Lawyers for New York City, responding to a request to unseal records of police surveillance leading up to the 2004 Republican convention, say the documents should remain secret because the news media will “fixate upon and sensationalize them,” hurting the city's ability to defend itself in lawsuits over mass arrests, the New York Times reports. “The documents were not written for consumption by the general public,” wrote Peter Farrell of the city's Law Department. “The documents contain information filtered and distilled for analysis by intelligence officers accustomed to reading intelligence information.”
The documents show that the police department sent undercover detectives around the world to collect information on political activists and others planning to demonstrate at the 2004 convention, according to a sampling of records reviewed by the Times that were the subject of an article yesterday. The records included intelligence digests and field reports from detectives, known as DD5s. Some surveillance was conducted on groups that planned to disrupt the convention, but most was on people who expressed no apparent intention to break the law. Before monitoring political activity, police must have an indication of wrongdoing, a federal judge has said. A department spokesman said the surveillance was conducted lawfully and that the preparations helped keep order when demonstrators gathered in the city the week of the convention.