The Associated Press continues its assault on the New York Police Department's questionable surveillance of local Muslims, with a new report today that police have labeled entire mosques as terrorist organizations, to make it easier to investigate their members. According to reporters Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo, at least a dozen "terrorism enterprise investigations" have been opened into mosques since September 11, 2001. Once a mosque (or any organization) receives that formal designation, it authorizes the police to deploy informants and others surveillance techniques that include recording sermons and spying on imams. Also, anyone who attended a service there can become a potential target of the investigation.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly happened to be appearing on MSNBC this morning, shortly after the story broke. While he didn't deny the report outright, he defended the tactics of his counterterrorism unit, saying that all their actions are within the law and that "of course" entire mosques should not be subject to such investigation. Although he didn't deny that it had ever been done.
Kelly criticized the forthcoming book, written by Goldman and Apuzzo, about the department and its treatment of local Muslim, saying the book contains "half-truths" and "fiction." He said, "Our sin is to have the chutzpah... to try and protect this city.
The AP also published new internal NYPD documents that back up its story, including some that expressed a wish to put police informant in prominent positions with local Islamic organizations. The documents also include this ridiculous looking logo (found by Capital NY) for the NYPD's "Technical Operations Unit," that is literally a spy hiding in a garbage can. Not a great advertisement for the defender of the city's freedom.