Ordered Liberty

Christie Administration in NJ Concludes NYPD Surveillance Was Legal

As a number of readers are aware, I’ve had more than my fair share to say about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie of late, much of it on the negative side of the ledger — although I’d caution that that “ledger” is more about whether he is a “consistent conservative” (no) than about his quality as a governor (above average, particularly for a blue state). So it’s necessary to give credit where credit is due: The Christie administration is to be commended for conducting a fair and objective investigation of the New York City Police Department’s intelligence gathering efforts in the Garden State, which date back to at least 2007, when Gov. Christie was the state’s Bush-appointed U.S. attorney. New Jersey’s state Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa has concluded that the NYPD’s surveillance activities did not violate state law.

This is one of those situations where the inquiry could easily have been politicized to make the boss look good. Gov. Christie initially blasted the NYPD and got into a public spat with NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly and Congressman Pete King (R., NY). Christie’s first statements echoed the CAIR Islamophobia talking points; nevertheless, the governor seemed to tone it down and argue that his quarrel was more with the fact that he had not been informed of the NYPD surveillance (while he was U.S. attorney) than over the fact that the surveillance had happened.

As I’ve noted, the substantive condemnation of the NYPD’s investigative activities is absurd — it is well established that mosques and Muslim businesses in fundamentalist Islamic communities (not all Muslim communities) have been hubs for the spreading of Islamic supremacist ideology and jihadist plotting. In addition, the governor’s “failure to inform” complaint is overwrought because there is immense reason to believe local police in Jersey were informed even if he and the other feds were not. (And if the feds were not, it is because the local Jersey police did not feed the information to the feds, just as the feds and cops in New York don’t always share.)

Obviously, the attorney general did not politicize the investigation — neither he nor the governor appears to have slanted things to bolster the governor’s previously expressed concerns. As the Associated Press reports (hat tip, Robert Spencer), the NYPD surveillance was spurred not by bigotry or profiling people just because they were Muslims; the cops were following leads (information or tips regarding suspicious and potentially threatening activity) whenever they investigated in the Garden State.

Given that the AP has spearheaded the jihad against the NYPD, channeling Islamic supremacist organizations like CAIR (which has notorious ties to Hamas and a history of championing terrorists), we should not be surprised to find that the AG’s rationale for concluding the surveillance was legal is buried several paragraphs into its story. Nor is it surprising that the story emphasizes the disappointment of Muslim community “leaders” rather than the propriety of the surveillance — and it is dismaying that state authorities, including the governor and the attorney general, feel the need to go to great “outreach” lengths not to offend these Muslim community activists (whose profession calls for them to be in a constant state of agitation).

It is especially unfortunate, moreover, that NYPD’s detractors (AP and Muslim activists in particular) continue to emphasize the fact that the surveillance activities focused on “students.” If journalists did their homework (or were not so Islamophilic), this would be a strong point in the NYPD’s favor.

As I detail in The Grand Jihad, the Muslim Students Association — which now has hundreds of chapters in North America — is the the first building block in the Muslim Brotherhood’s American infrastructure. It has a rigorous program in which students study the writings of such Islamic supremacist icons as Hassan al-Banna, Sayyid Qutb and Abul Ala al-Mawdudi, and participate in various forms of proselytism (dawa or what Robert Spencer aptly calls “stealth jihad”).  There is extensive empirical evidence that many students who go through this Brotherhood-prescribed indoctrination end up sympathizing with, facilitating, or even participating in violent jihadism — to say nothing of promoting the sharia agenda that imperils American civil liberties. (See, e.g., this report from Steve Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism.) If anybody in the Muslim community ought to be drawing the attention of the authorities and the public at large, it is the Muslims Student Association — which, by the way, evolved over the years into the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the most important Islamist group in the United States, and one that was designated an unindicted coconspirator by the Justice Department in the Holy Land Foundation Hamas financing case because it was shown to have abetted the transfer of funds from the U.S. to Palestinian jihadists.

It is, of course, easy for me to cite these facts aloud. I am not seeking or holding public office in New Jersey, so it is of no moment to me, as it obviously is to the Christie administration, that New Jersey has a large, politically active Muslim population. Nonetheless, my unsolicited advice (which I’m sure the governor is just dying to hear) is that good policy makes good politics: It is better to convey the strong message to the Muslim community that it is obliged to help us discredit sharia supremacism than to convey the strong message that we are obliged to walk on eggshells around the Muslim community. Stop worrying about Islamist organizations like CAIR, ISNA and MPAC — they don’t speak for most rank-and-file American Muslims, so don’t confuse their popularity in the left-leaning media with popularity generally.

The self-ordained “leaders” of the Muslim community went predictably berserk over Attorney General Chiesa’s conclusions. It is unfortunate that he felt the need to announce the establishment of a “Muslim community outreach committee” to appease this insatiable grievance enterprise. But that said, kudos to the Christie administration for doing the right thing and acknowledging the legality and propriety of the NYPD surveillance. Thanks, also, to Gov. Christie for not sticking his thumb on the scale against the NYPD despite the public bickering between him and New York officials — many lesser public officials would not have been as scrupulous.