NYPD Sued For Spying on Muslims

Karen Greenberg in Uptown Radio, February 23, 2013

Media Source

HOST: The New York City Police Department is facing new allegations that it’s spying improperly on Muslim groups. Civil liberties advocates have asked a Federal court to crack down on the NYPD. Christie Thorne reports. (:12)

N1: Lawyers filed the motion two weeks ago in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. The filing alleges that the NYPD has been infiltrating mosques, restaurants and coffee shops frequented by Muslims, and even a student organization at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. That was on the minds of members of Columbia University’s Muslim Student Association when they met last week. (:20)

Applause (:03)

N2: Monika Kahn was there to celebrate Islam Awareness Week. She says that while the tone of the evening was upbeat, what goes unsaid is chilling. Kahn says that the allegations against the NYPD aren’t surprising. (:12)

“It’s not that I’m apathetic to the incident necessarily, but violation of privacy has become such a common phenomenon post 9/11 that you never really know who’s surveilling your emails or phone calls anymore.” (:14)

N3: The lawyers who filed the suit say law-abiding citizens and students shouldn’t have to worry about this. They argue that sending informants to spy on student organizations violates what is known as the Handschu Agreement. The 1985 ruling established a set of guidelines that control how far the police can go when conducting surveillance on political organizations. Paul Chevigney is one of the five attorneys behind the current filing. He says that police need some evidence of wrongdoing before they spy on a political organization. (:28)

“Investigating organizations just to make sure nothing is going on is a formula for investigating everything and everybody all the time. And one of the big and chilling things about that is that it is potentially interminable.” (:20)

N4: The attorneys also asked the court to order the NYPD to destroy records of past surveillance if they do not establish criminal activity and to appoint an auditor to monitor surveillance. Chevigney believes that working without standards is a recipe for police intimidation. (:15)

“Work against counter-terrorism is appropriate but there’s got to be some limits. There has to be a balance between liberty and investigation oversight by the police.” (:10)

N5: That balance is likely to be the central issue when THE JUDGE rules, says Fordham Law School professor Karen Greenberg. (:07)

“I think any judge is going to try to understand the post-9/11 context. I think what he’s going to look for is this real question of was there grounds for suspicion or were they just in there and trying to find something that would give them grounds for suspicion.” (:18)

N6: An NYPD spokesman said that the force adheres to the Constitution in all it does and specifically the Handschu guidelines. It’s not clear when the court will rule.