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 essential expression of the American Surveillance State: we can and will know everything about what you do, and you will know virtually nothing about what we do. In a healthy society, that formula would be reversed: the citizenry would know most everything about what their government does, while the government would know nothing about what citizens do in the absence of well-grounded suspicion that they have done something wrong. Yet here we have the NYPD wandering outside of its jurisdiction in order to spy on the innocuous activities of a religious minority, and the most disturbing part of it all is how common it now is.
Another day, another damning revelation of the role that religion played in the NYPD’s extensive surveillance of the Muslim community. The AP reports that in addition to monitoring college students at schools in the New York City area, the department monitored Muslim students at Yale and University of Pennsylvania, and even sent an undercover officer on a whitewater rafting trip where he took detailed notes on the students and their activities.
In New Brunswick, N.J., a building superintendent opened the door to apartment No. 1076 one balmy Tuesday and discovered an alarming scene: terrorist literature strewn about the table and computer and surveillance equipment set up in the next room.
The panicked superintendent dialed 911, sending police and the FBI rushing to the building near Rutgers University on the afternoon of June 2, 2009. What they found in that first-floor apartment, however, was not a terrorist hideout but a command center set up by a secret team of New York Police Department intelligence officers.