Yesterday, the Columbia University-based Pulitzer Prize board announced that four Associated Press journalists won the investigative reporting award “for their spotlighting of the New York Police Department’s clandestine spying program that monitored daily life in Muslim communities, resulting in congressional calls for a federal investigation, and a debate over the proper role of domestic intelligence gathering.”
The right-wing New York Post is none too pleased about the AP’s “Pulitzer for its year-long, non-stop hit-job on the NYPD’s counterterrorism efforts,” seizing on the Pulitzer board’s recognition of a public debate on when the government gets to spy on its own citizens:
Debate? There’s none on the streets of this city, where a recent Quinnipiac poll shows 58 percent of New Yorkers reject the AP’s smear that the NYPD “has unfairly targeted Muslims,” and where fully 82 percent — including majorities of every demographic group — say the department “has been effective in combating terrorism.”
The poll the Post cites did not ask respondents about the program to monitor Muslim communities solely for being Muslim (or in some cases, solely for belonging to certain Muslim sects), but the stats are by-and-large accurate: Many New Yorkers do support the NYPD’s counterterror efforts. Nonetheless, it would be nice to know what New Yorkers think about domestic spying on their neighbors solely because of their religion.
There are, however, at least some New Yorkers who object to the surveillance: some of the leaders of those communities that were targeted. Local television covered organized boycotts of interfaith meetings with Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office:
Muslims, however, are not a monolith, and some Muslims did support NYPD efforts. One was Zuhdi Jasser, a Muslim whose organization is dedicated to combatting extremism. But Jasser comes with his own baggage: He sits on the board of the Clarion Fund and has yet to disavow his ties to the Islamophobic organization.
The Post writes that the AP stories “never even cited a single thing the cops did that is illegal, or even ill-advised.” Finding out illegal activities needn’t be the threshold for great reporting (Does the New York Post limit itself to covering alleged crimes?). And the AP’s stories certainly have uncovered some “ill-advised” surveillance techniques that are troubling regional leaders. New Jersey Governor Chis Christie criticized the NYPD for “arrogance or paranoia” in its failure to coordinate its efforts and the top FBI official in Newark said the NYPD program is “starting to have a negative impact” because Muslim sources are pulling back their cooperation. (HT: Adam Serwer)