The New York City Police Department’s indefensible program of spying on law-abiding Muslims in their neighborhoods and houses of worship has turned out to be even more aggressive than earlier reports had shown.
According to a recent Associated Press report by Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo, the surveillance operation designated at least a dozen mosques as terrorist organizations. The designation was used to justify open-ended “terrorism enterprise investigations,” circumventing court-imposed limitations on police investigations of constitutionally protected activities. The report is based largely on leaked police documents and interviews; though most of the documents date back a few years, recent court filings suggest such activities are continuing.
In a move reminiscent of discredited police efforts in the 1960s and 1970s to spy on black activists and antiwar protesters, attempts were made to plant informants on the boards of mosques and a prominent Arab-American group in Brooklyn that helps new immigrants.
Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, Chris Hawley and Eileen Sullivan of The Associated Press today were named winners of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting for their months-long series outlining the New York Police Department’s surveillance of minority and particularly Muslim neighborhoods since the 9/11 terror attacks.
In addition, the AP had finalists in two other Pulitzer categories, Feature Photography and National Reporting.
The Pulitzer Prizes are the most prestigious honors in journalism.
The NYPD stories revealed that the department had become one of the nation’s most aggressive domestic intelligence agencies, sending undercover officers into minority neighborhoods, student groups and houses of worship, though there was no indication they harbored criminals or terrorists.
In documenting the extent of the NYPD’s undercover operations, conducted with the advice and guidance of the CIA, the AP team’s stories ignited ongoing debate in the halls of government, in the ethnic communities, on editorial pages and across the Web.