In a motion made public Thursday, May 3, city attorneys are demanding that the lawyers representing the 1,800 people who claim they were falsely arrested at the Republican National Convention swear under oath that they didn’t leak confidential police documents — documents that the New York Times obtained to write a March story about the NYPD spying on political groups in the run-up to the 2004 convention.
Meanwhile, May 3’s Wall Street Journal, reporter Judith Miller defends the NYPD after describing the same documents. And now the NYCLU has ripped off a letter to the judge overseeing the RNC-related lawsuits, claiming that the NYPD provided Miller the very documents the city is fighting so hard to keep secret.
NYCLU Associate Legal Director Christopher Dunn asked Judge James C. Francis to deny the city’s motion to keep 600-plus pages of RNC-related documents secret and make the information public immediately.
In Miller’s piece, titled “When Activists are Terrorists” (subscription required), she states that “stung by the criticism” of the spying allegations, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence David Cohen and NYPD chief spokesman Paul Browne “outlined in interviews last week the nature of the police’s concerns, its conduct, and the goals of its intelligence surveillance effort” before and during the convention. Miller writes that she personally reviewed the “still-secret intelligence documents.”
“This reporting,” Dunn writes, “plainly suggests that the NYPD provided Ms. Miller with the very documents the City is insisting to this Court must be kept secret.”
Miller is best known for being jailed for 85 days after refusing to testify before a grand jury that it was Vice President Cheney’s Chief of Staff Scooter Libby who revealed to her the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame. When reached by phone today Miller said, “I’m not commenting on sources.” Then she added with a short laugh, “that should be obvious.”
She warned against “jumping to conclusions” regarding who provided her access to the information and made the point several times that, “I wasn’t the first person to look at these documents.”
Kate Ahlers, spokeswoman for the city’s Corporation Counsel, declined to comment on pending litigation.
Miller’s Wall Street Journal article was published on the same day that an April 20th letter from city attorney Peter Farrell to Judge Francis was made public. In it, Farrell requests that the RNC lawyers submit a “sworn declaration” to the court “setting forth any information they have regarding disclosure of the intelligence documents or the contents thereof to the Times or, alternatively, stating that they did not disclose and have no knowledge of who disclosed the confidential intelligence documents.” Based on those documents, Jim Dwyer of the New York Times wrote an article entitled, “City Police Spied Broadly Before G.O.P Convention.”
Dunn told the Voice, “instead of wasting the court’s time chasing lawyers, the city would be better served reining in the NYPD’s political surveillance operations.”