June 20, 2013
New York police departments (NYPD) are being sued in federal court by Muslim leaders who say that surveillance operations conducted on their congregations are in violation of their civil rights.
Hassan Raza, plaintiff in the complaint said: “Our mosque should be an open, religious and spiritual sanctuary, but NYPD spying has turned it into a place of suspicion and censorship.”
As a result of the surveillance operations, Muslim leaders have curbed their sermons as to not draw attention from the Big Brother data collection being purveyed on them.
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed the lawsuit for the Muslim leaders.
According to the complaint: “Through the Muslim surveillance program, the NYPD has imposed an unwarranted badge of suspicion and stigma on law-abiding Muslim New Yorkers, including plaintiffs in this action.”
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has defended the surveillance programs conducted by the NYPD.
Celeste Koeleveld, senior official for the NYPD stated, a veiled reference to the Boston Bombing suspects: “The NYPD’s strategic approach to combating terrorism is legal, appropriate and designed to keep our city safe. The NYPD recognizes the critical importance of ‘on-the-ground’ research, as police need to be informed about where a terrorist may go while planning or what they may do after an attack, as the Boston Marathon bombing proved.”
Koleveled continued on to say: “Cities cannot play catch-up in gathering intelligence about a terrorist threat. Our results speak for themselves, with New York being the safest big city in America and the police having helped thwart several terrorist plots in recent years.”
General Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency (NSA), said that because 50 terrorist plots were foiled by using the all-encompassing surveillance operations on all American citizens, their monitoring is justified.
At a House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (PSCI) hearing, Alexander said: “In recent years, these programs, together with other intelligence, have protected the U.S and our allies from terrorist threats across the globe to include helping prevent the potential terrorist events over 50 times since 9/11.”
Defending PRISM, Alexander said that secrets within the government ensure that they are able to “track down the terrorists as a community.”
The mainstream media is asking is NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden as “crossed a red line” by exposing the NSA in an attempt to prevent them from abusing their self-imposed powers.
House Representative Mike Rogers said that elected officials want to see the NSA become more transparent in their surveillance operations on the American public.
Rogers said to Alexander: “You and I have talked over the past week about the need to be able to publicly elaborate on the success stories these authorities have contributed to without jeopardizing ongoing operations. I place the utmost value in protecting sources and methods, but I also recognize that when we are forced into the position of having to publicly discuss intelligence programs due to irresponsible, criminal behavior that we also have to carefully balance the need for secrecy with educating the public.”
Rogers maintains that “people who are skeptical of the program have no understanding of what the program is.”
Sean Joyce, deputy director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) said that they foiled a plot to blow up the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) by Khalid Qauzzani using internet surveillance operations under the PRISM program.
Darrell West, political analyst for the Brookings Institute, commented : “When all the dust settles we’re likely to maintain the status quo … there doesn’t appear to be a big coalition wanting to change things.”
Senator Bernie Sanders introduced S.1168 earlier this month to place restrictions on the NSA, the FBI and the surveillance state create by Obama.
Sanders said: “We must give our intelligence and law enforcement agencies all of the tools that they need to combat terrorism but we must do so in a way that protects our freedom and respects the Constitution’s ban on unreasonable searches.”
The bill seeks to:
• Limit records on private citizens available to surveillance agencies to search
• Surveillance agencies must show viable proof of cause for reasonable suspicion for monitoring
• A court order must be obtained prior to surveillance operations begin
• Specified proof of a terrorist suspect must be provided
• Identified terrorists, not average citizens, would be surveilled
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