Secret Report Calls into Question NYPD Defense Against Illegal Surveillance Allegations
The New York Police Department and their commissioner Raymond Kelly have been in hot water the last few months for a series of controversies about training and surveillance decisions regarding Islam.
Adam Serwer sums up what we know already:
- The NYPD engaged in a massive surveillance operation on the city’s Muslim community, not based on criminal behavior but on religion. The program was implemented with the assistance of an official from the Central Intelligence Agency, prompting an Inspector General investigation into whether or not the collaboration was legally appropriate.
- The City Council does little to no oversight on the NYPD’s intelligence gathering operations.
- NYPD Officers were shown an anti-Muslim film reportedly financed in part by Newt Gingrich funder Sheldon Adelson, who holds anti-Palestinian views, as part of their “training.” NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly admitted to being a willing part of the film after first telling reporters that his appearance had been culled from old interview footage.
Last week, an NYPD internal strategy memo discovered by the Associated Press added one more line to this disturbing trend. The report documents a deliberate strategy of targeting Shiite Muslims across the Northeast based on their religion, including surveillance and covert infiltration of mosques that were not under investigation as specific threats.
The document is the clearest proof yet that the department was violating both city law and the FBI guidelines they claimed to be following, and it appears to disprove Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly’s public assurances that NYPD doesn’t make surveillance decisions based on religion and only goes “where leads take [them].”
As counter-terrorism experts have said time and time again, community partners are law enforcement’s most important ally in the fight against violent extremists. Unfairly casting suspicion on and violating the civil rights of our Muslim-American neighbors only erodes the trust necessary to catch terror plots before they are realized and feeds the extremists’ recruiting message that America is a hostile place for Muslims.
Rooting out these kind of counter-productive practices and messages is essential at all levels of law enforcement if we want to get this right.