Thursday, October 27, 2011

Discrimination: Call For Senate Hearing on ‘Shocking’ Report of NYPD Spying on Muslims

SOURCE Council on American-Islamic Relations

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to hold hearings on what the Washington-based civil rights and advocacy organization said is the New York City Police Department's (NYPD) "apparently unrestrained and unconstitutional multi-state monitoring and surveillance of law-abiding American Muslims engaged in almost every activity of normal daily life."

CAIR issued that call in a letter to the committee after "shocking" revelations by the Associated Press (AP) that "Muslims who change their names to sound more traditionally American, as immigrants have done for generations, or who adopt Arabic names as a sign of their faith are often investigated and catalogued in secret New York Police Department intelligence files."

[NOTE: Copies of CAIR's letter are being sent to President Obama, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, leaders of the New York City Muslim community, and key members of Congress.]

AP: NYPD Shadows Muslims Who Change Names

Other recent AP investigative reports have exposed an apparently all-encompassing NYPD effort to spy on ordinary Muslims without probable cause that they are engaged in any sort of illegal activities.

According to the AP, NYPD officers –- in cooperation with the CIA –- conducted "surveillance of entire Muslim neighborhoods, chronicling every aspect of daily life, including where people eat, pray and get their hair cut." The NYPD also "infiltrated dozens of mosques and Muslim student groups and investigated hundreds more."

NYPD informants infiltrated Muslim student groups at local colleges and universities, monitored their Internet activity and placed undercover agents in their ranks. The NYPD and several educational institutions may have violated U.S. privacy laws by accessing and sharing students' records without warrants.

Report: NYPD Spying on Muslim Students

CAIR earlier this month called on the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate those apparent violations of the privacy rights of Muslim students by the NYPD.

In August, CAIR called on the New York City Council and Mayor Michael Bloomberg to enforce a law that prohibits the use of racial or ethnic profiling by law enforcement officers.

SEE: CAIR Asks NY City Officials to Enforce Law Barring NYPD Mosque Spying

In September, CAIR joined a coalition of a dozen civil rights and advocacy organizations in calling on the Senate Intelligence Committee, the U.S. Marshals Service and the DOJ to investigate the NYPD's spy program.

A CAIR representative recently offered testimony at a city council oversight hearing on the NYPD's anti-terrorism tactics and security initiatives.

SEE: City Officials Call for More NYPD Oversight After Muslim Surveillance Operation Exposed

AP reports indicate that the NYPD even spied on Muslim leaders who figured prominently in community outreach efforts.

SEE: NYPD Even Spied on the Muslim Leaders Who Were Helping Them

The ongoing investigation by the AP revealed that undercover NYPD officers in a so-called "Demographics Unit" targeted Muslim communities and houses of worship with the assistance of individuals linked to the CIA.

NYPD officials initially denied the Demographics Unit existed, despite the AP's publication of an NYPD presentation that described the mission and makeup of the unit.

AP: NYPD Demographics Unit Presentation

CAIR "cautiously" welcomed a decision by the CIA to launch an internal investigation into whether that agency broke the law by helping the NYPD engage in widespread religious and ethnic profiling and monitoring of Muslim communities.

SEE: CIA Investigates Whether Laws Broken Helping NYPD