NYC: nuclear paranoia advances, civil rights retreat
Calling a nuclear or radiological strike against New York "the ultimate nightmare scenario," New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, speaking at a DC conference on nuclear terrorism June 13, called upon Congress to pay the full $40 million price tag for a ring of radiation detectors on major arteries leading into the city. Calling the "Securing the Cities" Homeland Security pilot program "our best, last defense to keep a nuclear or dirty bomb from being detonated in New York City," Kelly asserted: "Indeed, the worldwide proliferation of the materials needed to make such weapons leads many to believe that such a scenario is a matter of when, not if."
The Bush administration requested $40 million for the program, but this was cut to $20 million by the Democratic-controlled House Appropriations Committee, citing delays in getting agreements to deploy the detectors among various jurisdictions. (Newsday, June 14)
The same day that Kelly spoke in DC, Federal Judge Charles Haight decided that the NYPD has the power to videotape political protests, reversing a decision he made in February. His February ruling held that the NYPD could not routinely videotape protests, finding that the NYPD was overstepping its authority. Asked by the city to reconsider that opinion, Judge Haight, decided that he lacked the authority to take action against the department for "isolated and aberrant photographing or videotaping" that did not comply with guidelines established by the so-called Handschu consent decree. Under Handschu, a crowd must grow unruly before police can videotape political protests. Alternatively, police can get approval from the department's Intelligence Division to videotape political groups as part of criminal investigations. Plaintiffs say they will argue before Haight again, claiming that the NYPD has been violating consent decree. (Gothamist, June 14)
NOTE: A premilinary "radiological survey" of New York City by the federal government last year found an unexpected number of radioactive "hot spots" throughout the city.