By Sunita Sohrabji, IndiaWest
Several civil rights organizations have announced their opposition to the possible nomination of New York Police Chief Raymond Kelly to head the Department of Homeland Security.
Former DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano resigned in June to head up the University of California system. President Barack Obama has not yet announced his nomination of Kelly to fill the vacated post, but hinted at his intentions in a July 16 interview with Univision, a nationally-broadcast Spanish language television station.
“Mr. Kelly might be very happy where he is, but if he’s not, I’d want to know about it because obviously, he’d be very well-qualified for the job,” said Obama, adding that the police chief was “an outstanding leader.”
Kelly told MSNBC he was flattered by Obama’s comments, but did not comment whether he would consider the post.
The NYPD came under fire last year when the Associated Press revealed that its officers were spying on Muslim students on several college campuses across the East Coast. The NYPD acted far outside their jurisdiction by investigating Muslim students at campuses as far away as New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut, said AP.
Campuses including Yale, Rutgers, Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania were being monitored daily online, primarily through their Web sites, blogs and even e-mails.
In one instance, an NYPD agent accompanied several New York University students on a whitewater rafting trip, recording conversations into the students’ files and instances of praying during the day-long trip, reported the AP, in a series of Pulitzer-Prize winning reports.
Civil rights organizations are also concerned about an NYPD initiative known colloquially as “Stop and Frisk,” which allows police officers to detain anyone they deem suspicious and search them for weapons. Critics say the program has disproportionately targeted minorities.
“It’s pretty clear that the Muslim and civil rights community would oppose this nomination,” Ibrahim Hooper, communications director for the Council of American Islamic Relations, told India-West. “We want someone who’s going to make our nation safer, but also assure civil liberties at the same time,” he stated.
Hooper said the NYPD campus program was “so pervasive and produced absolutely nothing of value.” He noted that the Congressional Black Caucus was proposing Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee from Texas to head the DHS. Jackson Lee, who has served in Congress since 1995, is the ranking member of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security. (Read the full article)