New York's mayor served notice Friday that his police department will do everything in its power to root out terrorists in the United States, even if it means sending officers outside the city limits or placing law-abiding Muslims under scrutiny.
"We just cannot let our guard down again," Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg warned.
The mayor laid out his doctrine for keeping the city safe during his weekly radio show following a week of criticism of a secret police department effort to monitor mosques in several cities and keep files on Muslim student groups at colleges in Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and upstate New York, including the University at Buffalo.
Meanwhile, the New York State Attorney General's office said it will not launch a review of the NYPD's activities despite a request by a coalition of Muslim and Arab groups who asked Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman to investigate the tactics.
Danny Kanner, a spokesman for the attorney general's office, said there are "significant legal and investigative obstacles" that impede the attorney general's ability to launch a review.
In perhaps his most vigorous defense yet of some of the NYPD's anti-terrorism efforts, Bloomberg said it is "legal," "appropriate" and "constitutional" for police to keep a close eye on Muslim communities that terrorists might use as a base to strike the city. And he said investigators must pursue "leads and threats wherever they come from," even across state lines.
"It would just be naive to think we should stop following threats when they get to the border," Bloomberg said.
The American Civil Liberties Union issued a statement Friday accusing the NYPD of turning the city into a "surveillance state."
Rep. Rush Holt, a New Jersey Democrat, questioned why the NYPD was assembling volumes of information on people who weren't suspected of breaking any laws.
"It's bad policing. It's profiling, fishing expeditions. They're looking around saying, 'Surely in this community there must be bad people. If we look long enough, we'll find them,' " Holt said.
Bloomberg said the NYPD would continue to do "everything that the law permits us to do" to detect terrorists operating in the United States before they have a chance to act.
He warned of dire consequences if the city fails to detect plots, citing the 9/1 1 attacks and the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, which was carried out by followers of Omar Abdel-Rahman, a radical sheik .