In an interview with Fox News on Sunday, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) defended a previous call he made for the sort of “24/7 surveillance” of mosques that has already proved ineffective in his home state, because he said, “that’s where the threat is coming from.”
When asked by Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace about the outcry such a policy might receive from “civil libertarians and constitutionalists,” King said he was not concerned.
“They can cry all they want,” he said.
Despite his call to infiltrate mosques, King said that most Muslims in America are “good people.”
“[W]e can say that 98 [or] 99 percent of Muslims in this country are good people — I’m actually swearing in the first elected Muslim on Long Island to office, she’s a good friend of mine — so this is nothing against Muslims,” he said. “But the fact is that where the threat is coming from and we’re kidding ourselves we have this blind political correctness, it makes no sense.”
The Congressman and Homeland Security committee member called for intensive surveillance of Muslims akin to the sort he said has historically been used against other subsets of the American population.
“The only way you’re going to find out this [threat of attacks] in advance is to do the same 24/7 surveillance that was done in the Italian-American communities when they were going after the mob [and] mafia, and the Irish communities when they were going after the Westies. You look where the terror threat is going to come from, and it is going to come from the Muslim community,” King said earlier this month.
The sort of intensive surveillance initiative that King has outlined was carried out by a secret unit within the New York Police Department in New York City and parts of New Jersey before being shut down after a 2012 investigation by the AP revealed effort to be largely ineffective and discriminatory.
A lawsuit filed by a group of business owners, faith leaders, student organization members, and individuals who allege that the surveillance program illegally targeted them because of their religion and not any credible threat was reinstated by a Newark court in October after it was dismissed last year.
In more than six years of spying on Muslim organizations, mosques, and individuals, the NYPD’s secret Demographics Unit never generated a lead or triggered a terrorism investigation.