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NYPD and Justice Dept clash over surveillance

December 14, 2008 by  

NYPD wants the Justice Dept to work fasterThe New York Police Department has run into problems while trying to seek faster surveillance approval for investigating terror suspects.

According to correspondence obtained by the Associated Press, the NYPD has asked for greater latitude for spying on suspects, but has run into civil liberties conflicts with the Justice Department.

In a letter to NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly, Attorney General Michael Mukasey suggested that the request was not within the bounds of the law.

"In effect, what you ask is that we disregard FISA’s legal requirements, which are rooted in the Constitution," he wrote, according to the AP.

"Not only would your approach violate the law, it would also in short order make New York City and the rest of the country less safe."

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) lays out the procedures for obtaining authorization for electronic surveillance and physical search of terrorism suspects.

Kelly has complained that the Justice Department’s requirements for demonstrating probable cause are too cumbersome to effectively fight terrorism.

He said that "in situations short of unambiguous emergency," the system moved too slowly, leaving the city at risk of an attack.
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