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The NYPD's Muslim Spying: Kelly's Lame Game

June 24, 2013

If Police Commissioner Ray Kelly thinks he has problems with the Stop and Frisk lawsuit, wait until the lawsuits filed over the NYPD’s pervasive spying against Muslims get rolling.

A second lawsuit was filed last week by two civil liberties groups, the ACLU and its local off-shoot, the NYCLU, alleging that the NYPD routinely violated “the civil rights of Muslims across New York City by operating an unconstitutional religious profiling and suspicionless surveillance program.”

A first lawsuit, filed by civil rights lawyers affiliated with the Handschu guidelines that prohibited the NYPD from monitoring political activity without a prior indication of criminal activity, was filed in February.

And last March, a coalition of Muslim Student Associations and heretofore silent grass-roots Muslim organizations produced, with the support of the CUNY School of Law, a 54-page report that described the spying’s chilling effect on Muslim New Yorkers who, the report said, have come to distrust their friends, classmates, religious leaders and the NYPD.

Unlike Kelly’s Stop and Frisk policies — which since 2002 have resulted in 5 million stops, primarily of young black men, and which have gained media and political traction, including a last-minute White House intervention with the threat of an outside monitor — the city’s reaction to the NYPD’s Muslim spying has been muted, to say the least.

Since the Associated Press first reported the pervasive spying in August 2011, the city’s mainstream media, as well as the public, has remained largely silent.

And Commissioner Kelly has remained unbowed.

Refusing to be interviewed by the AP reporters, he instead attacked their stories in both the Post and the Daily News and to anyone else willing to listen, such as his proxy, the discredited former New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who criticized the Pulitzer-prize winning series in the Wall Street Journal.

Kelly reprised this tactic during the Stop and Frisk trial when he refused to testify but then publicly criticized the presiding judge, Shira Scheindlin.

Asked recently what he would do differently about the NYPD’s spying on Muslims in light of the AP’s revelations he said, “Nothing.”

Mayor Bloomberg has also placed himself four-square behind the spying. According to last week’s lawsuit, “Bloomberg has stated, ‘We’re doing the right thing, We will continue to do the right thing.’ He has asserted that criticism of the NYPD’s targeting of Muslims for surveillance was ‘just misplaced’ and ‘pandering.’”

Neither the Post nor the Times reported a word of last week’s lawsuit. The News wrote a few paragraphs. Only the Wall Street Journal, in its expanding New York City edition, thought the subject important enough to run a full-blown article.

Meanwhile, the myth of Kelly’s much-hyped 15 plots that the NYPD supposedly stopped singlehandedly has been shown to be just that — a myth.

Kelly also acknowledged earlier this year that his vaunted overseas detective agency has not produced a single lead about a potential terrorist attack.

All that his entire Muslim spying operation has unearthed are three mopes, two of whose cases the FBI wanted no part of.

ET TU, PALATUCCI? It turns out that Giovanni Palatucci, a WW2 police commissioner in Italy, credited by Jewish organizations with saving 5,000 Jews during the Holocaust, was a Nazi collaborator. He may have sent thousands of Jews to concentration camps.

The Anti-Defamation League has long made a big deal of Palatucci.

Following the 2001 World Trade Center attack, the ADL fell in love with the NYPD — in particular, its revamped and expanded Intelligence Division.

In 2007, it presented its first Giovanni Palatucci award to David Cohen, the 35-year CIA veteran who has served as the Intelligence Division’s Deputy Commissioner.

ADL head Abraham Foxman said at the ceremony honoring Cohen that he was feted because of his anti-terrorism efforts.

“Commissioner Cohen works against forces of hatred and extremism to make New York City safe for all people of all backgrounds to live, work and worship,” Foxman said at the time.

Cohen has been the master-planner of the NYPD’s spying directed against Muslims throughout the city and beyond.

Kelly also spoke at the ceremony. He cited Cohen’s intelligence work during the 2004 Republican National convention — at which the NYPD announced with great fanfare its first “lone-wolf” terrorism arrest for plotting to bomb the Herald Square subway station.

The perpetrator was Matin Siraj, a Muslim man with an IQ considered borderline-retarded, who was egged on by an informant to whom the police paid $100,000, and whose co-defendant, James El Shafay, had recently been released from a mental institution.

El Shafay then testified against Siraj. He was convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

No word yet on whether the ADL will ask Cohen to renounce his Palatucci award.

Attempting to gather some law-and-order creds while appealing to her liberal base, Christine Quinn announced a few weeks back that she would keep Kelly as police commissioner while supporting an outside monitor for the police department.

Even the dumbest New Yorker realized that this didn’t make much sense.

Last week Quinn threw out a new line. She said she would keep Kelly as commissioner but fire him if he did not scale back Stop and Frisk.

Kelly, meanwhile, mocked Attorney General Eric Holder’s claim that disclosure of the Obama administration’s pervasive phone and internet spying of Americans damaged efforts to fight terrorism.

“I don’t think it ever should have ever been made secret,” Kelly said of the spying program following whistle-blower Edward Snowden’s revelations that no American’s phone numbers were off-limit to the National Security Administration.

“I think the American public can accept the fact if you tell them that every time you pick up the phone, it’s going to be recorded and goes to the government,” he added.

Kelly’s pals on the Post editorial page made the mistake of taking him at face value, and ripped what the Post termed his “careless remarks.”

They compared Kelly’s call for more oversight of the NSA with calls for an outside monitor of the NYPD — both of which are anathema to the Post.

The people at the Post apparently don’t know Kelly very well. If they did, they would realize that Kelly’s policies reflect little more than his personal antagonisms.

His criticism of the Obama administration’s phone and internet secrecy has less to do with principle than with pique: specifically his pique at Holder’s last minute intervention and threat in the Stop and Frisk Trial of an outside monitor.

When it comes to principles, Kelly has only one: power.

Edited by Donald Forst

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Copyright © 2013 Leonard Levitt