The ongoing (and award-winning) Associated Press series about the NYPD’s surveillance of Muslims introduced a new twist over the weekend when it was reported that the spying spread to universities like Yale, Rutgers, Syracuse, and more. Yale president Richard Levin responded in a letter, writing that “police surveillance based on religion, nationality, or peacefully expressed political opinions is antithetical to the values of Yale, the academic community, and the United States.” Today, Mayor Bloomberg defended the law enforcement practice fervently, but with boilerplate terror talk, and when pushed, filibustered with ramblings about whitewater rafting.
“Yale’s freedoms to do research, to teach, to give people a place to say what they want to say is defended by the law enforcement throughout this country,” Bloomberg said at a press conference, as reported by Capital New York. “If going on websites and looking for information is not what Yale stands for, I don’t know,” he added. “It’s the freedom of information … Of course we’re gonna look at anything that’s publicly available and in the public domain. We have an obligation to do so. And it is to protect the very things that let Yale survive.”
Reporters pushed the mayor, noting that an undercover agent accompanied students on a rafting trip — not exactly the public domain. “The only whitewater rafting I’ve done I did with my daughter,” Bloomberg responded. “I don’t think she has a lot of information I was interested in in terms of her political views. It was a long time ago. I’m not sure at that time she had political views. She certainly does now.”
Later, he did it again: “You know, I’ve been on a white rafting trip,” Bloomberg said. “I went down the Rogue River with my daughter years ago. It’s the last time I went whitewater rafting or probably ever talked about it.”
Back on subject, sort of, the mayor told reporters, “You have your job because there were young men and women who’ve been giving their lives overseas for the last 200-plus years, so that we would have freedom of the press. And we’d go after the terrorists. And we’re going to continue to do that.”