Bloomberg: NYPD-surveillance critics motivated by professional jealousy and a hunger for publicity

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Michael Bloomberg talks to reporters. (Azi Paybarah, via flickr)
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On the heels of reports that Attorney General Eric Holder will "review" complaints about the NYPD's surveillance of Muslims, and that the F.B.I.'s Newark chief believes such activities are counterproductive, Mayor Michael Bloomberg suggested that critics of the policy were motivated by a desire for attention.

"You know, it’s a made-for-television thing," the mayor said, sighing, in response to a question from John Gambling during Bloomberg's regular Friday morning radio show appearance. "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."

"I thought Miller, Mueller, the F.B.I. director Robert Mueller, said, look, he said the NYPD has done a remarkable job protecting New York City," the mayor continued. "And so one of his guys in Newark said something different, you know, OK. 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."

"Do you think that’s what the issue is in New Jersey maybe?" asked Gambling.

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

Then Bloomberg urged listeners to read "a great op-ed" by Richard Clarke, Judith Miller and R.P. Eddy, entitled, "New York's finest are getting smeared," in this morning's Wall Street Journal. Then he read much of it himself, out loud, including this part:  

Criminals often share ethnic backgrounds. For police to look for certain criminals among certain ethnic groups is only logical, and it doesn't suggest a belief that all, or even a significant minority, of that group are criminals.

"And I can just tell you this," said the mayor. "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.' If you want to have people stir it up against any group, have a problem where they’re involved. They have as big a vested interest in staying safe."

The mayor pointed out, as he and his spokesman have many times in recent weeks, that Muslims are not the first ethnic group to be closely monitored by the police.

 "When one group happens to have some clergy that try to rile things up, and we’ve had it, if you go back, the Jewish Defense League, I mean, there have been lots of times that plenty of other ethnic groups—and when that happens, you focus on that."