In response to an Associated Press article today, the ACLU and New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) are calling for a federal investigation into the reported use of White House funds by the New York Police Department for its religious and racial profiling activities. According to today’s report — the latest in an ongoing series of AP stories about the NYPD’s suspicionless surveillance of Muslims — the department’s monitoring activities using this federal money were left out of the annual reports to Congress on the federal program involved.
In a statement that we issued in response to the news, Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU’s National Security Project said, “This new report about the use of federal money to spy on Muslim communities with no suspicion of wrongdoing raises significant new questions about White House oversight of how its funds were used by the NYPD, for what purposes and whether those uses comply with the law. We are deeply concerned that federal resources may have been used and spying information stored in violation of federal regulations that protect Americans’ privacy and constitutional rights against law enforcement overreach. It’s not just Mayor Bloomberg who needs to investigate the NYPD’s improper activities, it’s now the federal government as well.”
NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman added, “A federal court order prohibits the NYPD from maintaining dossiers on people unless there’s reason to believe those people are or were engaged in unlawful activity. The NYPD is spying on countless innocent Muslims up and down the eastern seaboard, but who is watching the NYPD? The lack of oversight is stunning and it demands attention at the local, state and federal level.”
As we mentioned in response to revelations last week’s revelations about the NYPD spying on mosques and Muslim college students outside New York City, we are considering every available option to address the NYPD’s actions, including the possibility of litigation.