AP Journalists: The NYPD 'Less Transparent' Than CIA, FBI And NSA When It Comes To FOI Requests

from the ray-kelly-states-info-needs-to-be-pried-from-his-cold,-live-fingers dept

According to the investigative journalists Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman, the entity most reluctant to part ways with information isn't any of the expected national intelligence agencies. No, the entity least likely to kick loose a response to a FOI request is none other than the NYPD.

“For the most part, they don’t respond,” Apuzzo, 34, said in an interview with The Huffington Post. “I don’t think people are well-served by that. Even the NSA responds.”

“Even the CIA responds,” Goldman, 42, jumped in. “Even the FBI responds.”
Incredibly, this is an improvement over the Giuliani years.
Bob Liff, a former reporter and Democratic political consultant, said the public’s right to know may not be perfectly served under Bloomberg, but it has vastly improved from his predecessor’s time.

“I don’t doubt that there’s always a battle over controversial information,” Liff said. “But under Rudy, the battle was over basic information. That’s a significant distinction.”
Thanks to the oft-thwarted efforts of Apuzzo and Goldman, we now have an answer as to why New York is referred to as the "city that never sleeps." It's because it's up all night crafting narratives.
The "public is not well-served by a police department that doesn’t allow you access to 911 calls or public records, police reports" and then "produces their own summaries of cases for you to look at, but doesn’t let you get access to the underlying documents,” Apuzzo added later.

“The NYPD is deciding what’s news,” Goldman said.
Apuzzo and Goldman have had plenty of experience with the NYPD, having exposed the department's highly questionable surveillance tactics deployed after the 9/11 attacks, along with breaking the news that a former high-ranking CIA officer was running the so-called Demographics Unit. This unit has designated entire mosques as "terrorist operations" and operates under a loophole in the laws governing police investigations -- a generous loophole manufactured by the former CIA agent himself.

The powers granted to this unit are so audacious that national intelligence agencies are unable to utilize the information collected without breaking national civil liberties laws.

The NYPD's protection of its own info seems almost antagonistic. As we've covered earlier, the NYPD has rejected FOI requests for everything from weapons discharge reports to Ray Kelly's official calendar. The city of New York isn't much better, as Mike Masnick can personally attest.

There's an insularity to New York that outsiders have trouble permeating. The city is unlike any other in the US, and the residents and ingrained institutions know it. Most people don't have what it takes to get past its callous exterior and those who try are often rebuffed simply on principle. The mayor's office and police department have had each other's back throughout Bloomberg's tenure, which isn't too surprising considering the NYPD has been very instrumental in the mayor's micromanagement of the city and its inhabitants.

But this "we protect our own" attitude extends into the journalistic ranks as well, which is extremely problematic when the police department is already doing everything it can to prevent the release of unflattering information. Apuzzo and Goldman's investigative work was greeted with reactions ranging from harsh criticism to complete indifference by New York papers.
The city’s top tabloid newspapers, the New York Post and Daily News, editorialized against the AP's NYPD series in 2011, and The New York Times did little follow-up reporting on the revelations and newly published documents.

"It was extremely surprising to us that putting a former CIA officer in charge of the NYPD intelligence division and creating what’s been created generated so little attention at the time," Apuzzo said.
That should have been a big deal and New York journalist should have been the ones informing their local readers about the abuses occurring in the name of "security" -- and at the behest of a former CIA officer. But they didn't, instead entertaining the mayor's assertions that everything the department did was legal, above board and not a violation of anyone's rights.

Bloomberg, like President Obama, promised greater transparency. And like the president, he's failed to follow through. Worse, this isn't simply a case of neglect -- both have taken great strides in the direction of opacity. And as for those New York journalists who criticized the pair's work, they need to take a good, long look at their own complicity in the NYPD's overreach.


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