Mayor Bloomberg Unapologetic For Scope Of NYPD Surveillance Of Muslim College Students


bloomberg1Mayor Bloomberg took a series of questions today about an explosive AP report detailing how the “NYPD’s intelligence division focused far beyond New York City (including at UB) as part of a surveillance program targeting Muslims.”

The news has rankled groups representing Muslims (students and otherwise), but Bloomberg, as you can see from this Q&A transcript kindly assembled by our Reuven Blau, appears unapologetic about the highly focused police investigations.

Q: The President of Yale said that the police investigation of Muslims in schools is antithetical to the values of Yale and the country. Your reaction?

Bloomberg: I don’t know why keeping the county safe is antithetical to the values of Yale. Yale’s freedoms to do research, to teach, to give people a place where they want to stay, is defended by law-enforcement throughout the country that works very hard to make sure that we are safe and the terrorists that want to take away the very values that Yale has, expounds, and survives with. And we want to make sure that doesn’t happen.

If going on web sites and looking for information is not what Yale stands for I don’t know. It’s the freedom of information. People provide things on web sites presumably, and make them available to everybody, it’s ridiculous to argue that they are not available to everybody. And given that we’ve had a dozen people convicted who come from some of these single purpose organizations, the best way to describe it, including the Underwear Bomber, who the press seems to be talking about, of course we are going to look at anything that’s publicly available in the public domain. We have an obligation to do so and it is to protect the very things that let Yale survive.

Q: Reports that detectives were accompanying students on whitewater rafting trips?

A: I have no idea. The only white water rafting I’ve done I did with my daughter. I don’t think she had a lot of information that I was interested in. In terms of her political views, it was a long time ago and I’m certainly sure she had political views. She certainly does now.

Q: Do you think that type of activity goes one step too far?

A: No. We have to keep this country safe. This is a dangerous place. Make no mistake about it. It’s very cute to go and blame everybody and say we should stay away from anything that smacks of intelligence gathering. The job of our law enforcement is to make sure that they prevent things. And you only do that by being proactive. You have to respect people’s right to privacy. You have to obey the law. And I think police officers across this country, federal level, state level, city level do that.
But having said all of that, you are not going to survive, you are not going to be able to be a journalist and write what you want to say if the people who want to take away your freedoms succeed.

Q: We you aware that the NYPD was sending detectives out of the state?

A: The last time I was on a whitewater rafting trip…I went with my daughter years ago. It was the last time I went whitewater rafting or probably ever talked about it. No.

Q: You spoke of the need for surveillance to secure freedom and liberty. The Muslim community feels it’s being surveyed a lot more than any other community.

A: There’s no way anybody would know that.

Q: Well, there’s no indication that you are in churches and synagogues.

A: Isn’t that what we want?

Q: You are in churches and synagogues as often as in mosques?

A: I didn’t say that. You said that.

(At this point, City Hall spokesman Stu Loeser jumped in and said: “I think it’s been widely reported that in the 70s and the 80s groups from the Jewish Defense League to the groups associated to groups associated with the Irish Republic Army and various Puerto Rican separatists groups were the focus of the NYPD.)

Bloomberg: The Police Department goes where there are allegations. And they look to see those allegations are true. That’s what you’d expect them to do. That’s what you’d want them to do. Remind yourself when you turn out the light tonight. You have your job because there are young men and women who have been giving their lives overseas for the last 200 plus years so that we would have freedom of the press and we go after the terrorists. And we are going to continue to do that. And the same thing is true to those people who work on the streets of our cities.

{NY Daily News/ Newscenter}