A state judge has denied a lawsuit seeking to compel the NYPD under the Freedom of Information Law to turn over data relating to its counterterrorism surveillance since September 11, 2001. Justice Alexander Hunter Jr. wrote that "raw, unevaluated field reports, derivative reports, and intermediate reports contain not only highly detailed information, but also contain source revealing information that could potentially jeopardize the effectiveness of the NYPD's undercover programs."
The 11-page FOIL request [PDF] was filed by NYU's Brennan Center for Justice, Muslim Advocates, and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund last September, and called for the NYPD to release a variety of records pertaining to the department's surveillance activities that were uncovered in a series of AP reports.
The groups requested documents and notes regarding surveillance; maps, and statistics detailing the use of undercover officers and paid informants; and agreements the NYPD may have made with the CIA, among other records.
City attorney Jeffrey Dantowitz said in a statement that he was pleased with the ruling: "Disclosing counter-terrorism documents would undoubtedly undermine the NYPD's efforts to ensure the safety and security of individuals in New York City and elsewhere."
Glenn Katon, the Legal Director for Muslim Advocates, voiced disappointment with the ruling, and said the group was considering an appeal. "The decision didn't really address some of the most important issues in the case, which were that the NYPD should be producing documents that don't relate to a criminal investigation," Katon said.
"The judge just seemed to buy, hook, line and sinker, the City's argument that if the NYPD is doing it, it must be related to a criminal investigation," Katon added. "If [the NYPD] is saying, 'We want to visit every mosque in a particular section of the Bronx in these two weeks,' and it's not based on any indication of criminal activity, we believe they should turn that over."
Indeed, the documents obtained by the AP on the NYPD's Demographics Unit did not pertain to any particular criminal investigation, and the NYPD's controversial surveillance program produced no leads.
The NYPD was recently given an "F" grade by Public Advocate Bill de Blasio for the department's failure to fulfill its legal duty to promptly and accurately respond to FOIL requests. Another lawsuit [PDF] against the NYPD for failing to respond to FOIL requests is still pending.
You can read Justice Hunter's decision below: