Colby Hamilton, Writer, WNYC News
Colby Hamilton is a general assignment reporter. He originally joined WNYC as a political blogger. He's a proud graduate of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.
The New York Civil Liberties Union announced today it is asking a Federal court for access to information about the NYPD's secret surveillance program that targets Muslim communities throughout the New York City area.
“The NYPD’s reported surveillance of local Muslim communities raises serious questions concerning whether the Police Department has violated court-ordered restrictions on its ability to spy on and keep dossiers on individuals,” said NYCLU Legal Director Arthur Eisenberg in a statement. “In order to know whether the NYPD is violating the court order, we need a more complete explanation of the NYPD’s surveillance practices.”
The police department has denied such activities are happening. This is contrary to a series of Associated Press reports of a CIA-supported secret unit inside the NYPD that has targeted Muslim communities. NYCLU wants to go through the discovery process to see if the unit's activities violate a decades-old decree that restricts the department's ability to conduct surveillance against people based on political and religious activity.
One of the big questions this story has raised is how much Mayor Bloomberg was involved in creating, authorizing or monitoring the activities of this special unit. Bloomberg has never outright confirmed such a unit exists in the NYPD, despite reports detailing the unit's existence and how it's monitored Muslim communities after September 11, 2001.But the mayor has generally supported the work of the department when it comes to monitoring groups and communities.
Bloomberg describes New York City as an immigrant-friendly city. It was reported today that the Mayor's office is even backing the city council's resistance to Federal efforts to deport undocumented immigrants after being released from prison. Presumably, during depositions of those involved in the Muslim surveillance program, the extent to which the mayor was involved or informed about the program could be revealed.