New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly was highly critical of the National Security Agency's phone and Internet data-collection program, suggesting that leaker Edward Snowden was right about the government having too much power to monitor the communications of private citizens.
"I don't think it ever should have been made secret," Kelly said, according to The New York Post
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"The American public can accept the fact if you tell them that every time you pick up the phone it's going to be recorded and it goes to the government. I think the public can understand that. I see no reason why that program was placed in the secret category," Kelly said.
"Secondly, I think if you listen to Snowden, he indicates that there's some sort of malfeasance, people . . . sitting around and watching the data. So I think the question is: What sort of oversight is there inside the NSA to prevent that abuse, if it's taking place?"
Kelly's comments, which the Post said broke ranks with other U.S. law enforcement officials, came just days after Attorney General Eric Holder recommended that a federal monitor oversee the NYPD's stop-and-frisk program
, angering New York officials.
It wasn't the first time that questions have been raised about the NYPD's tactics under Kelly. In 2012, the commissioner and his department were the subject of intense criticism after it was revealed that the NYPD had secretly spied on Muslim organizations, infiltrated an Islamic student group, and videotaped New Jersey mosque-goers as part of its anti-terrorism program.
New York City Council Public Safety Chairman Peter Vallone suggested to the Post that Kelly's criticism of the NSA program may have been in response to Holder recommendation.
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"Everything that Ray Kelly does has a purpose," Valone, a Democrat, said. "If Eric Holder wants to lecture Police Commissioner Kelly on how to fight crime in New York, then one of the world's foremost experts on public safety [Kelly] can lecture Holder on how to fight terrorism."
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