Saturday, February 25, 2012

Friday, February 24, 2012

Bruce Lawrence quote about Muslim participation in a "polyvalent kaleidoculture" in America

In the aftermath of September 11, it is even more important, though also much harder, to remain optimistic about a polyvalent kaleidoculture in the twenty-first-century United States. Arab Americans, and Asian Americans who seem to resemble Arab Muslims or who are elided with them, have been targeted as possible suspects. Even when they cannot be directly linked to the crimes of September 11, law enforcement officials, following the lead of Attorney General John Ashcroft, suspect them of future crimes that may be planned but not yet carried out. [Read NYPD here]. It is a draconian policy, which the public in general seems to support, though responsible media have provided alternative, resistant perspectives.[38] [For example, the recent AP reporting.]
Alas, public backlash against the Asian Muslim Other will be slow to subside, even if foreign wars, in Afghanistan and elsewhere, are waged successfully. In fact, the very persistence of a propaganda war in tandem with a military campaign overseas ensures that a percentage of "patriotic" Americans will find unwitting accomplices at home to scapegoat as fifth column supporters of the foreign enemy. These perceptions are not only suspect; they also cut against the other American instinct, to trust that freedom of expression, including religious worship and loyalty, can be, and must be, maintained as part of the American dream. September 11 may have deferred, even complicated, Asian Muslim participation in a polyvalent kaleidoculture, but it remains a dream delayed, not erased.
-Bruce Lawrence, New Faiths, Old Fears: Muslims and Other Asian Immigrants in American Religious Life (2002), pg. 45

Haroon Moghul and others on Al-Jazeera​'s The Inside Story, Talking NYPD and the Muslim Community

Following the latest revelations, Keith Ellison, a Democrat congressman and a Muslim, told Al Jazeera:

"Law enforcement must be done in accordance with the constitution, that means just snooping and spying on people where there's no factual basis to believe that they're involved in any kind of criminal activity just because of what their religion is, is disturbing to me. The NYPD crossed a moral line… whether they crossed a legal one is yet to be determined.

"The basic theme of our constitution is that if you're not doing anything wrong, government is supposed to leave you alone. But if somebody… a Muslim, Christian, Jew, Hindu or anyone is doing something that looks like it's going to break the law, or is dangerous or harmful to others, then it is in fact the job of law enforcement to stop that."

So has the NYPD violated civil liberties by spying on Muslims? Should the US government investigate what has taken place?

To discuss this with presenter Lisa Fletcher on Inside Story Americas are: Sahar Aziz, a law professor at the Texas Wesleyan University School of Law and a former advisor for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at the US Department of Homeland Security; Sebastian Gorka, a national security analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies; and Haroon Moghul from the online magazine Religion Dispatches who has been working with Muslim groups in New York since these revelations were published.

We also invited representatives of the NYPD, the office of Michael Bloomberg, the New York mayor, and the US Department of Justice to appear on Al Jazeera, but they either declined or did not return our calls.

via Haroon

Glenn Greenwald on the NYPD spying program aimed at Muslims

Thursday, February 23, 2012

NYPD Confidential by Leonard Levitt

NYPD built secret files on NJ, Long Island mosques

The Leonard Lopate Show: Backstory: NYPD surveillance Tactics
Over the last 6 months, a series of Associated Press reports have revealed some of the tactics used by the New York City Police Department in their counterterrorism operations since 2001, including a human mapping program in some minority neighborhoods and infiltrating mosques and Muslim student groups. Associated Press reporters Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo, two members of the investigative team, discuss the series, which won the George Polk Award for Metropolitan Reporting earlier this week.

Read the series here.

Highlights of AP's probe into NYPD intelligence operations

Connecticut Muslim leaders condemn NYPD monitoring of Yale students

Adam Goldman: With cameras, informants, NYPD eyed mosques

via Chris Hawley

NYT: Bloomberg Defends Police’s Monitoring of Muslim Students on Web

"Monitoring of Muslim Students on Web" is of course not what the NYPD undercover surveillance has been limited to...

See for example more on the “investigation that showed the NYPD had built one of the largest domestic intelligence agencies in the country.” In particular, the “reporters documented how the NYPD assigned ‘rakers’ and ‘mosque crawlers’ to ethnic neighborhoods, infiltrating everything from booksellers and cafes to Muslim places of worship.”

It’s Time to Police the N.Y.P.D.

The Police Department is a different story. Unlike other major city agencies, it is exempt from the jurisdiction of the Department of Investigation, which investigates corruption, incompetence and unethical or other forms of misconduct. The Internal Affairs Bureau, which investigates allegations of corruption and misconduct, and the Civilian Complaint Review Board, which looks into complaints from the public about police mistreatment, focus on individual accusations of wrongdoing. The City Council has shown little interest in examining police counterterrorism or using its subpoena power to force disclosure of information, in part because some politicians are fearful of appearing soft on crime.

History shows that any attempt to oversee the police will be met with great resistance by the department and its political allies. But no agency is immune from mistakes. When the stakes are as high as they are in fighting terrorism, there must be a mechanism to identify excesses and wrongdoing.

We need an independent inspector general for the Police Department. Such an official would have seen the film scandal for what it is: not the error of one sergeant, but an indication that procedures for authorizing training materials are lacking. Oversight makes government stronger, not weaker.

In November, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg described the Police Department as “the seventh biggest army in the world.” Effective oversight of such a potent force is a necessity — not a luxury — for the country’s largest city.

Faiza Patel and Elizabeth Goitein direct the liberty and national security program at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law.

Letter from President John Sexton to NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly re: NYPD Surveillance

Guilty Until Proven Innocent: Law Enforcement, Media Stereotypes, and the Civil Rights of Arabs and Muslims in America

19 University Place, room 102
RSVP by 2/23 to, (212) 992-9653, or at
Featuring Faiza Patel (Brennan Center, NYU), Ramzi Kassem (CUNY Law), Moustafa Bayoumi (Brooklyn College), and Jack Shaheen (Distinguished Visiting Scholar, NYU) 
Moderated by Jack Tchen (Asian/Pacific/American Institute, NYU)
Inspired by the NYPD’s admission to have used the inflammatory film “The Third Jihad” in training its officers, this panel discussion will give the story behind this discovery and detail the legal work it took to bring the information to public light.  Panelists will also critique the film (and other media that capitalize on problematic stereotypes) whilst reflecting on the decay of civil rights in America for Arabs, Muslims, and other groups. 
The A is for Arab: Stereotypes in U.S. Popular Culture traveling exhibition (culled from the Jack G. Shaheen Archive)  will be on display prior to and following the event.  
Sponsored by the Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies with the Asian/Pacific American Institute and the Brennan Center, New York University

via Camilo

Haroon Moghul: How the Logic of Law Enforcement Leads to Spying on Muslims

Sunday, February 19, 2012

On the Exaggerated Threat of Terrorism

There is legitimate concern over future terrorism, but there is also plenty of reason to be skeptical of the claim of widespread terrorist sympathies in the United States. The Justice Department's own internal investigator basically stated as much. In a report released in February 2007, the Department of Justice's inspector general sharply criticized the FBI and other branches of the department for the gross inaccuracies it found in its reporting of terrorism statistics as well as the far too frequent overstatements made regarding terrorism-related cases. (See "The Department of Justice's Internal Controls Over Terrorism Reporting," U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General, Feb. 2007). A few months earlier, New York University's Law and Society Program reached very similar findings. They also cataloged the Justice Department's claim of fighting terrorism and, after their thorough investigation, found that there are in fact "few, if any, prevalent terrorist threats currently within the U.S." ("Terrorist Trial Report Card, US Edition," New York University Center of Law and Security, Dec. 2006, p. 3). The Washington Post had deduced the same thing previously, that the vast majority of prosecution that are loudly touted as "terrorism-related" are in reality relatively mundane matters of immigration violations, credit-card fraud, or lying to a government official. (Dan Eggen and Julie Tate, "U.S. Campaign Produces Few Convictions on Terrorism Charges: Statistics Often Count Lesser Crimes," Washington Post, June 12, 2005.) The inflation of these figures clearly serves other ends, as political gain is being made on the backs of U.S. Muslims. David Cole and James Lobel have argued that virtually all of those who in fact have been convicted of "material support" for terrorism in the United States (around fifty people) have been convicted of "a crime that requires no proof that the defendant ever intended to further a terrorist act." Cole and Lobel also point out that "prosecutors have obtained a handful of convictions for conspiracy to engage in terrorism, [yet] several of those convictions rest of extremely broad statutes that don't require proof of any specific plan or act, or on questionable entrapment tactics by government informants." David Cole and James Lobel, "Why We're Losing the War on Terror," Nation, Sept. 24, 2007.
-pg. 288-239, fn. 267 of Moustafa Bayoumi's excellent How Does It Feel to be a Problem?