February 27, 2012 — The American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Civil Liberties Union today called for a federal investigation into the reported use of White House funds by the NYPD for its religious and racial profiling activities. Today the Associated Press reported that the NYPD used federal funds to support its surveillance of Muslim communities with no suspicion of wrongdoing.
“This new report about the use of federal money to spy on Muslim communities with no suspicion of wrongdoing raises significant new questions about White House oversight of how its funds were used by the NYPD, for what purposes and whether those uses comply with the law,” said Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU's National Security Project. “We are deeply concerned that federal resources may have been used and spying information stored in violation of federal regulations that protect Americans' privacy and constitutional rights against law enforcement overreach. It's not just Mayor Bloomberg who needs to investigate the NYPD's improper activities, it's now the federal government as well.”
According to today's report, the NYPD's surveillance activities using this federal money were left out of the annual reports to Congress on the federal program involved.
“A federal court order prohibits the NYPD from maintaining dossiers on people unless there's reason to believe those people are or were engaged in unlawful activity,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “The NYPD is spying on countless innocent Muslims up and down the eastern seaboard, but who is watching the NYPD? The lack of oversight is stunning and it demands attention at the local, state and federal level.”
Following last week’s revelations that the NYPD spied on mosques and Muslim college students outside New York City, the ACLU and the NYCLU urged Mayor Bloomberg to take a “fresh and hard look” at the NYPD's surveillance practices.