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.