Friday, December 10, 2010

FOIA: Public Interest Group Sues Mayor Bloomberg's Office for Ground Zero Mosque Documents

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has filed a petition with the New York State Supreme Court to compel New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office to comply with a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request regarding contacts between the Mayor's office, Ground Zero Mosque Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, and controversial Muslim organizations. Judicial Watch is seeking the following information pursuant to its open records request filed on August 9, 2010:

a. All records of communication between the Office of the Mayor and Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf concerning the Cordoba Initiative's proposed Cordoba House project.

b. All records of communication between the Office of Mayor Bloomberg and any of the following entities:

  1. Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR);
  2. Islamic Society of North America (ISNA);
  3. International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT);
  4. American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA);
  5. American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC);
  6. Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC).
On August 19, 2010, Mayor Bloomberg's office acknowledged receipt of the request and indicated a response would be forthcoming in 20 days. After the Mayor's office failed to respond by its self-imposed deadline and to a subsequent administrative appeal, Judicial Watch filed its petition with the New York Supreme Court.

The Cordoba Initiative, led by Imam Rauf, plans to build a 13-story mosque and community center in the shadow of Ground Zero, the site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has publicly expressed support for the project, which he claims will "build a bridge between the West and the Muslim world." However, the majority of Americans do not agree. According to a CNN poll, 68% of Americans oppose the Ground Zero mosque.

Rauf has made a number of radical and controversial statements regarding Islamic extremism, particularly the terrorist attacks on 9/11. For example, during a 60 Minutes interview about the 9/11 terrorist attack Rauf said: "I wouldn't say that the United States deserved what happened. But the United States' policies were an accessory to the crime that happened…we have been an accessory to a lot of innocent lives dying in the world. In fact, in the most direct sense, Osama bin Laden is made in the USA."

Regarding the Islamic organizations referenced in Judicial Watch's open records request, federal prosecutors named the Council of American-Islamic Relations as an unindicted co-conspirator in the terrorism financing trial against the Holy Land Foundation, which was shut down by the federal government for funding terrorism.

"Mayor Bloomberg's support for the Ground Zero mosque needs to be fully explored. New Yorkers are going to want to know how closely he's working with the radicals supporting the Ground Zero mosque," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "It is troubling that the Mayor's office cannot be bothered to comply with the open records law. What is the Mayor's office hiding?"

Source: Judicial Watch