Archive for NYPD

Leaked NYPD Document Lists Watched Mosques, Islamic Schools

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 5, 2012 by loonwatch

More on the NYPD spying debacle:

Leaked NYPD Document Lists Watched Mosques, Islamic Schools

By ELIZABETH FLOCK

A former police reporter leaked a list of monitored areas the NYPD watched as part of a questionable program used to spy on Muslims

A website dedicated to following the New York City Police Department published a document Monday detailing Islamic schools, NGOs, mosques, student associations, and persons of interest that were monitored by the NYPD in 2006 as part of its secret and legally questionable program to spy on Muslims.

The program was first exposed in an Pulitzer Prize-winning series by the Associated Press last year.

Leonard Levitt, a former Newsday police reporter who runs NYPD Confidential, writes Monday that the NYPD’s own Intelligence Division document from 2006 refute claims that the police force is innocent.

According to the new document, NYPD’s undercover officers or informants infiltrated places as varied as the Westchester Muslim Center mosque, an Islamic student association at Brooklyn College, and the Council on American-Islamic Affairs (CAIR).

“It doesn’t suprise me at all,” said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for CAIR, the nation’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. “It seems every organization, leader, mosque, and cab driver was on their list… But what we’re concerned about is the individual Muslims who were targeted for this spy campaign without a warrant or any evidence of wrongdoing on anyone’s part.”

In all, NYPD compiled information on 250 mosques, 12 Islamic schools, 31 Muslim student associations, 263 “ethnic hotspots,” such as restaurants and businesses, and 138 “persons of interest,” according to NYPD Confidential.

While the AP also published a number of NYPD documents as part of its ongoing series, today’s 2006 Intelligence Division documents appear to be newly leaked.

Levitt writes that he felt compelled to publish it because of attempts by Mitchell Silber, who recently left the NYPD intelligence department, to discredit the AP’s work. Silber has written in multiple publications that the AP’s work is “rife with inaccuracies.”

Levitt writes that the monitoring outlined in the 2006 document is so “sweeping” that it “resembled files of the former Communist East German secret police.”

Requests for comment from the NYPD, Westchester Muslim Center and Brooklyn College Islamic Society were not immediately returned.

Elizabeth Flock is a staff writer for U.S. News & World Report.You can contact her at eflock@usnews.com or follow her onTwitter and Facebook.

Star-Ledger: Chris Christie, AG wrong to conclude NYPD Muslim probe was justified

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 26, 2012 by loonwatch

We are supposed to take Gov. Christie and his Attorney General’s word that the NYPD did nothing wrong when they spied on Muslims in Newark.

Chris Christie, AG wrong to conclude NYPD Muslim probe was justified

(Star-Ledger Editorial Board)

It was disturbing to learn several months ago that the New York Police Department was conducting secret spy missions on Muslims in Newark, building dossiers on their mosques and shops, taking photographs and eavesdropping on their conversations.

It is more disturbing to learn that Gov.Chris Christie and his attorney general, Jeffrey Chiesa, have concluded that it was all justified. Throwing this kind of wide net of surveillance over a community, based on its religion, strikes us as a sloppy overreach of police powers.

Chiesa said Thursday that, after a three-month investigation, he could find no evidence that NYPD officers broke any laws. The NYPD, he says, was acting on legitimate intelligence tips when it began its ethnic mapping project in 2007.

Given the confidential nature of this, the public will never know for sure. But what tip could possibly justify such blanket surveillance of a community based on its religion? Did the tipster suggest all Muslims were dangerous? And if the threat was more specific, why did the search have to be so broad?

Read the rest…

Distrust Lingers Over NYPD Surveillance for Some North Jersey Muslims

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on May 18, 2012 by loonwatch

NYPD

Many Muslims are distrustful of the police because of their profiling actions:

Distrust lingers over NYPD surveillance for some North Jersey Muslims

(NorthJersey.com)

Paterson mosque backs out of a meeting with an FBI official, saying the timing is “too sensitive.”

A community leader who worships in Teaneck says he rarely calls his law enforcement sources anymore.

College students in Piscataway are advised what to do if they are questioned by federal agents.

A sense of anxiety and unease continues to grip some members of the Muslim community in the fallout from the New York Police Department’s surveillance controversy — and that distrust has undermined cooperation with law enforcement agencies that rely on Arab- and Muslim-Americans as partners in the fight against homegrown terrorism, some local leaders say.

“I would tell people not to cooperate,” said Khader Abuassab, a leader of the Arab American Civic Organization in Paterson. “I can’t promise people they will be safe or not be spied on again.”

“You start to wonder after a while: Is everyone out to get us?” said Iqbal Khan, president of the Dar-ul-Islah mosque in Teaneck, noting that people develop a defensiveness that comes from being watched. “Who is going to look after us?”

But some Muslims who live and work in South Paterson said their views of law enforcement have not changed. Samer Abdallah, a business owner, said Muslims have been watched more closely than other communities since Sept. 11, but he does not hold it against police who are doing their jobs.

“We all need law enforcement to help us,” he said. “We’re never going to feel hatred toward those officials. They’re taking orders.”

The NYPD surveillance program targeted Muslims at businesses, universities and mosques, including one in Paterson and several in Newark, as well as student groups at 16 Northeast colleges, including Rutgers University. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Police Department have defended the spying program — first detailed in a series of articles by The Associated Press — as lawful and necessary, while civic groups and some lawmakers have called for investigations into civil rights and jurisdictional matters. The U.S. and New Jersey attorneys general are reviewing the requests, but have made no commitments to investigate.

New Jersey law enforcement officials have expressed fears that any backlash will hurt their counterterrorism operations and information gathering, but NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said the idea that law enforcement operations would be harmed is “preposterous.”

“The notion that somehow the Islamic community or Muslim community at large is a wellspring of information about terrorist plots makes no sense,” Browne said in an interview Tuesday.

He said information about terrorist activity was “closely held” and that it was unfair to assume that average Muslims would have insight into terrorist plots.

“It’s not something they’re telling everybody going to religious services or mentioning it at the grocery store,” he said.

Browne said the NYPD had good relations with the Muslim community that extended from holiday celebrations to sports leagues to police officer recruitment. But for tips on terrorism, he said, police rely on other sources, such as people who rent trucks or sell blasting materials.

“What has been most effective, in terms of bringing terrorists to justice, have been undercover operations,” Browne said.

Law enforcement officials in New Jersey, though, have maintained that cooperation from Muslims is a pivotal part of counterterrorism work. Michael Ward, FBI special agent in charge in Newark, said in March that the agency was losing credibility with Muslims who have embraced and aided the counterterrorism mission, creating “additional risks.”

Muslim-Americans tipped off law enforcement in at least a third of the 161 terror plots discovered since the attacks, a 2011 study by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security found.

“We can’t rely totally on tips from the community, but the community is a force multiplier and I feel their input is vital,” said Maj. Gerald Lewis, head of state police community affairs.

Despite reports of a backlash, Lewis said he has not noticed a shift in attitudes among Muslim leaders and that they continue to meet and talk by phone.

“Our relationship remains strong,” he said.

Mohamed Younes, president of the American Muslim Union in Paterson, also said the relationship hadn’t suffered. He noted that many of New Jersey’s top state and federal law enforcement leaders were at the group’s March 18 annual brunch in Teaneck. They also held a meeting March 3 in Trenton to talk about the surveillance controversy with Muslim leaders.

“I can see they are really committed to try to solve those problems,” Younes said.

But while Mahmoud Attallah, public relations director for the Omar Mosque in Paterson, said he did not blame New Jersey officials for the surveillance, the mosque canceled a meeting with Ward because the timing was “too sensitive.”

The mosque – a target of NYPD surveillance – wanted to avoid negative publicity, he said.

“We didn’t want to press the point just to bring it into the open,” he said.

Still, he wants a review of the surveillance to learn whether detectives had good reasons for watching the Omar Mosque, and the results must be made public, Attallah said.

Fear of authorities is a real concern for immigrants who grew up in countries where police abuses were rampant, said Samar Khalaf, an Arab-American activist from Paramus. Khalaf, who has done frequent outreach with law enforcement, said people are withdrawing as a result of surveillance concerns.

“We’re talking about people who come from nations with no civil rights at all, and who live daily with secret police,” Khalaf said. “They don’t know the difference. They don’t make any distinction. All they know is police are monitoring us.”

Some Muslim leaders are leveraging their power as participants in the fight against terrorism.

Waheed Khalid, a community activist and member of the Dar-ul-Islah mosque in Teaneck, said conversations with law enforcement – from passing on profiling complaints to courtesy calls to requests for information – had slowed.

“I have contacts in law enforcement and we still talk, with much less frequency,” he said.

Aref Assaf of the American Arab Forum suggested in an April 29 column in The Record that the Muslim community boycott law enforcement until they see a commitment to investigate.

“We believe there is a role this community has and must play in combating radicals, but also we think there’s not reciprocity between us and law enforcement in terms of building trust and respect,” he said in an interview.

Concerns about surveillance and civil rights prompted the Rutgers Muslim Student Association to host a “Know Your Rights” session last month at the Piscataway campus. Civil rights lawyer Engy Abdelkader, who led the session, advised students to have an attorney present when questioned by law enforcement so that questions, and answers, are not misinterpreted.

But Abdelkader also said she didn’t agree with calls for a boycott.

“I don’t think it’s justified discontinuing our cooperation with law enforcement,” she said. “I think we have an obligation to cooperate.”

Email: adely@northjersey.com

Watch Rep. Peter King Lie Through His Teeth: “NYPD, Doesn’t Profile Muslims”

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 14, 2012 by loonwatch

That the NYPD was profiling Muslims based on their religion is an indisputable fact, but King of course can’t and won’t admit it. His entire political career at the moment hinges on the “radicalization of Muslim Americans” myth:

http://cnn.com/video/?/video/bestoftv/2012/05/14/exp-point-king-profiling-exchange.cnn

The lies are not a surprise, but reporters need to do a better job at challenging politicians like King.
Rep. Peter King On NYPD Muslim Surveillance: ‘There Is No Profiling‘

(HuffingtonPost)

Representative Peter King (R-NY) said Monday during an appearance on CNN’s Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien that “there is no racial profiling” by the New York Police Department.

The New Yorker‘s Ryan Lizza asked King first what he thought of profiling as a practice, and then insinuated that perhaps King’s staunch defense of everything NYPD is problematic.

House Democrats Thursday introduced a resolution calling on the NYPD to end programs that infiltrated mosques and spied on innocent muslims.

King responded to Lizza, “First of all, there is no profiling. And that’s the absolute nonsense that people like you and others are propagating.”

Lizza quickly defended his question. “I’m not propagating anything,” he said. “I’m just telling you that there’s been some very good questions raised about what the NYPD’s doing. ”

King replied, “I’m telling you there is no profiling. So, I want you to take that back…. You have no evidence of profiling at all. They use terms like profiling, spying, casually and cavalierly. And you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

And when guest anchor Brooke Baldwin interjected that Izza was just brining up some valid points, King responded emphatically, “They’re not valid points!”

King and fellow New York Republican Rep. Bob Turner demanded Democrats apologize for the resolution Friday, issuing a statement that read, “We are utterly dumbfounded and shocked that after such a slanderous attack, the overwhelming majority of congressional Democrats and the entire Democratic leadership voted for the Holt amendment and against the NYPD. We believe the Democrats owe New York and the NYPD an explanation for their shameful surrender to political correctness.”

http://cnn.com/video/?/video/bestoftv/2012/05/14/exp-point-king-profiling-exchange.cnn
This isn’t the first time King–who chairs the House’s Homeland Security Committee and who has held hearings on the radicalization of Islam in the US– has defended the NYPD from criticism over its surveillance of muslim communities.

In March, when New Jersey Governor Chris Christie criticized the NYPD’s operations in Newark, King responded, “It’s really disturbing and disappointing to have someone like Chris Christie join on this politically correct bandwagon. I wish Chris Christie was more concerned about keeping people alive than he is about trying to score cheap political points.”

Also in March, King joined the narrator of “The Third Jihad” at a rally held by muslims in defense of NYPD surveillance of muslims.

Adam Serwer: Muslim Group Leader to NYPD: Thanks For Spying On Us

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on March 19, 2012 by loonwatch

Excellent piece by Adam Serwer exposing Zuhdi Jasser.

Also see our articles: Asra Nomani, Tarek Fatah and Zuhdi Jasser: ‘Please! Pretty Please Spy on Me!’

and: Zuhdi Jasser’s Astroturf Muslim Groups Behind Rally to Support NYPD Spying

Muslim Group Leader to NYPD: Thanks For Spying On Us

by Adam Serwer (MotherJones)

In early March, members of a Muslim group gathered for a press conference at Manhattan’s One Police Plaza to send a clear message to the New York City Police Department about its controversial surveillance program targeting Muslim Americans.

That message was: Thanks for spying on us.

“We are not here to criticize the NYPD,” declared Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, founder and president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD), who was joined by House Homeland Security chairman Peter King (R-N.Y.), “but rather to thank them for doing the work that we as Muslims should be doing, which is monitoring extremism, following extremism, and helping counter the ideologies that create radicalization in our communities.”

Jasser later said in an interview that he wanted to provide an alternative voice to the criticism of the NYPD coming from Muslim and civil liberties groups. “We just wanted the media reports to finally show balance, that there’s diversity, that some Muslims don’t have a problem with this.” Several news reports described attendance at the event as light.

An Arizona physician and Navy veteran, Jasser has lately become the right’s go-to guy when it comes to providing cover for policies or positions that many Muslim Americans contend are discriminatory. When controversy over the so-called Ground Zero mosque erupted, Jasser, a frequent guest on Fox News, accused the builders of trying to “diminish what happened” on September 11, 2001. He has supported statewide bans on Shariah law in American courts and has helped bolster conservative warnings that American Muslims seek to replace the Constitution with a harsh interpretation of Islamic law. “America is at war with theocratic Muslim despots who seek the imposition of Shariah and don’t believe in the equality of all before the law, blind to faith,” Jasser testified during hearings held by King’s committee last year on homegrown terrorism. There he also supported conservative allegations that many American Muslim organizations—and particularly the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR)—are Islamists seeking to “advance political Islam in the West.” Jasser sometimes refers to other Muslim organizations as “Muslim Brotherhood legacy groups.”

Sonny Singh: We Are All Muslims: A Sikh Response to Islamophobia in the NYPD and Beyond

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 13, 2012 by loonwatch

Sonny Singh: We Are All Muslims: A Sikh Response to Islamophobia in the NYPD and Beyond

As a brown-skinned Sikh with a turban on my head and a long beard on my chin, I deal with my fair share of racist and xenophobic harassment regularly, including in my home of New York City, the most diverse city on the planet. It usually takes the form of someone yelling or perhaps mumbling at me: Osama bin Laden/terrorist/al Qaeda/he’s going to blow up the /go back to your country/etc. Less often, someone might threaten me, get in my face, or in one case, pull off my turban on the subway.

My experience is not terribly unique for a turban-wearing Sikh in the United States. Especially since 9/11, we Sikhs have become all too familiar with racial epithets, bullying and violence. Just last month, a gurdwara in Michigan was vandalized with hostile anti-Muslim graffiti. Last year, in what we can assume was a hate attack, two elderly Sikh men were shot and killed while taking an evening walk in a quiet neighborhood in Elk Grove, Calif.

Many talk about the prevalence of anti-Sikh attacks as a case of “mistaken identity.” Sikhs mistaken for Muslims. Indeed, we are by and large attacked because of anti-Muslim bigotry. The Michigan gurdwara was targeted for that reason, and most of us who experience racist harassment as Sikhs in the U.S. experience it through the vilification of Muslims and/or Arabs.

Ironically, many Sikhs themselves vilify Muslims or at least distance themselves from the Muslim community at every possible opportunity. I remember in the days, weeks and months after 9/11, the first thing out of the mouths of many Sikhs when talking to the press, to politicians or even to their neighbors was, “We are not Muslims.” While this is of course a fact, the implication of the statement if it stops there is: You’re attacking the wrong community. Don’t come after us, go after the Muslims! Sikhs believe in equality and freedom and love our country and our government. But Muslims? We don’t like them either.

The roots of anti-Muslim sentiment in the Sikh community run deep in South Asia, from the days of the tyranny of Mughal emperors such as Aurangzeb in the 17th century to the bloodshed in 1947 when our homeland of Punjab was sliced into two separate nation-states. Despite these historical realities, Sikhism has always been clear that neither Muslims as a people nor Islam as a religion were ever the enemy. Tyranny was the enemy. Oppression was the enemy. Sectarianism was the enemy. In fact, the Guru Granth Sahib, our scriptures that are the center of Sikh philosophy and devotion, contains the writings of Muslim (Sufi) saints alongside those of our own Sikh Gurus. Nevertheless, historical memory breeds misguided hostility and mistrust of Muslims, especially in the contemporary global context of ever-increasing, mainstream Islamophobia.

What is it going to take for Sikhs and Muslims to join together in solidarity against the common enemies of racist harassment and violence, racial and religious profiling, and Islamophobic bigotry? Perhaps the recently exposed NYPD spying program (along with the “education” officers have received about Islam) will serve as a wake up call to my community (and other communities for that matter) about how bad things have really gotten. While we Sikhs confront bigotry on a daily basis from our neighbors, classmates, co-workers, employers and strangers on the street, our Muslim American counterparts are systematically targeted by our own government. (I should note that, of course, Sikhs too are profiled by law enforcement in less repressive, though still troubling, ways, especially at airport security).

Sikhism was born hundreds of years ago in part to stand up for the most oppressed and fight for the freedom and liberation of all people. If this isn’t reason enough for us to make the cause of rooting out Islamophobia from the NYPD and other law enforcement and government agencies our own, we only have to return to the bleak reality we Sikhs in the U.S. still face right now in 2012. A time when gurdwaras are still vandalized with anti-Muslim statements, Sikh kids are still being bullied and tormented at school every day, and I am called Osama bin Laden while walking down a Manhattan street for the 258th time (no I’m not counting).

“We are not Muslims” hasn’t been so effective for our community, has it? Even if we do so in a positive way that does not condone attacks on Muslims, simply educating the public about the fact that we are a distinct community and that we in fact “are not Muslim” will not get to the root of the problem. As long as we live in a country (and world) where an entire community (in this case, Muslims) is targeted, spied on and vilified, we will not be safe, we will not be free.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in his letter from a Birmingham jail in 1963, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.”

I hope the NYPD’s blatant assault on the civil rights of our Muslim sisters and brothers propels us Sikhs as well as all people of conscience to action. Perhaps “We are not Muslims” will become “We are all Muslims,” as we come together to eradicate Islamophobic bigotry in all its forms.

Why I Agree With Asra Nomani: KFC Restaurants Need to be under Constant Surveillance

Posted in Feature, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 10, 2012 by loonwatch

Asra Nomani, who is a real life Muslim, recently wrote a piece for the Daily Beast defending the NYPD’s practice of racial profiling and spying on the American Muslim community.  Haroon Moghul, another prominent American Muslim figure, blogged a response, which was cross-posted on LoonWatch.  Nomani had written in her article:

Indeed, just as we need to track the Colombian community for drug trafficking and the Ku Klux Klan for white extremists, I believe we should monitor the Muslim community because we sure don’t police ourselves enough.

Moghul shot back:

The first part of her sentence, about Colombians, is actually right on (by her silly logic); the second part contradicts her own logic (she can call for profiling some Latinos, but she doesn’t have the courage to apply her racializing logic to white America), and everything after “I believe” speaks to how little Asra actually knows anything about the Muslim community, as well as the several seconds of your life which you could have done something better with.  For law enforcement to go after white extremism the way it seems to be going after Muslims (at least, with respect to the NYPD), they wouldn’t be going after the KKK, as Asra suggests–unless Asra means to suggest that Muslim student organizations at Yale and UPenn are offshoots of al Qaeda. Law enforcement would instead have to spy on as many white institutions (churches, civic clubs, student organizations, etc.) as they could.

Danios of LoonWatch chimed in: “Will Asra Nomani stay consistent and support spying on white people?”

But, Haroon Moghul and Danios of LoonWatch are way off: it’s not proper to compare peace-loving, good Christian white folk to Muslims or Latinos.

The real million dollar question is: should the police racially profile and spy on the black community?  Using Asra Nomani’s sage advice, I think we must.  For the longest time though, I have worried that our sense of political correctness has kept us from sensible law-enforcement strategies that carefully look at black male youth, black neighborhoods, and black hangout spots.

The LAPD and other police departments should send “rakers” into the black community–police officers whose racial background (black) and language skills (ebonics) match the places they are monitoring, including black streets, black high schools, and black hangout spots like basketball courts.

Public spaces, especially those protected from police scrutiny due to racial sensitivities, are a natural meeting spot for criminals. If the NYPD was tracking shopping malls or pizza shops where criminal activity is being planned, we wouldn’t complain. Because of racial political correctness, we’re protesting looking into black communities.  Alas, criminals and gang-bangers use our political correctness and racial sensitivity as a weapon against us.

There are other black people who believe law enforcement has to do its job and spy on black people.  I know at least four different random black people who feel the same way I do.

The last few decades of battling violence in the black community has revealed one truth: black neighborhoods are spaces used by blacks intent on criminal activity.  Asra Nomani wrote:

[M]osques and Muslim organizations are institutional spaces used by Muslims intent on criminal activity, not much unlike the pews of a Catholic church or a Godfather’s Pizza might be the secret meeting spot for members of the Italian mafia.

Nomani has done extensive research on this topic.  I heard she watched all three parts of The Godfather.  If we want to crack down on black crime, I suggest especially high surveillance of watermelon stands, basketball courts, and near white women.  As far as I’m concerned, we need plenty of “raking.”

Police and FBI sources reveal that blacks are responsible for much of the violence and crime in our nation.  Kevin Alfred Strom went through the FBI Uniform Crime Report and found the following:

According to the FBI, Blacks are more than 3 times as likely to be thieves as Whites. They are more than 4 times as likely to commit assault as Whites. They are almost 4.5 times as likely to steal a motor vehicle. According to the FBI, Blacks are more than 5 times as likely to commit forcible rape as Whites, over 8 times as likely to commit murder, and more than 10 times as likely to commit robbery. For all violent crimes considered together, Blacks are almost 5.5 times more likely to commit violent criminal acts than Whites, according to the FBI Uniform Crime Report…

A few more statistics:

85% of all felonies committed against cabbies in New York City are committed by Blacks.

Nearly 25% of all Black males between the ages of 20 and 29 are in jail or on probation. This doesn’t include those wanted or awaiting trial!

Statistically, Black neighborhoods are 3500% more violent than White ones.

Nearly 25% of all Black males between the ages of 20 and 29 are in jail or on probation. This doesn’t include those wanted or awaiting trial!

Statistically, Black neighborhoods are 3500% more violent than White ones.

Well, since blacks won’t police themselves, I think it’s high time the police do it for them.  (Does anyone have an Official “I’m Black” card I can use so this sounds less offensive?)

Nomani notes:

Like the NYPD tracking the Newark restaurants where Muslims congregate, Karachi police have a local spot they have on constant surveillance: a restaurant called Student Biryani, selling a rice dish popular in the country. I learned this tracking the police case against the militants involved in the kidnapping and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. The mastermind, Omar Sheikh, met with his logistical chiefs at Student Biryani, and the police report reveals the men even took some biryani home as carryout. Militants can easily huddle in Student Biryani’s crowded restaurant space and get a hot meal and much-needed noise.

Damn those wily terrorists and their biryani bellies.  Although my extensive googling revealed no evidence for this claim that the popular food chain Student Biryani in Pakistan is under “constant surveillance” by police, I think Nomani raises a good point.  In our fight against black violence, I think we need to keep all KFC restaurants under constant surveillance.  A tracking and listening device should be included in all takeout boxes.  I once heard a gang of Bloods once ate a full 12-piece of crispy chicken at one KFC in one city at one moment in history.  Gang members can easily huddle in KFC’s crowded restaurant space and get a hot meal and much-needed noise (and chicken).

Many African countries make no apologies for monitoring their black citizens.  Neither should the LAPD or other police departments apologize for monitoring blacks.  Blacks should in fact open their doors to the surveillance and help the cops smoke out the criminals in their community, so that black neighborhoods and communities are safe spaces.

Note: If you didn’t figure it out already, the above article is not to be taken seriously and is actually a spoof of Asra Nomani’s article on American Muslims.  My purpose was to reveal how utterly revolting Nomani’s expressed views are, something that only becomes apparent when you switch out “Muslim” for black, Jewish, etc.

Addendum I:

I had thought I was being especially creative when I came up with the KFC bit, but then I realized I had missed this gem from Nomani’s original article (I almost spit my drink out when I saw it): Nomani defended the NYPD spying on

restaurants frequented by Muslims, including Kansas Fried Chicken, a place run by folks of Afghan descent, according to the report.

Danios was the Brass Crescent Award Honorary Mention for Best Writer in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award Winner for Best Writer in 2011.

NYPD Monitored Groups Based on Religion, Documents Show

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on March 10, 2012 by loonwatch

(via. Islamophobia-Watch)

NYPD monitored groups based on religion, documents show

(AP)

The New York Police Department collected information on businesses owned by second- and third-generation Americans specifically because they were Muslims, according to newly obtained secret documents.

They show in the clearest terms yet that police were monitoring people based on religion, despite claims from Mayor Michael Bloomberg to the contrary.

The NYPD has faced intense criticism from Muslims, lawmakers – and even the FBI – for widespread spying operations that put entire neighborhoods under surveillance. Police put the names of innocent people in secret files and monitored the mosques, student groups and businesses that make up the Muslim landscape of the northeastern U.S.

Bloomberg has defended his department’s efforts, saying they have kept the city safe, were completely legal and were not based on religion. “We don’t stop to think about the religion,” Bloomberg said at a news conference in August after The Associated Press began revealing the spying. “We stop to think about the threats and focus our efforts there.”

In late 2007, however, plainclothes officers in the department’s secretive Demographics Unit were assigned to investigate the region’s Syrian population. Police photographed businesses and eavesdropped at lunch counters and inside grocery stores and pastry shops. The resulting document listed no threat. And though most people of Syrian heritage living in the area were Jewish, Jews were excluded from the monitoring. “This report will focus on the smaller Muslim community,” the report said.

Similarly, police excluded the city’s sizable Coptic Christian population when photographing, monitoring and eavesdropping on Egyptian businesses in 2007, according to the police files. “This report does not represent the Coptic Egyptian community and is merely an insight into the Muslim Egyptian community of New York City,” the NYPD wrote.

Many of those under surveillance were American-born citizens whose families have been here for the better part of a century. “The majority of Syrians encountered by members of the Demographics Unit are second- or even third-generation Syrian Americans,” the Syrian report said. “It is unusual to encounter a first generation or new arrival Syrian in New York City.”

Associated Press, 9 March 2012

Read the documents herehere and here.

See also “Yep, the NYPD was definitely profiling Muslims”, New York Magazine, 9 March 2012

Asra Nomani in The Daily Beast: Spy on White People

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 9, 2012 by loonwatch

(cross-posted from avari)

By Haroon Moghul

So, Asra Nomani writes an(other) embarrasing example of self-hatred for The Daily Beast, applauding law enforcement’s apparent targeting of Muslims throughout the Greater New York City area. Her essay is riddled with simple errors, clear misperceptions of how law and constitutionalism function, an inability to process profiling, and some faulty logic, perhaps the finest instance of which is here:

Indeed, just as we need to track the Colombian community for drug trafficking and the Ku Klux Klan for white extremists, I believe we should monitor the Muslim community because we sure don’t police ourselves enough.

The first part of her sentence, about Colombians, is actually right on (by her silly logic); the second part contradicts her own logic (she can call for profiling some Latinos, but she doesn’t have the courage to apply her racializing logic to white America), and everything after “I believe” speaks to how little Asra actually knows anything about the Muslim community, as well as the several seconds of your life which you could have done something better with.For law enforcement to go after white extremism the way it seems to be going after Muslims (at least, with respect to the NYPD), they wouldn’t be going after the KKK, as Asra suggests–unless Asra means to suggest that Muslim student organizations at Yale and UPenn are offshoots of al Qaeda. Law enforcement would instead have to spy on as many white institutions (churches, civic clubs, student organizations, etc.) as they could.

Because, of course, by Asra’s article’s painful logic, a person’s whiteness is a sufficiently significant lead to get law enforcement to pay attention to him, just as a Muslim institution is, on the grounds of its Muslimness, a target of suspicion sufficient to merit law enforcement’s full attention. This is a point Amy Davidson made far more succinctly in an excellent post at The New Yorker:

There is a difference between chasing clues and treating Islam, in and of itself, as a lead.

Does Asra mean to suggest we should be spying on white folks indiscriminately, because they, like the KKK, are white? Should we spy on white Muslims twice, since they are white and Muslim, and so somehow become extremists that hate themselves. I spoke about this issue on a far more relevant basis to Welton Gaddy of State of Belief Radio.

By the way, I’ll be at Fordham’s Manhattan campus today (Monday, March 5th), speaking about the long history of Islam and especially Islam in America. It’s free, and I’ll try to make it fun, educational, and enlightening. We’ll be starting at 6pm at Fordham’s South Lounge inside 113 West 60th Street, right off Columbus Circle in Manhattan. The event ends at 8pm.

Haroon Moghul is a Ph.D. Candidate at Columbia University in Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies. He is an Associate Editor and columnist at Religion Dispatches and writes for the Huffington Post.

Garry McCarthy, Chicago Police Chief, Pledges No NYPD-Esque Spying On Muslims

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 8, 2012 by loonwatch

(H/T: BBK)

Garry McCarthy, Chicago Police Chief, Pledges No NYPD-Esque Spying On Muslims

(The HuffingtonPost)

OAK BROOK TERRACE, Ill. — For the first time in public, Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy promised his department will never conduct blanket surveillance of Muslims like the New York Police Department did in Newark, N.J., when he was chief there.

McCarthy addressed hundreds of Muslims on Saturday at the annual banquet of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Chicago, a civil rights organization. He said police would follow leads in criminal cases, but the department “does not and will not conduct blanket surveillance and profiling of any community in the city of Chicago.”

“We are deeply committed to respecting the civil rights of all Chicagoans,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy and Mayor Rahm Emanuel have tried to reassure Chicago-area Muslims since The Associated Press revealed the NYPD’s spying in Newark. The AP reported last month that in 2007, the NYPD’s secretive Demographics Unit fanned out across Newark, photographing mosques and eavesdropping on Muslim businesses. Earlier, the AP reported that the department was conducting similar surveillance in New York, building databases showing where Muslims live, shop and pray.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has vigorously defended the operations, saying police only follow up on allegations. But civil rights advocates and other critics say the NYPD’s 60-page report on the Newark operations showed Muslims were targeted solely because of their religion.

McCarthy, who was also a top officer in the NYPD at one point, told the AP that his former colleagues in New York notified him as a courtesy that they were sending plainclothes officers to Newark, but none of his officers participated in the operation. New York police say Newark leaders cooperated with the effort.

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly defended his department’s operations again Saturday in a speech at Fordham Law School, as about 60 protesters marched outside. Addressing New Jersey officials’ complaints that the NYPD overstepped its bounds by not fully informing them of officers’ activities, Kelly noted 746 Garden State residents were killed in the 9/11 attacks.

“If terrorists aren’t limited by borders and boundaries, we can’t be either,” Kelly said. “It is entirely legal for the Police Department to conduct investigations outside of city limits, and we maintain very close relationships with local authorities.”

McCarthy met privately last week with community leaders in Chicago to discuss the issue, but he hadn’t stated publicly whether he supported the NYPD’s tactics.

He was warmly received at Saturday’s banquet, held in a Chicago suburb. CAIR Executive Director Ahmed Rehab praised McCarthy for his “heartfelt” sincerity and taking the initiative to attend, and the audience applauded when the chief said police need to work with the city’s communities to prevent crime and terrorism.

“We are focused on our mission of making Chicago the safest city for every resident in every neighborhood, but we can’t do it alone,” McCarthy said. “We must have a positive relationship with the wonderfully diverse communities that comprise Chicago and that make this great country of America as strong as it is today.”

U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a Chicago Democrat and immigration advocate, also addressed the group, lashing out at the NYPD’s spying methods.

“It makes no sense and is not sensible law enforcement,” Gutierrez said.

McCarthy wrapped up his remarks by saying he is a 9/11 survivor, who was in a command post near the World Trade Center until the towers fell. He told the audience that 13 of the 23 officers lost by the NYPD were personal friends.

“And I want to tell you this,” he said. “In the 10-plus years since that horrific event, which has affected me to my core, I have never once thought ill of the religion of Islam.”

Zuhdi Jasser’s Astroturf Muslim Groups Behind Rally to Support NYPD Spying

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 6, 2012 by loonwatch

The American Islamic Leadership Coalition (AILC) and the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) recently held a joint rally to express support for the NYPD and the tactics it uses (including racial profiling and spying on American Muslims).  Media reports used the following sorts of headlines:

Muslim group rallies to support NYPD spying

Islamic leaders support NYPD

Islamic Leaders Plan Pro-NYPD Rally in Support of NYPD

Muslims Rally In Support Of NYPD Mosque Surveillance Program

etc.

The issue is now being portrayed as: Some American Muslims oppose the NYPD’s tactics but others approve of them.  Now that there is an equivalency, whose to say which side is right?  In spite of the embarrassingly low turnout for the pro-NYPD rally, some elements are even insinuating that this misguided handful of individuals somehow represents the “silent majority” of the American Muslim community.

In reality, American Muslims as a whole oppose the NYPD’s tactics of racial profiling and spying.  Finding a few token Muslims on the other side of the divide doesn’t change that.

In fact, these are astroturf Muslim groups, with absolutely no grassroots support in the American Muslim community itself, which explains why they had such a paltry showing at the rally.  The American Islamic Leadership Coalition (AILC) seems to consist of only twelve members; of these, most are inactive–they contribute nothing to the AILC and their only purpose seems to be to create some semblance of a “group.”  Three of the individuals in the list of twelve aren’t even American Muslims.

In reality, the AILC is really just one man, who is the group’s founder: Zuhdi Jasser, every right-winger’s favorite Muslim and the narrator of the anti-Muslim film, The Third Jihad.  The contribution from many of the other members in the group seems minimal to non-existent.  One of the exceptions might be Tarek Fatah, who is not even an American Muslim to begin with.

What of the second group, the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD)?  If you click on their “leadership” tab, only one man’s name comes up: you guessed it, it’s Zuhdi Jasser, who “is the Founder and President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD).”  Who else is a part of this astoturf group is a mystery.

The AILC site claims that it is “representative of the overwhelming ‘silent majority’ of Muslims in America.”  Yet, the group itself revolves primarily around one individual with no grassroots support, evidenced by the lack of turnout to their scheduled rally: only about twenty-something people showed up for it.  Is that what they mean by the “silent majority” of Muslims in America?  How is it that Zuhdi Jasser, Tarek Fatah (who is not even an American Muslim), and a small group of nobodies decide to call themselves the “leadership” of the “silent majority” of American Muslims?  They in fact lead nothing but astroturf groups with no real membership or support in the community they claim to represent.

Zuhdi Jasser and his astroturf groups are fake in another way too: they claim to be “liberal and progressive Muslims”, and yet they “pal around” with far right-wing elements.  Just a few days ago, for instance, the American Islamic Forum for Democracy–which is, of course, little more than Zuhdi Jasser–issued their/his undying love for and praise of the far-right wing extremist Andrew Breitbart.

I have nothing against dissenting voices in any faith community critically challenging tradition, especially if this is done to further liberalism, tolerance, and peace.  But, don’t be fooled by the AILC, AIFD, and whatever other acronym/astroturf group they create next.  Their central figure is a man who doesn’t have a liberal or progressive bone in his body.  He’s as right-wing as they come.  And he certainly doesn’t speak for American Muslims.

Zuhdi Jasser is just a token Muslim figure who the far right-wing anti-Muslim bigots can prance around to say all the things they believe with the only difference being that he proudly carries around his official “Muslim card”; this “I’m a Muslim” routine gives these loony, bigoted, and simplistic ideas a modicum of credibility.  The operative logic is: if a Muslim himsef says it, it must be true!

Danios was the Brass Crescent Award Honorary Mention for Best Writer in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award Winner for Best Writer in 2011.

Asra Nomani, Tarek Fatah and Zuhdi Jasser: ‘Please! Pretty Please Spy on Me!’

Posted in Feature with tags , , , , , , , , on March 6, 2012 by loonwatch

Zuhdi_Jasser_Tarek_Fatah_Peter_King

Tarek Fatah, Zuhdi Jasser, and Peter King

Asra Nomani, Tarek Fatah and Zuhdi Jasser have ridden in on their clown car to rally in support of being “spied on” by the NYPD. Using their “Muslim” cards they have either written in support of, or participated in a rally in solidarity with the NYPD’s secret surveillance. Such endless stupidity knows no bounds, and is not limited to Muslims. Self-hating loons are part of every culture and faith. (We have already written about why the NYPD surveillance is deceptive, wrong-headed, immoral and ineffective, so no need for us to repeat ourselves here.)

The loons agree with each other, being “Muslim” or “Muslim like” is sufficient just cause to infringe on the civil liberties of all Muslims. For these loons, being Muslim is enough of a reason to be accompanied by undercover agents on whitewater rafting trips, to have your mosque infiltrated, to have a who’s-who of ‘Muslamic’ eateries profiled. For these loons the tricky fact that this deceptive surveillance is probably illegal is to be ignored at all cost.

(Have you ever wondered what interesting terroristic tidbits those gum-shoe NYPD infiltrators gathered at, say, Habib Restaurant in Newark? I can just imagine:

Muslim patron of Habib Restaurant: This shawerma sandwhich is the bomb!

NYPD undercover agent jotting down in notebook: ”Stealth food Jihad!!??” I saw this on the Third Jihad that we watched in an endless loop for months! Check with Ray Kelly.)

It’s okay they say, go ahead and cast a pal of suspicion over the whole Muslim community. They  are essentially telling Bloomberg, Kelly, etc.:

“Look at us masta’. We da good Mooslims. You spy on us, entrap us, bomb us wid’ yo bombs, it’s otay.”

The loons’ rally attracted 20 or so supporters and…*gasp*…Rep.Peter King. Whodathunkit? The fact that IRA supporting Peter King would stand with the very same non-expert neo-Con witness he called at his McCarthyesque witch-hunt trials and declare, “you are the real face of Islam in America” is so shocking (note: thinly-veiled sarcasm).

Oh yes, Sheikh Peter King is now pontificating on who the “real” Muslims are. You are a real Muslim if you align yourself with the right-wing, agree with your community being spied on, (thereby undermining every citizens civil liberties), agree with the over-exaggerated “homegrown terrorism” threat, agree with entrapment, agree with the Greater Islamophobia of “bombing, invading and occupying” Muslim majority nations.

Lets continue the myth, they say, that Muslims have not cooperated with law enforcement and are not doing enough to condemn terrorism.(Even though over 40% of all tips regarding potential Muslim terrorists come from Muslims). This will finally convince those Tea Partiers that Asra loves at the Tennessee Freedom Coalition that real Islam is in fact a religion that should be afforded the guarantees of “religious freedom,” and not as they say, a 1400 year old political-fascist-totalitarian-cult threatening to overtake Christianity and “Islamize” the USA.

Asra in her Daily Beast article, Why NYPD Monitoring Should Be Welcome News to Muslims didn’t limit herself to attacking and libeling Muslims, in fact her words will comfort Colombians particularly,

“just as we need to track the Colombian community for drug trafficking and the Ku Klux Klan for white extremists, I believe we should monitor the Muslim community”

As one astute commenter on her article noted,

The Colombian community should be just as offended as the Muslims at being directly compared to the KKK which is by definition a gang of white extremists.

Nomani of course sees no problem, Colombians and Muslims are just like the KKK in her mind, and that is the true face of self-hating loons.

The sparse number of pro-surveillance and pro-anti-Muslim indoctrination ralliers indicates that most American Muslims are overwhelmingly opposed to the NYPD’s bigoted indoctrination of its officers as well as the warrantless surveillance of Muslims. An opposition that is born not just out of their recent plight, being cast as “today’s enemy,” but out of a consistency of principal; no one should be profiled based simply on religion or race, no group should endure warrantless surveillance.

One can imagine that in a not too distant future, these very same self-hating loons, eager to be profiled and spied on, will also be saying, “please, please intern me, somebody, please intern me!”

Update I:

Make sure to check out Danios’s article on the same topic: Zuhdi Jasser’s Astroturf Muslim Groups Behind Rally to Support NYPD Spying.

Justin Elliot: Did the NYPD’s Spying on Muslims Violate the Law?

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 1, 2012 by loonwatch

Important questions and answers:

Did the NYPD’s Spying on Muslims Violate the Law?

by Justin Elliot (Pro Publica)

Last August, the Associated Press launched aseries detailing how the New York Police Department has extensively investigated Muslims in New York and other states, preparing reports on mosques and Muslim-owned businesses, apparently without any suspicion of crimes have been committed.

The propriety and legality of the NYPD’s activities is being disputed. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who claimed last year that the NYPD does not focus on religion and only follows threats or leads, is now arguing that, as he said last week, “Everything the NYPD has done is legal, it is appropriate, it is constitutional.” Others disagree. In fact, Bloomberg himself signed a law in 2004 that prohibits profiling by law enforcement personnel based on religion.

This week, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told a congressional committee that the Justice Department is reviewing whether to investigate potential civil rights violations by the NYPD.

To get a better understanding of the rules governing the NYPD — and whether the department has followed them in its surveillance of Muslims — we spoke to Faiza Patel,co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center at NYU School of Law.

The NYPD did not respond to our request for comment about allegations it has violated the law.

ProPublica: So, Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly have said everything that the NYPD did was legal and constitutional. Others have disagreed. Newark Mayor Cory Booker, for example, said wholesale surveillance of a community without suspicion of a crime “clearly crosses a line.” What restrictions is the NYPD operating under?

Patel: They are operating under at least three sets of rules. The first and most basic set of rules is the consent decree from the Handschu case — the so-called Handschu guidelines. This was a 1970s-era political surveillance case that was settled through a consent decree. The NYPD had been conducting surveillance of a number of political groups in the 1960s and ’70s. The initial consent decree regulated the NYPD’s collection of intelligence about political activity. It first said the NYPD can only collect intelligence about political activities if it follows certain rules. For example, the NYPD had to get clearance from something called the Handschu authority, which was a three-member board that consisted of two high-level police officials and one civilian appointed by the mayor.

Then, post-9/11, the NYPD went to court and asked a judge to review the consent decree because they wanted greater freedom in their counterterrorism operations. What they wound up doing was adopting guidelines based on the FBI’s guidelines from 2003, issued by Attorney General John Ashcroft. These were different in several important ways. The first was that there was no pre-clearance at all … no requirement that the NYPD get approval from the Handschu authority before they undertook any intel gathering about political activity. The second was that the guidelines explicitly say the NYPD can attend any public event or gathering on the same basis as another member of the public. So, if I can go to a church, the NYPD can go to a church. But it goes on to say that the NYPD can’t retain the information it gathers from such public events unless it is connected to suspected criminal or terrorist activity.

ProPublica: So, if you look at, say, the NYPD’s guide to Newark’s Muslim community obtained and published by AP — which maps out mosques and Muslim-owned businesses without mentioning any suspected crimes — aren’t the police retaining exactly this kind of information?

Patel: There are a couple of documents that suggest they may have violated Handschu — for example, the [2006 NYPD report] on the Danish cartoon controversy, which is a collection of statements in mosques and other places that have been taken by undercover officers or confidential informants.

ProPublica: What other rules does the NYPD operate under?

Patel: The second set is that the NYPD has a profiling order in place, and New York City also has a racial profiling law. They are slightly different. The NYPD order [issued in 2002] does not include religion among the categories that they define as profiling. But the New York City law does. It prohibits police officers from relying on race, ethnicity, religion or national origin as a determinative factor in initiating law enforcement action. Normally, you have quite a difficult time in racial profiling cases showing they’ve used one of these factors as the determinative factor. In this case, if you look at the documents, it seems quite clear that the NYPD had its eyes quite firmly on the Muslim community, so it’s possible it is also in violation of this law.

The third set of rules is, of course, the U.S. and New York state constitutions. Within the [U.S.] Constitution, you’re looking at at least two broad categories of provisions — potential First Amendment claims for free speech, freedom of association and free exercise of religion. The other piece of it would be potential equal protection claims.

ProPublica: Another AP story this week reported that federal grant money and equipment were used in the NYPD surveillance and investigation of the Muslim community. Does that muddy the legal questions about whether the police were following federal rules?

Patel: The federal program that was giving them money is the HIDTA program — High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. It’s geared toward providing funds to combat drug trafficking. HIDTA itself does allow for counterterrorism spending to be an incidental purpose. It requires the HIDTA executive board to basically make sure that funds were being used for the purposes that they were supposed to be used for. So, I think there’s a real issue about accountability and oversight of the use of HIDTA funds here.

ProPublica: So, if the NYPD did potentially violate the Handschu guidelines and city law you mentioned, what are the penalties?

Patel: Well, the Handschu lawyers already went to court last year and told the judge that the documents that had been released by the AP suggested that there had been violations of the Handschu decree. They asked for discovery so they could check the files of the NYPD to see whether they had violated the prohibition on keeping dossiers. I believe that that discovery will likely be starting soon. So, there’s clearly a remedy through the Handschu mechanism. Because it’s a consent decree, it’s an ongoing thing. The judge has supervisory jurisdiction. There are also issues under the racial profiling law and under the First Amendment.

We’ve also turned to the question of oversight. The FBI, for all its faults, does have a fair amount of oversight — an inspector general internally and congressional oversight. We think a similar thing would be a great idea for the NYPD.

‘Mosque Crawlers,’ ‘Rakers’ Monitoring U.S. Muslims for NYPD

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , on February 29, 2012 by loonwatch

NYPD

Ray Kelly refers to the organizations that have criticized the NYPD for violating civil liberties, “so-called civil liberties groups.” We have to continue to shine the light on Bloomberg and the NYPD so they realize that this story is not simply going to go away:

‘Mosque Crawlers,’ ‘Rakers’ Monitoring U.S. Muslims for NYPD

(PBS)

http://www-tc.pbs.org/s3/pbs.videoportal-prod.cdn/media/swf/PBSPlayer.swf

Watch ‘Mosque Crawlers,’ ‘Rakers’ Monitoring U.S. Muslims for NYPD on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

GWEN IFILL: Next: More details emerge about a program aimed at preventing terrorism, but which also raises questions about civil liberties.

Ray Suarez has our story.

RAY SUAREZ: The story has been emerging since last summer. New York City police began extensively monitoring Muslims in the city after 9/11.

The operation, revealed by the Associated Press, triggered immediate criticism from civil rights groups.

CHRISTOPHER DUNN, attorney, New York Civil Liberties Union: At the end of the day, it is, pure and simple, a rogue domestic surveillance operation. And that’s a matter of serious concern to us.

RAY SUAREZ: But New York City’s police commissioner, Ray Kelly, insisted last year the surveillance is necessary and legal.

RAYMOND KELLY, New York City Police commissioner: We’re doing what we believe we have to do to protect the city. We have many, many lawyers in our employ. We see ourselves as very conscious and aware of civil liberties.

And we know that there’s always going to be scrutiny. There’s always going to be some tension between the police department and the so-called civil liberties groups.

RAY SUAREZ: The program used undercover police officers and recruited Muslim informants to keep watch.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg insisted last December the operation wasn’t about racial profiling.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, mayor of New York: The city’s police department has worked very hard to bring crime down and prevent terrorism. And we have done it in a way that is consistent with making sure that we obey the law and don’t target anybody.

RAY SUAREZ: But Muslim activists in the city say surveillance is corrosive and counterproductive.

LINDA SARSOUR, Arab-American Association of New York: It creates mistrust amongst people within their own community. It also hinders what people do in their daily lives. They don’t go — they don’t want to go to the same coffee shops or even pray at the mosques. And what it does is it creates mistrust also between us and law enforcement, which really undermines public safety for all New Yorkers.

RAY SUAREZ: The operation extended beyond New York City limits. This apartment building in New Brunswick, New Jersey, served as an NYPD command center for surveillance throughout that state.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, his state’s former U.S. attorney*, said the whole operation was news to him.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE: I may have been briefed about it in ’07. If I was, I don’t remember it. And NYPD’s jurisdiction — they don’t really have jurisdiction here.

RAY SUAREZ: Just yesterday the AP revealed White House funding helped purchase cars and computers used in the surveillance effort.

We take a closer look at the story now with Matt Apuzzo. He’s one of the two reporters who initially reported on the surveillance program back in August for the Associated Press and has continued to follow the story.

Matt, you’ve called the NYPD one of America’s most aggressive domestic intelligence agencies. What was the New York City Police Department doing?

MATT APUZZO, The Associated Press: Well, they have domestic intelligence programs that go far beyond what we would have expected pre-9/11 to see from any police department and in many ways operate in ways that the federal government, the FBI just simply can’t.

They have a program called the Demographics Unit, which the NYPD originally denied even existed, plainclothes officers search that — often Arab officers — who will go out into Muslim neighborhoods, and they are called rakers. They’re going to rake the coals looking for hot spots, meaning they’re going to go out and they’re going to take pictures of mosques. They’re going to take pictures of all the Muslim businesses in the area.

They’re going to go into the Muslim cafes or hookah bars and they’re just going to eavesdrop and listen to people’s conversations, try to gauge the sentiment of the owner, maybe write down his ethnicity, definitely write down his ethnicity. And those goes all into police reports.

So we have seen them for many neighborhoods. We have seen them for Egyptians, Moroccans, Albanians. They are building these profiles of where Muslims live, eat, shop, pray, where they watch sports, where they go to Internet cafes. It’s just — it’s an incredible process by which they’re bringing in information about the Northeast Muslims.

RAY SUAREZ: Now, in this kind of surveillance, in these ongoing investigations, was there first established probable cause, the evidence of an ongoing commission of a crime, some reason to believe that there was a crime going on, or were they just watching?

MATT APUZZO: Right.

In the Demographics — in the Demographics Unit — these are the undercover, the plainclothes officers — their reports mentioned no evidence of crimes. I mean I think we found one evidence, one report that said here’s a store that appears to sell counterfeit DVDs.

So, the Demographics Unit is just out there raking the coals. They’re just building these databases. Then there are these informants, you know, the mosque crawlers who go out into the mosques and are investigating. You know, one, they’re investigating. If there is a lead, they’re following it. But they’re also there just serving as listening posts inside the mosques.

So we’ve seen documents where the informants or the undercover officers inside the mosques are reporting back on even innocuous things that imams are saying at Friday prayers. They’re reporting back, the imam says, hey, we should hold — we should hold a protest about the Danish cartoons. There should be a nonviolent protest. I want everybody to maybe write a letter to a politician.

And this stuff’s ending up in police reports for Ray Kelly. And we have seen evidence of them using surveillance cameras, writing down license plates of people coming to and from mosques. I mean, it’s just — it really is surprising and really shows the transition and the transformation of the NYPD.

RAY SUAREZ: How did this get started?

Over the years, imams have told this program that they have been contacted openly by the FBI, asked for cooperation, which they often gave. Did the New York City Police Department determine that there was no other way to get the kind of information they were looking for?

MATT APUZZO: Yes, I mean, in some of the ways, the Demographics Unit is built on the idea that you’re going to learn more if you go in covertly. You know, you’re going to be able to take a more honest pulse of the community if you go in overtly.

And the idea is, if you create these reports, let’s say, you know, three years from now, there’s a report that, you know, from the CIA that says, hey, there’s an Egyptian and he just came to the United States and maybe he’s going to attack New York, we don’t know, the NYPD can go to their Egyptian folder, pull it off, see all the mosques where the Egyptians are likely to go, where they’re likely to go out to dinner, where they’re likely to pray.

Maybe even they’ve collected phone numbers of people who rent — of Egyptians who rent rooms to rent. And they have got that all at their fingertips. So that’s the reasoning behind it.

RAY SUAREZ: Didn’t your reporting turn up people who thought they were already cooperating with the authorities who it turned out were also under undercover surveillance?

MATT APUZZO: We’ve — we found several instances of imams who have partnered with the NYPD, who stood shoulder to shoulder with Mayor Bloomberg, who have been — who have decried terrorism and who have been held up as allies in the war against terrorism in New York City, and we found documents showing that they had undercover officers or informants assigned directly to them or — and their mosques.

RAY SUAREZ: There are rules that govern domestic spying that apply to the FBI, that apply to the CIA. Do they apply to the New York City Police Department? Was the NYPD living within the rules?

MATT APUZZO: Well, I mean, legally, that’s sort of to be determined.

The police department operates under federal consent decree, basically a court order in a longstanding civil rights lawsuit. Lawyers in that case say these documents that we’ve obtained show they have gone beyond that. The NYPD says, absolutely not. We stay within the four corners of that.

But what’s interesting from where we’re coming from and what’s been fascinating the more people we talk to is, we’ve never really approached this as a legal issue. I mean, when you look at the big issues post-9/11 in the United States, whether it’s water-boarding, warrantless wire-tapping, surveillance, Gitmo, black sites, rendition, all of those have been legal.

I mean, nobody is saying — nobody is going to jail for those programs. These programs might be legal. We have actually never said, this is illegal, they’re violating the law. But, I mean, it certainly is worth having this conversation, just like it’s been worth having those conversations.

And what’s interesting about the NYPD is, they have no — almost no oversight. And the city council is not aware of the programs that are going on. Congress is not aware of what’s going on. The attorney general has said that it basically doesn’t have the ability to investigate.

The White House said yesterday, yes, we — our money is being used here, but we’re just a policy office. We don’t actually have operational control. So, you know, these decisions are largely kept in-house at the NYPD and with Mayor Bloomberg.

RAY SUAREZ: We’ll continue this conversation online.

Matt Apuzzo of the Associated Press, thanks for joining us.

MATT APUZZO: Thanks so much for having me.

Peter King Defends NYPD Monitoring, Plans More Hearings on Islam

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 28, 2012 by loonwatch

This should come to no surprise that Peter King will defend the NYPD monitoring. He must be really proud.

Peter King Defends NYPD Monitoring, Plans More Hearings on Islam

by George Zornick

Appearing on WCBS in New York this morning, Representative Peter King offered a strong defense of NYPD’s spying on mosques and Muslim businesses and student groups in several states. Criticism of the recently revealed program has intensified in recent days, but King said he was proud of the police department.

“[Police Commissioner] Ray Kelly and the NYPD should get a medal for what they are doing,” he said. “This is good police work. If you are going after radical Muslims you don’t go to Ben’s Kosher Deli.”

This is perhaps not surprising coming from the man who held highly controversial Capitol Hill hearings into Muslim Americans last year, which many people saw as essentially profiling by public relations; his colleague, Representative Keith Ellison invoked the specter of Joe McCarthy in criticizing King’s efforts and said they served to “vilify” Muslims.

But, alas, King announced last week that he would hold more hearings into domestic radicalization among Muslim Americans in the coming year. “The series of radicalization hearings I convened last March has been very productive,” King said in a statement. “I will definitely continue the hearings in 2012.”

This is a good time to flag a recent study by Charles Kurzman, a sociology professor at the University of North Carolina and member of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security. His comprehensive examination of crime statistics found that terrorism-related incidents by Muslim Americans has declined markedly, and that Muslim-Americans represent “a minuscule threat to public safety.” He wrote:

The limited scale of Muslim-American terrorism in 2011 runs counter to the fears that many Americans shared in the days and months after 9/11, that domestic Muslim American terrorism would escalate. The spike in terrorism cases in 2009 renewed these concerns, as have repeated warnings from U.S. government officials about a possible surge in homegrown Islamic terrorism. The predicted surge has not materialized.

Repeated alerts by government officials maybe issued as a precaution, even when the underlying threat is uncertain. Officials may be concerned about how they would look if an attack did take place and subsequent investigations showed that officials had failed to warn the public. But a byproduct of these alerts is a sense of heightened tension that is out of proportion to the actual number of terrorist attacks in the United States since 9/11.

If King calls Kurzman to testify at his hearings I’ll eat my hat, but it’s possible Democrats on the committee could arrange for his appearance. He would provide a substantive counterweight to King’s typically anecdote-driven hysteria. Last week the FBI foiled a plot in which a Moroccan man wanted to bomb the US Capitol—you can bet King will give that episode a prominent role at his hearings.

Move Over Zagat: The NYPD Guide to Newark’s Best Muslim Restaurants

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , on February 27, 2012 by loonwatch
Restaurant Jihad
Tasty Eats or Stealth Jihad?

Lots of tasty stakeouts…and there’s even a Dunkin Donuts!

The NYPD Zagat Guide to Newark’s Best (and Most Threatening) Muslim Restaurants

Cross-posted from Gawker

Last night, the AP broke the news that the New York Police Department had spent months spying on Muslims in Newark, N.J. “The result was a 60-page report,” AP reporter Adam Goldman writes, “containing brief summaries of businesses and their clientele.” But was it a surveillance file… or just a guide to Newark’s best Muslim restaurants?

“Such surveillance has become commonplace in New York City in the decade since the 2001 terrorist attacks,” Goldman rightly points out. “The documents obtained by the AP show, for the first time in any detail, how those efforts stretched outside the NYPD’s jurisdiction.”

But as he himself acknowledges, “[t]he report cited no evidence of terrorism or criminal behavior.” Indeed, it’s just “a guide to Newark’s Muslims.” Nothing creepy about NYPD spending months monitoring Muslims outside their jurisdiction, at all. And what could be more helpful to the aspiring gourmand than a handbook of the best Halal joints in Newark? With that in mind, we’ve re-arranged some of the dry NYPD “notes,” Zagat-style, to bring you: The NYPD Guide to Newark’s Best Muslim Restaurants.

Newark Fried Chicken
942 Broad St., (973) 824-1780
Yelp Rating: No rating.

NYPD says: A “medium size fast food restaurant” with “fried chicken, pizza and cold drinks” on its menu, Newark Fried Chicken is said to be “in good condition,” with “seating for 10 to 15 customers.”

*****

Kansas Fried Chicken
183 Market St., (973) 242-8844
Yelp Rating: No rating.

NYPD says: This “medium size takeout restaurant” is known for its “fried chicken, pizza and cold drinks.” “Location is owned by persons of Afghani descent,” notes one reviewer.

*****

Mecca’s Halal Restaurant
4 Branford Pl., (973) 824-5600
Yelp Rating: Four stars. (“Shockingly good,” writes Andrew B. of Evanston, Ill.)

NYPD says: A “small restaurant” “in close proximity of Islamic Cultural center” “owned and operated by African-Americans,” Mecca’s Halal Restaurant gets another thumbs-up from our reviewers. It “has seating for 10-15 customers” and “serves Halal food.”

*****

Amin’s Halal Restaurant
57 William St., (973) 621-1111
Yelp Rating: Three and a half stars. (“Very clean,” says Jeff M. of Jersey City, N.J.)

NYPD says: Our reviewers say Amin’s Halal Restaurant, “location below the former Muhammads Mosque” (now closed), is “medium sized” and “owned and operated by Muslims of Chinese descent.” “During visit 3 African Muslim males and an Egyptian male customer were observed dining within,” writes one reviewer. Wild!

*****

Dunkin Donuts
806 South Orange Ave., no phone number
Yelp Rating: No rating. (Average rating of Newark Dunkin Donuts: Three and a half stars.)

NYPD says: “Good condition,” observes one reviewer, who notes that the “store… has a capacity for 15 to 20 customers.”

*****

Utah Fried Chicken
653 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., (973) 792-1993
Yelp Rating: No rating.

NYPD says: Convenience is the name of the game at Utah Fried Chicken, which our reviewers note is “in close proximity of Masjid Rahman.” One drawback: the restaurant is “small.”

*****

Detroit Fried Chicken and Pizza
685 Springfield Ave., (931) 375-0013
Yelp Rating: No rating.

NYPD says: Come to Detroit Fried Chicken and you might be welcomed by its owner, “Egyptian male,” who’s set up “seating for approximately ten customers” right “next door to Masjid Al-Haqq.” “Fast food restaurant,” writes one reviewer, with what we imagine to be enthusiasm.

*****

West Indian American Halal Restaurant
347 Sandford Ave., (973) 373-7333
Yelp Rating: No rating.

NYPD says: “Poor condition” at this restaurant “owned and operated by persons of West Indian descent,” lament our reviewers. Nevertheless, it “has seating for 8-10 customers” and “is in close proximity of Masjid Fallahee… and Al Muslimaat academy.”

*****

Jordan Halal Restaurant
1008 South Orange Ave., (973) 399-7980
Yelp Rating: Four and a half stars. (“Great breakfasts,” writes Karol R. “OMG I would come here everyday if I could!!!!” adds Candy B. of Newark.)

NYPD says: Options for “takeout and dining in” at this “small restaurant” “owned and operated by persons of Jordanian descent.” But be aware that it is “small.”

*****

Chicken Holiday
1036 South Orange Ave., (973) 373-2009
Yelp Rating: No rating.

NYPD says: Reviewers didn’t have much to say about this “small size takeout location” “owned and operated by persons of Pakistani descent” “that serves Halal food” — but their affection was clear nonetheless.

*****

Crown Fried Chicken and Deli
231 Lyons Ave., (973) 923-4466
Yelp Rating: No rating.

NYPD says: Watch out at this “small fast food restaurant” serving “fried chicken and deli sandwiches”: “Location does not have any chairs or tables inside for customers.” Hope you like standing!

*****

Amin’s Halal Restaurant
430 Chancellor Ave., (973) 926-6150
Yelp Rating: No rating.

NYPD says: Get ready for some food after prayers at this “medium sized Chinese Halal restaurant” “located across the street from Masjid Ibrahim”! “Owned and operated by Muslims of Chinese descent,” Amin’s “has approximately three tables.”

*****

Kings Family Restaurant Inc.
327 Lyons Ave., (973) 926-2177
Yelp Rating: Three and a half stars. (“Sizeable portions,” says Ron B. of Denver.)

NYPD says: How about a party at Kings Family Restaurant Inc., “a large restaurant with seating for 45-50 customers”? This “traditional Halal diner” is “owned by persons of Turkish descent” — and don’t forget to bring some extra change: “location has a donation box inside for unknown Masjid.”

Here’s How 5 Million or So Muslims in the US were Depicted Yesterday in the NY Post

Posted in Feature, Loon Media with tags , , , , , , , on February 25, 2012 by loonwatch

And then they wonder why there is Islamophobia? 

Glenn Greenwald first alerted us to this in his tweet:

Here’s how 5 million or so Muslims in US were depicted yesterday in the NY Post

NYPost_NYPD_Islamophobia

According to the NY Post, all those students, worshippers, shop owners, etc. that the NYPD spied on were Taliban-esque terrorists.

Update I:

Greenwald wrote a short article on the subject which is worthy of reproduction here:

Abject bigotry at the New York Post

By: Glenn Greenwald

As I wrote about on Wednesday, Associated Press over the last year has been publishing an investigative series detailing how the NYPD, often in conjunction with the CIA, has been systematically spying on entire Muslim communities both in New York City and in surrounding areas. Virtually none of those spied upon are suspected of any wrongdoing; they are just innocent people who are targeted for surveillance solely because they are Muslim. That’s why the program is so controversial. This is how this controversy was depicted yesterday by The New York Post, in a cartoon by Sean Delonas (click to enlarge; h/t sysprog):

[see image above]

According to The New York Post, to be Muslim — as between 5-7 million people in America are — is to be a hook-nosed, Osama-worshipping, suicide-bomb-wearing Terrorist. There is no other interpretation for someone justifying a massive, indiscriminate spying program aimed at Muslims generally with this response. It goes without saying that there is not a single other group against whom bigotry this hateful and overt would be tolerated. And that explains a great deal about what has happened with U.S. policy — both foreign and domestic — over the last decade.

Haroon Moghul: Stop the Reckless Spying on Muslims

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 25, 2012 by loonwatch

Stop the Reckless Spying on Muslims

by Haroon Moghul (Foreign Policy)

The United States spends millions flying diplomats around the planet to bolster America’s relationship with the Muslim world. Meanwhile, its reservoir of trust among the Muslim community at home is rapidly being depleted — courtesy of the New York Police Department (NYPD).

On Feb. 20, Yale University President Richard Levin expressed his anger at the NYPD’s extensive surveillance of American Muslim students, which has included monitoring students’ emails and websites,events and speakers, and activities — not only at Yale, but at universities across the northeast. In one frequently cited incident, an undercover police officer accompanied students from the City College of New York on a white-water rafting trip, noting their topics of conversation and the frequency of their prayers. This type of surveillance, Levin wrote, “is antithetical to the values of Yale, the academic community, and the United States.”

New York City’s top officials, however, have shown no inclination to rein in the NYPD’s obsessive monitoring of American Muslims. Mayor Michael Bloomberg made light of the Yale president’s concerns, calling them “cute” and “ridiculous.” He then attacked Levin: “Yale’s freedoms to do research, to teach, to give people a place to say what they want to say is defended by the law enforcement throughout this country.”

Far from supporting academic freedom, the NYPD has done tremendous damage to campus life. Far from “keeping the country safe,” as Bloomberg stated, the NYPD is making us less safe.

I’ve worked with Muslim students across the United States — offering media training, leading workshops debunking common and pernicious myths about Muslim history, and giving lectures on Islamic law, Muslim identity, and the value of civic engagement. These students are bright, sophisticated, cosmopolitan, and remarkably civic-minded. Targeting them is not merely offensive and contrary to American values and principles, but clueless. Don’t take my word for it, either. The students on whom the NYPD is spying attend some of the highest-caliber universities in the world: Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, and New York University, among others.

American Muslims are, in fact, the most accomplished and educated segment of the global population of 1.5 billion Muslims. Our successes are American successes, and they undeniable evidence of America’s pluralism and promise. Restrictions on our rights fuel extremist arguments that Muslimswill never be accepted as equals in the West. For those like me who have spent years trying to shrink the trust deficit, this is a tremendous setback.

Put yourself in the shoes of an American Muslim student: One day, you learn that NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly cooperated in the production of a hateful pseudo-documentary on Islam — the film alleges American Muslim organizations are conspiring to take over the United States — even though his office initially denied his role in the project and hid the fact that the film was screened to some 1,500 officers. Would you feel that law enforcement still has your best interests in mind?

The NYPD’s surveillance efforts seem to be shockingly extensive and targeted specifically at American Muslims. As discovered by the Associated Press, which won a prestigious Polk Award for its investigation, the NYPD under Bloomberg has engaged in a massive effort to compile information on Muslims, including spying on New York City mosques. In the process, the NYPD has exceeded the limits set even by the FBI and has frequently pursued its investigations for no discernible purpose and based on no evident allegations. The only relevant consideration for the NYPD seems to have been that all Muslims are worth spying on.

On Feb. 22, we learned that the NYPD’s activities extend to Newark, New Jersey. The Associated Press’s Matt Apuzzo reported that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was not told about what he termed the NYPD’s “disturbing” spying activities across state lines. Christie called for the state’s attorney general to investigate the NYPD’s actions, concluding on a note of frustration: “NYPD has developed a reputation of asking forgiveness rather than permission.” (Read the rest)

Surprise, Surprise: NYPD Spied on Muslims in Newark

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2012 by loonwatch

The NYPD’s secret surveillance and profiling of Muslims continues to be exposed. The most recent example is their quixotic foray into Newark. Mayor Cory Booker of Newark denies any knowledge of the “operation.”

NYPD built secret files on Newark mosques

(CBS/AP)

NEWARK, N.J. – Americans living and working in New Jersey’s largest city were subjected to surveillance as part of the New York Police Department’s effort to build databases of where Muslims work, shop and pray. The operation in Newark was so secretive even the city’s mayor says he was kept in the dark.

For months in mid-2007, plainclothes officers from the NYPD’s Demographics Units fanned out across Newark, taking pictures and eavesdropping on conversations inside businesses owned or frequented by Muslims.

The result was a 60-page report, obtained by The Associated Press, containing brief summaries of businesses and their clientele. Police also photographed and mapped 16 mosques, listing them as “Islamic Religious Institutions.”

Read the document obtained by the AP (pdf)

The report cited no evidence of terrorism or criminal behavior. It was a guide to Newark’s Muslims.

According to the report, the operation was carried out in collaboration with the Newark Police Department, which at the time was run by a former high-ranking NYPD official. But Newark’s mayor, Cory Booker, said he never authorized the spying and was never told about it.

“Wow,” he said as the AP laid out the details of the report. “This raises a number of concerns. It’s just very, very sobering.”

Police conducted similar operations outside their jurisdiction in New York’s Suffolk and Nassau counties on suburban Long Island, according to police records.

Such surveillance has become commonplace in New York City in the decade since the 2001 terrorist attacks. Police have built databases showing where Muslims live, where they buy groceries, even what Internet cafes they use and where they watch sports. Dozens of mosques and student groups have been infiltrated and police have built detailed profiles of ethnic communities, from Moroccans to Egyptians to Albanians.

NYPD under fire for monitoring Muslim students
NYPD defends watching Muslim student associations
NYPD’s spying programs produce mixed results

The documents obtained by the AP show, for the first time in any detail, how those efforts stretched outside the NYPD’s jurisdiction. New Jersey and Long Island residents had no reason to suspect the NYPD was watching them. And since the NYPD isn’t accountable to their votes or tax dollars, those non-New Yorkers had little recourse to stop it.

“All of these are innocent people,” Nagiba el-Sioufi of Newark said while her husband, Mohammed, flipped through the NYPD report, looking at photos of mosques and storefronts frequented by their friends.

Egyptian immigrants and American citizens, the couple raised two daughters in the United States. Mohammed works as an accountant and is vice president of the Islamic Culture Center, a mosque a few blocks from Newark City Hall.

“If you have an accusation on us, then spend the money on doing this to us,” Nagiba said. “But you have no accusation.”

NYPD spokesman Paul Browne did not return a message seeking comment about the report. Former Newark Police Chief Garry McCarthy, who is now in charge of the Chicago Police Department, also did not return messages left on his cellphone and with a press aide.

The goal of the report, like others the Demographics Unit compiled, was to give police at-their-fingertips access to information about Muslim neighborhoods. If police got a tip about an Egyptian terrorist in the area, for instance, they wanted to immediately know where he was likely to find a cheap room to rent, where he might buy his lunch and at what mosque he probably would attend Friday prayers.

“These locations provide the maximum ability to assess the general opinions and general activity of these communities,” the Newark report said.

The effect of the program was that hundreds of American citizens were cataloged — sometimes by name, sometimes simply by their businesses and their ethnicity — in secret police files that spanned hundreds of pages:

— “A Black Muslim male named Mussa was working in the rear of store,” an NYPD detective wrote after a clandestine visit to a dollar store in Shirley, N.Y., on Long Island.

— “The manager of this restaurant is an Indian Muslim male named Vicky Amin” was the report back from an Indian restaurant in Lindenhurst, N.Y., also on Long Island.

— “Owned and operated by an African Muslim (possibly Sudanese) male named Abdullah Ddita” was the summary from another dollar store in Shirley, N.Y., just off the highway on the way to the Hamptons, the wealthy Long Island getaway.

In one report, an officer describes how he put people at ease by speaking in Punjabi and Urdu, languages commonly spoken in Pakistan.

Last summer, when the AP first began reporting about the NYPD’s surveillance efforts, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said his police do not consider religion in their policing.

On Tuesday, following an AP story that showed the NYPD monitored Muslim student groups around the Northeast, school leaders including Yale president Richard Levin expressed outrage over the tactics. Bloomberg fired back in what was the most vigorous defense yet of his department.

“The police department goes where there are allegations. And they look to see whether those allegations are true,” he told reporters. “That’s what you’d expect them to do. That’s what you’d want them to do. Remind yourself when you turn out the light tonight.”

The Muslim Students Association said the police department “overstepped its boundaries when it began spying on average American Muslim college students.”

There are no allegations of terrorism in the Demographics Unit reports and the documents make clear that police were only interested in locations frequented by Muslims. The canvas of businesses in Newark mentions Islam and Muslims 27 times. In one section of the report, police wrote that the largest immigrant groups in Newark were from Portugal and Brazil. But they did not photograph businesses or churches for those groups.

“No Muslim component within these communities was identified,” police wrote, except for one business owned by a Brazilian Muslim of Palestinian descent.

Polls show that most New Yorkers strongly support the NYPD’s counterterrorism efforts and don’t believe police unfairly target Muslims. The Muslim community, however, has called for Police Commissioner Ray Kelly’s resignation over the spying and the department’s screening of a video that portrays Muslims as wanting to dominate the United States.

In Newark, the report was met with a mixture of bemusement and anger.

“Come, look at yourself on film,” Abdul Kareem Abdullah called to his wife as he flipped through the NYPD files at the lunch counter of their restaurant, Hamidah’s Cafe.

An American-born citizen who converted to Islam decades ago, Abdullah said he understands why, after the 9/11 terror attacks, people are afraid of Muslims. But he said he wishes the police would stop by, say hello, meet him and his customers and get to know them. The documents show police have no interest in that, he said.

“They just want to keep tabs on us,” he said. “If they really wanted to understand, they’d come talk to us.”

After the AP approached Booker, he said the mayor’s office had launched an investigation.

“We’re going to get to the bottom of this,” he said.

Booker met with Islamic leaders while campaigning for mayor. Those interviewed by the AP said they wanted to believe he didn’t authorize the spying but wanted to hear from him directly.

“I have to look in his eyes,” Mohammed el-Sioufi said at his mosque. “I know him. I met him. He was here.”

Ironically, because officers conducted the operation covertly, the reports contains mistakes that could have been easily corrected had the officers talked to store owners or imams. If police ever had to rely on the database during an unfolding terrorism emergency as they had planned, those errors would have hindered their efforts.

For instance, locals said several businesses identified as belonging to African-American Muslims actually were owned by Afghans or Pakistanis. El-Sioufi’s mosque is listed as an African-American mosque, but he said the imam is from Egypt and the congregation is a roughly even mix of black converts and people of foreign ancestries.

“We’re not trying to hide anything. We are out in the open,” said Abdul A. Muhammad, the imam of the Masjid Ali Muslim mosque in Newark. “You want to come in? We have an open door policy.”

By choosing instead to conduct such widespread surveillance, Mohammed el-Sioufi said, police send the message that the whole community is suspect.

“When you spy on someone, you are kind of accusing them. You are not accepting them for choosing Islam,” Nagiba el-Sioufi said. “This doesn’t say, `This guy did something wrong.’ This says, `Everyone here is a Muslim.”‘

“It makes you feel uncomfortable, like this is not your country,” she added. “This is our country.”

Bloomberg Fail: NY Mayor Defends Racial Profiling of and Spying on American Muslims

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2012 by loonwatch

It has now been unearthed that the NYPD has been using racial profiling to illegally target the American Muslim community, spying on Muslim students without reason or warrant.  Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire mayor of New York, was questioned yesterday about this unethical practice; he defended it using the typical, disgusting, and morally repugnant justifications that have become so commonplace in our national discourse thanks to the War on of Terror. (Here is an article documenting Mayor Bloomberg’s response.)

Bloomberg ominously warned journalists: ”You are not going to survive. You will not be able to be a journalist and write what you want to say if the people who want to take away your freedoms are allowed to succeed.”

This cowardly fear-mongering has long been used by authorities to strip citizens of their rights: They are going to get you, unless you surrender your basic civil rights!

Actually, I should clarify that statement; it should read: They are going to get you, unless you surrender the basic civil rights of those dark-skinned, foreign-looking Moozlums!

Sadly, most Americans succumb to this alarmist rhetoric, readily surrendering what is not theirs to give away to begin with: the Constitutional rights of our nation’s most vulnerable minority.

Bloomberg continued:

We have to keep this country safe. This is a dangerous place. Make no mistake about it. It’s very cute to go and to blame everybody and say we should stay away from…[policies like] intelligence gathering. The job of our law enforcement is to make sure that they prevent things and you only do that by being proactive.

A dangerous place?  In fact, those big bad Islamic terrorists have killed zero civilians in the United States since 9/11, which was over a decade ago.  A similar situation exists in Europe, with Europol’s annual terrorism reports showing zero civilian deaths from Islamic terrorism in the last half decade (which is as far back as the annual terrorism reports go).  Quite simply, as an American I have a higher chance of being struck by and killed by lightning–or of being killed by peanuts–than of being killed by Islamic terrorists.  No amount of fear-mongering, alarmist propaganda, and Islamophobic rhetoric can overcome this simple fact, which is why it bears repetition:

In the past decade, zero civilians have been killed in this country by Islamic terrorists.  

Therefore, it is a boldfaced lie to claim that the threat of terrorism is so grave and ominous that we must resort to such illegal and unethical tactics to Keep Us Safe.

Bloomberg regurgitates the standard nationalistic myth, saying:

Remind yourself when you turn off the light tonight, you have your job because there are young men and women who have been giving their lives overseas for the last 200 plus years so that we would have freedom of the press. And we go after the terrorists. We are going to continue to do that and the same thing is true for the people that work on the streets of our cities.

This “argument” is often used to quell debate and stifle criticism: “[our] young men and women have been giving their lives overseas for the last 200 plus years so that we would have freedom of the press.”  This argument, steeped in uber-patriotism and drenched in nationalistic propaganda, is intended to fly over rational debate (what does the “giving [of] lives overseas for the last 200 plus years” have anything to do with “freedom of the press”?), and tap into our basest emotions: anyone who dares reject this argument by pointing out that it is not just a non-sequitur but patently false runs the risk of being accused of lack of patriotism and of being “un-American”.

This is so, as I wrote earlier, because the military is our country’s most sacred institution:

The military is our national religion, its soldiers are our holy warriors, the Navy Seals are our highest religious order, those soldiers who died in war are our martyrs, 9/11 was our Karbala, Patriot Day is our annual holy day, the flag is our holy book and symbol, Osama bin Laden is Lucifer, Terrorism is the greatest Evil, supporting the troops is our greatest religious obligation, and failure to do so is the greatest blasphemy and the highest of sins.

It is true that our military has been waging wars (of aggression) “overseas for the last 200 plus years”, as I documented in another article of mine: “We’re at War!” — And We Have Been Since 1776: 214 Years of American War-Making.  But, this is hardly something to be proud of…and these wars had nothing to do with “freedom of the press”–most of them had everything to do with spreading American hegemony and usurping the resources of other peoples (and in doing so, stripping them of their most basic civil liberties).

In fact, the greatest insults to the freedom of the press have historically been during times of war.  The First Amendment Center notes in The First Amendment: A Wartime Casualty?:

Sanford Levinson, a law professor at the University of Texas, writes: “It is difficult to read our constitutional history … without believing that the Constitution is often reduced at best to a whisper during times of war.”

The First Amendment is no exception. Attorney Michael Linfield, author of Freedom Under Fire: U.S. Civil Liberties in Times of War, writes: “Rather than being an exception, war-era violations of civil liberties in the United States are the accepted norm for our government.”

The article goes on to mention numerous instances in American history when civil liberties (including freedom of the press) were stripped by the government during wartime.  The War on of Terror is certainly no exception.

I hesitate closing this article with the standard meme of “it is un-American to curtail civil liberties”, but after second thought, I will save my readers from this trite, mythical, and nationalistic mantra.  As our military history will attest to, it is actually very, very American to do so, at least when it comes to minorities: racism has beset our nation during most of her many wars, whether it was against American Indians, Hispanics, or Asians.  Today’s wars against Arabs/Muslims overseas–and the concomitant stripping away of their human rights both at home and abroad–simply mean staying true to a long-held American tradition.

Mayor Bloomberg affirms the fundamental myth of the War on of Terror, the idea that we need to wage foreign wars (and in the process curtail civil liberties) in order to stop terrorism.  This is a strongly held belief, even though nothing exacerbates the problem of terrorism more than these wars.  In fact, our military interventions in the Muslim world are the root cause of terrorism.  Targeting the American Muslim community is the wrong solution: the only way to stop terrorism is to end our many wars in the Muslim world.  That Americans today failed to realize this simple fact will be looked upon by future generations with amazement.

Update I:

A reader, Christian-friend, commented:

I don’t see him justifying racial profiling, be more accurate!

From the ACLU’s website:

Racial Profiling: Definition (2005 resource): “Racial Profiling” refers to the discriminatory practice by law enforcement officials of targeting individuals for suspicion of crime based on the individual’s race, ethnicity, religion or national origin.

Whenever in doubt, substitute “Jewish” for “Muslim” and see if it sounds right, i.e. it would be racial profiling if police targeted Jewish citizens.

Danios was the Brass Crescent Award Honorary Mention for Best Writer in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award Winner for Best Writer in 2011.