Report: NYPD compiled huge, secret dossier on law-abiding Muslims
A report released Friday suggests that, despite claims to the contrary, the NYPD singled out Muslims for surveillance and sometimes even crossed state lines. Critics want a federal probe.
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In the past, Commissioner Kelly has said that the department’s surveillance of Muslims was nothing out of the ordinary. “In fact, the police department uses many of the same methods to find and stop terrorists that we use to arrest drug dealers, human traffickers, and gang leaders,” he said during a speech at Fordham University Law School on March 3. “We develop detailed information about the nature of the crime and the people involved. We form partnerships with other government agencies, find sources, and make use of undercover officers.”Skip to next paragraph
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But aspects of the program have caught the attention of US Attorney General Eric Holder.
The AP has previously reported that in 2007 the NYPD obtained information about Muslims in Newark, N.J. Both Newark Mayor Cory Booker and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have said that they were not aware of the operation.
In congressional testimony Thursday, Attorney General Holder expressed concern about the reports.
"We are in the process of reviewing the letters that have come in expressing concerns about those matters," said Holder. "At least what I've read publicly, and again, just what I've read in the newspapers, is disturbing.”
The NYCLU argues that the surveillance of Muslims violates the Handschu Decree, a set of federal guidelines that put restrictions on police surveillance. The debate centers on whether the NYPD was allowed to collect data.
The NYCLU suggests that, although the police are allowed to go anywhere where the public goes, they are not allowed to maintain dossiers.
In the Fordham speech, Kelly countered that the NYPD is “authorized to visit any place and attend any event that is open to the public” and “to conduct online search activity and to access online sites and forums on the same terms … as members of the public” and “prepare general reports and assessments … for purposes of strategic or operational planning.”
In August, Mayor Bloomberg said that the NYPD did not do surveillance based on religion.
"If there are threats or leads to follow, then the NYPD’s job is to do it. The law is pretty clear about what’s the requirement, and I think they follow the law," Bloomberg said at an Aug. 25 news conference. "We don’t stop to think about the religion. We stop to think about the threats and focus our efforts there."
But Muslim groups dispute this.
“We joke that every other person at a mosque is an informant,” says Mr. Hooper of CAIR. “The basic assumption is that there will be informants and agent provocateurs at mosques and Muslims events.”
Noting complaints from all over the country, Hooper says: “New York is just the tip of the iceberg.”
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