New Jersey Muslims targeted by the NYPD's massive, secret surveillance program have brought a lawsuit against the City of New York, charging that its unconstitutional intelligence initiative caused harm to hundreds of citizens.
The city has moved for the lawsuit to be thrown out, arguing that the NYPD's actions were indeed constitutional. However, lawyers representing the NYPD are also making a curious claim: that journalists are to blame for reporting on the story, and that any harm caused to individual citizens by the surveillance program is due to the journalist's pen, not the police's actions.
Per the AP itself:
The city's request for dismissal repeatedly refers to the AP's stories and documents it published. The city argued that if the plaintiffs suffered any adverse consequences from publicity about their names, businesses or places of worship, it was the AP's act of publishing confidential materials that caused them harm.This is from the city's filed motion to dismiss the case (page 6):
This Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction because plaintiffs allegations of injury are based upon fears and speculation neither of which satisfy the injury required for standing (Point III). In addition, all of plaintiffs alleged injuries arose only after the Associated Press released confidential NYPD documents and it is that disclosure that has resulted in plaintiffs' alleged stigmatization.
This is a rather curious position. For the city's lawyers are arguing, essentially, that any harm done to a secretly-targeted citizen's reputation was caused not by the originating action – counter-terrorism surveillance – but by the reporting of that action.
Now, perhaps there is some truth to this from a practical perspective, for this program – and many of its targets – would not have been revealed were it not for the brave reporting of journalists at the AP.
However, had the surveillance program's existence not been broken and covered by the AP, the privacy (including very intimate details) of more innocent citizens would likely have been violated.
And that violation, known or not, is damaging in and of itself. To have one's privacy compromised and the integrity of one's daily life derailed is injurious.
However, don't tell the NYPD or the City of New York that. They'll likely blame you for suggesting such an opinion.