A.P. reporter explains the NYPD surveillance stories: ‘We’ve never said this is illegal’

Protest against Muslim surveillance. (Dan Rosenblum)
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Reporter Matt Apuzzo elaborates on what an A.P. spokesperson told Huffington Post about their series of stories on the NYPD surveillance program.

"We never approached this as a legal issue," Appuzzo said during an interview yesterday with PBS News Hour. "We've never said 'this is illegal. They're violating the law.' It's certainly worth having this conversation."

Apuzzo differentiated the stories about the NYPD's surveillance program from other stories looking at the ways America juggles security and civil rights issues.

"When you look at the big issues post-9/11 in the United States, whether it's water boarding, warantless wire tapping, surveillance, Gitmo, black sites rendition, all of those have been legal. Nobody has gone to jail for those programs. These programs might be legal."

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Apuzzo questioned the amount of legal discretion the police department has in how it operates.

"[W]hat's interesting about the NYPD is they have almost no oversight," Apuzzo said.

"The City Council is not aware of what is going on. Congress is not aware of what's going on. The Attorney General [of New York] basically said he doesn't have the ability to investigate.The White House said yesterday 'Yes, our money is being used here but we're just a policy office. We don't' actually have operational control.'"

City Councilman Brad Lander has said he wants to create an inspector general's office to oversee the NYPD, on the grounds that the City Council, which has some oversight capacity, isn't an appropriate forum for sensitive issues to be vetted.

Watch 'Mosque Crawlers,' 'Rakers' Monitoring U.S. Muslims for NYPD on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.