The Council on American Islamic Relations is calling for an investigation into the use of White House funds for the New York Police Department’s surveillance of local Muslim communities.
Citing a Monday Associated Press report, which explained the relationship between the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy’s High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program (HIDTA) and the NYPD’s surveillance, CAIR has called on the administration to conduct a probe into the use of HIDTA funds.
“Widespread warrantless surveillance of minority populations, which we rightly condemn when it is conducted by authoritarian regimes, should not be facilitated using taxpayer funds,” CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper wrote in a letter sent to President Obama Monday. “Your administration should end all support for the unconstitutional profiling of American Muslims by the NYPD or any other law enforcement agency.”
HIDTA was established in 1988 to reduce drug trafficking in America by helping Federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies in areas of high density trafficking. According to the AP, the program has provided $2.3 billion to local authorities over the last ten years. (SEE ALSO: White House funds NYPD spying efforts)
On Monday, White House spokesman Jay Carney asserted that the surveillance program was strictly under the NYPD’s purview, not the administration’s.
“We make very clear that we consider Muslim Americans partners in the effort to combat, you know, radical extremism,” Carney said. “I think we’ve made that clear again and again. And that continues to be our position.”
Cyrus McGoldrick of CAIR-NY said that he believes the issue to be “much bigger than we realized.”
“This is now a very comprehensive program and we start to see, you know, John Brennan, Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser backing up the program,” McGoldrick told Press TV, a Tehran-based international news network, on Monday. “We see you know former Homeland Security heads and CIA heads you know backing them up and saying that this is what we have to be doing and it’s interesting because it points to a lack of oversight.”
Both the American Civil Liberties Union and New York Civil Liberties Union joined CAIR in calling for a federal investigation into the White House program for “religious and racial profiling activities.”
“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,” Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU’s National Security Project, said in a statement.