Ray Kelly, the commissioner of a police department that’s currently awaiting the decision in a federal trial over the constitutionality of its stop-and-frisk practice, a department that ran a massive program of spying on New York City’s muslim community, made statements condemning the NSA for the secrecy of its phone and electronic communications surveillance programs, and–gasp! –tentatively supporting Edward Snowden, the man behind the leaks.
“I think if you listen to Snowden, he indicates that there’s some sort of malfeasance, people . . . sitting around and watching the data,” Kelly said, “So I think the question is: What sort of oversight is there inside the NSA to prevent that abuse, if it’s taking place?”
“He tried to give the impression, it seems to me, that these system administrators had carte blanche to do what they wanted to do. I think it’s a problem if that’s in fact what’s happening,” the NYPD commissioner added.
What happened? Did Kelly have a miraculous, pro-privacy change of heart? Probably not. The U.S. Department of Justice recently recommended a court-ordered monitor to oversee the police department if stop-and-frisk is found unconstitutional; Kelly’s remarks were likely a veiled retaliatory jab at U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. If you want oversight on my turf, I want it on yours also.
That’s the interpretation City Councilman Peter Vallone came to. “Everything that Ray Kelly does has a purpose,” Vallone said. “If Eric Holder wants to lecture Police Commissioner Kelly on how to fight crime in New York, then one of the world’s foremost experts on public safety [Kelly] can lecture Holder on how to fight terrorism.”