Up Against The Wall, America! Sen. Schumer Touts NYPD Chief Kelly For Next Head Of Homeland Security
from the if-anyone-has-any-reason-why-these-two-should-not-be-joined... dept
Janet Napolitano is leaving her post as the head of the DHS and leaving a vacancy that some (particularly Sen. Chuck Schumer) think would be best filled by Ray “Stop and Frisk” Kelly. (Or, if you prefer, Ray “Privacy Is Off the Table” Kelly.)
This isn’t a particularly surprising selection. Schumer’s home state is New York and picking Kelly is sort of a no-brainer. As Mike Riggs at Reason points out, the case for Kelly as head of the DHS goes all the way back to 2008, when national security insiders floated the suggestion.
Unfortunately for fans of civil liberties, adding Ray Kelly to the DHS takes a bad thing and makes it worse.
First off, there’s the NYPD’s infamous stop and frisk program, which has targeted minority youths almost exclusively. Putting Kelly in charge of Homeland Security is just asking for a national rollout of stop and frisk, bringing the fun of being a minority in New York City to citizens around the country. There’s no dissuading Kelly (or Commander in Chief of the “seventh largest military in the world,” Mayor Bloomberg) of its effectiveness, even if the numbers don’t back up their claims.
Kelly also famously announced that “privacy is off the table” as a result of the Boston bombing. Kelly has no qualms about expanding law enforcement surveillance networks, no matter how unpopular it is with the public. He has expressed his admiration for London’s network of cameras, which he hopes to emulate in New York City. The NYPD has taken steps towards all-encompassing surveillance aided by (oddly enough) Microsoft. Take that set of ideals and expand it nationwide.
Despite his willingness to invade everyone else’s privacy, Kelly’s own police force is positively opaque when it comes to transparency. FOIA requests are routinely stonewalled when not being actively battled in courtrooms, much to the dismay of taxpayers’ wallets.
The one thing Kelly does feel government/law enforcement/intelligence agencies should be open about is how much spying they’re planning on doing. His only reaction to the NSA leaks was dismay at the fact that the NSA didn’t just tell Americans they’re going to be spied on.
“I don’t think it ever should have been made secret,” Kelly said yesterday, breaking ranks with other US law-enforcement officials. “I think the American public can accept the fact if you tell them that every time you pick up the phone, it’s going to be recorded and it goes to the government. I think the public can understand that. I see no reason why that program was placed in the secret category.
There’s Kelly’s version of transparency: telling the public how its privacy is going to be violated. If nothing else, Kelly’s theoretical term as the head of the DHS would result in a brave, new world of confrontational transparency — top-down blasts of invasive programs, delivered in a like-it-or-leave-it tone that leaves no room for debate or discussion.
Beyond this, we also have the NYPD’s pitiable record of constitutional violations when it comes to its joint anti-terrorist efforts with the FBI. Plenty of spying, surveillance and privacy violations. Very little in the way of actual terrorists rounded up.
So, here’s a guy with a track record that features a combination of wholesale civil liberties violations and an aversion to any form of accountability. Kelly has proven he’s willing to alienate constituents in pursuit of an all-encompassing police/surveillance presence. He’s also made it clear that he unreservedly buys into the “because terrorism” rhetoric.
Unfortunately for America, every listed argument against Kelly as head of the DHS is a point for him under the current administration. The boundless expansion of Bush’s domestic surveillance under Obama has laid the perfect foundation for a man who believes citizens should be seen and heard — at all times. If the Constitution is holding back a preferred program, there’s always the secret court ready to provide secret interpretations of existing laws, thus assuring that everything is properly overseen and above board.
Kelly isn’t necessarily a “yes man,” but he’s a perfect fit for an agency that has steadily trampled on the Constitution since its formation. The “welcomed debate” on privacy vs. security would become little more than a faint memory. Kelly’s arrival would signal an end to the discussion no one in Washington really wants to have. There are precious few people who believe the DHS and its accompanying agencies weren’t invasive enough, but adding Kelly to the mix should take that number down to zero.
It’s Kelly’s world. You’re all just
living in it “persons of interest.”