Marcy Wheeler absolutely nailed it over at Salon, a couple of hours ago...
NYPD’s new spying outrage: Innocent Muslims treated worse than guilty bankersWheeler’s referencing this widely-publicized, front page article from this past Sunday’s NY Times…
When "Arabic-sounding" names are automatically suspicious -- but financial crimes are ignored -- here's the result
May 13th, 2014 8:30AM PDT
Stop your car to help a woman who appears to be lost — and get pressured, while in police custody, to become an informant. That’s what happened to one of the men profiled in a recent New York Times report on yet more aggressive spying on Muslims by the NYPD…
New York Police Recruit Muslims to Be Informers
New York Times
May 11, 2014
One man was a food cart vendor from Afghanistan, arrested during an argument with a parking enforcement officer over a ticket. Another was an Egyptian-born limousine driver, picked up in a prostitution sting. Still another was an accounting student from Pakistan, in custody for driving without a valid license.
The men, all Muslim immigrants, went through similar ordeals: Waiting in a New York station house cell or a lockup facility, expecting to be arraigned, only to be pulled aside and questioned by detectives. The queries were not about the charges against them, but about where they went to mosque and what their prayer habits were. Eventually, the detectives got to the point: Would they work for the police, eavesdropping in Muslim cafes and restaurants, or in mosques?
Beginning a few years after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, a squad of detectives, known as the Citywide Debriefing Team, has combed the city’s jails for immigrants — predominantly Muslims — who might be persuaded to become police informants, according to documents obtained by The New York Times, along with interviews with former members of the unit and senior police officials….
…Imagine how such generalized spying would be regarded against potentially riskier set of targets, like the finance criminals who wrecked the economy in 2008 and have continued to engaged in damaging fraud. Imagine if every banker who visited a sex worker got hauled in and was offered leniency if he informed on his co-workers, bosses, and clients? (Key to the coercion, of course, is that many Muslims don’t have the resources of bankers to fight low level criminal accusations.)If readers think federal, state and municipal surveillance, intelligence and law enforcement efforts aren't as much about protecting the one percent, their corporatocracy, and maintaining the inherently racist status quo via racial and ethnic profiling in 2014, as they have been in years past, they simply aren't paying attention.
Of course, bankers need not worry. A recent DOJ Inspector General report revealed that when DOJ attempted to roll out undercover teams (not civilian informants, but FBI undercover officers) to target mortgage fraud, FBI Agents either weren’t informed such a plan existed or, if they were, needed “specific direction or training on how to commence a mortgage fraud” undercover operation.
The FBI, apparently, couldn’t figure out how to treat suspected bank criminals like it and many other law enforcement agencies treat innocent Muslims.
Therein lies the problem. It has gotten too easy, since 9/11, to treat the Muslim community as a whole as suspect. It has become too easy to use the tools rolled out after 9/11 to combat real threats (and borrowed, before that, from the drug war) to instead criminalize a faith community. It would be unthinkable – and unworkable – for more privileged communities. And yet it continues.
# # #