New York

Mayor Bloomberg On Muslim Surveillance Critics: ‘It’s a Made-For-Television Thing’


The loud critics of the New York Police Department’s practice of spying on Muslims are speaking out because it’s good publicity.

That’s what Mayor Mike Bloomberg said this morning on his weekly radio show with John Gambling.

“You know, it’s a made-for-television thing. It gets you publicity. If you want to talk, there’s somebody willing to stick a microphone or a camera in front of you and put it on the air. I don’t know how much of it’s that,” said the mayor, who has continued to shoot down criticisms coming at him from different places, including other governments, civil rights groups, and universities.

These latest comment comes on the heels of Attorney General Eric Holder calling the surveillance “disturbing,” and announcing that the Justice Department is beginning to review the practice.

The mayor went on to defend the NYPD’s relationship with other jurisdictions. “I thought…Mueller, the FBI director Robert Mueller, said…the NYPD has done a remarkable job protecting New York City — and so one of his guys in Newark said something different,” he said. “Every agency at every level of government would like to be involved. And so, you know, if you have a big case, everybody rushes to get on board.”

“Oh, do you think that’s what the issue is in New Jersey maybe?” Gambling interjected.

“No,” Bloomberg responded, “but I think there is always that tension.”

It’s about pride — and that can be a good thing, he continued.

“But to say that the NYPD and the FBI and the CIA don’t work together is ridiculous. They work as seamlessly together. You are well served, I can just tell you that. Do they each have their own pride? Sure. It’s like Police and Fire in New York City. You’ve got two groups that have this enormous pride, can-do attitude. They want to be the front guy. They want to be the first one in. That’s a healthy tension. You want to make sure it doesn’t get out of hand. You want to make sure that in the end they work together — and they do,” he said.

“In all fairness to Governor [Chris] Christie and Mayor [Cory] Booker, sometimes the communications within my…administration, or their administration, is never as perfect as you’d like it to be,” he continued. “There’s lots of times I said, ‘We did what? We knew what?’ You can’t know everything. If you run a government where everything has to get to the top guy, you can’t run it. Things are too big to do that.”

Bloomberg also pointed to this op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that defends the NYPD.

Muslims in the city want this surveillance, he added.

“The Muslim groups that I have talked to in the last few weeks — to say ‘all’ I think is very close to being accurate — they keep saying, ‘Look, we don’t want to be out there, you know, getting involved in this. We should just keep our heads down. But we do not need another terrorist attack.’…They have as big a vested interest in staying safe. They’re Americans. They’re citizens. They have kids. They have the same aspirations that you and I do. They contribute to our society, and they want to be safe.”

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