AP: The NYPD spied on its anti-terror partners

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The Associated Press has published yet another stunning expose about the long and sinister reach of the New York Police Department’s COINTELPRO-style mosque surveillance program. After breaking the news that the NYPD has teamed up the CIA to spy on Muslims in and around New York City, that it created a secret Demographics Unit to oversee spying and hired “mosque crawlers” to infiltrate and “rakers” to eavesdrop, the AP now tells us that many of the people who were spied on thought they were working with the city to fight terrorism.

From the Associated Press:

Reda Shata considered himself a partner in New York’s fight against terrorism. He cooperated with the police and FBI, invited officers to his mosque for breakfast, even dined with Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Despite the handshakes and photo ops, however, the New York Police Department was all the while watching the Egyptian sheik. Even as Shata’s story was splashed across the front page of The New York Times in a Pulitzer Prize-winning series about Muslims in America, an undercover officer and an informant were assigned to monitor him, and two others kept tabs on his mosque that same year.

“What did they find?” Shata asked through an interpreter at his current mosque in Monmouth County, N.J., after learning about the secret surveillance. “It’s a waste of time and a waste of money.”

Shata welcomed FBI agents to his mosque to speak to Muslims, invited NYPD officers for breakfast and threw parties for officers who were leaving the precinct during his time at the Islamic Center of Bay Ridge. As police secretly watched him in 2006, he had breakfast and dinner with Bloomberg at Gracie Mansion and was invited to meet with Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, Shata recalls.

“This is very sad,” he said after seeing his name in the NYPD file. “What is your feeling if you see this about people you trusted?”

This was life in America for Shata: a government partner in the fight against terrorism and a suspect at the same time.

In response to the AP’s earlier revelations, seven of New York’s Democratic State Senators called yesterday on the state’s Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, to investigate the NYPD’s surveillance of Muslim communities — and not a moment too soon. But since the CIA is also involved, why not go even higher? The CIA’s much-touted (by the CIA, that is) Inspector General investigation simply isn’t enough. It’s long past time for another Church Committee.

About Lizzy Ratner

Lizzy Ratner is a journalist in New York City. She is a co-editor with Adam Horowitz and Philip Weiss of The Goldstone Report: The Legacy of the Landmark Investigation of the Gaza Conflict.

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