Bloomberg defends intelligence-gathering on Muslim communities

New York’s mayor served notice Friday that his police department will do everything in its power to root out terrorists in the U.S., even if it means sending officers outside the city limits or placing law-abiding Muslims under scrutiny. “We just cannot let our guard down again,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned.

The mayor laid out his doctrine for keeping the city safe during his weekly radio show following a week of criticism of a secret police department effort to monitor mosques in several cities and keep files on Muslim student groups at colleges in Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and upstate New York.

Several college administrators and politicians have complained that the intelligence-gathering – exposed in a series of stories by The Associated Press – pried too deeply into the lives of innocent people.

With about 1,000 officers dedicated to intelligence and counterterrorism, the New York Police Department has one of the most aggressive domestic intelligence operations in the U.S. Its methods have stirred debate in legal circles over whether it has crossed the line and violated the civil liberties of Muslims.

In perhaps his most vigorous defense yet of some of the NYPD’s anti-terrorism efforts, Bloomberg said it is “legal,” “appropriate” and “constitutional” for police to keep a close eye on Muslim communities that terrorists might use as a base to strike the city. And he said investigators must pursue “leads and threats wherever they come from,” even across state lines.

Associated Press, 24 February 2012

See also Daniel Tutt, “4 Myths that led to the NYPD attack on Muslim civil liberties”, Huffington Post, 24 February 2012