Lawless NYPD Spying on Muslims
By Stephen Lendman
Post-9/11, America declared war on Islam. Muslims became public enemy number one. They're stereotypically portrayed as culturally inferior, dirty, lecherous, untrustworthy, religiously fanatical and violent.
Doing so turns truth on its head. It also violates the Constitution's First Amendment. It guarantees religious freedom. It means free from persecution.
It's rhetoric, not policy. Muslims are scapegoated for political advantage.
They're unjustly targeted and persecuted. What Bush began, Obama continues. His policies trickle down to local communities. Washington works cooperatively with them. It's official policy. Homeland Security plays a leading role.
On March 4, New York Times editors portrayed things both ways. Their editorial headlined "Surveillance, Security and Civil Liberties."
It said Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly acted responsibly. They "wisely decided to beef up the Police Department's counterterrorism program significantly."
They did so despite no terrorism threat. Times editors suggested one existed then and now. Washington's only enemies are ones it invents.
American Muslims "paid a real price….Unearthed police records noticeably lack any apparent link to suspected criminal activity, or any obvious payoff for public safety."
For months, Times editors said nothing. Responding days ago was too little too late. Doing it irresponsibly matters most.
Muslims were targeted despite no evidence of wrongdoing. Mistreating them doesn't arouse "nearly the protest that it should." Where were Times editors when it mattered? Silence endorsed official policy.
Bloomberg calls NYPD activity "legal," "appropriate," and "constitutional." Police "follow(ed) leads," he said. How could they when none existed?
Pretexts are invented. Lawless operations follow. Unaccountability reflects it. Kelly vows to keep spying.
He's a latter day Joe McCarthy. He conducted witch-hunts against alleged communists. He claimed they passed secrets to Soviet Russia. No evidence suggested it.
He did so for five years. He demagogued his way throughout them. He created hysteria. He vilified patriotic Americans. He ruined their lives irresponsibly. He failed to find a single communist. Senate censure ended his reign of terror. In May 1957, he died a broken man.
McCarthyism symbolizes baseless slander. He prioritized unconscionable fearmongering. He did so for self-aggrandizement.
Modern-day McCarthys operate the same way. They target Muslims, undocumented immigrants, and people of color. They do so irresponsibly, lawlessly and unaccountably.
Kelly authorized blanket surveillance. NYPD created data bases where Muslims lived. They tracked where they shopped. They monitored Internet cafes they used. They knew what sporting events they attended.
Dozens of mosques, student groups and other organizations were infiltrated. Neighboring New Jersey, Long Island, and colleges throughout the Northeast were monitored.
Washington was very much involved. It still is. CIA and FBI operatives provide help. Attorney General Eric Holder was dismissive. He ducked tough questions.
He claims no knowledge of what went on. He lied. He's part of the problem, not the solution. He continues Bush's war on Islam. He entrapped numerous innocent Muslims. He's still doing it.
He spurns their constitutional rights. He's guilty of high crimes. He's unapologetic.
Obama refused to endorse or repudiate official policy. He shares guilt with Holder. White House federal grants fund local law enforcement.
Islam's on trial. Innocent victims are guilty of being Muslims in America at the wrong time. They're maliciously vilified, targeted, and persecuted.
City University of New York School of Law's CLEAR project addresses "unmet legal needs of Muslim, Arab, South Asian, and other communities." It does so in the greater New York area.
Of particular importance are issues relating to national security and counterterrorism. American Muslims are unfairly treated.
CLEAR explained. Its new report is titled "Mapping Muslims: NYPD Spying and Its Impact on American Muslims." Muslim civil liberties groups prepared it.
They include the Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition, Creating Law Enforcement Accountability and Responsibility, and Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund.
Their work is comprehensive, revealing and damning. Covert spying is official NYPD policy. It's ongoing throughout the Northeast. It "spread outrage throughout the nation." It did for good reason.
Muslims are America's enemy of choice. They're vilified for praying to the wrong God. They're considered fifth column threats unjustly. They're targeted, victimized and persecuted. Many are prosecuted and imprisoned. They languish in gulag hell.
Since 2002, NYPD conducted lawless spying. It monitors American Muslims throughout the Northeast. It spies on communities, places of worship, and nonviolent organizations.
It continues despite acknowledging that years of effort generated no leads.
CLEAR's report "is an unprecedented collection of voices from affected community members reflecting how the NYPD spying and infiltration creates a pervasive climate of fear and suspicion that encroaches upon every aspect of their religious, political, and community lives."
CLEAR Liman Fellow Diala Shamas calls it "a powerful rebuttal to the NYPD and its supporters' assertion that surveillance is harmless and victimless."
It's a "first-of-its kind opportunity to hear directly from affected community members, many of whom would only speak with us on condition of strict anonymity."
NYPD spying impacted all facets of Muslim life. It "stifle(s) speech, communal life and religious practice and criminalized a broad segment of American Muslims."
"The isolationism that comes with being a 'spied on' community means that American Muslims are getting a fundamentally inferior opportunity to exercise their constitutional rights."
Dozens of in-depth interviews were conducted. Information collected revealed "a pervasive climate of fear and suspicion, encroaching upon every aspect of individual and community life."
NYPD spying "chilled constitutionally protected rights - curtailing religious practice, censoring speech and stunting political organizing and has also severed the trust that should exist between the police department and the communities it is charged with protecting."
Spying reflects police state lawlessness. CLEAR's study documents harmfully impacting students on college campuses, doing so lawlessly, silencing their activism, compromising their religious spaces, raising suspicions, turning some against others, and fostering a climate of fear.
Silencing speech and political activism heads America closer to full-blown tyranny. It perilously approaches it already.
International, constitutional and US statute laws are spurned. America's unsafe to live in.
New York-based Imam Al-Hajj Talib Abdur-Rashid calls CLEAR's report "critically important reading for all Americans concerned with freedom, justice, and equality in 21st century America."
It's the "authentic voice of real people impacted by unjust policies and procedures, for which Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly remain both defensive and un-apologetic."
It's "a powerful rebuttal to all who seek to minimize the impact of NYPD surveillance of Muslims as a faith group, even as they strive to do the same with the program known as ‘Stop and Frisk.' "
Muslim Americans represent no threat, he stresses. They live normal lives. They support peace and nonviolence. They deserve to be treated accordingly.
Religious freedom is a fundamental constitutional right. Denying it has no place in free societies.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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