History professor Mark LeVine writes for Aljazeera.net.
Only two weeks before the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, the Associated Press has broken a story that reminds us of just how much America has changed during the last decade, and how the government – and as important, some of the country’s most powerful corporations – routinely intrude into the lives of communities and individuals in a manner that would few would have thought imaginable the day before the planes struck the World Trade Center.
After a lengthy investigation, the Associated Press has published a story detailing a highly secretive decade-long relationship between the CIA and the New York Police Department (NYPD), in which the two agencies have worked together in “a massive covert programme to monitor the Muslim communities” living in the New York metropolitan area and surrounding regions.
The program is troubling for a host of reasons. It involves potentially serious violations of federal law, including First Amendment protections. Morever, it bears a strong resemblance to programs launched during the Civil Rights and Vietnam era, which saw techniques, technologies and even personnel from the US military and intelligence communities deployed against citizens within the United States.
When military tactics and strategies drawn from the front lines of war are applied to radically different contexts, the results are rarely beneficial to the health of a democracy.
According to the AP report, “The [NYPD] has dispatched teams of undercover officers, known as ‘rakers,’ into minority neighborhoods as part of a human mapping program, according to officials directly involved in the program. They’ve monitored daily life in bookstores, bars, cafes and nightclubs. Police have also used informants, known as ‘mosque crawlers,’ to monitor sermons, even when there’s no evidence of wrongdoing. NYPD officials have scrutinized imams and gathered intelligence on cab drivers and food cart vendors, jobs often done by Muslims. Many of these operations were built with help from the CIA, which is prohibited from spying on Americans but was instrumental in transforming the NYPD’s intelligence unit.”
More on the Department of History.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.