More Than 6 Years of NYPD Spying on Muslims Led to Nothing

In more than six years of spying on New York City’s Muslim neighborhoods and mosques, the NYPD’s secret Demographics Unit admits to never having generated a lead or obtaining any information that led to a terrorism investigation.

With assistance from the CIA the Demographics Unit compiled databases on where Muslims lived, shopped, worked and prayed. Police placed informants in Muslim student groups and mosques, monitored sermons and catalogued every Muslim in New York who adopted new, Americanized surnames.

In a June 28 deposition as part of a federal civil rights case, Assistant Chief Thomas Galati, commanding officer of the NYPD Intelligence Division, said none of the NYPD’s efforts ever led to a case.

“Related to Demographics,” Galati testified that information that has come in “has not commenced an investigation.” He also described how police gather information on people even when there is no evidence of wrongdoing, because of their ethnicity and native language.

As a rule, Galati said, a business can be labeled a “location of concern” whenever police can expect to find groups of Middle Easterners there.

After the AP began reporting on the Demographics Unit, the department’s former senior analyst, Mitchell Silber, said the unit provided the tip that led to a case against a bookstore clerk who was convicted of plotting to bomb the Herald Square subway station in Manhattan. Galati testified that he could find no evidence of that.

John Brennan, President Barack Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser, has said he is confident the NYPD’s activities are lawful and have kept the city safe.

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