Bloggers on NYPD's undercover surveillance operations.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
March 26 2007 5:40 PM

NYPD Undercover

Bloggers ruffle their feathers over the existence of the NYPD's "intelligence unit," wonder if multitasking is a myth, and dissect the chances of the basketball teams advancing to the Final Four.

NYPD undercover: According to a Sunday scoop in the New York Times, New York City cops went undercover across America and abroad to investigate those planning to protest at the 2004 Republican National Convention. While such investigations are legal according to a Supreme Court ruling, those under surveillance were often nonviolent political, environmental, or religious groups.

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Many bloggers cry "Big Brother." Liberal Ohioan Jolly Roger at Reconstitution compares the NYPD to the Soviet secret police. "People might have thought that the last vestiges of Stalinism existed only in Pyongyang, but they'd have been badly mistaken," he writes. Over at The Impolitic, Liberal Libby Spencer is livid: "The wide net approach taken by the NYPD betrays the bedrock principles of our democracy and smacks more of the intimidation tactics of the Gestapo than a law enforcement unit with a mission to protect and serve. Even more concerning is just how wide a net the NYPD cast. … If this isn't the definition of a police state, then please tell me how to define it."

The blogger at The Gun Toting Liberal is brimming with anger. "The NYPD had sent its agents to other cities around the United States and the world to infiltrate the legal organizations of law abiding American Citizens WAY outside of their domain in order to insure the Republican Party would have an unopposed voice during the RNC Convention? Got it. That's ILLEGAL," he fumes.

Cameron Scott at Mother Jones's MoJo Blog is aghast at the news. "This is per the paper of record; it's no conspiracy theory, though many who have been giving their version of events for more than 2 years have been dismissed as paranoid," he seethes. "Just how shriveled up and anemic is the 4th Amendment in NYC?" asks Nicole Belle at Crooks and Liars.

Others see more wastefulness than intrusion, such as liberal Atrios at Eschaton. "Forget the civil liberties issues, this is such an absurd waste of resources," he grumbles. "Political speeches and videos! The horror!" University of Miami law prof Michael Froomkin scoffs at Discourse. "What NYC Cops did may well have been legal. But it was not only a distraction from real police work, but something that bespeaks a level of one-sided political paranoia that is a danger to democracy," he continues.

Others, such as conservative Chicago Ray, are at ease with the NYPD program: "This activity doesn't bother me one bit as the people they are investigating and following around are just like any other terrorists here and abroad they do the same thing with. They're all America haters, well known rabblerousers, anarchists, professional trouble making criminal citizenry with public arrest records from protests and lawless brushups previous who had to have done something wrong in the first place to be on the radar screens of the so-called establishment," he opines.

Read more about the NYPD's intelligence gathering on RNC protestors.

Be unfruitful and multitask: Recent studies show thatmultitasking in this digital age may actually make you less productive. Researchers fault the brain for its inability to truly focus on two tasks at once. According to the studies cited, while age might give young workers a productive edge over their older counterparts, that advantage is lost when the young workers multitask.

At Lifehacker, a blog brimming with tips and shortcuts for speedily navigating a wired world, Dina Trapani considers the study's findings to be self-evident: "I say it shouldn't take 6 teams of researchers to figure out that interruptions waste time and increase stress, mistakes and accidents (especially you Crackberry users in traffic). But it will take people time to figure out how to stop jumping every time their phone buzzes or a new message appears in their inbox."