Brussels Attack

Ted Cruz Endorses Mass Surveillance

The presidential candidate's plan to snoop on Muslims is neither fair nor smart.

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In light of last week's terrorist attacks in Brussels, Ted Cruz says, "we need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized." I am not sure what he means by that, but I am pretty sure it is neither fair nor smart.

"This is a war," the Republican presidential candidate emphasized the day of the attacks, suggesting that the patrolling and securing he had in mind was akin to what the military does in hostile territory. The implication seemed to be that American Muslims are an enemy population that needs to be pacified—not a promising approach unless the goal is antagonizing an entire religious community and discouraging the sort of cooperation that might help identify would-be terrorists.

"We know what is happening with these isolated Muslim neighborhoods in Europe," says Alice Stewart, a spokeswoman for Cruz. "If we want to prevent it from happening here, it is going to require an empowered, visible law enforcement presence that will both identify problem spots and partner with non-radical Americans who want to protect their homes."

Stewart, who likens lurking Islamic radicals to drug dealers and gangsters, makes it sound as if a conspicuous show of force in Muslim neighborhoods will be welcomed by peaceful, law-abiding residents eager for protection against the predators in their midst. But it turns out that Cruz prefers an invisible law enforcement presence, akin to the New York Police Department's defunct Muslim surveillance program.

Cruz says reviving that kind of "proactive policing" would be part of his plan to "patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods." The Texas senator, who opposed the National Security Agency's indiscriminate collection of Americans' telephone records, has found a kind of mass snooping he likes.

Evidently when Cruz says "patrol and secure," he really means "surveil and rattle," since that is what the NYPD program did. As described in a 2013 lawsuit filed by two Brooklyn mosques, three community leaders, and a Muslim charitable organization, the program, which began in 2002 and ended in 2014, used informants, undercover officers, audio recorders, and cameras to monitor the communal activities and private conversations of Muslim New Yorkers—all without any evidence that they were committing crimes or planning to do so.

The lawsuit, which the city settled in January by agreeing to pay the plaintiffs' legal expenses and implement reforms aimed at preventing suspicionless monitoring of people based on their religion, says the surveillance program "generated daily reports on innocent Muslim New Yorkers' lives in New York City's neighborhoods, and the names of thousands of innocent New York City residents have been placed in secret police files." The payoff: zero leads, zero terrorism investigations, zero arrests, and zero attacks prevented.

According to the lawsuit, which argues that singling out Muslims for monitoring without grounds for suspicion violates religious freedom and the 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection, the surveillance had a chilling effect on mosque attendance, the content of sermons, outreach efforts, and charitable fund raising. Worried that they were being watched by spies and that innocent remarks or meetings might be misinterpreted, mosque leaders and members began avoiding potentially controversial topics, canceling events, skipping services, treating newcomers with suspicion, and shunning fellow Muslims rumored to be subjects of surveillance.

Toward the beginning of the program, police installed a surveillance camera outside Masjid At-Taqwa, a Brooklyn mosque, with the lens trained on the front entrance. Not surprisingly, "the camera intimidated congregants and caused anxiety among them," prompting them to stop attending services or to leave immediately afterward rather than lingering to chat.

The lawsuit says "knowledge and justifiable fear of NYPD surveillance," which was confirmed by a series of Associated Press exposés that began in 2011, created "a toxic, distrustful, and destructive atmosphere." Far from making Muslim neighborhoods "secure," such an atmosphere creates resentment at unjustified scrutiny, promoting exactly the sort of alienation and isolation that Cruz says he wants to avoid.

© Copyright 2016 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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  1. We need ability to patrol based upon real current incidents but not general patrolling more than other neighborhoods.

    Let’s not fall into the politically correct view that ALL patrolling is automatically discrimination by the government.

    This is somewhat of a gray area, I admit, and will leave up to the courts for now

  2. Europe is discovering the consequences of launching a surveillance witch hunt. We need not follow their lead.

    1. don’t you mean Europe is suffering the consequences of not keeping an eye on certain people. I find it strange though that after an attack they knew exactly where to go. almost like they wanted to let it happen.

    2. Wait, what?

      Europe is discovering the consequences of unchecked immigration and living in a fucking fantasy world with regard to whom they have living in their backyard.

      Now they’re scrambling to get their heads out of their own asses, with limited success. A few security patrols and keeping an eye on their muslim population would have done some good a few years ago.

      No, we don’t need to follow their lead, but what Ted Cruz is proposing would be to not make the mistakes Europe has.

  3. I swear, this is basically a rerun of other Reason stories. I guess we didn’t respond vehemently enough the first time around.

    Not that it matters. Hillary will be President, so you can stop all the hand-wringing over how terrible [insert Republican here] is. It makes me sick, but it is what it is.

  4. Cruz wants to monitor the Muslims while Hillary wants to monitor everyone especially those who write bad things about her. I don’t mind pointing out the what you dislike about certain people but Instead of attacking everyone else maybe Reason should write about why we should vote for someone. I have yet to see that done here.

    1. https://reason.com/archives/201…..e-for-2016

      There you go.

      1. Oh yeah Gary Johnson. That’s the road to success right there.

  5. Is Reason’s general declaration of the libertarian moment in the face of Edward Snowden’s revelations and exile, the admission of torture on the part of the current president, *and* the gradual revelation of relatively unchecked dronesassination program an endorsement of the surveillance state or no?

    Not surprisingly, “the camera intimidated congregants and caused anxiety among them,” prompting them to stop attending services or to leave immediately afterward rather than lingering to chat.

    While I don’t like the surveillance state, depending on the location of the cameras, I’m loathe to find a crime or violation of the NAP here. Moreover, cameras pointed at them under the Cruz regime is, somehow, a greater threat to liberty for them and everyone than cameras pointed at them *and* heightened ClintonCare penaltaxes under the Clinton/Sanders regime?

    Imaginary fears of the statist utopia of a losing candidate is really the best thing Reason’s got to cover right now? I guess it’s not Trump. I won’t hold my breath waiting for the next anti-Clinton/anti-Sanders 5-10 story cycle.

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  7. I’m hoping that Cruz’s choice of words is merely to appeal to Trump voters, and doesn’t suggest that he actually wants cops to ignore the 4th Amendment. I’m all for more police work in pursuit of rooting out radicalism in the communities, but there needs to be specific probable cause — no good comes from making people that a police state is being created.

    What’s needed more than profiling is for the police to encourage the moderates in the communities to feel comfortable in stepping forward and reporting radical behavior. Of course, a lot of the burden is on the moderate Muslims themselves — they need to get over this notion that fealty to their Muslim “brothers” comes before loyalty to their fellow, non-Muslim citizens.

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  11. Sorry do not believe this approach per Cruz is needed? How do you pick out one nationality and say have to keep watch? We have had a few idiots that are not Muslim shoot in schools, movies, wherever how were we to stop these crazy types? Yes, Vet those now coming in and how or why in Europe have you let many go to Yemen, Syria, Iran and come back WHY? You know what they are up to? No not the majority of Muslims with Islam are terrorist? Neither Cruz or Trump are coming up with a way to check out the immigrants. We let in over 20 million across the Mexican border who were they? Big drug problem with multiple killings in Mexico not safe for us to travel to the border we use to all the time? 100,000 killed in Mexico this past decade? See NARCOS and Sicaario not good? So who have we let in and we have many in our own prisons now? Not all Muslims? The show The Bridge got into this subject and is now off super done show that got into our borders and not safe and now the show is off good actors, writing and got deep into how bad it is? I believe politics took off this show? These millions we let in and we did let them in worked for low wages we had thousands here in Georgia working. Saw for the first time in about 10 years a road block here in Georgia we use to have them many times all over? WHY NOW? Stopped I know per we let in many illegals to stop would take away their cars and maybe send them to jail. Now it is okay WHY NOW?

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