Ray Kelly: Things Falling Apart

How did Kelly’s policies manage to alienate the City Council, groups of Muslim-Americans and African-Americans, the New York Times, the FBI and even the Obama administration?

For the past 11 years, Kelly has been described as the most powerful and respected police commissioner in the history of New York City, whose anti-terrorism and crime-fighting policies have stopped 16 terrorist plots and resulted in record-low murders and shootings.

The police historian, Tom Reppetto, has said New Yorkers felt Kelly “stood between New York City and another terrorist attack.” NYU professor Mitchell Moss called Kelly “our secretary of defense, head of the CIA and … chief architect rolled into one.”

The confluence of its Stop and Frisk and its Muslim spying has brought together City Councilmen Brad Lander and Jumaane Williams – who have led the fight for an Inspector General — with Faiza Patel, an outspoken Muslim opponent of the NYPD’s spying who is affiliated with the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU. It was she who helped draft the City Council bill calling for an outside Inspector General.

How efficacious an Inspector General will be remains to be seen as he will be appointed by the Dept. of Investigation, an agency that in theory fights corruption but in reality protects the mayor from it.

Kelly has refused to acknowledge missteps on either Stop and Frisk or on the NYPD’s Muslim spying.

Last week he promoted to three-star chief status both Thomas Galati, the commanding officer of the Intelligence Division, and James Waters, the commanding officer of the Counter-Terrorism Bureau, to which detectives on the Joint Terrorist Task Force report.

 

Civil rights groups sue NYPD over Muslim spying

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Police Department’s widespread spying programs directed at Muslims have undermined free worship by innocent people and should be declared unconstitutional, religious leaders and civil rights advocates said Tuesday after the filing of a federal lawsuit.

“Our mosque should be an open, religious, a spiritual sanctuary, but NYPD spying has turned it into a place of suspicion and censorship,” Hamid Hassan Raza, an imam named as a plaintiff, told a rally outside police headquarters shortly after the suit was filed in federal court in Manhattan.

The suit asks a judge to order the nation’s largest police department to stop its surveillance and destroy any related records. It’s the third significant legal action filed against the NYPD’s Muslim surveillance program since details of the program were revealed in a series of Associated Press reports starting in 2011.

The lawsuit said Muslim religious leaders in New York have modified their sermons and other behavior so as not to draw additional police attention. The suit was filed against Mayor Michael Bloomberg, police commissioner Raymond Kelly and the deputy commissioner of intelligence, David Cohen.

 

The NYPD did not immediately respond to a phone call and email asking for comment.

New York City’s law department said police intelligence-gathering tactics in Muslim communities is legal and critical to combating terrorism.

The lawsuit is the latest legal challenge to the activities of the NYPD Intelligence Division. A year ago, the California-based civil rights organization Muslim Advocates sued the NYPD over its counterterrorism programs. This year, civil rights lawyers urged a judge to stop the NYPD from routinely observing Muslims in restaurants, bookstores and mosques, saying the practice violates a landmark 1985 court settlement that restricted the kind of surveillance used against war protesters in the 1960s and ’70s.

The lawsuit describes a pattern of NYPD spying directed at Muslims in New York since the 2001 terrorist attacks.

CLEAR Project Issues Report on Impact of NYPD Surveillance on American Muslims

mapping muslimsMarch 11, 2013 – American Muslim civil liberties groups released a new report today, Mapping Muslims: NYPD Spying and Its Impact on American Muslims, documenting the devastating impacts of the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) extensive surveillance program that targeted American Muslims throughout the Northeast and spread outrage throughout the nation.

Since 2002, the NYPD embarked on a covert domestic surveillance program that monitored American Muslims throughout the Northeast, from spying on neighborhood cafes and places of worship to infiltrating student whitewater-rafting trips – a program that continued despite the NYPD’s own acknowledgment that, over the course of six years, these efforts had not generated a single lead. The report is an unprecedented collection of voices from affected community members reflecting how the NYPD spying and infiltration creates a pervasive climate of fear and suspicion that encroaches upon every aspect of their religious, political, and community lives.

The report was prepared by the Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition, and its partner organizations the Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility (CLEAR) project at Main Street Legal Services, Inc. of the CUNY School of Law, and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF). American Muslim community members delivered the report to NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly and Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence David Cohen today at 1 Police Plaza.

Mapping-Muslims.pdf

NYPD asks federal court to dismiss lawsuit filed by New Jersey Muslims to halt spying program

NEWARK, N.J. — Lawyers for New York City on Friday asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by New Jersey Muslims over its police-run surveillance program.

The lawsuit doesn’t prove its claims that the New York Police Department’s intelligence-gathering activities were unconstitutional, that they harmed the plaintiffs or that they focused on people based on religion, national origin or race, a city attorney wrote in a filing released Friday.

The plaintiffs, which include Muslim individuals and organizations, filed the lawsuit in June. It was the first lawsuit to directly challenge the NYPD’s surveillance programs that targeted entire Muslim neighborhoods, chronicling the daily life of where people ate, prayed and got their hair cut.

The surveillance was the subject of series of stories by The Associated Press that revealed the NYPD intelligence division infiltrated dozens of mosques and Muslim student groups and investigated hundreds of people.

The city’s request for dismissal repeatedly refers to the AP’s stories and documents it published. The city argued that if the plaintiffs suffered any adverse consequences from publicity about their names, businesses or places of worship, it was the AP’s act of publishing confidential materials that caused them harm.

AP Exclusive: Informant says NYPD paid him to ‘bait’ Muslims, take photos inside mosques

NEW YORK — A paid informant for the New York Police Department’s intelligence unit was under orders to “bait” Muslims into saying inflammatory things as he lived a double life, snapping pictures inside mosques and collecting the names of innocent people attending study groups on Islam, he told The Associated Press.

Shamiur Rahman, a 19-year-old American of Bangladeshi descent who has now denounced his work as an informant, said police told him to embrace a strategy called “create and capture.” He said it involved creating a conversation about jihad or terrorism, then capturing the response to send to the NYPD. For his work, he earned as much as $1,000 a month and goodwill from the police after a string of minor marijuana arrests.

“We need you to pretend to be one of them,” Rahman recalled the police telling him. “It’s street theater.”

Rahman said he now believes his work as an informant against Muslims in New York was “detrimental to the Constitution.” After he disclosed to friends details about his work for the police — and after he told the police that he had been contacted by the AP — he stopped receiving text messages from his NYPD handler, “Steve,” and his handler’s NYPD phone number was disconnected.

Rahman’s account shows how the NYPD unleashed informants on Muslim neighborhoods, often without specific targets or criminal leads. Much of what Rahman said represents a tactic the NYPD has denied using.

The AP corroborated Rahman’s account through arrest records and weeks of text messages between Rahman and his police handler. The AP also reviewed the photos Rahman sent to police. Friends confirmed Rahman was at certain events when he said he was there, and former NYPD officials, while not personally familiar with Rahman, said the tactics he described were used by informants.

Rahman said he eventually tired of spying on his friends, noting that at times they delivered food to needy Muslim families. He said he once identified another NYPD informant spying on him. He took $200 more from the NYPD and told them he was done as an informant. He said the NYPD offered him more money, which he declined. He told friends on Facebook in early October that he had been a police spy but had quit. He also traded Facebook messages with Shahbaz, admitting he had spied on students at John Jay.

NYPD official: Muslim spying by secret Demographics Unit generated no leads, terrorism cases

NEW YORK — In more than six years of spying on Muslim neighborhoods, eavesdropping on conversations and cataloguing mosques, the New York Police Department’s secret Demographics Unit never generated a lead or triggered a terrorism investigation, the department acknowledged in court testimony unsealed late Monday.

The Demographics Unit is at the heart of a police spying program, built with help from the CIA, which assembled databases on where Muslims lived, shopped, worked and prayed. Police infiltrated Muslim student groups, put informants in mosques, monitored sermons and catalogued every Muslim in New York who adopted new, Americanized surnames.

Civil rights lawyers believe the Demographics Unit violated those rules. Documents obtained by the AP show the unit conducted operations outside its jurisdiction, including in New Jersey. The FBI there said those operations damaged its partnerships with Muslims and jeopardized national security.

After the AP began reporting on the Demographics Unit, the department’s former senior analyst, Mitchell Silber, said the unit provided the tip that ultimately led to a case against a bookstore clerk who was convicted of plotting to bomb the Herald Square subway station in Manhattan. Galati testified that he could find no evidence of that.

Attorney Jethro Eisenstein, who filed the Handschu case more than 40 years ago and questioned Galati during the deposition, said he will go back to court soon to ask that the Demographics Unit be shut down. It operates today under a new name, the Zone Assessment Unit. It recently stopped operating out of state, Galati said.

“This is a terribly pernicious set of policies,” Eisenstein said. “No other group since the Japanese Americans in World War II has been subjected to this kind of widespread public policy.”

Dozens of members of Congress have asked the Justice Department to investigate the NYPD. Attorney General Eric Holder has said he was disturbed by the reports. But John Brennan, President Barack Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser, has said he is confident the NYPD’s activities are lawful and have kept the city safe.

FBI Muslim spying vs. personal liberties

A federal judge Tuesday threw out a lawsuit filed against the U.S. government and the FBI over the agency’s spying on Orange County Muslims, ruling that allowing the suit to go forward would risk divulging sensitive state secrets.

Times court reporter Victoria Kim will join L.A. Now Live for a web chat at 9 a.m. to discuss the class-action lawsuit, which was brought by a group of Orange County Muslims who contended their constitutional rights were trampled when the FBI sent an undercover informant into their midst to illegally spy on them.

Comparing himself to Odysseus navigating the waters between a six-headed monster and a deadly whirlpool, U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney wrote that “the state secrets privilege may unfortunately mean the sacrifice of individual liberties for the sake of national security.”

The judge said he reached the decision reluctantly after reviewing confidential declarations filed by top FBI officials, and he was convinced the operation in question involved “intelligence that, if disclosed, would significantly compromise national security.”

Carney allowed the suit to stand against individual FBI agents and supervisors on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act-related claims.

Confused 911 caller blows lid on NYPD spying operation in NJ: ‘There’s pictures of terrorists’

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — It’s an audiotape the New York Police Department hoped you would never hear.
A building superintendent at an apartment complex just off the Rutgers University campus called the New Brunswick Police 911 line in June 2009. He said his staff had been conducting a routine inspection and came across something suspicious.
The caller, Salil Sheth, had stumbled upon one of the NYPD’s biggest secrets: a safe house, a place where undercover officers working well outside the department’s jurisdiction could lie low and coordinate surveillance. Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, the NYPD, with training and guidance from the CIA, has monitored the activities of Muslims in New York and far beyond. Detectives infiltrated mosques, eavesdropped in cafes and kept tabs on Muslim student groups, including at Rutgers.
The call sent New Brunswick police and the FBI rushing to the apartment complex. Officers and agents were surprised at what they found. None had been told that the NYPD was in town.
At the NYPD, the bungled operation was an embarrassment. It made the department look amateurish and forced it to ask the FBI to return the department’s materials.
The emails highlight the sometimes convoluted arguments the NYPD has used to justify its out-of-state activities, which have been criticized by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and some members of Congress. The NYPD has infiltrated and photographed Muslim businesses and mosques in New Jersey, monitored the Internet postings of Muslim college students across the Northeast and traveled as far away as New Orleans to infiltrate and build files on liberal advocacy groups.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has defended the police department’s right to go anywhere in the country in search of terrorists without telling local police. And New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa has said he’s seen no evidence that the NYPD’s efforts violated his state’s laws.
Muslim groups, however, have sued to shut down the NYPD programs. Civil rights lawyers have asked a federal judge to decide whether the spying violates federal rules that were set up to prevent a repeat of NYPD abuses of the 1950s, when police Red Squads spied on student groups and activists in search of communists.

How America Is Fueling Radicalization of Muslims and How to Reverse It

Whether it be drone strikes, Quran burnings, machine-gunning Afghan villagers, or spying on Muslim students in East Coast colleges, we seem to be quite ingenious in fueling the radicalization of Muslims. Unfortunately, we are interested in the opposite. As an American with an international background, hoping to serve my country in the Foreign Service, it is beyond frustrating that we can’t get radicalization right.

Our government’s strategy remains primarily military driven, perhaps best captured through this administration’s beloved drone strike program. Although we have taken out key militants, drone strikes also kill innocent civilians — something that violent extremists always highlight in their recruiting propaganda. Even when it comes to providing “development aid,” a disproportionate amount goes to corrupt militaries that hinder the progress of democracy and civilian rule. We see this in the examples of Pakistan, Yemen, and more famously today, Egypt.

New Jersey Muslims file federal suit to stop New York Police Department from spying on them

WASHINGTON — One of the Obama administration’s go-to civil rights groups in its efforts to build relationships with American Muslims is suing the New York Police Department over its surveillance programs, some of which were paid for with federal money.

Eight Muslims filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday in New Jersey to force the NYPD to end its surveillance and other intelligence-gathering practices targeting Muslims in the years after the 2001 terrorist attacks. The lawsuit alleged that the NYPD’s activities were unconstitutional because they focused on people’s religion, national origin and race.

It is the first lawsuit to directly challenge the NYPD’s surveillance programs that targeted entire Muslim neighborhoods, chronicling the daily life of where people ate, prayed and got their hair cut. The surveillance was the subject of series of stories by The Associated Press that revealed the NYPD intelligence division infiltrated dozens of mosques and Muslim student groups and investigated hundreds.

The Muslims suing the NYPD are represented by Muslim Advocates, a California-based civil rights group that meets regularly with members of the Obama administration.