Updated 08/21/2012 06:06 PM
AP: NYPD Muslim Spying Effort Never Aided Terror Cases
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The New York City Police Department's controversial program of spying on Muslim neighborhoods was not as successful as the department had hoped, according to newly unsealed court documents obtained by the Associated Press.
As part of the spying program, the NYPD's Demographics Unit infiltrated Muslim student groups, placed informants in mosques, and monitored sermons.
The goal was to catalog where Muslims were living, working and praying, so if police got a tip on a potential terrorist, that person would be easier to find.
The AP reports the commanding officer of the NYPD's Intelligence Division testified in June that while the program is an important tool, it never created any leads or led to any terror cases.
Civil rights lawyers say the spying program violates the so-called Handschu guidelines, which forbid police from collecting information about political speech unless it's related to potential terrorism.
The NYPD says the program is both necessary and legal.
The department's chief spokesman, Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne, is blasting the Associated Press's reporting, saying, "In the reporters’ bizarro world, they first falsely accuse the NYPD of using demographics to 'spy' and launch investigations, and now accuse us of 'failure' for not doing that which we said all along we were not doing."