Please read my earlier post for background. The short version: NYPD, with the help of the CIA, has been spying on Muslim communities in NYC and other places, even out-of-state in New Jersey, secretly, with no warrants and no individualized suspicion of wrongdoing by the Muslims being surveilled.
Glenn Greenwald follows up:
The NYPD spying program exposed by Associated Press may be the most flagrant instance in the War on Terror where “being Muslim” is overtly equated by a government agency to being a Terror threat. It is beyond question that huge numbers of completely innocent, law-abiding people — and the institutions to which they belong and even the businesses they patronize — were extensively surveilled and infiltrated for no reason whatsoever other than their religious and/or ethnic identity. That includes a small Newark school for African-American Muslim children in the first to fourth grades as well as every Halal restaurant that could be located. And in the ensuing fallout we find a perfect microcosm for how War on Terror civil liberties abuses have not only endured, but continue to thrive domestically, more than a full decade after the last successful Terrorist attack on U.S. soil.
The NYPD surveillance scheme took place in secret, with no oversight or legal framework. It was accomplished in part through the use — and abuse — of the post-9/11 police state and Drug War funding bonanza from the White House, which gave the NYPD the funds (ostensibly to fight the drug trade) that were then used to pay for the surveillance trucks used to track Muslim communities. Once revealed, city officials like Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYPD Chief Ray Kelly immediately hauled out the all-purpose justifying, fear-mongering term — Terrorism – to insist that the indiscriminate spying program was both necessary and proper to Keep Us Safe. …
As Greenwald points out, hardly any American news media raised any objection, or even covered the civil liberties aspect of such surveillance. And public officials, Democratic and Republican alike, seem almost eager to rationalize and justify the massive deprivation of civil liberties involved in spying on every conceivable Muslim on some perverted assumption that all of them are terrorists
It simply won’t do. I do not want to live in a country that uses FUD (“fear, uncertainty, doubt”) to terrify most of its citizenry into despising one group of its citizens on grounds of their religion alone. The First Amendment guarantees no establishment of religion, and singling out non-Christian religions for oppression… yes, warrantless, suspicionless surveillance is oppression… comes damned close to establishment. How this will be prevented at this point, 10 years after the evil John Ashcroft and company instigated the whole bigoted business, is a question I can’t answer. But we can all start with ourselves, our families and our own religious organizations: if enough of us object to irrational religious hostility perpetrated by our government, perhaps we can regain the rights our founders paid for so dearly. If not… and for a moment, let me speak specifically as a UU, i.e., a member of a very small religious minority… let me outta here!