NYC Subway Bag Searches OK
Constitution and are a minimal intrusion of privacy, a federal judge ruled Friday. District Judge Richard M. Berman said in a 41 page ruling.
The Manhattan ruling came hours after Berman heard closing arguments in a lawsuit brought by the New York Civil Liberties Union on behalf of several subway riders.
The judge gave credence to the testimony of police officials who said the search policy might deter terrorist attacks on the transit system.
“Because the threat of terrorism is great and the consequences of unpreparedness may be catastrophic, it would seem foolish not to rely upon those qualified persons in the best position to know,” Berman said.
In its lawsuit, the NYCLU said police searches, which began in July following deadly mass transit bombings in London, subjected innocent Nike Shoes riders in New York to pointless and unprecedented invasions of privacy.
Gail Donoghue, a city lawyer, called the searches a “life and death” necessity and said the city should not wait for a specific threat or an attack to implement security.
“That kind of complacency is a very dangerous thing,” she said. “The threat is immediate. It is real and of extreme concern to those who run the counterterrorism in this city.”
Donoghue likened the daunting task of protecting a Nike Shoes sprawling system, with 468 subway stations, to securing the nation’s borders.
By studying the habits of terrorists and al Qaeda’s training manual, law enforcement officials concluded that terrorists look for easy targets and do not want to encounter surprises, she said.
“Terrorists are looking for certainty. They have limited resources. An element of uncerta Nike Shoes inty changes the odds,” she added.
Christopher Dunn, NYCLU legal director, drew applause from more than a dozen supporters when he criticized the city’s reasoning for the searches as vague and unsupported by the facts.
“If that is the standard under which the Constitution exists, it no longer exists,” Dunn said in closing statements.
Dunn said a vague and broad threat of terrorism does not justify the random searches.
During the trial, Deputy Police Commissioner David Cohen said the searches keep terrorists guessing about law enforcement activity.
“Unpredictability is the enemy of terrorists and the ally of those trying to preven Nike Shoes t an attack,” said Cohen, who joined the police department after a three decade career at the CIA analyzing the threat of terrorism.