The New York Post reports that the NYCLU has requested to file an amicus brief in support of a lawsuit filed by the website ProPublica against the NYPD three years ago seeking information about the police department’s unmarked vehicles carrying mobile body scanner technology, called Z Backscatter Vans.
ProPublica filed the suit after the NYPD denied a reporter’s request for information about the vans. According to the Post—over the department’s appeals that it would undermine counterterrorism efforts—a judge ruled that the NYPD should turn over the requested records.
“While this court is cognizant and sensitive to concerns about terrorism, being located less than a mile from the 9/11 site, and having seen firsthand the effects of terrorist destruction, nonetheless, the hallmark of our great nation is that it is a democracy, with a transparent government,” New York State Supreme Court Judge Doris Ling-Cohan wrote in the December 2014 decision, which the NYPD appealed.
“People should be informed if military grade x-ray vans are damaging their health with radiation or peering inside their homes or cars,” NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman, whose organization is seeking to uphold the lower court’s decision, said on Tuesday. “New Yorkers have a right to protect their health, welfare and privacy.”
Bratton has doubled—tripled?—down on keeping information about the vans secret. “Those are issues I’d prefer not to divulge to the public at this time,” the commissioner told the Post. “I will not talk about anything at all about this—it falls into the range of security and counter-terrorism activity that we engage in.”
“They’re not used to scan people for weapons,” Bratton said. “The devices we have, the vehicles if you will, are all used lawfully and if the ACLU and others don’t think that’s the case, we’ll see them in court—where they’ll lose! At this time and the nature of what’s going on in the world, that concern of theirs is unfounded.”