NYPD Blues

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Five months ago, citing terrorism concerns, U.S. District Judge Charles Haight lifted limits on how the New York Police Department can initiate an investigation. Yesterday he restored the rules.

According to Newsday,

Haight said he changed his mind following the disclosure that on Feb. 15th the police had arrested 274 people protesting the war in Iraq and questioned them about their political beliefs, entering their responses on what the department called a "demonstration debriefing" form.

Among the questions: "Do you hate George W. Bush? Do you think anything would be different if Al Gore were elected? What is your opinion of the war in Iraq? Don't you think it was necessary for us to get involved in World War II?"

NEXT: Judge Dread

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  1. The police questions were obviously a well-intentioned effort at deprogramming the ANSWER types…

  2. >>> “Real Libertarians would recognize this story has nothing to do with the evil Bush administration.”

    Umm, OK.

    But, trivia time, who spoke these immortal words?:

    “There are reminders to all Americans that they need to watch what they say, watch what they do, and this is not a time for remarks like that; there never is.”

    Give up? Why it was Bush White House spokesman Ari Fleischer on September 26, 2001, giving official sanction to “patriots” calling for the head of the “traitorous” Bill Maher.

    But “Bill Clinton” is right; this has nothing to do with the Bush administration.

  3. Were they legally demonstrating, while respecting the rights of others to go about their own affairs, of were they feloniously interfering with the rights of others?
    It makes a difference.

  4. Dear Gene[ome],

    Even so, the police shouldn’t be asking such questions because the answers are irrelevent to any charge related to their arrest. What exactly would that information be used for? Extra time in jail or a greater fine for hating dubya? Surely you cannot be serious?

    Regards,

    Steve

  5. But…these guys walking around hating God’s Anointed could reduce his power as High Priest to bring God’s Power to bear on the heathen!

    And if people in the military learned that left-leaning civilians in New York (and so members of three groups for which they have _enormous_ respect) don’t believe in what they’re doing, that could hurt their morale.

  6. Gene-

    If the protests were in any way violent, or unlawfully disruptive, then it doesn’t matter what the protestors think of Bush. They should be punished for their actions. On the other hand, if the protestors were not violent or unlawfully disruptive to other people’s right to go about their business, then the police have no right to question them about anything, let alone personal beliefs.

    Sort of like hate crime laws (something I doubt many conservatives like): If somebody assaults another person, I couldn’t care less what the attacker thinks. Go to jail, go directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200. Saying “But I didn’t hate him…” shouldn’t matter.

    But yes, there is the question of whether or not the protestors are trying to interfere with God’s Annointed… 😉

  7. The lawfulness or unlawfulness of the protesters, while relevant in the discussion of their prosecution under the law, is completely irrelevant to the issue of police questioning arrested protesters about their political views. This line of questioning by police, while appropriate in a brutal dictatorship, is completely inappropriate in America. Punish the protesters based on their unlawful actions, but don’t punish them because they disapprove of Bush.

  8. It’s worse than questioning their love of George Bush. They’re questioning their political preferences, to make sure they believe the right things.

  9. Punish the protesters based on their unlawful actions, but don’t punish them because they disapprove of Bush.

    Sorry, but I must have missed the part where the questions were used as “punishment”…

  10. To anon at 3:01 pm…

    The “debriefing” form was issued by the police, who certainly have the capacity to enact punishment on citizens. There is no reason for the police to collect any bit of information that is not relevant to the prosecution of an offender, and a person’s political leanings are certainly not relevant. Furthermore, the questions on the form certainly imply that the protesters simply can’t be thinking properly if they disapprove of Bush, the Iraq War, etc.

    I can’t believe there are actually red-blooded Americans who are not bothered by this.

  11. “I can’t believe there are actually red-blooded Americans who are not bothered by this.”

    Come on, we all know that those that claim the reddest blood and American (Coulter) are outraged that this tactic isn’t regularly used on protestors. It shows their (red bloods) ignorance towards the presidence that they are willing to accept to wipe out the much hated left.

    I am both shocked and awed as you are!

  12. Brad S.,

    So much for land of the free…

  13. Although I do agree that it was wrong for the police to ask political questions, I’d like to point out that most of the people protesting in NYC were not NYC residents. I’m a lifelong new yorker, and I don’t know anyone who went to the peace marches.

    I don’t know why they didn’t just protest in Marlboro or North Salem, possibly cause the local cops wouldn’t stand for it.

    That’s why the Thursday protest ended early, when members of the crowds, people who actually live and work in the city starting hweckling the marchers. After that all protests were on the weekends when the resident knew enough to stay out of downtown manhatten.

    Actually, most of my friends think Bush’s been way too lenient on the arab world.

  14. And as we all know, your friends are a fully representative cross-section of the New York population.

  15. “Although I do agree that it was wrong for the police to ask political questions, I’d like to point out that most of the people protesting in NYC were not NYC residents. I’m a lifelong new yorker, and I don’t know anyone who went to the peace marches.”

    Maybe you should get out more — or were you out smart mobbing?

  16. “As Ann Coulter and other patriots properly have observed, an affirmative answer to any of those questions constitutes clear and unequivocal evidence of treason.”

    So, I can see that you have read her book? Or have you just accepted third hand accounts of its contents as gospel. Don’t bother to answer, if you are this careless with your ‘facts’, I don’t really care what you so called think.

  17. Whatever happened to the good old days, when the NYPD would just fire 41 shots into the crowd, ram some plungers up their butts and be done with it?

  18. moptop,
    Is English your second language?
    I haven’t read anything written by Ms Coulter. I have however, seen and heard her on numerous shows pimping her book, where she repeatedly stated her belief that anyone who questioned the actions of Pres. Bush was guilty of treason.

  19. I fail to see why it was improper for the police to ask those questions. As Ann Coulter and other patriots properly have observed, an affirmative answer to any of those questions constitutes clear and unequivocal evidence of treason. Thus, the NYPD was doing nothing more than investigating possible criminal activity.

    Once again, these damned liberal judges are dreaming up new “rights” for Americans and hamstringing our law enforcement!

  20. 1. Go fuck yourself 2. Go fuck yourself. 3. Go fuck yourself. 4. Go…

  21. Joe:

    Even if he’s not, just assume Leftover is being sarcastic. It’s easier on the tummy.

  22. No, no, I meant the police questioning people’s political opinions.

  23. “Ann Coulter and other patriots”

    LOL

  24. Another example of why I find it unconscionable for a true Libertarian to support the Bush administration.

  25. Real Libertarians would recognize this story has nothing to do with the evil Bush administration.

  26. Ira:
    Well, since they say no one living in New York (or Washington) is FROM New York (or Washington), that probably explains it.

    Keith

  27. Something else occured to me: presumably, these questions are designed to identify potentially violent radicals or subversives. So why the question about Al Gore? I don’t recall there being a great many bombthrowers among his supporters. This is dangerously close to the idea that dissent from the governing party = treason against the nation.

  28. What particularly bothered me was the “Don’t you think…” line. Asking leading questions to get seemingly favorable responses by the police on political beliefs? I don’t get it. It would seem that would do more as an attempt to convince and coerce than anything else.

  29. Maybe the police appreciate the obvious intellect shown by many war protestors and merely wish to expand on their own understanding of world events? Or maybe they just need this information so as to not put any individual protestor in the wrong cell. One block for people who think the election was stolen, one for your general sort of Bush hater, one for those who think we fought on the wrong side of world war 2, one for voices-for-saddam. Then you have one for the crips and one for the vice lords…

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