City Police Spied Broadly Before G.O.P. Convention.
Not only did cops waste a phenomenal amount of resources infiltrating public meetings of obviously harmless groups such as Billionaires for Bush, but having made files about lawful activities by harmless groups they shared their files with cops nationwide.
For at least a year before the 2004 Republican National Convention, teams of undercover New York City police officers traveled to cities across the country, Canada and Europe to conduct covert observations of people who planned to protest at the convention, according to police records and interviews.
From Albuquerque to Montreal, San Francisco to Miami, undercover New York police officers attended meetings of political groups, posing as sympathizers or fellow activists, the records show.
In at least some cases, intelligence on what appeared to be lawful activity was shared with police departments in other cities. A police report on an organization of artists called Bands Against Bush noted that the group was planning concerts on Oct. 11, 2003, in New York, Washington, Seattle, San Francisco and Boston. Between musical sets, the report said, there would be political speeches and videos.
Political speeches and videos! The horror!
What NYC Cops did may well have been legal. But it was not only a distraction from real police work, but something that bespeaks a level of one-sided political paranoia that is a danger to democracy.
Can you imagine the police infiltrating the Federalist Society? Or a meeting of the Freepers? And even if you can, could two wrongs make a right?