Illegal NYPD spying is almost a cliche at this point, but the latest revelations from the Associated Press show the shady tactics through which the department tried to give themselves a thin veneer of legal cover.
In this case, mosques that they wanted to spy on were unilaterally labeled “terrorist organizations,” meaning that the entire mosque could be subject to secret surveillance and every single attendee is automatically a “suspect.”
The label allowed the NYPD to open up “terrorism enterprise investigations” which allowed broad surveillance, sending informants to “infiltrate” the mosques, and trying to get their plants into high ranking lay-positions in them.
The label was just a cynical excuse to spy carrying out protracted multi-year campaigns of infiltration against seemingly random mosques, even though there was not a single occasion in which the surveillance ever led to charges against a mosque.
To give you an additional idea of just how over-the-top the schemes were, the NYPD initially presented the plan to the FBI, which itself seems willing to spy on anyone for no apparent reason, thought the NYPD plans were “illegal” and wouldn’t go along with them. That’s when the NYPD came up with this idea, and carried out the illegal spying all on its own, setting the stage for new lawsuits against it.