Millions of federal dollars may have helped the New York Police Department spy on American Muslims, a new Associated Press investigation reveals.
The news comes after President Barack Obama's administration has tried to distance itself from the NYPD's Muslim surveillance program, which has been widely criticized. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said the surveillance that took place in his state is "disturbing," and three senators have recently introduced a bill for better oversight of the NYPD, the AP reported.
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The White House money comes from a grant intended to help police fight drug crimes. Since September 11, 2001, the Bush and Obama administrations have put $135 million into the drug program, the AP reported. But there was little oversight in how the money was actually spent.
The AP said that its unclear how much of that money went to the NYPD's Muslim surveillance program. However, the news agency found that the White House money has paid for the cars and the plainclothes that NYPD officers used to conduct the spying with. "It also paid for computers that store even innocuous information about Muslim college students, mosque sermons and social events," the AP said. The White House would not comment on the grant money.
In a series of stories published since August, the AP has revealed that the NYPD spied on more than 250 mosques and Muslim student groups, looking for terrorism based on no other evidence than the fact that the suspects were of the Muslim faith. This month, the AP reported that the NYPD had even monitored Muslim college students who resided far outside of New York City.
"It violated my idea of this as a safe space," a Muslim student at New York University told the Huffington Post.