CAIR calls for probe over New York police said to be targeting mosque sermons
A US Muslim civil liberties organisation has called for a federal investigation and Senate hearings into a report the CIA was helping New York City police gather intelligence from mosques and minority neighborhoods.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) suspects the joint CIA-police intelligence-gathering described in an Associated Press report violates the US Constitution, the US Privacy Act of 1974 and a presidential order banning the CIA from spying on Americans, CAIR attorney Gadeir Abbas said.
"This is hearing-worthy," Abbas said, requesting a Senate Intelligence Committee review as part of its oversight of the Central Intelligence Agency.
The AP report said undercover New York Police Department officers known as "rakers" were sent into minority neighborhoods to monitor bookstores, bars, cafes and nightclubs, and police used informants known as "mosque crawlers" to monitor sermons.
"The NYPD operates far outside its borders and targets ethnic communities in ways that would run afoul of civil liberties rules if practiced by the federal government," wrote the AP, which described the collaboration between the CIA and a US police department as unprecedented.
A police spokesman said "we don't apologise" for aggressive techniques developed since the September 11, 2001 attacks. He said those techniques have helped thwart 13 plots on the city.
"It [the AP report] shows that we're doing all we reasonably can to stop terrorists from killing even more New Yorkers," NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said in an email.
"We commit over a thousand officers to the fight every day to stop terrorists who've demonstrated an undiminished appetite to come back and kill more New Yorkers."
Browne added that the CIA does not direct the NYPD in any intelligence gathering activities. He confirmed that the department's intelligence chief previously worked at the CIA as head of both its analysis and operations divisions.
Referring to CAIR's assertion that the collaboration with the CIA might be illegal, Browne said, "They're wrong."
CAIR also called on the Justice Department to initiate an immediate investigation "of the civil rights implications of this spy program and the legality of its links to the CIA," said Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR's chief spokesman.
A spokesman for the Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In response to an inquiry about the CIA's dealings with the NYPD, a US government official told Reuters on condition of anonymity: "If anyone is suggesting that CIA is overstepping its legal bounds and spying on Americans, they are just plain wrong. Lawful interactions on counterterrorism make complete sense in today's world."
CAIR was preparing a formal request for Senate hearings and a Justice Department probe that it would send out in the coming days, Abbas said.
This is serious violation of civil liberty in USA. Now public confidence on US government will be in question globally if proper investigation and action is not taken against elements within the government who are imposing unlawful policies against minority Muslims in USA! World media has to talk loud and clear about equal Justice for all citizens regardless their faith to avoid any ugly clash of civilization! Then only harmony of peace and prosperity will prevail!