March 19, 2009

Hon. Eric Holder

Attorney General

U.S. Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20530

RE: FBI spying in Mosques

Dear Atty. General Holder:

I am one of many in Los Angeles who were disgusted and dismayed to learn that the FBI has been covertly inserting spies into Islamic mosques in Southern California. This news was all the more disappointing given the sincere efforts of the Muslim community here to work cooperatively with the Bureau.

To do what the FBI did here, send in a convicted felon to serve as an agent provocateur in several Islamic mosques and, as is alleged, tell at least one mosque attendee that the FBI would make his life “a living hell” if he did not become an informant, is abhorrent. Indeed, the whole sorry business of spying on religious adherents is despicable. It suggests that the U.S. Justice Department, and the Obama Administration, are prepared to continue the xenophobic and discriminatory polices of the Bush Administration. If so, it puts a lie to President Obama’s claim that we can defend ourselves against terrorist attacks “without sacrificing our values.”

This current practice mirrors the same illegal, discredited and mischief-making practices outlawed in this nation following the disclosure of the FBI’s COINTELPRO practices of the ‘60s and ‘70s. It has no place in a free nation. It only serves to fuel the all- too- prevalent notion amongst the people of this nation that Muslim citizens are, by definition, Un-American, prone to violence, and not to be trusted.

I ask that you immediately launch an investigation into this matter and quickly issue a statement assuring the nation, and most importantly, the Muslim people of this nation, that what has been going on in Southern California will be ended here and not repeated elsewhere. And I urge the statement to include an apology to the Muslim community of Southern California, who, like all Muslims since the criminal attacks of 9/11, have already suffered greatly for no other reason than that the government of this nation has, in more ways than I can recount here, repeatedly violated their rights, and their very humanity.


James Lafferty

Executive Director

National Lawyers Guild – Los Angeles Chapter


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