Wednesday, June 12th, 2013 — Good Afternoon, Stay Safe
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The Rev. Msgr. Joseph A. Dunne (R.I.P. An NYPD ‘Great’)
Dunne, Rev. Msgr. Joseph A.
Rev. Msgr. Joseph A. Dunne was ninety-six at the time of his death at Our Lady of Consolation Residence in Riverdale, NY. Born September 14, 1916 in Richmond Hill, Queens, he was predeceased by his parents Philip and Margaret Dunne, his sisters Virginia Ruckel and Janet White, and his nephew James Ruckel. He is survived by eight nieces, three nephews, five grandnieces, ten grandnephews, four great-nieces and seven great-nephews.
He was ordained in 1942 at Saint Joseph's Seminary Dunwoodie, in Yonkers and served as a parish priest at Saint Peter's in Poughkeepsie. In 1944 he joined the U.S. Army as a Chaplain and paratrooper serving during WWII and Korea. He was discharged at the rank of Major from the XVIII Airborne Corps in 1953 due to disabilities from injuries suffered in Korea. He received the Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple Heart for courage under fire after jumping behind enemy lines with the 187th Airborne into Munsan-ni, Korea, where he was seriously wounded by a land mine while tending to the wounded and dying. He was also awarded the Army Commendation Ribbon and Senior Parachutist Badge.
He returned to the New York Archdiocese and worked at Our Lady of Victory in Manhattan, Saint Sylvester's in Staten Island and Saint John's in White Plains. He was appointed Vice-Chancellor of the Military Ordinariate by Cardinal Spellman in 1956 and elevated to Monsignor in 1957.
In 1958 he was appointed Chaplain of the New York City Police Department where he worked for twenty-three years. During this time he founded and directed the NYPD Alcoholism Rehabilitation Program. In addition, he founded and directed the National Council on Compulsive Gambling and co-founded Debtors Anonymous.
From 1981 until 1986 he worked at John Jay College of Criminal Justice where he served as the Executive Director of The Institute on Alcohol and Substance Abuse and as an adjunct professor teaching the alcoholism and substance abuse counseling course.
Although he retired to Florida in 1986, to play more golf, he assisted St. Bernadette's Parish in Hollywood and continued counseling police officers at the Seafield 911 Rehabilitation Center in Dania. After suffering a major stroke in 1991, he concentrated on his physical therapy and recovery. In 2000, he returned to New York to be near his family and friends.
In lieu of flowers, donations in may be made to the New York Catholic Foundation, in memory of Msgr. Joseph A. Dunne, for the Egan Pavilion, 1011 First Ave. NY, NY 10022 or to Calvary Hospital Hospice, 1740 Eastchester Rd. Bronx, NY 10461.
Visiting hours will be held at David J. Hodder & Son Funeral Home on Friday, June 14, 2013 from 2-4 & 7-9PM.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated by His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan at St. Barnabas Church, Bronx on Saturday June 15, 2013 at 11:30AM.
Interment to follow at Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Hawthorne.
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Kelly Admits to 34 PDS - MN Homi Botched Clearance / Homi Stat Fudging?
Ray Kelly admits cold case never should have been closed, applauds woman who tracked down her father's killer after 26 years
By REBECCA HARSHBARGER and DANIEL PRENDERGAST — Wednesday, June 12th, 2013 ‘The New York Post’
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly today applauded the woman whose tireless social media search led to the arrest of the man who killed her father in 1986, and admitted that the NYPD never should have closed the case.
The admission came less than a week after Justo Santos was captured by authorities in Miami and charged with the murder of Jose “George” Martinez almost 26 years ago.
“I applaud her. It's admirable what she did,” Kelly said. “Obviously she made a concerted effort and it paid off, and we appreciate it.”
Santos fled New York for the Dominican Republic after allegedly killing Jose “George” Martinez in front of the Dominican restaurant he owned in Inwood back in 1986, Kelly said. He was arrested there two years later and the NYPD officially closed the case — something that never should have happened, Kelly said.
“[The department] should not have closed the case,” Kelly said. “[It] should have been looked at to see if there was any additional information as to why he was out of jail.”
“That's why this case was additionally closed, because he was incarcerated in the Dominican Republic,” he added. “The case was closed because detectives believed that this individual was in custody,” Kelly said. “In fact, he was arrested briefly but was only in jail for a little over a year and was released.”
As the Post reported yesterday, Joselyn Martinez, 36, tracked down her father’s killer after scouring social media for almost a decade.
She alerted the NYPD, who worked with authorities in Miami to arrest Santos at his home.
Detectives are currently in the process of extraditing Santos to New York from Florida, Kelly said.
Kelly said the misstep could serve as a lesson for detectives using the Internet to investigate cold-cases.
“It sounds to me like common sense, they should be doing that at this time.”
Kelly: NYPD blew dad's slay
NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly praises woman who cracked cold case to find father's killer 26 years later
By Kerry Burke , Rocco Parascandola AND Corky Siemaszko — Wednesday, June 12th, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’
The city's top cop admitted Tuesday the NYPD muffed a murder investigation — and praised the victim's daughter for catching the confessed killer.
"I applaud her," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said of tenacious Joselyn Martinez. "It's admirable what she did. Obviously, she made a concerted effort and it paid off. We appreciate it."
But Joselyn, a fetching 36-year-old actress, might not have had to track down murder suspect Justo Santos herself if police had been more diligent.
Justo Santos, who fled to the Dominican Republic after allegedly murdering Jose Martinez back on Nov. 22, 1986, had been arrested two years later in his homeland, Kelly said.
Believing that Santos was busted for murder, the NYPD closed their case against him.
"However, he was only in jail for a little over a year and he was released," Kelly said. "They should not have closed the case."
"It should have been looked at to see if there was additional information as to whether or not he was out of jail."
Kelly also said detectives trying to solve other cold cases could learn a thing or two from Joselyn, who went online to track the now 43-year-old Santos to his lair in Miami.
"Sounds to me like common sense," said Kelly. "Sounds to me like you should be doing that at this time."
NYPD detectives are in the process of bringing Santos back to New York City to face trial.
Joselyn said she’s not dwelling on the past and is “very appreciative of the police right now, doing the work.”
“I don’t know what happened, but we’re doing it now,” she told The Daily News.
Jose Martinez was fatally shot in front of his horrified wife after he kicked Santos and his pals out of their Inwood restaurant.
Police quickly identified Santos as the suspected shooter, but he bolted to the D.R. before they could catch him.
Joselyn, who was 9 at the time, said she was haunted by her father's murder. And 10 years ago - on the anniversary of her dad's death - she decided to investigate on her own.
First, the brown-eyed beauty went to see the detectives at the 34th Precinct to find out where the investigation stood.
Then, in 2006, Martinez launched her own investigation.
First she searched Myspace.com for Santos' name, but came up with nothing. Then she searched Facebook, again with no results.
Then in 2008, she signed up for a free promotional search on Background.com, and right off the bat Santos' name popped up.
Encouraged by the results, Joselyn paid $70 fees to Background.com and similar sites, including USA-PeopleSearch.com, Peoplelookup.com and Intelius.com.
"They all had it. They had his address. They had his phone number," Joselyn told the Daily News. "He must have thought it was all over, that he had gotten away with it."
Back to the 34th Precinct Martinez went, where she turned over the information she spent a total of $280 to find to Detective Robert Dewhurst of the cold case squad.
Dewhurst picked it up from there. And on Friday, Martinez got the call she had been waiting for - Santos was in custody and had confessed to killing her dad.
Asked if there is anything she’d want to say to Santos, Martinez said no.
“I just want my father to have the same chance of justice as other people have,” she said. “My father came to this country, loved it. I love New York, and I can't wait for State of New York vs. this criminal. That will mean a lot to me that the people of New York will have this in writing.”
— With Casey Tolan.
Brooklyn Detectives Homi Clearances
When Patients and Suspects Just Don’t Fit
By JIM DWYER — Wednesday, June 12th, 2013 ‘The New York Times’
(Op-Ed / Commentary)
One morning a woman was wheeled into a cardiac unit in a hospital, and a team of doctors, nurses and technicians began the incredible voyage of threading a tiny camera through a blood vessel to her heart. All seemed to be going well. Then someone wandered into her hospital room and was startled to find the bed empty. A few minutes later, everyone realized she had been mistakenly taken to the cardiac lab, where the team quickly took out the camera.
Who done it?
It turned out that at least 17 discrete mistakes were involved. Many people failed to check the woman’s name. Her face was draped during the procedure. A doctor did not introduce himself.
To understand why the wrong patient had a camera stuck in her heart “required looking beyond the actions of individuals to factors affecting the functioning of the systems,” Dr. Mark R. Chassin and Dr. Elise C. Becher wrote in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
In Brooklyn, a special team of prosecutors is now examining 50 convictions obtained with help from an acclaimed retired detective, Louis Scarcella. Earlier this year, a man convicted largely on evidence developed by Mr. Scarcella was exonerated and released from prison. In reviewing other cases he worked on, reporters for The New York Times found that Mr. Scarcella was often called in to interrogate suspects when other investigators were unable to obtain confessions, and that he relied in a number of cases on a single eyewitness, a crack-addicted prostitute.
The office of Charles J. Hynes, the Brooklyn district attorney, said that it was reviewing the Scarcella cases to see if anyone else had been unjustly convicted.
That is an essential start, but as people involved in improving medical care have learned, finding someone to blame for a mistake doesn’t fix deeper problems, said James M. Doyle, a lawyer and visiting fellow with the National Institute of Justice who is studying mistakes in the criminal justice system.
“Even when you’ve got a bad actor who made horrific choices, why did they make these choices at the time?” Mr. Doyle asked. “Somehow or other, it seemed like a good decision at the time.” Wrongful convictions fall into the category of “organizational accidents,” he said, a term that is not meant to absolve individuals but to place the problems in a more revealing context.
Putting the wrong person in prison almost always requires more than a single overzealous detective, a mistaken eyewitness, or a suspect pushed into making false confessions. Prosecutors and defense lawyers do not challenge rogue police officers; judges overseeing the cases turn away from error, and then appellate courts ratify mistakes.
The kinds of tactics used by Mr. Scarcella were widely employed in Brooklyn criminal investigations during the 1980s and 1990s. This week, legal papers were filed in the cases of Everton Wagstaffe and Reginald Connor, who say they were wrongly accused in the kidnapping of Jennifer Negron, 16, on Jan. 1, 1992. She was found dead.
The men were convicted on the testimony of a single crack-addicted prostitute, who worked for the police as an informer. Over the years, DNA tests failed to link the two men to any physical evidence from the crime.
A car the informer claimed was used in the abduction was owned by an elderly woman. She was not questioned by defense lawyers at the time, but has since sworn that on the night of the crime, it was triple parked at a church service and could not have been used. And like witnesses in Mr. Scarcella’s cases, the troubled witness in the Wagstaffe-Connor investigation was held by the police at a hotel before testifying.
The detective overseeing the Wagstaffe-Connor investigation used a psychologically unstable informer in other cases to obtain convictions of innocent people. In a 2001 interview after his retirement, the detective, Michael Race, said that his squad was so overburdened that he routinely cut corners.
Over the years, prosecutors have resolutely defended the very methods used by Detective Race that they are now investigating in cases brought by Detective Scarcella — whom they also vouched for over decades.
“If all you’re doing is hunting down these guys and disciplining them, you’re really playing Whac-a-Mole,” Mr. Doyle said.
“You have to account for what happened, but you have to do it in a way that maximizes your chances of preventing it from happening again. If all you do is get this guy or that, you’re starving yourself of information that could help you.”
NYPD salutes its heroes on Medal Day
By Malena Carollo — Wednesday, June 12th, 2013 ‘The Staten Island Advance’ / Staten Island
Forty-three members of the NYPD and 12 police commands were honored Tuesday by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly at One Police Plaza.
"These officers have gone well above and beyond the call of duty in protecting the lives and safety of us all," Bloomberg said. "Their courage and professionalism, and the professionalism of the entire department, is why last year we achieved a new record low for the number of murders in our city and why we also had the fewest number of shootings in our city in recorded history."
The Medal of Honor, the Police Department's highest award, was given to Detective Ivan Marcano. Marcano was shot after intervening in an armed robbery he witnessed while off-duty. After taking a bullet to the chest, he warned bystanders, shot and killed one of the perpetrators and chased the other two suspects, all while keeping pressure on his own wound.
Next, there were 23 recipients of the Police Combat Cross, the second-highest award given for heroism against an armed adversary where the officer is directly in danger. Thirteen were honored with the Medal for Valor, the third-highest award.
A Purple Shield was given to the family of Detective Fermin (Sonny) Archer, who died in 2011 of injuries related to an automobile accident while on duty. Likewise, a Distinguished Service Medal was given to family members of five service members who died of illnesses after rescues and recovery from Sept. 11.
Additionally, 12 commands that maintained a high level of service in 2012 were recognized.
Cops prove their ‘medal’
By REBECCA HARSHBARGER and ANTONIO ANTENUCCI — Wednesday, June 12th, 2013 ‘The New York Post’
A Bronx cop who was shot in the chest last year but still managed to chase down and kill a mugging suspect was presented with the NYPD’s Medal of Honor yesterday.
“It was an amazing feeling; it was surreal,” Detective Ivan Marcano said of the award. “To be with family and other people who understand the pain and what it is to go through a traumatic event like that, it was just amazing.”
Marcano was driving with his girlfriend while off-duty in The Bronx last October when he noticed two men robbing a livery cabdriver at gunpoint.
When he got out of his car and identified himself as a cop, one of the suspects fired, hitting the 28-year-old in the chest.
The wounded cop and his girlfriend, Hilda Miolan, caught up with the suspects, who had crashed their getaway car.
Marcano got out of the car and managed to kill one of the robbers.
“The Medal of Honor is rarely given to anyone other than those who have fallen in the line of duty,” said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.
“Today marks an exception, as we recognize Detective Ivan Marcano.”
Kelly and Mayor Bloomberg awarded 43 members of the force with NYPD honors — including Sgt. Kevin Brennan.
He survived a bullet to the head while chasing down Luis “Baby” Ortiz at a Bushwick housing project in January 2012.
Brennan, 30, was awarded the department’s Police Combat Cross on the same day that Ortiz’s trial was set to begin.
“I’m lucky,” Brennan told reporters after the ceremony.
“Everything turned out fortunately, and I get to spend time with [family] and that’s that. That means everything to me.”
Mayor Bloomberg honors heroic Finest at Medal Day
Mayor Bloomberg recognizes 43 officers at NYPD's Medal Day, awarding Medal of Honor to Detective Ivan Marcano.
By Joe Kemp — Wednesday, June 12th, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’
Six city cops shot in the line of duty last year were among 43 officers honored for their heroism during the NYPD’s annual Medal Day ceremony Tuesday.
Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly presided over the event, which also honored five officers who died from 9/11-related illnesses.
The highest award, the Medal of Honor, was handed to Detective Ivan Marcano — who was shot breaking up a 2012 robbery in the Bronx, but managed to fatally shoot the gunman.
Sgt. Kevin Brennan, who survived being shot in the head at point-blank range in Jan. 2012, was honored with the Police Combat Cross along with five others — Detective Kevin Herlihy, Officer Thomas Richards, Officer Brian Groves, Sgt. Craig Bier and Sgt. Mourad Mourad.
Question and Frisk Search
How to Increase the Crime Rate Nationwide
A ruling against the NYPD's successful 'stop, question and frisk' policy would be sure to inspire lawsuits in other cities.
By HEATHER MAC DONALD — Wednesday, June 12th, 2013 ‘The Wall Street Journal’ / New York, NY
(Op-Ed / Commentary)
A racial-profiling lawsuit over the New York Police Department's "stop, question and frisk" policies is now in the hands of a judge whose decision is expected within weeks. Many New Yorkers watched the two-and-a-half-month trial nervously, concerned that a ruling against the NYPD by U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin could spell an end to a police practice that helped the city achieve an astonishing drop in violent crime.
But non-New Yorkers would do well to worry about the case too. A decision against the NYPD would almost certainly inspire similar suits by social-justice organizations against police departments elsewhere. The national trend of declining crime could hang in the balance. And the primary victims of such a reversal would be the inner-city minorities whose safety seems not to figure into attempts to undermine successful police tactics.
New York-style policing—including the practice of stopping, questioning and sometimes frisking individuals engaged in suspicious behavior—ought be the city's most valued export. Since the early 1990s, New York has experienced the longest and steepest crime drop in the modern history of policing. Murders have gone down by nearly 80%, and combined major felonies by nearly 75%. No other American metropolis comes close to New York's achievement. Bostonians are twice as likely to be murdered as New Yorkers, and residents of Washington, D.C., three times as likely.
The biggest beneficiaries of a dramatically safer New York have been law-abiding residents of formerly crime-plagued areas. Minorities make up nearly 80% of the drop in homicide victims since the early 1990s. New York policing has transformed inner-city neighborhoods and allowed their hardworking members a once-unthinkable freedom from fear.
But the city's policing, whose key elements include the rigorous analysis of crime data and commander accountability for public safety, also has been dogged by misconceptions, including the notion that New York policing is racist.
That perception is what drove the just-completed litigation. The suit, Floyd v. New York, specifically targeted stop, question and frisk (critics chronically leave out the "question" part, even though only about half of stops go beyond questioning to actually entail a frisk). This practice, sanctioned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1968, is at the revolutionary core of New York policing, which aims to stop crime before it happens, rather than simply react to crime after the fact by making an arrest. If a neighborhood has been plagued by purse-snatchings, for example, and an officer sees someone walking closely behind an elderly lady while looking furtively over his shoulder, the cop might stop him and ask a few questions. The stop may avert a theft without resulting in an arrest.
The Center for Constitutional Rights and lawyers from the elite law firm of Covington & Burling, however, charge in Floyd that such proactive tactics are discriminatory, since blacks and Hispanics make up the large majority of individuals stopped and questioned by NYPD cops. The claim ignores the reality that the preponderance of crime perpetrators, and victims, in New York are also minorities. Blacks, for example, constituted 78% of shooting suspects and 74% of all shooting victims in 2012, even though they are less than 23% of the city's population.
Whites, by contrast, committed just over 2% of shootings and were under 3% of shooting victims in 2012, though they are 35% of the populace. Young black men in New York are 36 times more likely to be murdered than young white men—and their assailants are virtually always other black (or Hispanic) males.
Given such a crime imbalance, if the NYPD focuses its resources where people most need protection, the effort will inevitably produce racially disparate enforcement data. Blacks, at 55% of all police-stop subjects in 2012, are actually understopped compared with their 66% representation among violent criminals.
Nevertheless, the spurious claims in Floyd have already been affecting public-safety decisions in the rest of the country, even before the judge's decision is announced.
In 2012, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, after a discussion with New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, proposed upping San Francisco's stop, question and frisk activity to combat a spike of shootings in the city's housing projects. Protests broke out immediately. Local activists called police stops the "New Jim Crow." A petition signed by thousands claimed that stop-and-frisk would "legitimize and legalize racial discrimination." Police Chief Greg Suhr announced "we do not racially profile in San Francisco." After nearly two months of agitation, Mayor Lee backed down.
Reaction was even more furious to a proposal this January by Oakland Mayor Jean Quan to hire William Bratton, the original architect of New York's policing revolution, as a crime consultant. Crime in Oakland has soared while pedestrian and car stops have plummeted under a federal policing consent decree that imposes enormous amounts of red tape on police stops and the use of force. Protesters from the Occupy Oakland movement and other left-wing groups brandished "Killer Cops" signs at City Council meetings discussing the Bratton contract. When Mayor Quan and the city council hired Mr. Bratton anyway, the crowd in City Hall shouted: "Let the war begin!"
These incidents are a harbinger of the opposition likely to be spurred in other cities if the Floyd ruling goes against the NYPD. Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn has said that it will be a "tragedy" if his city is forced to curtail the pedestrian stops that have reduced crime in inner-city neighborhoods. "That's what worries us about what's happening in New York," Chief Flynn told the Los Angeles Times in April. "It would just be a shame if some people decided to put us back in our cars just answering calls and ceding the streets to thugs."
The irony is that Floyd itself, once it came to trial after five years of preparation, was even weaker than the illogic of its underlying argument would have predicted. The suit's 12 named complainants, standing in for a class of potentially millions, alleged that they had been accosted simply because of their race, yet many either fit a description of a criminal suspect or were engaged in behavior—such as trying to jostle open a house door in a burglary-plagued area—that clearly should have drawn an officer's attention.
The Obama Justice Department, which has launched multiple civil-rights actions against police departments across the country, declined a 2012 request from some New York City Council members to investigate the NYPD for its stop practices. Yet Judge Scheindlin is unlikely to be so circumspect in her ruling. It was Judge Scheindlin, after all, who invited the Center for Constitutional Rights to file Floyd in the first place, after the center missed a deadline to extend an earlier stop, question and frisk ruling of hers that required the collection of the racial stop data now fueling Floyd. If she rules against the NYPD again, the city would most likely be saddled with a costly consent decree like Oakland's, which puts a federal judge in ultimate control of police policy.
Such a result, unless reversed on appeal, would be bad enough for New York's most vulnerable residents, who deserve NYPD's continued protection. But activists across the country should not be encouraged to use the courts to curtail sound policing elsewhere, under the specious principle that police activity that matches the incidence of crime is presumptively racist.
Ex-NYPD chaplain, Joseph Dunne, substance abuse therapist dies at 97
Msgr. Joseph Dunne spent more than two decades helping police officers through some of the saddest as well as most joyful moments in their careers. But his lasting contribution was the alcohol-rehabilitation program he started shortly after becoming an NYPD chaplain in 1958.
By Shane Dixon Kavanaugh — Wednesday, June 12th, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’
Msgr. Joseph Dunne, a celebrated NYPD chaplain and pioneer in the field of substance abuse treatment, died in the Bronx on Monday. He was 97.
As a therapist, confidante and spiritual leader, Dunne spent more than two decades guiding the men and women in blue through some of the saddest and most joyful moments in their careers. But his lasting contribution to the department was the alcohol-rehabilitation program he started shortly after becoming an NYPD chaplain in 1958.
While the ravages of alcohol addiction were well-known at that time, they were rarely confronted in the workplace.
“He saved a lot of families in that police department,” said Mary Lynch, a nursing director at Our Lady of Consolation in Riverdale, where Dunne spent the final years of his zealous life. Lynch on Tuesday confirmed Dunne’s death.
The chaplain’s approach to getting troubled officers help was brash, hands-on and highly unorthodox. He would storm into stationhouses and literally drag drunk cops into rehab.
The strong-armed tactic earned Dunne the nickname the Body Snatcher, as well as plenty of enemies. But it also earned him the respect of the officers whose lives he either saved or turned around.
In 23 years with the NYPD, he helped thousands of cops and their families. A cover story of the now-defunct New York News Magazine in February 1974 referred to Dunne’s work as Bow and Arrow Squad.
“He had a heart of gold, but he was tough as anything,” said longtime friend Suzanne Cusak.
Born in Richmond Hills, Queens, in 1916, Dunne remained a lifelong New Yorker. He was ordained at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers in 1942 and served as a paratrooper and U.S. Army chaplain through World War II and the Korean War, earning a Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
Pope John XXIII elevated Dunne to monsignor in November, 1962. A decade later, he helped found the National Council on Problem Gambling, which assists those with gambling addiction and their families.
Following his retirement from the NYPD in 1981, Dunne spent years teaching at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and served as the executive director for the school’s Institute on Alcohol and Substance Abuse.
A wake will be held for Dunne on Friday at the David J. Hodder & Son Funeral Home on McClean Ave. in Yonkers. On Saturday, Timothy Cardinal Dolan will hold a Mass for Dunne at the Church of Saint Barnabas in the Bronx.
Psycho Snatch of 25 Pct. P.O. John Chiodi's Firearm
NYPD: Suspect was able to snatch cop’s gun because holster was worn
Handcuffed suspect grabbed the gun from Officer John Chiodi's holster and fired two rounds, one of which hit Officer Fausto Gomez in the
By Rocco Parascandola — Wednesday, June 12th, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Tuesday that a handcuffed assault suspect was able to grab a cop’s gun and shoot the officer’s partner because the gun’s holster was worn, making it less secure.
The two cops, Officers Fausto Gomez and John Chiodi, were transporting Guiteau Idore, 43, up a ramp leading to an entrance of Harlem Hospital early Monday when the suspect pulled off the sleight of hand, despite the fact that his hands were cuffed behind his back.
Idore, who appeared to be emotionally disturbed when police arrested him earlier Monday for throwing bottles at passersby, managed to reach his manacled hands to his left and yanked Chiodi’s gun clear out of its holster, Kelly said.
“It was somewhat worn,” Kelly said of the holster. “If you look at the top of the holster where you push your thumb to open it, that’s where he exerted pressure. There is a rip there.”
Idore squeezed off two rounds: one missed, the other plugged into one of Gomez’s feet.
Quick-thinking FDNY EMT Brendon Hernandez, 25, who manned an ambulance that took Idore to the hospital, wrestled the gun away from him.
Gomez, 40, was expected to make a full recovery.
It did not appear that Chiodi would face departmental discipline due to the holster mishap, police officials have said, as the officers followed proper protocol in their effort to lead the suspect into the hospital.
Idore was in police custody at Metropolitan Hospital undergoing a psychiatric review. He had yet to be arraigned on charges of attempted murder, robbery and assault.
NYPD $$ Lawyer Lotto $$ Jackpot Giveaway / Communications Div.
Family of Ariel Russo, killed in crash, prepares $40 million suit against city over 911 delay
It took emergency responders more than 4 minutes to arrive to the scene of the motor vehicle accident that killed Russo. The driver of the SUV was unlicensed.
By John Marzulli , Juan Gonzalez , Vera Chinese AND Larry McShane — Wednesday, June 12th, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’
The family of a 4-year-old girl whose death followed the bungling of a 911 call will file a $40 million lawsuit against the city and emergency responders, the Daily News has learned.
The complaint by the parents of little Ariel Russo charges the defendants — including the unlicensed driver in the fatal wreck — were careless and negligent in the child’s heartbreaking death on June 4.
“It took too long for them to get there,” devastated mom Sofia Russo told The News, referring to a four-minute delay in getting an ambulance to the scene. “No other child should die because it takes too long. The ambulance system has to be fixed for the children of New York.”
Notices of claim will be filed Wednesday — two days after innocent Ariel was buried in her ballerina dress, alongside her favorite doll and teddy bear.
Family attorneys Sanford Rubenstein and Ira Newman cited the city’s failure to quickly transport the mortally injured girl and her grandmother to a hospital after the crash.
“This is a terrible tragedy which never should have happened,” said a statement from the lawyers. “We intend to hold accountable all those responsible civilly, and the family is fully cooperating with the Manhattan district attorney’s office.”
The suits will seek $20 million for the death of Ariel and $20 million for injuries to her 55-year-old grandmother, Katia Gutierrez, who were struck as they walked to Children Holy Name School on the upper West Side near their home.
The multimillion-dollar filing is expected to name the FDNY, the NYPD, the Emergency Medical Service and the owners of the crash vehicle — presumably the teen’s parents.
The News obtained 911 logs showing it took an unusually long 4 minutes and 18 seconds before an ambulance was dispatched to the scene.
It then took another 3 minutes and 52 seconds before the ambulance reached the intersection where driver Franklin Reyes allegedly slammed into the pair at Amsterdam Ave. and W. 97th St.
The SUV that Reyes was driving jumped a curb as he fled from a traffic stop about 8:15 a.m. The 17-year-old, driving with just a learner’s permit, has been charged with vehicular manslaughter.
The grandmother, who suffered a broken back and a broken leg, testified before the grand jury from her hospital room, the lawyers said.
Wednesday, June 12th, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’ Editorial:
Words of Wisdom
From her hospital bed, little Ariel Russo's grandma speaks the truth about the city's faulty 911 system
What should have been said from the very start in the death of 4-year-old Ariel Russo was that something had gone wrong with New York’s superb and dedicated public safety system.
What should have been said was that Ariel had not received the speedy, professional medical care that New Yorkers in dire circumstances properly take for granted when they call 911.
What should have been said by the officials in charge was that there would be an honest, forthright public accounting as to why the Emergency Medical Service delayed for more than four minutes dispatching an ambulance to the scene where Ariel and her grandmother had been run down by a careening SUV.
Now, in a hospital interview with the Daily News, grandmother Katia Gutierrez got to the heart of the matter, saying, “It took too long for them to get there. No other child should die because it takes too long. The ambulance system has to be fixed for the children of New York.”
Gutierrez spoke as a loved one in drawing cause and effect between the four-minute wait and Ariel’s death. Would Ariel have survived had an ambulance reached her promptly? Given the child’s grave injuries, no one at this point can say for sure.
But there is no question that no one, young or old, should ever go without aid a moment longer than is unavoidable when seconds could make the difference between life and death.
These are the points that have been central to The News’ reporting on Ariel’s case, notwithstanding the city’s defensive squabbling over the nature of what went wrong — human error or computer glitches.
These are the points Mayor Bloomberg and Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano must hold highest as they institute fixes in response to the breakdown in emergency action following the accident that killed Ariel and left Gutierrez with a fractured leg and back.
Ariel’s family will now file suit. Let that not cloud official judgment.
And let there be no repeat.
3 gay men say arresting NYPD officers were homophobic, should themselves be busted
Josh Williamssays he was pepper-sprayed and charged with resisting arrest after he was caught urinating outside a police stationhouse. His roommates, Ben Collins and Tony Maenza, were arrested for obstruction.
By Alfred Ng AND Thomas Tracy — Wednesday, June 12th, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’
Three gay men who say they were busted by a crew of homophobic cops who called them “f----ts” demanded Tuesday that the charges be dropped — and that the cops who allegedly abused them be arrested.
Josh Williams, 26, says he was pepper-sprayed and charged with resisting arrest after he was caught urinating outside the 79th Precinct stationhouse in Bedford-Stuyvesant on June 3. Roommates Ben Collins and Tony Maenza, both 24, were arrested for obstruction.
NYPD Internal Affairs is investigating the incident.
Activists Claim Anti-LGBT Police Violence, Demand Response
By Lila Shapiro — Wednesday, June 12th, 2013 ‘The Huffington Post’ / New York, NY
Just a few weeks after city council Speaker Christine Quinn announced that the New York City Police Department would step up police presence following the alleged hate-crime slaying of a gay man in Greenwich Village, activists convened in front of NYPD headquarters to protest what they consider growing police violence against the LGBT community.
Police misconduct incidents "increased significantly" from eight in 2011 to 78 in 2012, Shelby Chestnut of the New York City Anti-Violence Project, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy group, told the crowd on Tuesday.
These statistics, make the city's decision to increase police presence in LGBT friendly neighborhoods "troubling," Chestnut said, and the strategy "should be examined."
Three men at the press conference claimed they were assaulted, verbally abused and unjustly arrested by police officers in Brooklyn last week. Ben Collins, 24, of Brooklyn, told the crowd that when he was walking home from a bar around 4 a.m. June 3 with two friends, a police officer falsely accused one of his friends, Josh Williams, of urinating in public. Collins said that a police officer threw Williams to the ground and pepper sprayed him, and another officer called the men "fucking faggots." A video that AVP and Cynthia Conti-Cook, the lawyer representing the three men, say captures part of the incident, filmed by Collins' friend Antonio Maenza, can be viewed here.
"Last weekend, my clients learned what residents in the 79th Precinct -- and all over NYC -- already knew. That they are just as likely to experience violence, threats and verbal abuse from the police as anyone else on the street," said Conti-Cook.
Conti-Cook is calling for the charges against Josh Williams -- now accused of public urination, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct -- to be dropped, and for charges to be brought against the officers involved.
Paul J. Browne, a spokesperson for the NYPD, said the charges against Williams are appropriate. "A police officer observed a male urinating on a dumpster in the precinct parking lot," Browne said. "The individual, who appeared highly intoxicated, was combative and uncooperative."
But those gathered in front of police headquarters on Tuesday insisted that reports of police misconduct are common in the LGBT community. "We have heard and experienced countless other incidents of police violence and neglect, where our community has tried to rely on the police for protection, and the police have not showed up, or shown up late, or made the situation worse, or even arrested the survivor," said Chelsea Johnson-Long of the Audre Lorde Project, an LGBT community organizing group.
Openly gay New York City Councilman Daniel Dromm demanded a "swift and immediate investigation" into the 79th Precinct incident, and the passage of the Community Safety Act, a package of police reform laws he is sponsoring. Dromm, like many of the speakers, mentioned other events of police misconduct over the years, going back to the 1969 Stonewall riots, when LGBT New Yorkers protested a police raid on a popular gay bar.
"I have also been disrespected by the police," Dromm said. "Even when I have shown the police officers my credentials as a New York City council member. So if I have been disrespected as a council member, can you imagine what's going on with young people and young people of color?"
NYPD cops accused of yelling gay slurs while violently arresting man
By Ann Mercogliano — Wednesday, June 12th, 2013 ‘WPIX 11 News’ / New York, NY
The incident recorded on cell phone video has members of the LGBT community up in arms. Brooklyn resident Josh Williams said a police officer accused him of urinating outside the 79th pct in Brooklyn. He and his friends claim the incident turned violent. They also say officers threw anti-gay slurs.
“He thrashed Josh around and was then joined by other officers who slammed josh to the ground, who pepper sprayed him while he was in handcuffs,” said alleged victim Ben Collins.
“We did nothing wrong, what was done to us, was wrong,” said alleged victim Josh Williams.
The anti-violence project has been dealing with a rash of hate crimes including the murder of Mark Carson, who was killed police said because he was gay.
“When LGBT people don’t know who to trust and who’s going to be violent, towards them they don’t know where to go,” said Executive Director Sharon Stapel.
Police said Williams did break the law when an officer allegedly saw him urinating in the parking lot near gasoline pumps at the precincts. They said Williams was uncooperative, refused to ID himself and that he appeared highly intoxicated. They also said he was resisting arrest.
Williams’ attorney said he never urinated anywhere. She is requesting the charges be dropped and wants charges brought against the officers.
New York State
Change to state rape law passes hurdle
By PATRICK WHITTLE — Wednesday, June 12th, 2013 ‘New York Newsday’ / Melville, L.I.
A proposed law that would expand the definition of rape in New York passed the State Assembly Tuesday.
The bill, proposed by Assembs. Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) and Aravella Simotas (D-Queens), was approved 105-0. It does not yet have a co-sponsor in the State Senate.
"Survivors of sexual assault have courageously come forward with their stories and have made it evident that what they've experienced is rape, even if it's currently interpreted otherwise," Simotas said in a statement.
The bill would add oral and anal sexual assault to the state's definition of rape and eliminate a requirement that penetration be proved to establish a rape charge, supporters said. State law currently defines a crime as rape only in cases of vaginal penetration.
The bill was spurred by the trial of former NYPD Officer Michael Pena, in which a judge declared a mistrial on two counts of rape in March 2012. Pena was convicted of sexually assaulting a Bronx teacher at gunpoint.
The bill also comes as Silver has been criticized about the Vito Lopez scandal.
Lawsuits filed in federal and state courts last week claim Lopez (D-Brooklyn) routinely groped and harassed young female staffers and that Silver abetted Lopez by quietly settling similar claims by previous Lopez staffers.
Buffalo, New York
Tragic motorcycle fatality frames debate over police-chase policies
The fatal crash of a high school motorcyclist raises a question with no easy answer: When should officers give pursuit?
By Gene Warner — Wednesday, June 12th, 2013 ‘The Buffalo News’ / Buffalo, NY
To chase or not to chase?
That’s the question public and law enforcement officials often ask – and debate – following cases like the horrific motorcycle crash last week that killed a graduating Clarence High School senior who was set to enter the U.S. Marines.
Once again, the fatal accident, with the motorcycle reportedly topping 100 mph, raises the question: Why would any police agency pursue a speeding vehicle traveling at anywhere near that speed?
One high-ranking law enforcement official in Western New York explained what would happen if police agencies opted never to engage in high-speed pursuits.
“Everybody would take off,” the official said. “Nobody would stop.”
That’s one side of the debate.
Then there’s the view of an attorney who succeeded in convincing a jury that two state troopers helped cause the crash that killed three people in a Cattaraugus County chase back in 1992.
“Are they still engaging in these high-speed chases, when it’s foreseeable that there may be grievous harm and damage?” asked Buffalo attorney Francis M. Letro.
Both sides agree on one point: There’s no easy solution here. The decision of whether to pursue depends on a host of factors, including speed, road conditions, traffic, time of day, weather and the reason for the stop.
“You can’t have a blanket rule,” Letro said. “It’s a matter of judgment, like any police decision in the field. It depends on the existing circumstances. Sometimes you don’t chase.”
Eighteen-year-old Patrick S. Conway was killed instantly last Wednesday morning when his high-performance motorcycle crashed into another vehicle on Main Street near Harris Hill Road. State police had stopped him on Main Street near Sheridan Drive for not having a license plate. But he sped off, and the crash occurred about 1.4 miles from the initial traffic stop.
Witnesses have said, in interviews with state police, that the motorcycle was traveling at speeds of more than 100 mph. State police have suggested, and witnesses have concurred, that the pursuing patrol car was traveling considerably slower, as it arrived at the accident scene almost 30 seconds after the crash.
The crash obscures the fact that such chases – police agencies prefer to call them “pursuits” – are exceedingly rare, occurring in fewer than 1 in 1,000 traffic stops.
The Erie County Sheriff’s Office, which was not involved in last week’s crash, wrote more than 13,000 traffic tickets last year, conducting about 10,000 traffic stops; that’s almost 30 per day. In only two of those 10,000 cases did the driver refuse to stop or flee from the patrol deputy, Chief of Patrol Scott M. Joslyn said.
While movies and TV shows may glorify high-speed chases, whether they’re bouncing up and down San Francisco hills or zooming across highways, patrol officers dread traffic stops that go awry.
“No officer ever wants to be involved in a pursuit, ever,” Joslyn said. “They can turn deadly in a moment’s notice.”
“As a former night watch commander, the few incidents where vehicles failed to stop are some of the most stressful situations I’ve been in,” he added. “You’re thinking about the safety of others. You’re thinking about the safety of your officers. You’re thinking about the safety of the operator. From a supervising standpoint, it’s really daunting, very stressful.”
That’s why police officers consider traffic stops to be probably their second most dangerous “routine” activity, behind only domestic-violence calls.
Local police agencies, for obvious reasons, don’t like spelling out their pursuit policies, but conversations with several accident-investigation veterans show how tricky the line is that police agencies walk in devising those guidelines.
The key imponderable in such pursuits: Why did the driver flee from the scene?
“Whenever somebody flees, we have every reason to believe that a crime, other than the initial traffic violation, may have been committed,” Joslyn said. “There may have been a horrible crime just committed.”
That was not the case with Conway, who may have feared what the traffic stop could mean for his coming graduation or joining of the Marines.
While local police departments may have different pursuit policies and guidelines, Letro pointed out that most require the officer on patrol to call in to a supervisor, who makes the decision of whether to pursue after being briefed on the circumstances.
“They’re detached,” Letro said of the supervisors. “They are not in the emotional adrenaline rush of the officer in the field. They can have a more objective view.”
And after any kind of pursuit, most police departments require an administrative review of the decision of whether to chase.
Some departments go even further.
No Buffalo accident investigator could be reached to comment, but the Buffalo police did have a specific policy that was in effect, at least back in 1999: “Pursuit will not be initiated if the reason for the attempted stop is only for vehicle and traffic law violations, misdemeanors or other nonviolent felonies.”
It’s not clear whether that policy still exists.
No State Police official authorized to talk about the case could be reached to comment for this article.
Bloomberg Asks Donors to Shut Wallets Over Senators’ Gun Votes
By NICHOLAS CONFESSORE and JEREMY W. PETERS — Wednesday, June 12th, 2013 ‘The New York Times’
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, in a sharp escalation in the battle over gun control, is seeking to punish Democratic senators by taking away the one thing they most need from New Yorkers: money.
On Wednesday, Mr. Bloomberg will send a personal letter to hundreds of the biggest Democratic donors in New York urging them to cut off contributions to the four Democratic senators who helped block a bill in April that would have strengthened background checks on gun purchasers.
The move could inflame tensions that have simmered for weeks between Mr. Bloomberg, who blames the four Democrats for the defeat of the bill, and Democratic Senate leaders, who have privately told City Hall that the attacks can serve only to empower a Republican majority openly hostile to Mr. Bloomberg’s priorities.
By appealing to the Democrats’ financial base, Mr. Bloomberg is exploiting his relationships and prestige among wealthy New Yorkers to disrupt the flow of campaign money to key Democrats whose re-election next year will help determine whether the party retains control of the Senate. No state is more essential to the party’s fund-raising: Sitting Democratic senators and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee raised $30.4 million from New York donors in 2012, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, more than in any other state.
And the four Democratic senators who sided with Republicans filibustering the background check bill — Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Max Baucus of Montana, Mark Begich of Alaska and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota — have raised more than $2.2 million from New York.
In an interview, Mr. Bloomberg said he believed gun deaths had reached such a state of crisis that he needed to force the issue.
“If they come and ask for the money, you say to them, ‘What do you stand for?’ ” he said. “I want to tell people what these four stand for. And then people can make up their own minds.”
Mr. Bloomberg’s strategy creates a tricky situation for Senate Democrats. They do not wish to alienate the billionaire mayor, who has become increasingly aggressive and outspoken on the issue. But they say he should be more sympathetic, given that their party, with its fragile majority, has tried to take on the difficult subject of increasing restrictions on guns in the face of hostility from Republicans.
“What they are doing,” said one senior Democratic aide who, like many people interviewed for this article, declined to go on the record criticizing the mayor, “is increasing the likelihood of a 100 percent A-rated N.R.A. Republican being elected.”
For Senator Charles E. Schumer, the New York Democrat who was an architect of his party’s takeover of the Senate in 2006 and has aggressively built up the Democratic donor base in New York, and who is a close ally of the mayor, the notion that Mr. Bloomberg’s efforts could cost Democrats their majority is not an abstraction.
He praised the mayor’s effort, but added, “We should be mindful that pro-gun safety laws have a much better chance of passing under a Democratic Senate majority than a Republican one.”
Mr. Bloomberg’s idea to use his formidable resources against Senate Democrats was enough of a threat to the majority leader, Harry Reid, that he raised the issue with the mayor in Washington in February.
According to a person with direct knowledge of their conversation, Mr. Reid told the mayor that he thought any efforts to attack Democrats would be shortsighted, and could ultimately result in a Republican Senate majority.
“Do you think you’d be better served by Majority Leader McConnell?” Mr. Reid said, according to this person, referring to Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
Mr. Bloomberg appears undeterred. In May, he financed a $350,000 blitz of tough television ads against Mr. Pryor, featuring the fatal shooting of a friend of the senator. Mr. Bloomberg said voters would reward the senators if they heeded the public — which broadly favors background checks — instead of the National Rifle Association and other groups opposed to the legislation.
“If Democrats want to keep control of the Senate, what I would suggest is that they have all of their members vote for things that the public wants,” he said in the interview. “And if they don’t do that, the voters should elect different senators who will listen to them. That’s what democracy is all about.”
If a background-check bill passes the Senate, Mr. Bloomberg said, he will seek to put similar pressure on the Republican-led House, including appeals to Republican donors in New York who favor more gun regulation. Some Senate Republicans have already found themselves targets of the mayor.
But his latest move focuses more on Senate Democrats because, aides said, none of the Republican senators who voted to block the gun bill appear to be facing competitive re-election races in 2014.
That has put Mr. Bloomberg in the unusual position of applying his pressure mainly on the party that most broadly shares his views on gun control and other policy issues.
Privately, Democratic senators and aides complain that the shaming, scolding tone of some of Mr. Bloomberg’s ads is counterproductive. The mayor’s group has accused senators who voted against background checks of betraying their constituents and distorting the facts on gun control, an antagonism that many Democrats fear will only make the “no” votes firmer.
Democrats say they would prefer an approach from Mr. Bloomberg that is more positive, and aimed not at the four Democrats, but at gun owners who support tighter restrictions and can be moved to pressure their senators.
“Why wouldn’t you try to educate them?” said Senator Joe Manchin III, the West Virginia Democrat who helped write the background check bill. He added that he could empathize with the mayor’s frustration. “I understand the process is tough,” Mr. Manchin said. “He’s probably very upset like a lot of us.”
In response to Mr. Bloomberg’s ad, Mr. Pryor filmed his own, in which he adopts a defiant tone. “The mayor of New York City is running ads against me because I opposed President Obama’s gun control legislation,” Mr. Pryor says in the ad.
In an interview, Mr. Begich, who, like Mr. Pryor, faces re-election next year, said he was unbowed by the threat of a Bloomberg-led attack. Indeed, he seemed to almost relish the thought of one.
“In Alaska, having a New York mayor tell us what to do? The guy who wants to ban Big Gulps?” Mr. Begich asked incredulously. “If anything, it might help me,” he added.
Still, the threat of a campaign bankrolled by a man with virtually endless financial resources — and, come 2014, a lot more time on his hands — is palpable in the cloakrooms of the Senate.
Senator Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana, a Democrat who is also up for re-election in 2014 but voted for the background check bill, declined to second-guess the mayor. In March she was one of the targets of a $12 million advertising campaign by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, urging lawmakers to vote for the measure.
“I’m not going to comment on that because I have a lot of respect for Mayor Bloomberg,” she said. “And he most certainly is a wise-enough politician that he doesn’t need counsel from me. Period.”
The Top 5 Things You Didn't Know the Government Knows About You
By Meagan Reed — Wednesday, June 12th, 2013 ‘The Huffington Post’ / New York, NY
Reactions to the news this week that the National Security Agency has been secretly collecting phone and online data on millions of Americans have featured a mix of anxiety and outrage over the scary Big Brother tactics used in this "astounding" new scandal.
A smaller subset of commentators have pointed out that, in fact, the revelations of "massive spying" haven't really told us anything new. In 2007, after the warrantless wiretapping program came to light (but before it was essentially legalized by Congress), the U.S. had already fallen to 41 out of 50 in Privacy International's rankings to join Russia, China, and our ally the United Kingdom in the category of "endemic surveillance societies."
What, exactly, did folks think "warrantless wiretapping" was, if not the government snooping in millions of Americans' phone records? Or maybe we just forgot about it.
At any rate, the real sea change has already taken place: The government has gone from investigating crimes after the fact to predicting who is going to commit them in the future, as if we're entering the world of the sci-fi film Minority Report.
Perhaps the real scandal is how unaware most Americans are of the widespread, everyday surveillance that has already been made public - or, for those who do know, how few have done anything material to object to it.
In case you've lost track of all of the ways your false sense of privacy is not actually justified, here's a handy list of 5 ways the government keeps tabs on us:
They monitor your social media.
We all know that much of what we post online is "public" and can be used against us by employers, exes, and prying family members. What you might not know is that the government uses screening software to review the contents of your public online activity for red flags.
In early 2012, the Department of Homeland Security was forced to reveal in a lawsuit filed by EPIC, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, that the agency had been monitoring social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter by searching for "key words" for at least a year and a half. DHS tracks postings in public forums ranging from WikiLeaks to YouTube (including The Huffington Post) for the stated purpose of detecting potential terrorist threats and national security concerns, as well as natural disasters, major accidents or other public emergencies. According to EPIC, key words include such relatively common terms as "cops," "police," "airport," "hacktivist," and "zombie." (The 2011 full list is available here starting on page 20.)
In case you're wondering what DHS uses this information for, last year two British tourists were denied entry into the U.S. after they joked about destroying America and digging up Marilyn Monroe. They were handcuffed and held under armed guard while their luggage was searched for shovels (yes, really) before being sent home.
They are compiling your digital communications and your various government records and into massive searchable databases.
As of last December, the National Counter-Terrorism Center has had the authority to keep files on you and other ordinary citizens and examine them for possible criminal behavior, even if there is no reason to suspect you. They can store the information for five years, or longer if they think it points to terrorist activity. Government records that can be mined for incriminating information include flight records, financial forms, lists of hosts of foreign exchange students, veterans' records, and many more.
Meanwhile, as reported in Wired last March, the NSA has been building a vast $2 billion facility in the Utah desert, which should be up and running by this September, to store your communications. As we've known since "warrantless wiretapping" became legalized in 2008, the government can scan phone and email records for target addresses, locations, phone numbers, names, keywords, and phrases. Communications that match the targeted content are automatically recorded - and once you're on the watchlist, all of your future communications are recorded. Not only Verizon, but also AT&T, have been alleged to participate in the program.
The information the government is able to collect includes not only entire emails and cell phone calls, but also browsing histories, receipts, and itineraries. In other words, in case you didn't already know this, everything you do online or over your cell phone is actually being screened as you do it. Government documents released to the ACLU last October after months of litigation show that telephone, email and social media surveillance of citizens is up 60 percent since 2009.
They don't need a warrant to track your location from your cell phone.
As The New York Times reported last year, some police departments voluntarily require a warrant to get information from wireless carriers - but others don't, and there is no legal reason that they have to. In January 2012, the Supreme Court held that attaching a GPS tracking device to a car requires a warrant, but the ruling was vague about cases not involving a "physical trespass" on the suspect's property (e.g. the installation of the tracking device). The Court said only that purely electronic surveillance "may" violate the 4th Amendment's privacy protections.
So, how far can the authorities go without a warrant? They can't listen to your calls, but they can contact your cell phone company and get the location of your phone for a few hundred dollars. Some police departments use records to identify all of the callers using a particular cell phone tower. According to the Times article, others have even purchased their own cell phone surveillance equipment. There is no settled legal limit for the collection of location data, so police departments are left to set their own internal constraints (or not).
They are free to take photos or video from the air above your house, and drones are coming to airspace near you in 2015.
In 1989, the Supreme Court decided in Florida v. Riley - a case where investigators spotted a marijuana growing operation from a helicopter flying 400 feet above the ground - that police don't need a warrant to observe your property from public airspace. That ruling will soon take on a new significance because the Federal Aviation Administration expects that 25,000 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or "drones," will be operating in national air space around the country in the next 10 years (starting in 2015). The Department of Defense already has over 7,000 of them, and they are predicted to be in high demand among police departments due to their low-cost, high-yield aerial surveillance capabilities.
Current limits require drones to be operated within the line of sight of the user and below 400 feet, but the FAA is likely to revisit those guidelines under pressure from businesses and law enforcement as it paves the way toward integrated civilian use of drones in the national airspace. The FAA may be reluctant to regulate based upon privacy considerations given that its main responsibility is safety. There is by no means a universally accepted definition of public airspace, either; a 1946 Supreme Court ruling held that planes flying less than 100 feet above a farm (leading the chickens to fly suicidally into walls in their panic) were not trespassing.
One interesting aspect of the 4th Amendment is that it turns on "reasonable expectations of privacy." In Riley (the helicopter-marijuana case), a majority of the Court noted that their decision hinged on the frequency of civilian flights over others' property. In other words, the more drones there are in the sky, the lower our reasonable expectations of privacy from aerial surveillance. So not only will the 4th Amendment not keep drones from hovering high above your yard, but the very act of drones hovering over your yard weakens your 4th Amendment protections. How's that for irony?
They are developing new video surveillance technology that puts the old wall-mounted cameras to shame.
The Department of Homeland Security is working on a new video surveillance system that puts the "pan" in panoptican. The Imaging System for Immersive Surveillance (or ISIS) provides 360-degree, high-resolution, real-time and storable video imaging. A single spherical camera array no bigger than a basketball hanging from a ceiling can survey an entire airport terminal with enough detail to track someone with face-recognition software, or if mounted on a drone, can record individual vehicles' movements within a small town.
To break this down a bit: This camera is recording everything around it. It isn't sweeping from one side to the other every few seconds. It is recording in all directions simultaneously. It can store the recordings for a day or more. In both real time and stored footage, a viewer can zoom in at least 100 times; view things happening in any or all different directions at once; and use software to identify individuals or vehicles and track them through the time and space captured on the video.
Clearly, most or all of these new technologies can be helpful. Unmanned aerial vehicles may help fight forest fires, assist in search and rescue missions, and perform scientific research. Impressive video surveillance can help soldiers to defend military bases, keep dangerous chemicals secure, and perhaps even find missing persons. And of course, we all want to prevent future terrorist attacks.
Just remember, next time you're buying a book at the airport, speeding on the highway, posting a Tweet, sending a text message, or reading an article like this one online: They're always watching - and we're the ones who decided we could live with that.
As Bulger Trial Opens, Code of Honor Is Subtext
By KATHARINE Q. SEELYE — Wednesday, June 12th, 2013 ‘The New York Times’
BOSTON — In the grim catalog of 19 murders ascribed to James (Whitey) Bulger, the death of Debra Davis in 1981 stands out.
She was 26, with feathery Farrah Fawcett hair, the girlfriend of Stephen (the Rifleman) Flemmi, Mr. Bulger’s partner in crime. But Ms. Davis knew too much about their underworld dealings and that they were informers for the F.B.I. And so, Mr. Flemmi has said, Mr. Bulger choked Ms. Davis to death one day with his bare hands.
Mr. Flemmi, using pliers, yanked out her teeth to obscure her identity. The two wrapped her in plastic and dumped her body in a marsh.
“She was an innocent,” said Ms. Davis’s brother, Steve. “She wasn’t a gangster, like most of them.”
And unlike most of them, her death is one that Mr. Bulger has been especially adamant about denying. His code of honor, he has insisted, prohibits the killing of women.
Mr. Bulger is now facing a trial in which his professed adherence to his code will be sorely tested.
Opening statements are to begin Wednesday in the long-anticipated trial of Mr. Bulger, 83, who may be the most notorious criminal ever tried here. He shared top billing on the F.B.I.’s most-wanted list with Osama bin Laden and drew the largest reward — $2 million — that the bureau has ever offered for a Top Ten domestic fugitive.
A jury was sworn in Tuesday after a selection process in which the pool of candidates grew to 858 people, the largest in the history of the federal court in Massachusetts. The trial could last through September.
Mr. Bulger’s 32-count indictment brims with charges of racketeering, extortion, money laundering, drug dealing, gun stockpiling and, of course, murder. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
The ones that rankle him the most are those alleging that he violated his personal code, which bars not only the killing of women but also the ratting out of anyone. He is implicated in the deaths of two women (he says Mr. Flemmi did the actual choking of Ms. Davis). And while nothing was more despicable in his insular Irish enclave of South Boston than a rat, mountains of evidence, including his 700-page informant file, show that Mr. Bulger was a longtime informer for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
But Mr. Bulger is only half the story — the F.B.I. is effectively on trial, too. The bureau has yet to fully acknowledge how it allowed a criminal of Mr. Bulger’s reach to remain free while the bodies kept piling up.
“This is the worst informant scandal in the bureau’s history,” said Dick Lehr, co-author of “Whitey: The Life of America’s Most Notorious Mob Boss.” “You can’t prosecute Whitey for these murders without prosecuting the F.B.I., the big elephant in the room.”
Though Mr. Bulger’s reign in South Boston ended almost two decades ago — and the gritty Southie of his era has morphed into SoBo and is now overrun with yuppies and glassy condos — people here are still gripped by his story.
In a Suffolk University poll during the weekend, an extraordinary 68 percent of likely voters in Massachusetts said they were very or somewhat interested in the trial. Under questioning, several would-be jurors said they had read books about Mr. Bulger. At least 17 have been published, including two major opuses that have landed just in time for the trial, where the final chapter will be written.
“There’s something about this story that is timeless,” said Dr. John H. Halpern, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, who has never met Mr. Bulger but has closely followed his case.
“If you’re not caught until you’re in your 80s, it seems like you got away with it,” he said. “And so why not fight the charges? You get all the attention, you watch the government spend millions of dollars, and even though you’re in shackles, you’re the one in control. Who’s laughing here?”
The mere mention of the Bulger name conjures up multiple story lines worthy of an epic novel.
There is the tale of two brothers, Whitey and Billy, one a powerful and feared Irish mob boss, the other a powerful and feared Irish politician. William M. Bulger, president of the Massachusetts Senate for 17 years, was forced out as president of the University of Massachusetts in 2003 after taking the Fifth Amendment when testifying before Congress about his brother’s whereabouts. He is expected to attend the trial.
There is the Whitey who maintained two simultaneous romances over two decades with two women. He lived with Teresa Stanley and had dinner most nights with her and her children, whom he treated as his own. Then he would leave and spend most nights with Catherine Greig, who fed him a second dinner and would eventually disappear with him, even though he was implicated in the murders of two of her brothers-in-law.
And there was his relationship with John Connolly, the corrupt F.B.I. agent to whom Mr. Bulger fed information and who fed information back to him. This included a tip that Mr. Bulger was about to be indicted, sending him on the lam for 16 years.
He and Ms. Greig were caught in 2011 in Santa Monica, Calif., where Mr. Bulger had stashed $800,000 in cash and an arsenal of weapons in the walls of their bungalow. But the guns were useless when he was lured outside and taken into custody without a shot being fired, a surprisingly mundane ending for a man accused of blowing other people’s brains out (and being able to nap afterward).
Three of Mr. Bulger’s erstwhile accomplices, including Mr. Flemmi, are set to testify against him as star witnesses for the prosecution. Mr. Bulger’s theatrical defense lawyer, J. W. Carney Jr., who started a shouting match and interrupted the judge in court on Tuesday, is preparing to attack their credibility with their own past misdeeds, which include murder and being informers themselves.
Mr. Bulger is expected to take the stand. He has said in letters obtained by The Boston Globe that he wants to “get my name cleared.”
Michael D. Kendall, a former federal prosecutor who investigated some aspects of Mr. Bulger’s activities, said he expected him to use what he called the “Irish Alzheimer’s defense.”
“That’s where you forget everything but the names of your enemies,” Mr. Kendall said. “The point of the trial is not to defeat the charges and emerge a free man, but to get back at as many people as he can.”
Hordes of news organizations are primed for the spectacle. Many have set up special Web sites, live feeds and apps devoted to the case. The trial is such a part of the gestalt here that a recent news article in Plymouth said of a coming zoning board hearing: “It won’t have the lurid attraction of the Whitey Bulger trial, but ...”
Most of the people he is charged with killing were gangland rivals or people he thought would snitch on him. But one was an innocent bystander. Another was mistaken for someone else.
Like many of the victims, Ms. Davis was not found for several years, until a former Bulger accomplice led the authorities to her marshy grave. Her brother Steve, now 55, said he did not believe anything that Mr. Bulger says, especially that he did not kill women because he had a code against it.
“He never had a code,” Mr. Davis said scornfully. “He had a Whitey code — it was his rules and his way. It was Whitey’s world. And now it’s coming crumbling down.”
But given the history of the case, Mr. Davis does not have a lot of faith in the prosecution, either.
“I don’t trust anyone in this whole thing,” he said. “Is the government flying straight? You have to wonder.”
Boston police issue transgender search guidelines
By Peter Schworm — Wednesday, June 12th, 2013 ‘The Boston Globe’ / Boston, MA
The Boston Police Department has issued antidiscrimination guidelines for police interactions with transgender individuals that offer them new protections during searches and bookings.
The new policies were announced Tuesday, several months after the city settled a lawsuit filed by a transgender woman against officers who arrested her for refusing to leave a women’s bathroom at a Boston homeless shelter. Brenda Wernikoff contended that several male officers forced her to remove her shirt and expose her breasts. Throughout the incident, police referred to her as a man, she said.
Under the new policies, reached after lengthy negotiations between police and the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, police must address transgender individuals by their adopted name and must use appropriate pronouns.
Transgender individuals cannot be subjected to additional invasive search or frisk procedures, the policy states. Prisoners can request the gender of the officers conducting the search.
Under the new policy, transgender prisoners are to be transported alone and held in a cell without other prisoners, whenever possible.
Jesse Begenyi, interim director of the transgender coalition, said the new policies were a long-awaited milestone.
“We’re really excited to see the [Boston police] step up and release guidelines around this,” Begenyi said. “We will now have a baseline of how police officers should interact with the transgender community. Collaborations like this are what is going to change the culture.”
Begenyi said the policies, which were under discussion well before the Wernikoff lawsuit, should help reduce discrimination against transgender people who come into contact with police officers.
“Situations like the one with Brenda do happen too often to our community,” Begenyi said. “Hopefully, policies like this will prevent these incidents from happening as frequently.”
Wernikoff said the policies represent a “step in the right direction” that should be applauded. Yet the city already had an ordinance saying people have the right to use restrooms based on their gender identity, she pointed out.
“It shouldn’t have happened in the beginning and shouldn’t happen anymore,” she said.
Begenyi said the policies are based on antidiscrimination guidelines in Washington, D.C. The coalition hopes to work with State Police to adopt similar policies.
Javier Pagan, the Boston Police Department’s liaison to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, said the policies make it clear that transgender people are to be treated with dignity and respect, and will afford them a new level of protection.
“Now we have something concrete that officers have to follow,” Pagan said. “It’s something the department takes seriously.”
The policies will become part of officer training, he said.
Howard Friedman, a civil rights lawyer who represented Wernikoff, praised the new policy but said it had to be put into practice.
“They are doing the right thing,” he said. “It’s a good policy, but it has to be enforced.”
Friedman said police departments in Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles, among others, had instituted transgender policies, most in the past two years. “The culture is starting to change,” Begenyi said. “It’s something we’re starting to see more of.”
The city of Boston agreed to pay Wernikoff $20,000 in exchange for her dropping her suit against the officers, which was filed last fall.
A spokeswoman for the Boston police said an internal investigation into the Wernikoff arrest remains open.
Kenneth Anderson, a lawyer who represents the officers involved in the investigation, commended the department for adopting the new policies and said the officers “at all times acted appropriately and consistent with their training.”
Wisconsin bill would bar police from enforcing any new federal gun restrictions
By TODD RICHMOND (The Associated Press) — Tuesday, June 11th, 2013; 6:43 p.m. EDT
MADISON, Wis. – Wisconsin police would be forbidden from enforcing any new federal gun and ammunition restrictions, bans or registration requirements under a bill a Republican lawmaker is circulating.
Rep. Michael Schraa of Oshkosh, a first-term legislator and a member of the National Rifle Association, sent out an email Tuesday to his fellow lawmakers seeking co-sponsors for the proposal. He also issued a statement to the media saying the bill is meant to send a message that Wisconsin won't help the federal government restrict the public's constitutional right to bear arms.
"I'm not this cowboy, gun-toting legislator," Schraa said in a telephone interview. "I just think it's ultimately important to protect our constitutional rights. When I raised my right hand on Jan. 7 and took the oath of office, I took an oath that I would defend the Wisconsin Constitution and the federal constitution. That's the motivating factor."
Rep. Chris Danou, D-Trempealeau, said he thought the Civil War determined that federal law pre-empts state law.
"States don't get to pick and choose what federal laws apply to the states or not," Danou said. "This is settled law. (The bill is) just not rational."
The bill comes after President Obama introduced a gun control plan in the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in December. The president's proposal included banning assault-style rifles and magazines that hold more than 10 rounds and extending background checks to almost all gun sales. The plan ultimately died in the Senate, but the president has urged supporters to pressure Congress to reconsider the issues.
Under Schraa's bill, a state or local law enforcement officer would be prohibited from enforcing any federal act, law, rule, regulation or order enacted after Jan. 1, 2013, that bans or restricts semi-automatic weapons, assault weapons or magazines; requires people to register their guns, ammunitions or other firearm accessories; regulates magazine capacities or how much ammunition a person can possess; prohibits types of ammunition; or requires people to turn their weapons into the government.
Any police officer who knowingly enforces any of those federal statutes or orders would be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to $10,000 in fines and nine months in jail.
The measure also would specify that guns manufactured in Wisconsin and stamped "Made in Wisconsin" haven't traveled across state lines and aren't subject to the federal interstate commerce clause. Some gun advocates fear the federal government could argue the commerce clause gives it the ability to regulate weapon movements within a state; eight other states have adopted similar provisions, according to the Council of State Governments.
The proposal would ban doctors from asking patients about whether they own guns when gathering their medical history. Schraa said he included the prohibition because the federal health care overhaul doesn't ban such communication.
"It just doesn't make any sense," Schraa said. "It's an intrusion in our privacy and I don't think there's any place for it."
United In Freedom, a group that supports conservative candidates, and Wisconsin Gun Rights, a gun rights advocacy group, have organized a rally for the bill in Madison on Saturday. Charles Brey, president of United in Freedom, said the legislation is about "correcting federal overreach."
"If you look at what's been coming out of (Washington), D.C., in recent months, it's more like active resistance. They've been striking at us," Brey said. "We need to make sure it's clearly enumerated where we stand and where we draw the line as a state."
Donald Downs, a political science and law professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said the federal government can't compel state and local officials to assist in enforcing federal law. But states and their citizens are subject to constitutional federal laws, including statutes stemming from the commerce law, he said.
"For the state to pass a law that says outright, 'We're not going to abide by a federal law,' is pretty extreme," Downs said. "The best thing is, if you don't like it, just go to court."
Sheboygan Falls Police Chief Steve Riffel, president of the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association, didn't immediately return telephone and email messages seeking comment on the bill late Tuesday afternoon.
The bill's prospects are unclear. Schraa set the deadline for co-sponsors to sign on for Friday, June 21. Republicans control the Assembly and Senate, but both houses are consumed with passing the state budget before lawmakers recess for the summer.
GOP leaders were noncommittal. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Burlington, said he hadn't seen the bill's exact language yet. A spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said he also hasn't had a chance to review the measure.
Governor’s office swamped with calls over gun background checks
By Cy Ryan — Wednesday, June 12th, 2013 ‘The Las Vegas Sun’ Las Vegas, NV
CARSON CITY — Gov. Brian Sandoval’s office has been flooded with telephone calls for and against a bill expanding gun background checks, but the governor is standing firm on his promise to veto the legislation.
On Monday alone, there were 44,000 calls — 33,000 of them against the bill that would require background checks for sales or transfers of guns between private parties.
In all, there have been more than 100,000 calls to the governor’s office on the issue.
The bill would require those obtaining guns in a private transaction to go to a licensed gun dealer for a federal background check. Private sellers who fail to ensure a background check is completed could be charged with a gross misdemeanor and barred from having a gun for two years.
The bill was approved by the state Senate on an 11-10 vote and by the Assembly 23-18 on the final day of the Legislature.
Sen. Justin Jones, who pushed the legislation, said he wasn’t surprised by the governor’s stance but added, “He has not made it official yet.”
Jones, D-Las Vegas, said that if no federal legislation is enacted and Sandoval vetoes the state bill, “I’m sure I will return” in 2015 and push the legislation again.
Los Angeles, California
LAPD watchdog finds short paper trail on force investigations
By Joel Rubin — Wednesday, June 12th, 2013 ‘The Los Angeles Times’ / Los Angeles, CA
The Los Angeles Police Department investigates incidents involving the use force by officers in a way that makes it impossible in most cases for the city's police watchdog to evaluate the thoroughness of those investigations, according to a recent report.
Alex Bustamante, the inspector general for the L.A. Police Commission, presented the oversight board with a detailed report Tuesday examining how LAPD officials deal with incidents involving less serious uses of force by officers.
These less serious cases, called non-categoricals -- or non-cats in LAPD jargon -- can include body holds, punches, baton strikes and the firing of non-lethal weapons such as a Taser or bean-bag projectiles. Such cases account for about 95% of the roughly 1,750 force incidents LAPD officers are involved in each year, the report found. The remaining cases -- about 90 each year -- are the more serious cases in which officers attempt to shoot someone or use some other type of deadly force.
While cases involving deadly force undergo months-long investigations by a special detective unit, the less serious cases receive considerably less intensive reviews by regular field supervisors. Bustamante pointed out in the report, for example, that in all but a fraction of the lesser cases interviews with officers who either participated in the incident or witnessed are not recorded. Also, the report said, department policy requires only that a single account of the incident be written from the officers' perspective, regardless of how many officers were involved.
Such policies, Bustamante told commissioners at a meeting Tuesday, made it difficult, if not impossible, for his office to adequately assess the quality of the department's investigations.
"It does not mean they are bad," he said. "I just don't have the ability to look."
As far as he could tell from the documents available, Bustamante reported that a sample of non-cat cases showed the department generally was doing a good job on its investigations.
LAPD Assistant Chief Sandy Jo MacArthur told the commission that with limited resources the department is unable to deal with all types of force cases equally. Officials, she said, have been looking at the issue for months and are planning to roll out changes to training and procedures. One upcoming change, she said, would be a requirement that all officers involved in a non-cat complete a standardized series of questions on what occurred.
Police set new limits on shooting at suspect vehicles
By CASEY GROVE — Wednesday, June 12th, 2013 ‘The Anchorage Daily News’ / Anchorage, Alaska
It's a departure from the Anchorage Police Department's previous use-of-deadly-force policy, the city's police officers have been instructed not to shoot at suspects who are using vehicles as weapons.
That is, if the vehicle is the only weapon the suspect is using.
Police Chief Mark Mew said Tuesday that the city's officers have seen an increase of incidents in which a suspect driver puts police officers in fear for their lives or the lives of others, causing the officers to open fire. That scenario playing out more often means a greater risk to officers, bystanders and innocent passengers, Mew said.
Once the new policy is fully implemented and officers are trained, they will be violating department policy by shooting at a driving suspect if the driver is otherwise unarmed, Mew said.
Situations with fleeing drivers or suspects trying to ram police cars are dynamic and dangerous, Mew said.
"You have a setup that's changing. Vehicles are moving. Officers are moving. Suspects are moving," Mew said. "You might start out with a safe approach and suddenly everything is unsafe, and when you have bullets flying around, it just is not controlled enough and we think there's a better way to do it."
Officers are getting training on new tactics to use in situations that involve a suspect driving at them or others dangerously, Mew said. The police chief would not discuss the new tactics. The policy change took effect in mid-May, he said. Training is likely to be completed by fall, he said.
Police administrators told each shift of officers about the change in a series of meetings, Mew said. The new policy affects the department's roughly 350 sworn officers, including lieutenants, sergeants, detectives and patrol officers, police spokeswoman Jennifer Castro said.
"Any time you have a change of policy like this there's going to be questions, and some people will immediately see the need for it, some will want to question the necessity to do this," Mew said. "So we had good, healthy discussion. By and large, I think the troops are on board and ready for this."
But do the officers feel like they will be able to protect themselves as well?
"We gave them a different way to protect themselves. I think they'll be safer with this new policy and training," Mew said.
The tactics are more forceful and more effective, in some ways, than firing shots, said Derek Hsieh, president of the Anchorage Police Department Employees Association. Hsieh said his union supports the policy change. It's reasonable, Hsieh said, given what he described as "an evolution of tactics by some suspects."
"People are essentially ramming their way through police vehicles more," he said. "What we had trained officers to do isn't meeting all those challenges."
Hsieh also said he could not discuss the specific new methods police officers will use in those scenarios. But he said he expects the officers, his union members, to embrace the change.
"What's going to happen is we're going to shift to tactics, procedures, that are quite frankly more aggressive," Hsieh said. "We're going to trade down in one area and essentially trade up in another."
Other parts of the department's extensive policies on the use of lethal force are under review as well, Chief Mew said.
Some Anchorage residents had criticized the police in the wake of the fatal officer-involved shooting of 26-year-old Shane Tasi. Officer Boaz Gionson shot and killed Tasi when he came at Gionson waving a long stick in June 2012. The critics demanded the police department change what they called a "shoot-to-kill" policy.
Mew said there are no specific changes yet to the parts of the department's policy related to those types of incidents. But that review and a move toward more "de-escalation" training -- calming armed suspects before gunfire becomes necessary -- are related, Mew said.
"They are related because we're trying to avoid situations where we have bullets flying around," he said.
The policy change announced Tuesday comes after three cases this year in which officers fired at a driver.
In February, police shot and killed Carl Bowie III -- a 25-year-old who was driving a stolen pickup and rammed police cars -- as Bowie drove in reverse at officers on foot, narrowly missing one, a police video showed. A state Department of Law review showed officers Roger Billiet and Alan Rydberg to have been justified in the shooting.
Officer Keo Fujimoto shot at 34-year-old Lusia Pedro in March after Pedro rammed police cars while fleeing a crime scene, police said. Pedro had allegedly brandished a handgun while driving through a group of people outside a downtown bar. The officer's gunfire did not hit Pedro, but it shattered a window and caused minor injuries to two passengers, police said.
Two officers -- Eric Nowak and Julnudda Jackson -- opened fire on 26-year-old Ryan Robert Portlock on May 11 when Portlock allegedly ignored their commands and drove a stolen pickup into a patrol car. Neither Portlock nor his passengers were hit, police said.
Lawmakers concerned over US surveillance programs
By KIMBERLY DOZIER and LARA JAKES (The Associated Press) — Wednesday, June 12th, 2013; 11:38 a.m. EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Lawmakers voiced their confusion and concern over the sweeping secret surveillance programs revealed recently, after receiving an unusual briefing on the government's years long collection of phone records and Internet usage.
"People aren't satisfied," Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., said as he left the briefing Tuesday. "More detail needs to come out."
The phalanx of FBI, legal and intelligence officials who briefed the entire House was the latest attempt to soothe outrage over National Security Agency programs that collect billions of Americans' phone and Internet records. Since they were revealed last week, the programs have spurred distrust in the Obama administration from around the world.
House members were told not to disclose information they heard in the briefing because it is classified.
While many rank-and-file members of Congress have expressed anger and bewilderment, there is apparently very little appetite among key leaders and intelligence committee chiefs to pursue any action. Most have expressed support for the programs as invaluable counterterror tools and some have labeled the leaker who disclosed them a "traitor."
That man, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, said in an interview published Wednesday that he had fled to Hong Kong not to hide from justice but to "reveal criminality." Snowden said he would ask "the courts and people of Hong Kong to decide his fate."
"I am neither traitor nor hero. I'm an American," he told the South China Morning Post.
Congressional leaders and intelligence committee members have been routinely briefed about the spy programs, officials said, and Congress has at least twice renewed laws approving them. But the disclosure of their sheer scope stunned some lawmakers, shocked foreign allies from nations with strict privacy protections and emboldened civil liberties advocates who long have accused the government of being too invasive in the name of national security.
Some lawmakers complained that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper had misled a Senate committee in March by denying that the NSA collects data on millions of Americans. Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., called for Clapper to resign immediately.
"Congress can't make informed decisions on intelligence issues when the head of the intelligence community willfully makes false statements," Amash, a tea partier, wrote on Facebook.
Some Congress members acknowledged they'd been caught unawares by the scope of the programs, having skipped previous briefings by the intelligence committees.
"I think Congress has really found itself a little bit asleep at the wheel," Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., said.
Many leaving the forum declared themselves disturbed by what they'd heard - and in need of more answers.
"Congress needs to debate this issue and determine what tools we give to our intelligence community to protect us from a terrorist attack," said Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, and a backer of the surveillance. "Really it's a debate between public safety, how far we go with public safety and protecting us from terrorist attacks versus how far we go on the other side."
He said his panel and the House Judiciary Committee will examine what has happened and see whether there are recommendations to be made for the future.
The Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee will get to question the head of the NSA, Gen. Keith Alexander, on Wednesday, and the Senate and House intelligence committees will be briefed on the programs again Thursday.
The country's main civil liberties organization wasn't buying the administration's explanations, filing the most significant lawsuit against the massive phone record collection program so far. The American Civil Liberties Union and its New York chapter sued the federal government Tuesday in New York, asking a court to demand that the Obama administration end the program and purge the records it has collected.
The ACLU is claiming standing as a customer of Verizon, which was identified last week as the phone company the government had ordered to turn over daily records of calls made by all its customers.
Polls of U.S. public opinion show a mixed response to the controversy. A poll by The Washington Post and the Pew Research Center conducted over the weekend found Americans generally prioritize the government's need to investigate terrorist threats over the need to protect personal privacy.
But a CBS News poll conducted June 9-10 showed that while most approve of government collection of phone records of Americans suspected of terrorist activity and Internet activities of foreigners, a majority disapproved of federal agencies collecting the phone records of ordinary Americans. Thirty percent agreed with the government's assessment that the revelation of the programs would hurt the U.S.' ability to prevent future terrorist attacks, while 57 percent said it would have no impact.
A law enforcement official said prosecutors were building a case against Snowden on Tuesday and weighing what charges might be brought. But it was unlikely Snowden would be charged with treason, which carries the death penalty as a punishment and therefore could complicate extradition from foreign countries. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because there had been no final decision on charges.
Associated Press writers Donna Cassata, Frederic Frommer, Alan Fram, Andrew Miga, Pete Yost and Connie Cass contributed to this report.
A.C.L.U. Files Lawsuit Seeking to Stop the Collection of Domestic Phone Logs
By CHARLIE SAVAGE — Wednesday, June 12th, 2013 ‘The New York Times’
WASHINGTON — The American Civil Liberties Union sued the Obama administration on Tuesday over its “dragnet” collection of logs of domestic phone calls, contending that the once-secret program — whose existence was exposed last week by a former National Security Agency contractor — is illegal and asking a judge to stop it and order the records purged.
The lawsuit could set up an eventual Supreme Court test. It could also focus attention on this disclosure amid the larger heap of top secret surveillance matters revealed by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor who came forward Sunday to say he was their source.
The program “gives the government a comprehensive record of our associations and public movements, revealing a wealth of detail about our familial, political, professional, religious and intimate associations,” the complaint says, adding that it “is likely to have a chilling effect on whistle-blowers and others who would otherwise contact” the A.C.L.U. for legal assistance.
The Justice Department declined to comment on the suit.
In other lawsuits against national security policies, the government has often persuaded courts to dismiss them without ruling on the merits by arguing that litigation would reveal state secrets or that the plaintiffs could not prove they were personally affected and so lacked standing in court.
This case may be different. The government has now declassified the existence of the program. And the A.C.L.U. is a customer of Verizon Business Network Services — the recipient of a leaked secret court order for all its domestic calling records — which it says gives it standing.
The call logging program keeps a record of “metadata” from domestic phone calls, including which numbers were dialed and received, from which location, and the time and duration.
The effort began as part of the Bush administration’s post-Sept. 11 programs of surveillance without court approval, which has continued since 2006 with the blessing of a national security court. The court has secretly ruled that bulk surveillance is authorized by a section of the Patriot Act that allows the F.B.I. to obtain “business records” relevant to a counterterrorism investigation.
Congress never openly voted to authorize the collection of logs of hundreds of millions of domestic calls, but some lawmakers were secretly briefed. Some members of Congress have backed the program as a useful counterterrorism tool; others have denounced it.
“The administration claims authority to sift through details of our private lives because the Patriot Act says that it can,” Representative F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Republican of Wisconsin, wrote in a letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. “I disagree. I authored the Patriot Act, and this is an abuse of that law.”
Over the weekend, James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, said that officials may access the database only if they can meet a legal justification — “reasonable suspicion, based on specific facts, that the particular basis for the query is associated with a foreign terrorist organization.” Queries are audited under the oversight of the national security court.
Timothy Edgar, a former civil liberties official on intelligence matters in the Bush and Obama administrations who worked on building safeguards into the phone log program, said the notion underlying the limits was that people’s privacy is not invaded by having their records collected, but only when a human examines them.
“When you have important reasons why that collection needs to take place on a scale that is much larger than case-by-case or individual obtaining of records,” he said, “then one of the ways you try to deal with the privacy issue is you think carefully about having a set of safeguards that basically say, ‘O.K., yes, this has major privacy implications, but what can we do on the back end to address those?’ ”
Still, privacy advocates say the existence of the database will erode the sense of living in a free society: whenever Americans pick up a phone, they now face the consideration of whether they want the record of that call to go into the government’s files.
Moreover, while use of the database is now limited to terrorism, history has shown that new government powers granted for one purpose often end up applied to others. An expanded search warrant authority justified by the Sept. 11 attacks, for example, was used far more often in routine investigations like suspected drug, fraud and tax offenses.
Executive branch officials and lawmakers who support the program have hinted that some terrorist plots have been foiled by using the database. In private conversations, they have also explained that investigators start with a phone number linked to terrorism, and scrutinize the ring of people who have called that number — and other people who in turn called those — in an effort to identify co-conspirators.
Still, that analysis may generally be performed without a wholesale sweep of call records, since investigators can instead use subpoenas to obtain relevant logs from telephone companies. Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Mark Udall of Colorado, two Democrats who have examined it in classified Senate Intelligence Committee hearings, have claimed that the evidence is thin that the program provided uniquely available intelligence.
But supporters privately say the database’s existence is about more than convenience and speed. They say it can also help in searching for networks of terrorists who are taking steps to shield their communications from detection by using different phones to call one another. If calls from a different number are being made from the same location as calls by the number that was already known to be suspicious, having the entire database may be helpful in a way that subpoenas for specific numbers cannot match.
It remains unclear, however, whether there have been any real-world instances in which a terrorist was identified in that way, or whether that advantage is to date only theoretical.
A 1979 ruling over small-scale collection of calling metadata held that such records were not protected by the Fourth Amendment privacy rights since people have revealed such information to phone companies. In a 2012 case involving GPS trackers, however, the Supreme Court suggested that the long-term, automated collection of people’s public movements might raise Fourth Amendment issues.
Lawsuits over government surveillance languish
By PAUL ELIAS (The Associated Press) — Wednesday, June 12th, 2013; 3:46 a.m. EDT
SAN FRANCISCO — Before there was Edward Snowden and the leak of explosive documents showing widespread government surveillance, there was Mark Klein - a telecommunications technician who alleged that AT&T was allowing U.S. spies to siphon vast amounts of customer data without warrants.
Klein's allegations and the news reports about them launched dozens of consumer lawsuits in early 2006 against the government and telecommunications companies. The lawsuits alleged invasion of privacy and targeted the very same provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that are at the center of the latest public outcry.
That was seven years ago, and the warrantless collection continues, perhaps on an even greater scale, underscoring just how difficult the recently outraged will have in pursuing any new lawsuits, like the one the American Civil Liberties Union filed against the government on Tuesday in New York federal court.
"I warned whoever I could," Klein said in telephone interview from his home in Alameda, a city across the bay from San Francisco. "I was angry then. I'm angrier now."
All the lawsuits prompted by Klein's disclosures were bundled up and shipped to a single San Francisco federal judge to handle. Nearly all the cases were tossed out when Congress in 2008 granted the telecommunications retroactive immunity from legal challenges, a law the U.S. Supreme Court upheld. Congress' action will make it difficult to sue the companies caught up in the latest disclosures.
The only lawsuit left from that bundle is one aimed directly at the government. And that case has been tied up in litigation over the U.S. Justice Department's insistence that airing the case in court would jeopardize national security.
"The United States government under both administrations has been stonewalling us in court," said Lee Tien, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which represents the consumers who filed that lawsuit. EFF has also filed a related lawsuit seeking the Justice Department's legal interpretation of the law that the government is apparently relying on to collect consumers' electronic data without a warrant.
James Clapper, director of national intelligence, personally urged U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White to throw out the remaining lawsuit. Clapper wrote the judge in September that the government risks "exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the United States" if forced to fight the lawsuit.
But on Friday, federal prosecutors asked the judge to delay making any decision until it can report back to the court on July 12 what the latest disclosures may mean to the lawsuit. Tien and other EFF lawyers are also assessing the newest disclosures to determine if they bolster their case.
Snowden, 29, a former CIA employee who most recently worked as a contractor for the National Security Agency, admitted leaking details of two secret government surveillance programs.
He revealed a top-secret court order issued April 25 by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that granted a three-month renewal for the large-scale collection of American phone records. That program, the same one Klein tried to expose, allows the NSA to gather hundreds of millions of U.S. phone records to search for possible links to terrorists abroad.
Snowden also disclosed another program that allows the government to tap into nine U.S. Internet companies and gather all communications to detect suspicious behavior that begins overseas.
On Tuesday, Klein said that for a number of reasons, Snowden's disclosures sparked more public outrage than his own revelations did more than seven years ago.
For one thing, Klein said, Snowden had direct access to a secret court order and details of the program, while Klein pieced together the government's surveillance through internal AT&T documents and in discussions with colleagues who worked on the project.
"The government painted me as a nobody, a technician who was merely speculating," said Klein, who made his disclosures after he accepted a buyout and retired from AT&T in 2004. "Now we have an actual copy of a FISA court order. There it is in black and white. It's undisputable. They can't deny that."
Klein also said the allegations that the government was accessing social media sites such as Facebook may have gotten the attention of more - and younger - people who weren't bothered by his initial disclosures.
"Now, the government is intruding in places they go," said Klein, 68. "That probably got their attention."
NSA scandal: Twitter and Microsoft join rivals in call to disclose government data requests
Technology companies want government's permission to give public a more detailed list of demands for data from their servers
By Charles Arthur — Wednesday, June 12th, 2013 ‘The Guardian’ / London, England
Microsoft and Twitter have joined calls by Google and Facebook to be able to publish more detail about how many secret requests they receive to hand over user data under the controversial Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (Fisa).
"Permitting greater transparency on the aggregate volume and scope of national security requests, including Fisa orders, would help the community understand and debate these important issues," Microsoft said in an emailed statement to the Reuters news agency.
At Twitter the chief lawyer, Alex MacGillivray, tweeted: "We'd like more NSL [national security letter] transparency and Twitter supports efforts to make that happen."
A national security letter is used by US government agencies such as the FBI and NSA to demand access to data from companies – who are forbidden from revealing that they have been served such a request.
Earlier on Tuesday Google wrote to the US attorney general requesting permission to disclose how many NSL requests it had received under Fisa – a demand that Facebook joined.
The American Civil Liberties Union also said that it has filed a lawsuit over the collection of data from Verizon customers, as revealed by the Guardian last week.
Google, Microsoft and Twitter publish "transparency reports" detailing how many government requests they receive for user data in various countries, but those for the US do not include Fisa requests or other NSL demands. Facebook has not so far published a transparency report.
Microsoft said: "Our recent report went as far as we legally could and the government should take action to allow companies to provide additional transparency."
Microsoft and Twitter joined in as the PR fallout of the revelations by the Guardian over the past week about the extent of National Security Agency (NSA) access to user data continued to grow. Google's chief legal officer, David Drummond, reiterated the company's protests that it had not allowed the NSA "direct or indirect" access to its servers and had not allowed the NSA to install equipment on its premises.
The Guardian revealed last week that seven technology companies – Google, Facebook, Skype, PalTalk, Microsoft, Apple and Yahoo – were involved in the Prism surveillance scheme run by the NSA.
The Guardian understands that the NSA approached those companies and asked them to enable a "dropbox" system whereby legally requested data could be copied from their own server out to an NSA-owned system. That has allowed the companies to deny that there is "direct or indirect" NSA access, to deny that there is a "back door" to their systems, and that they only comply with "legal" requests – while not explaining the scope of that access.
Twitter was not mentioned in the Prism program because it declined to comply with the NSA's dropbox proposal.
Technology companies are increasingly concerned about the effect on public confidence in their security as the revelations over Prism have widened. "If data isn't stored on your hard drive any more but instead in the cloud, and you can't trust a company with storing that, it becomes an existential crisis," one Silicon Valley source told the Guardian.
"But that's where the world is moving. The world isn't going back to having your data sitting on your computer. The law needs to come into conformity with the cloud and the protection that people expect from that."
Earlier Denials Put Intelligence Chief in Awkward Position
By SCOTT SHANE and JONATHAN WEISMAN — Wednesday, June 12th, 2013 ‘The New York Times’
WASHINGTON — For years, intelligence officials have tried to debunk what they called a popular myth about the National Security Agency: that its electronic net routinely sweeps up information about millions of Americans. In speeches and Congressional testimony, they have suggested that the agency’s immense power is focused exclusively on terrorists and other foreign targets, and that it does not invade Americans’ privacy.
But since the disclosures last week showing that the agency does indeed routinely collect data on the phone calls of millions of Americans, Obama administration officials have struggled to explain what now appear to have been misleading past statements. Much of the attention has been focused on testimony by James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, to the Senate in March that the N.S.A. was not gathering data on millions of Americans.
When lawmakers returned to the Capitol on Tuesday for the first time since the N.S.A. disclosures, however, the criticism was muted.
In carefully delivered statements, Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio; Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader; and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, all said the programs were authorized by law and rigorously overseen by Congress and courts.
In contrast, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, a Democrat whose questioning prompted Mr. Clapper’s statement in March, stepped up his criticism of how intelligence officials portrayed the surveillance programs and called for public hearings to address the disclosures. “The American people have the right to expect straight answers from the intelligence leadership to the questions asked by their representatives,” he said in a statement.
And Representative Brad Sherman, Democrat of California, said he had come away from a closed-door briefing by intelligence officials for House members believing that the N.S.A. had too much latitude and too little oversight.
“Right now we have a situation where the executive branch is getting a billion records a day, and we’re told they will not query that data except pursuant to very clear standards,” Mr. Sherman said. “But we don’t have the courts making sure that those standards are always followed.”
Many lawmakers trained their sights on Edward J. Snowden, the intelligence contractor who leaked classified documents to The Guardian and The Washington Post. Mr. Boehner called him a traitor.
Mr. McConnell told reporters: “Given the scope of these programs, it’s understandable that many would be concerned about issues related to privacy. But what’s difficult to understand is the motivation of somebody who intentionally would seek to warn the nation’s enemies of lawful programs created to protect the American people. And I hope that he is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
The comments of the Senate leaders showed a coordinated effort to squelch any legislative move to rein in the surveillance programs. Mr. Reid took the unusual step of publicly slapping back at fellow senators — including senior Democrats — who have suggested that most lawmakers have been kept in the dark about the issue.
“For senators to complain that they didn’t know this was happening, we had many, many meetings that have been both classified and unclassified that members have been invited to,” Mr. Reid said. “They shouldn’t come and say, ‘I wasn’t aware of this,’ because they’ve had every opportunity.”
Among lawmakers who have expressed concerns in the past, however, the issues have not been laid to rest. When reporters pressed Mr. Wyden on whether Mr. Clapper had lied to him, he stopped short of making that accusation, but made his discontent clear.
“The president has said — correctly, in my view — that strong Congressional oversight is absolutely essential in this area,” he said. “It’s not possible for the Congress to do the kind of vigorous oversight that the president spoke about if you can’t get straight answers.”
At the March Senate hearing, Mr. Wyden asked Mr. Clapper, “Does the N.S.A. collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”
“No, sir,” Mr. Clapper replied. “Not wittingly.”
Mr. Wyden said on Tuesday that he had sent his question to Mr. Clapper’s office a day before the hearing, and had given his office a chance to correct the misstatement after the hearing, but to no avail.
In an interview on Sunday with NBC News, Mr. Clapper acknowledged that his answer had been problematic, calling it “the least untruthful” answer he could give.
Michael V. Hayden, the former director of both the N.S.A. and the C.I.A., said he considered Mr. Wyden’s question unfair, given the classified subject. “There’s not another country in the world where that question would have been asked and answered in a public session,” he said.
Some other statements of N.S.A. officials appear in retrospect to offer a mistaken impression of the agency’s collection of information about Americans. Mr. Wyden said he had pressed Mr. Clapper on the matter because he had been dissatisfied with what he felt were misleading answers from Gen. Keith B. Alexander, the N.S.A. director. And in a recent speech, the N.S.A.’s general counsel, Rajesh De, sought to debunk what he called “false myths” about the agency, including the idea that “N.S.A. is spying on Americans at home and abroad with questionable or no legal basis.”
While that may be literally true — there is a legal basis — it appears awkward in retrospect that Mr. De’s defense of the agency failed to mention its collection of phone data on Americans.
“It’s a fine line he was treading,” said Matthew M. Aid, an intelligence historian and author of “The Secret Sentry,” a 2009 book on the N.S.A. “But trying to talk around these secret programs just makes matters worse.”
The solution, he said, is for intelligence officials to share more information about what the N.S.A. does and why. “Actually be forthright with the American people,” he said.
Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee, told reporters on Tuesday that she had asked General Alexander to declassify more information about the surveillance programs — like terrorist plots that might have been foiled — to help explain their usefulness.
“If we can get that declassified, we can speak much more clearly,” she said.
Jeremy W. Peters contributed reporting.
Opinion: Pro and Con
Wednesday, June 12th, 2013 ‘The New York Times’ Editorial:
Surveillance: A Threat to Democracy
A new Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll found that a majority of Americans are untroubled by revelations about the National Security Agency’s dragnet collection of the phone records of millions of citizens, without any individual suspicion and regardless of any connection to a counterterrorism investigation.
Perhaps the lack of a broader sense of alarm is not all that surprising when President Obama, Senator Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee, and intelligence officials insist that such surveillance is crucial to the nation’s antiterrorism efforts.
But Americans should not be fooled by political leaders putting forward a false choice. The issue is not whether the government should vigorously pursue terrorists. The question is whether the security goals can be achieved by less-intrusive or sweeping means, without trampling on democratic freedoms and basic rights. Far too little has been said on this question by the White House or Congress in their defense of the N.S.A.’s dragnet.
The surreptitious collection of “metadata” — every bit of information about every phone call except the word-by-word content of conversations — fundamentally alters the relationship between individuals and their government.
Tracking whom Americans are calling, for how long they speak, and from where, can reveal deeply personal information about an individual. Using such data, the government can discover intimate details about a person’s lifestyle and beliefs — political leanings and associations, medical issues, sexual orientation, habits of religious worship, and even marital infidelities. Daniel Solove, a professor at George Washington University Law School and a privacy expert, likens this program to a Seurat painting. A single dot may seem like no big deal, but many together create a nuanced portrait.
The effect is to undermine constitutional principles of personal privacy and freedom from constant government monitoring. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on Tuesday, challenging the program’s constitutionality, and it was right to do so.
The government’s capacity to build extensive, secret digital dossiers on such a mass scale is totally at odds with the vision and intention of the nation’s framers who crafted the Fourth Amendment precisely to outlaw indiscriminate searches that cast a wide net to see what can be caught. It also attacks First Amendment values of free speech and association.
In a democracy, people are entitled to know what techniques are being used by the government to spy on them, how the records are being held and for how long, who will have access to them, and the safeguards in place to prevent abuse. Only then can they evaluate official claims that the correct balance between fighting terrorism and preserving individual liberty has been struck, and decide if they are willing to accept diminished privacy and liberty. If Americans have been slow to recognize the dangerous overreach of the N.S.A.’s phone surveillance, it is largely because they have scant information to judge the government’s conduct.
Even if most Americans trust President Obama not to abuse their personal data, no one knows who will occupy the White House or lead intelligence operations in the future. The government’s capacity to assemble, keep and share information on its citizens has grown exponentially since the days when J. Edgar Hoover, as director of the F.B.I., collected files on political leaders and activists to enhance his own power and chill dissent. Protections against different abuses in this digital age of genuine terrorist threats need to catch up.
Terror & surveillance
Of balance — and trust
By Bob McManus — Wednesday, June 12th, 2013 ‘The New York Post’
Boston Not much remains along Boston’s Boylston Street to recall that afternoon eight weeks ago, when bombs erupted and three people died — one an 8-year-old child.
One exception stands in Copley Square, a modest expanse just a few strides distant from where the Marathon bombs exploded: a makeshift — but obviously heartfelt — monument to America’s most recent victims of Islamist fanaticism.
On Sunday, high clouds dappled a brilliant pale-blue sky as passersby — mostly tourists, it seemed — respectfully inspected the memorial, stitched together from a handful of metal police sidewalk barriers and hung with hundreds of tightly packed running shoes, flags, shirts and hats, plus those hand-lettered notes of remembrance that were ubiquitous around Ground Zero for so long after 9/11.
The memorial radiates pain, appropriately enough, but also Boston pride — plus a touchingly naïve yearning for peace, for more tranquil times when footraces were for running and sidelines were for cheering and nobody had to worry about holy warriors with pressure-cooker bombs.
But peace doesn’t just happen. It must be won and enforced — once upon a time an unambiguous undertaking, but since 9/11 no longer.
Today’s enemies don’t wear uniforms, an unremarkable observation except for what it implies: namely, that effective self-defense in these high-tech times necessarily brings fundamental American privacy principles into conflict with the need to protect against threats of a perhaps near-existential nature.
How much surveillance is too much, and how much is not enough?
Certainly, Edward Snowden’s revelations have re-energized a debate that had been on low boil; for better or for worse, it will proceed at its own pace.
For better, because such matters are always worth discussing.
For worse, because too many participants long ago decided that prospective anti-terrorism policing may be acceptable in principle, but never in practice — and many of them find the relatively benign efforts of the NYPD to be particularly offensive.
Some are slippery-slopeists — folks for whom surreptitious police work of any sort is the same as climbing into that hand basket to hell.
Others just hate the police. They resent authority, or they believe cops are stupid and venal and not to be trusted.
And still others object because Ray Kelly and his intelligence division — acting entirely within the law, and with specific approval from a federal judge — have been searching in the city’s Islamic community for Islamist threats.
Resentment of such attention is understandable, but is it reasonable? Where else are the cops to look?
Or should they not be looking in the first place?
Yet that track would essentially leave counterterrorism to the same national-security apparatus that — despite multiple warnings from the Russians — was caught flat-footed in Boston on Patriots’ Day.
A reasonable wariness of the power of the state is wise, even necessary. And none of the prejudices listed above are totally unreasonable.
But taken in their totality, they amount to pernicious nonsense — and a prescription for inactivity that most New Yorkers, steeped in 9/11, probably would find unacceptable if they fully understood the potential consequences.
As it is, the national debate over Snowden, the National Security Agency and related issues is occurring in the context of an equally urgent examination of egregious privacy abuses within the Internal Revenue Service, and a growing public awareness of just how intrusive the Obama administration’s health-care program is going to be.
The resulting blur, while understandable, is likely to be taken advantage of by people who don’t have America’s best interests at heart. And certainly not New York City’s.
Nor Boston’s, either.
Sunday afternoon, in Copley Square, film students were recording a birthday memorial video for Martin Richard of Dorchester, murdered with the others a couple of hundred yards away on Marathon Day.
He would have turned 9 on Monday, and it was a moving gesture. But that’s all in the past now — as is 9/11, and Fort Hood and so on.
But the war persists. Does America have the will to fight it?