Monday, July 8, 2013

Author Comments on ACLU lawsuit against NYPD's Counter Terrorism Policy

Officers from the NYPD's counterterrorism unit stand outside Yankee Stadium (Photo: © Reuters)

Last month the American Civil Liberties Union, acting with two Muslim civil rights groups on behalf of three New York Muslims and the associations they represent, filed suit against the New York Police Department and the City of New York for their “unlawful policy and practice of religious profiling and suspicionless surveillance of Muslim New Yorkers.”

Asra Nomani, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal and author of Standing Alone in Mecca: An American Woman’s Struggle for the Soul of Islam.  Writing for the Daily Beast last year, when news of the NYPD Muslim Surveillance program hit the headlines, she argued in favor of the project: “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.”

Moreover, she added, “The last 15 years of battling extremism in our Muslim community has revealed one truth: mosques 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.”

She couldn’t have been more on-target.  In fact, it is exactly the reasoning behind most ordinary criminal investigations of such a scale, as Patrick Dunleavy, former Deputy Inspector General for New York State Department of Corrections, observes, calling it “sound police practice with historical precedent.”

“When both the FBI and other other law enforcement agencies, including the NYPD, were investigating organized crime such as La Cosa Nostra, they focused on the Italian community,” he explained in an e-mail. “When police were investigating a violent organization called the Westies, who were responsible for a number of homicides in the 1970s, they infiltrated and surveilled the Irish community in the ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ section of New York. And when the country was flooded with cocaine in the 1980s, police set their sights on the Hispanic community, not for reasons of bias, but because the vast majority of the narcotic was coming from South America.”

That practice, he maintains, “produced legally admissible evidence” that not only produced successful prosecutions, but “prevented additional crimes from being committed."

...of the ACLU’s complaint itself.  (Dunleavy puts it most succinctly: “The complaint does not represent accurately what the NYPD is doing,” he said.)

Read the complete article by Abigail R Esman: