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NYPD Muslim Surveillance: House Democrats Call For End To Controversial Program

Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

NYPD Muslim Surveillance: House Democrats Call For End To Controversial Program

WASHINGTON — House Democrats on Thursday urged the New York Police Department to purge its intelligence databases of information gleaned from its clandestine spying on Muslim neighborhoods.

They also criticized the Obama administration for offering tepid responses to questions about whether it endorses such tactics.

Lawmakers introduced a resolution Thursday calling for an end to NYPD programs that infiltrated mosques and monitored even innocent conversations in cafes and bookstores. Muslim business owners were included in police files, even with no allegations of wrongdoing.

The resolution has little chance of passing but it followed a heated debate Wednesday night over a House amendment that would have banned racial profiling by any department that receives federal money. Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., introduced the amendment, saying wholesale surveillance has proven ineffective in disrupting terrorist plans.

“Contrary to the blanket assertions by some that the tactics have kept New York City safe, the NYPD failed to uncover two actual plots against New York City,” Holt said, referring to attempted bombings in Times Square and the New York subway system.

That prompted a strong objection from Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., one of Capitol Hill’s most vocal defenders of the NYPD.

“We should be here tonight giving the NYPD a medal,” King said. “We sit here, 10 1/2 years after September 11, and the most effective law enforcement, counterterrorism unit in the country is being attacked?”

The NYPD says its tactics are all lawful and necessary to keep the city safe. Asked Thursday about what the lawmakers said, Mayor Michael Bloomberg responded: “Where do they live?”

“I don’t think you’ll find many elected officials here who want to look at their constituents and say, `I want to stop what is perfectly legal, appropriate, has been vetted through the courts and everything else, a procedure to try to get as much information as we can from publicly available sources,'” he added.

It’s unclear where the Obama administration stands. White House grants helps pay for the NYPD’s programs but the White House says it has no control over how the money is used.

President Barack Obama’s counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, recently declared his “full confidence that the NYPD is doing things consistent with the law.” An anonymous White House official then issued a clarification to those remarks, saying Brennan wasn’t referring to NYPD surveillance.

Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first Muslim elected to Congress and one of the lawmakers who introduced the resolution, said he understood the political difficulties the White House faces in wading into a debate over racial profiling and national security.

“But transformational leadership is about standing up and doing the right thing,” he said.

Dozens of lawmakers have been asking the Justice Department for eight months to investigate the NYPD’s tactics and determine whether they are legal. Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, the top civil rights official at the department, has not answered questions about the matter. His spokeswoman has said attorneys are reviewing the requests to investigate.

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Associated Press writer Samantha Gross in New York contributed to this report.

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6 Comments »

  1. Of course liberals hate police officers and oppose fighting terrorism. Yet Democrats have no problem accepting police protection when they rally for copkillers. Democrats would rather support Hamas-backed CAIR than the NYPD. They probably cheered when many members of the NYPD died on 9/11.

  2. Better be safe than sorry. You start off with what you have (tools, technology) and apply them to a larger pool (Muslims), and then you keep refining your methods so that you are more focused on likely radicals and radicals rather than the entire Muslim population. This is common sense and happens every where. So there should be no concerns from any quarter other than passive/ active terrorism sympathizers.

    Innocent Muslims also get shielded from terrorist activities as a result of this profiling. So don’t stop for the sake of humanity and common man.

    Anyone demanding/ hoping for Sharia in non-Islamic lands actively/ passively nurtures a hope to turn the nation into an Islamic nation. All sane people (incl from Muslim community) should fight against this delusional and dangerous doctrine.

  3. It’s not just the “spying” on Muslims that needs to be ended – but the whole foundation of this spying – the faulty and biased “radicalization model” created and used by the NYPD needs to be outlawed and eliminated. This model runs contrary to American values and acts of chill the religious and political expressions of Americans of the Islamic faith.

    Radicalization models long before 9-11 where 1) confined to only violence and 2) were created through the studies of violent groups of various ideologies and 3)did not extend into legally protected speech, religious faith or political viewpoints.

    The NYPD’s “radicalization model” uses stereotypical images to describe legally protected religious faith and political views, among other things, as “suspicion of criminal activity.” “Radicalized” is a label that is now shorthand for “potential terrorist” even as there is NO evidence the subject is actually involved in violent behavior.

    Also – we need to WATCH the types of police commissioners and chiefs we put into these potentially powerful positions – and screening out those who also have anti-Muslim biases, just as we would not want such people who are racists. Policing in America is a high calling of respect for the rights of citizens and belief in the American idea of the rule of law. This means that front line officers, as well as their leaders must harbor NO bigotry toward citizens of any religious faith!

    Faulty and biased terrorism studies field behind NYPD’s radicalization model – http://yellow-stars.com/blog/2012/03/12/faulty-biased-terrorism-studies-nypd-radicalization-model/

  4. When they investigated the Mafia they did not go into Swedish neighborhoods. Let’s assume that some muslims are involved in the terror.

  5. “Radicalization models long before 9-11 where 1) confined to only violence and 2) were created through the studies of violent groups of various ideologies and 3)did not extend into legally protected speech, religious faith or political viewpoints.” seriously? have u never heard of j edgar hoover?????????? never heard the fbi was spying on the non-violent martin luther king jr??????????

    “This means that front line officers, as well as their leaders must harbor NO bigotry toward citizens of any religious faith!” lol. i kthink that would leave nyc with maybe about 5 thousand cops?

  6. House Democrats that support ending investigations of Muslims believed to be involved in terrorism and radical Islam in NY and the U.S. amounts to “aiding the enemy”.

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