Archive for Ray Kelly

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

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.

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.

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)

Raphael Shore: Director of Clarion Fund’s “Third Jihad” Upset NYPD Won’t Be Showing His Anti-Muslim Movie

Posted in Feature with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 27, 2012 by loonwatch
Raphael_ShoreRaphael Shore

It was revealed in January 2011 that the NYPD was using an anti-Muslim documentary entitled “The Third Jihad” in its counter terror training courses. At the time “a top police official denied it, then said it had been mistakenly screened ‘a couple of times’ for a few officers.”

It turns out that the police official was lying, it had been screened for thousands of police officers:

A year later, police documents obtained under the state’s Freedom of Information Law reveal a different reality: “The Third Jihad,” which includes an interview with Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, was shown, according to internal police reports, “on a continuous loop” for between three months and one year of training.

During that time, at least 1,489 police officers, from lieutenants to detectives to patrol officers, saw the film.

We exposed the Third Jihad way back in 2009 when it was first released! We clearly laid out the facts: (1) Clarion Fund is an arm of Aish HaTorah, an Israeli advocacy and educational organization:

According to the Delaware Department of Corporations, Robert (Rabbi Raphael) Shore, Rabbi Henry Harris and Rebecca Kabat incorporated Clarion Fund. All three of whom are reported to serve as employees of Aish HaTorah International.

(2) Clarion Fund’s free mass distribution of the anti-Muslim movie, Obsession: Radical Islam’s War on the West (also directed by Shore) a few months prior to the 2008 presidential election was an attempt to sway the election in John McCain’s favor:

Unless you were sleeping in a cave during the 2008 Presidential election you’re probably aware that the mysterious Clarion Fund is the same organization that distributed 28 Million DVD’s of their controversial film Obsession, which compares Islam to Nazism, in newspapers in swing states across America.

The movie was widely discredited for its cast of radical and extreme pundits, some of whom (Daniel PipesBrigitte Gabriel, Walid ShoebatSteven Emerson) we have featured on LoonWatch.  As our articles showed, these Islamophobes have a history of bigoted and derogatory statements regarding Muslims and Islam.

The film itself was compared to Leni Riefenstahl’s 1935 pro-Nazi film Triumph of the Will. Broward-Palm Beach New Times called it “misleading and dangerous.” Jeff VanDenBerg, director of Middle East Studies at Drury University, called the film “a blatant piece of anti-Muslim propaganda.”

During the campaign to distribute Obsession, news reports at the time quickly revealed that their main motivation was to shift the focus during the Presidential election from the Economy to the issue of National Security, the area in which John McCain led in polls.

Shore and his cohorts efforts failed as they over-reached in their attempt to paint the radical-stealth-Islamic boogeyman menace to America as similar to Nazism during WWII. They changed tactic with the Third Jihad and attempted to redirect the hate, though they only offered a thin vanilla (Zuhdi Jasser) covering for the bigotry that is clearly all over the film:

Third Jihad paints a picture of a nefarious plot by a cabal that includes all mainstream Muslim organizations to take over and dominate America. The movie, reminiscent of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, centers around the purported discovery of a document describing a strategic secret plot by Muslims to undermine Democracy and replace it with Sharia’ laws.

The recent exposes in the mainstream media showing that thousands of NYPD officers have watched the anti-Muslim films, coupled with Ray Kelly himself being interviewed in the film has caused much embarrassment to the NYPD, which is already suffering from poor relations with the Muslim community. The NYPD and Ray Kelly have apologized, (Kelly now calls the movie “inflammatory”), but many are calling for Kelly to be fired.

In a press release Raphael Shore complained about his anti-Muslim film being dumped from the training of NYPD officers:

“We regret that the film has been taken out of the counterterrorism training program of the NYPD.  The New York Times stories are proof positive that the Clarion Fund’s high-quality and impactful documentaries touch very sensitive nerves.

“Those that have blasted the film are attempting to stifle an important debate about the internal state of the Muslim community in America, and whether politicized Islam and indoctrination pose tangible security threats.

Yes, Raphael is concerned with the “internal state of the Muslim community in America”/sarcasm. He’s as concerned about it as Pamela Geller is no doubt. The truth is Raphael, your hate work on Islam is no longer going to get a free pass. People can see the nexus that aligns Right-Wing Islamophobes abroad and at home and they are tired of it.

The Truth About ‘The Third Jihad’:

The Third Jihad is essentially an updated and reconfigured version of Obsession or as some have called it “Obsession on steroids.” Instead of the overt comparisons of Islam with Nazism, or of a cosmic battle between good and evil, the object this time is to warn against a threat they term  “Cultural Jihad” carried out from within by American Muslims.

In Third Jihad, just as in Obsession, there is the cliche disclaimer at the start of the film that the movie is not about the vast majority of Muslims who are peaceful, yet in Third Jihad just as in Obsession, the rest of the film quickly and completely trumps what becomes an empty disclaimer.  Both films fail to make consistent distinctions between Islam and Radical Islamism, and at times conflate the two.  As the IPS (Inter Press Service) notes:

Radical Muslims, by having children, spreading their faith, and ensuring their ability to practice Islam as they see fit, are working a ‘demographic jihad’ in which they see themselves emerging as a majority and making Islam the dominant religion of the U.S. – eventually to take over the nation altogether – contend Jasser and the films creators.

But that prospect seems unlikely in the U.S., where Muslim Americans are generally regarded as well-assimilated and not radicalised.

The film itself also contains inconsistencies in terms of differentiating between Islam and radical Islam.

For example, the graphic that the film used to demonstrate the spread of an Islamic state across the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe used a tiled picture of a green crescent with a star between its points. The crescent and star are the symbol of Islam in general.

The documentary was produced by the Clarion Fund, a U.S.-based non-profit that was embroiled in controversy last year when it distributed its last movie, “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West,” to nearly 30 million homes in the ‘swing states’ that normally decide U.S. presidential elections.

Its 501(c)(3) status as non-profit means the group is legally exempt from paying taxes and is prohibited from involvement in electoral politics.

IPS investigations also tied the production and distribution of “Obsession” to right-wing Israeli groups and U.S.-based neoconservatives.

The central focus of the film is the purported discovery of a document which claims Muslim organizations are seeking to “destroy” the West from within and replace Democracy with Islamic law worldwide. This ploy is similar to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion which is a tract alleging a Jewish and Masonic plot to achieve world domination. Purportedly written by a secret group of Jews known as the Elders of Zion, the document underlies 24 protocols that are supposedly followed by the Jewish people.

The movie also suffers from a lack of credibility with most of the pundits it chooses to interview.  For example one of the pundits is Tawfiq Hamid (!) who is labeled an ex-terrorist. Tawfiq’s story is not corroborated by any independent sources, he has also made blatant statements describing Muslims as terrorists and Islam as evil. On the Orla Barry Show he stated, “the majority of Muslim are all passive terrorists. They believe in this evil. They support it either by money or emotionally they are not against it.” He is also featured on radical Islamophobe Walid Shoebat’s website  and has appeared with him on talk shows and other venues.

This hate movie is available online and its central protagonist is Zuhdi Jasser who is also the narrator of the film. Jasser is cast as an all American hero, clips of him having moments with his family are reminiscent of episodes out of Full House, complete with sentimental  muzak equivalent to the quality one hears in elevators. Jasser is the lone American Muslim (all the others are either “scared” or “silent”) standing up against radicals. He is the “moderate” who is seeking to reform Islam while at the same time save America from the ignored threat of “homegrown radical Muslims.”

Is Jasser an unbiased chronicler of American Islam, and is he the right advocate to counter radical Muslims?

Considering his radical associations and partisan attachment to the far right wing of the Republican party, the answers are no.

As Richard Silverstein writes, “To put it plain and simple, Jasser is a Muslim neocon.” He created a 501c3 designated organization AIFD (American Islamic forum for Democracy) whose agenda is a “barely concealed” form of radical Republicanism. 501c3 designated organizations are not allowed to meddle in partisan politics.

Jasser has himself publicly participated in the political process. In this endorsement of a far-right pro-Israel Colorado Republican legislative candidate, he strangely takes aim at the candidate’s Republican American Muslim opponent:

“A brief word about Mr. Sharf’s primary opponent. Mrs. Rima Barakat Sinclair has no apparent record, prior to this election of…any traditional conservative issues. Previously, her sole political agenda seems to have been anti-Israel activism. Her candidacy seems to be more a product of Islamist politics than of ideas central to conservative American principles and activism. Sadly, candidates out of this mold, who conflate the Israeli-Palestinian crisis with their Islamic identity actually harm more than they help the genuine pluralistic advancement of American Muslims. Most Muslims are actually quite diverse in their domestic and foreign policy politics and do not accept the collectivist agenda of political Islam (Islamism).”

It is certainly no accident that Sinclair’s opponent, Joshua Scharf, is a right-wing pro-Israel militant.

In this National Review interview, Jasser enthusiastically promotes a Republican agenda:

“Lopez: Do you like what you’re hearing out of any of the presidential candidates?

Jasser: (First a necessary caveat – the following is my personal opinion only and in no way that of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy).

Yes, I think most of the Republican presidential field is much more honest than the Democrats in articulating the real stakes in this war of ideas of the free world versus the Islamists. While most of the Republican candidates are in the right anti-Islamist arena, only a few have been able to articulate it clearly enough and with enough candor to get my attention. I am far from making up my mind on a candidate yet, but am encouraged by a lot of what I see from some of the candidates.

I am most heartened by what I am hearing from Rudy Guliani’s campaign, with Governor Mitt Romney very close behind in my mind. Mayor Guliani understands the toxicity of the Saudis and their Wahhabis…He is not afraid to articulate the conflict in ideas between Western freedom and Islamist theocracy…He names our enemies by name, and is not afraid to stand for principle and substance in foreign policy over diplomatic platitudes (i.e. against the Saudis, Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood), and other Islamists.

Governor Mitt Romney’s campaign has also demonstrated a willingness to mince no words when discussing the ideologies we are facing. He identifies jihadists as our enemies and uses his important position of national and global leadership to clearly frame the debate as one between the ideology of Islamism (Caliphism, jihadism, and theocracy) versus freedom.

…John McCain’s articulation of the stakes in the Iraq war has always been very impressive, and I hope that other candidates can look to his clarity on the issue as an example of principle.”

His disclaimer is a laugh since the group’s website lists him as founder and president. Only one other individual is listed on the entire website as a staff member of the group. No board members are listed (though he refers to the existence of one). So Jasser IS AIF. If Jasser is a right-wing Republican, so is AIF. Which makes a 501c3 designation problematic.

Jasser is also a member of the Middle East Forum created and ran by neo-con Daniel Pipes as well as “the pro-Israel and neocon Committee on the Present Danger. He has spoken before the Hudson Institute. He writes for Family Security MattersMiddle East Quarterly, and other far-right websites.”  If this doesn’t give you a hint about the agenda that drives Jasser and the purpose of this film nothing will.

Ana and Cenk do a better and more succinct job in eviscerating Third Jihad and the NYPD’s attempted cover-up:

Kelly on Muslim Spying: Who, Us?

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , on November 24, 2011 by loonwatch

(cross-posted from HuffPo)

By Len Levitt

On the day the city’s Muslims staged their first organized protest against the NYPD’s secret and pervasive spying on their communities, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly denied the obvious.

At an unrelated news conference, Kelly told reporters that he “categorically denied” the idea that the NYPD was spying.

His disingenuous, if not ridiculous, comment came on Friday when about 500 Muslims rallied at Foley Square, holding signs that read: “No to a Police State.” “Muslims Demand Equal Rights.” “NYPD Watches Us. Who Watches the NYPD?” “NYPD-CIA Stalking Our Children.”

Speakers tied their grievances to those of the Occupy Wall Street protesters, black Americans and sometimes stigmatized Jews — an indication that the Muslims had yet to find their unique voice.

As for Commissioner Kelly, perhaps he never read the police document entitled “NYPD Intelligence Division Strategic Posture 2006.” The document is marked “secret” and on its front page reads: “DISTRIBUTION: NYPD POLICE COMMISSIONER.”

Well, NYPD Confidential and the Associated Press have read it.

In a half-dozen articles, the AP detailed how the department infiltrated mosques, Muslim schools and Islamic student groups at the city universities; how plainclothes officers catalogued Middle Eastern restaurants and their clientele; and how NYPD analysts built databases on Arab cab drivers and monitored Muslims who changed their names.

Significantly, all those stories were written from Washington, D.C. Not one New York newspaper has pursued the AP’s findings.

Recently, there’s been a lot of talk about the need to establish an independent commission with subpoena power to investigate what some call the NYPD’s “culture of corruption.”

But none of the talk has concerned a more pernicious problem: the department’s secret spying and its alliance with the CIA.

Under Kelly, this alliance began in January 2002, four months after 9/11, with the hiring of David Cohen, a former high-ranking CIA official, to head the NYPD’s revamped Intelligence Division.

Next came the CIA’s Larry Sanchez, who became an Assistant NYPD Commissioner in the Intelligence Division and orchestrated the Muslim spying operation.

This spying apparently led to the conclusions contained in a 2007 NYPD report, “Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat.” (See NYPD Confidential column of Aug. 20, 2007.)

The 90-page report, with 143 footnotes, concluded that homegrown terrorists posed a greater threat to New York City than Al Qaeda overseas.

“The city’s Muslim communities have been permeated by extremists who have and continue to sow the seeds of radicalization,” the report said. “Radicalization is indiscriminate and those attracted to it include New York City citizens from all walks of life.”

Sanchez, meanwhile, before the Senate’s Committee on Homeland Security in 2007 said that “rather than just protecting New York City citizens from terrorists, the NYPD believes that part of its mission is to protect New York citizens from turning into terrorists.”

Then came psychiatrist Marc Sageman, a former CIA case officer in Pakistan, who in 2008 became the NYPD’s touted “scholar in residence.”

To pay his salary for the year, the department told the AP that it used funds from a “a private foundation.”

In fact, the money came from a secret foundation the NYPD had created in 2006 called the “NYPD Counter-Terrorism Foundation.”

Its president was Stephen Hammerman, then the department’s Deputy Commissioner for Legal Affairs.

Its secretary was Kelly’s Chief of Staff Joe Wuench. [See NYPD Confidential column of November 7, 2011: “The NYPD’s ‘Privately’ Funded War on Terrorism.”]

The foundation raised $295,000 and paid Sageman $180,000. The public does not know who its donors are and the foundation has not specifically accounted for the remaining $115,000. Kelly has never acknowledged the foundation’s existence.

Sanchez left the NYPD last year. Another CIA agent replaced him. In deference to the CIA’s wishes, NYPD Confidential is withholding his name. The NYPD has never acknowledged his appointment.

Read the rest of the article by clicking here.