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Monday, March 5, 2012

Federal Courts Can't Remain Silent on Civil Rights Abuse of Federal Law

Surveillance, Security and Civil Liberties
The New York Times  -  EDITORIAL  -  March 3, 2012

Taking office not long after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly wisely decided to beef up the Police Department’s counterterrorism program significantly, to help federal law enforcement agencies avert another disaster.  Unfortunately, they did not provide for sufficiently strong supervision of this formidable and far-flung intelligence operation — to check the well-known tendency of all such agencies, operating in secrecy and under murky rules, to abuse their powers. It appears that many thousands of law-abiding Muslim-Americans have paid a real price for that omission. A series of articles by The Associated Press has exposed constitutionally suspect surveillance of Muslims in New York, New Jersey, Long Island and beyond. Unearthed police records noticeably lack any apparent link to suspected criminal activity, or any obvious payoff for public safety.  In particular, the A.P. reports revealed widespread police spying and the creation of police records containing information on Muslim people, mosques and campus groups, as well as luncheonettes, dollar stores and other legitimate businesses owned and frequented by Muslims, with no apparent reason to think anything wrong was going on.  In mid-February, The A.P. disclosed that police officers systematically monitored the Web sites and blogs of Muslim student groups at N.Y.U., Columbia, Yale, Rutgers and a dozen other colleges. Documents show that an undercover agent accompanied 18 Muslim students from City College on a whitewater rafting trip in 2008. Dossier entries noted vital national security information — like the number of times they prayed.

Last week, The A.P. reported that plainclothes officers from the department’s euphemistically named Demographic Unit fanned out across Newark in 2007, snapping pictures of mosques and Muslim-owned businesses, listening to conversations, and gathering information about the makeup of mosque worshipers for an eerie 60-page internal police report stamped “NYPD Secret.” Similar reports were prepared on other Muslim neighborhoods.  Newark’s mayor, Cory Booker, and the president of Rutgers University, Richard McCormick, have spoken out movingly about the wounds inflicted by these activities. Muslims in Newark and at Rutgers, they said, have become reluctant to pray openly at mosques, join in faith-based groups, or frequent Muslim hangouts for fear of being watched and possibly tarred by “guilt by association.”  It is a distressing fact of life that mistreatment of Muslims does not draw nearly the protest that it should. But not just Muslims are threatened by this seemingly excessive warrantless surveillance and record-keeping. Today Muslims are the target. In the past it was protesters against the Vietnam War, civil rights activists, socialists. Tomorrow it will be another vulnerable group whose lawful behavior is blended into criminal activity.  Mr. Bloomberg has reacted in the worst possible way — with disdain — to those raising legitimate questions about the surveillance program. Asking about its legality, and about whether alienating innocent Muslims is a smart or decent strategy, does not translate into being soft on terrorism, or failing to appreciate that it is a dangerous world.  The mayor insists that the actions reported by The A.P. were “legal,” “appropriate” and “constitutional.” He also says the police were only “following leads.” But he has yet to explain what sort of leads, why they justify police surveillance of so many Muslims, or whether the type of surveillance depicted in the news reports continues. Under a federal court decree, it is permissible to collect information from public sources. But going to public places apparently selected on the basis of religion and recording information having nothing to do with terrorism — including religious and political views expressed in mosques and campus gatherings — is another matter.  Officials like Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Senator Charles Schumer and the City Council speaker, Christine Quinn, should be urging the Police Department to be less grudging about supplying information that would aid public understanding, instead of racing to give the police a pass.  We welcome last week’s statement by Attorney General Eric Holder that the Justice Department is beginning to review complaints about the N.Y.P.D.’s surveillance of Muslim and Arab communities to determine whether a full civil rights investigation is warranted. The review’s prompt completion should be a priority.  Meantime, we are wondering what happened to the Michael Bloomberg who stood up for fairness and religious freedom by backing a proposed Muslim community center near ground zero. We hope that mayor re-emerges soon to restore trust.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

OH, YES THEY CAN !

Anonymous said...

I am shocked that Eric Holder could be so slow in going after real civil rights abuse.

Anonymous said...

This isn't the only organization they have done this with. Does this mean that whenever they do something like this it's a violation of civil rights/

Anonymous said...

Having tremendous experience in Federal Ct, I will inform the public that the US FEDERAL CT SYSTEM is setup now to void the civil rights act of 1964 and 2010 and empower the Patriot Act and whatever else is attached to that violation of the constitution..in favor"s" for the Corporations and Governments of America!
Big money has a tremendous hold on American values and citizen movements.
The Muslims are not the only people that our Federal Cts are allowing to be ruined by our nosy,class destroying Government that spys on and abuses the unaware with their perversions, but everyone else that they perceive to be vulnerable are also heavily in their scope..and that includes minorities and female citizens of our alleged Democratic United States of America!
Federal Ct has little intention of addressing what Government has put in place..Bush or Obama.. the past 10 yrs.
These judges are power mongers with egos of monsters and pockets lined with corporations.
Black dresses need the American public to define their accountability..however that is chosen to be done and it must be done soon..Occupy to Enter.

Anonymous said...

Maybe if they were Black Muslims, Eric Holder would object. Some fool thought Schumer should be involved? He is. Civil rights in the Second Circuit are not for law abiding citizens, but are available for sale through the right connections. First, they came for us; now they come for the Muslims.

Anonymous said...

The federal courts will do nothing, since they don't want to get involved. They are part of the problem and therefore not part of the solution. The government should be ashamed of what has transpired.

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See Video of Senator John L. Sampson's 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption

The first hearing, held in Albany on June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:


               Video of 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption
               The June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:
         
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