The AP reports the New York Police Department (NYPD) has labeled entire mosques as terrorist organizations.
According to the report, the NYPD has opened at least a dozen terrorism enterprise investigations (TEIs) into mosques since 9/11. This tactic allows it to investigate and monitor anyone who attends prayer services.
Many TEIs last for years, according to the story, even though the NYPD has yet to criminally charge a mosque or Islamic organization with operating as a terrorist enterprise.
It gets deeper.
According to the AP, the NYPD has also sought to infiltrate the boards of New York’s Islamic institutions to “fill intelligence gaps.” At one point, it also wanted to put people in leadership positions at mosques and other organizations, including the Arab American Association of New York.
To secure these broad-based powers, the NYPD – in an effort led by former CIA executive and current NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence David Cohen – had to persuade a federal judge to change the rules regarding how police can monitor protected speech. As noted in the story, Cohen told the judge mosques could be used to “shield the work of terrorists from law enforcement scrutiny by taking advantage of restrictions on the investigation of First Amendment activity.” To deal with this, NYPD lawyers suggested the TEI program which would allow officers to monitor political or religious speech whenever “acts or circumstances reasonably indicate” multiple people were plotting terrorism or other violent crimes.
Apparently, even the FBI had problems with this. According to the story, it refused the NYPD’s request to bug a mosque, noting it would violate federal law. And, even after the FBI closed an investigation against a particular individual without charges, the NYPD spied on him at the mosque and beyond – including his wedding – for years after.
It’s ironic that so many police-state programs are permitted under “liberal” leaders like Mayor Bloomberg (who defended this behavior, by the way) and Barack Obama. Then again, the only irony is, despite their actions, such “leaders” are viewed as those who care most about the “little guy.”
Fortunately, however, the ACLU and two other groups are suing in response to this unconstitutional program. Let’s hope they put an end to this latest example of government abuse.