Media, Experts, And Civil Rights Groups Condemn Ted Cruz's "Blatantly Unconstitutional" Anti-Muslim Proposal
Cruz's Call To "Patrol And Secure Muslims Neighborhoods" Met With Widespread Criticism
Research ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ
Media, experts, and civil rights groups are all criticizing Ted Cruz's call to "patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods" in the wake of terror attacks in Brussels, Belgium, seemingly inspired by ISIS. The plan has been called "counterproductive and unconstitutional" and "the exact opposite of what we need to do."
Ted Cruz said he wants to surveil Muslim communities in America, and for once the media called out anti-Muslim bigotry in no uncertain terms. It's about time.
Posted by Media Matters for America on Wednesday, March 23, 2016
ISIS Claims Responsibility For Brussels Terror Attacks
Multiple Attacks In Brussels Leave Dozens Dead, Over 100 Wounded. The capital of Belgium was rocked by three separate explosions on March 22, two in the city's airport and one at the Maelbeek metro station. The attacks came days after the capture of Salah Abdeslam, the man allegedly responsible for the Paris terror attacks last November:
A Belgian government representative told CNN that 10 people were killed and 100 wounded at Brussels' international airport. At least 20 people died and 130 were wounded at the Maelbeek metro station, officials said.
Authorities in Belgium have been trying to crack down on terror threats for months as they raided homes in the area in search of suspects.Tuesday'sviolence came just days after investigators closed in on Europe's most wanted man, Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam, who was hiding out in a Brussels suburb.
The "working assumption" is that the attackers came from the network behind November's massacres in Paris, which left 130 dead, Belgian security sources said, while cautioning it is very early in the latest investigation. ISIS also claimed responsibility for those attacks. [CNN.com, 3/23/16]
Ted Cruz Calls For Law Enforcement To "Patrol And Secure Muslim Neighborhoods"In Response To Brussels Attacks
Ted Cruz: "We Need To Empower Law Enforcement To Patrol And Secure Muslim Neighborhoods Before They Become Radicalized." In a statement in response to the March 22 attacks in Brussels, Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said that he would be in favor of "empower[ing] law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized":
"Today radical Islamic terrorists targeted the men and women of Brussels as they went to work on a spring morning. In a series of coordinated attacks they murdered and maimed dozens of innocent commuters at subway stations and travelers at the airport. For the terrorists, the identities of the victims were irrelevant. They -we--are all part of an intolerable culture that they have vowed to destroy.
"For years, the west has tried to deny this enemy exists out of a combination of political correctness and fear. We can no longer afford either. Our European allies are now seeing what comes of a toxic mix of migrants who have been infiltrated by terrorists and isolated, radical Muslim neighborhoods.
"We will do what we can to help them fight this scourge, and redouble our efforts to make sure it does not happen here. We need to immediately halt the flow of refugees from countries with a significant al Qaida or ISIS presence. We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.
"We need to secure the southern border to prevent terrorist infiltration. And we need to execute a coherent campaign to utterly destroy ISIS. The days of the United States voluntarily surrendering to the enemy to show how progressive and enlightened we can be are at an end. Our country is at stake." [TedCruz.org, 3/22/16]
Media Figures Across The Political Spectrum Condemn Cruz's Plan
CBS' Norah O'Donnell To Ted Cruz: "It's Impractical What You're Suggesting ... It's More Of A Political Point That You're Making." On the March 23 edition of CBS' This Morning, co-host Norah O'Donnell challenged Cruz on his proposal to "patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods," saying his suggestion was "impractical," and asking the senator to "name one community, one city where we have a large group of radicalized Muslims"that present a clear and present threat to American security (emphasis added):
NORAH O'DONNELL (CO-HOST): Let me ask you this. This raises a lot of civil liberty concerns. Let me ask you. How many Muslims are in America?
SEN.TED CRUZ: I don't know the number off the top of my head.
O'DONNELL: So you're saying that law enforcement should surveil a number of Muslims, and you don't even know how many Muslims are in America? There are three million Muslims in America. Law enforcement is overwhelmed.
CRUZ: So you're saying we can't defeat radical Islamic terrorism?
O'DONNELL: We have a chief of police, one of the mostrespected chiefs of police who was here earlier, who said there are no Muslim neighborhoods. It's not like Europe, it doesn't exist that way. It's impractical what you're suggesting. Also, it doesn't suggest it would lead to anything. It's more of a political point that you're making.
CRUZ: Norah, actually you brought up Europe and it's a good example. If you look at the attack in Brussels, it's a direct result of the failed immigration policies in Europe that have allowed vast numbers of radical Islamic terrorists to come to Europe and they have been ghetto-ized in neighborhoods that have become isolated,thathave become separate, and they become incubators for radical Islamic terrorism.
O'DONNELL: That's not a similar problem that we have here in the United States.
CRUZ: Of course, it is. There are communities in America --
O'DONNELL: Name one community, one city where we have a large group of radicalized Muslims.
CRUZ: You have communities,for example,in Minnesota, you have communities in Michigan with heavy concentration, and you have incidences of radical imams preaching jihadism, preaching Islamism. [CBS, This Morning, 3/23/16]
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough: What Cruz Is Proposing "Is The Exact Opposite Of What We Need To Do. It Makes Us Less Safe." On the March 23 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, co-host Joe Scarborough blasted Cruz's call to "patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods" as "the exact opposite of what we need to do," adding that Cruz's proposal actually "makes us less safe" and ignores the fact that millions of Muslim Americans "have successfully integrated into this country" and are "pursuing the American dream" (emphasis added):
JOE SCARBOROUGH (CO-HOST): Well, you know, I am the last person that's ever been accused of being politically correct in this fight against terrorism. I believe we need enhanced interrogation techniques. I'm not talking about waterboarding, but we need to be far more aggressive. We don't want to make the same mistakes we made leading up to 9/11 and then jerk too far in one direction. We're too far in the other direction now. So I am not politically correct. That said, what Ted Cruz said yesterday is the exact opposite of what we need to do. It makes us less safe. I won't even talk about American values. Let's not talk about American values. Let's talk about American safety. If we are going to win the war against Islamic terrorism in the United States, if we're going to make sure we don't end up looking like Europe, we do that by continuing to do what Americans have done for over 200 years, accept immigrants into this country and integrate. Muslim Americans have successfully integrated into this country better than any non-Muslim country in the world. They're pursuing the American dream. One percent of Americans are Muslim. Ten percent of doctors in this country, I've read, are Muslim Americans. Muslim Americans are entrepreneurs. They are leaders in this country. Ted Cruz could not have it more wrong. I'm not talking about values. I'm not talking about reaching out and touching someone. I'm not talking about teaching the world to sing in perfect harmony. I'm talking about beating ISIS. You beat ISIS by having Muslim Americans embrace the American dream. And I had one leader in this country, one Muslim American text me earlier in this show saying, "In Europe, Muslims look at themselves as Muslims first and European second, as far as identity goes. In America they see themselves as Americans who are Muslims." We have to keep it that way. [MSNBC, Morning Joe, 3/23/16]
NBC's Savannah Guthrie To Ted Cruz: Is "The Mere Fact That They're Muslims, In Your Mind, Means Police Officers Should Be Securing And Patrolling Those Areas?" On the March 23 edition of NBC's Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie pressed Cruz on his plan, asking Cruz if he would" require some suspicion of radicalization before" directing law enforcement to "patrol Muslim neighborhoods." Guthrie also noted that the program Cruz cites as precedent for his proposal "has been disbanded" and that "in six years, [the Muslim surveillance program] never led to even one piece of intelligence, not an arrest, not a conviction":
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE (CO-HOST): Let me start where we just mentioned. You said yesterday,in a Facebook post, that "we need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized."How would you define a Muslim neighborhood? Is there a certain percentage of Muslims that have to live there? And do you have to haveany particular suspicionthat they're being radicalized, or is itjustthe mere fact that they're Muslims, in your mind, means police officers should be securing and patrolling those areas?
TED CRUZ: Well, let's start out with what happened in Brussels yesterday. All of us, our thoughts, our prayers are with those who were murdered, those who were injured. Yesterday, I think, reminded everyone, really underscored, that we are facing a war. It is not -- this was not an isolated lone wolf. This was not an isolated incident. Radical Islamic terrorism -- ISIS has declared jihad on the United States of America.
GUTRHIE: There's no question about that. And I guess the issue this morning is the response and trying to understand what it is you're recommending.
CRUZ: Mayor de Blasio, in an example of political correctness very befitting of Obama and Hillary Clinton, cancelled the program, said "we're not going to target the bad guys because they will not acknowledge--"
GUTHRIE: You cite that program, but itof course, has been disbanded.Aformer supervisor of the program said that in six years, it never led to even one piece of intelligence, not an arrest, not a conviction. In fact, the supervisor was quoted as saying that it involved paying undercover officers to sit in cafes frequented by Muslims, drinking tea and eating sweets at taxpayer expense.
CRUZ: Look, what I know is if you want to stop radical Islamic terrorism, you need a concerted focus on doing so. Any law enforcement --like,for example, if you have a problem with gang violence, what law enforcement does with gang violence is you target the neighborhoods where gang violence is prevalent, and you work to root out the gang members to--
GUTHRIE: But that goes to my question. Would you then -- so, for example, you're saying gang violence, you look where is there gang violence, we'll go patrol those neighborhoods. When you talk about patrolling Muslim neighborhoods, would you require some suspicion of radicalization before you patrol the neighborhoods? [NBC, Today, 3/23/16]
ABC's George Stephanopoulos Asked Cruz About The Constitutionality Of His Proposal. On the March 23 edition of ABC's Good Morning America, co-host George Stephanopoulos pressed Cruz on his proposal, saying his "proposal to have police patrol Muslim neighborhoods is drawing a lot of fire." Stephanopoulos later asked Cruz to clarify his plan, asking, "how is targeting Muslim neighborhoods constitutional?":
TOM LLAMAS: Now, back to Senator Ted Cruz, he's facing harsh criticism for calling on police to patrol Muslim neighborhoods here in the U.S. in the wake of the Brussels attacks. Earlier this morning George asked him about it.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (HOST): Senator, your proposal to have police patrol Muslim neighborhoods is drawing a lot of fire from John Kasich, Bernie Sanders calls it unconstitutional, Hillary Clinton offensive and dangerous.
TED CRUZ: Yesterday reminded everyone that we are facing a war from radical Islamic terrorism. President Obama, Hillary Clinton, they refuse to acknowledge, they refuse even to say the words radical Islamic terrorism.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But how is targeting Muslim neighborhoods constitutional?
CRUZ: What we should target is radical Islamic terrorism. In the political correctness of this administration, they refuse to acknowledge that we are facing a global jihad from radical Islamic terrorism. [ABC, Good Morning America, 3/23/16]
Experts, Fact Checkers Agree That Cruz's Plan Is "Counterproductive" And "A Clear Violation Of Both The First And 14th Amendments"
Vox: Experts Say "Targeting Muslims With Police Surveillance Would Be Counterproductive." In a March 22 reaction to Ted Cruz's proposal,Vox's Jeff Stein consulted experts who lambasted Cruz's plan, saying, "If you're looking for a way to radicalize someone, patrolling their neighborhoods and keeping a close watch on what they're doing is a good way to do it." Moreover, experts say Cruz's suggestion "appears to be of a different magnitude" than the New York Police Department's (NYPD) now-defunct mosque surveillance program. Stein continued, noting that Cruz's suggestion is "a clear violation of both the First and 14th Amendments" (emphasis added):
Cruz's suggestion that American law enforcement specifically "patrol and secure" Muslim communities is both immoral and counterproductive. That's according to A. Trevor Thrall, a Cato Institute scholar who is also a professor of policy, government, and international affairs at George Mason University.
Stepped-up surveillance of some Muslim communities after 9/11 provoked a backlash. Cruz's proposal would likely lead to a similar reaction, according to Thrall.
"Having the FBI coming to their neighborhoods and mosques created an awful amount of resentment toward the US government," Thrall said. "If you're looking for a way to radicalize someone, patrolling their neighborhoods and keeping a close watch on what they're doing is a good way to do it."
After 9/11, the New York Police Department indiscriminately monitored thousands of Muslims who were under no suspicion of terror activity.
But Cruz's proposal appears to be of a different magnitude, said Ibrahim Hooper, the national communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
"This goes light-years beyond that. Cruz is talking about police 'securing' -- what does that mean? Does that mean checkpoints on every corner? Does that mean papers on every street?" Hooper said. "To me, this sounds like an armed occupation of Muslim neighborhoods."
Cruz's proposal is also "plainly unconstitutional" -- a clear violation of both the First and 14th Amendments, according to Marci Hamilton, a constitutional law expert at the Cardozo School of Law. [Vox, 3/22/16]
Wash. Post Fact Checker: Cruz's Suggested Tactics Were Employed In New York City And The "Program Actually Fractured The Police Department's Relationship With Many In The American Muslim Community." In a March 23 fact check of Ted Cruz's suggestion, Washington Post fact checker Michelle Ye Hee Lee noted that such programs have "actually fractured the police department's relationship with many in the American Muslim community" in the past. Moreover, Cruz's characterization of why the NYPD dropped the program "is an inaccurate description." In fact, "by the time that de Blasio and Bratton shuttered it, it was largely inactive. And over its six years, none of the information collected by the Demographics Unit led to a single case."The Post gave Cruz's claims about the merits of the NYPD's Muslim surveillance program "Four Pinocchios," a distinction the paper reserves for "whoppers" of misinformation:
In response to the attacks, Cruz called on police in the United States to "patrol and secure" Muslim neighborhoods. When his comment drew criticism, specifically from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, his campaign pointed to the New York Police Department's practice after 9/11 of spying on Muslim communities for potential terrorist activities. Then the campaign criticized New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio for shuttering the surveillance program, saying he "succumbed to unfounded criticisms" and "eliminated the efforts" of NYPD to work with Muslim communities.
How accurate is this characterization?
There are two elements to this claim. First is that de Blasio ended the program because he "succumbed to unfounded criticisms." There was criticism, and whether it was "unfounded" may be a matter of opinion. But by the time that de Blasio and Bratton shuttered it, it was largely inactive. And over its six years, none of the information collected by the Demographics Unit led to a single case. The Cruz campaign's characterization makes it seem as though de Blasio disbanded an active program because of the criticism, but that is an inaccurate description.
The second part is that de Blasio's decision "eliminated the efforts of law enforcement to work with" Muslim communities. But this program actually fractured the police department's relationship with many in the American Muslim community in New York, and a group of Muslims sued the department over it. On both fronts, this characterization is false, and earns Four Pinocchios. [The Washington Post, Fact Checker, 3/23/16]
Civil Liberties Groups Have Condemned Cruz's Plan And Have Characterized Past Muslim Surveillance Programs As Being "Discriminatory" And Completely Ineffective
Council On American-Islamic Relations "Called On Cruz To Retract And Apologize For His Unconstitutional Policy Proposal." In a March 22 response to Ted Cruz's proposal to "patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods,"the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) "called on Cruz to retract and apologize for his unconstitutional policy proposal":
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today decried GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz's call for law enforcement to "patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods" and the naming of notorious Islamophobe Walid Phares as one of leading GOP candidate Donald Trump's policy advisers.
CAIR called on Cruz to retract and apologize for his unconstitutional policy proposal and for Trump to drop Phares as an adviser.
In a Facebook post, Cruz said: "We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized." [Council on American-Islamic Relations, 3/22/16]
Anti-Defamation League Condemns Cruz's Plan, Calls It "A Misguided And Counterproductive Response To The Terrorist Threat." In a March 22 statement, Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt said of Cruz's proposal:
As we saw in Brussels today, violent terrorism is a legitimate concern for the home front. But demonizing all Muslims is a misguided and counterproductive response to the terrorist threat posed by those motivated by a radical interpretation of Islam. It is an irrational approach that harkens back to the fear and bigotry that led to a dark and tragic chapter in American history - the relocation of more than 100,000 Japanese-Americans to internment camps during the Second World War simply because of their ethnicity.
The overwhelming majority of Muslims in America are law-abiding people who are as outraged by terrorism and bigotry as Americans of every other faith. Sweeping generalizations about them can serve only to foment discrimination and hate crimes against innocent, devoted Americans. Furthermore, our law enforcement agencies need the cooperation of Muslim communities and community leaders to combat and deter crimes, including violent extremism.
Ordering special patrols of Muslim neighborhoods will almost certainly create an adversarial relationship between law enforcement and the communities they have sworn to protect, making those communities more vulnerable, more frightened, and often less willing to help. The approach is contrary to the principles of individual rights, equality, justice, and religious freedom on which this nation was founded. [Anti-Defamation League, 3/22/16]
ACLU's Hina Shamsi: Cruz's Proposal "Is Blatantly Unconstitutional And Violates The Guarantee Of Religious Protection And Religious Freedom." In a March 22 article in The Nation, Hina Shamsi, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union's (ACLU) national security project, is quoted as saying that Cruz's proposal "is blatantly unconstitutional," adding, "One way to look at it is to replace the word 'Muslim' with 'Jewish,' 'Christian,' 'African American,' or 'Latino.' What's wrong in one context is wrong in others":
Within hours of the terror attacks in Brussels, Senator Ted Cruz sent out a press release that declared, "The days of the United States voluntarily surrendering to the enemy to show how progressive and enlightened we are at an end."
While the details of this proposal are still unclear -- I will update if the campaign responds -- they rang alarm bells among constitutional experts. "Profiling people based on their religion or race is blatantly unconstitutional and violates the guarantee of religious protection and religious freedom," said Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU's national-security project, in a phone interview.
"One way to look at it is to replace the word 'Muslim' with 'Jewish,' 'Christian,' 'African American,' or 'Latino.' What's wrong in one context is wrong in others," Shamsi added. [The Nation, 3/22/16]
ACLU: "Suspicionless," "Discriminatory," and "Unlawful" Surveillance Has Negative Consequences For Muslims. The ACLU's fact sheet on the NYPD's Muslim surveillance program explains that "discriminatory surveillance" of mosques and Muslim communities leads to stigma, interference with religious worship, fear, free speech violation, and damaged relationships with law enforcement:
Stigma: Through its religious profiling and surveillance, the NYPD has imposed an unwarranted badge of suspicion and stigma on law-abiding Muslim New Yorkers.
Interference with Religious Practice: The NYPD's suspicionless surveillance has forced religious leaders to censor what they say to their congregants, for fear anything they say could be taken out of context by police officers or informants. Some religious leaders feel they must regularly record their sermons to defend themselves against potential NYPD mischaracterizations. Disruptions resulting from unlawful NYPD surveillance have also diverted time and resources away from religious education and counseling. Muslims have reported feeling pressure to avoid appearing overtly religious, for example, by changing their dress or the length of their beards.
Community Fear: The NYPD's discriminatory surveillance has produced an atmosphere of fear and mistrust within mosques and the Muslim community at large. At mosques, congregants often regard newcomers with anxiety, unsure if they are sent to spy by the NYPD. As a result, these houses of worship cannot serve as the places of spiritual refuge and comfort that they are intended to be.
Chilling Free Speech: The NYPD's discriminatory surveillance has chilled religious speech and political activism--from engagement in public debates and protests, to friendly coffee-house banter.
Damaging Law Enforcement Relationships: The NYPD's unlawful profiling of Muslims has damaged its relationship with American Muslims, breaching communities' trust in a police department that is tasked with protecting them. [American Civil Liberties Union, accessed 3/23/16]
United Nations: Profiling Based On Race, Ethnicity, Or Religion "May Constitute Disproportionate Interferences With Human Rights." A January 2007 report from United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights noted that targeted surveillance programs are likely "incompatible with the principle of non-discrimination" and "may constitute disproportionate interferences with human rights" (emphasis added):
Terrorist-profiling practices raise concerns with regard to a number of human rights guarantees. In the view of the Special Rapporteur, data-mining initiatives based on broad terrorist profiles that include group characteristics such as religion and national origin may constitute a disproportionate and thus arbitrary interference with the right to privacy, guaranteed by article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). It is on this ground that the German Constitutional Court ruled that the Rasterfahndung initiative, described above, violates the constitutional right to privacy. The Court held that the preventive use of this profiling method would only be compatible with the proportionality requirement if it were shown that there was a "concrete danger" to national security or human life, rather than a general threat situation as it existed since 11 September 2001.
However, when law-enforcement agents use broad profiles that reflect unexamined generalizations, their practices may constitute disproportionate interferences with human rights. In particular, profiling based on stereotypical assumptions that persons of a certain "race", national or ethnic origin or religion are particularly likely to commit crime may lead to practices that are incompatible with the principle of non-discrimination. It is therefore of grave concern to the Special Rapporteur that, since 11 September 2001, law-enforcement authorities of different States have adopted counter-terrorism practices that are based on terrorist profiles that include characteristics such as a person's presumed "race", ethnicity, national origin or religion. [United Nations, Report of the Special Rapporteur, 1/29/07]
CUNY School Of Law Report: Muslim Surveillance "Has Chilled Constitutionally Protected Rights."An extensive March 2013 report released through City University of New York (CUNY) by The Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition (MACLC), The Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility (CLEAR) project, and The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) found that Muslim surveillance programs have suppressed religion, stifled speech and association, sowed suspicion of Muslims, "created a pervasive climate of fear and suspicion" that "has severed the trust that should exist between the police department and the communities it is charged with protecting"(emphasis added):
Since 2001, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) has established a secret surveillance program that has mapped, monitored and analyzed American Muslim daily life throughout New York City, and even its surrounding states. In 2011, the unveiling of this program by the Associated Press (AP) and other journalists who had obtained leaked internal NYPD documents led to an outcry from public officials, civil rights activists, American Muslim religious leaders, and members of the public. Protesters and advocates held that such racial and religious profiling was not only an example of ineffective policing and wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars, but it also marginalized and criminalized a broad segment of American Muslims. Almost a year later, in August 2012, the Chief of the NYPD Intelligence Division, Lt. Paul Galati admitted during sworn testimony that in the six years of his tenure, the unit tasked with monitoring American Muslim life had not yielded a single criminal lead.
Proponents of the sprawling surveillance enterprise have argued that, regardless of its inefficacy, mere spying on a community is harmless because it is clandestine and that those who are targeted should have nothing to fear, if they have nothing to hide. Our findings, based on an unprecedented number of candid interviews with American Muslim community members, paint a radically different picture. We have found that surveillance of Muslims' quotidian activities has created a pervasive climate of fear and suspicion, encroaching upon every aspect of individual and community life. Surveillance has chilled constitutionally protected rights--curtailing religious practice, censoring speech and stunting political organizing. Every one of our interviewees noted that they were negatively affected by surveillance in some way - whether it was by reducing their political or religious expression, altering the way they exercised those rights (through clarifications, precautions, or avoiding certain interlocutors), or in experiencing social and familial pressures to reduce their activism. Additionally, surveillance has severed the trust that should exist between the police department and the communities it is charged with protecting. [CLEAR Project, AALDEF, and MACLC, Mapping Muslims: NYPD Spying and its Impact on American Muslims, 3/11/13]
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