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by Peter Moskos

March 7, 2012

NYPD's Muslim surveillance

I haven't said anything about the NYPD's surveillance of Muslims because, well, I have nothing to say. If it's legal and good, I'm for it. If it's illegal and bad, I'm against it. If it's illegal and good, well then it better be damn good!

But I have no clue. So I've kept my mouth shut.

But what if it's legal and bad? That's a possibility raised by an FBI agent, writes Al Baker in the New York Times.


Jay Livingston said...

Since this story broke, I've been saying --without knowing of anyone in high places saying the same and without any evidence -- that there was a real danger in alienating Muslims. As I remember, Jennifer Hunt's Seven Shots opens with an incident where a terrorist crime by Muslims is prevented because another Muslim who knew about the bad guys went to the cops.

You need that kind of sentiment. If I knew that the cops had been watching me and all my other co-religionists just because of my religion, I might not be so quick to rat out one of "us" to "them."

And imagine the reaction if the cops were doing something similar to any other religious or ethnic group. Suppose that because of Bernie Madoff, the cops were inspecting all financial transactions of all Jews.

PCM said...

And yet there is a good way and bad way to do it.

It does not bother me that the NYPD has people sitting in cafe's listening for crazy talk (should that bother me?). It would bother me if the NYPD had people sitting in cafes *making* that crazy talk.

One is more passive and the other is more agent provocateur.

It would also bother me if the NYPD did nothing, absolutely nothing, until they had probable cause about a terrorist attack. There's always going to be a balance needed between sitting on your ass and waiting for a crime to happen and taking action to prevent crime. We need to be more open and talk about that balance.

And if I actually *was* Jewish, I'd make a joke related to your last paragraph.

PCM said...

All that said... I agree with you! Community Policing (and you can call it what you will) is the most effective anti-terrorism tool. Crime get stopped and solved because people talk. And they need someone to talk to. And their less likely to talk if police assume they're the criminal.

You know the guy in Hunt's book who talked? Nobody knows what happened to him. He was a real hero; he knowingly put himself at risk to save the lives of others. I hope he wasn't deported.