NYPD Spying Generated Nothing: News Roundup

In the news this week:  NYPD spying never generated a lead, soldiers not criminally charged in Quran burnings, and other stories.

In more than six years of spying on Muslim neighborhoods, eavesdropping on conversations and cataloguing mosques, the New York Police Department's secret Demographics Unit never generated a lead or triggered a terrorism investigation, the department acknowledged in court testimony unsealed late Monday.

The Demographics Unit is at the heart of a police spying program, built with help from the CIA, which assembled databases on where Muslims lived, shopped, worked and prayed. Police infiltrated Muslim student groups, put informants in mosques, monitored sermons and catalogued every Muslim in New York who adopted new, Americanized surnames.

Police hoped the Demographics Unit would serve as an early warning system for terrorism. And if police ever got a tip about, say, an Afghan terrorist in the city, they'd know where he was likely to rent a room, buy groceries and watch sports.

But in a June 28 deposition as part of a longstanding federal civil rights case, Assistant Chief Thomas Galati said none of the conversations the officers overheard ever led to a case.  Huffington Post

Six U.S. Army soldiers and three Marines escaped criminal charges for mistakenly burning Qurans and urinating on the corpses of Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan, but they received administrative punishments, U.S. military officials said Monday.

A military investigation concluded that miscommunications, poor guidance and soldiers' decisions to take "the easy way instead of the right way" resulted in the burning of more than 300 Qurans and other religious books at a U.S. base in Afghanistan early this year.

U.S. military leaders widely condemned both the Quran burning and the urination, which was captured on video. The Quran burning triggered Afghan riots and retribution killings, including two U.S. troops who were shot by an Afghan soldier and two U.S. military advisers who were gunned down at their desks at the Interior Ministry.  USA Today

A Muslim man who once ran for Franklin alderman is suing a security company, claiming his religious rights were violated when its guards demanded he remove his cap before entering Nashville’s Juvenile Justice Center.

Rashid al-Qadir claims security guards violated his First Amendment right to the free exercise of his religion by telling him he could not wear the small, brimless cap called a kufi. Al-Qadir says he offered to remove the kufi for inspection but then wanted to put it back on. The guards refused and demanded he leave the building. Al-Qadir says he left voluntarily because he was afraid of being arrested or hurt.

In a motion filed Tuesday, attorneys for G4S Secure Solutions (USA) Inc. do not dispute al-Qadir’s account of the April 11, 2011, events. Instead, they argue the suit should be dismissed because al-Qadir cannot prove his claim that the guards were acting on behalf of the government. Greg Grisham, an attorney for the company formerly known as Wackenhut, said he could not comment further on the suit.  The Tennessean

The law of God will collide with the law of man this week in a crowded federal courtroom in Cleveland, where 16 Amish defendants — 10 men with full beards, six women in white bonnets — will stand trial on charges related to a series of beard- and hair-cutting attacks against fellow Amish men and women last year.

The case has attracted national and international attention, in part because of public curiosity about the normally reclusive and peaceful Amish community, and because of the peculiar nature of the alleged crimes.

Interest also has been heightened by the fact that the federal government rather than a local prosecutor brought the charges. The case is the first in Ohio to make use of a landmark 2009 federal law that expanded government powers to prosecute hate crimes.  Religion News Service