(Some) New Yorkers resist Big Brother

The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) has filed suit against the city to keep police from searching the bags of passengers entering the subway. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, claims the two-week old policy violates constitutional guarantees of equal protection and prohibitions against unlawful searches and seizures—while doing almost nothing to shield the city from terrorism. “While concerns about terrorism of course justify—indeed, require—aggressive police tactics, those concerns cannot justify the Police Department’s unprecedented policy of subjecting millions of innocent people to suspicionless searches,” states the suit.

Among five plaintiffs was Brendan MacWade, 32, of Brooklyn, who escaped the World Trade Center towers after they were struck by hijacked planes on Sept. 11, 2001. “I want to catch terrorists as much as any politicians or officials but this policy does not work,” he said.

Another plaintiff, Joseph Gehring Jr., who identified himself as a lifelong Republican, said he was disappointed to find subway riders accepting the police inspections so docilely. “Here we were giving up our rights to what was obviously a publicity stunt,” he said. “We are becoming accustomed to having our civil liberties taken away.”

Gail Donoghue, a city lawyer said the city’s random subway searches “meets all appropriate legal requirements and preserves the important balance between protecting our city and preserving individual rights… We are confident our position will prevail in court.”

The city is named as a defendant, along with the police department and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. The suit comes as elected officials continue to tussle over racial profiling. Nine City Council members have asked Bloomberg to direct officers to note the racial or ethnic identity of people searched. The call came after a city councilman and a state assemblyman suggested young Arabs should be targeted for searches. “The mayor has repeatedly stated since the start of this policy that there would be zero tolerance for racial profiling,” said a spokesman for Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Newsday’s coverage of the press conference pictured City Councilman John Liu and Sikh Coalition legal director Amardeep Singh, two leading voices against ethnic profiling. (Newsday, Aug. 4, via Chicago Tribune)

See our last post on fear in New York City.

  1. Did solider kill on London Underground?
    From the London Times, July 31:

    Could this ‘police officer’ be a soldier?
    Michael Smith

    BRITISH special forces soldiers took part in the operation that led to the shoot-to-kill death of an innocent Brazilian electrician with no connection to the London bombings, defence sources said last week.

    Jean Charles de Menezes was tailed by a surveillance team on July 22 as he caught a bus to Stockwell Underground station in south London. He was shot eight times when he fled from his pursuers at the Tube station.

    The Ministry of Defence admitted last week that the army provided “technical assistance

  2. al-Zawahri promises more
    From the Muslim American Society Network:

    DUBAI, Aug 4 (MASNET & News Agencies) – Al-Qaeda’s second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahri, leader Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man, warned Britain and the United States of more horror and destruction in a new videotape shown on Al-Jazeera television.

    Zawahri said Thursday that the two Western allies risked losing thousands of lives if they did not pull out of Iraq and end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, reports Agence France-Presse (AFP).

    “What you have seen in New York, Washington and Afghanistan, are only the initial losses,” Zawahri said, referring to the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States for which al-Qaeda claimed responsibility, reports Reuters news agency.

    “These policies [of British Prime Minister Tony Blair] will bring them more destruction after the explosions of London,” Zawahri said Thursday, stopping short of directly claiming responsibility for the London blasts.

    In London, Blair’s Downing Street office declined to comment on the broadcast, reports the Associated Press (AP).

    His statement came as thousands of police mounted a huge operation to protect the British capital, exactly four weeks after suicide bombers brought carnage to the city, killing 52 people.

    At least two groups linked to al-Qaeda have claimed responsibility for the London bombings, reports Reuters.

    The tape appeared recent as the London bombings took place in July. Zawahri looked older than in previous tapes, the news agency reports.

    U.S. intelligence officials had yet to complete a formal analysis of the tape’s audio and visual content. “But the clear assumption is that it is indeed him,” a U.S. official said. “There’s never been a fake tape.”

    Zawahri, who appeared in the footage to be sitting outdoors with an assault rifle at his side, warned the United States that it risked horrors worse than those of the Vietnam War if it persisted with its policies.

    “The Americans… will see horror that would make them forget the horror they saw in Vietnam,” he said, adding that Washington was lying about its losses in Iraq.

    Dressed in a white robe and a black turban from which a long scarf descended onto his shoulder, Zawahri pointed his figure at the lens repeatedly as he piled threat on threat.

    “You people of the crusader alliance, we proposed to you to at least refrain from harming Muslims. The lion of Islam, Osama bin Laden, also offered you a truce to leave the lands of Islam,” he said.

    “Did he [bin Laden] not tell you that you will not know security before we live it in Palestine and before you withdraw [your] infidel troops?” he asked. “But you ran rivers of blood in our countries, so we let loose volcanoes of wrath in yours.

    “The truth that [President George W.] Bush… hides from you is that there is no exit from Iraq except through immediate withdrawal. Any delay will mean only more dead and wounded. If you do not leave today, you will inevitably leave tomorrow, but only after [you suffer losses] of tens of thousands of dead and many more injured.”

    “Our message to you is clear, strong and final: There will be no salvation until you withdraw from our land, stop stealing our oil and resources and end support for infidel, corrupt [Arab] rulers,” he added.

    President George W. Bush dismissed Zawahri’s threats, saying the United States would stand its ground in Iraq, reports Reuters.

    “We will stay on the offense against these people. They’re terrorists and they’re killers and they will kill innocent people … so they can impose their dark vision on the world,” he told reporters at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.

    “The comments by the number two man of al-Qaeda make it clear Iraq is a part of this war on terror, and we’re at war,” he told reporters at his Texas ranch. “People like Zawahri have a ideology that is dark, dim, backwards.”


    Zawahri also took aim at Western allies, Egypt and Pakistan. He accused the Egyptian security services of “defending U.S. and Israeli interests” after a trio of bombings which killed at least 67 people, including 16 foreigners, in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on July 23.

    He slammed Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf as a “bribe-taker”, and accused Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas of being a “heathen who has sold out his religion and goes from failure to failure.”

    Washington says the Egyptian-born Zawahri is al-Qaeda’s main strategist and ideologist, and has placed a $25 million bounty on his head. He has been in hiding since the United States invaded Afghanistan in late 2001. It was at least the sixth videotape or audiotape released by Zawahri since the September 11 attacks, reports the AP.

    In a previous videotape aired by Al-Jazeera in April, he warned the West it faced defeat in what he termed its “new crusade” against the Islamic world.

    And in June, Al-Jazeera broadcast another Zawahri videotape disparaging the U.S. concept of reform in the Middle East and saying armed jihad was the only way to bring change in the Arab world, reports the AP.

    Before becoming bin Laden’s right-hand man, Zawahri led the Jihad group, which spearheaded a wave of unrest in Egypt in the 1990s alongside the rival Jamaa Islamiya organization. An eye surgeon by training from a wealthy Egyptian family, Zawahri occasionally appears in videotapes at bin Laden’s side.

    The Saudi-born bin Laden last appeared in a video in October.

    See our last post on al-Zawahri.