WASHINGTON – Two leading US Muslim civil rights groups are calling for full investigation into the alleged White House funding of police programs to spy on Muslim neighborhoods in the United States."Widespread warrantless surveillance of minority populations, which we rightly condemn when it is conducted by authoritarian regimes, should not be facilitated using taxpayer funds," Ibrahim Hooper, National Communications Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said in a letter to President Barack Obama, according to a CAIR statement.
The letter was sent following revelations that the White House has funded programs by the New York Police to spy on Muslim neighborhoods.
According to the Associated Press, the White House funds, managed by the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program, went to buy equipment and vehicles for a domestic surveillance program designed to infiltrate Muslim groups.
The agency said that the White House has paid for complete surveillance on places where Muslims eat, shop, work and pray.
CAIR called on the Obama administration to investigate the reported use of White House funds to spy on Muslims without warrants or evidence of wrongdoing
The Washington-based group also asked administration officials to take "appropriate measures" to ensure that White House funds are not misused in the future to promote similar profiling campaigns.
"Your administration should end all support for the unconstitutional profiling of American Muslims by the NYPD or any other law enforcement agency," Hooper said.
A week earlier, the AP revealed that New York police department monitored Muslim college students at schools far beyond the city limits.
The agency said that the police talked with local authorities about professors 300 miles away in Buffalo and sent an undercover agent on a whitewater rafting trip, where he recorded students' names and how many times they prayed.
Police detectives also trawled Muslim student websites every day though professors and students had not been accused of any wrongdoing.
The revelations angered Muslim civil rights groups, who described the police surveillance as a violation of their civil and religious rights.
Federal SpyingThe American Civil Liberties Union also condemned the reported use of federal money in spying on the Muslim community.
“We are deeply concerned that federal resources may have been used and spying information stored in violation of federal regulations that protect Americans’ private and constitutional rights against law enforcement overreach,” Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU’s National Security Project, said in a statement cited by the Politico.“It’s not just Mayor Bloomberg who needs to investigate the NYPD’s improper activities, it’s now the federal government as well,” Shamsi added.
The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) joined the ALCU in calling for full investigation into the allegations.“The NYPD is spying on countless innocent Muslims up and down the eastern seaboard, but who is watching the NYPD,” said NYCLU executive director Donna Lieberman said.
Yet, the White House press secretary Jay Carney denied the accusations.
He said Monday that the HIDTA program is run by a policy office that does not “manage or supervise” any law enforcement programs.
Since 9/11, Muslims, estimated between six to seven million, have become sensitized to an erosion of their civil rights, with a prevailing belief that America was stigmatizing their faith.
The accusations against the NYPD were not the first.
Last September, the CIA launched an investigation into cooperation with NYPD to spy on American Muslims.
In 2011, the New York University's Center for Human Rights and Global Justice issued a report criticizing the tactic of US law enforcement agencies in sending paid informants into mosques to instigate and trap Muslims into terror plots.
The report, themed “Targeted and Entrapped: Manufacturing the ‘Homegrown Threat’, cited three high-profile domestic terrorism prosecutions which raised question marks about the role of the FBI and the NYPD in creating the perception of “homegrown” terrorism.
Related Links:US Muslim Students Learn About Rights
NY Mayor Defends Police Muslim Spying
US Muslims Urge Student Rights Protection
Investigate New York Police, Muslims Urge
New Yorkers Protest Police Apartheid