The Associated Press is reporting that millions of dollars in White House money has helped pay for New York Police Department programs that put entire American Muslim neighborhoods under surveillance.
The money is part of a little-known grant intended to help law enforcement fight drug crimes. Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Bush and Obama administrations have provided $135 million to the New York and New Jersey region through the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program, known as HIDTA.
Some of that money — it’s unclear exactly how much because the program has little oversight — has paid for the cars that plainclothes NYPD officers used to conduct surveillance on Muslim neighborhoods. It also paid for computers that store even innocuous information about Muslim college students, mosque sermons and social events.
Read more from AP on Richmond Times-Dispatch.
That a government agency should misuse funds or treat targeted funds as a slush fund for their discretionary use would not be a surprise. But that taxpayer dollars and government funds are used for domestic surveillance based on religion is a total outrage and demands answers and accountability.
In the past few months, the Associated Press has done a great job of trying to expose the NYPD’s surveillance of NY’s Muslim community. Sadly, their coverage has not generated a lot of public outrage or calls for action outside of the Muslim and civil liberties communities. If it were New York’s Jewish community being surveilled this way, I have no doubt that there’d be hell to pay by now. But when government surveills a somewhat powerless minority, who will speak up for them?
“First they came for….”