I-Witness Video Blog : The Policing of Protest
NYPD RNC Intelligence Documents Revealed
Sunday, 20 May 2007
So many choices. The NYPD RNC Intelligence documents are available on four websites which each offer different possibilities for searching the files.
Since none of the available navigation tools will answer every need, the serious researcher should consult more than one navigation aid. While the indexes provided by the New York Civil Liberties Union and The New York Times are helpful guides which enable the reader to grasp the broad features of the surveillance program, they do not capture every instance in which a group or individual appears in the documents. For example, the Times index does not include any citations for I-Witness Video, which is written about on five pages of the intelligence documents. Nor does the Times list "Stonewalk," an event organized by family members of September 11th victims, which is cited on four pages of the documents. The NYCLU's index appears to be more complete, but even so, activist Lisa Fithian, whose name appears on eighteen pages of the documents, is cited as appearing on only thirteen pages by the civil liberties union. The I-Witness Video search capability is the most successful in ferreting out each citation; it uses optical character recognition (OCR) software to make the scanned documents searchable as text, but is occasionally inaccurate because that conversion is imperfect.
Navigation aids: Simple text search: Type a word or words into a little box on the page to pull up the links to matching documents. Clicking on an orange link will show the relevant page as an image in your web browser.
Downloadable files: A giant (47-megabyte) PDF contains the entire run of 603 pages of documents to read at your leisure.
Navigation aids: Alphabetical index to the groups and individuals mentioned in the documents. The index shows the Bates numbers, a legal numbering system which is stamped on each page.
Downloadable files: The documents have been grouped into five PDFs containing more than 100 pages each, batched by Bates numbers.
Navigation aids: Arranged chronologically, the organizations and people cited in the documents are listed under each document date and title.
Downloadable files: Each document is available in bite-size PDF form, generally 3 to 5 pages, separately dated and titled.
Navigation aids: There are none.
Downloadable files: A 39-megabyte ZIP file containing the 603 pages as TIFF images whose filenames are their Bates numbers.
Bonus feature: An 8,724 word essay on why the NYPD was right to undertake its program of surveillance of activists.
Warning: It seems odd that the NYPD which fought so bitterly against the release of the RNC Intelligence files should provide them to the public on its official website. Considering the context, before you use a police department server to transfer data to your PC, it might be prudent to consider the possibility that the ZIP file could contain spyware, which Wikipedia defines as "computer software that collects personal information about users without their informed consent."