Prof. Ralph Stein on newly released details on the NYPD’s counterterrorism intelligence gathering operations
Pace Law School Professor Ralph Stein, an expert on national security law and civil rights, is available to speak to the media about newly uncovered details on the New York Police Department’s previously unknown intelligence gathering counterterrorism operations.
“While major city police departments have long operated intelligence units or bureaus, the New York Police Department is unsurpassed both for the depth of its investigative operations and the controversies, including federal court cases, they produce. Known informally as the ‘Red Squad’ in past decades, the NYPD regularly renames its intelligence unit. Once the Bureau of Special Services (BOSS), it now has a more clearly understood name denominating its assigned duties.
Past NYPD intelligence activities have been found to violate individual rights under the First Amendment and a consent decree, known as the Handschu Decree, sought to limit impermissible activities. However, that decree has recently been modified in the wake of 9/11 based on NYPD assertions that a more proactive mission than the decree envisioned was warranted.
A distinctive feature of the NYPD intelligence operations, not matched by any other major police department, has been its relationships with other federal agencies, most notably the FBI, as well as the military.
While there is no question that investigating potential terrorism threats is both lawful and, obviously, necessary, there is a thin line between investigations based on reasonable grounds and wholesale surveillance of constitutionally protected political and religious activities.”