Friday, December 23, 2016

New York City's Muslim surveillance program yielded exactly zero leads over five years

Rep. Peter King (R-NY) spoke with the President-elect, encouraging him to go forward with the Muslim surveillance program that Trump talked about during the campaign.    King is touting, as a model for a federal program, the one that began after 9/11  in New York under  Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and ran for five years.   

King was dismissive of arguments that it might be unconstitutional, saying "we can't worry about "political correctness."  Instead, King saidthe NY program was highly effective in stopping terrorism.

But that is simply not true.   The Associated Press produced a series of Pulitzer-Prize winning reports on the Muslim surveillance program in 2011.   The New York Police Department had to acknowledge in a court hearing that the program had not produced a single lead that uncovered any terrorist activity.

A separate report from the City University of New York's Law School found that the program created "a pervasive climate of fear and suspicion, encroaching upon every aspect of [Muslims’] individual and community life.”    They also found that the program “severed the trust that should exist between the police department and the communities it is charged with protecting.”

New York City has been sued over the program both by the American Civil Liberties Union and by the Muslim Advocates and the Center for Constitutional Rights.  The settlement of one of the cases is still not completed.  However, the two basic questions have been settled -- whether such surveillance programs work (No) and whether they are permissible under the law (No).

Rep. King is just behind the times or, like so many of his colleagues, refusing to accept the truth.   It's like torture:  even with proof that it doesn't work and that it is not permissible, their fear demands it anyway.   In a rational world, that is not sufficient reason.

(Based on Christopher Mathias' reporting for the Huffington Post.)

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