Published On: Mon, Feb 11th, 2013

New York Times: The courts need to intervene to stop the NYPD from spying on law-abiding Muslims

By Mourad Anouar

Morocco News Tribune


Oklahoma City, U.S.A—New York Times urged the American justice on Sunday to intervene to stop the New York Police from spying on Muslims who are law-abiding, and think about the appointment of an independent monitor to review the police department investigations.

NYT pointed out in an editorial yesterday that the federal courts placed 30-years ago limits on the work of monitoring by the city police to protect citizens, who are politically engaged on civil rights and other issues.

Those limits were issued  for two purposes: “to prevent the department from unfairly targeting entire political or religious groups, and to make sure that records were kept only when the police found “reasonable indications” of potential law breaking, not as an intrusion into the private affairs of innocent citizens,”.

But after Sept. 11, according to the paper, New York City agreed to follow court-ordered investigation guidelines, by which police officers were allowed to attend political and religious events, but barred them from retaining information unless it was related to potential terrorist acts or other unlawful activity.

NYT explained that a motion filed in federal court last week by a number of  lawyers indicate that the NYC’s police Department ignored those guidelines in their antiterrorism fight and is targeting Muslim groups because of their faith, rather than if they represent any potential risk.

 “A motion filed in federal court last week by the lawyers in the makes a strong case that the city has simply ignored those guidelines in its antiterrorism fight and is targeting Muslim groups because of their religious affiliation, not because they present any potential risk.”

Handschu case is an agreement with a set of guidelines that regulate police behavior in New York City with regard to political activity.

The motion, according to NYT, talked about a declaration made by a Queens’s man who said the Police Department paid him to spy on Muslims on a lecture  last year  at the Muslim Student Association at John Jay College of Criminal Justice even though the police did not think the group was “doing anything wrong” .

In addition to violating the Handschu agreement, the motion charges New York City with systematically retaining records of conversations in public places that do not pertain to “potential unlawful activity.”

NYT stated at the end of editorial that that the court documents provide enough evidence that the secret New York Police Department program is unconstitutional, which should make it necessary for appointing an independent monitor to review department investigations.

This case would open more debate of striking balance between civil liberties and national security in the United States.