1.They didn't consider defending their institutional identity to be important compared to the goal of actually stopping terrorism. I think this is the best scenario, of these three. Shame that they have a history of not acting at all in this fashion. 2. They were too mired in their own dope to stop somebody else from getting into the game. If this is the case, I wonder who else is realizing how easy it is to form national intelligence networks. 3. The scare tactic answer is they wanted the information collected, but didn't want to do it themselves. Letting the NYPD haul in a bunch of info wraps it up nicely for the rest of the intelligence community, who if they get asked about it can deny knowing anything, while at the same time having convenient access to all the records in New York. And if watchdogs come sniffing around, they go for the PD, since they are the ones that have really done the wrong in collecting the information. Scary, yes, but I wonder if their smart enough and organized enough to pull it off.
I think I'm running out of steam. Comments welcome, as always.