Federal Judge Paraphrases Mike Rogers; Tells Muslims Their Rights Can't Be Violated If They Don't Know They're Being Violated
from the and-not-even-AFTER-that-either,-apparently dept
The federal judge handling the lawsuit seeking an injunction against the NYPD's pervasive surveillance of Muslims appears to have taken a page from Rep. Mike Rogers' book. Judge William Martini has dismissed the case, stating that the only reason the plaintiffs claimed their rights were being violated is because someone told them their rights were being violated.
Marcy Wheeler at emptywheel sums it up:
The core of his logic is that Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo have injured NYC’s Muslim community by providing them proof of the spying targeted at them.From the ruling itself:
None of the Plaintiffs’ injuries arose until after the Associated Press released unredacted, confidential NYPD documents and articles expressing its own interpretation of those documents. Nowhere in the Complaint do Plaintiffs allege that they suffered harm prior to the unauthorized release of the documents by the Associated Press. This confirms that Plaintiffs’ alleged injuries flow from the Associated Press’s unauthorized disclosure of the documents. The harms are not “fairly traceable” to any act of surveillance.Your rights aren't violated until you know they've been violated. And even then, knowing they've been violated apparently doesn't give you standing to pursue this claim, at least not according to Judge Martini.
Martini takes time to lay into the acts of journalism that led to this suit being filed, pointing out that the AP's reporters "covertly" obtained access to NYPD documents, before (shock!) publishing them (without authorization) along with their "interpretation" of the confidential papers. If these two reporters would have minded their own business, no one would have known their rights were being violated and Judge Martini wouldn't have been inconvenienced by having to consider the plaintiffs' claims.
Martini's reasoning is just as flawed as Rogers', but he does Rogers one better by detailing the sort of pervasive surveillance he finds to be perfectly non-rights-violating. Back to Wheeler:
Martini said all this spying was cool because it was designed to find Muslim terrorists hiding among Muslims...
As I emphasized here, when it was first reported, NYPD wasn’t hunting for Muslim terrorists in places where the 9/11 terrorists were known to hang out — cheap hotels, gyms, cybercafes, and a bunch of other businesses catering to anonymity rather than Muslims. Rather, the NYPD was hunting terrorists in schools in Newark, including the one above teaching girls in fifth to twelfth grade, and another teaching first through fourth graders.
The NYPD was hunting terrorists in a girls school.The plaintiffs' expressed concerns that past surveillance efforts could negatively affect their futures are waved away for being speculative rather than "provable." This is more the law in general rather than Martini's interpretation, but up until the AP exposed the documents, the NYPD's surveillance programs were also more speculative than provable. And given recent history, how much "speculation" is actually being deployed here?
Plaintiffs Syed Hassan, Soofia Tahir, and Zaimah Abdur-Rahim fear that being the subjects of surveillance will interfere with their careers. Hassan is a U.S. Soldier and Tahir is expecting to begin a career in international social work. Both plaintiffs allege that career advancement will require background checks and security clearances. Both allege that their affiliations with organizations falsely labeled as “threats” will hinder their career advancement.Who knows what sort of flags the NYPD's surveillance will raise on background checks, or whether anything noted by the department is actually merited? The NYPD's informants have been known to inflate claims and flat out make stuff up just to meet the expectations of the Demographics Unit. Simply putting their names into the system could create problems for the claimants. Just ask Dr. Ibrahim, who spent a decade on the TSA's "no fly" list because of an FBI agent's clerical error.
But take away all the other questionable parts of Martini's decision and we're still left with this: a federal judge telling plaintiffs their rights weren't violated until the program was exposed, and even then, actually weren't violated.