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Followup on the NYC "Patriot Raid"

In a previous post, I discussed the L.A. Times editorial by Jason Halperin concerning the raid at an Indian restaurant in NYC. This raid was supposedly conducted under the Patriot Act. In the previous post I was skeptical that this raid had either taken place, or had taken place as described. After having conducted a phone interview with Mr. Halperin, I'm less skeptical than before.

Apparently, Halperin was contacted by the L.A. Times, rather than the other way around. An intern at the LAT had had the account emailed to her, and she had demanded that her editor read his account, and the LAT decided to print the story. Robert Scheer, perhaps acting as an editor rather than a columnist, attempted to contact Halperin. Another LAT editor (first name Rick; Halperin did not have his last name handy) contacted him. Rick or another editor asked for confirmation, and they contacted the workers at the restaurant for it. After receiving confirmation from those workers, the LAT printed the story.

Halperin, who is a Press Officer with Doctors Without Borders, has been in contact with the NYC ACLU concerning the raid. The LAT also confirmed his account with the ACLU. The ACLU is mainly working with the press to get the story out, and they feel that besides from relatively minor disciplinary actions related to taunting by the police, there was nothing about the raid that was illegal. He's having a meeting with the Executive Director of the ACLU on Friday to discuss this further and explore other avenues regarding complaints and the like. The ACLU is trying to get an official statement on the raid, and Halperin expects that eventually Homeland Security or another agency will issue a statement.

He's spoken on a few talk radio programs, NBC has shown an interest in interviewing him, and he's received around 200 inquiries concerning this incident. Sen. Russ Feingold has expressed his support. Approximately two-thirds of the inquiries have been supportive, albeit with half of those being skeptical of his account.

My earlier complaints concerning the L.A. Times article itself concerned the omission of the fact that the name of the restaurant was not given, and the fact that his affiliation with Doctors Without Borders was not given. As for the first, he stated that the LAT felt that the fact that the name of the restaurant is not given would speak for itself, and that no further pointing out of the name's omission was necessary. The LAT apparently wanted to mention his affiliation, however, because many people had already been confused that he was speaking just for himself and not for the organization, and in order not to overwork the office staff in having to respond to many inquiries, he thought it would be best to leave that out.

He states that he did not embellish his report in order to make Homeland Security or the other officers look bad. He realizes that they're just doing their job, and any editorializing in his account is in opposition to the Patriot Act itself. The officers seemed to believe that the incident might turn ugly, and that those inside the restaurant might be armed. He indicated that the officer who stated that he was "being held under the Patriot Act" might have misspoke, or might have not. He did not get the badge names or numbers of the officers involved partially because he wasn't intending to write the article when this occurred, he just wanted to get out of there. Further, one or more of the Homeland Security officers refused to give their names, and he didn't want to push his luck by demanding more information.

UPDATE: Orin Kerr thinks this might have been just an immigration raid, and he has several questions we should be asking. I'm putting the answering of those questions in the capable hands of the NYC ACLU.

Privacy · Tue, 05/06/2003 - 12:51 · Importance: 1