Mukasey Smacks Down Kelly

It’s almost inconceivable that a government agency could have even less regard for civil liberties and the rule of law than the Bush Justice Department, but the NYPD is no ordinary government agency. It seems Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey are in a spat over the NYPD’s overly broad — and again, that’s overly broad even by Bush administration standards — pursuit of wiretapping and eavesdropping authority.

According to Mukasey, the NYPD sought sweeping authority to eavesdrop on numerous “communications facilities,” including phones in public places, rather than phones used by actual specific suspects. You know, the trivial due process details required by FISA and the Fourth Amendment.

Ironically, Mukasey points out that the NYPD’s frivolous requests for eavesdropping warrants may actually make it harder to go after real suspects:

“The less the FISA court comes to trust the validity of the applications, the more inclined the judges will be to impose on all applications the kind of scrutiny that doubtful applications merit, which of course takes more time and causes more delay because the court’s resources are limited,” he said. “The greater the delay, the fewer the applications can be processed and granted within a given time. The fewer successful FISA applications, the less intelligence can be gathered. The less intelligence gathered, the greater the danger to all Americans, including New Yorkers. That is not a complex formula.”

Oh, snap!