Feds Should Provide NYPD Oversight

In order to avoid abuses, New York City's police department should hammer out an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department to oversee its surveillance of the city's Muslim enclaves, Adam Serwer blogs at Mother Jones.

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New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly (Getty)

Adam Serwer writes in a blog entry at Mother Jones that the New York Police Department, in order to avoid systemic abuse of civil rights during its surveillance of Muslim enclaves, should develop a consent decree with the U.S. Justice Department. Right now there is no federal oversight of the department's counterterrorism efforts, he says.

When the Associated Press' story on the CIA-assisted NYPD surveillance program targeting the city's Muslim enclaves first broke in August, City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. dismissed concerns about oversight out of hand, telling WNYC that "We have done extensive oversight of the NYPD’s terror activities and that oversight includes confidential briefings by the commissioner to myself ... So they left all of that out of the article."

Since then, the AP has done several pieces following up on its original reporting -- prompting some harsh questioning of NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly in a recent city council meeting and a lawsuit from the New York Civil Liberties Union. Now Vallone is saying that the City Council actually can't oversee the NYPD.

Peter Vallone, the chairman of the council's Public Safety Committee, said the council doesn't have the power to subpoena the NYPD for its intelligence records. And even if it did, he said the operations are too sophisticated for city officials to effectively oversee.

Read Adam Serwer's entire blog entry at Mother Jones.

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