03/08/2012 04:25 PM
Attorney General Holder Finds Reports On NYPD Muslim Surveillance Programs "Disturbing"
By: Grace Rauh
Speaking at a Senate hearing Thursday, Attorney General Eric Holder said he found some reports about the New York City Police Department's surveillance of Muslim communities throughout the Northeast to be "disturbing." Holder said he empathized with Governor Chris Christie after it was revealed the NYPD was keeping track of mosques and Muslim student groups in New Jersey.
The NYPD has come under fire for the practice and now the Justice Department says it is reviewing the matter.
“I think, at least what I’ve read publicly, and again, what I’ve just read in newspapers, is disturbing. And these are things that are under review in the Justice Department," said Holder.
New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg raised the issue at a hearing in Washington. He wanted to know how New York police could spy on New Jersey residents without notifying local authorities.
It is unclear whether Holder meant he was disturbed by the surveillance program in general or just the NYPD's work outside the city.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg continued to defend the police department during a visit to Chicago on Thursday.
"We have the best police department in the world, and I think they show that every single day. And we have stopped 14 attacks since 9/11," said the mayor.
Meanwhile, the FBI is postponing a visit to a New Jersey mosque that is believed to have been part of the NYPD's monitoring operation.
Apparently mosque leaders asked authorities not to come.
On Wednesday, Michael Ward, the special agent in charge of the FBI's Newark Division, said the controversy has hurt relationships the FBI has worked hard to build in the years since the September 11th terrorist attacks.
NYPD spokesman Paul Browne issued a statement that reads in part, "NYPD surveillance has resulted in terrorist arrests, including in New Jersey, and that was done within federal guidelines."
NYPD Criticism Draws New Scrutiny to Chris Christie
by IPT News • Mar 7, 2012 at 3:37 pm
Heated rhetoric between New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York officials over the NYPD's surveillance activities on Muslim subjects in New Jersey is reviving questions about Christie's views toward radical Islam.
Christie expressed anger about the surveillance following disclosures in a series of Associated Press reports. "I don't know if this NYPD action was born out of arrogance, or out of paranoia, or out of both," he said
when asked about it on his monthly radio show, "but we're taking a real good, strong hard look at it from a policy perspective at the governor's office level."
That prompted U.S. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., to tell
a radio interviewer "I wish Chris Christie was more concerned about keeping people alive than he is about trying to score cheap political points."
Jonathan Tobin analyzes
the situation, finding it is more than "two politicians who love to run their mouths and are intolerant of criticism." Rather, he sees Christie cynically choosing sides to cultivate Muslim political support. As the Investigative Project on Terrorism reported
last year, Christie's appointment of Sohail Mohammed to be a state judge was a troubling sign. Mohammed had represented Mohammed Qatanani, an imam suspected of Hamas ties, in a deportation case.
"Christie not only sought to prevent the deportation but spoke at the imam's mosque which had previously been the site of a $2 million fundraiser for Hamas by the now banned Holy Land Foundation," Tobin writes.
Christie, then a U.S. Attorney, took sides
against the Department of Homeland Security by allowing a top lieutenant to testify as a character witness for the imam. Christie later embraced Qatanani at a Ramadan breakfast.
"It is difficult to view his involvement in the Qatanani case as anything but a cynical pander for votes on the part of a man who was about to run for governor," Tobin writes.
Before Christie nominated him to the bench, Mohammed prayed for the acquittal of former Holy Land Foundation officials later convicted on more than 100 counts related to the group's illegally routing more than $12 million to Hamas-controlled charities, and he defended Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative Sami Al-Arian during a cable television appearance.
In an editorial
, the New York Daily News
questions Christie's insistence he didn't know the NYPD engaged in intelligence gathering in New Jersey. The NYPD's reputation, the governor said, was to keep people in the dark, so "if the NYPD has a choice between telling you and not telling you, more times than not, they don't."
But predecessors and senior law enforcement officials were told, meaning if Christie is being candid, the newspaper wrote, then he "was generally clueless about this important aspect of terror-fighting on his turf. That's a problem."
Related Topics: IPT News
Why Muslim Student Group Concerned the NYPD
February 24, 2012