NYPD Has Changed ‘Nothing’ About Muslim Spying Program

New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly says that the city has changed nothing about it's controversial program to spy in Muslims communities.

By Seth Freed Wessler Apr 08, 2013

The New York Police Department has changed nothing in its controversial program to surveil Muslim communities in New York and surrounding states. That’s according to New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly in an interview with the Wall Street Journal published on Friday.

Reports the Journal:

Media reports have suggested that his department unfairly monitors the Muslim community–the Associated Press ran a Pulitzer Prize-winning series on that score in 2011. Asked what he has changed about the NYPD’s surveillance methods in the wake of those stories, Mr. Kelly says: "Nothing."

Nearly two years after the AP broke news that the NYPD sent members of it’s 1000 agent counter-terrorism team to spy on Muslim student groups, pre-schools, mosques and businesses, Muslim New Yorkers have wondered if the program has changed. Kelly says it has not.

The city is currently facing several lawsuits claiming the practices violate constitutional rights and Attorney General Eric Holder said in 2011 that the DOJ planned to look into the program, though that investigation appears to have evaporated, according to Mother Jones.

report released last month by a group of civil rights advocates revealed that the spying program sent waves of fear through Muslim communities and led some to avoid mosques and Muslim student organizations.

The city justifies the program by claiming police only follow legitimate leads, but in recent testimony, an NYPD officer formerly in charge of the spying program admitted it has not uncovered to a single bona fide terrorism plot.

"I never made a lead from the rhetoric that came from a Demographics report, and I’m here since 2006," Assistant Chief Thomas Galati said.

Kelly has claimed that the NYPD has helped thwart at least fourteen planned terrorism attacks since 2011, but my reporting and later reporting by ProPublica revealed that the NYPD overstated these achievements. In many cases the city relies on informants to convince vulnerable young men to take part in terrorism plots that did not exist prior to the informant’s involvement. Critics call the tactic entrapment.

In the Journal interview, Kelly suggests the police continue to employ the informant tactics in terrorism investigations.

"There are other investigations of young people like this that are ongoing right now," Kelly told the Journal, referencing a recent informant-based case.