Speaking today in an interview on AM radio, New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly defended revelations that the NYPD has been conducting massive surveillance of random Muslim citizens in and around New York, saying that the critics of the program “have short memories as to what happened here in 2001.”
The secretive program was federally funded, with the NYPD using White House grants meant to target “drug trafficking” to spy of Muslim college students across the northeast, as well as to eavesdrop on conversations between “Muslim-looking” people in Newark, New Jersey grocery stores.
Kelly insisted the policy was in keeping with “what we know about the way radical Islam works,” and that politicians who had expressed concern about the privacy implications of mass surveillance based on presumptive religious beliefs were “pandering.”
A New York Times article reveals the climate of fear the policy has provoked among local Muslims, who fear being targeted by police even worse if they are caught discussing the policy with the news media. There remains hope that the policy will eventually be abandoned, but the current indications are that targeting innocent Muslims is a winning issue for those wanting to appear “tough on terror” and that means in the near term the policy may have gotten less secret, but no less aggressive.