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Secret NYPD Unit Spying on Muslims Proves Useless, Unfounded

Common Dreams staff

NYPD officers (AFP Photo / Mario Tama)

After more than six years of secretly spying on Muslim American communities across the eastern United States, the NYPD admitted that their highly criticized actions have not produced a single lead, terrorism investigation, or charge, in a court disposition released Monday.

"Related to Demographics," the program has "not commenced an investigation," NY Assistant Chief Thomas Galati testified at a June 28 deposition, as part of a longstanding federal civil rights case against the program.

"I never made a lead from rhetoric that came from a Demographics report, and I'm here since 2006," he said. "I don't recall other ones prior to my arrival. Again, that's always a possibility. I am not aware of any."

An Associated Press report last year revealed the secretive program, then titled the NYPD Demographics Unit, which allowed police to gather information on people, when there was no evidence of wrongdoing, simply because of ethnicity or native language.

The large scale spying program focused on Muslim communities in eastern US states wherein the police and the CIA secretly infiltrated Muslim student groups and mosques, monitored sermons, and created extensive databases showing personal information of Muslims in New York City.

However, the Associated Press now reports that the highly controversial tactics failed to produce a single lead or arrest.

The deposition of NYPD Assistant Chief Thomas Galati is part a discovery process initiated through Handschu v. Special Services Division, a decades-old federal case that has produced a series of court orders regulating NYPD surveillance of political and religious activity, according to ACLU.

Jethro Eisenstein lead attorney, who questioned Galati in the disposition revealed by Associated Press, said he wants to take the deposition further and will be asking the court to shut the whole unit down.

The program now operates as the 'Zone Assessment Unit.'

“The NYPD has effectively imposed a badge of suspicion on all Muslims and stigmatized whole communities in New York City solely because of their religious affiliations,” said New York Civil Liberties Union Legal Director Arthur Eisenberg.

“It seems horrible to me that the NYPD is treating an entire religious community as potential terrorists," Eisenstein said. "This is a flat-out violation. This is a smoking gun."

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