In its hunt for terrorists, the New York Police Department hid moles in Newark mosques and sent agents into Paterson bodegas. The spying stayed secret until boxes of documents were leaked to the Associated Press.
Here’s what was exposed: The NYPD’s surveillance of New Jersey Muslims never turned up a useful lead. But it bred mistrust in those neighborhoods — of police, the government and each other. The damager will outlast the cops’ cloak-and-dagger failure.
The American Civil Liberties Union has evidence of a nearly identical FBI program to
track and map racial, ethnic and religious groups across the country — under a 2003 law that protects the agency’s profiling. In 2011, ACLU lawyers sued for details about who, where and how the feds are watching these communities. This week, a federal appeals court ruled the FBI can keep its spy mission secret.
No one doubts the value of national security. But dangerous, discriminatory policies — particularly those directed at Muslim Americans since 9/11 — undermine trust between law enforcement and those communities. In the end, we’re all less safe.
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