Rep. Peter King Urges Donald Trump To Create A Federal Muslim Surveillance Program

NEW YORK ― Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) is encouraging Donald Trump to create a federal Muslim surveillance program that’s modeled after New York City’s failed and likely unconstitutional program.

“The main issues I discussed were what we have to do to have the Justice Department and the FBI be more leaning-forward when it comes to investigating Islamic terrorism,” King told reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower in Manhattan after meeting with the president-elect on Thursday.

 

 

U.S. to Expand Rules Limiting Use of Profiling by Federal Agents

January 16, 2014

 

The Justice Department will significantly expand its definition of racial profiling to prohibit federal agents from considering religion, national origin, gender and sexual orientation in their investigations, a government official said Wednesday.

The move addresses a decade of criticism from civil rights groups that say federal authorities have in particular singled out Muslims in counterterrorism investigations and Latinos for immigration investigations.

The Bush administration banned profiling in 2003, but with two caveats: It did not apply to national security cases, and it covered only race, not religion, ancestry or other factors.
Since taking office, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has been under pressure from Democrats in Congress to eliminate those provisions. “These exceptions are a license to profile American Muslims and Hispanic-Americans,” Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, said in 2012.

It is not clear whether Mr. Holder also intends to make the rules apply to national security investigations, which would further respond to complaints from Muslim groups.

“Adding religion and national origin is huge,” said Linda Sarsour, advocacy director for the National Network for Arab American Communities. “But if they don’t close the national security loophole, then it’s really irrelevant.” Ms. Sarsour said she also hoped that Mr. Holder would declare that surveillance, not just traffic stops and arrests, was prohibited based on religion.

While the rules directly control only federal law enforcement activities, their indirect effect is much broader, said Fahd Ahmed, the legal director of the Queens-based South Asian immigrant advocacy group Desis Rising Up and Moving. For instance, he said, immigration bills in Congress have copied the Justice Department profiling language. And civil rights groups can use the rules to pressure state and local agencies to change their policies. “Federal guidelines definitely have an impact,” Mr. Ahmed said. “Local organizers can say, ‘These policies are not in line with what’s coming from the federal level.’ ”
NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/16/us/politics/us-to-expand-rules-limiting-use-of-profiling-by-federal-agents.html?_r=0

Norwalk supports mosque after lawsuit, fed inquiry

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — When Norwalk received a proposal to build the city’s first mosque, it was rejected by officials who said the structure was too big for the largely residential area and would create too much traffic.

The applicants filed a federal lawsuit alleging religious discrimination and the U.S. Justice Department, which has been intervening in mosque projects around the country, launched an inquiry into the handling of the proposal.

Now, the city is moving to settle the lawsuit and support a version of the closely watched project. Norwalk officials say religion was never part of their considerations.

‘‘It was not based on any religious bias,’’ Mayor Richard Moccia said. ‘‘I can’t recall any zoning officer or any city official ever commenting that it happened to be a mosque and that’s the reason they were opposing it.’’

Moccia said the Justice Department wrote about two months ago, seeking information such as minutes of a zoning hearing on the project. He said the city responded and has not heard back from federal officials.

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment.

The Al Madany Islamic Center of Norwalk sued in June after the Zoning Commission rejected the $3.5 million project. On Nov. 29, the Zoning Commission voted to approve the mosque, subject to an agreement on the terms and conditions of a final settlement.

‘‘We are absolutely glad to see this,’’ said Mongi Dhaouadi, executive director of the Connecticut chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. ‘‘We’re going to let the process play itself out and hopefully we’ll celebrate at the end as a whole community in Norwalk.’’

While Muslims comprise about 1 percent of the American population, 14 percent of the religious land use investigations by the Justice Department’s civil rights division in the past decade involved mosques or Muslim schools, according to a report last year.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the division has opened 28 matters involving construction of Muslim religious institutions.

‘‘Of those, 18 have been opened since May 2010, suggesting that anti-Muslim bias in zoning is on the rise,’’ the report stated.

Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, blamed the spike in cases on controversy stemming from a proposed mosque near the site of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in New York. He said an opponent of that project wrote a manual on how to stop mosques

Citizen Held After 9/11 Wins Right to Be Tried

A federal judge in Idaho has ruled that the United States, after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, wrongly imprisoned an American under a law designed to keep trial witnesses from fleeing and that since there was evidence that the government may have willfully misused the law against him, his case should go to trial.

Judge Edward J. Lodge, who was appointed by President George Bush, issued his rulings late on Thursday in the longstanding case of Abdullah al-Kidd, an American who was seized at an airport in 2003, imprisoned for 16 days, repeatedly strip-searched and left naked in his cell. The Justice Department had sought to have his trial request summarily dismissed and denied having misused the law in detaining him.

Mr. Kidd’s lawyer, Lee Gelernt of the American Civil Liberties Union, welcomed the ruling, saying, “It will finally put the government on trial for its post-Sept. 11 practices.”

A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment. The department could appeal the decision or seek a settlement with Mr. Kidd.

Judge Lodge’s ruling affirms a June decision by United States Magistrate Mikel Williams that stated: “The circumstantial evidence supports the inference that al-Kidd may have been detained for reasons in addition to securing his testimony at trial.”

Magistrate Williams, who granted the Federal Bureau of Investigation the warrant to arrest Mr. Kidd while he was at Dulles Airport outside Washington on his way to Saudi Arabia in 2003, also said that the information given to him to justify the arrest was misleading. He was told that Mr. Kidd had a first-class one-way ticket and had received more than $20,000 from Mr. Hussayen. In fact, Mr. Kidd had an economy-class round-trip ticket, and the payment was salary for work he had done for Mr. Hussayen’s company.

In addition, the F.B.I. agent failed to mention that Mr. Kidd was a citizen, born and raised here, that his wife and son and many family members were in the United States and that he had never failed to cooperate with the F.B.I. Mr. Kidd was on his way to Saudi Arabia to work on his doctorate in Islamic studies, not to escape trial testimony.

Texas Man Is Accused of Threatening Tennessee Mosque

A Texas man was indicted Thursday, accused of threatening to use violence to stop construction of a mosque that for two years has divided the community of Murfreesboro, Tenn., and has become a national barometer of anti-Muslim sentiment. The United States Justice Department said the indictment was an aggressive stance in support of religious freedom and was intended as a warning to people who might resort to violence and other illegal activity to prevent the mosque or any other religious institution to operate.

“What we’re hoping is that this sends a very strong message to any would-be individual who would threaten a mosque or take an action that would result in an individual’s constitutional rights being violated,” United States Attorney Jerry Martin said Thursday afternoon.

A federal grand jury indicted Javier A. Correa, 24, of Corpus Christi, Tex., accusing him of violating the civil rights of members of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro in connection with a long, threatening message he is said to have left on the center’s phone last September.

The Justice Department has been investigating threats and violence against the Islamic community in Murfreesboro, which is about a half-hour southeast of Nashville, for almost two years. Leaders of the congregation have been building a 12,000-square-foot mosque and community center, hoping to open it before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins at the end of July.

Since the project began, the site has been repeatedly vandalized, construction equipment has been set on fire and residents have tried to block the project in court. The F.B.I. and other federal agencies are investigating a 2010 fire as a possible hate crime.

Justice Dept. in beginning stage of reviewing complaints about NYPD surveillance of Muslims

WASHINGTON — Months after receiving complaints about the New York Police Department’s surveillance of entire American Muslim neighborhoods, the Justice Department is just beginning a review to decide whether to investigate civil rights violations.

Attorney General Eric Holder told Congress the status of the review Tuesday.

The announcement bothered some Democrats, who said they were under the impression the Justice Department had been reviewing the matter since last late last year.

Holder told Congress that police seeking to monitor activities by citizens “should only do so when there is a basis to believe that something inappropriate is occurring or potentially could occur.”

Holder responded under questioning by Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif., who as an infant was sent with his parents to a Japanese internment camp during World War II and has compared that policy to the NYPD’s treatment of Muslims. The attorney general was on Capitol Hill to discuss the Justice Department’s federal budget.

Justice Department Backs Building of Tennessee Mosque

The Obama administration warns local officials that opposing the construction of an Islamic center could infringe the civil rights of its members. The construction site has already been the target of arson damage. For the second time in two months, the Obama administration has interjected itself into a dispute over a proposed Islamic center, warning local officials that opposing the mosque could violate the civil rights of its members.

The Justice Department filed court papers Monday in support of construction of a Murfreesboro, Tenn., mosque, saying local Muslims were protected by the 1st Amendment right to free exercise of religion and disputing opponents’ claims that Islam is not a valid religion.

US appeals court dismisses Canadian Maher Arar’s lawsuit

Maher Arar cannot sue the United States after being mistaken for a terrorist when he was changing planes in New York a year after the 2001 terrorist attacks, a federal appeals court ruled Monday. The judges of the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals voted 7-4 to uphold a decision by a lower court judge dismissing a lawsuit brought by Maher Arar, a Syrian-born man who was detained as he tried to switch planes in 2002.

Arar sued the US government and top Justice Department officials, saying the United States purposely sent him to Syria to be tortured days after he was picked up at John F. Kennedy International Airport on a false tip from Canada that he had ties to Islamic extremists. The lawsuit said Arar was allowed to see a lawyer only once despite his repeated efforts to receive representation. Syria has denied he was tortured. The Canadian government agreed to pay him almost $10 million after acknowledging it had passed bad information to U.S. authorities.

CAIR Calls New FBI Profiling Policy ‘Un-American’

CAIR termed a proposed Justice Department policy change that would allow the FBI to investigate Americans without evidence of wrongdoing, unconstitutional and un-American, adding that the policy would permit religious and ethnic profiling. The new guidelines, which are expected to be implemented later this summer, the FBI would be permitted to use race and ethnicity when considering investigations. “Any new Justice Department guidelines must preserve the presumption of innocence that is the basis of our entire legal system,” said CAIR National Legislative Director Corey Saylor. “Initiating criminal investigations based on racial or religious profiling is both unconstitutional and un-American.” Saylor added that on previous occasions, even President Bush has denounced such profiling.

Weak case seen in failed trial of charity; Muslim relief group was shut based on charges that ended in mistrial.

While the U.S. Justice Department ponders how it will retry its troubled terrorism finance case against a now- defunct Muslim charity, debris from the recent mistrial here shows signs of piling up at the White House doorstep. The nation’s biggest terrorism finance case ended so badly for the government that it has thrown into question the Bush administration’s original order to shut down the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development six years ago. Back then, President Bush accused the charity of aiding Palestinian terrorists. But similar allegations presented by federal prosecutors during the two-month trial in the president’s home state fell dramatically short of convincing a Texas jury…